When the Only Coffeeshop in Town Closes


Here is Ruth Graham at Slate:

Fewer than 3,000 people live in Warner. For this community, losing Schoodacs is shattering. My family and I saw someone we knew at the coffee shop every time we stopped in. Our next-door neighbor worked on his novel there; a close friend hosted a reading series. We bought our Christmas tree on the coffee shop’s front lawn, and visited the jack-o’-lanterns lined up on the front steps in October. On Saturday mornings, my daughter and I made what we called “the Warner rounds”: Schoodacs, library, farmers market. In warm weather we sat in the sun on the porch, and in the winter we chose a game from the communal board game cabinet or chipped away at the jigsaw puzzle on a big table in the center of the room. The banner image for the private Facebook group for local parents (121 members) is a photo of Schoodacs on a sunny summer day.

And businesses like this one have a ripple effect. Schoodacs—named for a local brook with a spelling that is apparently only found in Warner—purchased hundreds of gallons of maple syrup a year from a family farm up the mountain; who will that farm sell to now? It provided a place for local realtors and other professionals to hold meetings; there’s nowhere else in town that can fill that role. What will happen to foot traffic at the outdoor farmers market without a coffee shop next door?

Read the entire piece here.


When the Declaration of Independence Came to Exeter, New Hampshire


Historian Jessica Lepler writes: “Exeter’s residents thought they were King George’s subjects twelve days longer than Philadelphians.”  In her piece at Common-Place, Lepler tells the very interesting story of a first edition copy of the Declaration of Independence printed in 1776 by John Dunlap.  Here is a taste:

The Dunlap broadside (the broadside) on display during Exeter’s American Independence Festival was “discovered” in 1985 in the attic of the Ladd-Gilman House. The house was built in the early eighteenth century and was the home of the politically prominent Gilman family. During the Revolutionary War when Exeter was the state capital and a booming inland seaport, the house served as the treasury. In 1902, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Hampshire acquired the house from the Gilman family. The society, a hereditary organization composed of the eldest male descendants of New Hampshire’s commissioned officers who served in the Continental Army and Navy, named it Cincinnati Memorial Hall. In this clubhouse, members gathered for meetings and brought with them artifacts from the revolutionary era for a kind of grown-up show-and-tell. Some of these objects had been passed down in their families; others were acquired over time. The collection grew: political cartoons, swords, furniture, rare books, original drafts of the Constitution complete with handwritten notes, an eighteenth-century purple heart, and portraits of revolutionary leaders by famous artists. Despite the value of the items at Cincinnati Memorial Hall, the collection was unorganized and record-keeping haphazard. The society, however, knew it owned valuable artifacts. In 1985, the society hired a local electrician to install a security system, which required attic access. Local lore suggests that the electrician’s assistant “discovered” the broadside in a stack of old newspapers serving as insulation. The society, in turn, argues that the broadside was “rediscovered” by a member during an inventory of the items stored in the attic inspired by the electrician’s need for access. Regardless of who should be credited with finding the document, it quickly became clear that this piece of paper was worth quite a lot of money. By selling the broadside, the society could afford to repair and restore the rest of its collection, including the Ladd-Gilman house and Folsom Tavern.

The society had stumbled upon a bounty, or at least the members and appraisers thought so. The society reached out to leading sellers of historic documents and rare books. Most valued the broadside at around $500,000 (adjusted for inflation to 2017, that would be about $1.1 million). This is probably a low estimate given the more than $2 million sale price of the copy discovered and sold just a few years later.

The price tag, however, proved inconsequential. As the society prepared to send the broadside to auction, the state of New Hampshire intervened. It turns out that, in legal terms, the mystery of who found the broadside matters a lot less than who lost it. Did a member give it to the society during the show-and-tell meetings sometime after 1902? Or was it the original copy—the one sent to the Committee of Safety by Hancock that arrived on July 16, 1776—hidden in the attic of the state treasury? In 1776, after all, the broadside was not a rare, valuable piece of old paper; it was treason. If the Gilmans hid the broadside in their house in the 1770s, it was never theirs to convey to the society. It was technically state property. And the state of New Hampshire wanted it back.

Read the rest here.


The Anti-Christ in New Hampshire


If you have been following the GOP presidential race, you know that New Hampshire has fewer evangelicals than Iowa or South Carolina. But though evangelicals do not make a large swath of the population in the Granite State, it does have its fair share of born-again Christians.  One of them is apparently Susan DeLumus, a member of the state legislature. DeLumas is supporting Donald Trump.  She obviously has no problem with Trump’s recent squabble with Pope Francis because, after all, the Pope is the anti-Christ.

Here is a taste of an article on DeLumas:

In response to her own Facebook post of three snippets of scripture from the Geneva Bible, Rep. Susan DeLemus (R) wrote: “The Pope is the anti-Christ. [sic] Do your research.” In another response, DeLemus said “I’m not sure who the Pope truly has in his heart.”

She told Politico that she was generally referring to the papacy, rather than Pope Francis in particular.

“I was actually referencing the papacy. And what I wrote after that ‘do your research,’ if you read the Geneva Bible, which is the Bible I use when we study, the commentary is – actually by the founders of the United States actually, the Protestant Church – their commentary references the papacy as the anti-Christ,” DeLemus said.

