First & Feisty

Keep your mitts off our primary — that’s been New Hampshire’s mother-bear-fierce message to all who would diminish the importance of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Now the N.H. Historical Society and the N.H. Political Library have teamed up to deliver the message once again, except with far more subtlety and elegance.

With candidates searching for votes in every N.H. nook and cranny and the national media following right behind them, what better time to have an exhibit that touts the five reasons (you’ll have to go to find out what they are) to keep New Hampshire first?

“New Hampshire: A Proven Primary Tradition,” which opens Sept. 8 at the Tuck Library in Concord, also traces the history of the primary. “It’s important for people outside of the state to know that the state’s primary is rooted in a century-old political culture of active and participatory government,” says Michael Chaney, president/CEO of the Political Library. “It enabled a political experiment like the primary to succeed.” The aim was to get more average people to participate and it did. No longer were candidates anointed by the political establishment.

The state has had to fend off numerous attempts by the Democratic National Committee to make the primary less influential. Ironically, the latest attempt has made the primary even more important than it was. With two dozen states right behind New Hampshire on the political calendar, a win here provides valuable momentum. “Whenever you start to tinker with the schedule,” says Chaney, “there can be unintended consequences.” Visit or for more information.

Politics and Eggs

There isn’t a lot that gets people out of the house for an 8 a.m. breakfast meeting on a weekday morning, but Politics and Eggs does. For the gathered, it’s 45 minutes of political talk with national leaders and policy makers and, in this presidential primary year, it is the candidates who are taking the podium.

“It’s become a must-stop on the campaign trail,” says Michael Chaney of the N.H. Political Library, the sponsor along with the N.E. Council of the breakfasts. He says that the candidates speak for 15 minutes and then answer questions for another 20 minutes, with the focus mostly on economic issues.

Politics and Eggs is invitation-only, but now anyone who is interested can see what the candidates said by downloading a transcript or streaming video of the speech ( It’s being done in collaboration with N.H. Public TV. The station also airs the speech the Sunday after it’s delivered.

Democrats Mitt Romney, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd and Republican Tommy Thompson are ready for downloading, with more candidates scheduled to speak this fall.

Street Smarts [ A quickie guide to Main Street Durham ]
Get a dose of college town, shop and snack all on one street.

You’re actually much more likely going to hear “I’m headed to D-Hop” than the official name of this delicious pizza joint at 40 Main St. The Durham House of Pizza, though swamped with the college crowd after hours, is a great place to pause and grab a slice. There’s plenty of seating inside, or take a slice to go as you stroll down the road. If you’re not too picky there is always a pizza ready, or order your own favorite toppings. (603) 868-2224

Take a little detour off of Main St. and check out Common Threads at 13 Jenkins Court, #130. You can buy, sell or trade popular clothing brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, JCrew and more. This bright store also offers plenty of shoes, belts and other accessories. With so many brands in one store you’re sure to find something you love! (603) 868-1600

Be sure not to miss Franz’s Food, located in a laundromat at 46 Main St. This eatery, an Editor’s Pick in New Hampshire Magazine’s 2007 Best of NH, serves up a huge variety of food, from French fries and hamburgers to soups and vegetarian fare. Though there isn’t much room inside to sit and eat, when the weather is nice enjoy your Franz selection at a few outdoor tables or eat on the go.

Whether you need a birthday gift, house-warming present or something to brighten the dorm room, The Out Back has it all. The eclectic store at 44 Main St. has everything from a framing shop to martini glasses. Walking along the road you can’t miss the large display window always filled with strings of brightly colored Nalgene water bottles. (603) 868-7027

If you need flowers delivered or want to pick up an arrangement or bouquet, the Red Carpet Flower Shop at 56 Main St. has a huge variety of beautiful plants. This family owned business delivers to Durham and surrounding towns for every occasion. Located next door to Town and Campus, the shop doubles as a gift store if you’re not in the market for flowers.

Students, parents and alumni have been stocking up on UNH gear at Town and Campus for almost 50 years. If you know anyone who is in need of a new rear window sticker, hockey jersey, sweatshirt or other UNH item, don’t miss this staple of Durham at 60-62 Main St. Longing for your days in the fraternity or sorority? Town and Campus can also supply you with Greek clothing and memorabilia.

How Big?

It’s a matter of scale

Everybody knows that the New Hampshire coastline is 18 miles long. It says so right on the official New Hampshire visitors Web site, So why is it that no less an authority than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aka NOAA, says the New Hampshire coastline is only 13 miles long. You can look at the chart at How can this be? Are state officials exaggerating because we have such a puny (the shortest in the whole country) coastline?

It turns out they’re just taking a closer look than NOAA. Ted Diers, head of the Dept. of Environmental Services’ coastal program, says the NOAA figure was calculated decades ago with a 1:1,200,000 scale map while the state figure was calculated with a 1:24,000 scale map, now considered the typical USGS map. “Because of the smaller scale,” Diers says, “you can see smaller features, which means more ins and outs that are measured, and it all adds up.” Diers says if an even smaller, say 1:1,000 scale, map is used, it’s likely the coastline mileage would be even longer.

