Strawberry Festival Preserves that Down Home Feeling

by Karen Plumley

Clown Diane Brunelle poses with her grandchildren Reagan, 4, and Terryn, 6, at the Strawberry Festival at the Pelham Senior Center Saturday.

An aroma of charcoal hung stubbornly in the humid air as hot dogs sizzled and popped on the grill.  Rows of tables set up under large white tents were filled with residents chatting nonchalantly.  Feet and fingers, here and there, tapped to the rhythm of Dixie land music that was emanating from the pinstripe-clad Canobie Lake Ramblers.  A fanciful clown happily buzzed around visitors making sure every child received a balloon.  And those homemade, delectable strawberry shortcakes were to die for.  One might say that except for the vehicles circling the parking lot in search of an empty spot, it was otherwise a day reminiscent of an age gone by.  On Saturday, June 24 at the Pelham Senior Center, the eighth annual Strawberry Festival was well attended despite the overcast skies and occasional bouts of rain.  

“We made a lot of adjustments because of the weather,” stated Senior Center Director Sue Hovling.  But it hardly mattered.  Instead of serving the shortcake outside, people received their tickets at the side door of the center, and continued inside to collect their treats.  The raffle baskets were also inside, and as a new incentive this year each one contained money in it as well as other attractive items.  Winners of the six raffle baskets were announced after 2:00 p.m. and included:  Jeanne DeRocco (winner of the basket containing a $100 bill), Peggy Pedro, Mary Sasha, Velma Park, Dawn Brunelle, and “Kathy,” who according to Hovling, did not print her last name on the ticket and as of 3:00 p.m. on Saturday did not yet claim her winnings.

Many folks decided to make use of the Senior Center porch to eat their hot dogs.  Furthermore, the porch was the location for youngsters to get their faces painted.  For a glimpse of the band, however, one had to venture out.  Also outside and quite popular were the many kids games such as the ring toss, duck pond, and beanbag bucket toss.  Plenty of fuzzy stuffed animals were awarded to excited contestants.

Attendees of the event weren’t the only winners.  Over $1,600 in donations and ticket sales were collected by the Senior Center.  That money will be given to the Council on Aging, which provided the funds for the event.  Hovling is hopeful that there may be a little bit leftover for a special building fund, enabling a new addition to be built onto the center.  So far, according to Hovling, the plans are conceptual but eventually the new addition will provide much needed space for event functions.

In preparation for the popular community festival, seniors and staff members took a trip to Sunnycrest Farm in Londonderry on Wednesday, and picked approximately 210 pounds of strawberries.  The day before the event, a few very busy bakers prepared 300 homemade biscuits at the Senior Center.  “We really wanted everything to feel homespun,” pointed out Hovling.  And yet again, another successful Strawberry Festival provided a place for Pelham residents to socialize and celebrate those lazy days of summer. 

Residents line up to taste the homemade strawberry shortcake at Pelham Senior Center’s eighth annual Strawberry Festival on Saturday.

From left:  Kayla, 7, Christina, 8, and Renae, 5, enjoy the Strawberry Festival on Saturday at the Pelham Senior Center.

Jazz Band Kicks of Concert Series on The Green with Pizzazz

by Karen Plumley

The Memorial School Jazz Band opens the 2006 Pelham Music Series on the Village Green on June 21.

The 2006 Pelham Summer Music Series began on Wednesday, June 21 at the Village Green and no one could have asked for better weather. 

Performing at the first concert this year was none other than the highly honored Pelham Memorial School Jazz Band, whose oldest members had graduated from the middle school only just the night before.  Music teacher and director Paul Santerre was conducting.  He was very clearly proud of the band’s achievements this year which most recently included receiving “Excellent” ratings and a second-place finish at the Music in the Parks Festival in Agawam, Massachusetts, as well as being the recipient of the Espri de Corps Award for best overall sportsmanship.

At the concert on the green, the Jazz Band had a CD for sale that was recorded with the other musical groups at Pelham Memorial during their 2006 spring concert.  They played a wide variety of musical selections, including classic tunes such as “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”  After a short break, they played their ever-popular version of “Wooly Bully” which is always a crowd favorite.  According to Santerre, his teaching philosophy is such that students perform music that is of historic value, teaches them technique, helps them develop an appreciation of music that might be unfamiliar to them and leaves room for musical growth.

The Jazz Band is comprised each year of approximately 20 - 25 young musicians who audition for seats.  The students in grades six through eight who play saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, or drums and have an interest in playing jazz have an opportunity to audition, so every year the musicians in the band are ever changing, explained Santerre.  The Jazz Band was the perfect choice of performers to open up the exciting summer series.

