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Old 03-21-2016, 10:39 AM   #11
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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--11b) What is the chance that records from the late 1950s and early 1960s would still be in paper form? Assuming that those chances are good, what are the odds that those records are mostly haphazardly arranged in a way that made sense to the Sheriff and/or Lieutenant of State Police at that time and extremely difficult to sort through for anyone else?
Very strong. The federal government is an early adopter of computer storage technology due to their combination of plentiful funding, national security interests, and sheer size of archives, but a place like this probably wouldn't think about computerization of records until the mid 1990s. I'd be surprised but not shocked if some archives were still paper-only today.

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--12b) Is there some local soft drink which is really common in Maine, but not elsewhere?
Actually, yes. \Moxie is ubiquitous in Maine, and near impossible to find outside of New England. It has a weird bitter sweet taste that puts in the Vegemite and licorice category of "love it or hate it".

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15) What are the popular local beers?
Local beer won't really be a thing until the 1990s. Budweiser, Coors, and Miller are all standard. You could probably find Sam Adams in Portland if you knew where to look for it, and Narraganset would probably be a sign of a Red Sox fan with a high susceptibility to marketing. Canadian beer would be Labatt, Molson's or Carling Black Label (if really hipster), in that order. The late 1980s also made malt liquor popular with people looking for a quick and dirty kind of drunk. Old English 800 and Colt 45 (hawked by Billy Dee Williams) were the biggest brands.

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16) What strong liquour do locals drink?
--16a) What is the bourbon of choice?
--16b) What do middle-class and over 'cultured' men drink?
Pretty much all the same question. Jack Daniels isn't technically bourbon, but it is standard, despite the much maligned lowering of alcohol content in 1987. However the 1980s see a huge surge in vodka in the US, especially among the younger and more fashion forward crowd.
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:48 AM   #12
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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11a) But if the firearm ever turns up as evidence at a crime scene or ballistics evidence matches a firearm in possession of someone with evidence of a crime, they can find out who originally bought it?

If someone had gotten a Conceal Carry Permit in Maine in 1985-1988 (or earlier), would the State Police, Sheriff's Office or local Police Department have any information on what kind of firearm(s) that person owned at the time?

What about hunting licences? Did you have to show anyone or generate any paperwork for a gun legal on the type of animal in question when you applied for a licence to take deer, elk or bear?
If the cops have a weapon and a serial number, I think they could apply for a warrant against the manufacturer, get who the manufacturer sold the weapon to, and repeat the process.

Concealed Carry Permits are issued for a person, not a weapon. So the cops don't know what firearms you own when you apply for the license.

I can't speak for Maine, but I can speak for Texas and I suspect it's similar: licenses are sold in stores that sell hunting goods (I usually buy mine at Academy, which is a local hunting/camping/fishing/sporting goods retailer). The clerks don't check if I own appropriate weapons and as a point of fact I don't own the right weapons for deer-hunting. (I have to buy a general license with some upgrades to go pheasant hunting, but I don't go deer hunting so that portion of the license is unused.)
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:55 AM   #13
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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Pretty much all the same question. Jack Daniels isn't technically bourbon, but it is standard, despite the much maligned lowering of alcohol content in 1987. However the 1980s see a huge surge in vodka in the US, especially among the younger and more fashion forward crowd.
What about Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam, Chivas Regal, and Maker's Mark? I think Walker and Beam are a bit down-market and Chivas is a bit foreign, but I thought Maker's Mark was upmarket and might be the drink of choice for the 'cultured' types.
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:57 AM   #14
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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but I thought Maker's Mark was upmarket and might be the drink of choice for the 'cultured' types.
I don't know about then, but now, Maker's Mark is, if on a scale of 1-100 with 100 being top shelf, about a 25-30. At least that's how it is considered in my area. It is priced comparatively. If Glenlivets (about a 45 on the scale) is $80ish (now) for 18 year old for a fifth, Maker's Mark is about $30.
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:01 AM   #15
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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I used to visit a couple of my aunts and some cousins who lived in Aroostock County at that time. While my memories are a bit fuzzy, i.e. I didn't pay a lot of attention to specifics, I can perhaps give some general impressions.
Wonderful! First hand experience!

