TAMWORTH CIVIC NEWS
QUARRY & RAILROAD [ALMOST] COME TO MT. WHITTIER
Our thanks to Thad Berrier for providing the letters and notes relating to this fascinating piece of Tamworth history.
Every so often, a tale from the past spills forth from a dusty pile of forgotten letters; intriguing glimpses into what was or what might have been. Old papers are set aside – in an attic trunk or old dresser drawer – misplaced for decades, until an inquisitive reader unfolds the pages of a faded story.
And so it was with a dozen or so letters written between November 1928 and May 1929 regarding a massive quarrying operation proposed for the north slope of Mount Whittier in the Ossipee Mountains. These missives reveal a startling and little-known possibility of what might have occurred if the whim of an old gentleman had turned, or the color of money had shown a different hue.
In a letter dated November 9th, 1928, Frederic E. Everett (then commissioner of the State of New Hampshire Highway Department in Concord) wrote the following to Harry L. Smith in the engineering division:
I am going to be away at the State Highway Officials Convention for the next week and if you get any information at all in regard to the quarry proposition at Tamworth, I wish you would advise Mr. Albert D. Rhodes, Leominster, Massachusetts, Superintendent of Streets.
Everett chose to rely on Smith to undertake negotiations not only because he worked for the highway department, but undoubtedly because he had a strong connection to Tamworth through his wife, Florence Bryant Smith, who grew up in the Whittier section of town along the Bearcamp River.
As described in letters exchanged over the course of the next six or seven months between Harry Smith, Albert Rhodes, and Professor J.W. Goldthwait (an expert in the area of surface geology and bedrock), the quarry was intended to extract high quality trap rock for railroad beds and future highway construction. The proposed quarry would have been located on the north face of Mount Whittier, just west of today’s Tamworth Transfer Station. It was to include a processing plant for the rock and a railroad track extending east to join the main railroad line in West Ossipee.
On the weekend of February 8th and 9th, young Tamworth fisherman Brady King won the grand prize in the Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby. What a story! Here it is, in Brady’s own words.
My dad and I were fishing this past Saturday with a few friends. We had set up three traps and then I had my first flag of the day. We went over and I started to bring it in. I thought it was pretty big. When I pulled it out we weighed it on my dad’s scale and it weighed 4.3 lbs. I knew it was a good fish and we saved it. I thought it might place in the derby, but I never thought it would make first. We fished all day and I caught one more fish that I entered and my friend, Derek Dascoulias, did too. We caught others, but they weren’t big enough for the board. Around 2 or 2:30pm we headed over to Meredith to enter our fish. When we got there and finished weighing them, only one made the board and that was my first fish. Its official weigh-in was 4.25 lbs. It ended up being the biggest pickerel caught on Saturday.
So how the derby works is they have seven categories of fish and two days of fishing. The biggest fish caught for Saturday and the biggest fish caught for Sunday in each category go into a raffle for three top prizes: $3,000, $5,000, and $15,000. So fourteen names were in the raffle and mine was one. First they said the third place winner, then they said the second place winner. We had been waiting in the cold for over an hour, so by then I was feeling like I might have come over and stood in the cold for nothing. Then they called out the first place winner for $15,000 and said my name! I was in SHOCK!! After that I got interviewed by several newspapers, WMUR, and even an ice fishing show on National Geographic.
They gave me my checks and I went home as happy as can be. I am going to put my money in the bank and save it for college or a house or something.
Sincerely, Brady King
Brady King is in the fifth grade at the Kenneth A. Brett School.
ART IN CHOCORUA
Drop by the ArtWorks gallery in Chocorua Village, and you will be greeted by one of the almost fifty local artists whose work in fiber, photography, ceramics, wood, painting, and glass are on offer. More and more people are “discovering” ArtWorks, and making it a regular stop for handmade gifts. Many also take time to wander through the attached antique barn—a local fixture since 1981—run by Jersey Nickerson and her mother, Irene Mitchko.
ArtWorks is much like a farmers market for artists from Tamworth and surrounding communities. The idea first came to local artists Myles Grinstead, Peter VanderLaan, and Mary Beth Bliss while talking in a snowy driveway one evening about five years ago. They were noting how many local artists there were, and the need for some way to support them and make more local art available. “We always felt that if we gave the artists a market and a venue, then they would produce more art, and that this would be great,” remembers Bliss.
