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Washington wished a happy birthday in Exeter

Special to the Union Leader

February 19. 2012 11:05PM
Portraying George Washington, George Moore of Newton talks with Noelle Gagnon, 4, of Portsmouth, who is dressed as a young Martha Washington Saturday at the American Independence Museum in Exeter. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
What's open, closed today
If you are among those who have the day off today on Washington's Birthday, there are sales galore awaiting you.

Malls and most stores will be open regular Monday hours, and car dealers are hoping you read those special auto sections and are in a mood to buy.

Federal state and city offices will be closed today.

Post offices will be closed, with no counter service or mail delivery, except Express Mail Monday. Credit/debit cards can be used in Automated Postal Centers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in post office lobbies in Concord, Derry, Dover, Keene, Londonderry, Manchester (main), Merrimack, Nashua and Salem.

It will be business as usual for FedEx and UPS.

In Manchester and Nashua, you won't have to worry about putting out your trash and recyclables today, because pickup will be delayed a day, but in Concord, it will be pickup as usual Monday.

There is no school in some 40 public school districts, including Berlin, Conway and Keene, where winter vacation starts today.

About a dozen districts whose winter vacation starts Feb. 27, including Manchester, Nashua, Dover, Hooksett and Barnstead, will have Monday off, but it's school as usual in the remaining districts, including Plymouth, the only district that observes Washington's birthday on his actual birthday, Feb. 22.

EXETER - Dozens stopped by the American Independence Museum's Folsom Tavern Saturday to wish a happy birthday to George Washington, aka Newton resident George Moore.

'It's a pleasure to portray George Washington,' said Moore, 83, a Baptist minister who has been playing the role of the first President at historical reenactments and celebrations for decades.

President George Washington stopped at Folsom Tavern for breakfast on Nov. 4, 1789, during a tour of New England. Today's federal holiday celebrates Washington's birthday.

'I like George Washington because he was the first President,' explained Alec Wallace, 9, of Derry. His younger brother, Grayson, 6, was impressed with a collection of colonial guns on display.

'They are really shiny, are they made of gold?' he asked.

The boys were there with their grandparents; their father, John Wallace, is serving in Afghanistan.

Although Washington consistently ranks at the top of lists of American's most-loved presidents, Moore said the myth sometimes overshadows the man.

Washington never hurled a silver dollar across the Potomac River, which has an average width of about 1,500 feet. And he never chopped down a cherry tree only to valiantly admit to the damage.

'That story was invented by an itinerant book peddler and preacher who wrote a biography of Washington that didn't sell very well,' said Moore.

William Moss of Marlborough, Mass., joined Moore for the party as Washington's aide de camp.

'They were wonderful people who seemed to have had a higher level of honor and esteem than today's politicians and leaders,' said Moss.

While Moore and Moss were downstairs greeting guests, children and parents explored the upper floor of the tavern, where birthday cake was being served and Washingtonian crafts were being made.

Aurora Vose, 8, of Deerfield, decorated a small, felt, purple heart, a military honor first awarded by Washington in 1782.

'The original purple hearts were made of cloth,' said Sara Morin, a Folsom Tavern volunteer who also was showing kids how to write messages in invisible ink.

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