By Kimberly Houghton Union Leader Correspondent
Desperate to escape quarantine boredom, a freshman at Southern New Hampshire University decided she would live vicariously through various actors this past year.
It started by watching the movie “Glass” on March 13, 2020 — the first day of what would become a daily tradition for Maria Toupin, 19, of Brookline.
For the following 365 days, Toupin watched a movie each day in an effort to combat quarantine fatigue and dream of more normal days ahead.
“I had no idea it would actually be an entire year,” said the 2020 graduate of Hollis-Brookline High School. “I think it was first announced as maybe a couple of days or a week or two off from school, and then it moved to April vacation. It was a long time.”
Toupin said the cinematic escape helped her decompress after hours of remote learning and a lack of social interaction with her friends and extended family.
After realizing that her daily movie-a-thons would be going on way longer than originally anticipated, she decided to keep track of the movie titles, categorize them and rate them on a massive whiteboard.
“These movies have helped me de-stress. It has been so stressful having to stay home and still get so much schoolwork done without being on campus,” said Toupin.
Some of her favorite movies throughout the past year have been Disney classics such as “Toy Story” and “Frozen,” as well as other movie treasures including “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” “Hidden Figures” was one of her favorites, along with all of the Marvel movies, she said.
“I definitely enjoy kid movies, especially Disney animations,” said Toupin.
She has been home quarantining for most of the past 12 months because of COVID-19, and her family has been extra cautious since Toupin’s grandmother moved in with them last summer.
“I am pretty much at home,” said Toupin, a mechanical engineering student at Southern New Hampshire University. “They are planning to open my college in the fall, and I am counting down the days.”
Toupin ended up watching 365 movies in 365 days and decided to put an end to her daily tradition on March 13 of this year.
“Whenever we wanted to watch movies as a family, Maria became our in-house critic and adviser, patiently going through what she watched and telling us who would like that,” said her mother, Laurie Toupin.
The elder Toupin said the movie-a-day initiative has kept depression at bay for her daughter. Her other children have also enjoyed the screen-time project.
While everyone is coping differently with the pandemic, the Toupins say the movie escape was a nice alternative and kept them busy.
“Maria’s passion for watching such a wide range of films, and not minding if she sees them again, helps keep our movie time pleasantly free of rotten tomatoes,” joked Laurie Toupin. “Every family needs such a movie buff.”
Some of her top picks from the past year include “Big,” “Wonder Woman,” “Tangled,” “The Book of Life,” “Long Shot” and “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.”
Original story is here.
HOLLIS – Nathan Harker of Nashua, has been promoted to Sichidan, 7th degree black belt at Neil Stone’s Karate Academy, 22 Proctor Hill Road.
Harker has been studying Uechi Ryu karate since he was five years old and has been a student of Stone’s for 30 years last month. Harker’s passion began after his mother was told by a doctor that he might be a hyperactive kid.
“My mom refused to put me on medication,” Harker said. “She wanted a different way to channel my energy. And the doctor recommended sports and she thought the only sport that would teach me self-control at the same time was martial arts.”
It was a shame, Harker joked, because he grew up during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle phase but has no great story about being inspired by that.
“I was just one of the kids who didn’t wasn’t to be put on Ritalin, I guess,” he said. “That’s how I got into it.”
Harker said that karate provided him with a sense of home as his parents had split up. His best friend was also a martial arts student, so he had someone with which to share a common interest.
“It started out that I felt really comfortable at the karate studio,” Harker explained.
of home as his parents had split up.
“I had good friends there,” he said. “And being raised by a single mom, Mr. Stone transformed from being an instructor and a Sensei to being a father figure who was helping me through all those life challenges in school. By the time I got into college and beyond, it’s became of part of who I am.”
Wishing to continue his practice, Harker said he felt a sense of responsibility and obligation to ensure that other students got the same thing that he got out of karate.
“I wanted kids to have a place to go, like I did,” he said. “I wanted to provide some kind of mentoring to students and offer them an outpost where they could reach out to someone.”
Harker said he owes everything in terms of who he is today, to the Boy Scouts and to the martial arts.
“I was essentially raised by those two organizations,” he said. “The biggest thing with karate that I feel has helped me is that growing up, I fought through a speech impediment and various learning disabilities. And karate forced me in its way, to be comfortable in my own skin in front of large groups of people who are from a variety of backgrounds.”
