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NEW HAMPSHIRE PUBLISHER | Robert Giuliana EDITOR | Rosanne Alexandre-Leach ART & DESIGN | Kelsey Munroe Liza Schiltz ADVERTISING SALES | Dan McCall IT ADMINISTRATOR | Jason St. Pierre WEB DESIGN | Adam Chittenden CONTRIBUTORS | Ray Cavanaugh, Liv Combe, Hayes Dunlap, KeriLynn Engel, Jessica Hardman, Ben Goodridge, Nicole Jacobsen, Ben Kimmel, Elizabeth Knowland, Kue John Lor, Michael McCord, Kyle Page, Susan Richardson, Alexandra De Steiguer, Mala Tyler
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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER Dear reader, I’m extremely pleased to welcome you to this first issue of Rediscover New Hampshire Portsmouth & Seacoast Edition. At heart, this magazine celebrates our local history. During these last many months, we’ve been treasure hunting for New Hampshire seacoast stories to bring to you. Our writers have looked through attics, burrowed into town records, and explored the depths of the internet. This first issue is a collection of those found treasures — some of the best seacoast stories we could find. We’ve re-confirmed that our community’s past is rich, sometimes quirky but always fascinating! We hope you will agree and that you enjoy this annual revisiting of local history as much as Rediscover New Hampshire Magazine and its advertisers enjoy bringing it to you. Robert Giuliana Publisher
Do you have a tale to tell, an interesting family history, or photographs to share? Rediscover New Hampshire is seeking engaging and thoughtful historical stories. Visit RediscoverTheUSA.com for submission guidelines or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org June 2014 Rediscover New Hampshire 3
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ESSAY: HISTORY MATTERS ........................................................... MICHAEL MCCORD ON LOCAL HISTORY DUSTY SHELF ............................................. POLITICAL CARTOONS FROM THE TREATY OF PORTSMOUTH OLD-FASHIONED FOOD: CRANBERRY TARTLETTES .................... LIV COMBE BAKES A TART FROM 1845 THE RACE ................................................. MALA TYLER LOOKS BACK AT THE THE RUN FOR THE ROSES LOST & FOUND ........................................ BEN GOODRIDGE REMEMBERS PORTSMOUTH’S OLD NORTH END OLD BUILDING: GRANGE NO. 194 ...... KUE JOHN LOHR UNEARTHS THE HISTORY OF THE GRANGE HALL WITCH ....................................................................... NICOLE JACOBSEN, A WITCH AND A PLATE OF BBQ SEE: IMAGES FROM 1916 ........................................... JESSICA HARDMAN SHARES HER FAMILY PHOTOS STORY: CAPTURE THE CASTLE ........................................... HAYES DUNLAP TELLS A PATRIOT’S STORY ROCK BAND OF DESTINY ...................................................... KERILYNN ENGEL LISTENS TO THE SHAGGS STUBBORN ISLANDS .......................... ELIZABETH KNOWLAND LOOKS BACK ON THE ISLES OF SHOALS A MEMOIR: THE WINTER CARETAKER ................................ ALEXANDRA DE STEIGUER ON LIVING ALONE THE STORM OF 1901 .................................................... BEN GOODRIDGE TELLS TALES OF THE WEATHER THE MAKER OF ALMANACS ............................... RAY CAVANAUGH READS NEW HAMPSHIRE’S ALMANAC MILL GIRLS .................................. SUSAN RICHARDSON APPRECIATES COURAGE IN THE COTTON MILLS THE YOUNGIN’S PAGE ............................................................................................................ TOYS & GAMES
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History Matters MICHAEL MCCORD
Michael McCord is the former political columnist and editorial page editor of the Portsmouth Herald. Did you know that July 4 was a vital, historical date for the frontier town of Exeter long before the Declaration of Independence of 1776? According to the updated town history of 1988, a hardy band of exiled Puritans from Massachusetts signed the Exeter Combination on July 4, 1639 to set up their own form of government. For those keeping track at home, that was 137 years before John Hancock signed that other, moderately more famous, document. In this era of iPhones, iPads, and homogenized digitized excess, it would be easy to imagine that the quaint town history is as vulnerable to extinction as the horse and buggy. After all, in an age when the depth of historical knowledge in the country may be at an all-time low, who has the time to read or write the interwoven economic, demographic,
and social pieces that tell the story of past as prelude? But what I found from my own research and conversations is that the town history genre is in fact alive and well and evolving with the times. This is thanks in part to the dedication of small groups of history lovers determined not to let the past fade away. While hardly always page turners, the rich idiosyncrasy of town histories can be a delightful gold mine of reflection and resource. As anyone who watches Fritz Wetherbee on WMUR-TV can attest, Wetherbee (a historical icon in his own right) has artfully mined odd and delightful bits and pieces of New Hampshire history, often sourced from local town histories. Barbara Rimkunas, the curator of the Exeter Historical Society, told me, “I don’t know why there would not be” more town histories written in the future. “People who live here
are tremendously interested in our town history,” she said about a town that has embraced its historical roots through institutions such as the American Independence Museum. Exeter is relatively up to date on the town history front. Its second town history (1888-1988) was published in 1988 to celebration the town’s 350th anniversary. Authoring the book was a major committee effort led by Nancy Carnegie Merrill and Rimkunas noted it was reprinted and sold well in 2013 in anticipation of Exeter’s 375th anniversary. The Stratham Historical Society is catching up on its town history. In anticipation of its 250th anniversary in 1966, a group of townsfolk came together and created a town history up to 1900 under the overall authorship of Mr. Charles B. Nelson. Later this year, the Stratham Historical Society plans to publish a second volume covering 1900 to the present for its 300th anniversary Continued on page 11
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in 2016. This time the style will be different. “The gentleman we chose prefers to write in the storybook style in order to keep it interesting,” said Pat Sapienza, president of the Stratham Historical Society. “He is writing chapters about different aspects and groups in the town and trying to cover all possible progressions. He plans to include as many pictures as possible.” A Portsmouth publisher told me that the town history format continues to evolve. “I think towns will always want their stories told,” said Deidre Randall, the CEO of Peter E. Randall Publisher. She added that because there is so much more content in the modern era, historical groups are considering shorter time frames. “We see them not waiting to try to cover 100 to 150 years but rather 50-year periods,” Randall said. Her company has published many town histories, including Exeter’s, and most recently, Rochester’s. Written by Kathryn Grover, the modern Rochester town history (“Rochester, New Hampshire, 1890-1910: A Compact Little Industrial City”) included 300 pages of photos in its 600-page edition. Randall said that historical societies are beginning to embrace the value of web sites and audio/video interview documents over the traditional town history book. Writing a town history in the information era is no small task. Peter Randall (father of Deidre) wrote the modern, 900-page Hampton town history published in 1989 (“Hampton: A Century of Town and Beach, 1888-1988”). He told me that dealing with information overload was the main challenge in deciding what went into or was kept out of the book. “In the 1700s, there wasn’t a lot of information,” Randall said. “Today, we have a voluminous amount of data.” One can only imagine what it will be like for future town history writers.
One major change is the trend toward professional authors such as Grover and Randall. The nineteenth centuryauthors of earlier town histories were often a unique breed of volunteer scholar. Consider the resume of Charles H. Bell, the author of Exeter’s first town history in 1888. Bell was a lawyer who married twice into what passed for Exeter royalty in the day (the Gilman family), briefly served as an appointed U. S. Senator, was president of the New Hampshire Senate, served the Speaker of the New Hampshire House, and was elected to one term as governor (1881-1883).
HAVE A HANKERING FOR LOCAL HISTORY? We recommend:
Subscribing to Rediscover new Hampshire! Visiting, by foot or by web, your local historical society! The Portsmouth Athenaeum PortsmouthAthenaeum.org Janice Brown’s History Blog CowHampshireBlog.com New Hampshire Historical Society NHHistory.org The History Section at SeacoastNH.com
Rimkunas told me that Bell had his biases as a historian. He barely mentioned the War of 1812 or the Mexican American War (1846-1848) but, says Rimkunas, that is not surprising. The former conflict was deeply unpopular in New England and the latter was seen as little more than a bloody land grab to expand slavery. In another sign that some things never change, Bell also took a notso-subtle shot at his fellow citizens for their lack of historical awareness. In the preface of his 1876 book, “Exeter in 1776,” Bell observed that “People in the active walks of life have hitherto usually paid little heed to the memory of the past; many of them had hardly the curiosity to learn the names of their own grandfathers and cared no more for the relics of a former generation than for the dust beneath their feet.” While the town history genre continues, writing these historical tomes may not be for the faint of heart. Randall followed in the footsteps of Joseph Dow, whose massive Hampton town history was posthumously published by his daughter Lucy in 1893. “I think (writing the book) shortened his life,” Randall wryly said. “I know I felt the same way writing it.”
