Here it is November 16th already. How did that happen this year? It just came so quickly. Before I get started telling you about my very interesting, always unexpected week in Londonderry, I just need to re-visit a couple little things. Here goes:
Last week politics were a big focus and I mentioned that we should say “thank you” and “congratulations” to all the men and women that won various positions at our polls. Throughout the week, that bothered me. We should not forget to say “thank you” to everyone that ran. People that weren’t elected this time need our “thank you”’s even more. All the good people trying to help our town and state, they need to know we appreciate all the effort they put into running; we should never ignore that either. Politics can be thankless win or lose, but we all keep forging on because we know that great things and changes come through the use of our political system.
The other thing we need to go back to is, what business did start over 35 years ago where Café Teresa’s is now? It made me feel so good that people liked a question from the past and were talking about it. I even had 3 comments! How great is that! The cutest thing was when I called one of our first Attorneys in town to take a chance on Londonderry, John Michaels and his wife Nancy. Michaels and Michaels Law Firm.
Attorney Michaels has been working with me for almost three years now trying to settle a dear elderly friend of mine’s estate. Years ago Gertie had asked me if I would be her executrix. In my thirties I said yes and then the day came. Just another note that I hope helps someone out there. Really think long and hard if someone asks you to be an executrix for them (and I know when love and duty step in, saying no probably is not an option), but if they do, ask the right questions before their life changes. My dear friend had told me for years that everything was in order, a complete will done, nothing I had to do at all really. Dear Goodness, check and double check and don’t be afraid to ask to see the paper work, even have copies of everything ahead of time yourself.
When my dear friend passed away, I went to the locations she had told me about, found everything just as she said, but soon realized the will that I thought I had been done at an attorney’s office, was simply done in handwriting and notarized without witnesses, from a local bank. To make a very long story short, if you don’t have a will for your family, YOU HAVE TO GET ONE DONE! And DONE RIGHT! Our state is very difficult to work with if everything is not done EXACTLY right. My poor friend had gotten the wrong advice from the notary (they forgot to tell her that she would need two witnesses for it to hold up in court) and because of that her handwritten will was invalid. The reason I called Attorney Michaels was because, three years later, we are still trying to do the right thing and honor my friend’s wishes. Attorney Michaels really should have washed his hands of this a year ago, but he and his staff continue to help. I know some of you are thinking, Oh of course they would for the money; sadly there has been no money left for quite away. Very sad, but on a happy note, when I called Attorney Michaels before we started talking about this legal matter he spent a few minutes telling me that he is enjoying my On The Road and that he was trying to answer my trivia question! Then in the background I could hear his wife Nancy, Sue and Joanne trying to figure it out too.
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The answer is……… drum roll……………. The Village Deli. John said that after that it had become Shannigans and then a place called Scooter’s. I don’t remember these well. The funny thing is that I can remember John and Nancy coming into the Village Deli when I worked there and they had just moved to Londonderry as a young couple just starting out. I was probably 15. John and Nancy have kept their business here in town, raised their families her, live here and continue to be devoted to our community.
I really didn’t have Michaels and Michaels on my list for this week, but now the story of my friend Gertie is leading me to a very quiet, widely unknown business in our town that has been serving us for years; Hepworth Memorials. They are located right on McAllister Drive, but we all pass them probably everyday on Route 102. They are located almost across from our Post Office. Trivia question this week, what is the family name that owns it? Strangely as I type, my friend Gertie did really believe she had everything in order. She had even gone into Hepworth Memorial long before she became ill and ordered her own headstone, picked the color, ordered where she would be buried; everything. And I will say this part of being executrix was very easy for me. My husband John met with Jason and took care of everything exactly as Gertie had wanted it to be.
What I love about walking into Hepworth Memorials is that it is welcoming and peaceful. Oh, I hate that I used the word peaceful; everyone always uses that word about funerals and death. I’m changing that to cheerful, light, and inviting. This may sound silly, but once you open the door you notice to your right a table set up with coffee or tea and beautiful real mugs that feel nice in your hands. (Remember, I was a home economics teacher for years, and those little things mean a lot in setting a tone or presence.) When you look to your left, there is Jason probably getting up from his desk to welcome you and shake your hand. You won’t feel rushed and you will feel cared for. Jason will plan your memorial needs with you. He can design exactly what people want on all different types of stone.
If you stop in, notice the picture of a memorial with a beautiful quilt on the side of the stone. When I looked at the picture I thought it was a memorial blanket laying on the side of the head stone, as Gertie had requested me to do for her. This wasn’t. I was shocked- out of granite Jason designed a beautiful, colorful, quilt that had the same patterns as a quilt that the grandma had made and loved for her family. If you see it, you will agree it looks as though you could take the quilt off and use it. What a beautiful tribute to the grandma and her love.
