N.H. authors shares stories of discovery

  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. —Courtesy of Gloria Jean

  • The Mackinac Bridge in St. Ignace, Mich. —Courtesy of Gloria Jean

  • A bison spotted by Gloria Jean as she traveled the U.S. —Courtesy of Gloria Jean

  • —Courtesy of Gloria Jean

  • —Courtesy of Gloria Jean

  • —Courtesy of Gloria Hillsgrove

  • Gloria Jean of Pembroke wrote a memoir about her cross-country road trip. ABOVE: Carhenge in Alliance, Neb. BELOW: “Uncle Joe” sits by Jean’s car in Wyoming. BOTTOM: The Crazy Horse memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Courtesy of Gloria Jean

Monitor staff
Thursday, July 21, 2016

When she was 50, Gloria Jean of Pembroke needed to figure out what she wanted to do.

She had been married, had two kids, divorced, remarried. She and her husband bought Kimball’s Market in the 1980s, just to find out that day he had cancer. They sold the business and he died six years later.

So what’s she to do?

“Middle-aged, single, white, female takes a drive,” reads the back cover of her book, Vagabond Chic. A three-month, 10,000-mile drive that is.

Inspired by a wedding in Florida, getting lost near a marsh and found her way back, she realized she could handle traveling alone.

It took her two years to plan the trip, sorting out finances. She planned to be gone from May to September.

Then, “I just left,” Jean said.

She started by heading north to Pittsburg to see her first moose. On her way west, she passed Lake Champlain in Vermont, Lake Superior, Niagara, Little Big Horn; the Black Hills, Oklahoma City, and many, many small towns.

”I can’t believe I did all that,” Jean said. “It really amazes me.

Her maiden name is Hathaway, so she made it a point to visit Hathaway, Wyo., a ghost town with not much other than a bar. There, She told a bartender of her father’s collection of insulators, color glass devices from the tops of electrical poles. He went out back and found three to give to her. After her father’s death, she placed one of those on his grave.

Jean was born on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1941, which was the number of the license plate on the Geo Prism she drove cross-country.

In Wyoming, she met a guide who was a native Hawaiian, who had been in Honolulu on the day of the attack. She decided that made him family and refers to him as “Uncle Joe.”

The most soothing stop was the Wounded Knee burial ground, she said, sitting amid scrub grass on a hill in practically the middle of nowhere.

Her trip was cut short in August when she reached Texas by her father’s death. She never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn. (Though, she was a bit unsure she wanted to after all.)

After returning, she worked on the book off and on.

“I didn’t believe in it for so long,” Jean explained.

Years after her trip, the book has finally been published by Page Publishing.

“You just don’t know how things are going to end,” Jean said.

Her book is part memoir, part history lesson and part a snapshot of America’s people.

Here’s more new books by New Hampshire authors:

Rust Belt Boy

Paul Hertneky of Hancock grew up outside of Pittsburgh in Ambridge, Penn. But his latest novel, Rust Belt Boy, will resonate from New Englanders who grew up in mill towns.

Pittsburgh had a diverse immigrant population churning out steel, glass and coal into the industrial era. By the 1970s and ’80s, economic prospects fell away and younger, educated generations moved away.

Hertneky’s memoir contains snapshots of a childhood filled with family gatherings at his grandparents’ house; the sights, sounds and work of the mills; union officials that ran the town and the melting pot culture of the region.

Blood Brother

Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace of Keene share the impressive dedication of Jonathan Daniels in Blood Brother.

During the Civil Rights Movement, John Daniels, a white seminary student, traveled to Selma, Ala., to aid blacks who wanted to register to vote.

After the voting rights marches, he said in “Bloody Lowndes” to continue to help with the civil rights movement. It was a dangerous county for freedom fighters.

Daniels was shot and killed five months later saving the life of Ruby Sales, a black teenager.

This detail-filled book includes letters, papers, photographs, notes, timeline and more. It explores what led Daniels to his death, the aftermath and trial of his murderer and overall climate of the American South in 1965.

Blood Brother will be released in September.

This isn’t the first book the husband-wife duo has co-authored. They previously wrote Babe Conquers the World, a middle-grade non-fiction story.


Gilmanton’s Bill Donahue recently published a non-fiction e-book telling the history of Ona Judge.

Judge was a slave who toiled at George Washington’s home. In 1796, she escaped and ran away to Portsmouth.

There is not much known about Judge, but Donahue pulls what information is available into a informative work.

Donahue has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic and Harper’s. His work is online at billdonahue.net.

The Land in Our Hands

Brother and sister David Lamson of Raymond and Martha Lamson Butterfield of Loudon compiled a history book on the farm their mother grew up on in The Land in Our Hands.

Della Demeritt Lamson grew up on the Burley-Demeritt Farm in Lee in the early 1900s. Della Lamsom began collecting stories and research more than 30 years ago. Her children, David and Martha, who grew up listening to the stories, decided to publish them in this volume paired with family history and genealogy dating to the 1700s.

Since 1968, the University of New Hampshire has owned the property and operates it as an organic dairy farm, but the homestead was not being used. However, university officials assigned Helen Leavitt to research it and she worked with Martha, combining their works. UNH had planned to publish the work, but shelved it due to funding problems.

Last year, David reminded Martha that the town of Lee would celebrate its sestercentennial in 2016. For the occasion, David said she ought to resume trying to publish it to share the stories of the family farm with as many people as possible.

The book has sections on the history of the farm, stories by Della Lamson, stories by David and Martha, an account of UNH’s activities at the farm, a genealogical account of the families that owned the farm and a history on the farmhouse.

The book is available at several local bookstores, including Gibson’s, and online. A condensed version is available at the Lee Selectmen’s Office.

Puckwudgie: Legend of Sunset Hill

Ralph Hutchinson explores the strange and supernatural critters living in the New Hampshire wilderness in Puckwudgie: Legend of Sunset Hill.

The titular puckwudgie are shape-shifting trouble-makers who exploit fallibility of human thinking.

Hutchinson, a Concord native now living in Berlin, has created an encyclopedia of the creatures, which also includes Little Foot, Big Foot, the Moth Man and the Black Bird of Doom.

Just Life

Mike Proctor, who lives in the North Country, shares his intimate moments with his mother in a collection of real letters they shared called, Just Life: Real Letters to Mom.

His mother, who is disabled, lives 2,000 miles away in Texas, and the letters offer a chance for the pair to reconnect.

The letters contain thoughts on religion, politics, pain, joy, finances and daily life events. They are honest and from the heart.

Neil Marshall Culinary Mysteries

Tim Hemlin, a New Hampshire native now living near Houston, recently re-released his classic series of mystery novels starring Neil Marshall.

The beginning of the series was originally published in 1996.

Neil Marshall is a soon-to-be-divorced graduate student at the University of Houston trying to make ends meet as a caterer. As is the case in mystery novels, he’s thrown into scenario hunting down clues on a horse theft, murder and betrayal.

The re-release will offer paperback and e-book formats for If Wishes Were Horses, A Whisper of Rage, People in Glass Houses, A Catered Christmas and Dead Man’s Broth.

Trailer Tales

Jane Pinel, author of Dolly: Her Story, and her husband are writing a serialized story of a family trip in a Spartan trailer set in 1952.

The story is posted chapter by chapter at janepinel.com/blog and chronicles the travels of Pinel, her husband, their 3-year-old, their 9-month-old and their dog.

Pinel says the trip was taken in a time “before seat belts, credit cards, a highway system, cell phones, (and) tires without inner tubes.”

(Sarah Kinney can be reached at skinney@cmonitor.com.)