They started in 2010 with a tent at the Tamworth Farmers Market; a “gallery without walls” that was completely set up and taken down each Saturday for a whole summer. This got a great response from farmers and market-goers. It soon moved to a sturdier all-season space in Grinstead’s pottery gallery in Chocorua, which she opened up to the growing group of local artists. Then, Jersey and Larry Nickerson offered the use of their 1840s farmhouse at the southern edge of Chocorua Village on Route 16. Many of the artists, led by Myles Grinstead, Ned Eldredge, Mary Beth Bliss and husband, Peter VanderLaan, worked to transform it into the stunning gallery space that you can visit today, opening on Labor Day weekend, 2012. The “gallery without walls” still lives on at the Tamworth Farmers Market each summer. Future ideas include adding activities to nurture and support artists, like workshops and classes for all ages and abilities. Stay tuned!
You can visit ArtWorks on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChocoruaArtWorks and, of course, at the gallery. ArtWorks is always open weekends and in the summertime at the Farmer’s Market. July and August it’s open 7 days a week. There will be a “Spring Cleaning” sale Memorial Day weekend, May 23–26th, in the ArtWorks parking lot. Meet the artists & save up to 40% off on sale items.
A CHOCORUA POEM
Poetry is the product of keen observation and quiet reflection, words distilled down to capture a moment, an image, the essence of a place well-loved. This is how Tom Weare came to write his poem Wings Over Water.
Since a hospital stay in 2006, Tom—now retired—spends his days on the shore of Chocorua Lake. He sits on his tailgate and watches the sunrise. He greets friends who can count on finding him there each day. He watches the comings and goings of the wildlife and people who visit the lake throughout the year. Our thanks to him for sharing his appreciation of this Tamworth jewel, expressed here in verse.
WINGS OVER WATER
As the sun starts to rise,
its light filters through the pines
casting shadows on the water
where the bald eagle flies.
A silent breeze whispers across the water,
and the fish begin to rise.
They leave ripples of circles
where the bald eagle flies.
The loons are already here.
The same pair come every year.
Flocks of geese dot the skies
over the water
where the bald eagle flies.
The water is a pretty shade of blue;
kids are in swimming,
while others enjoy the view.
The sun is shining in my eyes,
as I am looking up I see
the bald eagle as he flies.
Big changes are continuing in Chocorua Village as part of Phase II of the Chocorua Safety Improvement Project (CSIP). This year’s work is a continuation of Phase I, started in 2008. With the cooler weather of fall, trees, shrubs, and sod will be planted, completing more permanent landscaping in areas previously sowed with rapidly growing conservation mix that helped stabilize the new topsoil. There is a small bit of paving work yet to be done, which will then be followed by striping of the newly paved areas. The final paving has proceeded slowly, as regional paving companies are working to complete jobs elsewhere in the state.
The CSIP is primarily funded through a series of earmarks that were created by then US District 1 Congressman Jeb Bradley, and, later, by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. Money for the project was made available through the Federal Highway Administration’s safety improvement project program.
Initial concepts and designs for what is now being built were gathered through a series of work sessions and brainstorming charrettes, which looked at community concerns about increased traffic volumes and degradation of the village on Routes 16 and 113. Interested residents, the Chocorua Community Association, and New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) planners worked together to lay the groundwork for the changes that have been made.
On the advice of state planners, the project is “municipally managed.” This means that the town—through our selectmen—controls the project, can approve or deny every step of the work being done, and can insure that all work is done according to plan, while working within federal and state guidelines. Working with Tamworth’s selectmen, HEB Engineers have developed the design work and engineering oversight for the project, L.A. Drew is the primary contractor, Tom Jameson and Dave Silvia represent NHDOT, and Tamworth neighbor and landscape architect John Wacker designed the landscape plan for the project.
The CSIP’s primary goal is to improve safety. In the village, and on Route 16 in particular, that has meant a focus on creating structures and appearances that give drivers cues that they are approaching an area requiring them to slow down and pay attention. The new islands, curbing, red “brick” areas, stone walls, and landscaping are all intended to visually narrow Route 16 through the village. Intersections that worked fine when there was less traffic have been made more ‘formal’ and squared off, thereby enabling drivers to more easily see oncoming or cross traffic.
The staff, students, and families of Tamworth’s K.A. Brett School would like to thank the local Girl Scout Troop 12512, Boy Scout Troop 151, and community volunteers for their valuable efforts to redesign the school’s library. Student Kim Bowles, of Tamworth acted as the troop leader, working closely with her mentor, Brett Principal Ken Hawkins. She designed this project based upon her goal of achieving the Silver Award. Girl Scout Cadettes can earn a chance to show that they are organized leaders, dedicated to improving their community.
After completing her application, receiving two letters of recommendation from teachers, and arranging a mentor, Kim set out to surpass the goal of completing the minimum fifty hour project. She organized the project, recruited help, and worked with her mentor. With her recruits, she moved and organized the small library in a larger room. Kim and volunteers worked closely with Peggy Johnson, of the Cook Memorial Library (CML), to learn how to clean and repair books. They also learned how to file, organize, and scan books, thanks to CML Director, Jay Rancourt.