Sherburne Hall Committee Chairman Charlene Takesian addressed the small audience, thanking them for attending, and also giving credit to the many people who made this year’s first night in the concert series possible.  Her list included Pelham Police Captain Joseph Roark, whose Police Explorers helped sponsor the event.  In addition, she thanked Bill McDevitt for his guidance and help, and also real estate agent Joanne Riopel of Innovative Realty received kudos for soliciting many of the other sponsors.  Donations and money collected by the Explorers for refreshments will be used in the future to help fund renovations for Sherburne Hall.

As far as the rest of the season goes, there will be five other concerts on The Green.  The next one will be held on the evening of July 16 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and performers will be “Two Fiddles,” a country line/square-dancing band.  For more information and a schedule for the upcoming shows, log on to the Sherburne Hall Committee website at

Double Vision is Double Fun

by Lynne Ober

Linda climbs through a picture frame while teaching that nothing is impossible and should always be done with respect.

Couple comedy with education and fun with learning and you have Double Vision, Jody, and Linda Scalise style.  They have performed and written about the arts in education for decades and have been praised as two of the best in their field.  Using their unique abilities to use comedy, mime, juggling, circus monologue, rap, and inspiration to teach and inspire others, Jody and Linda put on a show that has to be seen to be believed.

These talented performers inspired Pelham Elementary School students with their antics.  Dressed as pirates, the theme of this year’s summer reading program, they brought laughter and learning to the students.

The result of their collaboration and marriage is exciting entertainment.  As Double Vision, the Scalise’s created a number of shows, each an inspirational theatrical journey using styles from Vaudeville ala Chaplin, Keaton, and Gracie to a visual feast of skills often likened to Cirque du Soliel.  Students and staff began to truly believe that all things are possible after witnessing Double Vision and their engaging antics.

Dressed as pirates, Jody and Linda performed expert and enterprising juggling, synchronized pratfalls, classic mime, zany characterizations, mystifying illusion, contortion, slow motion movement, a tight rope, a giant floating cube, a human robot, umbrellas, a vacuum, a leaf blower, stepladders, instruments, cigar boxes, a kite tail, a giant pinwheel, gibberish, and taught lessons along the way while their audience members laughed with delight.

“Nothing is impossible,” Jody calmly said while juggling more balls than the eye could watch.  “The mind is the playground of your imagination.” 

You knew immediately why audiences loved them.

Since they were dressed as pirates, in honor of the summer reading program, they kept their dialogue in character.

The audience roared when they did a take on Laurel and Hardy’s Who’s on First.  With a pirate theme, it became:

“What are you doing?”

“Going to sea.”

“See what?”

And went on from there with the audience laughing along with them.

Linda managed to climb through a picture frame while teaching the students about life and respect.  Jody made everyone believe that he was really climbing down into the bowels of his pirate’s ship.

Double Vision made it seem that you were only laughing, but in reality their charm was that you laughed and learned and had a great time.

Last Gifts to the Pelham Fire Department

by Lynne Ober

From left, Charlotte Moore, Carol Fisher, Sue Levine, Principal Cathy Pinsonneault, and Joyce Mason.  In the back, Fire Chief Dave Fisher and MaryLyn Colbarn.

Pelham’s Fire Auxiliary will disband when Fire Chief Dave Fisher retires.  His wife, Carol, has been one of the active members of this small but vigorous group.  “We decided to spend all of our money on useful things for the town,” said Carol.

Last week they presented an automatic electronic defibrillator to Pelham Memorial School.  AEDs, once powered on, will walk a lay person through usage.  “It’s very easy to use,” said Charlotte Moore, a member of Pelham’s Fire Auxiliary unit. 

Sue Levine, nurse at PMS, is trained in CPR and in the use of an AED.  She was delighted to have one for her school.  “It absolutely walks you through using it, but I plan to offer some training to school staff,” she said.

The unit cost almost $2,000 and will be a great benefit to the school.

But the Fire Auxiliary didn’t stop there.  Next they moved to Central Fire Station where they presented two sets of animal oxygen masks to the fire department.  Each set has three various sized masks that can be used on animals overcome by smoke during a fire.  Each ambulance will carry one set.  

According to Fisher, the masks can be sterilized after each use and re-used.

“It’s time for someone else to take over,” said Moore, “but it’s kind of sad.” 

Joyce Mason agreed.  She recalled standing out in the cold passing out coffee and watching the firefighters work.  “I’ll miss it, but it will be nice to stay in bed at night.”

Over the years the Fire Auxiliary has purchased a number of items that were not included in the town budget.  They have provided scholarships to graduating seniors and have donated to a number of groups in town.

They were also seen at every fire handing out drinks and food.  “Even if it was in the middle of the night, we’d climb out of bed and go to the fire and support the men,” said Moore.  “Now CERTs will take over that task.”

While the Pelham Fire Department will definitely miss the Fire Auxiliary, voters will notice an empty spot at town elections.  The auxiliary always ran the bake sales at elections and deliberative sessions and used funds from those sales to fund their projects.

