Thursday, May 26, 2011

"May 26, 1961": 50th Anniversary of an important high school field trip for me (hint: Mt. Washington, NH)

This is the Golden Anniversary of May 26, 1961, which was a Friday, and a very important date for my “first coming.” On Memorial Day Weekend, 1961, about ten of us in the Science Honor Society at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA took a field trip to Mount Washington, New Hampshire.

We left in two cars, one driven by the Henle family, and the other by the physics teacher, Herman Oberle, and headed for the New Jersey Turnpike on a dreary day. We played “Ghost” in the car. (I don’t remember how to play it now.)  We stayed in a motel on Commonwealth Ave. in Boston .  I remember hearing on a car radio that the “new” Washington Senators had beaten the “old” Senators (the transplanted Minnesota Twins) 4-3 that night, at old Griffith Stadium, in the last year of its life.

Saturday, we drove up to Center Sandwich, NH and stayed in a large country home owned then by the Henle family (which was, thankfully for me, into classical music, but mostly baroque, no Mahler then – the “mom” loved the Brandenberg Concertos).     Saturday evening, we climbed the miniscule Rattlesnake Peak near a lake near the home. There was an intention to climb the mountain Sunday through Tuckerman (4700 foot elevation change from Pinkham Notch, about 6 hours), but Mr. Oberle nixed it because of weather reports. So we drove up (in the parent's and physics teacher's personal cars). But we got to experience the 100mph winds at the summit and see the observatory.  And yes, there was plenty of rime ice and snow left on the summit, even that late.  Sunday afternoon, I stayed back with a sore throat, as the others climbed Mount Chicorua, about 3600 feet as I remember.   (I would make up for it in late January 1965, climbing Mt. Greylock in MA with snowshoes with many of the same people on another bus trip.)

Monday, May 29, we drove back and watched a Memorial Day parade in Tilton, NH, and returned home Tuesday.  I recall being impressed with the level of industry (oil terminals and railroads) visible then along the NJ Turnpike in the northern part, and we detoured through rural Delaware; the Bay Bridge was not yet built, as I recall.

I had a “roommate” on the two nights (Friday and Monday) in the Boston motel, and the topic was the world of dating girls, and what a revelation that was soon to be. It wasn’t.

Another good friend, a good student but not in the SHS, took his peers on a church retreat in the Canaan Valley area of West Virginia, and said it had actually snowed there Memorial Day weekend.

I did not go to the senior prom, and had no interest in such an “Event” that today is a (heterosexual) highlight in most seniors’ lives (enough to become the subject of discipline in some school systems).  In those days, the “popular music” there was dull by today’s standards (no Lady Gaga yet), although “The Twist” was soon to appear.

Here’s the website for Alumni of Washington-Lee high school (link)

Wikipedia attribution link for Mt. Washington Cog Railway picture   (used on Labor Day, 1976).


Below, a couple more pictures of New Hampshire from the 1940s from my parents' home movies (estate property, now mine for copyright purposes):

and "The Old Man in the Mountain"

and cabins that resembled the Henle property in the Sandwich area (but not the same):

Update: July 13, 2011

Monday July 11 (one day after my 68th birthday) I made it to the Mt. Washington Summit, with the help of the $25 coach ride up the Auto Road from Route 16 (100 miles even from Concord, 2-1/2 hour drive). It was in the low 60s, muggy, foggy and windy on top, but not cold; it was comfortable. It was about 90 F in the valley at 10 AM, a very hot day.  But I have many other pictures and will process some video soon.
More fog:
Visibility in this shot was about 30 feet.
The cograil train, $45 each way (compare to Wikipedia picture above).

Some real scenery:

Or this:
Here is the weather station. We got to see it in 1961 with the physics teacher having arranged to the tour; today we couldn't get in without a prearranged tour
;Here is some scenery near Center Sandwich NH, where the Henle House was:
And here is Bearcamp Pond (I think Rattlesnake Mountain, which we climbed Sat. night, is behind it)
As I noted, some of the "kids" climbed Chicorua Sun PM.  I missed better shots from Highway 16.

Monday morning, Memorial Day, I recall that we enjoyed the March in downtown Tilton, NH, near Laconia.

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