Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thankful for So Much

Today, November 26, is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.  

Like all other holidays in 2020, this year's celebration will be very different and definitely minus the usual joyful gatherings of family and friends. 

We miss that and know many of you do too.

Nevertheless, we have so much to be thankful for in spite of restrictions inposed in this year of covid. It has NOT been the best of times, but far from the worst.

We are safe and well as are family and friends in various parts of the country. We are very thankful for that good fortune and hope the same is true for all of you.

Life is good, despite all that's happening in the world and so, we will take time to celebrate and be joyful.
Our best wishes to everyone celebrating this holiday, however, wherever and with whomever you're spending it. We're celebrating together at home in NH. 

Dorothy & Patrick (aka Beatrice & Grenville)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Be It Ever So Humble . . .

Hammond Castle, Gloucester, MA
There's no place like home. And, if your home resembles a castle, even better especially if i
t reigns majestic on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

An alternate title to this post could have been A Man's Castle is His Home especially if your name was John Hays Hammond, Jr., as the above photo shows his home designed as a castle in the 1920s. It's in New England, less than a 40-minute from our home in Nashua, NH.

During October and November, we took several day trips to see homes dubbed castles by their owners. In October, we trekked to a forest in West Chesterfield, NH to see the remains of Madame Sherri's Castle. In early November, we climbed a Groton, MA, hilltop to see what remains of Bancroft's Castle, a former cottage with a turret feature. Both of these sites had been ravaged by fires. All that remained at one was a famous arching staircase, at another, a turret, massive fireplaces and stonework.
Hammond Castle is entirely different. For starters, it was purposely built to look like a European castle, plus this one is fully intact with no fire or other damage and interior furnishings. This castle-home was built 
in the mid-1920s by John Hays Hammond, Jr., a scientist, inventor and art connoisseur on the New England shoreline overlooking the Gloucester, MA, harbor. 

We visited Hammond Castle on probably our last day trip for a while. Travel restrictions are now in place between MA and NH. Also, it's the holiday season and we're spending time at home, like so many others. (We're looking forward to it as it's the first holiday season home in years.)
Currently, the castle operates as the Hammond Castle Museum. It was formerly the personal residence of Hammond and his wife, the former Irene Fenton Reynolds. Upon their deaths, and without any heirs, the residence was transformed into a museum that's open to the public and is the site of special events. Unlike our previous castle visits, this one has an admission charge. Also, it's not handicap accessible with many a lot of steps and very narrow spiral stairways. 
The castle was built between 1926 to 1929 as a showplace for Hammond's collection of Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance artifacts. Appropriate to its contents, it consists of 15th to 18th century architectural elements such as curving steps, narrow doorways and arches. 
Daily News (NY) cover story on castle construction
The house was also Hammond's business office and home of the Hammond Research Corporation. Hammond, a pioneer in the study of remote control, is referred to as The Father of Radio Control. His pioneering developments in electronic remote control became the foundation for modern radio remote control devices, including modern missile guidance systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and unmanned combat aerial vehicle. Hammond is credited with over 800 foreign and domestic patents on more than 400 inventions mostly in the fields of radio control and naval weaponry (the exact number is uncertain due to how credit was listed on the forms).
Hammond knew Thomas Edison personally. At age 12, he accompanied his wealthy father, John Hammond, Sr. on a business trip to Edison's West Orange, NJ, laboratory asking so many questions that Edison gave him a tour and later became his mentor. The two remained in contact for the rest of Edison’s life. In later years, while studying at the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, Hammond became interested in the new study of radio waves and was mentored by Alexander Graham Bell. As with Edison, the two remained friends until Bell’s death.
Invention Room
After his 1910 graduation from Yale, Hammond took a job in the U.S. Patent Office. He had learned from Edison that inventing could be a money-making proposition, and he figured there was no better place to learn which scientific fields were on the cutting edge. Becoming proficient in the patent process, he founded his own research laboratory and, in time, became second only to Edison for the most invention patents filed.
Assorted castle doorways

A passionate traveler, Hammond loved all things European and historic having been exposed to the art and architecture of olden Europe thanks to his father's career as a mining engineer magnate. During our tour, we learned that, at an early age, he told his parents that he would live in a castle one day. 

