Number Twenty Three: New Hampshire

You don’t need to scratch much below the surface to know that everywhere is a mixed bag (and this may be a mixed metaphor.) Somehow the contrasts seemed nearer the surface in in New Hampshire: spectacular scenery and private trash dumps; luxurious spill-over out of Massachusetts and distressed areas out of the Depression; the democratic tradition of the Primary and museums dedicated to WWII propaganda. (Tweak the names and faces a little and the propaganda seems discouragingly current.)

The weather happened to be foggy so the scenery we saw was close up; not Mt. Washington (been there, seen that, don’t have the t-shirt.)

Having recently been in Ohio, the name of the Wright Museum of WWII seemed like a mixed metaphor but it was surprisingly good and probably an accurate reflection of the life and times.  Apparently, Jeeps have fascinated me for almost as long as there have been Jeeps. For me, it has been 70 years or a little more.

Even tandem bikes and Donald Duck were called on to promote rationing. I especially like the newspaper in one hand and a pitchfork in the other. That wouldn’t work for either.

Willys won the contract to produce Jeeps for the War but couldn’t keep up. Ford was brought in to help and produced exactly the same vehicle except for the name stamp on the tailgate. How many kids can you put in the back of this, without the bench seat?

Here is an interesting tidbit. Because so many people suddenly had high paying war jobs, they wanted to buy stuff again. This caused shortages of consumer goods, thus increasing prices, thus spiraling inflation. (There were also the issues of conversion of factories to making jeeps, tanks, ships, guns, etc. instead of cars and refrigerators and the demand of the war for things like gasoline and rubber.) Thus rationing.

There was also a shortage of workers, and thus women in the workforce. To prevent any misinterpretation, “WOW” is “Woman Ordnance Worker”.

(I’m coming to the point). All this meant that employers were competing for what workers there were. Offering higher wages than the other guy attracted workers but meant more inflation. Thus wage and price controls.

Because employers couldn’t offer higher wages, they had to try other things. Thus employer-based health insurance. Given the world as it existed 75 years ago, this was a huge benefit. Given the world as it exists today, it is a huge drain on small business.

But our ‘Expedition of Discovery’, with apologies to Lewis and Clark, is about bike rides. We rode the Northern Rail Trail; I hope they didn’t pay a lot to whoever dreamt that name up. We ran out of time dodging showers so we did two parts of the trail on two days, 27 miles east of Lebanon and 24 miles near Franklin and Tilton. The loose limestone was part of the reason we were slow.

In addition to the standard stuff (overhanging trees, bridges, rivers, lakes, New England farmsteads, and old mills), someone along this trail had a sense of humor.

 

But New Hampshire is special. Doré’s little sister Eileen ran away to New Hampshire almost 50 years ago and now her family thinks that is home. We had dinner with people we don’t see often enough and a couple that we hadn’t met before.

Jen, Brian, Susan (dba Doré), Ron, Susan (dba Doré), Steve, Tavia, Miles, Avah, Franz, Eileen, and one with Noah in front of the camera rather than behind. In the manner of such events, everyone was in the kitchen.

 

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