Last Thursday was a pretty regular day. I had to be in Concord in the morning for a meeting and I thought the afternoon would be filled with the regular kinds of things I would need to make up time. Nothing too exciting one way or another or so I thought.
I noticed Diane Boucher walk in to register her car from my office door. I really didn't know Diane's name at that point and little did I know our lives would connect more than either of us could have ever guesses.
I think we both knew our paths had probably crossed many times through the years, but honestly, we had never shared more than a "Hi" or smile until now. It hasn't even been a complete week since Diane stopped by my office and I feel like I have found a new friend.
Diane stopped in first to say that she reads my little story every week! Let's face it, that really brightens up a rather long day. Diane even went on to say that when she and her husband travel, she brings along copies of our stories she cuts out of the Derry News each week. She has her husband Martin read them in flight! That made me feel really special to say the least.
The real reason Diane stopped in was to give me some very special family heirlooms that belonged to her beloved father-in-law William "Bill" Boucher. Bill had passed away in 2010 at 79, but he led a life of service to his family and the town he loved — Londonderry. When Diane asked me if I knew Bill, his name was familiar, but at that time I had no idea how much he had touched all our lives.
At our first meeting, Diane shared with me that Bill had been in a wheelchair because of an injury in the Korean War, but that never stopped him or held him back. Bill was elected to the General Court in 1971 and was elected and re-elected as a New Hampshire state representative in Concord for 27 years. Diane also told me Bill loved to fish, hunt and that he was an avid wheelchair basketball player. Bill had even gone to Russia with his team to play.
Diane said that lately she had been going through boxes of things Bill and his wife of 58 years, Eleanor, had cherished. She knew that she couldn't keep everything but wanted to find the right home for some things and hoped I could help, because of the different stories I have written through the years.
Diane went on to explain that she and Bill's son, Martin, shared a two-story house with them for many years. We should all hope that when we pass those left behind have the same love and beautiful memories of us. Many years later, Diane got teary-eyed telling me about Bill and what a great man he was.
The first gift Diane entrusted to me were hand-crocheted doilies Bill had brought back from Russia as a gift for Eleanor. They were carefully placed in a clear plastic sleeve for safe keeping. I didn't feel right opening it until I could share them with you now. Four doilies of various sizes, one made from shimmering thin silver thread. Tags were still attached to each one from Russia. I have a feeling Eleanor was a lot like me. When I was young and if I had a beautiful dress or gift, often my mother would leave the tags on it, or not wear the item at all, saying something like "Save that for a special occasion."
What often happened, though, was that by the time I had an opportunity to use it or wear it, it was either tucked away or didn't fit me anymore. I think years ago we cherished things more, or at least differently. Maybe we just didn't have as much so we did our best to take care of the special things we had. Today, so much is disposable, sadly.
On the outside of the bag were two pins Bill brought back from Russia. One had a heart with "Love" inside and saying Londonderry Organization for Vologda Exchange, Wheelchair USA Russia. The other had the United States flag, Russian flag and a basketball dropping into a net.
I promised Diane I would find them the right home. She said she knew she would find other things I might want and she would bring them by. Talk about making my day!
I thought to myself, how great is this? It's the celebration of our Nutfield 300th year, too. We have all been trying to find treasures and memories of our area's past. Now jump to Sunday....you won't believe this one.
John somehow got us out the door for St. Jude's at 8 a.m. for Palm Sunday Mass. I was leaning more toward the 6 p.m. at St. Thomas to end our day. Father Bob did an amazing job of sharing Christ's Passion with all of us.
Sadly, it even brought sad correlations to mind about things happening in our own town this week. A mob mentality is never good because normal, kind people forget to verify information and ask why, they are really jumping on bandwagons. It's been like that through the ages.
After Mass, as we were walking out and sharing pre-Easter hugs with people, suddenly there was Diane Boucher walking out right next to me. Diane said she couldn't believe it when she saw us because she had found other historical items and had them in her car, but didn't know when she would find time to drop by my office again. Before she could get the items, we started talking.
I mentioned to Diane that John and I had been married at St. Jude's Church. It turns out she and Martin were also married there. I said we were married in 1993. Diane said so were they. We al remembered Father Tim who passed much too young. It turns out Diane's birthday and anniversary are this week. Our daughter Meredith will be 24 on the 17th. A very Happy Birthday to both of them.
As it turns out, Bill also served as a Londonderry Selectman and John is honored to serve on the Town Council. I guess originally our councilors were called selectmen until our Charter change in 1996. Bill was also elected to our school board and was part of the original team that helped build Londonderry High, opening in 1980. I started teaching at LHS in 1987 and loved every minute of it.
Diane walked over to her car, reached in and came back to hand me more treasures of our town's past, beautiful hardcover books titled "History of Londonderry, Volumes 1, 2 and 3" by George Willey, and an annual report from 1966. These last items I haven't had a chance to tell Kevin about yet, but he will be overjoyed — five coins from our 250th Nutfield anniversary in 1969. That was the year my father moved us here from Spencer, Massachusetts.
Downtown Derry was shining with country stores, Derry Doughnuts, and the best sub shop in the world. I knew my father had picked a great area and the perfect apartment for us, too. The three of us were living large here in the great state of New Hampshire. Alan Shepard passed by in a light, blue convertible and I felt he was waving at me! We bought our Spacetown, U.S.A. shirt in 1969. I asked Diane if I could keep just one of the coins for myself and she said I could. I will cherish it always.
Diane is also the only person I know that has been on a national game show. She was on "Wheel of Fortune" last year. You might remember reading about it. She went for the screening in Boston first, won that round, was sent to California and ended up winning a trip to Amsterdam. Actually, I think that might have been the flight that she brought my "On the Road With Sherry" stories along on!
Sherry Farrell is Londonderry town clerk and a lifetime resident of New Hampshire.