Kim was honored as one of fifty Girl Scouts chosen to meet the Girl Scout CEO at a convention in Manchester, attending a dessert social “meet and greet” to honor scouts who display leadership, mentoring ability, and high product sales. Kim was chosen out of 12,000 scouts to attend this special event.
The Brett School community is truly grateful for the troops, adult volunteers, and community members who helped make this project successful.
Farming Along the Bearcamp River
For over fifty years, residents of Tamworth and surrounding towns enjoyed fresh asparagus, strawberries, sweet corn, and other vegetables from the Thompson Farm on Whittier Road (old Rte. 25). Harry Thompson and his wife Doris were well-known for the quality of the produce they grew on their twenty-one acre farm on the south bank of the Bearcamp River from 1950 until shortly before Harry died in September, 2012 at age 103.
Two years later, under new owner Nathaniel Winship and his wife Hope Requardt, the land is seeing renewed life as Tanna Farm. In accordance with Harry’s wishes, his daughter, Jane Witzel of Meriden, worked with the Lakes Region Conservation Trust and the Tamworth Conservation Commission to place all the forest and crop land under a conservation easement.
Tanna Farm is named after the island in the southwest Pacific nation of Vanuatu where Nate served as a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer from 2003 to 2005. Tanna is noted for its still active volcano and its rich volcanic soil; “tanna” means dirt in the native language. Tanna Farm’s location under the shadow of the ancient caldera of the Ossipee Mountains and its rich bottom land in the Bearcamp’s flood plain inspired its naming.
Since returning from Tanna, Nate has gardened intensively on his family’s land in North Sandwich. Hope worked for many years on organic farms in Vermont and her native Maryland, and most recently has been the vegetable grower at the Steele Farm in Wonalancet.
Growing a diverse mix of vegetables, flowers, and herbs will be the focus for 2015 as the couple develops a long-term plan to make the best use of the land. Pick-your-own raspberries and strawberries lie in the future, and there may even be a Fiddlehead Festival to celebrate those first edible harbingers of spring.
Hope and Nate are also the new coordinators of the Sandwich/Tamworth Community Fish Share. Since it began in 2010, the Fish Share has offered local residents access to fresh, sustainably harvested seafood from the Gulf of Maine and other sources. A $10 weekly share gives members the best that week’s market has on offer, available on Friday afternoon at Tanna Farm and on Saturday morning at several other area locations. The first eight-week cycle of 2015 will begin in early January. Please contact Nate by phone at 323-7917 or e-mail email@example.com for more information.
Joining the Tamworth community is particularly gratifying to Nate as his late mother, Ronnie Hayford Winship, was a Chocorua native with deep family roots in Tamworth history.
New Hampshire Chronicle Comes to Tamworth
It was a routine press release, emailed with an inserted photograph, sent to the local and regional media. The Tamworth Outing Club (TOC) was postponing our annual sled dog race from the last weekend in January to the last weekend in February, as the late January snow on Chocorua Lake was too light and dry to hold up to several days of racing, presenting a safety issue for the dog teams and drivers. I thought nothing of it . . .
. . . Until my phone rang. It was WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle (NHC) calling from Manchester, asking if the TOC would be interested in having the TV show feature the local sled dog scene and, specifically, our Tamworth Sled Dog Race. The show airs Monday through Friday, 7–7:30pm on ABC’s Channel 9, considered New Hampshire’s most watched station for local news, weather, and events. The proposal was to video five segments on Lake Chocorua in mid-February, which would be used to introduce featured stories for the five shows during a designated week later that month. All the TOC needed to do was groom a circuit on the lake, and round up a few experienced sled dog teams and drivers willing to be interviewed, display some techniques, and show their gear.
Five evenings of free advertisement on the most watched New Hampshire network to be aired the week before our race? Of course we can make that happen! A few calls to the TOC board and the New England Sled Dog Club (NESDC) generated the necessary teams and drivers. With the commitment made, I knew we had a really great opportunity to promote the sport and our race.
When NHC staff asked for talking points, fun facts, or interesting information about sled dogs in general, Tamworth’s historical connection to the sport immediately came to mind. Arthur T. Walden, while living in Wonalancet, created the iconic Chinook breed, named after his first successfully bred dog, Chinook. A mild-mannered dog, large and powerful enough to pull a heavy sled, Chinook was chosen to lead the sled dog teams for Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s 1929 expedition to Antarctica. In 1924, Walden founded the NESDC, a group which has continued to sponsor the Tamworth Sled Dog Races to this day.
