On the weekend of Sept 13, 2014, I traveled to Antrim, NH for an all-class college reunion. In 1976, I graduated from a small private college, Nathaniel Hawthorne that no longer exist because people embezzled money from the college and it had to close. It is such a sad legacy for a place where I spent four formative years!
My former classmates and I planned to meet at the soccer field at 1:00 PM on Saturday before the start of the reunion. I was sadden as I drove onto the campus. Gone were the “glory days” that I remembered so well.
Since the college closed in 1988, it has been sold a couple of times. One previous owner had some kind of a meditation/enlightenment school. Another, I believe, was planning to have a center of learning but I don’t think that came to fruition. It has recently been sold to an individual who plans to open an international boarding high school.
Everyone arrived at the appointed time: Janet and Maureen, who I had seen in August, were there with their respective spouse, Paul…who went to Hawthorne with us and Jim, who Maureen met on vacation in Cancun, Mexico over 26 years ago. Mike and Fae Willet, another couple who met at Hawthorne and who I had not seen since graduating in 1976. Also, Cathi Lanman and her husband, Warren.
It was bittersweet walking around….several buildings had been completely torn down. The library, which was a brand new building when I was there as a freshman in 1972, is gone. The men’s dorms – CPS, West Hall, Hawthorn Hall are gone, as well as the Cafeteria Building, Shea Hall and the Union. The soccer field is overgrown with weeds. Fortunately, the Administration building is still there. It is privately owned and not part of the school property now.
This picture is of Fae and Mike Willett who met at Hawthorne College. 36 years of blissful marriage, they look as young and cute as they did back when they were students.
The new owner was actually on the property as we were walking around. He and his associate were in the former dorm, Scarborough Hall. They invited us in and even offered a small tour. Many of us had lived in Scarborough Hall at one point of another. The newly installed elevators changed the lobby area but I was able to go to the third floor where I once lived. They are hoping to open the boarding school soon and offered for us to use the campus next year for our reunion. What a hoot it would be to stay in our old dorm again!
The reunion was held on Paul Hardwick’s farm in Antrim. The organizers of the reunion coincided our gathering with Antrim Day celebration. For a small town of 2,500 people, there was much activity in the streets on Saturday. Unfortunately, around 2:00 PM, the dreary day gave way to rain. It was so frustrating, to have to stand under the tents and not be able to enjoy the many activities planned. They had horse shoe, volleyball, a fire pit and fireworks. Plus, they had arranged for 3 bands to entertain us. The instruments were all set up but the rain halted them from playing the electrical instruments. Sadly, people left close to 5:00. My group, there were 7 of us, stayed and visited. Around 8:00 the rain subsided enough so some music could be played. I was impressed by the musical abilities of the local people. They really sounded great!
All of my friends and I had made reservations at the Maplehurst Inn, a 300 year old inn in the heart of Antrim. Juls, the current owner, is in the process of renovating the building. I loved staying there. Yes, it was a little tired and gently worn but I think that gave it character. Breakfast, on Sunday, was delicious….an omelet, home fries, toast and plenty of great tasting coffee.
Before leaving Antrim, I walked around and took pictures of the town, helped do some clean-up at the farm and then headed towards home around 11:00. Traveling to the reunion, I took the highway route. On Sunday, I took the backroads and reminisced of all the trips my mom and I took back and forth to the school.
I stopped wherever there was an interesting shop or site to explore. In Barrington, New Hampshire, I visited the cemetery because the sign said that there was a War Dog Memorial. The stone is inscribed: ”In memory of those war dogs who were truly man’s best friend.” What a wonderful tribute to those brave dogs who were so brave and trusting of their handlers to go into battle. It was a fantastic weekend and I do hope that I will be in the states whenever there is another Hawthorne reunion.