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POLITICAL CARTOONS FROM THE TREATY OF PORTSMOUTH One hundred and nine years ago, Russian and Japanese delegates came together in Portsmouth to sign a treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War. Russia, defeated, agreed to cede the southern half of the island of Sakhalin to Japan, as well as affirm the Japanese presence in south Manchuria and Korea. The negotiations were brokered in part by President Theodore Roosevelt, who would win a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the peace efforts. And how went the negotiations? It depends on your view:
TOP LEFT: The work of French cartoonist T. Bianco. Japan is on the left, Russia on the right (in much worse shape). President Roosevelt says, “Enough!” TOP RIGHT: A Japanese political cartoon artist accuses their country’s delegation of “selling out” their dead soldiers. A sticking point, the treaty did not include Russia paying indemnity (reparations for losses) to Japan.
BOTTOM LEFT: As negotiations in Portsmouth near an end, American cartoon artist Clifford Berryman shows the involved parties gathered around the “treaty baby” to choose its name. BOTTOM RIGHT: A Russian cartoon, “Uncle Sam Sitting on a Big Purse Attacked by Tiny Japanese Soldiers.” To explain, the Japanese government’s efforts in the Russo-Japanese War depended on large private loans from New York City and London. 12 Rediscover New Hampshire June 2014
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Cranberry Tartletts STORY & PHOTOGRAPHS BY LIV COMBE
It took an unassuming tartlet to make me realize just how little I know about 1845. The New England Economical Housekeeper, a cookbook and guide to living frugally for the modern woman â€“ the modern woman more than a century and a half ago in New Hampshire, that is, one who is concerned with things like how to treat consumption (No. 293) and the most effective way to drive off flies without damaging your picture frames (No. 374) â€“ was published more than a century and a half before it found its way to me. As I use my iPhone to compare similar recipes for cranberry tartlets, my chosen recipe from the PDF of the book on my computer, it dawns on me that tying on an apron in my kitchen does not an economical housekeeper make. Continued on page 17 14 Rediscover New Hampshire June 2014
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Take the instructions, for example. “Stew your cranberries,” Mrs. E. A. Howland tells me. “When done, add some quantity of sugar; make a rich pastry, roll it thin, make small tarts.” And? And nothing, as it turns out. The recipe ends there – no measurements, no baking time, no oven temperature. I assume the recipe for pie crust will provide more guidance.
“Take a quantity of flour proportioned to the number of pies you wish to make, then rub in some lard and salt, and stir it up with cold water; then roll it out, and spread on some lard, and scatter over some dry flour; then double it together, and cut it in pieces, and roll it out to the thickness you wish to use it.” Maybe not. It seems that baking circa 1845 was like modern cooking – instead of being guided by precise measurements and baking times, as you are when baking today, you rely on instinct and experience with the ingredients and the overall dish. Is that how women spent their lives in 1845 – making these same recipes over and over again? This cookbook is one indication that the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” Shopping for ingredients at the market, I compare my tartlet preparation to what it must have been in the nineteenth-century. I’m guessing it didn’t involve two bags of
frozen cranberries, and did involve a rather hefty amount of pig fat – the lard Mrs. Howland so casually rubs into her crust – an amount that would make today’s diet and exercise gurus shudder. Back at home, I’m half following other recipes for cranberry tartlets I’ve found online, half trying my best to rely on an instinct that I soon learn I don’t quite have – this being, I think, the third time I’ve made pie crust.
Every move is micro-analyzed: I’m stirring this in a plastic bowl. Did Mrs. Howland have a plastic bowl? I opt for butter instead of lard; how easily accessible would butter have been to the average New Hampshirite? I add cold water from the tap; how disruptive would it have been to collect water from a well in the middle of making pie crust? I put the dough in the fridge; how did they chill dough? As I move on to the cranberry compote, so do my inquisitive thoughts. “Sugar,” the recipe calls for. Brown? White? Which was common? How expensive was sugar in 1845? Were standards for sugar use different back then – did people generally use less? Was obesity an issue in 1845? (Even considering Mrs. Howland’s liberal use of lard, I doubt it was for the average economical housewife.)
into muffin tins –did they even have muffins? – and place them into the oven to bake. Thirty minutes later, out the tartlets come, golden and bubbling and – yep, I bite into one – delicious. I might have cheated on Mrs. Howland a bit, but this recipe proves to be at once timeless and forever part of 1845 New Hampshire and 1845 New Hampshire alone. Beyond the minimalist instructions on how to make a cranberry tartlet,
this recipe is a small slice of an exact moment in time, of a lifestyle that’s impossible to create not just from my kitchen, but anywhere in 2014. Theoretically, I could have bought lard. I could have fetched cold water from a well. I could have swatted a fly away from my picture frame. But I still wouldn’t have been in 1845, a time when cranberries would have been something I had to wait until fall to bake with, when I would have been making them more out of necessity than recreation, and when I would have used something as unappealing as pig fat. We often think of food as a product of culture and place, but it is also a product of time. And these cranberry tartlets, as delicious as they turn out, aren’t the same ones an economical housekeeper would have made 169 years ago. Some recipes, I decide, just can’t be followed.
And so my mind spirals down a black hole of questions. I shape the tartlets June 2014 Rediscover New Hampshire 17
THE RACE Only once has a winning horse been disqualified from the Kentucky Derby.
14 Horses 6600 Feet 122 Seconds 5 Years of Lawsuits $122,600 in Winnings 1 Trophy
long Atlantic Avenue in North Hampton exists a piece of heaven, where pastoral scenery is scented with salty sea air. Just minutes from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Runnymede Farm resembles its bluegrass counterparts with rows of wood fencing, sprawling green pastures, and an impressive 1923 gambrel barn. But far from Kentucky, it was here that New Englander Peter Fuller realized his ambitions of raising Thoroughbred racehorses. Standing silently for decades in the main pasture, a weathered billboard pays homage to his most accomplished horses and a tale of intrigue, victory, and scandal. As the bugle sounded Call to the Post at the 1968 Kentucky Derby, tensions were high in Louisville – especially at the iconic Churchill Downs. A year earlier, the race was nearly derailed by a civil rights battle over fair housing, lead in part by Martin Luther King Jr. Protesters had disrupted the weeklong lead-up celebration by blocking the horses’ arrivals and had risked running onto the track, disrupting a race. Eleven months later – the 18 Rediscover New Hampshire June 2014
housing conflict still unresolved – Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis. Peter Fuller decided if his colt, Dancer’s Image, won the Governor’s Gold Cup race, he’d donate the purse in King’s honor. Just weeks before arriving at Churchill Downs for the Derby, Fuller quietly delivered the $62,000 check to King’s widow, Corretta Scott King. The news of the gift reached Churchill Downs before Fuller and his grey colt arrived at the barns on the backstretch. His support of the Civil Rights Movement had been met with both admiration and contempt. Having endured both hate mail and vandalism leading up to his bid, Fuller’s arrival was met with a chilly reception. He feared for the safety of his horse amongst the animosity and requested additional security at Dancer’s Image’s stall. The requests fell on deaf ears. Despite the ill will towards him, Fuller rejoiced in living his dream. Dancer’s Image was stunning
colt, homegrown and personally bred. The thoroughbred had inherited amazing speed from his famous sire, Native Dancer, but, alongside his aptitude for winning races, Dancer’s Image also shared his father’s tender ankles. Six days before the Derby, the colt’s trainer asked that the horse be treated with Phenlybutazone to relieve pain and swelling. Phenlybutazone, or Bute, is a common anti-inflammatory pain reliever that was legal on race days at most tracks – except Churchill Downs. The horse’s team felt that six days was more than ample time for the medication to clear from his system. Fuller felt that his horse was ready and poised to win. May 4, 1968 presented perfect conditions for a fast track at the Derby. Out of the gate, Dancer’s Image fell to the back of the pack with little speed. After dropping his whip, jockey Bobby Ussery used his bare hand to urge a run from the very back of the fourteen-horse field. As the horses thundered down the homestretch, Dancer’s Image slipped by on the inside rail to overtake race
Photo Courtesy of Suffolk Downs
To the right are Dancer’s Image on tender ankles and jockey Bobby Ussery in a jaunty hat
favorite Forward Pass and cross the finish line first by a length and a half.
last place, sits the grey colt, Dancer’s Image.
Two days passed. Fuller’s elation turned to heartbreak when race officials announced the colt had tested positive in a post-race check for Phenlybutazone. For the first time in history, a winner of the Kentucky Derby was disqualified. The horse’s handlers were outraged. Rumors ran rampant that the “Derby Doc” had later given the horse a second dose of medicine to better the chances of his more affluent clients: the owners of Forward Pass. Controversy swirled around the lab’s handling of the test and the conspiracy of retaliation over Fuller’s philanthropic actions. After all, Fuller was what many did not want at the Derby – an outsider, a civil rights supporter, and a Northerner.
Peter Fuller would never again run for the roses though he would successfuly breed 45 stakes winners, including the other horse on the billboard, Mom’s Command, who won the Filly Triple Crown with Fuller’s own daughter in the stirrups.