It’s a family affair as Carol Fisher demonstrates the use of the small oxygen mask on her dog, Tiny, with the help of Pelham Firefighter Greg Atwood.

Young Poet Wins Award

by Lynne Ober

Pelham fourth grader, Isabelle Slattery won the Robert Frost Poetry Contest.

Robert Frost’s homestead, located in Derry, New Hampshire, is part of the New Hampshire Parks system.  Every year a number of events are held at the park.  One of those is the poetry contest for budding poets.

According to Emerie Slattery, Isabelle’s teacher collected poems and chose some to send into the contest.  “Isabelle was so pleased to learn that she’d be recognized,” said Emerie.

The poets and family gathered at the Frost homestead for presentation of awards.  Isabelle’s poem, a haiku, was the winning poem for Hillsborough County.

“She likes to write poetry,” said Emerie.  “She’s an interesting kid.  She also loves soccer.”

Next year Isabelle will be a fifth grader at Pelham Elementary School. 

Isabelle stands by the sign at Robert Frost Farm after the award ceremony.

Castle Hill Bridge Closure Concerns

by Lynne Ober

Before the rains, flooding and talk of building arks, Pelham and Windham Selectmen were meeting on the closure of Castle Hill bridge.  Pelham wanted to close the bridge for the duration of the Tallant Road bridge construction, and Windham did not want that to happen.

The floods made that a moot point as Windham Town Administrator David Sullivan pointed out in a memo to Pelham Board of Selectmen Chairman Victor Danevich.  The road leading up to Castle Hill bridge was badly damaged on both sides of the bridge.

Pelham Town Administrator Tom Gaydos characterized the roadway as washed out, undermined and badly damaged.  “Nature made a lot of decisions for everybody.”

Sullivan, however, has requested that “the Town of Pelham will keep them [Windham Selectmen] apprised of the status of the Castle Hill bridge repairs and endeavor to work collaboratively with Windham to the benefit of both Pelham and Windham’s residents.”

From Pelham’s viewpoint, no repairs are on the horizon.  Pelham is still working through a myriad of problems left behind by the recent floods and ongoing rains.  No money is in the budget to repair the roadway.  FEMA dollars only cover 75 percent of the costs and are only paid after the town expends its dollars on a project.

Selectman Ed Gleason pointed out that in the state’s 10-year highway plan, the replacement of the Castle Hill bridge was deemed to be a 2007 project.  Further, Pelham Selectmen had been told that a developer in Windham would pay the 20 percent portion for both Pelham and Windham.  “This is an opportunity to get the bridge re-done at no cost to the town taxpayers,” noted Gleason, who clearly wanted to pursue this opportunity.

However, Selectman Jean-Guy Bergeron questioned whether that could be done because Pelham voters had voted down a warrant article.  After a lengthy discussion, it was clear that the failed warrant article had been over a year ago and that state law covered appropriated funds and not donated funds.

Selectmen also reviewed the projects that Don Foss and his department must undertake this year in order to stabilize the roads after the floods.

Selectman Hal Lynde commented, “It’s clear we have no budget for Castle Hill Bridge.”

Gleason agreed and said he didn’t want to see money expended on repairs in 2006 if the state was going to tear up and replace the bridge in 2007.

Selectmen agreed to send a letter to Sullivan inquiring about the status of the developer’s offer to pay the matching portion of this project and to reassure Windham Selectmen that they wished to continue to work together on this project.

Making Ambulance Like New in Pelham

by Lynne Ober

Years ago Pelham Fire Chief Dave Fisher talked to selectmen and the Budget Committee about a plan to provide almost new ambulances from old ambulances.  It was his dream to purchase Class II ambulance units and when the engine, chassis, suspension, and wheels got too old, to lift the large box off, and put it onto a new chassis, suspension, wheels, and engine.

In today’s dollars a new ambulance like the ones in use in Pelham cost $180,000, but the Fire Department just received an almost new 2006 ambulance for $70,000.

“Dave, we are going to miss your thriftiness,” grinned Board of Selectmen Chairman Victor Danevich. 

According to Fisher the old base of the ambulance was for a Ford 350, but it is now a 2006 Ford 450 with a new engine, cab, and chassis.  The ambulance has new wiring and the plumbing has been updated.  It has been painted and re-lettered.  Some of the lighting is new.  Fisher said that it was practically impossible to detect that the ambulance was not a brand new 2006 model.  “It has all of its 2006 certifications.  It even has new upholstery,” he smiled.

Pelham ambulances are currently averaging four calls a day.  Fisher told selectmen that at some point in the future a third ambulance would be needed and pointed out how frequently both of Pelham’s ambulances are simultaneously dispatched to multiple calls.  “When that day comes, you could take one of the current two ambulances, refurbish it, and continue to use it for your third ambulance.”

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