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Scarecrows celebrate history of New Boston

NEW BOSTON — The past and the present can be seen in the faces of the scarecrows that surround the gazebo in the village as this year's Scarecrow Alley helps celebrate the town's 250th anniversary.

Standing proudly before the historical marker that tells the history of the Molly Stark Cannon are scarecrows representing New Boston Historical Society founder Rena Davis, and one of the town's most important historical figures, J.R. Whipple.

According to historical society member Lisa Rothman, Davis was instrumental in getting the society started in the 1960s while the town was celebrating its bicentennial.

"She lived in New Boston most of her life," said Rothman. "There's not a lot of famous women in town, but we knew we wanted her."

Rothman's husband Dan, also a member of the society, said that though Davis has passed away, she has left a treasure trove of information about the town's past through her handwritten notes and the numerous columns she wrote for the Goffstown News over the years.

"She was an amazing lady," said Dan Rothman.

Next to Davis is a scarecrow representing J.R. Whipple, a man who was born and raised in New Boston and went away to the city of Boston to make his fortune in the hotel business, but never forgot his roots, Dan Rothman said.

To feed guests at his three hotels, including the Parker House, Whipple started buying up farms in New Boston when farmers in the area were struggling. On 2,500 acres he raised cows, pigs and chickens to feed the folks back in Boston, and employed dozens of local people at a time when jobs were scarce.

"He was also instrumental in bringing the railroad to New Boston," said Dan Rothman.

The trains would come into town to pick up pork, chicken and beef destined for the city, and would drop off the slop from the leftovers to feed the pigs.

"It was the best kind of recycling," Dan Rothman said.

"These are two people who did so much for the heritage of the town," said Betsy Whitman, vice-chair of the historical society. "This was the first time we ever put an exhibit at Scarecrow Alley, but I don't expect it will be the last."

Scarecrow Alley is co-sponsored each year by the recreation department and the Whipple Free Library, named for J.R. Whipple. Families and organizations throughout town come together each year to build a dynamic display of scarecrows that are judged by residents.

The three winners are named on Halloween. The scarecrows run the gamut from a fellow named "Spongebob Strawpants" to a scarecrow pulling a sled in memory of the October Surprise snow storm of 2011.

Lisa Rothman said that the society's scarecrows were the brainchild of Betty Poltrack, 92, a longtime member of the society who was persistent in her efforts to create a display on behalf of the organization.

She went to the dump and found Styrofoam to make the birthday cake in the display, and worked with Diane Sawyer and Nonah Poole, also members of the society, to put the scarecrows together.

"They really put a lot of thought into it," said Lisa Rothman. "And they're taking it very seriously. They expect to win."


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