Amos Fortune Forum: Growing up in East Jaffrey in the 1950s

  • Sam Hackler talks about growing up in East Jaffrey in the 1950s at the first Amos Fortune Forum in Jaffrey on Friday. Staff photo by Walker John

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/8/2019 9:25:39 PM

“This is what makes living in a small town so special,” Sam Hackler said to a full crowd at the Jaffrey Meetinghouse last Friday.

Kicking off the Amos Fortune Forum, Hackler told stories of growing up in East Jaffrey while providing historical context about how the town has grown since he was born in 1944.

At the center of the stage, old pictures were projected to the audience to accompany Hackler’s stories. Listeners were also encouraged to leave donations in the bowls located at each exit.

“There are three main reasons why Jaffrey grew to become one of the largest towns in Cheshire County,” he said. “The mountain, the water and the people.”

During the industrial revolution, the Contoocook River allowed large businesses to flourish. Combined with the allure of Mount Monadnock, the need for workers caused a wave of cultural diversity to sweep through the town, Hackler explained.

“Population growth in East Jaffrey became the bedrock of the town,” he said.

After a brief history of the town’s roots, Hackler described the layout of his neighborhood and told stories of the different buildings and people that were significant in his upbringing.

One of his neighbors owned a funeral home and built a track for his horses in his backyard. Another neighbor was an inventor with over 200 patents to his name.

Hackler said some of his neighbors were also his babysitters. Among them was New Hampshire television host Fritz Weatherbee.

“Growing up I developed my entrepreneurship,” Hackler said. “I would walk down the street and find gardens that weren’t being attended to, take plants and flowers, put them in my red cart and sell them.”

Highlighting the differences of Jaffrey today, he reflected on the low wages he would earn from his many jobs such as shoveling driveways.

“I remember being so excited when a woman on my street paid me two dollars,” he said. “I could go to the movies back then for fifteen cents.”

Hackler wrapped up his presentation with an emphasis on the importance of community. “Jaffrey provided a nurturing quality for family life,” he said.

“It always supported its residents. You were always greeted with a smile. Jaffrey was all that,” he said.

Following his speech, Hackler encouraged the audience to share stories about the town.

The next speaker, Robert Goodby, will take the stage at the Jaffrey Meetinghouse on Friday at 8 p.m. For more information about the forum, visit www.amosfortune.com.


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