The Tamworth Outing Club has its own points of historical interest. The TOC turns 80 years old this year, and our 1937 TOC-sponsored sled dog race has become the oldest sprint race in America. Our setting, with the iconic Mount Chocorua as a backdrop, is arguably the most photographed scene in New Hampshire. We rely on many volunteers, as well as support from the Ossipee Valley Snowmobile Club for grooming, the Tamworth Police Department, the Highway Department, and permission from the Chocorua Lake Conservancy and many landowners to run the race across their land. Generous local business sponsors generate prize money for the race and help fund Tamworth’s Junior Ski Program. I was pleased when they used some of these interesting facts while filming for the show.
The weather blessed the video crew with near perfect conditions. The temperatures and the overcast sky were excellent for filming. The TOC had done a great job grooming and marking the course. The video crew and anchors—a team of four—arrived in a single car, precisely fitted for all their equipment. With a small sled on wheels, the camera gear was situated on the lake so as to frame Mt. Chocorua in the background. They presented five set-ups, featuring a single dog team or dogs for each one. A large team pulled NHC hosts Erin Fehlau and Sean McDonald around the lake, with the cameraman filming from a leading snowmobile. A smaller team was featured while Erin and Sean talked about Tamworth’s historical connection to the sport. A segment focused on the sled itself, how drivers steer, control their speed, and brake. Another set-up demonstrated the harnessing of a dog, with our large Tamworth Sled Dog Race sign in the background. I was impressed with the crew’s concise execution and skill at creating a show during only three hours on the lake. And it was about our sled dog culture, the New England Sled Dog Club and the Tamworth Sled Dog Race; tradition in action!
We hope many of you had the opportunity to watch New Hampshire Chronicle during the week of February 23rd. Past episodes of the show are available on their website: www.wmur.com/new-hampshire-chronicle.
Reading Therapy Dogs at Brett School
“Can I read to Clara?” One might overhear these words in the hallways of Tamworth’s Kenneth A. Brett School on any given day. But Clara isn’t a teacher, a staff member, or another student. Clara is a dog — an enormous, fluffy Bernese Mountain dog — who comes to school twice a week to listen to kids read.
It all began in the fall of 2013, when Sue Colten (volunteer coordinator for the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring Program) approached principal Ken Hawkins and reading specialist Carolyn Hemingway with an idea: Why not have reading therapy dogs come to school?
Reading therapy dogs provide a strong positive support for children as they are developing their reading skills. Having a dog to touch, pat, and hug is comforting and reassuring for a child who may be struggling to read. A dog is a companion, a friend to read to, who listens and does not correct or criticize. This helps build confidence and raise self-esteem in the child. With the dog nestled close by, reading becomes a pleasurable experience.
Once the program at Brett was approved and a schedule was established for the dogs to visit, a quiet place was set aside for students and dogs to be together. A local business donated a mattress where a child and canine companion could sit during reading time.
Clara, accompanied by owner Leslie Johnson, and Molly, a gentle old golden retriever, and her owner, Joan Taylor, were the first reading therapy dog teams at Brett.
Clara and Molly were instant hits with the students. Each week the dogs would trot down the halls for their reading assignments.
“Students feel safe when they read to Clara,” commented Leslie, a great teacher herself, who creates a kind and accepting atmosphere when the kids arrive. Clara greets them with her paw and a loving look, and the reading begins. When asked about Clara, one third grader stated, “I love reading to Clara. She never corrects me when I make a mistake.”
Over the past few years, children at Brett have been thrilled by the novelty of having the dogs in the classroom and are eager to read. As they come to know the dogs, the children excitedly anticipate their visits. They practice reading aloud throughout the week, and — in exchange for their hard work — are rewarded with reading time with the dogs.
The reading specialist involves the dogs in classroom language activities by having the children learn the letters of the dogs’ names, write poems together about the dogs, and write thank-you letters to the dogs, their owners, and businesses that support the program.
The program has been so successful that several teachers have welcomed the dogs into their classrooms as part of their own language arts program.
This year another therapy dog has joined in the fun and learning at school. “Checker,” an Australian Shepherd, along with owner Susan Blake of Sandwich, writes letters to first graders, and the first graders write back. Under the direction of new Brett School reading teacher Jennifer Elliott, students hear about Checker’s adventures and write responses to questions that Checker writes to them, and ultimately read their letters to Checker. Kids will ask “What’s that word?” and Susan will answer “Checker just wants you to give it a try.” And they do!
Susan has her own story to tell about therapy dogs, having worked for nine years at Sollars Air Force Base in Misawa, Japan on the coast, near where the tsunami hit. Therapy dogs were used successfully there to help children overcome anxiety.
Reading therapy dogs at Brett continue to work their magic with students in grades Kindergarten through third. Some children have even begun reading to their pets at home. Clara continues to be a favorite with all of the children, and Checker writes and reads up a storm with the first graders. Molly has moved on to her heavenly home, but Joan Taylor has a new puppy . . . the kids will be waiting!