Harker said that both practice and working for Stone as an instructor gave him a confidence.
“Mr. Stone got me comfortable in that position,” he said. “And because of that, I feel that I found this innate love for training and that sent me on my career path.”
As a trainer and the head of learning development for a biomanufacturing site, Harker said he doesn’t know anything about biomanufacturing or engineering, but karate gave him that confidence to stand in front of people and train them on different topics.
“I never learned that in college,” he said. “There were no classes on that. So I credit karate 100 percent for giving me that passion for training and helping people and being able to stand in front of a large audience with confidence.”
Harker has gone through several levels in accomplishing each degree in black belt training. There are ten degrees in total.
“With each rank in the black belt, after the third degree of black belt, you’re developing your character more than your techniques. I have not learned a new form in many years. What you’re doing is showing your growth and development and commitment to the other students and to the style of martial arts that dictates your eligibility and if you really deserve to hold one of the higher master ranks.”
Going from level to level varies; first to second degree might take two years and with each level, the amount of time required increases exponentially. Harker said once you’re at the sixth- or seventh-degree level, it could take ten years to move up to the next rank. He added that he will continue his training and hopes to achieve another level.
“My fate is in Mr. Stone’s hands,” he said. “I hope I continue to grow. I will never achieve a rank higher than my Sensei, so I’ll always be one below Mr. Stone. But hopefully, I’ll be able to achieve the highest ranks under his tutelage until the day that he determines he will no longer be a Sensei.”
Throughout his years of vigorous training, Harker said he has genuinely enjoyed his karate studies.
“I love it,” he said. “Between taking classes and working for him, I’m spending 20 hours a week on the dojo or on my karate. I truly believe at this point that I want to make sure people have a home at karate and specifically with Mr. Stone.”
Said Stone of Harker, “Nathan lives and breathes the Student Creed. His commitment to his martial arts training mirrors his devotion to his family, friends and colleagues.”
So although we are a little late in posting this, it gives us great pleasure to announce that Officer Nicholas Collishaw has been selected as the Hollis Police Department Employee of the Quarter, for the 4th Quarter of 2020 (October 1st through December 31st).
Although Nick spent most of 2020 serving a deployment in the United States Army, upon his return to duty in September, he almost immediately got up to speed with training, policy updates, and other administrative responsibilities. He resumed his duties with enthusiasm and a cheerful demeanor.
During a department meeting in December regarding employee resiliency and wellness, Nick meaningfully participated with stark honesty seldom seen within the typical culture of police departments. This makes his cheerful demeanor and cooperativeness even more impressive.
Nick has also embraced new responsibilities within the day-to-day management of the Hollis Police Department Evidence/Property Room. More specifically, Nick began a project to purge stale evidence and property, and also to maximize the available space within the storage areas. As any executive level law enforcement official will tell you, property and evidence management are associated with some of the highest risks for an agency. Nick’s efforts at properly purging and accounting for property and evidence maintained within our facility is a critical function for this agency and helps us maintain the highest standards and measures of accountability.
I also wanted to mention that despite some personal challenges Nick faced in 2020, he has continued to bring positive energy and a positive mental attitude to the workplace while performing his duties in a highly professional manner. Most importantly, however, is the fact that Nick consistently treats his peers and members of the public with respect at all times, which is appreciated and does not go unnoticed.
For this, and many other reasons, I am proud to recognize Officer Nicholas Collishaw as the Employee of the Quarter. His continued professionalism, dedication to duty, and contributions to our agency and the Hollis community reflect great credit upon himself, the Hollis Police Department, and the policing profession as a whole. Nick - you should also take immense pride in knowing that you were nominated for this recognition by a number of your colleagues.
THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO Nicholas and please know how very proud we all are of you!