Jason also explained to me that if you just need a name added to a stone, a design, or changes, they can do all that for you too. They go to the location for your, it does not have to be moved or altered. I think for some of us, we almost try not to notice Hepworth Memorials; if we don’t look directly at the stones on the front lawn area, or notice the sign, maybe it will ward off the inevitable for a good long while. Just know that Hepworth is there, if you like to plan ahead as Gertie did to make things easier for loved ones later, stop in. If you’re just curious about that picture of the quilt, stop by; Jason would love to say hello and tell you about his business.
Enough advice from me. I never quite know where my story will go, which is just like my week on the Road for Visit Londonderry. Almost every day I start out with a list (just like the list that is next to me as I type) of who I will visit that day, but it almost always happens that one conversations leads me in a completely different direction which is something I am so grateful for and love. It’s definitely much better when you have a list, but the older I get I really believe sometimes the best things happen when you are not glued to your list!
One of the greatest things we have done at Visit Londonderry happened this week. Our first Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. We were all a little green as to how this would work, but when the day arrived Tuesday at 10:30, it all came together. Again not exactly the way I had planned it with my list, but much better! I hope you read about it in the Union Leader on Wednesday. April , a gifted reporter for the Union Leader is at everything for our town. She made Gigi and her family realize what a great restaurant and story they have brought to Londonderry. April wrote in her story that Gigi’s family had owned Brother’s pizza in Manchester years ago. Well here is where the world gets small again.
Last night our dear friend Bart wanted to treat my family to dinner at Gigi’s. He really wanted to try the Thursday special Lamb Shank. While Bart and I were waiting for our order, the man next to us starting telling me how he read about Gigi’s in the paper. He said he had no idea they were the owners of Brother’s, which had been his favorite restaurant for years. He was so excited to find Bill and Gigi and their delicious cooking again. My hat goes off to April! Again, I don’t know how she seems to be everywhere for everyone, but she is, and she has a way of bringing the best parts of a story to us. She is a gift to our community. Now you might be wondering, “Great, but how was the lamb shank?” Delicious, and when you toss in those Greek style potatoes, vegetables and rice. Oh MY! Thank You Bart!
I have to go back to the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for just a minute. Gigi and her family had invited a dear friend to attend, her name is Yiota. I knew Yiota looked very familiar. Seeing people outside of the place you know them from often throws us off. It was Yiota from our own Avandi’s Restaurant right on Route 102. She explained to me that she and Gigi had met when they were young girls, both waitressing and making their way with their husbands here in New Hampshire; they had all come from Greece. They have been dear friends for years and both feel that the other is an amazing cook! I hugged Yiota when I realized it was her, because through the years we have had many wonderful meals there.
Avandi’s was one of my mom’s favorite places in town. My mom, Pearl, completely loved Avandi’s breakfasts. Mom always wanted her food hot and especially her morning coffee. Avandi’s was always fresh and hot just the way she liked it. What I also always think of with Avandi’s is how many times through the years I have walked in, of course at a time that is convenient for me often not them, asking for donations for this school project or that school auction and they always find a way to help. Yiota asked how she could get involved with Visit Londonderry, so we met the next day.
Avandi’s is another place, I’m a little embarrassed to type, that I haven’t stopped by there in about a year. Time just moves so quickly. When I walked in the door, just like the last time, I was greeted with another beautiful smile, one of my students from LHS, Tammy. Tammy has been working for Avandi’s for 8 of the 15 years they have been opened. She reminded me of when she and I tried making Baklava in my Gourmet Cooking Class. We both laughed and said that was the first and last time either of us had made it! It truly is a labor of love and a lot of work. Tammy said that she loves working for Yiota and Teddy. She also just out of the blue compared Avandi’s to an old show many of us loved Cheers.
Tammy said, “This place is like a Second Cheers; Everyone knows your name.” How neat is that? And as I sat talking about Visit Londonderry, so many people went by; and yes most people were on a first name bases! Tammy told me they have many regular groups that come every week. The Red Hat group in town, Veterans’ gatherings, and many others. What I have always loved and respected is that like so many of our businesses in town, they are family run. Through the years, their children have worked there and they hire our kids and support our local community.
That’s what it is all about, and that’s why I am so passionate about what Steve Young and Kathy Wagner have created in Visit Londonderry. They have given all our businesses, our churches, farms, non-profits, and schools a way to share their stories and are reminding all of us all the good we have right here in our own backyards and in and around New Hampshire. Visit Londonderry is all about all of us, our young and our older, our families, our big and small businesses, searching for good and not dwelling on the negative. We are such a great place to Live, Work and Play when we all work together.
