State 43: New Hampshire - June 23 - 25, 2018
“I WANT YOU”
We woke up at a Walmart in Bennington, VT well rested, and ready for a brand new day. Today, we drive 40 miles East to enter the 43rd state on our cross country journey to discover America and find a new state to call home; New Hampshire: Live Free or Die! Damn, now that is a good state slogan!!! The motto’s origins can be traced to New Hampshire’s most famous American Revolutionary War Soldier; General John Stark. On July 31, 1809, Stark was invited to an anniversary reunion of the Battle of Bennington, but declined the invitation due to his failing health. Instead, Clark sent a toast by letter to the event which simply read:
“Live Free or Die: Death is not the worst of evils”
In 1945, the New Hampshire State Legislature adopted “Live free or die” as the official state motto. For the residents of New Hampshire, the motto embraces the very essence by which the state’s residents live. Although New Hampshire has the 2nd highest property tax in the US, the state has NO sales tax, and NO income tax!!! In addition, New Hampshire is the only state not requiring auto insurance, and the only state not having a seat belt law. While I am not opposed to auto insurance, and seat belts do save lives, I am against the government making millions of dollars in tickets by trampling on the civil liberties of its citizens. Will the Granite State's deep rooted death defying patriotism inspire the Cross Country Couple to call the state our new home? We cannot wait to begin our week of exploration in New Hampshire!
After unbuckling our seat belts and calling Geico to cancel Rosie’s car insurance (JUST KIDDING!), we drove 19 miles East to Keene, NH to spend the weekend with my Cousin Dee and her husband Rei, whom I have not seen in over 25 years! Dee is the daughter of my late Aunt Mimi and Uncle Joe. I have infinite happy memories of Mimi and Joe from my childhood, and I love and miss them both tremendously! Among my Aunt Mimi’s many wonderful attributes, she was an AMAZING cook! During our visit, it became quickly evident Dee is equally gifted in the kitchen as her mother.
As a vegetarian, I typically am an enigma to my carnivorous hosts, so I usually bring my own food to friends and family gatherings. On a few occasions, I have encountered awkward situations where others fear being chastised for eating meat in my presence! To avoid such silliness, I typically announce to everyone they can force feed each other filet mignon for all I care, which usually serves as comical icebreaker. I make a point not judge others, or jam my options down their throats. However, I am always open to answer any question people may have regarding vegetarianism. Ultimately, what one chooses to eat, or abstain from eating, is a matter of personal preference. I do believe people should know where their food comes from, so they can make educated choices.
Since Dee was a hippie who came of age in the 1960’s, she was clearly knowledgeable about a plant-based diet, which was quite refreshing! Appetizers featured caprese ensalada made with fresh mozzarella from New York City, and sliced organic heirloom tomatoes. The main course featured fresh baked Russian Pie consisting of cream cheese, hard boiled eggs, sauteed cabbage and mushrooms housed within a poufy pie crust! Although the aforementioned ingredients may seem peculiar to place together, the melody of textures and complexity of flavors merged in perfect unison! I have never heard of Russian Pie, but it was absolutely delicious! We finished the meal with a few slices of Cheesecake Dee made from my Aunt Mimi’s Recipe! Please see the pictures below.
Dee's daughter Gina with her 4-year-old twins, and Dee's son Joel, his wife Melony and their two young children joined us on Saturday. The last time I saw Gina and Joel they were very young, and it was interesting seeing them all grown up! Gina and Joel's children were just too adorable!!! The next morning, we went out for breakfast with Dee and Rei, and wandered through downtown Keene which was chock full of variety shops of locally made items! Keene was one of the most beautiful and bustling downtowns I had encountered on my cross country trip. During my visit, I reminisced with Dee about memories from way back when, and partook in time honored family recipes. Rei gave me a tour of his garden, and divulged his battle plan for his ongoing war with the chipmunk and deer invasion. The weekend spent with Dee and Rei went far too fast, and before we knew it, it was time to continue on our cross country trip in search of our new home! Please see additional pictures below from our visit.