WHEREAS Grace Irene Dunham was born in 1920 in Lowell, MA; and
WHEREAS while working at Remington Arms in Lowell as a Government Inspector of ammunitions, she met her husband, Abraham Lincoln Dunham. They married on Dec. 18, 1943. One year later they welcomed a daughter, Donna Lee; and
WHEREAS in 1957 Grace and Abe welcomed another daughter, Sherry. In 1960 Grace said “Life Begins at 40!” when she purchased her own horse; and
WHEREAS in 1963 the family moved to Dunstable to their dream home “Crooked Spring Ranch”; and
WHEREAS in 1967 she began a 4-H Horse Club naming it the “Dunstable Dusty Dudes”; and
WHEREAS in 1978 Grace and her husband moved to NH. They had lived in Nashua and Milford before moving to Hollis 17 years ago; and
WHEREAS Grace became a member of the Hollis Congregational Church, The Hollis Happy Hookers and, of course, the Hollis Seniors; and
WHEREAS Grace never missed her grandchildren’s activities, including plays, baseball, basketball, or football games. She and her husband, Abe, received recognition from the Bennington Little League for being the most faithful fans and avid supporters.
NOW THEREFORE, We, the Select Board of the Town of Hollis, New Hampshire, do hereby express our heartfelt congratulations to GRACE IRENE DUNHAM for being the Boston Post Cane recipient for the Town of Hollis, New Hampshire.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, We have here unto set our hands and caused the seal of the Town of Hollis to be affixed this 25th day of February of the year of our Lord Two Thousand Twenty One.
In early March 2018 Mike Beebe had a near-fatal “widow-maker” heart attack. Fortunately, impeccable timing intervened. Beebe called 911, the EMTs soon arrived to administer life-saving drugs, and he was taken by ambulance to Southern NH Medical Center in Nashua, NH, where a stent was inserted into a blocked heart artery. Following that, numerous compassionate healthcare professionals began the process of supporting Beebe in returning to health.
Shortly after leaving the hospital ICU, Beebe began overhauling his lifestyle, which included daily journaling that in time morphed into the book, “Back From the Edge”. This “been there, done that” story is based on the many years of the author’s various experiences as a psychotherapist, volunteer first responder, and a close-to-nature lifestyle. Choices have consequences so, among other things, Beebe changed his relationship with food and stress. Thus, at age 79, he’s back living his active lifestyle, skiing and kayaking, each sixty-plus times annually.
Beebe grew up in Hollis, NH on Richardson Road as a fourth generation of the Beebe family. His parents, Lucie and Charlie Beebe, were movers and shakers in town. Lucie was deeply involved in Hollis town life, including the Historical Society and the Colonial Garden Club. Both Beebes were ski pioneers who established the Hollis Hof ski area for cross-country touring. The family also enjoyed an almost 50-year history owning Temple Mountain ski area in Peterborough, as detailed in Beebe’s first book, “My Cathedral, Temple Mountain”.
“Back From the Edge” is available at Toadstool Book Stores, from the author via TempleMountainSkiing.com, and through Kindle-Direct (Amazon). When Covid risks subside, Beebe will be available for book signings and speaking engagements.
Former Sen. Levesque to be named 'Honorary Young Dem of Year'
John DiStaso , WMUR | Feb 4, 2021
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GRANITE SLATE AWARDS. The New Hampshire Young Democrats will honor former state Sen. Melanie Levesque and hear from featured speaker U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, a freshman lawmaker from the Bronx, New York, during its 14th annual Granite Slate Awards event Feb. 18.
The event has traditionally been held in person and has attracted potential and announced presidential candidates. This year, with the pandemic still restricting such events, it will be held via Zoom.
Torres, 32, a former New York City councilor, became the first openly gay Afro Latino elected to Congress in November. Previously, in July, he authored an opinion piece in the Washington Post.
He was only 25-years-old when he was elected to the city council in 2013, becoming the youngest elected official in the nation’s largest city and the first openly LGBTQ elected official from the Bronx.
He is currently a co-chair of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang's mayoral campaign in New York City.
will be honored as the 2021 Honorary Young Democrat of the Year.
She became the first Black person elected to the New Hampshire state Senate in 2018 but lost her reelection bid last year.
In the 2019-2020 legislative session, Levesque chaired the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee, sponsoring several pieces of legislation described as promoting voting rights.
She is an advocate of permanent no-excuse absentee voting and automatic and online voter registration.
“Melanie was one of the leading fighters against discriminatory voter suppression laws that would have disproportionately disenfranchised student voters in New Hampshire,” the Young Democrats said.
