Sean Hurley

North Country Reporter

Sean Hurley lives in Thornton with his wife Lois and his son Sam.  An award-winning playwright and radio journalist, his fictional “Atoms, Motion & the Void” podcast has aired nationally on NPR and Sirius & XM Satellite radio.  When he isn't writing stories or performing on stage, he likes to run in the White Mountains. He can be reached at shurley@nhpr.org. 

Sean Hurley

Polly and "Sugar Bill" Dexter opened Polly's Pancake Parlor in 1938.  That first year they served a few hundred customers in a carriage shed that sat 65.  Last year, in the same old shed, Polly's granddaughter Kathie Aldrich Cote and her husband Dennis, served nearly 60,000.  The Cote's realized it was time to tear the old shed down and build a new Polly's from the ground up.

Though he's looked everywhere, Dennis Cote can't seem to find his hammer.

"I've spent hours just looking for my hammer in this building."

Sean Hurley

Inside the huge hangar of the Great Bay Athletic Center, a small crowd watches as an elderly man in a sporty black singlet approaches the lifting platform.

"We are gonna load the bar to 135 pounds for Peter Aptakin."

That's not a lot of weight, but Peter Aptakin is not your average powerlifter.  

"And that is a good lift."

Birdman of Pondicherry

Apr 27, 2015
Sean Hurley

At sunrise on May 9th birders from around the Granite State will converge on the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge in Jefferson for International Migratory Bird Day. Local naturalist and bird expert David Govatski will be on hand to help identify the nearly 100 species of birds arriving at the refuge, considered one of the top birding spots in the state. NHPR's Sean Hurley recently toured the area with Govatski and sends us this. 

Here Comes Mud Season

Apr 10, 2015
Sean Hurley

On March 20th, winter officially came to an end and spring began.  But in between winter and spring, as NHPR's Sean Hurley reflects, it's mud season.

Sean Hurley

Local Foods Plymouth has been connecting area residents with local farmers and bakers via their online farmer's market since 2006. Members can order meat, vegetables, bread, hot sauce, even hand-made soaps online and collect their goods at a local pick-up spot.  Last year, they made it even easier with a delivery service they call "Farm to Desk" as NHPR's Sean Hurley reports.

Ever fantasized about living on a lush tropical island?  Would you settle for a long cold winter on a rugged rock 6 miles off the coast of Portsmouth?  For the last 18 years, photographer Alexandra De Steiguer has done just that as the lone winter caretaker of Star Island.  NHPR's Sean Hurley paid her a visit and sends us this.

On our first attempt to leave the harbor for Star Island, the muffler was frozen and the Miss Julie, a 29 foot lobster boat, wouldn't start.  

Harrigan At Home

Feb 25, 2015
Sean Hurley

After 41 years, John Harrigan's weekly "Woods, Water & Wildlife" column in the New Hampshire Sunday News has come to an end. But the unofficial voice of the North Country isn't through yet.

In slippers, in the snow, John Harrigan stands in the bright morning light. 

"Boy it's so bright!"

Harrigan has never worn - and doesn't believe in - sunglasses.   

"I think it really works - to come out and make your eye muscles work."

Still Life With Shovel

Feb 16, 2015
Lois Hurley

As we dig out from yet another winter storm, NHPR's Sean Hurley reflects on his life so far as a snow shoveler.  

The snow falls.  The storm ends and starts again.  I plant my shovel in the snow pile like a flag on the moon of winter.  Take my boots off, put them back on again. The plows shudder by and shudder by...on snow chained tires and spitting sand and I have no plans to lean the shovel in its summer spot behind the house.

I remember shoveling the family driveway in the blizzard of 78.  I was 11 years old and knew I was shoveling legendary snow.

Sean Hurley

For the first time in their history, the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake in Maine have authorized production of an authentic Alfred Shaker Chair.  While the Shakers will oversee the process, the actual chair will be made by Adam Nudd-Homeyer of Sandwich [Adam's story can be heard here].  

The village at Sabbathday Lake itself is not surprising.  An 18th century New England colony of red barns and white meeting houses clustered around a four story homestead where the last 3 living Shakers in the world reside.

Sean Hurley

Though Tappan Chairs have been made in Sandwich and only in Sandwich since 1819 the  historic brand of Shaker style chair was nearly lost to time.  

