Edwardian Tea Transports Nesmith Audience Back in Time

by Lynne Ober

Windham’s Nesmith Library went back in time to the Belle Epoque (1900 - 1914), when the Afternoon Tea was the social forum for ladies, who would often engage in lively discussions about the latest fashions and social concerns.

“It’s May 7, 1908,” began Rita Parisi, dressed in a period costume.  “My husband owns a hardware store.”  Parisi drew a verbal picture of life in 1908.  She talked about traveling to Boston from Amesbury on the Boston and Maine Railroad.  “It took about one and a half hours to get to Boston’s North Station from Amesbury.  Once there my husband would go about his business and I would explore the city on my own.”

Parisi was a charming and animated storyteller who skillfully drew her audience back in time.  On her recent trip to Boston with her husband, says Parisi, she was startled and annoyed at all the traffic on Commonwealth Avenue.  She registered her outrage at the collection of those new-fangled automobiles all over the street.  "There are Model A Fords, Stanley Steamers, and Cadillacs," stated Parisi.  "Did you know those Cadillacs cost $2,500 - $3,000 each?  Most people don't make that much in three years.  And those new Model T Fords cost $850 and come in any color you like, as long as its black," she commented.

Parisi, elegant, middle-aged fashionista from the period, led her tea guests in a lively conversation, encouraging questions, and comments as the afternoon’s tea progresses.  Showing her audience the “latest” 1908 Ladies Home Journal, she comments on fashion and shares tips from for women from the journal. 

“It was an entertaining afternoon with glimpses into the lives of our grandmothers,” said Judy.

Parisi is an accomplished actress.  She has done musical, dramatic, improvisational, as well as interactive theatre.  Some of her theatrical credits include: Mother Superior in Nunsense, Mary Warren in Delvena Theatre Company's touring production of The Crucible, Felicia Dantine in I Hate Hamlet, and a production by Boston's Ubiquity Stage Company.  She has also appeared in Annie, and Seacoast Repertory Theatre's rendition of Our Town.

Rita Parisi explains about life in Edwardian Times.

Is There a New School in Pelham’s Future?

by Diane Chubb

What is the Pelham School Board doing these days?  Are they working on a plan to resolve the overcrowding at Pelham High School?  Will there be a new school?

These and similar questions are being asked around town of the Pelham School Board.  According to one post on the Pelham Message Board [PMB], there are concerns that “March 2007 is going to come and go with nothing on the table.”

School District Petition Warrant Article 19, which requested $16 million for an addition and renovation of PHS failed this past March, almost 2-1 against.  The majority of the board did not support Article 19 because they did not believe that the $16 million would be sufficient to cover the costs of the proposed renovation and addition with all of the amenities promised by the petitioners.  Further, they thought that any expansion or construction of PHS would jeopardize the town's ability to expand the Memorial School and/or Pelham Elementary School. 

In seeking long-term solutions, the board urged voters to support School District Warrant Article 4, which requested $350,000 for an architectural study and engineering fees to study a four-school model, including renovations and expansions for existing facilities. 

The four-school model envisions grades 1-4 in Pelham Elementary School, grades 5 and 6 in the Memorial School, grade 7 and 8 at the current high school, and a new high school on a new site. 

Before the election in March, Chairman Mike Conrad had stated, “It is my hope that we approve the $350,000 and start working on this plan as soon as possible.  Then in March of 2007 we have warrants for land and a new high school.  We may be able to have another warrant article to include renovating the current high school so we could get one single bond to cover all our needs.” 

Unfortunately for the board, the request for $350,000 for architectural studies for a four-school model also failed, thus limiting the School Board's options. 

Under the “no means no” laws in New Hampshire, the School Board may not use any school district funds to hire an architect to design a new school for Pelham, even if additional funds were available. 

“By not passing the architectural studies, we have slowed down progress on achieving a solution to the high school problem,” posted Shelley White on the Pelham Message Board. 

Nevertheless, the School Board has been taking all available steps in an effort to address Pelham's needs. 

Right now, the school district has identified a piece of land in Pelham for a new high school.  Many people, including local land expert William Hayes, believe that this is an ideal location for a new high school.  “While an on-the-ground survey of the new site has not been completed, the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, using a sophisticated satellite assisted GIF system, has estimated that the site under consideration consists of approximately 34.85 regularly shaped fully contiguous acres of non-wetland soils.  Team Design, using a similar system, estimates a more conservative 32 acres.  The parcel abuts an additional four acres of dry unused town-owned land,” he posted to the Pelham message board. 