“Every year, I have the honor to nominate exemplary Granite Staters who have made the selfless decision to serve and help keep our country safe, secure, and free,” Senator Hassan said. “I was particularly impressed that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s class continued to stay on top of their studies and persevered through unprecedented challenges. As they continue their training and their education, I wish them all the best in their future endeavors and am deeply grateful for their interest in serving our country.”
See below for the full list of Senator Hassan’s nominees.
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY (USAFA)
Aaron Cady (Barrington)
Mitchel Francoeur (Bedford)
Samuel Humphreys (Kingston)
Ayla McKean (Deerfield)
Evan Piette (Littleton)
Joseph Connor Reed (Bow)
Finnian Smith (Manchester)
Jessica Thibodeau (Windham)
Luca Valenti (Salem)
Matthew Veneri (Londonderry)
U.S. MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY (USMMA)
Robert Cariello (Londonderry)
Maeve Jackson (Merrimack)
Elizabeth Knapp (Mont Vernon)
Evan Piette (Littleton)
Riley Quinn (Exeter)
Rohan Rai (Windham)
Aaron Roche (Nashua)
Gus Schoenbucher (New Durham)
Finnian Smith (Manchester)
U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY (USMA)
Robert Cariello (Londonderry)
Matthew Flanagan (Bedford)
Abigail Henry (Newmarket)
Jonathan Li (Hanover)
Thayer Maughan (Hopkinton)
Chase McAllister (Bedford)
Max Paganini (Sanbornton)
Wesley Rennie (North Hampton)
Nathaniel Sartell (Brookline)
Eaton Tarbell (Concord)
U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY (USNA)
Isaac Abbott (Allenstown)
Joseph Camuso (Portsmouth)
Hunter Daris (Fitzwilliam)
Taylor Hough (Laconia)
Maeve Jackson (Merrimack)
Sophia Leonard (Manchester)
Joseph Lupo (Bedford)
Liam Novak (Nashua)
Katelyn Pepin (Manchester)
Rohan Rai (Windham)
Original story is here.
The nationwide initiative, which coincided with Financial Literacy Month and ran from April 20-24, drew nearly 40,000 participants, with almost 2,800 students submitting an optional capstone essay in an effort to win an academic scholarship.
The first-of-its-kind interactive digital learning challenge enabled students in grades seven through 10 to learn about important financial literacy concepts that often do not get enough classroom time during the traditional school year. The National Financial Literacy Bee covered topics ranging from budgeting and saving to employment and income, investing, and insurance.
The National Financial Literacy Bee consisted of a five-part course and an essay contest where students wrote about their financial dreams and how they plan to achieve them. Winners of the National Financial Literacy Bee were selected by EVERFI and received a total of $20,000 in college scholarships. The first-place essay contest winner was William Bird, 16 years old from Hollis Brookline High School in Hollis, NH who received $10,000 in scholarship funds, followed by second and third place winners Karisse Chisholm, 15 years old from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Jose, CA, and Morgan D. Stanley, 16 years old from Greenwood High School in Greenwood, MS, each winning $6,000 and $4,000 in college scholarship funds respectively. The winning essays described aspirations of starting a new clothing brand, establishing an orchestra and exposing underprivileged youth to new musical instruments, and building a family legacy of college graduates to ensure long-term financial stability.
(William’s essay was about launching his fashion brand, but an offshoot is that he bought gear to print shirts and he is doing logo design, image conversion, and business card design. If you want to help a talented, artistic local teen fund his college education and can use these services, you can contact him at email@example.com)
“With more than 124,000 nationwide school closures and more than 55 million students learning from home, families across the country are faced with unprecedented uncertainty and the need for financial literacy has become more important than ever,” said Ray Martinez, founder, and president, EVERFI. “We are grateful for our ability to support students and families in building their financial capabilities and thankful to work with the many financial institutions whose commitment to increasing students’ financial literacy made this endeavor possible.”
The inaugural EVERFI National Financial Literacy Bee was launched with the support of a number of leading financial institutions and included signature sponsors: Digital Federal Credit Union, First Republic Bank, Iowa Insurance Division, and TIAA Bank. To learn more about the National Financial Literacy Bee, visit www.everfi.com/financial-bee.