Fuller brought the matter to court, contending that the drug test was faulty. After a smaller court ruled in his favor, the legal battle broiled on for years in an endless schedule of appeals, overturns, and reinstatements. The race was dubbed the longest Derby in history. In the end, Forward Pass was awarded the win; at the bottom of the results, in
Runnymede Farm was eventually sold. Wonderfully, it remains a horse farm despite the allure of profitable development and the decline of the horse racing industry. Its pastures are grazed by horses that have neither seen a starting gate nor thundered down a home stretch. And more than four decades later, Dancer’s Image can still be seen up on that weathered billboard, now scheduled for some well-deserved care by the farm’s current owners. Under the horse’s picture it reads, “Dancer’s Image Winner 1968 Kentucky Derby,” so that decades from now, people will know that here in this quiet seaside New Hampshire town, despite the controversy and mystery, lived a Kentucky Derby winner.
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LOST & FOUND BEN GOODRIDGE
Photos courtesy of Portsmouth Public Library
In Portsmouth’s Italian-rooted North End, ongoing efforts in urban renewal have wiped clean many of the neighborhood’s old, wooden homes. Now, many in the community are working to remember and celebrate these lost images, memories, and stories.
he hopeful spring sunrise over the Piscataqua River has been a treasured sight to the citizens of Portsmouth for centuries. Since the city’s founding in 1623, the people here have enjoyed the beauty of shimmering light on the water as they set to their daily routines. In the North End – one of the oldest sections of the city – families have watched buildings rise and fall, ships sail for war, and businesses spring to life and fade away. Yet for many in the Italian-rooted neighborhoods, there has always been that familiar view out towards the river, or at least an opening for the salty sea air to flow through. Now, all of that could be changing. The city has ok’d a long list of construction projects – steps in an urban renewal effort that has been taking place for decades in the city. Some of the buildings – a Whole Foods plaza and a group of condominiums, to name a few – will block many of the community’s cherished views of the Piscataqua. These projects are nothing new to the people of Portsmouth. “The city’s North End was basically demolished by urban renewal around 1970,” says Courtney MacLachlan, a preservationist who works at the
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Portsmouth Athenaeum, a private library founded in 1817 that houses material of historical importance to the area. “At that time, the neighborhood was comprised of old wooden homes crowded together with small yards. Many of them had been divided into apartments. Some of the houses were in bad shape, some not so bad.” But when it comes to urban land redevelopment, city officials don’t always discriminate. “A few of the buildings were saved, not torn down. As for the rest, the owners were paid off and the buildings scrapped, especially the Deer St. and Russell St. areas.” Those roadways are known as the heart and soul of the North End, and while many of the old buildings were wiped away for larger venues, such as the Sheraton Hotel on Hill Street, the view toward the river always remained. “At the time [of the 70’s urban renewal], the neighborhood was mostly inhabited by Italian Americans whose families had immigrated to the US circa 1900 to 1920,” says Machlachlan. “They worked in shoe factories and in the shipyards, and later many of them owned small businesses in town like Mario’s Market on Market Street. The families were large and intergenerational, and because the neighborhood was
crowded, they all seemed to live across the street from each other, or just next door. After the area was demolished, many of the families stayed in the Portsmouth area, but the strong sense of a neighborhood community was destroyed with the houses.” Although Italian Americans still inhabit the city and surrounding towns to this day, they lost an irreplaceable part of their neighborhood to the redevelopment efforts. But the people who lived through urban renewal in the 70’s have found a way to combat this sense of loss. “Now, about forty-five years later, people from the old North End neighborhood have begun to get together and share pictures and stories,” Machlachlan tells us. “The Italian American Heritage Association (IAHA) is the impetus behind the effort to salvage bits and pieces of neighborhood life there. They have held publicity drives, meetings, and dinners to encourage people to dig out their old photographs and share them. So far, they have collected over threehundred-and-fifty pictures of the old North End before urban renewal.” One such member of the IAHA, Valerie Capodelupo Koloshey, is in charge of collecting the photos and has shared them with the public
on the Athenaeum’s website. And that’s not all she’s done to ensure past generations of Italian Americans in Portsmouth receive their proper due: “We have videotaped some of these people as they tell the story of what their lives were like before urban renewal,” Koloshey says. “They explain in depth about how they and their families, friends, and neighbors were affected by it all.” Koloshey has always been passionate about the effects redevelopment efforts have had on the Italian Americans in the Portsmouth area. “I was born in an Italian neighborhood in Haverhill, Massachusetts and moved to Portsmouth just over ten years ago,” she explains. “I first got involved in [the IAHA] when my friend, Judy Capobianco, and I went to the Portsmouth library, the Athenaeum, and the Historical Society of Portsmouth, searching for information about the lives and contributions the Italian-Americans had made to Portsmouth. We found very little on the subject.” Koloshey didn’t let this lack of historical information stop her. She kept searching and found a map of all the homes that had been destroyed by urban renewal in the early seventies. “When we saw the large “condemnation” map listing all the families who lost their homes, it
struck a chord with us. If you are of Italian descent, it doesn’t matter where you see an injustice. You always feel it. After all, we are all from the same heritage and these people are our people. We wanted to be sure they were not forgotten and that they became a permanent part of Portsmouth’s history.” With the IAHA bringing these old families back to life, Koloshey is helping to do just that. Will the future inhabitants of Portsmouth be gazing back at photos from lost times, fifty years from now? Will they wonder what the view of the Piscataqua River was like before towering condominium complexes loomed in the way? A great deal of the current construction is already taking place, with plans for future redevelopment a near certainty. And while it would be ideal to save what houses are left from condemnation, these properties are only getting older. This grim reality makes the IAHA’s endeavors to cement Portsmouth’s Italian past in photographs, movies, and stories that much more important. Although river views might be lost and cityscapes revamped to match visions of the future, the heart of the Italian community beats just as strong as ever.
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THIS OLD BUILDING
GRANGE NO. 194 KUE JOHN LOHR
Photo courtesy of the Rollingsford Players, Photo by Paul Norris
n the drive down Portland Avenue through Rollinsford is a solitary white building on a hill. It has always been a community building, a place where people come together to share ideas and experiences. Today it is a theatre, home of the Garrison Players, but before, it was known as the Grange Hall. Most old buildings have three things – an architect, a namesake, and a reason to still exist. And each is a story worth telling. This old building was born of the designs of Alvah
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Thurston Ramsdell, one of New Hampshire’s most prolific architects. Ramsdell loved to design public buildings: the Rollinsford Town Hall, the Dover High School, the Strafford Building Bank and, in 1895, the Grange Hall. At the top of the building is a sign. It reads, “Hiram R. Roberts Grange No. 194.” Mr. Roberts (1806-1876) was a farmer and a very busy man. He was the first president of the Strafford County Agricultural Society, a member of the New Hampshire
State Board of Agriculture, associate justice of the court of common pleas, judge of probate, president of the Salmon Falls Bank, and founder of the Rollinsford Savings Bank. Roberts was also the Democratic candidate for governor in 1875, where he is said to have received the most votes for any Democratic candidate to date, losing by only 172 votes. The Grange served as a meeting place for local farmers, particularly those belonging to the Patrons of
The Grange Hall was used as such until the 1960s. It would then stand vacant, crumbling slowly, for almost 30 years.
Photo courtesy of the Rollingsford Players Photo by Paul Norris
Husbandry. Established in the late nineteenth century, this was a national organization created to assist rural farmers with the difficulties they inevitably faced: expensive machinery, high mortgage rates, falling prices, and even greedy swarms of grasshoppers. And, in better times, it was a place for dancing and quilting â€“ a warm building to alleviate the isolation of rural farm life.
The Garrison Players were a small community theater group looking for a home. Since 1953, they had roamed from stage to stage, storing boxes and racks of costumes and props in their own attics, garages, and basements. Though the Grange was in a state of disrepair and the rear was falling away from the rest of the structure, it was a renovation worth undertaking. In 1987, the Garrison Players purchased the historical grange. It would be almost 20 years of repairs until the building hosted its fist official stage production; the players put on their first show, 1777, in 2004. And today, the Grange Hall once again serves as a place where people come together as a community â€“ a reason to still exist.
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WITCH NICOLE JACOBSEN
Im age courtes y of t ry he L a l Libr a ne Memoria
Over 300 years after her death, the tales of Goody Cole’s diabolicalness are still being spun. Over a plate of smokehouse ribs, Nicole Jacobsen considers the life of a woman convicted of witchcraft.
t’s apparent as I park my car in the dirt lot of Goody Cole’s Smokehouse in Brentwood, New Hampshire that these good folks are the keepers of the secret to slowroasting flesh. The wondrous smells of wood smoke and cooking meat transport me back to long-gone summer days when my brother and I would climb to the top of the old Red Cedar tree with our .22s and shoot beer cans off the tops of corn rows, breaking only when we needed a bite of Mom’s backyard-smoked jerky, or to reload. The smells emanating from the charming brick-red ramshackle that is Goody Cole’s Smokehouse (and my aforementioned nostalgia) were apparently so rapturous that I only notice the gigantic, streetside, handlettered billboard as I’m reaching for the large iron handle of the entrance: “We like pig butts and we cannot lie.” I pause and consider for a moment how satisfying it could be to show my 24 Rediscover New Hampshire June 2014
eight year-old and my boyfriend that I can still recite all the lines from Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 smash hit “Baby Got Back,” but I’m instead propelled back toward the side of the lot from whence the distinct smell of the smoker wafts toward me once again. The slightly less than precise stacks of firewood, old and rusted smoker parts, sun-bleached wood from former table tops, and large, empty ketchup barrels are yet another sign that this place is legit — too legit to quit — so I do myself and my very patient family a favor and enter Goody Cole’s Smokehouse. The first thing I notice is the collection of New Hampshire license plates that cover the walls — specifically the one that reads, “TOILET.” Obviously, these people have a sense of humor.
