December Bookshelf: Personal History
The characters described in Richard Holmes’s “Nutfield Rambles: Stories from the History of Derry, Londonderry, & Windham, New Hampshire” [Peter E. Randall Publisher, $22] range from devils and murderers to maids, drunks and prohibitionists. But the central strand of this collection of stories is the untold history of three N.H. communities — Derry, Londonderry and Windham, formally known as Nutfield. In his fifth published volume on New Hampshire lore, Holmes focuses on a collection of old fables he has compiled over the past four decades as the Town Historian and founder of the Museum of History in Derry.
Holmes incorporates a personal touch to the memories of renowned historical figures, such as how the famous astronomer Alan Shepard was first celebrated in his hometown and what lyrical poet Robert Frost said when he gave his first, nervous speech to a crowd gathered at Pinkerton Academy. Holmes also reveals a band of lesser-known figures who, if their stories were not printed, would surely be forgotten.
Ten percent of each sold copy of “Nutfield Rambles” will go toward the preservation effort to save Upper Village Hall, a 19th-century building in East Derry that once stood as the focal point of the town but is now empty and condemned.