Kirstie Alley was my neighbor.  For one week in 1996.  My dad had died a few weeks earlier.  A friend suggested I needed some time away.  His old man had been the pastor of the DeWitt Community Church for decades.  As a young preacher, he had purchased an old cabin in Islesboro, Maine.  The area became gentrified and yet the family held onto the property.

Doug gave me the keys and said, “No charge”.  I spent the first night at a hotel in Portsmouth.  I woke up to the news of the Olympic Park bombing.  Then I drove to Maine.  I was told Alley had a home in Islesboro and that she organized local softball games.

My first night I went out for an evening walk and within a few houses came upon a ball diamond.  It was then that I heard someone yelling hello and looked to see her standing on a big porch.  We chatted across the ball field for a few minutes.  She knew I was staying at the Carmichael place.  Heck, everyone on the island knew there was someone at the old Carmichael Place.  And within a few days, everyone knew I was a TV reporter from Syracuse.  Thank you, Kirstie.

I would also speak with her at the coffee shop.  She would come in and gorge herself on ice cream.  One day there were two French Canadians at the counter and her kids, who were young at the time, were curious about the French speakers.  She explained the two cultures.  I was wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs cap and the kids wanted to know why I wasn’t speaking French.  She gave them a geography lesson.

Now, it’s not like she remembered our talks that week.  What I remember is a glamorous screen star who came across as a sister or a cousin.  After all, she was simply a girl from Kansas.

Next week back at the office I told everyone about the encounter.  One day, a story crossed the wire and said she and her husband would be divorcing.  There were a lot of jokes, but all I can say is the woman was the salt of the earth.  She made me feel like a neighbor during a trying time in my life.

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LOOK: Best Beers From Every State

To find the best beer in each state and Washington D.C., Stacker analyzed January 2020 data from BeerAdvocate, a website that gathers user scores for beer in real-time. BeerAdvocate makes its determinations by compiling consumer ratings for all 50 states and Washington D.C. and applying a weighted rank to each. The weighted rank pulls the beer toward the list's average based on the number of ratings it has and aims to allow lesser-known beers to increase in rank. Only beers with at least 10 rankings to be considered; we took it a step further to only include beers with at least 100 user rankings in our gallery. Keep reading to find out what the best beer is in each of the 50 states and Washington D.C.

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