“Soils scientists from the Soils Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and James Gove, a privately retained soils scientist, have determined that the non-wetland soils on the proposed site consist entirely of Hinckley Soils (gravel and sand) and Windsor Soils (sand and smaller stoned gravel), the same soils that are found under the Village Green and the current Memorial School site.  Maps provided by the Federal Insurance Administration of the United Stated Department of Housing and Urban Development indicate that the new high school would be placed above the 500-year flood hazard area.”

The board is currently in negotiations with the owner(s) of the land and is making good progress.  Because the agreement is not final, no further details are available at this time.

“It is my hope that we can have a couple of questions on the ballot come March,” said Conrad.  “We just need to find a creative way to do it, since the money for the architect was not passed.”

If the negotiations can be concluded, the School District will sign a Purchase and Sale Agreement.  The final sale will be contingent upon the district getting approval from the voters and obtaining bank financing. 

Since the request for architectural fees did not pass, the board must come up with another way to obtain proposed designs for a new high school.

Dr. Dorothy Mohr, principal at PHS, has been working with several groups over the past few years to create a comprehensive proposed curriculum for a new facility.  Dr. Mohr presented the draft of Education Specifications at the last board workshop meeting, and will be discussing it during upcoming meetings. 

“The School Board is going about the proper way to build a school,” said Conrad.  “With the education specifications, we are not only addressing the curriculum today, but in the future as well.  We will then give the education specifications to an architect to have them design a building that will meet our needs now and in the future.”

The board has also begun brainstorming on how to obtain an architectural design with no funding.  To date, no decisions have been made, though several ideas are being discussed.

Two Sides of a Rumor Regarding Conservation Commission Member

by Lynne Ober

Rumors and innuendos merge with facts and half-truths to form a sort of urban legend that sometimes lingers for years.

Pelham Selectman Ed Gleason wanted to open up the rumored topic and put some sunlight onto it so that people could understand what was factual and learn what was not.

As with any story, there are two sides.  These two sides are not totally in agreement, but neither are they too far apart.

The rumor was that Pelham Conservation Commission members were buying conservation land abutting their own property and not looking out for the best interests of the town.

When Conservation Member Paul Gagnon appeared before Pelham Selectmen to be re-appointed to the Conservation Commission, Gleason asked him to comment on that rumor in as detailed manner as possible.

“That rumor is about me,” began Gagnon, who went on to describe in detail his association with land protection in Pelham.

Gagnon, who lives on Dutton Road, became involved in the Little Island Pond Association about the time that he took early retirement from Lucent Technologies.  At that time a developer was trying to develop property and residents in the area, who formed the association, wanted to preserve the property.

A grant was written to New Hampshire’s LCHIP and $50,000 was awarded toward the property’s preservation.  Association members worked with Pelham’s Conservation Commission, who pledged $150,000 toward the purchase price.  The association paid $50,000 for a total of $250,000.  Gagnon said that he contributed $10,000 of his own money to the effort.  The developer built houses along Nature’s Way and sold the rest of the land to Pelham.

With that success, Gagnon, who is interested in conservation, filled out an application to join the Conservation Commission and was appointed to a three-year term.

He then worked with his neighbor to preserve the Costa property, which was across the street from him.  “Who do you know better than your neighbors?” he asked.  He talked about his involvement in that project and minutes reveal that he also voted at a Conservation Commission meeting to buy the property.

Pelham resident and realtor Holly Saurman believes that he should have stated that he lived across the street and perhaps should have recused himself from the vote.  Holly Saurman and her husband, George, wanted to build a 55+ development on Dutton and she noted that Gagnon recused himself from voting at the Conservation Commission meeting when that proposed development came to them for review.  She finds the two votes confusing.  One he revealed his location and recused himself and one he did not and voted in the affirmative.

The town subsequently purchased the Costa property and later a developer gave them an abutting 39-acre parcel which made a large wildlife corridor and passive recreation area for Pelham, but the whispers and rumors had begun.

As Gagnon pointed out, other purchases have not abutted any conservation member’s property.  He also said that when the $3 million dollar bond was passed, the Conservation Commission wanted to purchase property at less than $7,000 per acre.  “We are just above that now, but if you add in the contribution of the 39 acres abutting the Costa property, we are well below that figure,” Gagnon smiled.

Gleason also asked him to discuss whether the Conservation Commission was buying wetlands or not.  Gagnon pointed out that all the property in Pelham was a mixture of dry and wetlands.  He had calculated the volume of wetlands on the property purchased by the commission as compared to the total of Pelham.  The land that the Conservation Commission has purchased has fewer acres of wetlands than the average acreage spread across Pelham.  “We have been very careful to note how much is wet and how much is buildable and there is always more buildable acreage than wet.

