Franklin Historical Society-- Franklin, New Hampshire
As 2018 fades into the past, to move inevitably into 2019, the Society celebrated another successful year at its traditional pot-luck Christmas Dinner. Although not as well attended as some past fetes, all who turned out certainly enjoyed the camaraderie of good friends, a round of lively seasonal carols, and a delicious turkey repast with all the trimmings. Now the task at hand is to construct 2019’s schedule of informative and entertaining programs, a list of projects to bring public attention to the service the Society provides, and encourage members to become more active in the Society’s mission. To help accomplish these goals, a meeting will be held next month of all board members and officers, the date and time to be determined.
Before moving to the heart of this article, the Society wishes to thank those who have recently donated material for its collections. To Paul Trudel, for a milk bottle from the Pleasant Street Farm; Rita Norander, for a set of 27 postcards, written between 1937-1941, to Ben LaPlante of scenes in Mooseheart, Illinois, regarding Order of the Moose meetings in Franklin; to Mary Foley, for a Centennial (1995) license plate numbered “44” and a lidded plastic jar memento from the 50th reunion of FHS Class of 1948; and to Annette Cain, for film negatives labeled “Campton Pond”, “Concessions at new beach 1957”, “Tarring Griffin Rd.”, “Webster Lake”, and “Graduation and Class Day Parade 1951”, thank you! The Society graciously accepts these gifts with appreciative gratitude.
As a departure from the normal form these articles have taken over the years, this particular edition will focus on one of the Society’s own. A valued member, historian, author, and preservationist, this is a tribute to all of his efforts to keep history in the forefront of the city’s consciousness. Andy Nadeau has been singled out in the past as a Franklin Citizen of the Year. He was a longtime member of the Franklin Fire Department, where he put his life on the line on a daily basis as a first responder to protect life and property of this city’s residents. And now, as a retired firefighter, he has continuously campaigned to protect and honor the tradition and legacy of the department for which he worked, and of the city he loves. Andy’s drive to chronicle, in print, the history of the Franklin Fire Department, St. Paul’s Church, the early mills along the Winnipesaukee River, and the railroads which serviced the area, may not be all that well known. Even those who have read, enjoyed, and learned from the books he published, probably never considered the amount of work behind such an endeavor, the level of dedication, or the passion that drove him to record, for posterity, the stories he believed important to save. This article is an attempt to say “Thank you, Andy”. Your books serve as testament to your enduring love of the city that was your home, your families home, and our home.
Andy was also instrumental in creating the standing legacy of the department he cherished which, in past years, has somewhat faded into the shadows, and become one of Franklin’s seemingly “best kept secrets”, the Franklin Firefighters Museum. Opened in 1987, with a new memorial stone dedicated to all firefighters added in 1988 (see accompanying photos), the museum’s contents virtually tell the tale of Franklin’s firefighting history with artifacts, vehicles, documents and images, all brought to life by Andy during guided tours. Listening to him explain the backstory to everything in the museum left no doubt how important preserving this heritage is to Andy, and should be to the next generations. Unfortunately, not all the current firefighters have inherited Andy’s ebullience about the past, and the future of the museum may be doubt. The Franklin Historical Society, with Steve Foley, retired deputy Chief of the F.F.D., and its president, Leigh Webb, has agreed to work with Andy, the firefighters, the incoming chief (Chief Kevin LaChapelle retired at the end of December, and will be missed), and any other interested parties, to make sure that the contributions of Franklin’s firefighters past are never forgotten. The service they provide, have provided, and will continue to provide, should never be relegated to hazy memories, or worse, no memories at all.
Thank you Andy, for all you do. Let it not be in vain.
[Photos for this month all come from Andy Nadeau’s collection, all now in the Society’s archives. They are two color photos from 2011 of the exterior and interior of the Franklin Firefighters Museum, a B&W shot of the Firefighters Memorial Stone after it was installed in 1988, and a 1987 B&W shot of Andy and Steve Foley, next to the oldest piece of firefighting equipment preserved in the Museum]