39 year old Adam Nudd-Homeyer is the only man in the world who makes Tappan Chairs.

"We still use machinery from the 1800s. So it's not only the same machine that's been making chairs, you know it's the same pattern running on the same machine doing it exactly the same way."

Abraham Tappan made his first chair in 1819, so the story goes. His son Daniel powered his lathes on the currents of the Cold River.

Sean Hurley

There are 4,800 dams in New Hampshire but only two where a full time dam operator is required to live on site.  There's Moore Dam in Littleton and Murphy Dam in Pittsburg.  NHPR's Sean Hurley recently visited with Murphy Dam Operator Alan Williams to learn more about life on a dam. 

Near sunrise, nearly every morning, coffee in hand, Alan Williams leaves the dam house and walks up the dam road and heads out across the half mile bunker of piled earth that is the Murphy Dam.  

Chris-Håvard Berge via Flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7rv4JN

“Lying in bed right now, it's getting around 7, 7:15. I can tell by the sound of my voice I'm a little dazed...just hard to believe that I have 150 more nights. 150 more days of walking 20 miles or so...”

It was February 20th, 1992 and it was the first day of my walk across the country. Twenty snowy miles from Cambridge to Sudbury Massachusetts. I'd set my tent up in the woods beside Longfellow's famous Wayside Inn and sat in my sleeping bag with a handheld tape recorder and read what I'd just written in my journal.

Courtesy the WWE/Sean Hurley for NHPR

In late November, they begin to arrive. In malls, outside stores, at company parties across the country. A deluge of Santas. We don't often stop to wonder who the men are beneath the red stocking caps. And sometimes, Santa has a secret he wants to keep from us, too. 

Producer's note: While you might be tempted to read this story instead of listening to it, we recommend listening first...and reading and perusing photos later. It's worth it, we promise. 

Sean Hurley

Norman Collins was famous for tattooing sailors. He hopped trains as a kid, joined the Navy, and set up an ink shop in Honolulu where he earned the nickname "Sailor Jerry".  When he died in 1973, he had no idea that one day there'd be a spiced rum with his name on it.

"Here's to life outside the lines. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum."

In 1999, Steve Grasse helped turn Sailor Jerry the man into Sailor Jerry the brand.

"Sailor Jerry is a huge hit."

Sean Hurley

When you sit down to eat, you probably don’t think much about hand-eye coordination. Try eating without being able to see, though, and that changes.  I recently ate a meal blindfolded at an event held by the NH Association for the Blind at Giuseppe’s restaurant in Meredith.

Sean Hurley

Since 2009, Walter Skold has been traveling the country visiting the graves of deceased poets. Skold, from Freeport Maine, is the founder of the Dead Poets Society of America. He recently came to New Hampshire to find two graves and to participate in the Dead Poets Remembrance Day at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord.  

In the bright leaves of the Hopkinton Cemetery, Walter Skold sets a movie camera on a tripod and begins to film the gravestone of the poet Joel Oppenheimer.

"I found this one in 3 minutes and 58 seconds today!"

Sean Hurley

What will the music of the future sound like? New Hampshire Composer Greg Wilder doesn't know yet, but as NHPR's Sean Hurley reports, the Warren resident is hoping to build the machine that writes it.

Greg Wilder and his wife Alison Conard are composers and computer programmers. Together in their log home in Warren they design websites for artists.

But music is at the heart of everything they do and music is the first thing Greg Wilder can remember.

Mike Mozart via Flickr CC/Filtered on Instagram

We talk all the time about the upside of listening to NHPR, but as you'll hear, there are perils, too. 

Sean Hurley tells the story of what happened to one listener who got sucked into a NHPR story while sitting in her car at a gas station. It all ends well, but it got a little hairy there for a minute. 

Take a listen, and then support NHPR (if you dare):

Sean Hurley / NHPR
Sean Hurley

Godzilla is 17 feet tall and resides in a cave-like trailer in Dorchester, New Hampshire.  He comes out on New Moons when the sky's at its darkest. 

The boy sat in the back seat and the two old people - his parents - sat up front.

Do you remember where we're going?
To see Godzilla!

The boy was going to see Godzilla who lived at the top of a nearly treeless hill at the end of a long dirt road.

It's like we're driving over the moon...