I find myself surprised at the friendly ordinariness of the woman behind the counter taking our order. Where was her witch hat, or the offer of fermented milk, or her locket with a picture of the smokehouse mascot, or her gimmicky fake-warted nose, and why was she not taking my inquiries about the true story of Eunice “Goody” Cole more seriously than whether or not we wanted cornbread? When I order three cups for water, she hands me three bottles of refrigerated bottled water, and I (in my most polite voice) explain that I’d greatly prefer tap water, as I avoid drinking bottled water due to the leaking of toxic dioxin chemicals and the adverse consequences this may hold for my daughter’s future reproductive health. She and I make eye contact and a considerable amount of time passes, but no words
are actually exchanged. She simply smiles in that charming way New Englanders do – the way that suggests smiles aren’t a devalued currency – and I get the sense she’s thinking I’d enjoy myself more if only I’d stop talking and start eating. It occurred to me then, that Goody Cole’s Smokehouse is no place for highfalutin city folks with big ideas that go against the grain. I would have been better off asking if they had jerky, a .22 shotgun, some beer cans, and a Red Cedar tree to climb. I must admit, the simple friendliness of the clerk who cared about her cornbread was undoubtedly a better indicator of an authentic smokehouse than the same girl being in seventeenthcentury costume, smiling brightly, greeting us with a suspicious degree of enthusiasm (ever been to Trader Joe’s?), and offering me a fresh coconut water in lieu of poisonous bottled water. As I dig into a generous helping of Goody Cole’s Smokehouse’s delicious ribs, brisket, turkey, pulled pork, chili, cornbread, cucumber salad, baked beans, and a side of gluten, I find myself thinking that Eunice Cole was disliked by her Hampton townsfolk in part for doing precisely what I had just done – speaking my mind. Well, okay, speaking her mind with a generous side of Pushy and Annoying. Goody Cole, though often provoked, apparently never hesitated to say precisely what she was thinking, even at the risk of ruffling the petticoats and feathered caps of her townsfolk. And it appears that’s how her troubles began. To be fair, she was uneducated, definitely not well-spoken, certainly not a beauty, plus she was temperamental and childless – a package that guaranteed her the title of neighborhood pariah, shrew, and eventually witch in the seventeenthcentury town of Hampton, New Hampshire. Eunice was born around 1600 in Middlesex, England. At the time of her immigration to New England,
her name was recorded as “Eunice,” but most seem to have referred to her as “Goody,” short for “Goodwife,” which was the only title given to a woman of the poorer classes and only once she married. Eunice “Goody” Cole and her husband, William Cole, had been the indentured servants of one Mr. Matthew Cradock, who was a leader of the Puritan movement in England and a wealthy London merchant. Once the Coles landed in Massachusetts, they were granted two acres of land in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts, though they would go on to spend time in Exeter as part of a new religious movement under Rev. John Wheelwright, who had fled another Puritan colony under mysterious circumstances. Around 1640, Goody Cole and her husband would move to nearby Hampton and, by another stroke of bad luck, would become the parishioners of one Rev. Stephen Bachiler, who would later be ostracized for having an affair with a young parishioner while in his eighties. Goody Cole had long-since begun to suffer the disdain of her neighbors and townspeople, not only for her behavior, but also for her aforementioned affiliations with characters of nefarious repute. She would be arraigned in court on a
charge of “slanderous speeches” in 1645 after referring to a townswoman of high standing as a whore. Making matters worse, she was alleged to possess the power of shapeshifting, and of using this power to roam the streets of Hampton at will as a dog, cat, or eagle. Her child accusers (also unfortunate for Goody’s chances) described seeing the Devil at her dinner table, cleverly disguised as a black dwarf with a red hat. Presumably Goody Cole and her dinner guest, the Devil, enjoyed mincemeat pie, fireside. Over the years, superstitions regarding Goody Cole would abound. A man whose cattle had grazed within the perimeters of her property claimed she had cursed his herd after one calf died and another disappeared. Locals would accuse Goody Cole of being the culprit behind mysterious scraping sounds at their doors, their illnesses, and even for the death of a sick child. Contrary to popular belief, New Hampshire witches weren’t burned at the stake for their crimes. This was the seventeenth-century, for God’s sake – women were roused from their homes in the night, hoisted into an inhospitable carriage, shackled, and then thrown into Boston Prison where they’d await their fair and just trial in solitude and darkness. June 2014 Rediscover New Hampshire 25
One might argue that the more humane punishment would have been a hanging or even to be burned at the stake, for the unfortunate Goody Cole would spend much of the remaining 20 years of her life in prison. Though accused of innumerable crimes over her lifetime, Eunice Cole was formally convicted of witchcraft just three times. The first was in 1656, as a 56 year-old woman. The story goes that Cole was to be whipped for her crimes, the charge being corporeal punishment – not hanging – presumably because the case was thrown out when the Devil (remember the black dwarf with the red hat?) failed to appear in court to testify against her. The constable, stripping her of her clothing, noticed a suspicious “teat” which, in the parlance of our times, was likely a supernumerary nipple. Mark Wahlberg (the Funky Bunch-turned actor and former lead singer of Marky Mark) also bears a supernumerary nipple; fortunately for Wahlberg, an extra nipple is no longer a sign of your pact with the devil, but for a seventeenth-century woman like Eunice Cole a genetic mishap, even of such an innocuous variety, only added fuel to the fire of her accusers seeking proof of her witchy guilt. Goody Cole was convicted of witchcraft again in 1673 and then, finally, in 1680 for something about “having familiarity with the devil” (obviously an understatement, being as he used to come over for dinner).
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Her husband, William Cole, would die during her absence and, before she returned home, the people of Hampton would kindly relieve her of her land and possessions as the Boston court began to bill the town for the cost of her prison “room and board.” Goody died shortly thereafter in a small cabin by a river granted to her in lieu of her 40 acres and home. If she was buried, her grave is unmarked and no one actually knows precisely how she died or where her remains ended up. Lore tells us the townspeople got wind of her death and dragged her out to a grassy field where they drove a stake through her heart and buried her, or perhaps even burned her remains. Either way, no proper burial or ceremony was recorded. Some say the ghost of Goody Cole still wanders Hampton in a shawl and buckled shoes, looking for a place to finally come to rest. Over 300 years after her death, the tales of Goody’s diabolicalness are still being spun. It seems no one can get enough of the Goody Cole bashing. Thanks to John Greenleaf Whittier, Goody Cole’s sad story would become poetry in 1864 with “The Change ling” and with “Wreck of the Rivermouth,” in which Goody is linked respectively to the demonic possession of a baby and to the shipwreck of 1657, wherein eight Hampton residents drowned. The twentieth-century books of New Hampshire folklorist Eva Speare even include the story of the Hampton
witch. Television docu-dramas depict the dead body of Goody Cole being dragged to the beach and a stake driven through her heart, much to the delight of school children across New Hampshire. In 1938, an organization known as “The Society in Hampton for the Apprehension of Those Falsely Accusing Eunice ‘Goody’ Cole of Having Familiarity with the Devil” was formed and sought to formally clear Goody Cole’s name. On March 8, 1938 at the 300th Town Meeting, the people of Hampton restored to Eunice “Goody” Cole her citizenship. In a public ceremony, court documents pertaining to her case were burned and the ashes were mixed with soil from her 40 acres of land. The urn holding these remnants was to have been buried, finally bestowing upon Goody the ceremonious burial she deserved, but due to a series of unfortunate mishaps – and in keeping with the tradition of Goody Cole getting the short end of the stick – the urn was forgotten about. Finally, many years later, it was instead given to the Tuck Museum, which was erected on the very spot that Goody’s little cabin had stood. The Tuck Museum now houses an exhibit dedicated to Goodwife Eunice Cole. In 2013, composer and producer Robert McClung had the idea of telling stories from history –through classical, world, jazz, and progressive rock music – using musicians from all over the globe. Thus, the band Telergy
was born. For Telergy’s second album, McClung chose the story of Eunice “Goody” Cole, Hampton’s most prominent witch. He formed a star-studded ensemble that included Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Joel Hoekstraand and Valerie Vigoda of Trans Siberian Orchestra, Ryo Okumoto of Spocks Beard, and several other worldrenowned musical heavyweights. Together, they created a 17-track album called The Legend of Goody Cole. Of the hour-long album, tracks “Verdict,” “Ghosts,” and “Incarceration” hearken back to the bleakness and suffering Goody Cole must have endured. Hovering over Dee Snider’s voluminous guitar and the hypnotic drum rhythm, one can picture a fleeing Goody Cole – hounded, quickly outrun, and inevitably surrounded as the distant sound of horns and the eerie chant of “guilty, guilty, guilty” rise slowly enough that once they’ve arrived, escape is futile. Though Goody Cole’s Smokehouse isn’t likely to be a place where the portentous sounds of Telergy will grace your eardrums, who can really complain about listening to Neil Young and James Taylor while eating a third slice of the most delicious cornbread to be found this side of the Rockies, all while eyeballing walls and walls of the strangest New Hampshire license plates known to man. I imagine Goody Cole herself would have enjoyed the smokehouse that is her namesake. I bet she’d even
have taken the dioxin-laden, refrigerated, bottled water without complaint and left with a new skip in her step, thanks to the New-England-style-smile of the counter clerk and a belly full of slow-smoked pig flesh. As we pull out of the dirt lot of Goody Cole’s Smokehouse, the gigantic handlettered road sign has been changed – it now reads, “The juiciest rack your wife will let you bring home.” I chuckle to myself, wink at my smiling boyfriend, and put the pedal to the metal, lest I have to explain to my eight year-old what that one means.
