Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Abigail Dexter Traveling in India this month


February 5: Abigail, age 25, number two daughter. Traveling throughout a relatively primitive tribal area southwest of Kolkata (Calcutta) this month. She is not seeking "The Temple of Doom," but I suggested when (not if) she encountered any elephants, to be sure to ride one for me.

February 18:Had a wonderful church service and got to wear the most beautiful saree (also spelled sari), provided by the lovely Della. 

Stopped for street food here on the way to the mountain region of Daringbadi, where we will visit remote villages. I took this photo through the car window because I didn't want to take out my camera on the street because the area appeared to be a little sketchy. I'm traveling with Pam, John Bridge and his assistant Ranjeet.

John Bridge, back to camera, is registering with the police before we can proceed to Daringbadi. Ten Italians were removed from the area before we arrived for not registering.

John Bridge discusses the situation with the expelled Italian visitors in this video as we drive. Born in England, John still has a wonderful British accent after over 30 years here.

In the hotel, and I even have a room of my own...yay!

Another view of hotel room. The bed might as well be made of concrete, though. Closet on left, toilet is through door at right.

Hotel indoor plumbing India-style.

Hotel Padma, where we stayed

February 19: We reached this remote village, about two and a half hours from Daringbati, and they greeted us with a celebration in the streets!

The villagers love to greet visitors. So far, I have not seen an elephant, however, the villagers put food out for them at night so that they do not eat their roofs (thatched).

We are eating rice, dal, chicken curry, chicken liver, cauliflower, beans, and a salad mix of cucumbers, tomato, and onions in a chutney sauce. We eat before everyone else. It's the culture. The food is very good for the most part, as long as it's cooked in hot oil and served hot. I stay away from raw vegetables and ice cream in some of the hotels because the water and ice are not safe. Tea is usually okay because it's boiled. The milk is sometimes a bit strange. We drink bottled water mostly.

The people here are wonderful!


February 15: "With my puppies. They are strays being raised as watchdogs. I've adopted them. Spotty, Max, and Balu (meaning bear).

February 16: Abby's selfie with some of her students.

February 16: "Our last day of teaching five and six year olds." The children live here at the compound, and are either orphans or children of a parent or parents that are too poor to care for them. There were 64 in this class.

"They are soooo incredibly smart."

"I found a new puppy today. Her name is Lucky. She will go with my other three puppies."


February 13: From the podium, "Spoke today at a day care school for village kids. The children picked me a bouquet of wild flowers."

Only in India? "Rose petal ice cream...it tastes exactly like the smell of roses."



February 12: "What we do during the day, teaching the children English using pictures, games and sign language."

Many children here suffer from physical genetic deformities.


Abby is a guest of the Rev. John P. Bridge and wife Della, directors of Faith Outreach at Cox Colony, Jharsuguda, in the Indian State of Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). This is some 280 miles southwest of Kolkata in one of the poorest states in India. Here she is addressing over 1000 at the weekly Sunday worship service at the main facility. She is traveling throughout the region visiting many rural villages where Faith Outreach satellite churches are located. Abby's grandmother, Helen Dexter, served as a Christian missionary here, beginning in 1989, before establishing a Women's Bible school, orphanage, and vocational school for women in the nearby village of Birmitrapur.


February 9: "We were just in the car going through a town and got stopped by the cops! To take a SELFIE..lol. There were more police around us, and some people started to form a crowd, so we had to get back in the car and leave."

February 10: Addressing a crowd with an interpreter of about 400 at a worship service in the Village of Loisingha, a satellite church of Faith Outreach.

Some women greeted me after the Loisingha service and gave me a gift of a beautiful shawl.

February 10, Abby also had the pleasure of visiting the nearby Village of Karkachia and Peter Tandy's home, her grandmother's long-time assistant. He has operated a small orphanage here since 2008. From left: Daughter Hebrona, Hosanna her holding daughter Siona, age 3, husband Debashis Deep, and Peter. Absent is Daughter Hope and her family and son Hosea.

Children at Peter's village enjoying oranges

On Peter's roof patio with some of the village children and orphans looking on.

A strong deadbolt and solid hardwood door for Abby's hotel room on this trip through these rural villages makes a lot of sense to her parents.