When Sid Hall, Sr. passed away, his wife asked John Weidman to create a memorial to Sid. It is now placed at the Richard Maghakian Memorial Elementary School in Brookline. Sid did a lot of work for the elementary school and the children. That is the reason for the memorial to Sid being on the playground at the school.
After basic training on Lake Geneva in Sampson, New York, George enrolled in the High Speed Gas and Diesel Engineer School in Gulfport, Mississippi. From there he was transferred to the USS Fallon, a troop carrier, and was on his way to the South Pacific. Imagine what it must have been like for George, born and raised in Brookline, NH, to suddenly find himself on a troop ship, headed for the war zone.
During his time in the Navy, aboard the USS Fallon, the plans for invading Japan had changed to an occupation. The USS Fallon was to deliver troops to Sasebo, Japan for the occupation. George remembers everyone on the ship being at full battle station upon entering the port. It was an anxious time for all. Peace had been declared, but pockets of Japanese were still fighting. The port at Sasebo was surrounded on three sides by mountains, potential hiding places for ambushers. All was quiet, the ship docked, and the troops disembarked for the occupation. Eventually the crew was allowed on shore.
For the fuselage and cockpit, he used 50 and 30 caliber bullets. In the machine shop on board, he found sheet brass, which he used to construct the wings and tail pieces.
In 1946, this beautiful work of art was embellished in Shanghai. A Chinese sculptor George met in the streets of the city, etched dragons and suns around the base, and a star on each wing. George doesn’t remember what he paid the artist, but thinks it was most likely with cigarettes. Two packs, five cents each.
As George was disembarking the ship for the last time, his captain offered to buy the ashtray for fifty dollars. The offer was turned down.
George dismantled his ashtray, wrapping the pieces in clothing, making it easier to carry safely in his sea bag. He was transferred to a Merchant Marine vessel and was headed home. This trip took George through the Panama Canal, the Caribbean, and finally to the Chesapeake Bay. George and his ashtray were headed home to Brookline, where he reassembled the ashtray.
To this day, no part of any smoking material has ever found its way to the ashtray.
By George Pelletier - Telegraph, Milford Bureau Chief | Oct 24, 2020
HOLLIS – Local musician and Berklee School of Music graduate Fredy Guzman lost his grandfather in late August and decided to pay homage to him with his new single, “Abuelo” (“grandfather” in Spanish).
Originally from Lima, Peru, Guzman moved with his family to Hollis in 2002. Two months ago, the singer, guitarist and composer relocated back to the area after spending time in his native land.
“I’ll be moving in the next couple of months,” he said. “Either to New York or New Jersey.”
Guzman was accepted to Berklee at the early age of 17 and graduated when he was 21. There he studied jazz composition, but for the last five years, he was traveling through the Andes Mountains in South America.
“I was studying the music from my country,” he shared. “My grandparents, all four of them, are from the Andes. So after graduating and spending time between New York City and Boston, I realized how important it is to go deep into your roots.”
After seeing a concert by Grammy-winning guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke, who hails from Benin, Africa, Guzman developed a friendship with the artist and it was Loueke who produced one of his albums.
“He had a lot of African influence in his playing,” Guzman said. “He sings in his native language. I was impressed, so I thought I would do that with my roots, with Andean music. I to traveled festival celebrations that last one-week long, with more than 12 hours of music every day. It was intense.”
Guzman released his second album containing Peruvian music, titled, “Ay Vida.”
“Before my trip, I was mostly jazz and blues,” he said. “Really, the blues came first. That and the Andean music.”
As a high school student at Hollis Brookline, Guzman was a huge fan of the Allman Brothers Band and was heavily influenced by their music and their style of southern rock.
“I saw them more than 20 times,” he said. “In the song, ‘Abuelo,’ you can hear that influence when play a slide guitar solo.”
Guzman’s other musical influences include classical (Beethoven and Ravel), as well as pop artists like Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran and opera singer Andrea Bocelli.
A video for “Abuelo” was filmed in Hollis and was a Guzman family affair. Most of the video was filmed in the apple orchards next to Silver Lake Road; the waterfalls during the chorus of “Abuelo,” are from Venezuela.