Oh before I forget, I heard this on the radio as I was driving around town. I had no idea that this Saturday is called “Small Business Saturday”. They are trying to honor our small businesses and this is day that has been named to remind all of us to stop in, pick up something you need and yes maybe even thank them for being there! If you’re like I was, I think I naively thought that, just because someone owns their own business, they are making bundles of money. I have learned from being on the road that most of these businesses that support us and our community are just staying afloat, especially in this economy. Many of these people have taken a great chance, using everything they have to offer a service they believe in while trying to just make ends meet for their families. Stop in if you can on this special Saturday. I wish I could list them all, Charlie’s Cycle Shop, Training Effects, Creative Fitness, Pack and Ship, Curves, Richter’s Jewelry, Blackberry Bakery, Superwok, Oxford Learning, on and on.
Oh Dear, now I just checked an I am already at four pages for this week, and I still have so much more to tell you. Maybe I’ll end with just the rest of my “list” and that will help me to not take up so much of your time reading. Here goes and I will try to stick to it this time:
-Apple Tree Cinema; I met Lacey the new general manager. Lacey has been with our cinema for 8 years. She is a beautiful first time mom to be. She listened and loved the idea of Visit Londonderry; she’ll have to send it up to the corporation level though. I shared with Lacey that John and I were heading back in that night Wednesday, because John really wanted to see the new 007 movie on the big screen. I told her that they have the best movie theater popcorn around, and that I love that they still pop it fresh! The movie was great, snacks the best, but the seats that even rock, so comfortable. So great that we could drive 10min from house and watch the movie right in our own town.
-The WorkOut Club; Ed Guldin, the Area General Manager. I just realized that I was probably one of the first members of the Derry Club! The WorkOut Club is a great haven for so many families in our area. John and I first signed up with Ed, when our children were little. How great is it that they offer childcare right in the club, and at our location the pool and therapeutic Jacuzzi. Swimming lessons and birthday parties are such a part of our family members at the WorkOut Club. The owners are also very blessed that Ed has stayed with them all these years. I don’t know Ed personally, but through the years, he has always been professional, always willing to listen to our thoughts or concerns, and will make time whenever you need him. He smiles and is warm to all of us who walk through the door. I just want him to know how much the members appreciate him! Did you know he is a Londonderry Graduate also?
-VERY IMPORTANT: Details from Lisa at the YMCA about the Poinsettia sales! They are collecting orders from now until November 30th. You can pick them up on Dec. 4th at the YMCA. They are offering three sizes! Many great comments from those who purchased them last year. Great thing, too, our own Orchard Hill Greenhouse is providing them! I didn’t know about this last year but I’m calling today; 437 -9622.
-VERY IMPORTANT: Craig at Pack and Ship is collecting coats for Verani Real Estate’s annual coat drive and Toys for Tots, too.
-Don’t forget, Ed and Trisha, the owners at IronWorks, are still offering their professional therapeutic messages at the two for one price, which is already so low, $65 for a full hour plus an extra one to be used at another time and you can even give it as a gift for the holidays. There is not a better deal around!
-Etiquette With Deborah; If you haven’t already read Debbie’s story on Thanksgiving Etiquette. Debbie is offering a much needed service and we are so lucky she’s right here in Londonderry. My friend Marion and I have talked about there being such a need for this today for years. Children and many adults of all ages need to learn and be reminded about the basic social niceties that make everything better and appreciated. Kind of like the cups I wrote about at Jason’s business. The littlest things can/do set a tone. Read Debbie’s column, give her a call, get a bunch of neighborhood kids together for one of her classes. Whether it’s about manners, preparing for college, or getting that first job, finally someone is here to remind us all in a fun, loving and positive way! Welcome Debbie, we are glad you’re here!
Now to end for this week. Happy, Happy Thanksgiving and as we all shop for our families, if you can, maybe buy an extra turkey, make a donation to our local food pantry, or just buy a gift certificate and leave it in a home’s mailbox that could use a little extra help these days.
I am Grateful for all of you out there who would even take the time to read this, my family, and our town. Thank You. -With A Grateful Heart Sherry
The amazing thing about being part of Visit Londonderry is that I never know exactly where a week will lead. Even though I have lived here since the 60′s, grew up at Kendalwood Condos, taught at the High School, and raised my family here, each day I learn something special about our community. One thing is for sure, Londonderry is the best place to Live, Work and Play! Each week I will share with you some of the amazing businesses and things I have learned about Londonderry.
Sherry is an account manager for the Londonderry Commerce and Visitors Center. You can follow her at Twitter.com/Sherry_CVC