Coming to Terms with Marjory Gane Harkness
Marjory Gane Harkness (1880–1974) was one of Tamworth’s great literary figures and, if we exclude summer people, possibly the greatest of all. Her best-known work is The Tamworth Narrative. It stands as the most comprehensive history of the town ever written, and — in spite of many factual errors noted over the years — it is unlikely to be replaced any time soon.
In February, I had the privilege of making a presentation on Marjory Gane Harkness and her work to the Tamworth Historical Society at Cook Library. My preparations led me to people who knew her and who generously assisted my exploration of her life. I discovered a fascinating woman with remarkable literary ability. As I came to understand The Tamworth Narrative as a book of literature, rather than as history, my longstanding irritation with its anachronisms and vagueness melted away.
Marjory Gane Harkness’s literary career didn’t begin until middle age. Except for a love of reading, I have not been able to find any trace of it in her early years. She was born in Yonkers, New York, and spent most of her first half-century or so in Chicago. As a young woman, her family’s wealth positioned her at the epicenter of America’s Gilded Age. Smith College, music, travel (including an adventurous two year around-the-world tour with her mother and sister), and an appreciation for the visual arts shaped these years. A cousin introduced her to Wonalancet, and she became passionate about the outdoors, nature, conservation, and rural values. After marrying Frank Harkness, a well-connected Chicago lawyer, in 1918, she settled into household and social activities in the Chicago suburbs, supported Frank’s career, and traveled often, including frequent visits to Wonalancet.
And so she might have lived the rest of her days. But Frank’s sudden death in 1934 plunged her into an existential crisis. She refused to let society define her as “widow,” and instead determined to start a new life entirely of her own making. She was confident that neither her gender nor her age could prevent her from contributing in a useful and important way. Within a year of Frank’s death she had written “Notes on Being a Widow” and gotten it published in The Atlantic Monthly. This meditative and uplifting essay proclaimed her new life; the act of writing launched her into it.
She moved from Chicago to Tamworth (first to Wonalancet, later to the center). She sold real estate because she wanted to share with others the liberation that she had found in country life. And, most importantly, she wrote. She moved on from the deep introspection of “Being a Widow” to witty sketches alive with the ironies of daily life. She started each one with a basically true story and polished it to a gem-like shine by making changes here and there, following her literary inspiration. She sold these to Scribner’s, the New Yorker, and the Christian Science Monitor.
Marjory Gane Harkness reached a literary high-water mark with the publication of A Brook of Our Own: A few notes from the files of a mountain real estate office in 1945 by the prestigious New York house of Alfred A. Knopf. Critics, librarians, and the reading public responded to her special brand of humorous, hand-tinted nonfiction. At the Historical Society presentation last February, a gentleman noted that in the section about his family, the portraits of individuals were true to life. She had turned him from a little boy into a little girl, but otherwise he, too, was well represented.
Which brings us to The Tamworth Narrative, and the importance of understanding what it is, and what it is not. Marjory Gane Harkness often took up her pen on behalf of the town of Tamworth and its people and institutions. A major concern, often addressed in her newspaper column in the Laconia Evening Citizen, was the steady loss of the old-timers, along with their experiences and wisdom. Her take-charge response to this problem — although she had no background in historical work — was to start building a town history. The townspeople urged her on. She pushed ahead with the best tools she had: writerly ones, such as humor, imagination, and drama. The introduction to The Tamworth Narrative makes clear that she understood some of the book’s limitations as history. She admits that much of it is made from unreliable “oral testimony out of living people’s memories.”
Reading this book is like being present at a community conversation from the last century, perhaps sitting on a cracker barrel by the checker board at the general store (did that cliché really exist?), or a dorm room bull session lasting till dawn (I know for a fact those existed!).
Caveat emptor if you read history because you want to know what actually happened in the past, or if you are doing your own research and need solid sources, accurate in place, time, and context.
The national marketplace for writers is a great river at flood stage; only a handful of giants can hold their place for long. Marjory Gane Harkness made that scene just briefly, and now is virtually unknown except in her beloved adopted town. In The Tamworth Narrative, she preserved the collective memory of her generation. But in the process she spackled over the gritty and mysterious irregularities of two centuries of life. She did this, I firmly believe, not to deceive but to achieve aesthetic closure. As an artist, she did what she had to do.
Repairing the Chocorua Dam
Anyone who has lived in the village of Chocorua is familiar with the mysterious rumble which on occasion emanates from the dam, capable of rattling windows at some distance from the pond. This has been happening for as long as anyone can remember. Thanks to the efforts of Peter Smart (who with Judith Reardon is the moving force behind Chocorua Park LLC) and a crew of volunteers, these strange sound effects should continue well into the future, if perhaps at a different frequency.
