(Cliff Island, Maine) A quiet place. It's a place where seeing an osprey search for his supper is excitement enough for one afternoon. Unfortunately, little Cliff Island has gotten a little too quiet. Its population shrinking, the islanders had council member Jeff Sawyer write up a newspaper ad.
Mr. Jeff Sawyer: We, as a community, are looking to attract new families with small children to our peaceful way of life.
Smith: Without new families, the school and maybe the post office will close. Thre's just too few folks like Dave and Cheryl Crowley, whose daughter Samantha pushed the population to 57.
Ms. Cheryl Crowley: It's a haven for children. They can roam the streets and the beaches freely, without fear.
Smith: What's the best thing about being here?
Mr. Dave Crowley: The remoteness.
Smith: What's the worst thing?
Mr. Crowley: The remoteness.
Smith: Cliff Island is a great place to live, if you can stand it. There's really only one way to get to Cliff Island and that's the ferry. Most of the year, it runs a very convenient four times a day. But the trip from Portland takes two hours, and that's when the weather cooperates. A few folks do commute because unless you have your own lobster boat, there's little work.
Mr. Earl Macvane (Teacher): Six take away four is...
Smith: Teacher Earl Macvane has one of the few full-time jobs.
How many kids you got in school this year?
Mr. Macvane: We're down to four.
Smith: The Macvane family has lived here for generations. Earl has a warning.
Mr. Macvane: Sneeze on one end of the island, they hear about it on the other, if you know what I mean.
Smith: Faith Rawding saw the ad and came to the island to see for herself. She believes her family can find something here that's often missing on the mainland.
Ms. Faith Rawding: A lifestyle that's closer to nature, a lifestyle that allows us to spend more time together as a family.
Smith: Ten-year-old Louie isn't sold yet.
Louie Rawding: I've lived on the mainland for my whole life, and it's much louder there. And I'm afraid I won't get used to this quietness.
Smith: The Rawdings would have to get used to peculiar island customs, like trusting your neighbor.
So you supply, then, the gas for the lobster guys.
Ms. Sue Rieth: And for our lobster boats, we have the honor system here and it's...
Smith: Show me how that works.
Ms. Rieth: Well, they come up and they get their thing and they write down what they got...
Ms. Rieth: ...and the date and then we close it up and they pay me when they sell their lobsters.
Smith: Cliff Island is one of those places progress hasn't screwed up yet. Sue Rieth owns the one and only store.
Ms. Rieth (to a customer): I'll ring you up.
There isn't a person here that I feel that I cannot rely on. And that's not only myself. That is how everybody feels. And I think that's very mportant.
Smith: Hard to find anymore.
Ms. Rieth: It's here, and we're going to keep it.
Smith: Of more than 700 inquiries, only the Rawdings and one other family have decided to leave the real world behind and move here. Would you? Harry Smith, CBS News, Cliff Island, Maine.
First aired on the CBS Evening News
May 16, 1997