Round library
Hammond called his medieval-style castle, Abbadia Mare, and, like any self-respecting castle, it included a drawbridge but no moat. It also featured a great hall, renaissance dining room, round library, a war room, secret passageways and an indoor courtyard and pool. 

Castle drawbridge
Because Hammond appreciated the eras spanning ancient times, he wanted his castle to be medieval in style with large stone archways, windows, wooden facades, and other architectural elements from the "Old World" bridging several periods through sixteenth century architectural elements. 

Coincidentally, his castle project came to the attention of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who had also purchased a large collection of medieval artifacts. Inspired by Hammond, Rockefeller launched a similar project on a site above Manhattan that would eventually include pieces from five different European abbeys. Today, that site is The Cloisters, an arm of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Courtyard doorways

His collection of 15th Century facades was housed in the courtyard to meet Hammond’s vision of what a medieval village might resemble. It was pieced together from buildings he collected on his travels including a meat market, wine merchant’s house, and an ancient church archway of carved lava from Mt. Vesusvius

Courtyard pool
Since the indoor courtyard included tropical plants, an indoor pool was added to ensure a suitable level of humidity and steam pipes were put around the bottom of the pool to control water temperature. A green dye, added as a decorative feature, hid the depth of the water, which was actually a swimming pool. Hammond could set a "weather control" system to water the vegetation and he was known to leap cannonball style from a second story window into the courtyard pool. 
Guest bedrooms on 2nd floor

The house was an expression of all things that Hammond treasured. It showcased his fabulous collection of antiques and his inventions, but some unusual additions, including a skull reportedly of a sailor who crewed with Christopher Columbus. (We missed seeing this treasure.)

Great Hall in Hammond Castle

The most impressive part of the house is the Great Hall, with its eight-story high, pipe organ and giant stained glass window. The gigantic pipe organ was designed and built by a collection of world-famous organ builders over 10 years.  

Pipe organ in Great Hall
Consisting of 8,400 pipes it was among the largest pipe organs in the world and included many features of Hammond’s 19 patents for pipe organ technology. As much as he enjoyed the organ, Hammond couldn't play it. He invented a device included within the console which could record what was being played, so it could be accurately replayed. The organ was a centerpiece of entertainment and renowned organists, such as Richard Ellsasser and Virgil Fox, performed and made commercial recordings on it. We learned that it's no longer in operating condition.

He is not the man who invented the organ of the same name. The inventor of that instrument, first manufactured in 1935, was Laurens Hammond (1895-1973). Coincidentally, Laurens Hammond was also an American engineer and inventor whose inventions also include the Hammond clock and the Novachord, the world's first polyphonic musical synthesizer. In the 1970s, the Hammond Organ Company abandoned tone wheels and switched to integrated circuits. These organs were less popular, and the company went out of business in 1985. The Hammond name is now owned by the Suziki Musical Instrument Corporation. 

John Hays Hammond, Jr. and statue

Hammond died in 1965, but castle visitors can come face to face with him – and with other parts as well during their visit. That's because he had a life-size statue of himself cast. Currently, it resides in the pool courtyard. Years ago it was outside the castle and we learned that Mrs. Hammond had the fig leaf added on.

Hammond Castle Museum is in its 45th consecutive season. In past years, it was visited by over 35,000 people from across the U.S. and foreign countries. 

The castle has appeared on the A&E network program, American Castles. Over the years, the castle has also been the location for the mid 1960s to 1970s TV show, Bewitched, and Otto Preminger’s film, Tell Me You Love Me Julie Moon. It has also been the setting for numerous television commercials and specials.

Access to all parts of the castle was limited during our tour, which was guided for the first part and unguided the rest of the 60-minute timed visit.

Precautions were in place and masks were required while we were inside the castle.

The vintage December 1932 magazine article below was in the lobby of Hammond Castle Museum. It states that visitors could see the castle in the mornings from June to October at a cost of 50 cents to view art and architecture gathered from all over Europe. The article said that in the afternoons, the castle marvelous was given back to its owner.

