Well, first and foremost, the first birthday we must talk about is our towns' 300th anniversary birthday celebration. The reason I'm highlighting the word towns is that it means we were working together 300 years ago when our Nutfield area was established by many brave and daring men, women and children. Think about the teamwork it took to do what they did.
As Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith reminded us at the start of the Old Home Day parade, the name Nutfield came to be because our towns were covered with nut trees back then. I'm chuckling as I write that, because I can't remember the last time I heard about any nut trees "in them thar hills" since moving here in the 1960s — but we do have our share of nuts!
I'm just being silly, please forgive me, we all act nutty from time to time that's for sure.
Just to prove that I'm referring to all of us with that comment, I will tell you what happened to me recently. Completely nutty!
Picture this, we are at another birthday celebration to celebrate 30 years of the establishment of a certification program for your town and city clerks. It all started with a group of clerks thinking outside the box. They recognized the need for your clerks to be educated, form networking groups, and gain understanding of all the areas that the person you vote for is responsible for once elected.
They developed classes in record keeping, election procedures, vital records, automobile registration and dog licensing. The program takes three years of training, but once passed, you become a certified town or city clerk.
The original Nutfield community that evolved in Derry, Londonderry and Windham would be proud of us. Myself, Dan Healey of Derry and Nicole Bottai of Windham are all certified town clerks. We are very proud to serve our communities and that's why we made this program a top priority. Dan and I are also on the certification committee for the state.
Jump back to last Friday. To celebrate the program, a wonderful state luncheon was held at the Grappone Center in Concord. The governor was invited and all our state dignitaries. There were little trinket gifts of pins and key chains on the tables. As lunch was being served, we all quickly gathered up our small gifts and put them away. The program was wonderful, dessert was served and it was time to leave. So I did.
I started to drive off, but I remembered that I needed to check on one more thing. I turned the car around, parked on the side by the front door and ran in. When I got back to the registration table, I noticed my friend Joan, town clerk in Milford, looking frantically for her car keys. I jumped in to help. The room was pretty cleared out but I found nothing. I made a pact that I would not leave until Joan was all set. Suddenly, I said to myself, "What the heck, run back to the car and check your purse." Joan's keys were in my purse! I'm so grateful I didn't find them at home later that night.
Back to birthdays. It's also the 120th birthday of our Old Home Day celebration. The older we get, the harder it is to see all these changes. We cherish certain memories of things before, and we don't want to change for a couple of reasons.
One big one for me is I really want Meredith and Mackensie to have all the same amazing memories of our towns and celebrations that I do.
The second, is that change is just plain old uncomfortable. It's not what we are used to. It's kind of like people who always want the same seat in a classroom. That was me! I'd rather the teacher assign seats. That was one less thing I had to worry about each class period.
I can tell you, I wasn't sure about the fireworks being moved to the lacrosse field. I kind of liked knowing I would be trying to borrow a small piece of a friend's blanket lying on the small grassy area in front of the high school like before.
I had also really loved the Old Home Day morning 5K run. Mackensie even did it once with a cast on her little arm. I couldn't wrap my mind around a Boot Scootin' Boogie 5K this year. Change is hard, but I loved each and every one and now I just pray it all stays exactly the same next year. I want to do it all again.
I could sit on a beautiful flat area and enjoy an open sky with the most beautiful fireworks I have ever seen with my favorite song, "I'm Proud to be an American" playing. Mary Jane Stone, my former student and dear friend, brought me a folding chair this year. What a difference! The grassy field was packed and little ones could run around, play games and enjoy time with friends and family before the show began. I've never seen anything like it, and let's face it, I've been here a long time.
A new tradition was born with the evening road race this year. People of all ages, music and a special shout out to the Kings neighborhood, they made us runners feel like we were celebrities. Again, families finished the race, great food, a huge open grassy area, bonfire, Nashville bands and simple fun.
And back to birthdays, many of us had birthdays recently. Kevin Smith, my wonderful deputy Christie Campbell and my dear friend Karin Dowling Marino. We have known each other since we took a seventh-grade Greek dancing mini-course at Hood School. Karen Magoon, and another dear friend, too. By the time you get the paper this week, mine will have passed too! Happy Birthday to me!
One of my greatest gifts will always be knowing you are out there and that we share in these little "On the Road With Sherry" stories together.
And this week, my hat goes off to fire Chief Darren O'Brien who said the recent Old Home Day felt like the "old, old homes" this year.
To Kathy Wagner, our heart of Old Home Day, there are no words. Thank you.
And I'll end with two men I admire most in our towns — Reed Clark and Kent Allan, who share an Aug. 27 birthday. Reed will be celebrating 90 years and Kent will be 80. Reed touches our hearts wit his "Carry On" motto and Kent with his motto, "Deeds not words."
Sherry Farrell is Londonderry town clerk and a lifelong resident of New Hampshire.