The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Even in safe New Hampshire, caution is the watchword

“But, Dad, he’s gonna blow us up. Why aren’t we leaving?” we all chimed in.

“I fear no one,” my father calmly spoke and went back to editing copy and smoking his pipe at the old Nashua Telegraph building on Main Street by the bridge.

My brothers and I sometimes accompanied our father to the empty newsroom on a late Sunday afternoon when he would catch up on mail, look through a mound of paperwork and check the noisy Associated Press teletype machine.

He would buy us a Pepsi and a candy bar from the vending machines and let us play with the manual typewriters and old pneumatic tubes that operated via vacuum.

I’m sure young people are clueless about the vintage pneumatic tube system that delivered copy from one end of the newsroom to the other.

One Sunday afternoon, the phone rang and my father picked it up. The man on the other end of the phone threatened to blow up the newsroom. My dad hung up then muttered something like “you dirty so and so” and didn’t think any more about it.

Today such threats are taken more seriously. One only needs to look at the threat made against Manchester hospitals earlier this month.

“Hospital staff were told to be prepared to show their work identification badge and use only the main entrance or enter through the Emergency Department,” according to a Union Leader article.

Like the Queen City, Nashua has seen its share of bomb threats in the last few years. Fortunately my city happens to have a police bomb squad.

These specially trained police experts handle potentially hazardous situations involving suspicious packages, improvised explosive devices and the recovery of explosives and military supplies.

The New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad also kicks into high gear when emergency events arise.

So far the Granite State has been lucky: “Although no bomb has ever been found in a New Hampshire school after a communicated threat, take each threat seriously,” according to the NHSP Bomb Threat Brochure.

What makes these frightening situations even more so these days is that when a threatening call is coming through it’s often hard for law enforcement to figure out if the call is being made by anactual person or it’s an automated call.

Being able to place a voice call via an internet connection, instead of a regular telephone line, allows culprits to conceal their identity.

Evacuating people, locking down buildings and thoroughly searching an area has become a way of life for many of us when these incidents occur.

Sadly that means that our schools have had to develop bomb threat response plans. It’s a sobering reminder that an abundance of caution is something we all need to get used to even in New Hampshire.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at