, Derry, New Hampshire


September 12, 2013

Column: Poet once celebrated Derry’s splendor

Derry’s been getting a lot of bad publicity lately. After Alan Shepard’s flight in 1961, we were called Spacetown. But by the end of the decade a series of scandals and exposés shocked the town; soon we were being called Sintown. Then came the whole Pamela Smart affair in the 1990s. Since then we too often have made the news because of squabbling town councilors, departing town administrators, sky-high taxes, illegal designer hand bags, and over-crowded schools.

We try to promote our selves as “New Hampshire’s Place To Be.” We talk about our great school system, remarkable history and honest, hard working citizens and still we don’t get much respect. I’ve even heard folks say they’re ashamed to tell people they’re from Derry. Sad! There are a few groups springing up to promote Derry pride. I wish them well. We have so much to offer. Derry really is a great town.

There was a time when our citizens were truly proud of being from Derry. A century ago we were viewed as an economically vibrant community with a promising future. Every summer folks from the big cities came to Derry to enjoy our lakes and forests. Here is a poem from 1910 that’s called “In Derry” that was written by Ward Heathcote. Sadly, I can find nothing about Mr. Heathcote. I suspect it’s a pseudonym. He — or she — may not be a Robert Frost. Who is? Maybe Ward is not as talented as Margaret Bobalek King, Bob Crawford or the other Hyla Brook Poets but, heck, I sure agree with his sentiment.

Nowhere the sun shines half so bright

As in Derry.

Nowhere birds sing with all their might

As in Derry.

Nowhere the roses grow so sweet,

The flower gardens can’t be beat

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