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Publisher's Notebook -- Joe McQuaid: From patriotic displays to saving history


April 21. 2013 7:45PM

In the wake of the Boston bombings one week ago, one of the most moving events I have heard about was Boston Bruins hometown singer Rene Rancourt, whose beautiful renditions of our national anthem have graced Garden hockey games for decades.

But it was last Wednesday night's rendition that was the most dramatic. Rancourt let the crowd take over just after he began singing. People united in their grief, their anger and their resolve were singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" like I have never heard it sung before. It was marvelous.

I heard it on tape because last Wednesday night I was fortunate to be at another event saluting the Manchester's Historic Association and those who have resolved to preserve and honor the city's history.

The most moving moment there, aside from seeing my friend, George Naum, honored, was a moment of silence for Boston victims and their families. Again, it was a feeling of people united.

The Historic Association does a terrific job in many ways, keeping this city's history alive for young and old and future generations. And its annual preservation awards is a chance to thank those who go the extra mile and to underscore some of the sites these businesses and individuals have saved or improved.

George Naum, of course, preserved 45 years of Manchester history through his photography for this newspaper. He preserved even more of it when he helped save other of our old photo negatives that were about to be discarded. Those negatives were instead donated to the MHA, and George is doing yet more saving. He volunteers his time to help identify and catalog many of those images.

Among the honorees was Public Service of New Hampshire with a leadership and advocacy award. PSNH has played an important role in Manchester, dating back to its being one of the key players, as was this newspaper, in forming Amoskeag Industries in the wake of the mid-Depression years' bankruptcy of the mills.

PSNH President Gary Long accepted the award and noted another treasure trove of photos, now housed at It is a clever chronicle of the power plants and people of the company, over seven decades. Many of the pictures need further information, which is why the public is invited to take a look.

As old as the company is, I think master of ceremonies Ed Brouder slipped up when he said veteran PSNH official Elizabeth LaRocca, herself a past president of the MHA, had been on the board "since the early 1900s." You're looking good, Elizabeth!

Brouder and honorary dinner chairman John Clayton also did a fine job as a modern-day Hope and Crosby team. And both, in their own right, have helped preserve Manchester history through their writing and broadcasting.

If you get a chance, stop by the MHA's Millyard Museum at 200 Bedford St. Executive Director Aurore Eaton, herself a writer of note, will be happy to see you.

Write to Joe McQuaid at or via Twitter at?@deucecrew.

History Publisher's Notebook Manchester

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