The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Hey millennials from Nashua, here's a fact or three about our fair city

I’m so ancient I’m ashamed to admit that I once didn’t know what YOLO meant.

To my snickering young millennial friends, neither did my baby boomer-Greek brother George Stephanopoulos. And he’s super smart, having graduated from the Ivy League’s Columbia University with a B.A. in political science. He also attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar in 1983, earning a master’s degree in theology.

Pretty impressive.

One day on “Good Morning America,” Stephanopoulos, a co-anchor with Robin Roberts, read a tease on the morning news program before the commercial break about their upcoming segment titled “YOLO.”

George then remarked, “What is YOLO?”

The crew sat there incredulously. “Come on, George,” Robin and the GMA set laughed. “It means, ‘you only live once.’ Gee, George.”

Gee, Joan. Get with it.

Hey, millennials, read this: “AARP.” We all get there — sooner or later.

When you’re young, you don’t care to look to the past much, but many of us don’t always appreciate where we came from.

As a Nashuan, I have an interest in the history of New Hampshire’s second-largest city and how it came to be. Some of the extraordinary people who helped shape the Gate City are no longer with us but have left an incredible legacy, and a lot of them are alive and well and continue to make their mark here.

Of course, there are many I could name and my column could go on forever, but here are a few standouts who have helped define the progression and economic expansion of Nashua beyond its long-ago days as a fur trading town (Dunstable) and later, textile industry hub.

In the field of medicine, the Crisp family name was a distinguished one and linked to education during the 1960s. The Dr. Norman W. Crisp Elementary School on Arlington Street was named after the well-respected physician and school board member, Dr. Norman W. Crisp Sr.

His sons, the late Norman W. Jr and John “Jack” Crisp, also developed into fine surgeons. The family trio were pivotal in establishing the trauma center at St. Joseph Hospital.

When you think of Fortune 500 companies like Raytheon, the former Digital Equipment Corp. and Anheuser-Busch, Samuel Tamposi and Gerald Nash were the duo who dominated the landscape in multi-million dollar commercial and industrial development deals in the 1960s and 1970s, attracting numerous businesses to the area. That brought a wide variety of opportunity and employment for many, and helped boost New Hampshire’s reputation as a stronghold for technology.

Joseph Simoneau was another visionary who thought up great things for Nashua by locating the city’s first shopping mall in the downtown in 1962. Simoneau Plaza, now called Globe Plaza, was the place to go, and people enjoyed visiting stores like W.T. Grant and later, Bradlees, McQuades, JC Penney, and Mister Donut.

Sr. Jeanne Perreault knew that higher education was essential for the future of Nashua’s advancement as a well-rounded community and began teaching chemistry at Rivier College in 1980, which is now Rivier University. Then, the administration arena came calling and she jumped in, becoming president of the popular south end educational institution.

Ms. Perreault was responsible for turning River co-ed in 1991, and that was a sharp move as enrollment later soared by some 70 percent during her 17-year reign, and campus size grew by leaps and bounds.

To learn more about the Gate City, the Nashua Public Library is offering a great deal for $25. Until Dec. 30, you can purchase “The Nashua Experience: A Three-Decade Upgrade, 1978–2008.” While supplies last, you will also receive a gently used copy of the earlier book for free — “The Nashua Experience: History in the Making, 1673–1978.”

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.