As some of you know, I got stranded in Groveton, NH while I was waiting for a reman transmission to be delivered.
It was hot, humid, and a very different culture than what I was used to. The local folks weren’t exactly welcoming…not mean, just uninterested in connecting with outsiders.
Even after ten days there, the only folks I had to talk to were the guys at the mechanic shop (where I was basically living) and the librarians, as I was a frequent visitor there.
Still, there among these two populations there were a number of surprise kindnesses. One of the librarians, upon hearing that I had no place to shower and that I’d been having to wash up in the river, brought a little “clean-up” care package with her to the library – a towel, washcloth, and little containers of soap and shampoo – so I could clean up in the large sink in the basement of the library. Chris, the owner of the shop that was fixing my car, did everything from offering to tow me for free if I went somewhere local with my car and broke down, to sending one of his guys on a more than 200-mile round trip to pick up my transmission that had gone MIA, to offering me a (free) ride to the nearest airport (which wasn’t anywhere nearby) when it looked like it might be a month before the part might come.
Like Berlin, NH, Groveton was a company town that depended on the local paper mill for its economy. Once the mill closed down in 2008, just about everyone lost their jobs. The trains that frequented the town also stopped coming through. Everywhere around the tiny town, vestiges of the old train network can be seen, abandoned.
There was talk about turning the mill into a biomass plant, but eventually it just got sold for scrap metal.
It’s been more than a month since I spent my fortnight there, but I still dream about it sometimes. Last night was one of those times (hence the inspo for this post).