No matter, for Diers the coastline is 238 miles long because he uses the tidal shoreline figure, which includes Great Bay and the tidal tributaries. He says those bodies of water are important, too. He says, “People don’t just go to the beach.”

Hidden Treasure

By a vote of the U.S. Senate in 2003, The Music Hall in Portsmouth was placed on the prestigious list of “America’s Treasures.” In the time since then, the historic value of the performing arts center, the oldest in New Hampshire, has only grown.

During renovations of the theater’s dome, decorative painting from 1878 was uncovered. Patricia Lynch, The Music Hall’s executive director, says the high-Victorian design features extensive images of faces, Greek gods and “a lot of blue sky that suggests a notion of the beyond. Greek gods were considered a jump back to that culture and good luck. It was designed to be ornamental. It was a really skilled artisan who designed it and really skilled artisans bringing it back.”

The Music Hall was closed for two months while the dome was repainted by hand by artists from Evergreene Painting Studios, a renowned historic finish company in New York City. Much of the painting had suffered from water damage; still, it was able to be reconstructed in its entirety through paint analysis and discovery windows.

The dome will be unveiled to the public on September 8 in a special celebration.
Chestnut Street will be closed for a 7 p.m. ribbon-cutting in a streetscape specially designed for the party. At 8 p.m., there will be dancing in the theater to the tunes of the Grammy-nominated Latin band “Tiempo Libre.” For ticket information, visit

— by Kristine King

Treasure Hunt

Above: Provenance: This “City Bank” was passed along through three generations to an Amherst girl.

A Penny Saved

Cast iron banks from the 19th century are great collectibles.

Cast iron toy banks are wonderful items to collect and are always in demand in the antiques marketplace. In the mid- to late-19th century, toy banks of this type would be prized items for children. These toys would serve to teach children the fundamentals and importance of savings.

The two types of toy cast iron banks made in the United States in the 19th century were “still” and “mechanical” banks. Your bank is known as a still bank because it has no moving parts. Conversely, mechanical banks featured several moving parts that created an animated scene and an amusing approach to saving money.

Your bank is a “City Bank” from the 19th century and appears to retain its original paint. It seems to be in a fine state of preservation with expected wear. Since many iron toys are reproduced and then weathered to appear old, collectors today must be very cautious of inadvertently purchasing reproductions.

Antique banks are very desirable as a collectible; some models can bring thousands of dollars depending on rarity and condition.

I would estimate your bank at $250.

—Jason Hackler, manager/owner of New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford ( and partner of Jason Samuel Antiques, is a past officer of the Granite State Antique and Appraisers Association, a principal of the Active Appraisal Group, a member of the N.H. Antique Dealers Association and a licensed auctioneer.

If you have an antique you would like Jason to appraise for Treasure Hunt, please send a hi-res photo to If there are markings, please take a clear photo of them as well. Only one item a month can be featured.

Book Shelf

Alien Encounter

No matter whether you believe it really happened or not, it’s a great yarn. On a moonlit night in the White Mountains back in 1961, Betty and Barney Hill encountered space aliens, who performed tests on them and then let them go.

Much of their experience was retrieved in hypnosis sessions, and the recently-released book “Captured!” is an extensive (perhaps more extensive than you might want) account of that.

If you’re a doubter, what you read might make you reconsider (what was that mysterious pink powder on her blue dress?). If you’re a true believer, this will provide fuel for your UFO theories.

The book, written by Betty Hill’s niece Kathleen Marden and Stanton T. Friedman, who’s called a scientific ufologist, needed a good editor to make it more coherent, but it’s well worth your time to read it.

Road Trip

Groveton to the Canadian Border
This is as far north as you can get in New Hampshire.

By Barbara Radcliffe Rogers

Begin in Groveton, a former lumber town north of the White Mountains, where the Ammonoosuc River used to be filled with logs waiting for the pulp mills. Now a park holds an old coal-fired logging railroad engine and caboose beside the bypassed 1852 Groveton Covered Bridge.

Follow US 3 north through town to Emerson’s Outdoor Equipment (, known throughout the north country as a source of sportswear and everything from canoes to bug repellant.

US 3 continues to Stratford through the flat Connecticut River valley. Look (5 miles) for The Foolish Frog (636-9843) in North Stratford, a quirky museum of frogs in every medium and form, whistles and spinning tops to puppets and kites. Amuse kids with something from their frogcentric gift shop.

The river and road wind scenically through valley farms. A historic marker (left, 6 miles) describes log drives that once filled the river with timber. At Columbia (11 miles), the 145-foot Columbia Covered Bridge spans the Connecticut River to Lemington, Vermont. The 1912 Howe Truss bridge, northernmost of three border bridges, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace (2 miles) was built in 1948 by Roman Catholic Missionary Oblates. Just beyond is Colebrook, the region’s major commercial center. On the left, Le Rendezvous French Bakery (237-5150) is also a chocolatier. At the northern end of town, a right onto Rte. 145 leads to 35-foot Beaver Brook Falls (2.5 miles) with picnic tables alongside.