“It is a tribute to my grandfather, Ramiro,” he said. “He just passed away and I was able to sing this song to him during his final days. My brother filmed the video, my stepfather flew the drone. And I directed and edited the video and it was done here where I grew up.”
Guzman’s first CD, “Waijazz,” is a fusion of jazz and Peruvian music and is available, as is “Abuelo,” on iTunes and other music platforms.
“It combines the music styling of Huayno and jazz,” he clarified. “In Peru, the album was received by people who really enjoy international music. There is a big population in Peru who only like traditional music – that’s to say, music from the Andes that is traditionally played.”
It was after making “Waijazz” that Guzman decided that if he wanted to spread his music in South America, he would have to be traditional.
“They’re a little close-minded there,” he said. “The album actually was on Spanish national TV. I have a video clip of “Ojos Azules” which is the third track on the album.”
The album gave Guzman world exposure as he began inching his way back to the music of his country.
“Initially, I didn’t have high expectations,” he said. “People don’t know you. But it did well and I’m happy with the results. And obviously, I learned a lot of things.”
Getting to know his roots, and the kind of music that he wanted to compose and sing started to sink in for the young performer.
“I was getting to know the industry better, too,” he said. “And I was trying to get more organized. And now if I go to the Andes, especially the south of Peru, they call me, ‘Ay Vida’ or say ‘Hey, Ay Vida, how are you?'”
It’s become a major social movement, Guzman explains, as he works to elevate the self-esteem of Peruvian people.
“A lot of people feel ashamed of being indigenous,” he said. “They feel ashamed of speaking Quechua.”
Quechua is the second most common language and the most widely spoking native language, spoken by roughly 13 percent of the population, primarily in central and southern highland regions of Peru.
“With the second album, my goal was to raise that self-esteem and make people proud of where they come from,” Guzman said. “And I’m focusing on my vocals now because when I was at Berklee, my main instrument was guitar. But when I was traveling in the Andes, I realized that a lot of people sung naturally from an early age. So I said, ‘I should try this.'”
Guzman’s has several videos on YouTube, including “Abuelo.” For more information, visit www.fredyguzman.com.
John was 33 years old when he was invited to use a barn owned by Dick and Barbara Coon as a studio. It was in the ’70’s, and according to John, a very nice thing for the Coons to have done. His studio remained there until 2020. The Coon family were very kind people.
John met Sid Hall, Jr. and rented a room from him, which was close to his studio. During the ensuing years, John has contributed much to Brookline. John said, “that is because Brookline has contributed so much to me, is very accepting of me, and my occupation.”
The first commission for John came from the Church, now the Brookline Community Church. The steeple had been taken down and was in pieces when John first saw it. Betty and Sid Hall, Sr. were behind the project to restore it, a major project. John said that it helped him reach back to working with people. He had been alone for a long time. He worked with volunteers. “You don’t push volunteers, you request.” The experience gave John the opportunity to enjoy the talents and endeavors of many people.
Restoring the steeple was a real adventure because it dealt with a new structure and history. While about forty feet above ground, he did a lot of praying. He was working on limited scaffolding, securing the top piece with a cable in order to work at the top. “It was actually a lot of fun.” The Revere bell was in good condition, and John did not want to “mess with it.”
Mr. and Mrs. Garvin commissioned John to create the Hand with the Cross, now placed in the small park adjacent to the Church. They were parishioners. Mr. Garvin used to work for Sterilite, and various other business. As with the Coon family, John remembers them as very nice, wonderful people. The church committee asked John what he would do to commemorate 2000 years of Christianity. He went to them with his proposal, and other elements that are important to him. The fabric is “society,” the hands the “people,” and the cross the “vision of the people.” The three fingers represent the Trinity, the thumb “strength,” and the little finger “free will.” They accepted the proposal with enthusiasm.
Once again John was called to the church when the wooden handrails at the side entrance of the church were in need of repair or replacement. John restored them and installed some additional railing. The front entrance now has iron railings. “It was fun.” John frequently says “it was fun” when talking about the many works he has created around town.
By George Pelletier - Nashua Telegraph, Milford Bureau Chief | Aug 8, 2020
HOLLIS – The idea of putting stuffed bears in windows began as COVID-19 unfolded. The “Teddy Hunts” was a game that was being played around the world and across our country during the pandemic.