DeLumus is correct about the Geneva Bible.  Here is a taste of the notes on Revelation 13:12 that appeared in the 1560 edition:

13:12 17 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein 18 to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 

(17) The history of the acts of this beast contains in sum three things, hypocrisy, the witness of miracles and tyranny: of which the first is noted in this verse, the second in the three verses following: the third in the sixteenth and seventeenth verses. His hypocrisy is most full of lies, by which he abuses both the former beast and the whole world: in that though he has by his cunning, as it were by line, made of the former beast a most miserable skeleton or anatomy, usurped all his authority to himself and most impudently exercises the same in the sight and view of him: yet he carries himself so as if he honoured him with most high honour, and did truly cause him to be reverenced by all men. 

(18) For to this beast of Rome, which of civil Empire is made an ecclesiastical hierarchy, are given divine honours, and divine authority so far, as he is believed to be above the scriptures, which the gloss upon the Decretals declares by this devilish verse. “Articulos solvit, synodumque facit generalem” That is, “He changes the Articles of faith, and gives authority to general Councils.”
Which is spoken of the papal power. So the beast is by birth, foundation, feat, and finally substance, one: only the Pope has altered the form and manner of it, being himself the head both of that tyrannical empire, and also of the false prophets: for the empire has he taken to himself, and to it added this cunning device. Now these words, “whose deadly wound was cured” are put here for distinction sake, as also sometimes afterwards: that even at that time the godly readers of this prophecy might by this sign be brought to see the thing as present: as if it were said, that they might adore this very empire that now is, whose head we have seen in our own memory to have been cut off, and to be cured again.

Who Will Win Tonight in Pittsburg, NH?

PittsburgI wrote the better part of two of my books from a house on Back Lake in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. Pittsburg is the northernmost town in the state (in red on the map to the left).  Lindsey Graham was the only presidential candidate to visit the town in the lead-up to tonight’s primary.

By the way, Pittsburg is the largest town in the nation in terms of square miles.

Check out this article on Pittsburg and the New Hampshire primary at Boston.com. Here is a taste:

But if residents were to lobby for a candidate visit, they’d want Donald Trump, who is the clear favorite up here. The outspoken businessman’s signs are outnumbered only by those decrying the Northern Pass, a proposed 180-mile, $1.1 billion power line that would run right through the town’s scenic vistas.

The “live free or die” motto is taken very seriously in Pittsburg, where voters overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney in 2012, giving him almost 63 percent of the vote.

But not everyone is disappointed with the lack of political attention. In fact, some residents are happy to let the political circus pass them by.

“I won’t have anything to do with politics in any way, shape or form,” said Al Goudreau, who owns Treats and Treasures General Store, an establishment that caters to residents looking to pick up a six pack or gallon of milk, or tourists seeking homemade fudge or a “Live Free or Die” t-shirt.

I should add that Al Goodreau sells some delicious fudge and makes a mean breakfast sandwich.  Last summer I bought a Pittsburg baseball cap from him.  I was actually wearing it earlier today.

The Big Difference Between Iowa and New Hampshire GOP Voters

wleome_New_HampshireIt’s religion, of course.

Check out Tracie Mauriello’s article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Devoutness doesn’t resonate as strongly in New Hampshire as it did in Iowa.” It does a nice job of explaining why GOP presidential candidates need to approach New Hampshire differently than Iowa.

I even got quoted at the end of the article about the independent spirit of New Hampshire voters.

Here is a taste:

Here in hardscrabble New Hampshire, the nation’s second-most secular state, you’re more likely to find candidates on barstools than in pews.

“Candidates who were appealing so openly to the religious right in Iowa are going to find their message faltering in New Hampshire a week later,” said Randall Balmer, who grew up in Iowa and now is chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

To win here, candidates have to quickly tone down the religious conservative images they projected in evangelical Iowa.

“I don’t think you’re going to see Donald Trump going to church in New Hampshire” as he did in Iowa, said Seton Hall University political scientist Jo-Renee Formicola.

“Politics is about doing what you have to do in order to win votes, and if going to church is going to win votes, they’re going to go to church,” said Ms. Formicola, who studies church-state relations. “In New Hampshire, where do politicians go? They go to the bars. That’s where most of the business is done in New Hampshire.”

Read the entire piece here.

“This is My Super Bowl”: A January Vacation to Iowa

Apparently 1000s of people come to Iowa in January every four years to watch the political frenzy leading up to the caucuses.  The NPR show Here & Now has a nice piece on these political tourists.


Joy heard this on NPR today and when she came home from work she strongly encouraged me to do the same thing this week in New Hampshire.  (I am on sabbatical, after all and this is a bucket-list thing for me!)  For about ten minutes a frenzied brainstorming session took place in the Fea household about how I might be able to pull this off.  Then we realized that my daughter has a volleyball tournament in New Jersey on Saturday and I need to take her to it.  I love watching my daughter play volleyball, but this realization took the air out of the balloon.

I am still thinking about a Sunday through Tuesday visit, but I think it will be a long shot.