Image courtesy of the Lane Memorial Library
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1916 Jessica Hardman shares her family photos, opening a window into the past. These are images of life in Exeter and Hampton Falls during the early nineteenth-century.
Mrs. Nellie Weare and her biddys. Chickens were so inexpensive to obtain and replace that they were often omitted from family property lists. Nearly every New England farm was home to a flock whose care was delegated to the women of the household. 28 Rediscover New Hampshire June 2014
A barn cat enjoys a ride on a 1916 workhorse. Barn cats were an important addition to seacoast farms â€“ eliminating vermin protected stored grains from contamination and consumers from disease.
Two children enjoy a ride on a 1925 Harley Davidson motorcycle.
A content Mr. Ezra Fogg.
Mrs. Abbie Brown embroidering. Adorning household linens with decorative embroidery was very much the style in the late 1800s and early 1900s. June 2014 Rediscover New Hampshire 29
Mrs. Sadie Rand, her hat, and her cat, Kittens, smile for the camera.
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Mrs. Sadie Rand and baby Florence Rand relax and/or frolick in the fresh air in the company of a family friend, Winnie.
Three women enjoy a leisurely day of boating.
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A bit of patriotic flair.
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Members of the venerable Myopia Hunt Club put their riding skills to the test in the fiels of Exeter.
A happy gathering of friends take advantage of the shade of a sheet. Seated are Olive, Lillian, Walter, Mrs. Crosby, Mrs. Ladd, and Etta.
Mr. Henry Fogg and his horse, Hannah Dustin, venture out for a winter sleigh ride.
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CAPTURE THE CASTLE HAYES DUNLAP
This is a Patriot’s story. Let 1774’s John Langdon be your eyes and ears to the Raid on Fort William and Mary. It’s a cold and dangerous undertaking; wear your woolies, pack some pickled beets, and give your wife a kiss.
t has been 363 days since the events of the Boston Tea Party, and the hunger for revolution in the American Patriot has grown stronger still. As John Langdon returns home through the freezing winter night of December 13, 1774, he considers the troubling information set before him. Earlier in the day, as the sun rose highest, Paul Revere delivered bad news. His Majesty, King George III, has signed an order halting all transport of gun powder and arms to the colonies; even worse, there is rumor on the wind that a regiment of Red Coats has quietly embarked north from Boston to secure the
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nearby Fort William and Mary, also known as the Castle. Worries loop and sink into the pool of Langdon’s thoughts as the most important fact rises to the surface – gunpowder is now on the short list of illegal exports to America, and the Castle is the colony’s main munitions depot.
No. By the close of the next day, action will have been taken. Action to secure the Castle’s powder; action to exhibit rebellion in the face of British rule; action which may, by the finish, draw some of the first shots in what will become the great American Revolution.
Langdon thinks back on the emergency meeting of the town’s elders and their choice to put off any decision till the next day. Certainly there would be consequences to any overt action taken against the garrison at the Castle, but does that mean the correct approach is more deliberation? More restraint? In Langdon’s opinion, more cowardice?
Knowledge of trouble brewing spreads through Portsmouth during the night, but the news is not limited to those against the Crown – the King’s representative, Governor John Wentworth, gathers information from a loyalist sympathizer paying a visit to his stately home. Aware that tensions
are rising – and fearing a plot – the Governor hastily contacts John Cochran, captain of the Castle.
Maintain expert vigilance,
Captain. The threat upon the Fort may, I fear, be at a peak. Admit no number of men inside the walls. In this time of turbulent rumor, it would be prudent to fortify the guard with extra hands. If there is to be an attempt on Cochran’s fort, it will be met with foresight and resistance. Safe from the brutal New England winter outside, Wentworth waits for morning to come, and with it, any new developments the dissenting townsfolk may conjure.
Come noon the following day, John Langdon is shoulder to shoulder with some of the colony’s fiercest friends of Liberty, including his ally Thomas Pickering. Led by drums and fife, they march through the streets of Portsmouth brazenly announcing their plan to march on the Castle and liberate its powder. Langdon fills with pride for his countrymen. Shocked townsfolk gather to witness this blatant act of Treason; while some shy away lest they be identified with the madmen, Langdon feels others seize the chance to act on their anger. The well-informed Wentworth sends his personal secretary and the Chief Justice of the Province, Councilor Theodore Atkinson Sr., to confront the rabble-rousers. Atkinson departs for the town center with as much haste as his 67 years will allow. Expecting some difficulty
from the Governor, Langdon is not surprised to see the old Chief Justice bearing down on them. Atkinson demands from them an explanation of the gathering and when no one answers, Atkinson coldly assures them –in no uncertain terms – that to attack the Castle would be to commit the highest Treason, a crime answerable for as long as they live. His warning rings through the crisp New England air, giving weight to unspoken fears. Failing to snuff out Langdon’s fire, the threat spurs him to step forward. The huddled crowd as witness, blood boiling, Langdon begins to ridicule the royal representative: Are your eyes so old and mind so frail you can no longer tell when brave hearts have broken the yoke of Britain’s prattling rule? Your gluttonous, fat-kidneyed lifestyle reeks of a feckless pig. And at the expense of our freedom! Bar not our passage, craven codpiece, or your days of droning, artless lecture will be cut short. With that, Langdon knows the time to move has come. He turns his back on the stunned man and signals for those who would, to join him. Glad to be in motion, Langdon considers his next move and leads the crowd to the boats bound for Fort William and Mary, two miles down the Piscataqua River. Listening to the murmurs of those onboard and feeling the bitter wind on his face, Langdon considers his small group. Determined citizens from the nearby Rye, New Castle, and Kittery approach and join the growing flotilla; they have heard the news.
Intent on raiding his majesty’s fort, the number of men swells to several hundred. Growing numb to the bow’s cold spray, Langdon sets his eyes downriver and awaits sight of the Castle.
Langdon has put into motion one piece of the plan; there is more in motion. As Langdon and Pickering marched through the streets of Portsmouth, their footsteps were matched by Stephen Batson and Henry Langmead en route to Fort William and Mary. Before the arrival of Langdon’s flotilla, New Castle’s friends of Liberty will attempt to take the Castle by trickery. The plot commences as Batson and Langmead are invited to sit by the fire with Cochran, the unsuspecting captain of the castle. More players in this game of treachery arrive at the Fort and are invited inside out of the cold. Cochran, taken aback by the sudden attention of the townspeople, recalls the letter of caution from Governor Wentworth. Regarding his guests warily now, the cogs in Cochran’s suspicious
The man of the hour, John Langdon.
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mind creak and turn; his wife whispers sharply that she suspects him betrayed. As she hands him his loaded pistols to enforce the gravity of her advice, Cochran reflects that he has chosen his life partner well. Cochran questions the men separately to deduce the scheme at hand. With little interrogation, one Robert White confesses their plan, exclaiming he abhors such cowardly and devious ways. Having lost the element of surprise, the New Castle men surrender. As the bested Revolutionaries are escorted out, Cochran hurriedly points three cannons at the main gate and other likely routes of attack; his soldiers load the cannons, ready the muskets, and fix bayonets to their arms, readying themselves to the defense of their garrison. If Langdon and his men are intent on taking the Castle, Cochran is determined it will not be without cost.
