Our Town: 275 years in transition

To the editor:

As Oct. 11 and the Our Town celebration of Peterborough’s 275th year approaches, I began to reflect on what made us what we are.

I immediately began to add up what has happened in these 275 years, and ask the question: Are we all that Wilder described in his play of Grover’s Corner? What has influenced the change and transition of Peterborough?

Brian Heckert, our research person at the library, can guide you to three good history’s of the town and for more recent updates you might want to read my book, “Making Ripples in Wilder’s Town.” I listed more than 20 happenings, people and activities that seem to me to have made the most important impression/impact on our history.

In my mind, the most significant event was the 51 percent vote to rescind the town vote to buy a $250,000 trash incinerator. In the state, before or after, no town has been able to get out a 51 percent vote of registered voters. Hundreds of lives might have been saved from poisonous smoke that would have engulfed the valley.

On my list, without giving priority, I believe adoption of zoning was critical; construction of the MacDowell dam vital; the musical “Verbatim” written and produced here a needed happening; PIDC, a local development company that built an industrial park, Pine Ridge and several homes; the library is vital to those who love to read; the creation of the Contoocook Valley Regional School District. And that’s just a start.

The birth and presence of the American Guernsey Cattle Club — the biggest employer for many, many years — was the force to use red bricks in construction around the town center; nine churches serve the spiritual needs of their parishioners; our new water and sewer facilities; the Lion heliport of the hospital; RiverMead a huge assisted living facility; The Ledger- Transcript, they provide leadership and image; Wilder and his play “Our Town”; Monadnock Community Hospital and the Wellness center, the best; and official ballot voting. .

On the other side of the coin, we rejected drive up windows, did not plant any wood sculptures on our front lawn and got a roundabout but no light. Got Shaw’s but no Rindge prices. We’ve got charm, but nothing to attract jobs.

Fran Chapman


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