Sarah Hale’s Thanksgiving Wish

Consecrate the day to benevolence of action, by sending good gifts to the poor, and doing those deeds of charity that will, for one day, make every American home the place of plenty and rejoicing. These seasons of refreshing are of inestimable advantage to the popular heart; and, if rightly managed, will greatly aid and strengthen public harmony of feeling. Let the people of all the States and Territories sit down together to the ‘feast of fat things’ and drink, in the sweet draught of joy and gratitude to the Divine giver of all our blessings, the pledge of renewed love to the Union, and to each other; and of peace and good-will to all men.”

New Hampshire’s Sarah Josepha Hale spent decades waging a one-woman crusade for a Thanksgiving Day that was a “fixed” national holiday. Days of thanksgiving had been declared by various and sundry officials to mark various and sundry occasions ever since the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, but Hale wanted “Our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving” to be a day that was “forever secured.” She pleaded in an editorial in Godey’s Lady’s Book, of which she was editor, “that we lay aside our enmities and strife … on this one day.” Finally, on Oct. 3, 1863, President Lincoln signed a proclamation that set aside the last Thursday in November as a permanent day of national thanksgiving.

Right in Our Own Backyard

No matter what direction you go in, this fall you will find a veritable feast of visual arts. Twenty-seven museums and galleries throughout the state are collaborating in a series of exhibitions to celebrate the richness and variety of the state’s visual arts.

From now until the end of December, “New Hampshire: The State of Art” will showcase Granite State art and artists at venues as diverse as the Hood Museum of Art, the Northern Forest Heritage Park Artisans Gallery, the League of NH Craftsmen and the Belknap Mill. Exhibitions on view range from important masterworks and historic decorative arts to the latest art and craft in all media.

Shown here are two of the paintings featured at separate exhibitions.“Lions Head, Mount Washington” by Catherine Tuttle can be found at Picture Planes-New Hampshire at the Alva deMars Megan Chapel Art Center at Saint Anselm College. “Swamp Maple Autumn” by Richard Morin is from Autumn in New Hampshire: Five Artists Envision Fall at the McIninch Art Gallery at Southern NH University.

“The exhibition is for both residents and visitors to the state,”says Maureen Ahern of Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery at Keene State College. “There are cultural opportunities that often get overlooked.”

All venues are members of the New Hampshire Visual Arts Coalition (NHVAC), an all-volunteer organization of nonprofit visual arts presenters. The State of Art is presented in partnership with the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

For information on all the participating venues visit www.nhthestateofart.org.

Who Knew?

The oldest mountain-top hotel in the entire world is right here in New Hampshire. It’s Tip Top House on the summit of Mt. Washington, built in 1853. Other mountain-top hotels that were older (like Mt. Washington’s Summit House, built a year earlier than Tip Top House) have disappeared over the years, leaving Tip Top House at the head of the line. According to the N.H. Div. of Parks and Recreation Web site (www.nhparks.state.nh.us), the walls of the hotel were made of stone blasted from the mountain rock; other building materials had to be carried nine miles up the mountain by horses. Workers each day climbed up from a camp two miles down the mountain. Tip Top House was abandoned in 1968, but was restored 20 years later and is now a state historic site open to summit guests.


Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Kidder presented a keynote talk during Rivier College’s academic convocation. Kidder’s best-selling “Mountains Beyond Mountains” was this summer’s take-home reading assignment for first-year students.

Black Heritage Trail
A reception was held at the home of Frank and Irja Cilluffo on Sept. 10 to honor two chiefs from Ghana, visiting New Hampshire as guests of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and the Portsmouth-Greater Accra Sister City Connection. Nana Kwame Takyi is chief of Aburi and Nana Adu-Ampomah is chief of the neighboring village of Kitase.

Just Look it Up

New England is the result of a graft, cut from an heirloom branch in Europe and inserted into a wild native tree here in the new world. Much of the rich fruit and proud foliage of the sprawling American culture have emerged from this fertile union. Any study of America must begin with a study of this region, and now there is a text that makes such a task a pleasure.

The Encyclopedia of New England ($65, Yale University Press) is packed with more than 1,000 entries, arranged by themes ranging from agriculture to tourism.

