Paul and Morris Longmire were born seven minutes apart on Sept. 20, 1940, the second set of twins delivered at the newly opened general hospital in Annapolis Royal, N.S. They were the middle pair of six kids born to Jean Longmire and her husband, Irving, a scallop fisherman who plied the Bay of Fundy. Paul came first, but from that point the two were inseparable, playing together until they were old enough to attend the one-room schoolhouse in their hometown of Hillsburn. They snared rabbits, played scrub baseball with friends and somehow shared a bicycle with fat rubber tires without fighting over it. “I don’t think they were ever heard to speak an angry word to one another,” says their sister Norma Oliver. “It’s hard to describe their connection. It was truly unique.”
The two left high school before finishing Grade 10, when Paul took a job at the general store in Hillsburn, and Morris went fishing with their father. They split their earnings evenly at the end of each pay period, and in 1962 they pitched in to buy a scallop boat so Paul could join Morris on the water. The Ellenwood, as she was called, was the first of several vessels they’d purchase together while constructing intertwined lives in Parker’s Cove, a village just down the Shore Road from Hillsburn. They built identical bungalows on a mutual driveway off Parker Mountain Road, and often could be found working together in a shared garage on the back of the property. Their first car—shared—was a ’52 Mercury. Their next was a ’58 Dodge Royal. They married eight months apart—Morris in September 1964, and Paul in May 1965. Morris and his wife, Carolyn, had three children: Kevin, Kirk and Krista; Paul and his wife, Beverley, had three sons: Jeffrey, Jeremy and James. All of the children were born between 1967 and 1973.
The small differences that can seem significant between twins were hard to spot in the Longmires. They both worked hard and were slow to anger. They had the same Annapolis lilt and wore near-identical clothes. “They were a team,” says their older brother Karl. “If one of them got sick, the other one wouldn’t fish without his brother. They just couldn’t be without each other.” Their tendency to travel together and to finish each other’s sentences made them locally famous. Friends referred to them as “Paulmorris.” Norma, who was eight years younger, figures that for years more people knew her as “the twins’ sister” than actually knew her name.
As the years passed, their lives fell into a comfortable rhythm: evening crib games, Sunday visits with their mother, winter trips to Florida. They were constantly ribbing each other and enjoying life’s absurdities. Once, they decided to buy motorhomes and by pure happenstance purchased the same make of RV over the same few days, in different towns. In times of trouble, though, the depth of their attachment came to the fore. In 2005, Paul’s wife, Beverley, died of cancer, and he was plainly lost. Morris and Carolyn stepped in to fill the void, inviting him for meals and shoring up his spirits. For weeks, Morris avoided going anywhere alone because he didn’t want his brother to be without his company. A few months later, Paul met his second wife, Loretta. The two married the following year.
By then, the twins had reconciled themselves to retirement and the onset of old age. Last year, they bought identical silver Volkwagen Golfs, yet rarely took them out at the same time. If one was headed somewhere, the other was usually going to the same place, or pleased to provide company. Even their maladies seemed in synch: when Morris got kidney stones a few years back, Paul’s kidney stones revealed their presence a few weeks later, like clockwork. When Morris scheduled a hip replacement operation, relatives joked: “You might as well get two appointments. Paul will be coming right behind you.”
Paul’s son Jeffrey had followed his dad into fishing. When lobsters were in season, the twins would drive up to the Parker’s Cove wharf to help him bait traps. Other times, they’d go just to watch the boats come in, and to gossip with friends. On Oct. 27, they had taken Paul’s car west on the Shore Road to enjoy the scenery, and were headed back to the wharf when they were in a head-on collision with a Chevrolet Silverado. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, and the pickup driver escaped with minor injuries. But Paul and Morris were both killed. They were 72.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012