Abby arrived at the Jharsuguda compound on Friday, February 2 following a nine hour train ride from Kolkata. She is scheduled to leave India on February 24, for a three day stay in the UK, visiting her cousin, Emmanuel Dexter, at Liberty Church, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, where he is associate pastor. She returns home March 3. She is shown here with Della Bridge, co-director of Faith Outreach.


The monkey looks like something out of Night at the Museum.

Riding through town with Christine Bridge of Faith Outreach and Pamela Ward of New Zealand

February 9: On road through the Village of Bhullar to Loisingha where Abby will speak to 400 people tomorrow. Abby's time difference is clocked at 10-plus hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time.

February 8: Abigail with Horsho and Husband Aditya, a village pastor, and son Daniel. Horsho Senapati was one of the first children to arrive at the Birmitrapur compound, and has  been sponsored by Abby's cousin* Joan, who lives in the Boston area, since Horsho was an infant. In her letters to Joan, Horsho always signs herself, "With love from your Indian Daughter," and addresses Joan as, "Dear Lovely Mom." (*Joan's mother and Abby's grandmother were first cousins).


Visiting the campus her grandmother built in Birmitrapur

Abigail tours the compound founded by her grandmother in the Village of Birmitrapur, about a hundred miles from Faith Outreach in 1992, guided by the Rev. John Bridge and the current occupants. Here her grandmother built 18 buildings in three years, including a church which she insisted include 12 pillars, to represent Christ's 12 disciples, topped by a crown. Today, over 200 worship at this church every Sunday. Abby used her cellphone to record the videos, creating images often appearing sideways as she tilts her phone for the wide-view feature on the first video. Click the image onto "full screen" for better viewing.

Abby's grandmother had turned the work here over to other leaders in the late 90s, when she joined Faith Outreach to direct a woman's school there, from which she retired in 2008. A Christian missionary organization leased the facility for several years, then moved on when the lease expired, leaving the property to let nature take its course. Now another ministry occupies the campus. Presently there are 74 students being served. The property is in good hands, she says, and being rehabilitated.

House of Peace 1992. Abby's grandmother is second row, center.

House of Peace today. A little worse for wear, but will be spruced up, they say.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Small but Interesting Irony


New Hampshire was well represented on December 30, 1952 when legislative leaders met with President-Elect Dwight D. Eisenhower to map out legislative strategy for the new Republican-controlled congress and administration. The meeting took place at Ike’s headquarters in New York City’s Commodore Hotel, near Grand Central Station. In a small but interesting irony of history, the hotel would later be purchased by a 30 year-old real estate entrepreneur named Donald J. Trump, who himself would bear the title “President-elect” 64 years later. Trump tore down the historic, but fading edifice in 1974 and replaced it with today’s Grand Hyatt, the first major deal of his career.

Pictured with Eisenhower are Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, Attorney General-Designate Herbert Brownell of New York, Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, who became Senate  President Pro-Tempore, Senate Majority Leader to-be Robert Taft of Ohio, New Hampshire Governor Sherman Adams (who became Eisenhower’s White House Chief of Staff, and later built the Loon Mountain ski resort in Lincoln, NH), Senator Milton Young of North Dakota, and New York lawyer Thomas E. Stephens, later a White House aide and confidante. (Photo courtesy, Senator Styles Bridges Collection, New Hampshire State Archives)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Laconia, New Hampshire 

Newspaper Publisher E.J. Gallagher: 

A Gracious Gentleman


LACONIA, NH, September 30, 2016 – As The Citizen newspaper ceases publication after a grand 90-year run, thoughts turn to the gracious, tenacious gentleman who founded the paper, Edward John (“E.J.”) Gallagher. The paper debuted on January 4, 1926 as a four page broadsheet. There were only four pages because that’s all the type he had for a paper of that size. That first day he sold 500 copies.

Born October 23, 1890, Gallagher must have been an amazing kid. The son of two Irish immigrants, likely among the two million or so to land in this country fleeing the Great Irish Famine, the boy got off to an unsteady start. His father, James Gallagher, was a stone cutter in the Concord quarries who died when his only child was 10 months old. His mother, Julia Martin Gallagher, was left with the infant and forced to work as a housekeeper. Three years later, she remarried a man named Cassidy, another quarry man from Ireland, and raised a sizeable family, until she died at 40 in May of 1903. She had suffered two years with pulmonary tuberculosis.