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First, Aroostock County is big, not only by Maine's standards but by New Brunswick standards as well, it's as large as Connecticut and Rhode Island combined and it has a low population. It's peak population was about 104,000 in the 1960s, mostly as a result of Loring Air Force Base near Limestone. The population was in decline from the 1960s on. By 1990, the population would reach the levels it had in the 1930s. One of the big issues in Aroostock, and Maine more generally, was youth leaving for work elsewhere.
To the PCs, at least for this adventure, only the northwest part is relevant. They have already travelled from Houlton through Port Kent, down to the Saint John Valley, and are primarily concerned now with the tiny towns of Allagash, Dickey and St. Francis, with a slight chance that they might have to drive up to Saint John Plantation again or visit another nearby township in the Valley. They might visit Port Kent again and there is a theoretical chance that their case might take them all the way to Ashland and environs, if they decide that it merits further investigation, but at the moment, they are confined in a snowy bubble to their rented cabin in Allagash (which means that they are effectively also in Dickey, as it's the unincorporated part of Allagash).

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Aroostock County is close to uninhabited in the northwest, roughly west of State Road 11. Interstate 95 is a divided highway with a wide, natural median strip; two lanes of traffic in each direction; cloverleaf bypasses of communities; and a 60 mph speed limit (most U.S. highways were 55 mph at the time, IIRC). U.S. 1 which runs north from Houlton, is an undivided highway with one lane of traffic in each direction, no passing areas (where the road widens briefly to three lanes to allow passing [if you're fast and on your toes]) and does run through communities, so the speed limit frequently drops from 55 mph to 30 mph. Calculating travel times if you're not taking the interstate can be deceiving. Going to Caribou from Perth-Andover took close to twice as long as I figured based on the posted speed limit, though some of that was getting behind a slowpoke on the highway.
Uninhabited, check. Apart from the ca 4,000 people who live in Port Kent, the rest of the people who live in the adventure area probably number less than 2,000, with Allagash and St. Francis at just under 500 people each and two or three other townships at 100-250 people per, as well as several tiny villages or rural homesteads.

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The Duran-Duran/Wham controversy wasn't a thing in North America, as far as I can remember.
I'm shattered. I hope they knew a-ha and the incomparable musical stylings of Rick Astley, at least. Wouldn't be the 80s without them.

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My aunt's grandchildren were far more taken at the time by Weird Al Yankovitch and they loved the Dancing in the Streets video (which in 1988 was still being shown occasionally in theatres as filler while waiting for the movies to start).
What other 80s music was popular in Maine?

What was playing in diners or gas stations, if you can remember? Do stereotypical Mainians in this extremely rural part of the state listen to country music? Classic 60s rock?* Stuck-on-a-time-loop Jukebox that offers the flower of the most lily-white music of the 40s, from Glenn Miller and the Andrew Sisters to Bring Crosby? Edith Piaf?

*By the way, exactly when did 60s counter-culture become an acceptable staple of conservative dad-types? By 1988, can a conservative FBI agent in his late 40s listen to the Rolling Stones and be a boring old fogey for doing so, rather than an edgy rebel rocker?

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Some side effects of the low population are worth noting. The only two cities in Aroostock, Caribou and Presque Isle, have populations of less than 10,000 each and are both bigger than the county seat of Houlton, a town of about 8,500. Other towns are smaller than that and some towns run together. For example, one home in Island Falls is next door to a home in Crystal.
Yeah, like Allagash and Dickey.

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Most residential buildings have wood, as opposed to brick, facades. Although no really bad blizzards (bad blizzards drop enough snow to make exiting the house by the second story window on snowshoes both practical and necessary [and yes, I've seen photos from blizzards in the area that were exactly that bad]) occurred during the years I was there, they do happen and people went about equipping their houses accordingly. One of my cousin's had recently had a wood stove installed in one room as an emergency shelter in the event her home should suddenly find itself without power. For similar reasons, half of my aunt's gas range could also operate as a wood stove.
The weather started to worsen as the PCs drove from Houlton and has now been pretty worrying for 24 hours. Heavy snowfall, until it got too cold for more snow, at which point there is an eerie stillness and everything is covered in a very thick snow layer. Locals are predicting that the wind will pick up again in the afternoon and by nighttime, they'll have a very bad blizzard.

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Aroostock County is and was more conservative socially than southern and coastal Maine.
So, in 1988, would you expect open displays of prejudice against alternative lifestyles, for examples?

How would a middle-aged gay couple of New England men who bought a vacation cabin in northern Aroostok County, Maine, be treated in 1988?

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Cellphones weren't a thing but, as a volunteer ambulance dispatcher, one relative had a CB radio at home
How good is the range on those things?

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You might want to work on cultivating a Maine accent and drawl. Sheriff Amos Tupper's accent in Murder She Wrote is spot on. One phrase that was popular at the time, though more commonly heard in Calais [about an hour south of Aroostock], was "It's wicked decent," for emphatically good.
Murder She Wrote! I enjoyed that show, I'm glad to hear I can take in a few episodes and work on a Maine drawl.