The Saurmans, however, see the other side of the story.  When they failed to get permission to go ahead with a scaled-down version of their 55+ development, they went to Superior Court.  That court did not support the town’s ruling; instead it remanded the case back to the Planning Board.  While the development will now proceed, Holly pointed out that it has cost the town thousands of dollars for a poorly crafted decision coming out of both the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board.

Selectmen unanimously re-appointed Paul Gagnon to another three-year term on the Conservation Commission.

Muffins and Cookies and Fudge, Oh My!

by Diane Chubb

The weather held out long enough for the Pelham MOMs Club to hold its 3rd Annual Yard/Bake Sale on Saturday at St. Patrick's Trolley Barn.

There were many tables, inside and out, featuring toys, collectibles, clothing and other treasures.  The big success of the day was the Bake Sale.  Shelly Joncas had spent the day before carefully packaging all of the items made by MOMs Club members.  She then arranged the sale table in an attractive display that was just too pretty to pass by.  Dawn Lambert greeted customers as she sold every last muffin, cookie and brownie. 

Club President Ellen Patchen was grateful for the efforts of those who organized the fundraiser.  “People put a great deal of time and effort into this event to make it a success.  The club appreciates their hard work,” she said. 

All of the money raised will be used for various charities to which the MOMs Club contributes throughout the year. 

The Pelham MOMs Club is the local chapter of the International MOMs Club.  For more information about the group, please contact pelhammomsclub@yahoo.com.

Michelle Frey and Joanne Riopel stand at one of the many tables laden with delicious goodies for sale

Mothers of Preschoolers Get Pampered at Windham Presbyterian Church

by Karen Plumley

Derry mom Cheryl Grinnell receives a massage from therapist Dianne Tremblay Jezak on Friday at the Mother’s Day MOPS meeting.

A special meeting was held for members of the organization Mothers of Preschoolers on Friday, May 5 in celebration of Mother’s Day.  Women were in attendance for the two-hour meeting to enjoy crafts, facials, advice on fashion, and massage therapy.  Mothers who are members of the group pay a small fee per meeting and get some wonderful benefits including companionship, parenthood education in the form of speaker presentations and discussion, and time to complete a craft or other activity.  “This group provides a place for rest and encouragement in a non-threatening environment,” described MOPS Coordinator Charlett Prudhomme of Pelham.

Meanwhile, children of the program (called “MOPPETS”) were in very capable hands in either the nursery or toddler room down the hall.  Caregivers in each of the two rooms provided their services for free.  “I have three grown children, and know exactly what these women are going through,” said nursery babysitter Dorothy Freeman.  Volunteer babysitter Christie Davis was in the toddler room taking care of the older children.  “I started coming to MOPS meetings after I had my third child.  It is a supportive group and the topics discussed are relevant to managing a family.  This is a way I can give back,” she stated.  In the daycare program, children learn about music, do crafts, and read stories.

Door prizes totaling $500 were donated by local area businesses.  Names of winners were being announced while mothers gathered around the facial and make-up tables enjoying some much-deserved pampering.  Other moms grabbed delectable brunch refreshments while deciding what to do next.  Upstairs, a craft table was set up and many participants were putting together lovely decorative wreaths.  Grasses, shells, and dried flowers were supplied for the activity.  “At these meetings I get to do something creative, and even have the time to complete it,” stated Windham resident and MOPS mom Jodi Koppeta.

In a closed-door session, moms were receiving relaxing and therapeutic massage therapy.  Therapists such as Dianne Tremblay Jezak of Therapeutic Oasis of Salem offered their services to MOPS for discounts that were hard to pass up.

MOPS members enjoy make-up and facials at Friday morning’s meeting.

MOPS is an international organization celebrating motherhood and providing a nurturing atmosphere for mothers and their children.  The Windham charter of MOPS started approximately two years ago and is so popular that its membership is currently full.  They meet two times per month at the Windham Presbyterian Church.  “We have 40 moms and 50 children who are members right now.  The daycare is completely full, but we will have openings available in the fall,” noted Prudhomme.  The group has already started a waiting list and members are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Motherhood is a rewarding experience, but undeniably it is one of the toughest jobs of all.  This special MOPS Mother’s Day meeting was a wonderful way for mothers to interact, relax, and enjoy a little bit of indulgence in an otherwise hectic and stressful time in their lives.  For additional information on MOPS, or for fall registrations, contact Amy Higgins at 890-6835 or e-mail georgeamy@comcast.net.

Mothers get to start and even complete a craft at the MOPS Mother’s Day meeting on Friday while their preschoolers enjoy playtime in the daycare program.

Volunteer babysitters take care of infants in the nursery at Friday’s MOPS meeting while moms enjoy a precious bit of free time.

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