Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Back in the day, I attended a slightly whacky junior college tucked away in the White Mountains of Nuevo Hampshire. It was an interesting place to be, and I correspond regularly on a bulletin board where survivors and fellow travellers come to chat.

This story comes from the pen of one Ned Depew, a mostly unflappable Hudson River Dutchman who has a knack for the pen. Take it away Nedly.

When my grandmother died in 1965, she had a library of about 2,000 volumes - a list that varied from bound sets of "Classics" (some never cut) that had been purchased for their "decorator" value rather than their content, to a few Readers Digest Condensed Books volumes which I think had belonged to one of her housekeepers. My Grandmother was actually not much of a reader - in fact, I don't ever remember her reading a book in the entire time I knew her.But Franconia was struggling to meet a requirement for accreditation - a library of at least (I think the figure was) 20,000 volumes. I asked Ed Doro - then the Theosophist/Poet/Librarian (I still have signed copy of his self-published book) - if these books would help, and he said yes, so Ollie and I (and Dennis Darragh?) set off in the College's Giant Senicruiser for darkest New Jersey.We picked up the books and returned in a heavy snowfall, devoid of all other vehicles except snowplows from Concord north. But we made it. Ollie's several years of driving experience in northern New Hampshire (he grew up in Campton) served us well, as we followed the plows, crashed through a couple of large drifts (just for fun) and vastly enjoyed the harrowing trip with all the heedless confidence of our years. With all that weight and sensible New Hampshire snowtires all around, the Senicruiser was virtually unstoppable, the heater more than adequate, the radio not bad. Storytelling was the best part - in the dark with the storm outside. And of course there are few things more beautiful than a heavy snowfall in northern NH. Cresting the Notch, to see the Village below and the College twinkling through the snow on the hill was yet another magical aspect of my time in FC.The College kindly printed bookplates for all my Grandmother's books that said "Gift of Hazel E. Depew." It's kind of neat to think of some Phillipino picking one up and wondering who the hell Hazel Depew was and how her books got to Leyte! Part of the far-reaching, ongoing, totally unpredictable legacy of FC. Magic is afoot.


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