New Hampshire shines throughout, from the foreword by Poet Laureate Donald Hall of Wilmot to the back-cover plug by filmmaker Ken Burns of Walpole. The two editors of the project are also local lads. Burt Feintuch and David Watters are both professors at the University of New Hampshire and regular contributors to the cultural and academic scenes. But what emerges from the sheer volume of facts and stories is an understanding of how the past and the destiny of each New England state is tied to the others. The book is beautifully bound and printed and carefully documented. It weighs in at about 10 pounds, but is written in a familiar and conversational voice that somehow makes it seem like light reading.


Bob Dylan, the psychic center of the turbulent ’60s and shaper of an entire generation, was featured recently in a PBS documentary produced by Martin Scorsese. If you watched, you saw two of Dylan’s old buddies — Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy — during their time together in the Greenwich Village music scene, right at the start of the folk music revival in the early ’60s. Liam Clancy (who advised Dylan to “remember — no fear, no envy, no meanness”) lived in New Hampshire for a few years after the group left the Village, then he moved on. Makem moved to the Seacoast in 1971 and still lives there. We talked to Makem about his long acquaintance with Dylan, which was renewed in 1992 at a 30th anniversary reunion in New York City. For more information on Makem, visit www.makem.com.

How did you meet?

In the Village, there were a lot of folk music places, coffee houses, like Café Wha, and Bob would be ‘round and about there, a young fellow going about with his guitar. When we were singing at Gerde’s Fifth Peg, which became Gerde’s Folk City, he’d come over there and just sit, absorbing everything going on like a sponge. I ran into him on the street in the middle of the night, about 2:30. He stopped me and sang me a song of about 20 verses to the tune he heard me sing the night before. “With God on Our Side” was put to the tune of a song we had recorded, “Patriot Game.”

How did you feel about him using your tunes?

The tunes had already gone the rounds. That’s folk music at its best. It’s been done for centuries. There was a hit with the same [“Patriot Game”] tune in the late ’40s, “Wide Rippling Water.”

What did you think of his music when you first knew him?

I figured he was just another kid, really nice kid. I didn’t realize the immense talent that was there. He was trying to sing like Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. I thought it was very noble, a good thing to be doing. Some of what he wrote, I didn’t understand very much, but some of the poetry was fantastic.

Did his success surprise you at all?

No, because of the way he could express himself, the tunes he used, the vision he had. The only surprise was that the mainstream had enough sense to accept that. Usually, they look for the lowest common denominator. It seemed he was a very old soul — that he was a continuation of what the old bards were like, certainly back in Ireland. They would find things going on all around them and express their thoughts about it. He was saying a lot of things that needed to be said in his songs and saying them extremely well.


  • “We’d like to bring it off the street and regulate it.” — Krissy Oechslin, spokeswoman for The Nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project, says her organization is targeting New Hampshire, one of seven states, to get mj legalized for all adults.
  • From one big house to the other: The North Hampton house that disgraced former Tyco executive Dennis Kozlowski sold last year had all the luxuries stolen money can buy — indoor pool, wine cellar and so on. Now a convicted felon, he will be remembered for his decadently catered Roman toga party. At least his new accommodations will offer catered meals and Roman-style common baths.
  • The Rochester Police Commission has stipulated that police officers can have facial hair if it’s neatly trimmed. Does that mean the town’s residents will have fewer close shaves with the police?
  • Also from Rochester: A new school is set to open — it’s an equine charter school, where students will saddle up to learn the ABCs. Can a yacht club charter school be far behind?
  • IMHO: The “Family Jewels” spiced nuts from House on the Hill Nuts (www.houseonthehillnuts.com) are worth every sugar and crystalline ginger-infused calorie, even if we wish they’d found a less graphic entendre with which to name their product.

Everyday History

Honor the past while planning the future with New Hampshire’s 2006 Living Legacy Calendar. The informative and colorful calendar honors N.H.’s cultural heritage by featuring 12 of the many museums and historical sites in the state.

The scenes — both contemporary and historical — include fresh snow blanketing the grounds of the Remick Country Doctor Museum, flowers blooming at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site and vibrant leaves dangling over the American Independence Museum.

There will be 12 different versions of the calendar, each with a historic site featured on the cover. Descriptions illuminate the importance of each location, and the “This Month in New Hampshire History” feature offers a mini N.H. history lesson.

Presented by the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources and Citizens Charitable Foundation, the calendar will benefit international cultural exchanges, such as those currently arranged with Europe, South America and within North America.

An exhibit of all the historic sites will be on display at the State Library until Nov. 10. The calendars are available for $5 each and can be purchased at each of the featured sites and at the State Library. For information visit www.nh.gov/nhculture or call (603) 271-2540.