|THE KEENE STATE COLLEGE MAGAZINE FOR ALUMNI AND FRIENDS||VOLUME XXII NUMBER 2 Winter 2007|
Getting Out of the Office
I love to go outside and walk at noon, weather and work permitting. One of my favorite routes takes me up Main Street toward the Square, bearing right onto Washington Street, and turning at Franklin School to walk through Greenlawn and Woodland Cemeteries. The section called the Northeast Division even offers hills (a rare commodity in downtown Keene), and the tranquility is beguiling.
There is no easier way to plunk yourself into the past than to visit a cemetery. You walk through – indeed, upon – history, sorted not by bookish subjects like politics, transportation, science, immigration, or industry, but by that most basic unit: the family.
Names so familiar in the history of Keene – Ellis, Blake, Elliot, Goodnow, Beedle, Fiske, Kirk, Tilden, Nims, Joslin, Lacey, Kingsbury, Colony – cluster together. And if I think I can get away from work for a little while, I am mistaken, for the history of the town of Keene is intertwined with the history of Keene State College.
Enter Greenlawn Cemetery behind the school and turn left, and there is the grave of Samuel Whitney Hale (1822-1891), governor of New Hampshire and owner and namesake of the building I work in. My office was once a corner of his attic. Other names resonant with the College catch my eye, and I see the marker for Frank C. (1894-1968) and Ruth Plain Huntress (1896-1967) and their little daughter, Ruth, who lived only a year. Frank C. Huntress was the nephew of educator Harriet Lane Huntress (1860-1922), to whose memory our Huntress Hall was dedicated in 1926. Miss Huntress visited Keene often to support the work of the new Keene Normal School and to see her nephew and his family.
Keene is like that – a web of connections between town and gown, community and college. We see that connection demonstrated in the Honor Roll in this magazine. And we saw it most recently in the performance of In Perfect Harmony, a dramatic reenactment of the vote in 1907 to bring the Normal School to Keene.
There, on the stage in the Mabel Brown Room, City Manager John MacLean played State Senator Charles Gale Shedd (who shepherded the Keene Normal School bill through the legislature); City Councilor Kendall Lane depicted his ancestor, H. W. Lane; and Philip Faulkner Jr., chair of the Keene Heritage Commission and longtime Keene Public Library trustee, portrayed his ancestor, the Honorable Frederic A. Faulkner. In the audience, hundreds of college and community members laughed and applauded in all the right places and joined in the celebration.
We hope that these issues of Keene State Today leading up to the 2009 Centennial will bring the past to life and set the stage for the "world of possibilities" that is our future. And anytime you worry that the thread between past and future is fraying, come along with me for a walk in the cemetery.
– Susan Peery