Laconia Evening Citizen owner Edward J. Gallagher acted as reporter and editor when he founded his Lakes Region daily in 1926. Here he takes news from the Associated Press over the "pony wire" receiver (i.e., headset), connected to the candle-stick phone.

Likely due to his mother’s illness, at the age of 10, E.J. went to live with two prominent Concord ladies. Mrs. Caroline B. Murdock and Mrs. Lucy M. Bradley were sisters, daughter of Bible publisher Luther Roby, the subject of a sketch Gallagher wrote for the N.H. Historical Society magazine in 1949.
Around this time, young Gallagher contracted intestinal tuberculosis, probably caused by ingesting low quality raw milk, and was bedridden for some four years. Home-taught by his benefactors and Catholic nuns, he never graduated from high school. When he was 15, a nurse gave him a toy typewriter.

Writes Gallagher: “With my pillow elevated a few inches, and the typewriter perched on my chest, I kept my new acquisition busy.” He tapped out a 500 word article all in capital letters, “How to Care for an Invalid,” published by The Pictorial Review, a national magazine.
His doctor was so elated he suggested, “Let’s throw Ed’s medicine away and buy him a real typewriter.” A wealthy neighbor gave him $35 (over $900 in today’s money*) to buy a secondhand Remington. Eventually, Gallagher recovered, and lived another 73 years.

At 16, Gallagher started to hang around the state house with the idea of becoming a news reporter for the 1907 session. To enhance his youthful stature, he called himself the F.K. Gilpin Syndicate, writing news stories for several weeklies at fifty cents a column. Soon he was hired part-time by the Manchester Union. In four years, at age 20, plucky Ed Gallagher, would own the Concord Patriot, once edited by a legendary N.H. governor and U.S. Senator, Isaac Hill, a confidante of President Andrew Jackson.

Leon W. "Andy" Anderson, 40-year reporter and columnist for the Concord (NH) Monitor with Richard M. O'Dowd, race track executive, and Edward J. Gallagher, Laconia, N.H., newspaper publisher, at Rockingham Park race track, Salem, N.H., summer 1956. O'Dowd at age 14 was the youngest page ever to serve the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1909. Gallagher was the youngest legislative reporter in state history at 16 during the 1907 session. Photo from Anderson's book, To This Day, 300 Years of the New Hampshire Legislature, Phoenix Publishing, (1981).

How a poor, sickly, orphan, with no formal education, was able to pull off owning such a newspaper, even with a partner, so young and untested in running a business, four years after getting out of a sick-bed, is an amazing feat, a testament to the man’s many gifts. Maybe like the wealthy lady with the $35 gift for the typewriter, he was the kind of person people liked to help.

When in November 1920, fire destroyed the White’s Opera House building he owned on Park Street, near the state house where the Patriot offices occupied the ground floor, Gallagher sold the paper to Jim Langley, owner of the Concord Monitor.
For several years, Gallagher traveled the country for Billboard Magazine. During this period he met and married Etta Gates, a native of Indiana. He returned with his bride to Concord. They had a little girl who died in childbirth on August 31, 1915. Julia, named for his mother.

When Gallagher moved to Laconia, the Lakes Region was ripe for a daily newspaper. He purchased a press from the Portsmouth Herald and a Linotype form New York. Friend Langley brought a load of type from Concord, and Gallagher settled in to become a bank president, two-term mayor of Laconia (1937-1939), and all-round civic leader with his hand in many business and charitable enterprises, a quintessential small town publisher who loved his community if there ever was one.
He was a Democrat in his politics and a member of the party’s delegation to the 1944 national convention. He served on Democratic Governor Samuel Felker’s military staff as an honorary major, 1913-1915.

When Gallagher came of age, newspapers had a long history of partisanship. There was really no attempt to present the news in a balanced or impartial manner. “As you examine newspaper files of the period, you have to remember reporting was done to suit the desires of the subscribers. Republicans bought a Republican paper, Democrats a Democrat paper,” Gallagher advised the late N.H. historian Charles Brereton. Gallagher decided to break that model when he came to Laconia.

