Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Proud Son of Two Places

More Straight Talk

I think I may have spoken in my column before about being brought up in a small community which was part of the City of Concord. As such, we were somewhat remote from the main portion of the city, which served as the Capital for the State of New Hampshire and as the County Seat for Merrimack County, one of ten counties within New Hampshire. 

Our section of the city was known as Penacook, named after a tribe of Native Americans who inhabited the area. As was the case in early colonial days, the land was granted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony as Penacook Plantation and settled in 1727. It later would be included in the community of Rumford in 1733, and then, over time, would be given the name Concord to help settle a dispute with the area known today as Bow, NH, which similarly was founded in 1727.

Because Penacook sat at the confluence of the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers, water power played a strong role in the mills that cropped up in our area. Those mills provided a good source of jobs, which became the backbone of the small communities along the rivers of New England. They also helped to build the character of the families who settled there and the generations that followed.

I’m sitting here writing this because I am feeling a little nostalgic today, thinking about the character traits that created the similarities of the community I came from and the community in which I would eventually settle.

Like the community where I grew up, there is a similar sense of independence here on Marco Island. Penacook was a community that created a sense of distinct individuality from the larger political entity it was part of, somewhat because citizens felt their needs were neglected.

That strong sense of pride resulted in a separate Supervisory School District being formed. That independent district provided the education for children from Penacook and the neighboring town of Boscawen. Today, it serves as a Regional School District for students from six separate communities.

When the men who had returned from WWII and Korea felt the recreational and social needs of their children were being ignored, they banded together to build a local Community Center, with their own fundraising and labor to make it happen. It eventually evolved into an organization that served the needs of all age groups and social needs.

Penacook never seceded from the City of Concord, but it did become more vocal in demanding higher levels of services and more control over planning and zoning issues that would affect the character and “quality of life” issues. 

Shortly after moving to Marco Island in 1990, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities of the two communities – so many strong individuals who felt a need to better control their destinies; men and women who were very competent in so many fields; citizens who would step up without hesitation to assist in getting a job done.

That was never so evident as when citizens accomplished what many thought impossible. The Herculean effort involved in creating two outstanding Charter Schools on the island showed the quality of our residents. The Marco Island Charter Middle School and the Marco Island Academy, both public schools, became a testament to the dedication and hard work of so many.

Citizens also came together to build the world class Marco Island Historical Museum – a wonderful tribute to the community and the history of our island going back to the early Calusa Indians and taking us through to the creation of modern Marco, which was spearheaded by the Mackle Brothers in the Deltona development days. 

They didn’t stop there either, as residents banded together to physically build the popular “Kids’ Cove” located at Mackle Park. 

The wonderful social organizations, churches, volunteer groups and service clubs are a large part of life here, as they were in Penacook. There, as here, special contributions by residents make this and my former hometown so special.

I often think back on the many folks I’ve met who have worked so hard over the last 32 years I’ve been here full time, and the four years prior to making Marco my permanent home. If I tried to name any of them, I would be inviting disaster because I’m certain I would hurt someone’s feelings if I failed to mention a loved one or friend inadvertently missed in my comments. Instead I’ll let you think back over the years, and you’ll mention them to me when we next see each other.

Because of the strong sense of community and the commitment to making this place we call home today so special due to the time, talent and treasure you dedicate here, our community is a wonderful place to live. 

Penacook, NH and Marco Island, FL share all those qualities that have made America the great nation she is today. Both communities thrive today because of you and what you choose to contribute. I am the proud son of both places and have grown as an individual due to the wonderful guidance of men and women from all walks of life. I truly have been blessed.



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