After departing Keene, NH, we drove 34 miles Southeast to the town of Mason for the Cross Country Couple's “Famous Person” for New Hampshire; Uncle Sam. Similar to baseball, apple pie, consumerism, and debt, Uncle Sam is synonymous with America. Dressed in stars and stripes with matching top hat to boot, and extended finger proclaiming “I WANT YOU”, many see Uncle Sam as the quintessential symbol of US patriotism. To others, the mere mention of his name evokes unpleasant emotions of having to fork over 25%-40% of your hard earned income to the IRS. I always assumed Uncle Sam was a fictitious creation concocted from a WWII advertising campaign to promote enlistment in the military and the purchase of war bonds. Imagine my surprise when I learned, “Uncle Sam” was an actual person, who once lived in Mason, New Hampshire. Today, the Cross Country Couple is going to visit the childhood home of the one, the only, Uncle Sam himself: AKA Samuel Wilson.
Samuel Wilson was a US soldier and businessman who is best known as the source of the personification of “Uncle Sam”. While living in Mason, NH, Wilson enlisted in the Revolutionary Army at the tender age of 15, where his duties included: caring for cattle, mending fences, slaughtering animals, packaging and guarding the meat to prevent enemies poisoning food sources. After the war ended, Samuel and his brother Ebenezer founded a meat packing business in Troy, NY named E & S Wilson. E & S Wilson Slaughterhouse was located at a prime location in Troy, NY with dock access to the Hudson River enabling the business to thrive. When the war of 1812 broke out, and the US Secretary of War made a contract with Elbert Anderson Jr. of New York City to supply and issue all food rations for the United States Armed Forces in New York and New Jersey. E & S Wilson secured the contract to supply 2,000 barrels of pork and 3,000 barrels of beef.
Each barrel of meat was labeled “E.A.-U.S.” indicating Elbert Anderson, United States. The majority of meat E & S Wilson’s supplied to the US military during the War of 1812 was shipped to camp soldiers in Greenbush, NY. Many of the soldiers stationed at Greenbush were native to Troy, and knew Sam Wilson, his meat packing business, and his nickname of “Uncle Sam”. Subsequently, Samuel Wilson was appointed meat inspector for the Northern Army, and was tasked with: checking the meats freshness and ensuring proper packing. Food spoilage and food poisoning by the enemy were serious threats during the war of 1812. Whenever the soldiers received a barrel of meat from Troy, NY, they associated the US stamp on the barrels as being safe food delivered by Samuel Wilson better known as “Uncle Sam”. Over time, everything stamped “US” became synonymous with the name “Uncle Sam”. On September 15, 1961, the US Congress officially proclaimed Samuel Wilson as personification Uncle Sam in the following resolution:
"Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives that the Congress salutes Uncle Sam Wilson of Troy, New York, as the progenitor of America's National Symbol of Uncle Sam."
The drive to Sam Wilson’s boyhood home was quite anxiety provoking, because my research revealed very little about this stop. I expected the outside of the house to be decked out in the red, white and blue from the chimney to the foundation with a large speakers blasting the National Anthem! I really hoped they were not going to be serving meat! I can just image walking through the front door, and having an overzealous tour guide say, “Did you know Uncle Sam was a meat packer? Here! Have a cheeseburger!!!” As Rosie rolled down the narrow windy two lane road meandering throughout the woods, I began feeling extremely anxious. I really did not want to have a cheeseburger shoved in my face! EEEEEK! The “YOU HAVE ARRIVED” proclamation by my GPS snapped me back into reality.
I spotted a historical marker sign on the side of the road, and Nate pulled Rosie over to a screeching stop! Here is where the plot really thickens! The historical marker proclaims, “Nearby stands the boyhood home of Samuel Wilson”. However, the sign was on the side of the road directly between a very old white house, and a very old red house. I had no idea which house was once the home to Uncle Sam. I was going to knock on the front doors, but I was not particularly feeling the love. One house had four signs posted which read, “NO TRESPASSING”, and the other house had a sign posted which read, “LIVE FREE OR DIE; PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK”. I guess I will have to be content knowing I was in the general proximity of Uncle Sam’s home. A least no one was going to try to force feed me meat! Please see the pictures below!
After departing Uncle Sam’s boyhood home, we drove just over the border 12 miles South to Lunenburg, MA where we found a Walmart to spend the night.