Forum, March 11: Farewell to 46 Lebanon St.

Sunday, March 10, 2019
Farewell to 46 Lebanon St.

Even if you didn’t know my grandmother, it is likely you knew her house. Built in 1926 and purchased by Elizabeth and David Hewitt in 1951, 46 Lebanon St. was a landmark in Hanover. The house was nestled between the Co-op and Hanover High School and was a rust-orange color. In the old days, passersby would see Elizabeth out working in her gardens, which stretched from her back door up to South Park Street, or meticulously stacking wood on her front porch. In the even older days, one could see her children playing in the yard. More recently, you merely may have wondered, “Who lives it that house? What an interesting place to live.”

And then, there are those who didn’t wonder — those who knew Elizabeth and her family and who were welcomed in to the home. This is a group of people that spans three generations of Upper Valley citizens (as well as a handful of AT through-hikers).

I am a part of the third generation of Hewitts to invite every friend of mine to “Meet me at 46 Lebanon St.” Often it was to park a car and walk to a hockey game, but we always stepped inside to say hi. Sometimes we would linger longer and watch tennis with Gram, or in my sister’s case, host a potluck dinner. My father was a member of the second generation of Hewitts to invite friends to the home, often popping in for lunch during high school. Later in my father’s life, the gardens became a major part of my mother’s floral business.

And then of course, the first generation of friends belongs to my grandmother. There are too many to count, and too many groups to mention; Elizabeth lived in her home for 63 years, welcoming friends old and new all along the way.

When our family sold the house to the town of Hanover under Gram’s wishes, we said our initial goodbyes to the home; now with the house taken down, we say our final farewell to 46 Lebanon St.



Church’s survival threatened

As I follow the Vatican’s efforts to deal with the widespread sex abuse scandals, I am disappointed that the focus seems to be on how to deal with events after the fact. There is only occasional mention of meaningful and sustainable “prevention” steps.

Unless the Roman Catholic Church identifies the root cause of the problem, changes will not be effective. The church will use all its new rules to deal with the perpetrators after the fact, but the abuses will continue.

Celibacy is the most likely root cause of the problem. If the church wishes to sustain itself, allowing priests to marry is the one significant change that will help keep the church from imploding. Allowing women to become priests would be the next step in keeping the church alive and thriving. These changes are enormous, I get it. They are difficult for me, too. (Yes, I am currently a practicing Catholic, born and raised.) But what other options do we have? This could be a seminal event for Catholics everywhere. We might suddenly see a growth in the priesthood, but more important, we may also get to see the survival of the Roman Catholic Church.



Rep. Gaetz’s ugly comment was not fully presented

The day before President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, was to testify before Congress, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., tweeted “Hey @MichaelCohen212 — Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot …”

Apart from the shockingly vile nature of such a statement from a sitting member of Congress, it also represents possible witness intimidation and certainly a violation of congressional ethics.

This statement by Gaetz was widely publicized because of its content, as well as its legal and ethical implications. Yet in the Valley News the next day there was only partial reporting of this news item, leaving out the essential elements: “Florida Republican Matt Gaetz tweeted on Tuesday that the world is ‘about to learn a lot’ about Cohen and suggested he knew of disparaging information that could come out during the hearing.

“Gaetz, a Trump ally who talks to the president frequently, is not a member of the committee that will question Cohen. He did not offer any evidence. Still, the tweet was extraordinary because his remarks appear to be threatening or intimidating a witness.”

Why is the Valley News censoring its news coverage in this manner? I have noticed a disturbing trend toward not reporting the increasing revelations and evidence of Trump’s criminality and lies and the corresponding outrageous allegations of his supporters.


Newbury, Vt.

Trafficking issue whitewashed

After reading about President Donald Trump’s pal Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the Patriots football team, being implicated in a human trafficking and prostitution sting at a spa in Florida (“Pats owner faces prostitution charges,” Feb. 23), I nearly got whiplash turning to the Sports page. There, AP pro football writer Barry Wilner’s article (“Owners behaving badly? All the time”) assures us that, “Misbehaving owners of sports teams have drawn headlines pretty much since sports have been around.”

“Misbehaving” is not an accurate description of a billionaire allegedly paying $70 an hour for sex with “victims of human trafficking,” as the front-page article put it. These are people trapped into modern slavery and exploited for sex to make money for traffickers.

To me Wilner’s “misbehaving” piece sounds like the way frat boys used to cover for their fraternity’s best-known rapist. I suggest Wilner try interviewing victims of trafficking. What is their history? Are they underage? How did they get trapped by traffickers? Were they brought from overseas? Are they able to contact their families? Do they have children? How were they blackmailed? Enslaved?

Wilner could be so helpful to readers in communities wanting to end trafficking in young people. Instead, he has whitewashed the seriousness of what continues to be done and to whom.



The tail is wagging the dog

Recently, a brave, young congresswoman committed the unpardonable sin of violating a taboo. She stated a perfectly obvious fact. The leadership of a foreign power exercises immense influence and control over American politicians. It’s clearly not Russia. No one is permitted to say a word about it. To do so is to elicit immediate condemnation, which is how taboos operate.

Because of this control, the U.S. has conducted numerous illegal wars against the enemies of a foreign nation. Now, the prime minister is ordering war against Iran. The tail is wagging the dog again. An American president is an obedient puppy. There are other statements I could make in regard to the situation, but maybe that’s enough taboo for now. My opinion is just my opinion. It doesn’t much matter what I think. It may not matter what a young congresswoman thinks either. But, at some level, everyone knows the truth, although forbidden to speak it. The Buddha said this: Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.



We’ve passed a threshold on gun violence

Anthony Stimson argues that gun licensing and registration wouldn’t stop deaths by pointing out that driver’s licenses and vehicle registration haven’t eliminated fatal car accidents (“Requiring gun registration would be a waste of time,” Feb. 20).

Many years ago, the only requirement to drive on public roadways was ownership of a car. However, when the number of vehicles increased, reasonable people agreed we needed a standard for safety and proof of ownership: Hence, licenses and registration.

Reasonable people might also agree that, when we lose more than 38,000 people a year to gun violence, we’ve passed a risky threshold and it’s time for another standard verifying competence and responsibility.


South Woodstock

Three Close-Up stories lifted my heart and gave me joy

Those who say there is nothing but bad news or negativity in the newspaper should read or reread the Feb. 22 Close-Up section.

“A dog’s insight: Account of a beloved pet’s blindness offers a lesson in grace,” by Valley News staff writer David Corriveau; “Handwritten letters are like thoughts made flesh,” by The Washington Post’s Ron Charles; and “Why Effective Writing Matters,” by The Post’s Benjamin Dreyer all lifted my heart and gave joy to my soul for the rest of the day every time I thought about what I had read.

What a privilege to be able to read such positive, worthwhile stories.