Author Cheryl Hinkley, a recent breast cancer survivor, stumbled upon the concept during a hike with her husband.
“I noticed one teddy bear on a mailbox,” she said. “And I thought, ‘I guess someone dropped their bear.’ And then a few houses down I saw another one, and then another and another. And I said, ‘What is with all the Teddy Bears?'”
Hinkley googled it, and learned of the global phenomenon, happening around the end of March as COVID-19 seeped into people’s lives and our culture.
“I had only been home from work for a couple of weeks then,” she recalled. “It took off really quickly. And that was the beginning of it.”
Hinkley thought the idea of putting bears in windows and such was a novel idea in more ways than one.
“My husband works for the elementary school,” she said. “It kind of became a thing.”
The notion of writing a book came to Hinkley a few weeks later.
“I saw more and more people putting them out,” she shared. “I had two or three or four in my own house. And I thought, ‘These kids have been home for a few weeks,’ not knowing how long the quarantine was going to last.
I didn’t know if it made sense for me to make a book out of this because, by the time I would get this finished, everything would be over.”
Hinkley sat down and outlined the book and over the next few days, she tweaked it some. Hinkley then spoke to her son’s girlfriend, who is a graphic designer.
“I asked her what she thought of the idea,” Hinkley said. “‘What do you think of illustrating this?’ I asked her and she said, ‘Let’s try it. What the heck.'”
The author figured they had nothing to lose, except a few dollars to publish the book themselves. The result is the book, “Bears in Windows.”
“It went from there,” Hinkley said. “I thought I would see what happens. And at this point, it had been six or eight weeks and now they were talking about closing schools and remote learning. And now my husband was telling me things from the elementary school side.”
Hinkley figured she would have time, until the books arrived in the mail and wondered how she would get the books sold.
“My daughter owns her own online company, so she was helping me set up a website and do Instagram and Facebook,” Hinkley said. “The website was really the best thing, getting that up and running and making it feel like me. And now I just started promoting through those ways.”
She took it upon herself to just start contacting folks, including The Telegraph and The Cabinet.
“It’s a children’s book,” she said. “It’s an encouragement. It’s local.”
Hinkley is pleased with the end result and that she has another book under her belt, one that was penned prior to her new book.
“Not having ever done this before, I was happy,” she said. “I actually had written another book, which is actually my first book. But it’s with a water colorist, so it’s a totally different style and feel. The pages are a lot fuller.”
The other book is about a hummingbird, which may take a little more time.
“It’s a hyper-hummingbird who has had too much sugar,” Hinkley said.
Hinkley has written a fair amount of poetry, which she draws from her faith. She doesn’t know if she’ll publish her poetry.
“I have toyed with my cancer story actually,” she said. “Having gone through breast cancer last year, there is some story in that, so I thought at some point, that maybe I would write something about that.”
Healthwise, Hinkley said she is feeling “awesome,” and has “finally got some hair back.”
“It was April of 2019 that I was diagnosed,” she explained. “I had the surgery in May and then had chemo through the end of the year and then radiation at the beginning of this year.”
Although she doesn’t have grandkids, Hinkley got the idea of putting a few books in the “Little Free Libraries” that are scattered throughout the area.
“I’ve started putting them in,” she said. “As I’ve seen a few of them, I’ve put a few in there. And I’ve given a copy to the local library. And when school starts, I’d like to get into a kindergarten or first grade class and read to them and go from there.”
For more information, visit bearsinwindows.com.
By George Pelletier – Nashua Telegraph, Milford Bureau Chief | Aug 8, 2020
HOLLIS – Musician Joe Birch is back in town.
After eight years of gigging in Florida, the Hollis native will be performing at Alpine Grove for an acoustic evening on Aug. 14.
“I just moved back here,” Birch said. “I used to play around here a lot. You could almost call this a return.”
Birch did come back to New Hampshire to play a gig or two during the summer months, when the heat index in the Sunshine State shoots mercury straight out of a thermometer.
When asked what brought him to Florida, Birch replied, “a woman.”
“She wanted to move down there, so we tried to make it work,” he explained. “The gigs were good and the tips were great. I could play a million tiki bars, so music-wise, it was pretty successful. And then COVID hit.”
Opportunities to play bars and restaurants quickly dried up and Birch had to rethink his plan.