Leaping from the boat into unpacked snow, Langdon sees with dismay that defenses have been mounted against their arrival. He has seen the devastation wrought by the four pound cannon shots now loaded against them – how they can splinter and smash the thick, iron-hard hulls of ships, to say nothing of a body made of flesh and bone. Grasping tightly to the hope of securing the Castle’s powder without bloodshed, Langdon calls on Cochran to admit him and one other to the fort for negotiation, giving assurances that – should they be asked – they will leave the Castle walls without trouble. Cochran agrees to the request and Langdon and the familiar Robert White enter between thick, stone walls. Langdon minces no words, stating bluntly they intend to possess all 36 Rediscover New Hampshire June 2014
the powder in the Fort’s arsenal. When Cochran demands the requisite order signed by Governor Wentworth, Langdon, with a shrug of his shoulders, admits he has forgotten the order; the powder, however, they are determined to have at all events. Cochran, seething, counters that if Langdon wants the powder, he’ll have to use force as his vehicle. Cochran will defend the powder to the last and any blood spilled, drawn out by soldier’s musket shot or cannon shell, will not be on his hands. Langdon allows Cochran’s words to wash over him as he walks through the front gates; as the last syllable cuts the air, he makes his move. Langdon roars out the order to storm the Castle and what are some of the first shots of the revolution are fired. Three cannons let loose their fiery payloads at the men he has rallied. He hears the first shot blast through the walls of a nearby warehouse as he watches as the second, aimed toward the seaward side of the fort, fall on a sloop anchored in the water. Time slows and the last shot screams clear across the Piscataqua River, lodging thunderously in a house in Kittery. A round of musket fire follows the cannons and Langdon drags his attention back to his men. Slamming boots into ground covered by snow so cold it squeaks, Langdon joins their press forward. The Castle’s soldiers have no time to reload their muskets. Reaching the top of the wall, Langdon turns his gaze to the closest fight and as he watches, a man he recognizes from Portsmouth leaps at a defender to be struck down with the blow of a musket. All around him, men grapple. Looking for Cochran in the confusion, Langdon spots the
Captain, his back against a wall, musket in pieces, brandishing his detached bayonet. As he moves towards the captain, the bayonet slices a man’s arm. In a blur of motion, Langdon sees Thomas Pickering leap from the wall and land heavily on Cochran’s shoulders. Both men fall to the ground. As Langdon reaches the spot, Cochran is hauled to his feet and disarmed.
Captain Cochran surrenders to our hero, John Langdon, and his men. The King’s flag falls in the background as His Majesty’s soldiers look on in anger.
One by one, the outnumbered soldiers fall to the citizen militia and Langdon realizes the battle is won. His mind fevered with fear and action, ears ringing from the deafening bark of cannon fire, Langdon joins hundreds of Americans shouting in triumph. Together, they give three ringing Huzzahs to their victory. As Cochran is led away under guard, he bears witness as the men haul down the King’s flag. For more than 100 years it declared British rule of Portsmouth Harbor; the time for action has come, and these men have deemed America ready.
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ROCK BAND OF DESTINY ..... KERILYNN ENGEL
The quiet town of Fremont seems an unlikely place for the birth of a cult-favorite 1960s rock band, but the explanation for The Shaggs is clear – it was all foretold in prophecy.
hen Fremont native and millworker Austin Wiggin was young, his mother read his palm and made three predictions: he would marry a strawberry-blonde woman, he would have two sons after his mother’s passing, and his daughters would form a famous band. After the first two prophecies came to pass, Austin saw it as his sacred duty to fulfill the third. In 1968, Austin withdrew daughters Helen, Dorothy (Dot), and Betty from the local high school, cloistering them at home to practice music all day. Not one of the girls had picked up an instrument before, so Dot and Betty struggled to learn guitar chords while Helen created her own beats on the drums. Austin dreamed of his girls becoming the female version of the Beatles and dubbed them “The Shaggs” for their rock ‘n’ roll inspired hair. Austin soon secured a gig for The Shaggs to play every Saturday night at the Fremont Town Hall. There was no dancing, president of the Fremont New Hampshire Historical Society Matthew Thomas remembers, “just a bunch of kids sitting around listening to them play and talking amongst themselves. It was a nice way to get out of the house on a Saturday night.” Some of them jeered the cacophonous music, he recalls, but the girls did their best to fulfill their father’s wishes. The band released their only studio album, Philosophy of the World, in 1969, but it attracted little notice. Austin’s prophetic dreams were dashed, the prophecy unfulfilled. 38 Rediscover New Hampshire June 2014
After he passed away in 1975, the girls stopped playing and gave away most of their equipment. But destiny would not be thwarted. In 1980, a Kentucky rock band called NRBQ happened across a copy of Philosophy of the World and fell in love with the quaint innocence and novelty of the girls’ music. They were granted permission to re-release a selection of The Shaggs’ songs that same year, calling the album The Shaggs’ Own Thing. The new album was reviewed in Rolling Stone and suddenly the obscure Fremont band was launched into national view. Rolling Stone called the album “priceless and timeless.” Music critic Cub Koda called it “charming and unsettling.” Frank Zappa is said to have professed they were, “better than the Beatles.” Joe Mozian, vice-president of marketing at RCA Victor, summed it up as best he could: “It is kind of a bad record; that’s so obvious, it’s a given. But it absolutely intrigued me … I couldn’t
comprehend that music like that existed.” As for local historian Matthew Thomas, when asked if he liked The Shaggs’ music, he hesitated. “Personally... no.” And for the casual listener, it’s hard not to agree. Though the girls’ clear voices carry the melody, they’re overwhelmed by guitars twanging out of tune. Adding the drums seems only to make it worse; each instrument marches to an internal rhythm, often changing speed in a futile attempt to find its sisters’ places in the song. Against all odds, The Shaggs have a modern cult following around the world. Their music is popular with connoisseurs of outsider art who appreciate the band’s haunting eccentricity, their music untouched by the commercial world of agents and record companies. With The Shaggs’ records selling for hundreds of dollars today, the prophecy of Austin’s mother turned out to be right after all.
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Six miles off the New Hampshire coast sits a small cluster of rocky isles. And on those isles have lived fisherman, pirates, artists and poets.
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FIshing Boat in Seasmoke | Photograph by Alexandra De Steigrer
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he Isles of Shoals were
first remarked upon by Europeans in the 1600s, though they were well known to first nations for centuries before. In 1623, the intrepid Captain Christopher Levett wrote, “Upon these islands I neither could see one good timber tree, nor so much ground as to make a garden. The place is found to be a good fishing place…” And indeed, throughout the colonial period the islanders supplied huge amounts of fish to mainland Europe and the surrounding colonies. This thriving industry led to a thriving population, which rose as high as 600 hardy folk in the latter seventeenth-century. By 1715, the community on Star Island was so well established it became its own little town of Gosport, New Hampshire.
View of the boat landing at the Oceanic Hotel. Image is from a postcard sent August 20, 1905 by newspaper correspondent Edmund Noble to his daughter, Beatrice.
The fishing industry gave the Isles great value to the mainland; when New Hampshire separated itself from the Massachusetts Colony in 1692, the two split the Isles of Shoals right down the middle. The islanders, on the other hand, were entirely apathetic to the mainland, generally refusing to send representatives to the Massachusetts or New Hampshire assemblies. Despite repeated admonitions, Shoalers also refused to pay their taxes to the provinces. In fact, they eventually convinced New Hampshire that trying to collect on their taxes was so impossible – and the islanders so poor – that the assembly erased their debts.
A dignified, mustachioed group portrait on Appledore Island..
While the islanders’ stubborn natures served them well in avoiding taxes, they eventually came back to bite. When the Revolution began, the Shoalers’ independence struck colonial leadership as mighty suspicious; in 1775, with accusations of Anglican and Loyalist sentiments, the revolutionary government of Massachusetts ordered the islanders to the mainland. Almost all of them went and the dogged few who stayed left little record. The Shoals’ population never truly recovered. Though a lighthouse was built on White Island in 1821 and a smattering of fishermen and their families gradually returned to the islands, what had been a bustling town remained a hamlet. In 1876, Gosport was annexed by nearby Rye, home of the first European settlement in New Hampshire. As a part of Rye, the Isles buoyed the town’s reputation as a top-notch summer resort and posh vacation destination. Throughout the Victorian period, Rye hosted numerous inns open to visitors, including some on the Isles of Shoals. The first of these, Appledore House on Appledore Island, was perhaps also the most famous, as it was the home of Celia Thaxter. Ceilia Thaxter at her desk.
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Thaxter was a best-selling American author and poet. Born in Portsmouth, she grew up on the Isles after her father was appointed keeper of the lighthouse on White Island. Her family, including two brothers, owned and maintained the Appledore House, as well as the Oceanic House on Star Island. Celia herself lived on Appledore, where she wrote, played host to a number of artistic luminaries, and proved Captain Levett wrong by keeping a nationally renowned garden. Many of her guests, such as Childe Hassam, were inspired to create art while on the islands, giving the Isles of Shoals a fame all out of proportion with their size. In 1914, the Appledore House met the same fate as almost all of the inns on the mainland at one point or another: it burned to the ground. Despite this setback, business didnâ€™t end, it simply moved to the Oceanic Hotel, which remains open to the present time. Shadowed by the threat of German attack, the Isles of Shoals were closed again during World War II. This seems to have finally put paid to the year-round communities on the islands. When the lighthouse was made automatic in 1986, the last of the Coast Guard lighthouse keepers went ashore. The Isles now serve as the backdrop to summertime research and relaxation, save for a lone caretaker waiting with the winter.