Don't you hear some sort of Acadian French influence in the accent if you're in the Saint John Valley, i.e. at the border with a part of Canada that's pretty heavily Francophone? The 'biggest' town near my adventure area is Fort Kent and that seems to be a stubbornly French-speaking town, American though it may be.

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Another thing to note is that border towns on both sides of the line have a lot of intermarriage and consequently a lot of visiting back and forth. It's not unusual on either side to hear border towns referred to as a single entity, such as St. Stephen-Calais or Woodstock-Houlton. Americans would reverse the order though.
The close relationship with the border is a feature of the adventure.

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Given the distances involved, long-distance drives were common and not thought of as big deals. My aunt used to drive an hour from Island Falls to Houlton, once a week to play cards and visit with one of her cousins.
Right. That sounds like a lot of the US, actually.
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:01 AM   #16
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What about Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam, Chivas Regal, and Maker's Mark? I think Walker and Beam are a bit down-market and Chivas is a bit foreign, but I thought Maker's Mark was upmarket and might be the drink of choice for the 'cultured' types.
I was just pointing to the most widely sold American whiskey for middle class types. Johnnie Walker is a slightly higher end Scotch, but it and downmarket Jim Beam would both definitely be common. Chivas would be seen as an old man's liquor in the 1980s, and Maker's Mark is mostly a Kentucky drink until somewhere around the turn of the century.
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:17 AM   #17
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Would Crown Royal be a thing?

From my memories of snow driving as a child (in NE Ohio snow was very popular) I am amazed people survived . . . . traveling over snow and ice was less a matter of specialized technology than it was people simply not bothering to acknowledge that their car had any deficiencies, of course your RWD Camaro is the ideal winter commuter

Aside from the general disappearance of convertibles and motorcycles the vehicles that you saw in winter were the same ones you saw in summer

One of my more vivid winter driving memories of that time period involved my dad taking me to school in our old 74 GMC pickup, a hill was iced over and we watched cars get partway up then slide back down, so my dad turned our truck around, drove back away, then turned back to the hill and charged it with the truck floored so we hit the base of the hill with the speedometer pegged and powered all the way up and over
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:19 AM   #18
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Would Crown Royal be a thing?
Yes, they were quite popular for their dice bags even in the early 80s.
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Old 03-21-2016, 12:51 PM   #19
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2) {Jeep Grand Cherokee} Debuts in 1993, unless Wikipedia is wrong.

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer was apparently the gold standard of the SUV market in the 80s.
You're correct. Jeep Cherokees were around, but I incorrectly thought "Grand" was just the marketing name for their luxury trim line, instead of it being a different vehicle. At the time, "Wagoneer" did indeed fill that slot.

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to make the Range Rover a 'cooler' car for young men.
I was thinking largely in terms of price and import / rarity status symbol value.

Pickup trucks can also be cool for young men, like that Toyota SR5 that was Marty McFly's dream car, especially in rural areas.

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Originally Posted by mlangsdorf
think Walker and Beam are a bit down-market
Depends on the exact variety, doesn't it? JW Blue is far too expensive to be downmarket, even if it's terrible.

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Yes, {Crown Royal} were quite popular for their dice bags even in the early 80s.
I'm still using mine from that period. Never tasted Crown Royal, but the bag -- now there was a valuable product. These days, you can order them online, minus the liquor, and with custom embroidery.
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Old 03-21-2016, 01:55 PM   #20
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

9) While most people are saying "PC", the Wintel machine had not cemented it's dominance yet. Other options that she may have:

Commodore Amiga. The Amiga 2000 was a top model at the time, and included a lot of expansion options.

The Atari ST is also an option. Especially for someone into the Music and "Demo" scene.

An Apple Macintosh, either an SE or a Mac II if she was more upscale.

Also on the Apple side, she could have a IIgs, but a Mac would be more hipster.

As far as PCs go, IBM was still in their first generation of PS/2 systems, which had just been released in 1987. Only the highest of high end systems ran with 80386's, most folks made do with 8086/8088 machines, or might spring for an 80286.

You could still make do without a hard drive for day to day use. DOS was at version 4, Windows was only at version 2. Most PC work was at the command prompt, while the other machines listed all had fully realized GUIs.

Online work was with a modem, and given the area, long distance calls. BBSs were still a very big thing, Compuserv was the biggest name in what would become online services. Quantum Link had just changed it's name to America Online in Oct or Nov 88 after launching "PC Link" in August. GEnie was around also. Dial in speeds would be 2400 bits per second at most. ARPANET was just starting to become the Internet, but Berners-Lee wouldn't start work on HTML for another couple of years. She'd be much more likely to use CompuServ or GEnie or even FidoNet for "Email".
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