In the July 20, 1978 Citizen story announcing his passing, the reporter writes: “In a 1975 interview, Gallagher said he chose the name “Citizen” for his newspaper because it implies “public rather than political interests…it’s a mistake to have a newspaper that keeps a town all riled up.”
By the 1980s the paper reached an audited, paid circulation of over 10,000, covering much of central New Hampshire with 10 reporters.

I had the pleasure of writing on and off for Ed Gallagher’s newspaper beginning in my teenage years. Occasionally before that, as a youngster I would visit him in his office in the old building on Beacon Street. I also wanted to write for the newspapers. Framed on the wall was the front page of the first Laconia Evening Citizen, and beside it a large, dramatic black and white photo of the burning White’s Opera House. There was always a big white glue pot on his desk, and papers strewn everywhere. I never saw him without a suit and tie. He spoke softly and kindly. Once in a while on a hot day, usually in the afternoon, it was said he’d leave his office and walk around the block to Ma Ladd’s for a tall cold mug from the tap.

His front page editorials were filled with local and state history, and correspondence from readers here and there. Very few involved controversial political issues. He loved to find a local angle when big national and even international news stories broke.
When Massachusetts Congressman John McCormack was speaker of the house, he would vacation summers in the Lakes Region, where he was given an office in the Laconia Post Office. He could be found there when he wasn’t down the street in Ed Gallagher’s office telling stories.

Gallagher authored several books. A collection of columns about Stilson Hutchins, founder of the Washington Post and once owner of Governor’s Island, another about a notorious Concord bank robber, and one about his friend, George Higgins Moses, an irascible and once famous U.S. Senator, who onetime edited the Concord Monitor. A fourth was finished but unpublished at his passing, and is perhaps lost, entitled: James O. Lyford Political Writer – Politicking in N.H. With a Touch of the Circus.
After his death it was a pleasure to work for his late beloved daughter, Alma Gallagher Smith and her husband Larry, managing editor, who started as a cub reporter and then married the boss’s daughter, of course. Larry was a really good writer and wonderful story teller, and an exacting boss who you didn’t want to cross. Let’s say he could be very loud in the style you see in those black and white movies about newspapers. I used to call Larry and Alma the Tracy and Hepburn, the “Pat and Mike” of the Lakes Region, although I’m not sure they were very amused.

A good pair, a good paper, founded by a good man. And so “30” it is on this sad day.

Newsroom, Laconia Evening Citizen, Laconia, NH, circa 1982, equipped with Compugraphic desktops and floppy disks. From Left: John Howe, Dean Dexter (center), Mike Mortensen, and Gordon D. King (back to camera).

A version of this story appeared on Page One of the September 30, 2016 issue of The Citizen, Voice of New Hampshire's Lakes Region, "Farewell Edition."

*Estimate from Morgan Friedman online inflation calculator

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The time Miss Eleanor C. Parker defended teaching Harper Lee’s 'To Kill a Mockingbird' in her Laconia, New Hampshire classroom


With the July, 2015 release of Go Set a Watchman, the second novel by To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee, the existence of which surprised the literary world and Ms. Lee's many admirers, brought back personal memories of a half century ago.

It was 1964 and another world. 

That summer, after a long debate in Washington not unlike seen in today’s headlines, which included a 54-day filibuster in the U.S. Senate, a landmark Civil Rights Act became law essentially ending legal racial discrimination in the United States.

It was also the year the United Methodist Church voted to open its doors to people of all races, actually to “anyone,” again after lengthy soul-searching and at times a not so pleasant “conversation” among the members of its national conference.

And that fall, in 1964, a veteran New Hampshire school teacher was asked to account for the teaching of the book To Kill a Mockingbird in her high school senior English class. 

The Laconia, New Hampshire of 1964 was very much like it is today. That is, it was a smallish, but vibrant community where everyone essentially knew everyone else, at least somewhat, but because fewer left the city after coming of age, and with no outlying shopping malls to draw people away to shop and work, life in Laconia then was perhaps tighter and more personal.