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Winter Caretaker ALEXANDRA DE STEIGUER
During the long winter months, Alexandra De Steiguer forgoes her tiny timberframe home in the woods and moves out to the Isles of Shoals where she works, alone, as the winter caretaker.
During the cold months of winter
when lush summer foliage has fallen away, the Isles of Shoals have a stark, windswept appearance that give emphasis to the rocky ledges and old buildings as they weather each storm. This place has a haunting quality; surrounded by the eternal sea, it wraps itself in time equally vast. Absent the summer residents, the islands in winter are a cleaner canvas on which are cast the shadows of many generations come and gone. The stonestell of ancient mountains
worm away over millennia, but even the wind-worn buildings have a history that has outlasted their occupants. With quite stoicism, they’ve witnessed time on a scale that can never be known to us. As I walk through the buildings in the present, history steps out from every room; a man in a work-worn coat, the blur of a woman in white. Is it merely a faded photograph or a painting on the wall that makes me imagine the hallways echoing with faint laughter, and fainter sobbing? I become haunted by how briefly we
flash through this place, yet I sense how eternal the story. It’s here that lives have been lived, the same basic dramas played out and the same emotions felt – over and over again. Though they may take place generations apart, the stories are essentially the same. As long as the buildings stand, there will always be somebody at a window looking out into another century, somebody wandering the rocks, somebody wailing away. Somebody returning.
White Island Light No. 2 | Photograph by Alexandra De Steigrer from her book, Small Island, Big Picture.
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The Storm of
1901 BEN GOODRIDGE
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The afternoon onslaught began as a common thunderstorm, but quickly increased in force; the sky turned a sickening shade of black, and the rain came down in sheets.
ver the years, the weather in New England has roused countless folks into a frenzy. From paralyzing winter Nor’easters to flood-inducing summer deluges, we live within the final destination of nearly all of America’s weather systems. There have been no shortage of complaints, from “why did we settle here again?” to “the weather never seemed this bad when I was little.” I find myself complaining from time to time (to time), but when it comes to weather extremes, I like to remind myself that the weather has been around a lot longer than I have; these storms have been rolling through the northeast for – well, forever. Take the Portsmouth Harbor storm of 1901. On August 8, 1901 the Portsmouth Herald’s headline read, “BRINGS DEATH: Cyclone Causes Disaster at Navy Yard.” In a time long before the internet and the weather channel, the unsuspecting citizens of this coastal, working class seaport had no warning as to what weather was about to befall them. The day probably started like any other in August: hot and sticky, with a little onshore breeze coming up around lunchtime. Mothers took their children down to the water for picnics; working men wiped the sweat from their brows as the sun took its highest position in the sky. And dark clouds built up on the western horizon, like so many of us have seen before, drifting east – a little closer with each passing minute. The afternoon onslaught began as a common thunderstorm, but quickly increased in force. The sky turned a sickening shade of black and the rain came down in sheets. As shrieking winds lashed the shipyard, workers and pedestrians alike took shelter inside an unfinished boat barn. At 150 by 60 feet, the shed seemed like a safe haven until the storm passed, comfortably housing everyone in the shipyard. But soon, the strained timbers unfastened and the entire building collapsed, trapping some forty people under jagged pieces of timber. Eye-witness accounts reported a large funnel cloud overhead after the collapse, moving along the riverbank toward the Atlantic and disappearing after a short time. Two hundred ship-builders from other sections of the yard are reported as coming to the aid of the wounded. The initial death toll was listed at thirty, but this was due to both poor reporting and the widespread panic that such storms tend to cause, even to this day. In reality, only two people lost their lives. The first, a female civilian named H.V. Mealey, was impaled by a piece of timber. The other, a Boston quarryman named Joel Pierson, had his legs crushed by the falling building and was pronounced dead at the Portsmouth Hospital that evening. In all, the hurricane-force winds only lasted ten minutes. But the funnel cloud – which was seen by just a handful of onlookers – has since become stuff of legend in the Portsmouth area.
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The Maker of
ALMANACS RAY CAVANAUGH
Dudley Leavitt was a fine type of the old professional schoolmaster – stern, studied, and persistent.
xeter native Dudley Leavitt would arguably become the state’s best-known resident of his era. The reason for such notoriety was his annual publication of Leavitt’s Farmer’s Almanack, an anthology of farming tips, weather predictions, and astronomy. These days, such information can be obtained with a few mouse clicks, but back in the 1800s, Leavitt’s contributions were so valued that his almanac became a second bible for many thousands of New Englanders. Leavitt’s publishing career began in 1797 with the first edition of his almanac, a rather formally titled affair called The New England Calendar: Or, Almanack for the Year of Our Lord 1797. In 1800, he established a printing house called “Leavitt & Clough” and launched a weekly newspaper, the Gilmanton Gazette, as well as the Farmer’s Weekly Magazine. To his frustration, these publications lasted but a few years. In 1811, he founded The New Hampshire Register, which saw a tenure of a half-dozen years. Through it all, Leavitt continued to publish his annual almanac – but it was not by any means an instant success. By 1819, Leavitt –now having made several forays into publishing and still struggling economically – relocated his wife and children to Meredith. Hoping to profit from his vast pool of scholarly knowledge, Leavitt, a Philips Exeter
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alumnus, placed an advertisement in the Concord Observer announcing that he was opening the Meredith Academick School. The advertisement promised that, “No pains will be spared on the part of the instructor to render the acquisition of useful knowledge easy and pleasant to those young gentlemen and ladies who may attend the School.” Though he may not have lived up to his pledge of “easy and pleasant,” Leavitt did give his students their money’s worth. Described as a fine type of the old professional schoolmaster, Leavitt was known as a strict teacher with scant patience for dunces, clowns, or mischief-makers of any sort. Education was a serious business, and he authored textbooks on subjects ranging from grammar and geography to math and music. Along with his pedagogic career, Leavitt continually farmed his property of 50 acres, raised eleven children with his wife, and kept at the Almanack. One might say the man maintained a full schedule. Though he was a respected citizen and addressed as Master Leavitt, it seemed for a while that his distinction
was destined to be of the very local sort. But that slow-going annual almanac was starting to draw quite the cult following. By the 1830s, it was attracting such demand that Leavitt was compelled to make it his chief focus. The almanacs were sold at local general and drug stores and, according to William Cogswell’s New Hampshire Repository, the Almanack was selling some 60,000 copies per year by the mid1840s. This is no small number, considering that New Hampshire’s total population at that time numbered around 300,000. Aimed at the general population, Leavitt’s Farmer’s Almanack focused on such topics as weather predictions and farming tips, along with astronomy, mathematics, and language – all subjects that personally interested Leavitt. Strange meteorological events made for one of Leavitt’s favorite topics. He would venture astronomical theories, such as sunspots, to account for otherwise unexplainable phenomenon in Continued on page 51
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Continued from page 48
the weather. At this point, there is scant accessible data on just how accurate his predictions were. One might assume they were reasonably accurate or else he likely would have alienated his nineteenth-century New Englander readers, who – just like MasterLeavitt – did not suffer fools gladly. These people wanted practical advice and tangible evidence that it worked. With his success and influence, the stern Master Leavitt became a celebrity of sorts. Joseph B. Walker’s Index of the Historical Matter Contained in the New Hampshire Registers contends that, “Mr. Leavitt was a marked man in his day, and, through his almanacs, was probably known to more persons in New Hampshire than any other man.” Though it might have benefited his public image to feign religiosity, Leavitt was – despite his solid Puritan roots – a very skeptical man when it came to faith. This unbelief caused some degree of tension with his more conventionally religious wife. Only reluctantly attending church, Leavitt once stormed out when she voiced a prayer that her unbelieving husband be saved. Saved or not, Leavitt died at age 79 at his Meredith farm on September 20, 1851. Two days later, the New York Times ran a brief obituary. Whatever became of his immortal soul, Leavitt was, in terms of publication, mightily well-prepared for the end – the upcoming almanac was already at the press and, even more impressively, another five years’ worth of material had been composed and arranged. Leavitt’s Almanack was continued by William B. Leavitt, himself a professor of astronomy, who has been listed by some as a son of Master Leavitt and by others a nephew. Whatever his exact relation, William took over the duties of compiling and printing the almanac, to which he contributed his own astronomical calculations.
Master Leavitt’s grand project would outlive him by several decades as it continued to see publication well into the 20th century. In fact, Leavitt’s almanac once ranked among our nation’s longest-running publications, though it was – on a national scope – outshined by The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which was launched five years previous to Leavitt’s and reigns triumphantly to this day, making it the Western Hemisphere’s oldest existing publication.
These days, various copies of the Leavitt’s Farmer’s Almanack can be found on Ebay, where a quick cyberglance reveals that some issues are selling for as little as three dollars. Additionally, the Historical Society of Grantham is a fine repository for issues of the publication into which Leavitt poured his bountiful talents and erudition. It seems his Exeter education served him well.