Return to US 3, continuing north to West Stewartstown (8 miles) and a unique furniture store. Northern Rustic Furniture (246-7025) works with craftsmen to provide beautifully designed furnishings for northern living, items as small as wrought-iron hooks or as large as beds crafted of logs. Across the street, The Spa (246-3039) has grown from a 1927 family diner to a full restaurant serving three meals a day from an extensive menu.

Between West Stewartstown and Stewartstown, the road crosses the 45th parallel, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Stewartstown is opposite Beechers Falls, VT, the only point where the two states share a land border, as the river turns east. To see the granite boundary marker, cross into Beechers Falls and turn right along the river; it’s on the left, set at an angle, half in each state.

Back on US 3, just north of Tabor Rd. (about 5 miles), Indian Stream crosses. It gave name to Indian Stream Republic, when settlers’ patience with U.S.-Canadian border disputes wore thin and they proclaimed themselves independent from either country.

In Pittsburgh, the Clarksville Covered Bridge dates from the 1870s. Within the town, geographically the state’s largest, lie all four Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis, here alongside US 3. A left onto Beach Rd. (3.5 miles) leads to smaller Back Lake and Tall Timber Lodge (, where Rainbow Grill is renowned for game dishes, including venison, pheasant and trout.

Turn onto Hill-Danforth Rd. (3 miles) to see mid-1800s Happy Corner Covered Bridge, among the state’s oldest. A dam (1 mile) marks the lower end of First Connecticut Lake, and a right onto Glen Rd. (1.5 miles) leads to The Glen (, a delightfully old-style lodge overlooking the lake from an idyllic setting in a pine grove.

US 3 is bordered on both sides by state forest through a long stretch known as Moose Alley. Sightings are frequent as moose feed in the low areas, but be careful, since moose have no fear of cars and can bound into the road suddenly. They are wild, big and unpredictable.

Third Connecticut Lake lies to the left just before the international border crossing (22 miles north of Pittsburg). Remember that you need a passport to cross.

There is no way to make this a circular route, although returning you can follow the rolling Rte. 145 from Pittsburg to Colebrook, through Clarksburg and Stewartstown Hollow.

Length of trip: 67 miles

Plan Ahead

Sing Their Way Back Home

Two music stars with strong New Hampshire ties, Dan Zanes and Mighty Sam McClain, have joined a constellation of other luminaries to produce a CD designed to bring a little starry-eyed hope to the down-and-out in America. Titled “Give US Your Poor,” the CD teams up celebrity musicians like Zanes, Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt with one another and with homeless performers. Zanes had a natural interest in the project because his mother is a long-time organizer for the Friendly Kitchen, a soup kitchen in Concord. Mighty Sam, no stranger to hard times himself, wrote one of the songs with his sax player and performs it as a duet with rocker Jon Bon Jovi. The basic tracks for McClain’s song were recorded in New Hampshire at Cedarhouse Sound and Mastering in Sutton with local sound wizard Gerry Putnam producing the session. The project is the result of the vision of a Boston-based organization dedicated to ending homelessness.

To learn more about the project or to purchase the CD (available in late September), visit

Q&A: Scarlett’s Stage

Her birth certificate says her first name is Laura-Rebecca. She was, poignantly, named for a dying aunt. As it turned out the aunt lived and, since two Rebeccas in one family would be confusing, her name was changed to Scarlett. Interesting that Scarlett Ridgway-Savage’s life started that way. The mix of pathos and humor in that situation foreshadowed the kind of stories that she would go on to write. The Rochester resident is now an award-winning playwright and budding novelist.

Is it true that none other than Stephen King, the Stephen King, had good things to say about your writing?

He visited the University of Maine when I was there and saw a performance of a play I wrote called “The Center Fieldsman.” He told the head of the theatre department that I had a ‘genius ear for dialogue.’ Wow, I said, Stephen King, wow, that’s good. It made me think I could do this.

There’s another big name in your past — E.B. White.

Yeah, when I was in 7th grade, I won a writing contest with a story about the life of an average housefly. So, when the teacher wanted to turn White’s “Charlotte’s Web” into a play, she asked me to do it. She sent a copy of the script to White and he wrote back saying he thought I had a great deal of promise.

Already you’ve had successes, with a number of plays written and performed and four novels completed, but where do you see yourself at, say, 50?

I want to have an Academy Award, five or six books published, a Newbery Medal, a couple of those, happy, healthy children, my husband by my side and to keep doing what I’m doing.

With two young children and a husband, when do you write?

During the day, I’m a mom. After 11 at night, after tucking everyone in and spending some alone time with my husband, I can sit down and focus on my writing. Between 11 and 2, that’s my time. The help of my best friend, my biggest fan, and my toughest critic (my husband, of course, a semi-pro actor) made this possible. When I suggested getting a “day” job, he said, “You have two jobs — you’re a mommy and a writer.” Without that support, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write every day, even if it’s just a sentence. Knock on every door you can find. Drink lots of water, and don’t smoke. It kills your time and sucks your energy. Most importantly, never give up.

One of Scarlett’s plays, “She &*%#ing Hates Me,” opens at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre on Sept. 7. For more information visit or