At the end of July the pond behind the dam was drained for a hectic week of repairs to this unique wooden dam. Originally built in 1889 by Charles Bowditch on the site of earlier dams, this is one of the last A-frame dams in the state. Many of us were unaware that this unusual structure lurked behind the black curtain of water, assuming it was the more common stone or concrete construction. The mostly original white oak framing was on the verge of collapse near the lip of the dam, although the timbers further back in the ‘cave’ are still remarkably sound. The effort was therefore focused on replacing the missing or damaged front struts. Using local hemlock supplied through the generosity of Whit Patridge of Patridge Custom Sawing, Don Johnson of Forest Land Improvement, and Jim Alt and Eric Dube of Tamworth Lumber, the structure was stabilized and straightened. Thanks to a pump kindly supplied by John Roberts, the crew was able to work in some comfort on the ‘floor’ of the dam.
The west abutment served as the staging area where the timbers were cut to size. Electricity from next door was supplied by David Hailson. A cable ‘zip line’ was used to carry the heavy 8″×8″ pieces along the lip of the dam and lower them into position. Led by Larry Nickerson and Peter Smart, and helped by volunteers David Bowles, John Gotjen, Pat Shea, and Chris Frantz-Dale, the work went smoothly and was completed in about five days. Eventually, a real rebuild of the dam is planned, but the current repair should last until the money can be raised and the permits obtained for a total reconstruction.
The granite abutments at the east and west ends of the timber dam are in remarkably good condition, and needed only minor repair by Gary Jones and crew of Jones Brick and Stone. Interestingly, Gary thinks he knows where the granite was quarried. There is a long-abandoned quarry behind Whitton Pond with stone of a similar color and texture. The quarried stone would have been skidded across the pond on the ice, as there is no road access to the quarry.
The lip of the dam having been carefully straightened and leveled, a more continuous curtain of water was produced when the pond was refilled. This had the surprising effect of altering the ‘voice’ of the dam. According to Peter, it was not the familiar throbbing of years past, but had morphed into a ‘hum’. He added four small diverters to the lip of the dam in an effort to dampen this effect. It will be interesting to see what effect time and changing water flows will have on this unique phenomenon.
Other volunteers and supporters include Barbara Drake, John Robinson, Bob Seston, and Jim Weber. On the hottest day of the project, our thirsts were slaked in the nick of time with iced tea provided by Andrea and Crosby Kennett. An impromptu but well-attended barbecue was put together by Myles Grinstead on the final day of construction, probably the first real public event in the new park.
In addition to the dam repairs, many improvements were made to the new park below the dam and on the west side of the river. Brush, stumps, and debris were hauled to the staging area for removal. Some of the old white oak struts were even recycled for firewood, a testament to the durability of this more-than-century old wood. With the newly cleared paths and improved bridges and stairways, the park is seeing increased use by both residents and visitors. For those of you who have yet to explore this wonderful space, I suggest a picnic below the dam. It seems miles away from Route 16.
For now, Chocorua Park LLC is operating under the umbrella of the Chocorua Community Association (PO Box 185, Chocorua, NH 03817), which encourages tax deductible contributions to support this important village project. The CCA has established a dedicated account for the support of the dam and park. More information and photos are at www.facebook.com/chocoruapark.
Tamworth’s Other Store in Transition
It’s Saturday morning, and, as you gather supplies to start that redecorating project in the kids’ room, you realize that you forgot to get the paint, you need a new brush and roller, someone used the last vacuum bag, AND you can’t find a clean bucket anywhere. The thought of braving Route 16 traffic to make a run north or south for supplies is the last thing you need, especially on a busy holiday weekend. . . .
But wait — you just remembered that everything on your list, and probably several other items that would help get that project done — including lunch — are available right here in Tamworth Village at The Other Store!
Since 1993, The Other Store has partnered with Indian Mound Hardware in Ossipee to provide a small but complete hardware store in Tamworth. For the past twenty-two years, IMH owners Gene and Dorothy Veracka, have split overhead expenses with Other Store owner Kate Thompson, and have kept the east wing of the building stocked with a complete line of paints, stains, and supplies; plumbing and electrical parts; basic household items; nails, screws, nuts, bolts, and widgets. And, if your essential item was not in stock, chances are it could be on the next delivery from the main store in Ossipee.
In September, the Verackas decided the time had come for them to transition out of the hardware business. On September 28th, they sold Indian Mound Hardware to Aubuchon, a national corporation not interested in running a branch in Tamworth.
When word got out that hardware, paint, and more would leave the shelves in Tamworth, Thompson received ideas and offers of assistance from many in town. After some research, she was happy to report in early October that E.M. Heath of Center Harbor would supply hardware.