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Image courtesy of Dover Public Library
in the cotton mills June 2014 Rediscover New Hampshire 53
n December 26, 1828, 400 young women walked off their jobs at the local cotton mill and took to the streets of Dover in protest. Their strike is recorded as the country’s first by women. As the young workers marched in the cold, the mill buildings that had so changed the landscape of rural Dover towered over them. They waved flags, ignited barrels of gunpowder, and carried signs, some of which had lines of poetry: “Who among the Dover girls could ever bear, the shocking fate of slaves to share.” Cotton manufacturing had arrived in Dover as the vision of John Williams, a Maine native who saw in Dover’s natural resources and location the ideal environment for textile production. Prior to the incorporation of the Dover Cotton Factory in 1812, the region was primarily one of merchants and farmers.
Many of the mill’s workers – women who were between the ages of 12 and 25 – came from surrounding family farms hoping for some measure of independence and the opportunity to earn their own wages. The mills offered an alternative to hired domestic labor, as well as the possibility for workers to support their families or save for a dowry. As the cotton mills grew in number and size, additional buildings sprang up for housing. The young women were required to live in the company-run boarding houses and followed a strict code of conduct that included mandatory church attendance and a curfew of 10:00 pm. The long workdays often stretched more than twelve hours, with Sunday the only day of rest. Each day, the young women braved the physically difficult and hazardous conditions of the cotton mill, risking the dangers of dust
inhalation and machine injuries. Safety within the mills was entirely up to the owners; government regulation protecting workers was nonexistent until considerably later in the century. Wages for the young women ran around 58 cents a day, much lower than that of their male counterparts, and deductions were taken for sick pay and rule infractions. In spite of the challenges, most young women stayed at the mills for the benefits they afforded in terms of camaraderie and paid work. When new management cut wages by five cents a day and raised productivity demands, the benefits failed to outweigh the drawbacks and dangers. Driven by a vehement sense of injustice, the young women walked out in protest. Given that the mill’s female workers could be dismissed simply for using profanity, their decision to go on Continued on page 59
The mill, 81 years after the first strike. Photograph taken by Lewis Wickes Hine and captioned, Noon hour, Cocheco Mfg. Co, Dover N.H. May 17, 1909. Young Girls working regularly. A number of others there, some even younger.
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Photograph taken by Lewis Wickes Hine and captioned, Young girls going to work in Mill No. 1 Cocheco Mfg. Co., Dover, N.H. I saw them go to work regularly, day after day. May 17, 1909--Noon. Location: Dover, New Hampshire.
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Continued from page 54
strike was an act of unbounded courage fueled by anger. Lacking formal organization and hampered by restrictions on when they could speak with each other, the young women still managed to mobilize half of their workforce in protest. Company management was equally purposeful in its response, placing an advertisement for replacement workers the very next day.
The strike, also called a turn-out, was met with outright ridicule and hostility by the press. In its coverage of the unprecedented event, the Dover Enquirer railed that the women had acted “on account of some imaginary grievance. It has, we believe, turned out to their cost, as well as disgrace.” Newspapers in nearby Pennsylvania and New York also ran articles, treating the strike – specifically the idea of a struggle between a group of girls and company management – as comical.
steps to organize. They established a fund to help workers return home, drafted resolutions, and appointed a group to inform female workers in nearby areas of their actions. The movement began to gain strength. Soon after, and then in 1836, female textile workers in neighboring Lowell, Massachusetts made repeated attempts to change labor practices through strikes. In the 1840s, they formed the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association to fight for shorter work hours. On that winter Friday in 1828, the courage of the mill girls of Dover meant something greater than the wage increase they sought: they earned a marked place in the long fight for women’s equality and the history of America’s labor movement. The beginning of the campaign for women’s suffrage was still twenty years away; the right to vote would not be won until 1920.
In spite of their courage, the mill girls were met with a harsh choice. On January 1, culminating a strike of three days, they returned to their jobs having gained no concessions from the mill management. Nevertheless, the strike was significant. Another strike followed in 1834 when 800 young women at the factory walked off the floor to protest a decrease in wages. Management responded once again by advertising for replacement workers and began to force applicants to sign agreements preventing them from forming unions. This time, the women took strong June 2014 Rediscover New Hampshire 59
THE YOUNGIN’S page
By____________________________ History is everything that happened yesterday, and the week before, and the year before, back up until the Ancient Greeks, and the ancient Sumerians, and even the dinosaurs. Close your eyes. How far back can you remember? Phewph. All that history is a lot to keep in your head. Thankfully, there are lots and lots and lots of people remembering things – all the time! I’ll show you. Draw your favorite toy below!
Now, ask your Mom or Dad, What was your favorite toy when you were my age?
And ask Grandma or Grandpa, What was your favorite toy when you were little?
CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve just recorded history! Before you go, let’s do some imagining:
Artist Ben Kimmel is a fifth-grade fan of leggos and Doctor Who 60 Rediscover New Hampshire June 2014
THE LAST PAGE
Beachgoers in Rye relax under two hats and an umbrella
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These merchants bring you this magazine in celebration of our local history. Show them your appreciation by supporting their products and services.
A-Nu-Du Beauty Salon & Hairstyles 19 American Independence Museum 39 American Legion Post #6 44 Americas Best Inn Portsmouth 39 Arabica Coffee Co. 49 Around the Corner B&B 50 Arts In Reach 39 Asian Wok Express 55 Astronomy Shoppe 59 Awakenings Recovery Center 13 B & M Auctioneers & Appraisers 52 Balance, A Women’s Gym 43 Barker’s Farm 39 Best Pawn & Exchange 37 Best Western 9 BG’s Boathouse 2 Blier Flooring 7 7 Bob Sherwood Landscape Co. 37 Bob’s Inkbook Tattoo Bonne Vie Salon and Spa 19 Bowl-o-rama 37 Cafe Espresso 7 Classic Car Exhibit 16 Cere’s Bakery 23 Chandler’s Loft 7 Classic Weddings Group 56 Clay’s 10 Coldwell Banker 21 Diaz Limo Service 43 DiMillos Inside Cover Dover Flower Studio 39 Durham Boat House 64 Early Bird Café 15 Enchanted Nights 50 Epping Well and Pump 52 Esta 10 Exeter Fine Crafts 37 Flower Kiosk 44 Flowers By Marianne 15 Footnotes Footwear 10 Fremont Historical Society 33 G Willikers 63 Galley Hatch Restaurant 1 Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop 58
Good Vibes 56 Googie’s Sandwich Shoppe 15 Granite Steak and Grill 57 Great Bay Motorcycle 56 Great Bay Pottery 9 Great Buffet II, Newington 15 Great Horizons 39 Green Design 21 Gundalow Company 52 Hap’s Famous Roast Beef 52 Herringbones 7 Hoaty’s of Hampton 15 Jason PC Tech 50 Janmere Hotel 43 Jitto’s Super Steak 26 Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe 1 K9 Chaos 37 Key Auto Center 33 Kindercare Learning Center 43 LandCare 26 Lang’s Landscaping Services 50 Loaded Dice Barbers 27 Mombo Restaurant & Bar 1 Mantiquers 58 Mattress Firm 13 My Big Simple Ultimate Pet Health 15 Of Maine Woods 9 Outdoor Pride Of Rye 10 Oxford Casino 65 Papa Wheelies 57 Pelham Resort Hotel 52 Pickwick’s Mercantile 57 Pinnacle Body Piercing 57 Porcelain Neon Signs 57 Port City Nissan Back Cover Portsmouth Gas Light 1 Portsmouth Health Food Center 44 Portsmouth KIA 57 Prescott Park 16 Provencher Painting and Restoration 44 Rainscape Lawn Sprinkler Systems 37 Red’s Shoe Barn 10 Rochester Pawn 27 Ross Furniture Company 7
Business Roy’s Painting Services Rutland Art & Tattoo Studio Rye Beach Landscaping Rye Floor Fashions Seacoast African American Cultural Center Seacoast Libraries Seacoast Mazda Seacoast Mavericks Baseball Seacoast Roller Derby Seacoast Segway Tours Serendipity Portsmouth Shear Freedom Silver Fountain Inn Sorbello’s Pizzeria Southern NH Firewood Strawbery Banke Museum Stress Escapes Strikers east bowling center Summer Sessions Sweet Meadows Florist Taylor River Farm The Ale House Inn The Birchtree Center The Hotel Portsmouth The Maids The Music Hall The Music Man DJ Service The Wine Steward The Woodman Museum Timber Falls Tree Care Travel by design Tugboat Alley Two Guys Smoke Shop USS Albacore Viking Welding and Fabrication Wade Landscaping Water Country Water Street Bookstore When Pigs Fly White Dog Cleaning Wicked Awesome Wallpaper and Paint Wiswall House Antiques The World of Discovery Yummies Candy & Nuts
Advertisers! Place your ad in front of the thousands of readers who are fascinated with the history of our community. We offer a variety of ad sizes to accomodate any budget and our full service art department will help you design your message! Visit RediscoverTheUSA.com for more information or contact: Advertising@rediscovertheusa.com | (207) 805-2988
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