The Old Vets

Year by year the ranks of the G.A.R. grew thinner —but until the last old soldier was gone, Decoration Day in a New England town was a moving memorial to “the War”

The War had been over hardly two decades when I was a boy. If one had occasion to refer to it, he called it simply “the War,” for it was the only war we had had within the memory of all but a negligible few.Read more »

Epitaph For An American Landmark

In the name of progress one of New England’s most historic and unusual urban areas is being carved into parking lots

In the year 1807 in the town of Derryfield, New Hampshire, a gentleman by the name of Samuel Blodeet proclaimed: “For as the country increases in population, we must have manufactories, and here at my canal will be a manufacturing town— the Manchester of America! ” Blodget (right) built his canal around the Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimack River, and in 1810 Derryfield (population: 615) indeed took Manchester as its new name.Read more »

Hell And High Water

Today’s lumberjacks are better paid, and they are apt to live longer, but their exploits pale beside those of old-fashioned "river hogs."
those of the old-fashioned “river hogs”

The lumberjack was a special breed of a man, but the riverman was very special. Like the cowboy, he was a product of his environment, and now that the environment has passed, he no longer exists. He started in the Northeast, where countless streams and rivers come tumbling down from remote and tangled mountains. The lumber was there, but there were no roads, and the only way to get it out was by water.

"As I Am Now So You Must Be”

The crumbling headstones of New England’s Puritan burying grounds honor the dead) warn the living, and promise a bright resurrection


Down the country road, behind the hilltop wall, hidden in the high grass near the white-spired church, not hard to find but rarely visited, lie the burying grounds of New England. No book, no building, no monument has quite their power to suggest the American past.

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A Lesson In Civics—but not what they teach in school

That splendid flower of New England— the town meeting—wilts under the scrutiny of a native son

The democratic tradition—or so I am told—is nowhere more splendidly exemplified than in the small New England town. There the candidates are neighbors of the voters, and the presumption of those who grew up elsewhere is that, on the first Monday in March, the honest New Englanders soberly assess the known faults and virtues of these neighbors and invariably elect the most upright of men to be selectmen and highway surveyors and keepers of the pound.

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The Hawthornes In Paradise

Nathaniel was poor and sunk in his solitude; Sophia seemed a hopeless invalid, but a late-flower love gave them at last“a perfect Eden”

There are only a few great love stories in American fiction, and there are fewer still in the lives of famous American writers. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote one of the greatest, The Scarlet Letter . He also lived a story that deserves to be retold—with all the new knowledge we can bring to bear on it—as long as there are lovers in New England; it was his courtship and conquest of Sophia Peabody.

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