The Tamworth Historical Society’s August 14 event at Runnells Hall was packed. Tamworth historian Bob Cottrell presented his illustrated talk ‘Chocorua for Two Bits: The History of a View: Art, History and Nature’...
‘Two Bits’? Bob had been inspired back in January when the U.S. Mint released its latest ‘America the Beautiful’ series quarter, depicting our familiar and famous view of Mt. Chocorua.
Focusing on our side of the mountain and the lake, Bob told vivid tales of early painters and explorers, Abenaki rug-weavers, iron-workers, preachers, Civil War generals, a murder or two, Polar explorers, ice-harvesters, CCC camps, Pulitzer Prize-winners, geologists, Japanese gardens, botanists and birders!
Bob highlighted the little-known 1820s summit sketches of White Mountain School painter Thomas Cole, and the far-sighted preservation of ‘The View’ by Chocorua summer residents dating back to the 1880s.
The program was dedicated to the memory of longtime Chocorua historian Jim Bowditch. Sam’l Newsom’s wonderful Chocorua Village mural-scrolls, hung for the event by THS, were viewed with pleasure. A lively Q&A followed the talk.
Attendees also enjoyed perusing the 13 panels of THS’s Chocorua History display, created about ten years ago by Bobbi Carleton and Joan Casarotto, and bursting with photos, drawings, maps and engaging text. Many had fun filling out a little quiz on the panels’ contents.
The organizers of the annual Chocorua Day celebration had borrowed the panels; Chocorua’s Kent Schneider had thought up the quiz - inspired in part by the ‘Quistolio’, a booklet designed by Chocorua librarians Marion Posner and Myles Grinstead to stimulate children’s interest in local history. The Chocorua Community Association had laid in a store of the new coins, and a shiny quarter was given to all who completed the quiz!
The display and quiz were a big hit. To answer the quiz questions, many visitors took time to peruse each of the panels. “Oh! That must be our family living room as it was back then!” Marion heard one say. Another exclaimed, “I feel as if I’m at the Peak House! I’ll have to hike up to the site again, and breathe the air its visitors breathed!” Another: “There’s so much I didn’t know, even though I’ve lived here for years.”
The panels stayed at the library until October 10. 70 people completed the quiz, and received their Chocorua quarters!* This collaboration just kept snowballing! THS thanks our Chocorua friends for their initiative and imagination in bringing local history alive for all ages.
*Coincidentally, the Narrows Bridge was rebuilt this summer: for several weeks The View looked just as it appears on the coin!