Times have changed as the admission charge for our timed visit was $15 each (senior discount). Regular adult rate is $18 and children 5 10 12 are $10, those under 4 years are admitted free.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday Funnies

It never ceases to amuse me when I've been walking along and found a lone shoe or boot on the ground. This one made me think of a fairy tale and a song.

Can you figure out which ones?

Maybe, Cinderella lost her shoe and is awaiting her prince while humming Some Day My Prince Will ComeBut, I'll never know the rest of the story and, sadly, neither will you.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone

Thanks, everyone for your comments about my recent walk through Edgewood Cemetery in Nashua, NH. It's one of my favorite places to walk through any time of year, especially fall.

Apologies to all as I've been a bit late in catching up on your blogs. I've been finishing up a homemade gift to send to family we're not seeing this holiday season and making holiday decos for our apt as well.  Next week my holiday πŸŽ„card writing starts, which is something I really enjoy. This year, more than ever, many folks need a message of cheer. That said, I'd be happy to send you one, just email your name and address to the email on my blog.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Grave Walk in Silence

Quite literally, it was such a walk and I found a headstone to attest to that fact. 

For the past few years this month, I have posted about fall walks taken through a local cemetery in Nashua, NH. This year I repeated that trek, but in October when fall colors foliage was at their peak.

This year’s walk was more notable in that it was socially distanced. No mask was needed as not only was I outdoors, but neither saw nor spoke to another living person; talking to the dead doesn’t count.

The fall colors were just as spectacular as in previous visits, nearly all the trees were leaf-filled when these photos were taken; however since then wind and rains have left the trees practically bare as I saw on a drive last week.

The Edgewood Cemetery is located on Amherst St, one of the city’s main roadways in a residential area. It’s been part of Nashua’s history since the 1800s when it was formerly called the Amherst Street Cemetery. The first recorded reference was in 1842 town records for Nashua (formerly Nashville) when it was voted that selectmen be authorized to purchase a piece of ground for a burial yard. The town purchased 2-1/2 acres for $100, then a 1/4 acre for $20. By 1865, another 1/2 acre was added. In 1871, more than 12 acres were purchased for $1,241. In 1886, over 10 acres were added. By 1889, the cemetery included more than 25 acres.

After Nashua was incorporated as a city in 1853, Edgewood continued in use as a public cemetery, under control and charge of the city. In 1893, an act of legislature created a Board of Trustees and it passed into the “sole care, superintendence and management of that Board. Several prominent citizens were appointed to the first board of trustees, including Ira F. Harris and Charles Hoitt, who was elected president. Today, both Harris and his wife and Hoitt and his family, including two young sons, are buried in Edgewood. (Unexpectedly, I located the Hoitt family site, but not that of Harris and his wife.) 

The impressive entrance gates were a gift from Harris, 1912. A prominent city resident, he was a cashier at the former Indian Head National Bank in downtown Nashua, a member of the local Rotary club, and treasurer of the Nashua Street Railway. He's credited with several patents including a street-railway switch and street-railway switching device. 

The cemetery now encompasses 33 acres. In late summer 2019, the cemetery was running out of room for future gravesites. Seeing expansion, the Board of Trustees authorized removal of over 100 trees covering 2 acres without prior notice to nearby residents or city officials. Reportedly, the negative reaction was a surprise to the trustees. City officials intervened by hiring a landscape architect to develop a plan where trees were removed to provide a "pleasant view and a preferable environment for those who live next to the cemetery.”

Walking along paved walkways and among the impressive remaining trees was quite peaceful. Although the cemetery is near a busy roadway, walking father into it, the noise becomes muted as the beauty of nature can be seen and enjoyed in the solitude.

