May 11, 2003: State geologist David Wunsch offers an early theory as to why the Old Man of the Mountain may have tumbled from Cannon Mountain, the Monitor reports. A piece of the Old Man’s granite-hewn Adam’s apple that anchored the formation may have come loose, causing the chin to dislodge and the rest of the rock face to just fall away from the cliff.
May 11, 2001: Dartmouth College announces it is permanently stripping the 48-member Zeta Psi fraternity of all campus recognition. The decision is prompted by two newsletters printed by the fraternity. One describes members’ sexual escapades with women. The other promises that a future issue will give one member’s “patented date rape techniques.”
May 11, 1900: Norris Cotton is born. Cotton will become editor of the Granite Monthly and a lawyer in Concord before his political career. He will serve numerous terms in the New Hampshire House, including one as speaker, then go to Washington as a congressman (1947-54) and senator (1954-75).
May 12, 2000: Nineteen-year-old Adam Petty, the fourth generation of NASCAR’s most famous family, dies after a crash during a practice run at New Hampshire International Speedway. It is the first fatality at a NASCAR-sanctioned event at the Loudon track.
May 12, 1903: In a referendum, voters in Concord and New Hampshire’s other cities approve the licensing of liquor sales. Prohibition, honored in the breach, has been in effect since 1855, but the manufacture of spirits is permitted. The licensing referendum passes in 60 towns, but 144 others vote to stay dry. Voter turnout is 75%.
May 12, 1864: At Spottsylvania Courthouse, Col. Simon G. Griffin, former commander of the 6th New Hampshire Regiment, saves the day by leading his brigade against the attack of a larger Confederate force with “indomitable obstinacy.” For this action, General Ulysses S. Grant nominates him for promotion, and Griffin receives his brigadier general’s star.
May 13, 2003: In a bold move, the Senate Judiciary Committee strips the parental notification provision from the House parental notification bill and instead passes an amended bill that outlines the required counseling a minor must receive before she can have an abortion.
May 13, 2002: In an effort to entice its sophomores to perform better on the state’s standardized tests, Concord High School offers the incentives of bagels, apple pie and candy bars, as well as entry into a lottery for more than $1,200 in prizes and gift certificates donated by downtown merchants. “They pretty much bribed us to do well,” says Meagan Jameson, 17.
May 13, 1774: The New Hampshire Gazette of Portsmouth reports that the king has closed the port of Boston.
May 13, 1977: The Seabrook 1,414 are released 14 days after their protest. Under an arrangement with prosecutors, they plead guilty and are sentenced to two weeks in jail and fined $100.
May 14, 2002: At a dedication ceremony for the grand opening of the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord, firefighters demonstrate theirs skills on a simulated jet crash.
May 14, 1964: The new Hampshire Education Association reports that teacher salaries in new Hampshire are more than $700 below the national average: $5,216 versus $5,963.
May 14, 1846: The New Hampshire Patriot advises Concord that the United States has declared war on Mexico. New Hampshire will enlist a battalion of 389 men, including Concord’s Fire Engine Co. No. 2 and three Patriot printers.
May 14, 1726: Having made camp near the Merrimack River the night before, a surveying party of 34 men from Haverhill, Mass., fans out in the fields and woods of what will one day be Concord.
May 14, 1993: A mother and her children narrowly avoid death when a fast-moving fire rips through their Royal Gardens apartment. Fire investigators will later report that half the fire alarms at the complex don’t work.
May 14, 1839: Birth of David Arthur Brown, leader of the Fisherville Cornet Band in Penacook and of Brown’s Band, which will become one of the finest musical acts in the state. The band will play at the unveiling of the Hannah Dustin monument in Penacook.
May 15, 2003: Merrimack Valley High school is named the 2003 New Hampshire High School Representative of Excellence by the New Hampshire Excellence in Education Awards Program (the “ED“ies for short). Speaking at a school assembly principal Pam Burke says “This has got to be the most wonderful day in my professional career. You kids, year after year, are the reason we’re here. We’ve always been so proud of you. I’m just so glad the entire state knows who you are.”
May 15, 2002: Health and Human Services Commissioner Don Shumway will leave his job July 31 to head Crotched Mountain Foundation, a Greenfield-based nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, the Monitor reports. Shumway, 51, has overseen the state’s largest agency, which employs 3,400 people and spends $1.4 billion annually, since Gov. Jeanne Shaheen appointed him to the job in February 1999.
May 15, 2001: Education Commissioner Nicholas Donohue says the state has received 56 requests from school districts seeking to shorten their academic year because of accumulated snow days. The number of requests has “easily doubled” last year’s, he says.
May 15, 1726 At Sugar Ball in East Concord, Enoch Coffin, a Congregationalist minister, preaches at the first Christian service in the future Concord. His congregation is a group of men who have come from Massachusetts Bay Colony to survey the Plantation of Penny Cook.
May 15, 1727 A Congregational church, Concord’s first, is ready for occupancy. It is a 40-by-25-foot log structure at North Main and Chapel streets. The logs are thick enough to be bullet-proof, and the church, though windowless, has port-holes through which to shoot Indians.