Sean Hurley

J.D. Salinger was famously private - and his privacy was often famously invaded - by photographers, journalist, curiosity seekers, film makers. 

That Salinger lived in Cornish is well known.  Less well known is that Salinger had two homes in Cornish.  The first house he lived in for 14 years sits on the hill behind the second.  It recently came on the market and I went to talk to its owner about her home - and about her long time neighbor, J.D. Salinger.

Sean Hurley

Every year the Loon Preservation Committee does a count of NH's loons on Lake Winnipesaukee.  I decided to go out on the lake with them to find out how the loons are doing.

The Director of the Loon Preservation Committee, Harry Vogel, leads me down a forest path toward a boat slip on the northern tip of Lake Winnipesaukee. We'll be touring the lake looking for loons in advance of the population census later in the week. Within moments - maybe it's unavoidable - we're talking about On Golden Pond, which Vogel had just re-watched.

Conway Police Department

 

Abigail Hernandez is asking for privacy and "time and space" to heal according to a brief statement issued on Tuesday by one of her attorneys, Michael L. Coyne. 

While few details have emerged since the North Conway teenager returned home on July 20th after a 9 month absence, the statement does finally clarify the nature of her ordeal: "Abby was violently abducted by a stranger.  For many months, she suffered numerous acts of unspeakable violence."

Sean Hurley

When you think of summer camp, you might think of games, crafts, sing-alongs or maybe canoes. But NHPR’s Sean Hurley paid a visit to another kind of summer camp, one devoted to hiking and writing.

We've only just started up the trail to Indian Head, but already 16 year old Brandi is having trouble breathing.

"Tired.  Really tired.  I don't really like having asthma.  It weakens me.  I was down there and I almost threw up."

Sean Hurley

There's no shortage of advice if you want to hike the rugged trails of the White Mountains. But there aren't many guides for those interested in the gentler, family friendly paths that cut through our forests. NHPR's Sean Hurley recently took a walk in the woods with New Hampshire trail expert Steve Smith to compile a list of 10 magnificent - and magnificently easy - wilderness walks.

Bruce Lyndes / Plymouth State University

While woolly mammoth specimens have been discovered in Vermont and Maine, there's never been a confirmed finding in New Hampshire.  Until now.  NHPR's Sean Hurley has more.

In 2004, PSU Biology Professor Fred Prince was out hunting arrowheads in Campton when he found - and unkowingly discarded - a woolly mammoth tooth.  When he learned of his mistake a decade later, he vowed to find another and in April of this year, in an old gravel pit in Thornton, he got lucky.

"The specimen was just sticking above the surface of the ground." 

Sam Hurley

Today, Here & Now broadcast one of our favorite stories by Sean Hurley, in which he discovers more than he expected about his neighbors. 

They are everywhere. We are surrounded by them.  You are probably one yourself.  Of the range of people you can know in the world, the neighbor occupies a curious spot.  As Sean Hurley writes, here in New Hampshire we have our own special kind of neighbor...and sometimes, they have helicopters.

Sean Hurley

Since 1996, the State Archeologist Dick Boisvert has led excavations at sites in Jefferson, uncovering tools and stone shards that tell the story of the Paleo-Indian people who lived in New Hampshire 12,000 years ago.  

By the road is an antique bed frame half-sunk in the dirt. 12,000 years from now a future archeologist may dig it up and speculate that we people of the 21st century liked to sleep under the stars on iron beds - and maybe never guess that the old frame was simply a lawn decoration for a local bed and breakfast.

Sean Hurley

Last Saturday Plymouth joined 800 cities around the world to celebrate Make Music Day. The general idea - music performed by anyone, anywhere they like.  

Bob King has a day job but he hosts open mics at Tony's Restaurant on Thursdays. Today, he's standing in front of Thomas Roberts Hair Salon playing some of his favorite songs.

"It must be beautiful for people to walk around town and hear a different song every ten feet."

Sean Hurley

New Hampshire’s two model sailboat clubs got together in Wolfeboro for a regatta known as the Sasquatch Footy.

Bob Rice sits on a bench overlooking the wind scratched surface of Wolfeboro's Back Bay Harbor.  He watches the remote control sailboats tack back and forth and pivot around the floating white marks.  

Oh I think it's dandy.  You get boats of this size and more people can play with them.

Pages