Heath’s already supplies the line of basic groceries carried at The Other Store, their hardware store is a True Value store as Indian Mound was, they too carry Benjamin Moore paint, and they are a community-minded company, so this new arrangement makes a lot of sense, says Thompson. She is pleased that the transition is going smoothly and emphasizes that the friendly staff behind the counter will stay on; the popular cafe, grocery, and gifts won’t change; The Other Store will honor all former Indian Mound charge accounts and continue to offer a 10% contractor discount.
Looking to the future, The Other Store needs community input. A truly sustainable mode of operation for the store is essential in order to keep this local resource viable for the long haul. Can a store of this size in Tamworth actually make money? Could it be run as a co-op, perhaps enlisting volunteers to help out? Over the next several months, Thompson plans to look at these questions and more with a group of interested Tamworthites.
If you would like to be a part of future planning for this Tamworth institution, contact Kate Thompson at 323-7762 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
from my south tamworth study window
december twelfth, seven seventeen,
the cold brook’s breath
has whitened only evergreen branches
on its banks as it spills
and chills down to bearcamp valley
below lucy larcom’s big and little mountains
a long curling apron string
hanging down her side
where she and john greenleaf whittier
once clambered in early autumn
sun, whose rays left eight minutes ago,
has just re-awakened lucy who reaches
down to turn on my electric typewriter
so that I can report to you her combing
long hair with time’s minute tines
into a single white cloud
which caresses her left shoulder
i wish her brook’s breath
would not only whiten
those evergreen branches
but me, an eighty-year old
who in a few years will
have clambered up big larcom
following her white apron string
to become another strand
in her clouded hair
leaving you to hold
this poem in your hand
to record tomorrow’s
ante meridian sunrise
Members of the Model T Ford Snowmobile Club of America brought their machines to the 13th annual Ice Harvest & Winter Carnival, held at Tamworth’s Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm in February. Lucky visitors enjoyed rides on the vintage rigs, experiencing first-hand a form of winter transportation often used by country doctors and rural mail carriers. The Snowmobile Company in West Ossipee developed and marketed a conversion kit, patented in 1913, that enabled Model Ts to travel over snow. Company founder, Virgil White, coined the term “Snowmobile.”
Arts Council of Tamworth’s 250th Mosaic Mural Project
In honor of Tamworth’s 250th anniversary, Arts Council of Tamworth — with support from The Tamworth Foundation and many funders, sponsors, and donors — hired the irrepressible mural artist David Fichter to lead townspeople through the design and creation of a mosaic mural celebrating things we love about Tamworth, past and present. First, individuals and organizations were invited to submit ideas, drawings, and photographs. The response was enormous. We received hundreds of ideas and photographs, and drawings from every student at Brett and a rare few adults.
David sifted through this mountain of things that delight us, and in back and forth conversation with us created designs for two gorgeous mosaics — circles within diamonds on top of rectangles — totaling ninety square feet, larger than planned in response to the enormous quantity of materials he received.
David spent the last two weeks of March with us building the mosaics in the Brett School art room, possible because of our long partnership with that wonderful school and art teacher Melanie McBrian’s generosity and willingness to open her classroom to the entire community. Every student at Brett worked on them multiple times, and scores of area residents. Everyone learned the word “shard,” and we lost count of how many band-aids we went through. Volunteers were our bread and butter—people came day after day to work with and alongside students, and showed up when needed with saw horses, ladders, staging, and dental equipment. One volunteer came every day and brought David sandwiches! Some reported dreaming of mosaics at night. We hosted five well-attended community sessions — on Saturday morning, mid-build, ninety people came through, and fifty to sixty worked on the mosaic. People ages 3–93 worked side-by-side — sometimes several generations of a family worked together. Relatives and descendants of people portrayed in the mosaic helped to build their relations. One current and two past Cook librarians built the library. When the community sessions were over, addicted mosaic-builders kept on showing up during school, after school, and late into the evening. Because of these extraordinary volunteers, and because the weather was unusually clement, we were even able to mount the first of the mosaics on the outside of the Brett School.
David returned in mid-April to mount the second mosaic and grout the first. Again tireless volunteers worked long days until dusk drove us in, taping small sections of mosaic to fill with many colors of grout. The first mosaic was finished! Before this issue is printed, David will come back and we will grout the second — all those portraits with gorgeous Ordination Rock and its monument in the center. Watching this communal process in which hundreds of people have made creative decisions has been moving. The end result does not look the way any one of us would have chosen — it looks like all of us.
Green Burial in Tamworth
Many of us are, understandably, uncomfortable when it comes to considering our own death or that of a loved one. As a society, we have become far removed from direct contact with the deceased, and from the burial rituals once so integral to the cycle of our ancestors’ lives. In “modern” society, we rely on professionals to prepare the dead for burial and, quite often, assume that this is our only available option.
