Sunday, May 10, 2015

Welcome Hill and just another day.

It's been another busy week full of sturm und drang, various vicissitudes of life, and a few blessed moments of pleasure. The pleasure part involved not one, but two trips to Welcome Hill. And this year, I got to talk to the son of the man who started it.

A short jaunt across the river into New Hampshire brings one to a small cemetery started in the late 1770's. It is on the corner of a highway and Welcome Hill Road. The area is hilly and was home to hard scrabble farms going back into the colonial days. Occasionally, the farms would change hands. One family finally gave up and decided to sell; their land was bought by Leslie Hadlock not long before he went off to the war, the "big one'. He was stationed somewhere around the Netherlands.

As the story has it, as Mr. Hadlock returned after the war, the family in whose home he had been billeted gave him a gift - daffodil bulbs. Mr. Hadlock and his wife Marjorie began a garden. Every year they added more daffodils. On one side of the road there is a hill. On the other there is an outcropping with two benches, and a small path leading down into a dell. The woodland floor is covered in daffodils. Forsythia appears around the glade, as do a few varieties of magnolia. It is a magical place.

Mr. Hadlock passed some years ago. His wife passed a couple of years back, at the age of 102. (The obituaries had her age as 101, but her son said she was 102.) The son is now in his 70's, and has difficulty maintaining the garden; with the rest of the family farm and land there is too much to do. His children have moved away. If I had a car, I'd volunteer to help. He still has the hand painted sign that welcomed visitors, requesting they not pick the flowers - but it doesn't get put out anymore. Also gone is the tradition of putting out guest books for visitors to sign. I recall that one year the table they always used for the guest book was stolen. The younger Mr. Hadlock mentioned that his father used to greet visitors who came from around the world, and would talk with them for hours. During the war he'd seen enough of the world; after returning home, he and the Mrs. never left the farm again.

When I was a kid, May the 8th was marked in red on the calendar. Underneath the date, text used to read "VE Day". Over the years, as I grew up, the date stopped being marked and May the 8th became just another day. Once, it celebrated what was arguably the world's greatest accomplishment. On May the 7th, 1945 what was left of the German government surrendered unconditionally. Most of the nations of the world had banded together to put an end to the madness that had engulfed Europe for six years of total war. They formed the United Nations, and drew up a Declaration of Human Rights. This week's radio show took note of that day 70 years ago, still within the lifetime of people who lived it. Listen in - after a couple of songs du jour, to the music and news of a remarkable week, and a day that used to be marked in red on the calendar.


Anonymous said...

you are right...that area is magical. We watched some of the celebrations around the globe on the of our Guelph veterans was invited to Holland for the festivities there.

sdt (a.k.a. stevil) said...

Delores - sorry for the late reply - I'm delighted to hear that the rest of the world took note of VE day and its meaning. Here in the States, I heard a quick mention of it on exactly one network news show. If I remember right it included a visual clip of modern aircraft flying in formation. That was it. If I'd had the time I should have expressed a few sentiments about that in a blog post. But ultimately, considering what seems to be an intentional disregard of history and education by U.S. media (most of which is now controlled by 6 corporations)it's little more than shouting into the wind.