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Ray Duckler

Ray Duckler: Following up with a few of 2012’s front-page subjects

  • Liz Chaplain helps her husband, Jeff, finish screwing on the tires of a car at the Village Street Garage which Jeff Chaplain runs in Penacook; Monday, December 31, 2012.  <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

    Liz Chaplain helps her husband, Jeff, finish screwing on the tires of a car at the Village Street Garage which Jeff Chaplain runs in Penacook; Monday, December 31, 2012.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

  • Jeff Chaplain wraps up his day at the Village Street Garage in Penacook, while his wife Liz, who does the books for the garage, sorts out a billing issue over the phone; December 31, 2012.  <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

    Jeff Chaplain wraps up his day at the Village Street Garage in Penacook, while his wife Liz, who does the books for the garage, sorts out a billing issue over the phone; December 31, 2012.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

  • Jeff Chaplain wraps up his day at the Village Street Garage in Penacook, while his wife Liz who does the books for the garage sorts out a billing issueover the phone; December 31, 2012.  <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

    Jeff Chaplain wraps up his day at the Village Street Garage in Penacook, while his wife Liz who does the books for the garage sorts out a billing issueover the phone; December 31, 2012.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

  • Liz Chaplain helps her husband, Jeff, finish screwing on the tires of a car at the Village Street Garage which Jeff Chaplain runs in Penacook; Monday, December 31, 2012.  <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

    Liz Chaplain helps her husband, Jeff, finish screwing on the tires of a car at the Village Street Garage which Jeff Chaplain runs in Penacook; Monday, December 31, 2012.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

  • Liz Chaplain helps her husband, Jeff, finish screwing on the tires of a car at the Village Street Garage which Jeff Chaplain runs in Penacook; Monday, December 31, 2012.  <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)
  • Jeff Chaplain wraps up his day at the Village Street Garage in Penacook, while his wife Liz, who does the books for the garage, sorts out a billing issue over the phone; December 31, 2012.  <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)
  • Jeff Chaplain wraps up his day at the Village Street Garage in Penacook, while his wife Liz who does the books for the garage sorts out a billing issueover the phone; December 31, 2012.  <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)
  • Liz Chaplain helps her husband, Jeff, finish screwing on the tires of a car at the Village Street Garage which Jeff Chaplain runs in Penacook; Monday, December 31, 2012.  <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

A few hours ago, the big ball landed in Times Square, young couples in love kissed, people vowed to eat less and exercise more, and we all prayed for world peace.

Seems like a good time to check back on a few people we met this year, including the man who stayed one step ahead of the shark; a woman whose pen remains mightier than Iran’s nuclear arsenal; a man who learned a lesson from the heartache suffered by his mother; and a guy who started a local business during troubled economic times.

Happy new year, and away we go.

Cecile Marini

We met the fireplug from Epsom in August, discovering a woman who’s sliced and diced more public figures with her letters to the editor than a Vegomatic.

She’s still writing, only now, after seeing her photo in the newspaper, residents in her community have a face to connect to her words.

“After the article I go into the pharmacy and they all knew about it,” Marini said. “They’re all like, ‘I know you, you’re the one who writes letters.’ I go into the library and it’s the same thing, and I go into the senior center in Pittsfield and it’s the same thing.”

One of her favorite targets this year was House Speaker Bill O’Brien, who Marini won’t have to kick around anymore, not after November’s election. She once called for his impeachment, she labeled him the boogeyman of her youth, she called him a fanatical idiot for his stance on guns, and she suggested he undergo a sex change operation before trying to convince women that he understands problems unique to them.

“Thank God he’s gone,” Marini said. “I’m a little happier because O’Brien isn’t the head of the House anymore.”

Expect more input from the mouth that roared. Marini says she’s already written two or three letters to the Monitor, and more are on the way.

“One letter was about the Senate in Washington fighting,” Marini said. “They’re holding us all with blackmail. Oh my God, I’d like to choke all of them.”

Jeff Chaplain

The Warner resident who preferred wrenches to rattles as a baby re-opened an historic landmark in Penacook and says business is good.

“We’ve hired a service writer, and we’re looking to hire another mechanic in the near future,” Chaplain said. “The community has given us a warm reception with what we’ve done with the building. People are happy to see this place back up and running.”

Red Rolfe, who played alongside Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio on the New York Yankees of the 1930s, opened the Penacook Station more than 70 years ago. Back then, ballplayers had to work during winters, and Rolfe came home to Penacook to run his business. The station changed ownership three times through the decades, then sat for nearly four years, collecting grime and cobwebs, and fading from the landscape.

Chaplain changed all that when he bought the place last spring. He gave it a face lift and residents have given him their business. Sometimes he works 60 hours per week.

“We’re off (today),” Chaplain said yesterday. “We figured we could use a little mini vacation. We have a full schedule for the rest of the week.”

Walter Szulc

The Manchester resident who made headlines in July when a shark tried to eat him at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass., says life is back to normal. “You kind of have no choice,” said Szulc, who works in the concrete business. “You have to go back to work. You have to pay the bills.”

And you have to talk to the media – including CNN and Good Morning America – when you’re kayaking while on vacation with your two children (both of whom attend Concord High) and a Great White follows you, its dorsal fin menacingly cutting the water’s surface.

And if a photo is snapped showing you paddling for your life while the beast, estimated at 12 feet long, maybe longer, pursues you, the press interviews continue, even after you’ve gone back home.

“There were some follow-ups, National Geographic, a couple of other things when I got home, but overall it was a pretty cool experience,” Szulc said.

Overall, He estimated giving 25 interviews, and his kids were a smash hit at Concord High. As for kayaking again, Szulc said, “I would, but probably not in the ocean.”

Chris Hayward

Hayward’s story, that of a baby given up for adoption days after his birth because of his mother’s alcoholism, hit the front page in October.

It was the story of an Epsom man who loved his adoptive parents while fully aware that his biological mother, Beth Cooper, often roamed the streets of Concord, a resident of the city’s homeless community.

Then, at age 16, Hayward saw someone downtown who his instincts told him was Cooper. He spent the next 16 years moving in and out of her life, trying to understand and forgive.

And after Cooper died from cirrhosis of the liver at 52, her son vowed to make a difference by volunteering for a winter homeless shelter for the first time. He’s keeping that promise, scheduled for his first sleep-over this month at the South Church.

“I’m excited about it,” Hayward said. “I’ll be able to build some relationships and be able to help the people that need it and do whatever I can to help people out. I know there is only so much you can do, but I’m excited to get to know everybody.”

His work this winter at the South Church is a direct result of what his mother endured as she battled the bottle and her desire to live a clean life and include her son in that life.

“I think this is my only way to kind of give back to my mom,” Hayward said. “Like when she was sick, I couldn’t do anything for her. Now that she’s gone, I can do something for her by helping out the people that she loved and had relationships with.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@
cmonitor.com
or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

The Pravda on the Merrimack just is in love with their Party Puppet Cecile Marini. There is no one who regurgitates the party line and the Monitor’s propaganda more that Marini. She spews her regurgitations like a human wood chipper being fed by the democrat party and extreme liberalism. Her bi-weekly diatribes void of an original thought are like a broken record but must be music to the ears of the Monitor’s editorial board. Now pat her on the back and say good girl.

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