Like others who find cemeteries peaceful, I also enjoy reading headstone epitaphs interesting. Some might consider this macabre but it’s also quite informative. Sadly, it’s a fact that years ago, children died young. Many older headstones attest to their early passing, many bore only a first name.
I also wondered about why many headstones that didn’t bear a first or last name, but only the simple words “Father” and “Mother.” I wondered if it might be due to the cost of engraving a headstone, but couldn’t find information to support this theory.
Many headstones were simple and direct with no other details included.
These were interesting as it listed three women with the same name, Henrietta. I had heard that if a child dies, another child may be renamed after that child and that seems to have been the case in this family.

I wonder if H.G. Taylor remarried as his former wife, Abigail, was buried next to him, but there was no other Mrs. Taylor.
The Anderson Chapel has long been considered the finest memorial in Nashua’s Edgewood Cemetery. In 1929, the city’s mayor, cemetery trustee and others accepted it as a gift from Mrs. Ella F. Anderson’s in memory of her husband, Frank E. Anderson, co-founder of the Estabrook-Anderson Shoe Co., one of 19th century Nashua’s most successful and short-lived shoe manufacturers. In 1886, the factory employed 600 people and produced over 10,000 pairs of shoes daily in a three-story factory between Pine and Palm Streets in downtown. It's now a 55+ residential community.

While I didn't walk the entire grounds in my nearly 3 hours, there was no shortage of beauty all around. 

Did you ever notice that headstones face the same way? The reasoning was that when Christ comes again and the last trumpet sounds, all will rise from their graves. It's been said that He will come from the East. This means that lying on your back in the grave at the trumpet call, you'd be facing the right way when you sat up. (I'm not in any hurry for that sound.)

This sign is posted at the front entry advising about an age limit for children. It was the first time I noticed it, although most likely it was there during previous visits.

It was also fun to walk through leaf piles and only hear the sound of your own feet crunching them beneath. Very shortly, it will be snow that's crunched underfoot.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

NH Park Honors a Veteran

Today, November 11, is Veterans Day, a U.S. state and federal holiday that commemorates the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month in 1918 that ended WW I. (This day has been posted about before, but worth a repost with new info.)

If you, or someone you know, has been in the military, Thanks for your service. In our family, that includes Navy veterans Patrick (Grenville), and his CT uncle and late father and uncle, also my late uncles who both served in the Merchant Marines. (My late parents contributed to WW II war efforts as civilians working in a naval shipyard in Washington State and a NJ aircraft factory as did many others then.)

Veterans Day recognizes all veterans, living and deceased. It differs from Memorial Day (celebrated the last Monday in May) which pays tribute to those who died in military service. In years past, it was often marked by parades and church services. This year, many (if not all) public observances have been cancelled. In many places, the American flag will be flown at half mast with a period of silence at 11 a.m. lasting 2 minutes. At exactly 11 a.m., the annual wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, the resting place of over 400,000, most of whom served in the military. (A similar ceremony is held on Memorial Day.)

Veterans Day does not have an apostrophe although it's sometimes written as Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day. However, it's not a day that belongs to one veteran or multiple veterans. As a day that commemorates veterans of all wars, no apostrophe is needed. 

Some Background  . . .
The observance was originally called Armistice Day established in November 1919 under President Woodrow Wilson on the first anniversary of the end of WWI. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance; it became a national holiday starting in 1938. It became Veterans Day in 1954 after lobbying by veterans' service organization led to President Dwight Eisenhower signing legislation.

In 1968, Congress signed the Uniform Holiday Bill to ensure that a few federal holidays, Veterans Day included, would be celebrated on a Monday; however, many wanted to celebrate on November 11. In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a bill returning the annual observance to its original date starting in 1978.

Great Britain, France, Australia, and Canada also commemorate WWI and WWII veterans of on or near November 11. Canada and Australia celebrate Remembrance Day, and Britain has Remembrance Sunday (second Sunday in November). 

The NH Veteran Connection . . .

On a fall day trip a few weeks ago, we visited Stark Park, a 30-acre city park located on the north side of Manchester, NH. It was once part of the larger farm property of General John Stark, New England’s famous American Revolutionary War hero. 

