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. 

Paul Cecil at www.permuted.org.uk

There are actuarial tables and plenty of lists to help you figure out whether you've hit middle age.  Gray hair, inability to read your phone.  Failure to recognize every song on the radio. But as NHPR's Sean Hurley reflects from his home in the White Mountains, maybe middle age is simply noticing a shift in perspective. 

Sean Hurley

As construction in downtown Concord continues, a group of local filmmakers is making use of the transition from old to new in their fictional film, "Granite Orpheus," an updated and largely improvised take on the story of Orpheus, the musician and poet who tries and fails to retrieve the love of his life from the underworld. 

In the dusty, barely lit basement of Zoe & Company Professional Bra Fitters, Rick Broussard is getting ready for the third day of shooting, which takes places in the streets, alleys, squares, basements and rooftops of the capital city. 

Sean Hurley

As construction in downtown Concord continues, a group of local filmmakers is making use of the transition from old to new in their fictional film, "Granite Orpheus", an updated and improvised take on the Greek Myth set in the streets, alleys, squares, basements and rooftops of the capital city.  NHPR's Sean Hurley spent a night on the town with the film's cast and crew and sends us this.

"Let's power up the cameras. We ready to shoot the rehearsals?"

The Little Church Theater in Holderness is just that.  It's a little theater in a former little church.  While its current summer season is charged with familiar Broadway mainstays, the playhouse also does something a "little" different.  In this latest installment of our Summer Stock series, alongside the big familiar hits The Little Church Theater puts on original works by New Hampshire natives.

Sean Hurley

In 2012, the New Hampshire Mushroom Company was producing two hundred pounds of mushrooms a week in their 5000 square foot farm-warehouse in Tamworth - and struggling to sell them.  Three years later, with seven full-time employees, the farm can't keep up with the demand, selling out their weekly stock of 1,200 pounds of edible fungus usually within 24 hours. 

Dennis Chesley, part owner of the New Hampshire Mushroom Company, says there's very little gray area when it comes to mushrooms.  It's either love or hate -

Sean Hurley

The Winnipesaukee Playhouse got its start in 2004 as a store front theater on Weirs Beach.  In 2013, the theater moved to the former Annalee Doll factory in Meredith.  In this 3rd installment of his Summer Stock series, NHPR's Sean Hurley pays the playhouse a visit.  

Timothy L'Ecuyer, Education Director at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse says there are still remnants - in closets and unused rooms - of the "factory in the woods" as the Annalee Doll company used to be known. It can be a little spooky, he says -

Jason Merwin Photography

NHPR's Sean Hurley continues his Summer Stock series with a visit to the New London Barn Playhouse, a theater known for cultivating young talent.  The actress Laura Linney credits the Barn with her love of theater.  Broadway legend Steven Schwartz, creator of Godspell and Wicked, got his start there.  And as Sean discovered, there's even a well known NPR reporter who once graced the stage of the old Barn.

Sean Hurley

There's plenty to do on a summer day in New Hampshire.  Go to the beach, go to the lake, climb a mountain.  But what do you do on a beautiful summer night? Maybe some theater? In this new Summer Stock series, I'll be checking in with NH Theater Companies and finding out more about their summer offerings. First up, I'm off for Tamworth where rehearsals at the Barnstormers Theatre are already underway.

Kelly Swann

For the last few months students from The Center for Cartooning Studies have been meeting with veterans at the VA Hospital in White River Junction.  The hope is that a collection of veterans stories can be turned into an anthology of visual stories - comic strips based on the veterans' experiences. 

Sean Hurley

With more than 4000 miles of hiking trails, it's not too hard to get away from it all here in New Hampshire. But if you want to get even further away, you could head out on the Cohos Trail, one of the wildest, most remote trails in New England. I recently went for a hike on the Cohos with trail founder, Kim Nilsen.

In the dirt lot at the base of Owl's Head mountain, 68 year old Kim Nilsen pulls a weaved pack basket, made by his daughter, over his shoulders.  

fiverr.com/lexloart

Just about anything can be outsourced these days from customer service to personal tax filing, but what if you need help with a creative project, say a radio story? We asked NHPR's Sean Hurley to relinquish his creative control and utilize a website called Fiverr, an online marketplace where people offer a wide range of services starting at just five dollars.

Sean Hurley

Completed in 1875, the Great Wall of Sandwich is a shoulder height granite wall that runs more than a mile. Together with its 7 foot tall statue of Niobe, the Great Wall became something of a tourist attraction in the early 20th Century.  But in 1941, a hurricane toppled the statue, and its shattered pieces went missing for nearly 70 years. I recently visited Sandwich to learn more about the wall and to find out how Niobe was finally recovered.  

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):

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