Not only is this type of funeral expensive ($9,000 to over $13,000, according to nhfuneral.org, depending on whether it is a casket burial or a cremation), but the resources required by such burial practices are staggering and, in some cases, quite toxic. There are over 22,000 cemeteries in the United States. Each year, along with the dead, our society buries approximately 60,000 tons of steel, over 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 20 million board feet of hardwood, 17,000 tons of copper, bronze, and other precious metals, and 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid (which includes formaldehyde). Cremating a body requires enough fossil fuel to drive the average car almost 5,000 miles and the cremation process releases a variety of toxins into the atmosphere.
But there are other ways to prepare and bury our dead, which are less costly, have a lower environmental impact, and can be a unique and very intimate way to honor our loved ones. And these options are legally recognized and supported in New Hampshire and right here in Tamworth.
The practice of “green” burial has made steady gains in popularity and acceptance in the US since the first green burial preserve opened in South Carolina in 1998. In this method of interring the dead, unembalmed remains are placed directly into the ground, either shrouded in cloth or buried in caskets made of natural materials such as wicker, cardboard, or pine. Green burial sites do not enclose caskets in steel-reinforced concrete vaults, intended to prevent graves from collapsing. Instead, earth is mounded atop the burial site, eventually settling as the remains below go through a natural process of decomposition.
In Tamworth, our elected cemetery trustees oversee all town burial grounds and ensure that town and state rules governing burial practices are followed. The most recent set of rules regulating all Tamworth burials, adopted in September 2014, includes Section 4.4: Green Burial Lots, which states that “In areas specifically so designated, the Trustees allow ‘green burials.’” According to these rules, green burial “. . . excludes embalming fluids, non-bio-degradable containers, herbicides and pesticide use, and in no way inhibits natural decomposition.” (These regulations are available online at tamworthnh.org. Click on “Downloadable Documents,” then go to “Regulations & Ordinances” and select “Regulations.”)
The trustees have reserved two areas specifically for green burials:
Plot maps for these cemeteries can be viewed at the Tamworth Town Office and a green burial plot can be purchased, just like any other Tamworth cemetery plot, by Tamworth residents and non-residents who own property in Tamworth.
If the concept of green burial is interesting and possibly the way you would like to settle into your final resting place, but you find the details a bit overwhelming, there is help. For starters, the website nhfuneral.org has a wealth of information on the topic specific to New Hampshire. In addition, Silver Lake resident Julie Lanoie is a knowledgeable advocate for green burials. She welcomes inquiries as to how to go about this very personal and economical burial alternative.
To find out more about green burial, contact Julie Lanoie at 387-9798. For specific questions about green burial regulations and locations in Tamworth, contact Tamworth Cemetery Trustee Mark Albee at 323-7969.
The View from Here
What makes Tamworth “Tamworth” for you? A cooling swim in Chocorua Lake at the end of a hot summer day? Tucking into a delicious slice of pie at the Other Store’s lunch counter? Stopping by the Chocorua or Cook Library to check out a book? Voting at the Town House on Election Day as generations of Tamworth residents have done before you? Lending a hand to a friend or neighbor when they need it and knowing that they would do the same for you without question? For all of us, the list of what makes Tamworth special is long and varied. Each of us would answer this question differently. All of us could think of at least a few things that we cherish about our town.
As Tamworth’s 250th celebration draws to a close, many of us will add to our “Tamworth” list: time spent during 2016 building the mosaics that now adorn the west wall of the Brett School; appreciating the stories, photos, and quirky tidbits compiled in the commemorative book, Tamworth As We See It; standing shoulder to shoulder in the Behr Farm field on a glorious July day to form “250” as photos were snapped from above to document a moment in our collective history.
For some, the Tamworth Civic News is on that List. For two decades, this little newsletter has appeared in every Tamworth mailbox, six times each year, chock full of stories and information about our town. Many people read it from cover to cover as soon as it arrives. As one reader points out, having everyone in town reading the same news at the same time really lends to our collective sense of community. Which makes this news all the more difficult to share: that, at least for now, the Civic News is taking a break and will suspend publication. The reasons are complex and it is not an easy decision to make and to share with you, our readers. Although community support has been generous and has sustained us financially, producing this newsletter has largely fallen on very few shoulders, with countless hours put into each issue. It is time to take a break.
No doubt some of you will have questions: Why is this necessary? If more people step in to help, could the newsletter be revived? As editor, I am more than happy to talk with anyone who would like to discuss the decision to cease publication now and a possible revival of the Civic News in the future. Give me a call at 323-8185 or zip an email to email@example.com.
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