It's built around the original Stark Burial Plot on land that was once part of the Stark family farm and is the resting place of Stark, his wife, Molly, and some of their children. The headstones are set aside in a plot surrounded by a wrought iron fence. The fence was closed the day we visited.
The Stark family owned about 800 acres of land in what’s now northern Manchester. John Stark was buried here after his 1822 death, and the family erected a memorial obelisk in 1829 (shown below). Stark's great-grandchildren deeded a two-acre area surrounding the family cemetery to the city in 1876.
Public interest grew for a larger park to memorialize Stark. In 1891, the family gave another 28 acres to the city. The park was formally dedicated in June 1893 as one of the city’s first public parks and is now one of the oldest parks. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
The original design was a typical Victorian-era park, with winding lanes, and a mix of woodlands, lawns, and gardens. A colonnade of elm trees that lined borders of the park were lost to Dutch Elm disease in the 20th century. 

The centerpiece of the park is a large 1948 bronze equestrian bronze statue created by sculptor Richard Henry Recchia, a New England (MA) native. 

John Stark was born in Derry, NH, in 1728. He became a distinguished soldier and leader in the Revolutionary War and lead NH regiments in the famed Battle of Bunker Hill. Stark was said to ignore the usual chain of command and to point out problems, much to his superiors chagrin. This may have been why he didn't receive a promotion in the Continental Army. Stark resigned and retired with his wife to life on their farm. He didn't stay retired from the military.

In 1777, General Stark was given independent command of NH’s forces at the Battle of Bennington with orders to raise forces for the annoyance of the enemy. His troops stopped British supplies and troops from connecting with the main army at Saratoga, NY, which led to an American victory later that year. Bennington proved not only to be the turning point of the Saratoga campaign, but the turning point of the war. 

In 1898, Stark was invited to a reunion of Battle of Bennington veterans. Feeling too ill to attend, he sent a letter in reply, noting that he’d never forget troops he had commanded in Bennington. After the letter, Stark included a brief passage to be read as a toast to the veterans: Live free or die. Death is not the greatest of evils. In 1945, those words became NH’s official state motto as the end of WW II neared.
The now infamous words are inscribed on one side of the bronze statue. The other ↑ side contains a quite different phrase. After his (second) military retirement, Stark lived the remainder of his life in Derryfield (now Manchester) until his death at age 93.

In addition to the family burial plot and bronze statue, the park also has several models of cannons and a collection of cannonballs. I'm not sure of the origin and significance of these as there wasn't a sign or plaque nearby.

While this park is one of several NH memorials honoring General John Stark, his wife Molly has been equally honored, although now in Stark Park. The mother of 11 children, she nursed and treated soldiers under her husband's command, opening their home as a hospital. Molly has two parks named after her, one in Wilmington, VT, another in Stark County, OH. The Molly Stark Trail, (Route 9), which crosses southern VT is thought to be the route used by General Stark on his victory march home from the Battle of Bennington. Both have a DAR Chapter named after them: John in OH and Molly in NH. And, in Wilmington VT, there's a statue of Molly holding a gun and a baby.

(That last paragraph digressed from this post on veterans, but women who support those in the military are just as significant, with or without any memorials.)

Friday, November 6, 2020

Friday Funnies

Anyone who doesn't think that Mother Nature doesn't have a sense of humor would be greatly mistaken, at least here in New England. (Most likely in many other places as well.)
Within the span of 1 week, the weather in Nashua, NH, went from this the first snowfall ❄️ of winter fall ↑ temperatures hovered at 30 degrees (F) ☃️ all day with a 2-inch accumulation.
Today, and into early next week at least, this is ↓ what the weather forecast will be like in Nashua, NH. it will be like mid-spring weather is 🌻🌼🌸 is back. These blooms were captured months ago as many still-in-late bloom didn't survive last week's wintery blast.
Internet source: National Weather Service (NWS)
We are thankful for no storms or other natural disasters headed here. While this temperature spike was unexpected, it's not awful news in view of what's happening everywhere today.

It does seem that Mother Nature really does have a great sense of humor or, at least, is a very good trickster, even if late for Halloween.

As always, many thanks for your comments on recent day trips. I enjoy sharing information about our adventures and am grateful these are appreciated by others.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.
We're walking & going to an organ concert