May 15, 1903 – Philip Ayres, a forester traveling the White Mountains to document conditions, reports that fires are burning out of control, with flames encircling the town of Whitefield. In some places the smoke is so thick that buildings cannot be seen 50 yards away, and fine white ash falls from the sky like rain. Within three weeks, ash and smoke from the forest fires will be fouling laundry on clotheslines as far south as Manchester. By the time the fires burn themselves out, 310 square miles will be destroyed.
May 15, 1979 – Speaking to the Concord Rotary, presidential candidate Bob Dole quips: “I don’t belong to any organized group. I’m a Republican.”
May 15, 1987 – The New Hampshire House kills Gov. John H. Sununu’s pet amendment to make AIDS testing mandatory for all couples applying for marriage licenses.
May 15, 1908 – Unable to keep up with the Concord City Auditorium for live shows, Manager Ben White of White’s Opera House begins showing continuous motion pictures and illustrated songs every day but Sunday. Admission is a dime for adults a nickel for children. The songs are by Fred Rushlow. This venture will prove an immense success.
May 15, 1983: Auditions for an amateur production of Annie draw 23 little girls to Concord’s Phenix Theatre. “You need not be afraid. None of us can sing so whatever you can do will be fine,” says producer Norman Leger.
May 15, 1944 – A taxicab in Laconia strikes and kills a pedestrian. The man is 67-year-old James Smith, who happens to be the father of Lieutenant Commander J. Stuart Smith Jr., the first Laconian killed in action in World War II.
May 15, 1990 – White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu makes the cover of Time magazine.
State lottery officials announce that the winning Powerball ticket – worth nearly $80 million – was purchased at P.K. Zyla’s Texaco station on Weirs Boulevard.
May 16, 2003: The 22nd annual Winni Derby gets underway. The three-day fishing competition on Lake Winnipesaukee draws 2,700 fishermen from as far away as Alaska.
May 16, 2001: Republican Sen. Ted Gatsas makes a pitch to his colleagues to allow video slot machines at state liquor stores. A hearing on his proposed legislation draws many more opponents than supporters.
May 16, 1893 – After a sensational trial in the killing of a young woman who jilted him, Frank C. Almy, also known as George Abbott, is executed at the state prison. He is the ninth man hanged in New Hampshire and the last before capital punishment is repealed. It will be resumed in 1916. The execution is botched, the rope slipping over Almy’s head as he falls. Over his protests, he is quickly hanged again – and efficiently. There are rumors afterward that Almy’s body has been stolen, but Warden George W. Colbath assures the public that he knows precisely where it is buried.
May 16, 1987: Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis brings his presidential campaign to Keene, where a crowd of 150 come out to hear him speak. He is grilled about his penchant for taking credit for the “Massachusetts Miracle.”
May 16, 1988 – Gov. John H. Sununu announces he will not seek a fourth two-year term. Sununu’s heir-apparent is U.S. Rep. Judd Gregg.
May 16, 1818: Birth of Nehemiah Sleeper Bean in Gilmanton. Bean will grow up to invent the Amoskeag steam fire engine, built in Manchester and sold around the world.
May 17, 2003: Speaking at the graduation ceremony for Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry urges the 206 graduates that it is their responsibility to practice law in a way that would halt the growing suspicion of the profession. “This law degree, particularly from Franklin Pierce Law Center, doesn’t give you the privilege of standing apart from our society, just taking care of your self,” Kerry says. “It demands that you give meaning to the word citizen.”
May 17, 2002: James Parker and Robert Tulloch, the teenagers who murdered two Dartmouth College professors, felt smarter than others, even like gods, and were training for a life above morality and the, perhaps as professional assassins, according to police interviews released today.
May 17, 2001: Local energy experts say they are mystified by a Bush administration report suggesting that New Hampshire is at risk for summer blackouts. The state actually generates far more electricity than it consumes. Eventually the White House will acknowledge its error.
May 17, 1995: Concord Police Chief David Walchak calls on Gov. Steve Merrill to veto the Legislature’s decision to join the multi-state lottery Powerball. “We’re disappointed in the Legislature for passing it,” says Walchak, a leading member of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, “and we’re disappointed with anybody who permits the expansion of gambling in New Hampshire.”
May 17, 1765 – News of the Stamp Act reaches Portsmouth. The act is the first ever to impose levies on the colonies’ internal affairs, including taxes on newspapers, marriage licenses and playing cards. Protests begin immediately.
May 17, 1943 – A bill is introduced in the New Hampshire House to dump all conscientious objectors “on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.”
May 17, 1983: Sculptor Dimitri Gerakaris oversees the installation of the steel arch at the entrance to Eagle Square. It is not an instant hit. “It looks like someone’s nightmare that hasn’t been completed,” says one passerby. “It’s art, Arthur,” corrects his wife.
May 17, 1851: For a second time, Concord voters refuse to turn their town into a city. The vote is 582 against and 139 in favor. Two years later, they will change their minds.
May 17, 1861 Private Arthur Cline of Lyme, a member of the First New Hampshire Infantry Regiment, dies of disease. At sunset, his regiment forms a funeral procession in Concord. Cline was 19 years old. His is the first of four deaths the regiment will suffer, all of illness, before it returns from its three-month enlistment without having fought a battle.