“Since my relationship didn’t work out, I thought, ‘Why am I in the 100-degree heat?'” he shared. “The music had stopped. So, I decided to come back where I grew up. I figured this was the right time to make the move back and I’m happy I did. It feels great.”
A graduate of Hollis High School,
Birch had his sights on music even before he was a teenager.
Birch’s dad had an impressive record collection, which he quickly discovered. And he learned he had a great knack for playing by ear.
“From then on, I loved that guitar,” he said. “I would run home from school just to get to that guitar and put the hours in, which I’m glad I did.”
With no cell phones or video games back then to distract, Birch dedicated much time to his music and playing songs by Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
“Hendrix was like having an epiphany,” he said. “I’m definitely into some of the greatest music and guitarists that ever played. It was that late ’60s, early ’70s era.”
Birch quickly went electric, with a new guitar from Hampshire Music.
“That was a cool place,” he said. “I wish I had taken pictures of the building back then. You’d go in there and there were these alleyways full of music instruments and equipment.”
Playing gigs now, Birch mixes songs that people know and love to hear. But he said they’re not necessarily the most predictable songs.
“I like to play the cooler, less-heard songs,” he said. “I’ll throw a couple of original tunes in, but 90 percent is good stuff that people remember. It kinds of brings them back. The nostalgic stuff really seems to work.”
Those songs were especially popular in Florida, with many retirees wanting to hear the songs that they grew up on.
Now Birch has a 13-year-old son who is getting into that same music as his dad did when he was that age.
“It think it’s great that young people are listening to classic rock,” he commented.
Birch did take a few guitar lessons for a couple of years, but he soon reached the point where if he heard a song, he could quickly replicate it.
“I could put a cassette in and once I got to the level where I developed my ‘ear,’ I could just put on a song and copy it. I’ve been that way ever since. Reading music kind of faded away a long time ago.”
Now that he’s back in the North East, Birch, who has only been here a month, said he hasn’t really sized up the music scene yet.
“I sort of took a little break,” he said. “I wanted to land on my feet and get settled. Alan and Michelle Archambault at Alpine Grove are friends, and said they were developing this music series. So, I decided to try one.”
Birch hopes to play more gigs and is entertaining the idea of getting a band together. He used to play at UNH and in the seacoast area, in Portsmouth, Durham and Newmarket.
During his high school years he was in the band, Coldfinger with fellow Hollis high graduates.
Musically, he likes the band Greta Van Fleet, who many audiophiles say sound like Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.
“They’re brothers,” he said. “They’re like 16 and some people were calling them ‘a young Zepplin.’ To me, that is really cool.”
It is with a heavy heart, yet one uplifted by Christ’s promise of Resurrection, that I write with the news that 9-year old Adam Verrecchia of Hollis, whose entire family are a beloved part of the Congregational Church of Hollis family, died a little after 9:30am on Monday, August 3rd. His parents, Kim & Joel, brother Luke, and sister Josie, were all with him at home.
I feel that words are failing me just now, especially because Adam was such an extraordinary child. He truly loved to read and listen to the Bible every day—highly unusual for most human beings these days, and even more so for a young child. His favorite verse appears at the opening of the Book of Joshua and a plaque on his wall (see image below): “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). I cannot come up with more perfect words than these to meet this moment.
A Memorial Service is being planned, to be attended in person by the family only, but we are making arrangements to stream it via Facebook Live or a similar platform. Further details will follow.
The Flowering Cross has been erected in front of the church to receive flowers and tributes for Adam and the family. And the Verrecchia family is establishing a fund at the church to construct a memorial garden area. This is separate from our active BOV/building project, but the hope and intention is to find a place somewhere on church property to create a peaceful place where many people will find comfort and strength as they spend time with God and the memories and spirit of loved ones in our community. If you would like to contribute to this fund, you may send donations to the Congregational Church of Hollis, U.C.C., with the words “Memorial Garden” in the memo line.
Adam touched and inspired countless lives, because the spirit and light of Christ burned brightly in him and invited others to love, appreciate, and care for others in the completely unselfish and joyful way he did. We give thanks for his life in our community, and now for his eternal life in the holy community of the Saints in Light.
Yours with faith, hope, and love,