Today marks the 70th birthday of the King of Horror, Stephen King. And while many people think of him as the author of “It,” “The Shining,” and other nightmare fuel, the good people of Bangor, Maine also know him as a great neighbor.
King is the rare international celebrity who still lives and goes about his life in a relatively small town. (Bangor proper has just over 30,000 people.) His local paper, the Bangor Daily News, celebrated his birthday by sharing tales from people who have seen him out to dinner, let him coach their kids… and, in one case, told him his books suck.
“Stephen asked what I think of his books, and I said, ‘They’re boring,’ and my father said, ‘Timothy!'” said Tim Morse, recalling a time when his dad introduced him to King at a supermarket when he was seven years old.
“Stephen asked why they were [boring] and I said, ‘They’re adult books, I like kid books.’ Dad was clearly angry and embarrassed, so I asked, ‘What? I’m a kid.’ My father started apologizing to him, and Stephen said that it’s OK, he doesn’t write books for kids.”
Morse added: “Even at age 30, I look back at that and get a little red in the face.”
Theresa Cucinotti recalled how in the 1990s, King coached her daughter, the only girl on the town’s YMCA kids’ basketball team. During the championship game, King called a timeout and told the boys to pass to her. She sank it from behind the three-point line.
“The entire gym, both sides, were on their feet. I swear you could hear them cheer across the river. It was a moment everyone wanted all season long from the girl,” Cucinotti said. “The kindness he showed gave her a new confidence that has stayed with her to this very day.”
And while King has terrorized fictional Derry, Maine, for decades, he and his wife, Tabitha, founded a charity that has done a lot for Bangor.
A decade ago, they paid $12,999 to charter a bus so members of a National Guard unit could come home from Indiana, where they were training.
King refused to pay the extra dollar, the paper said, because the number 13 is unlucky.
We can’t recommend the Bangor Daily News story enough.