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. 

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North Country
6:34 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Harrigan At Home

John Harrigan in the woodshed.
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."

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Arts & Culture
7:31 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Still Life With Shovel

NHPR's Sean Hurley after a full minute of shoveling.
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.

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NH News
6:19 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Last Living Shakers Authorize N.H. Craftsman To Produce Iconic Chair

Michael Graham and Brother Arnold after barn chores.
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.

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NH News
6:32 am
Wed February 4, 2015

A Chair Made Only In Sandwich

Adam Nudd-Homeyer is the latest steward of Tappan Chairs.
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.

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North Country
6:46 am
Fri January 2, 2015

The Man Who Shut The Connecticut River Off

Murphy Dam Operator Alan Williams before the Boom Gate House on Lake Francis
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.  

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Word of Mouth
12:00 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

A Walk Across The Country

Credit 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.

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Word of Mouth
11:31 am
Wed December 10, 2014

From 'Mankind' To Saint Mick: Mick Foley's Journey From Wrestling Cage To Santa's Village

Mick Foley as Mankind in 1999, and as Santa Claus in 2014
Credit 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. 

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NH News
2:58 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

"Sailor Jerry" Ad Man Turns To History-Rich Tamworth For Whiskey Distillery

David Grasse outside the Tamworth Distllery.
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."

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Arts & Culture
4:29 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Dinner In The Dark Serves Up A Taste Of Living With Blindness

John Heckman (left) says he's at the dinner to experience what his father does.
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.

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Arts & Culture
3:50 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

The Real Dead Poets Society

Walter Skold in the "Poemobile".
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!"

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Arts & Culture
3:40 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

The Beethoven Machine: Can A Computer Compose The Music Of The Future?

Composer Greg Wilder
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.

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Inside NHPR
10:30 am
Tue September 30, 2014

The Perils Of Listening: A Drive-Away Moment

Just how spooky can a gas pump hose be? Find out.
Credit 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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Word of Mouth
3:33 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Sounds From New Hampshire's Highland Games

North Country
5:16 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Godzilla Lives In New Hampshire

Godzilla and the Boy
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...

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Arts & Culture
8:54 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Inside J.D. Salinger's House

The loft Salinger slept in when he first moved in.
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.

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North Country
1:43 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Counting Loons On Lake Winnipesaukee

Biologist Melisa Leszik steers the boat while LPC Director Harry Vogel looks for loons.
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.

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NH News
9:31 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Hernandez Says She Suffered 'Acts Of Unspeakable Violence' During Kidnapping

Credit 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."

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North Country
1:30 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

N.H. Summer Camp Devoted To 'Writing Up The Mountains'

Kayleigh writes at the summit of Indian Head.
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."

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Arts & Culture
3:09 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Magnificently Easy - 10 Family-Friendly Walks in N.H.

Steve Smith on the Pine Island Trail.
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.

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NH News
2:59 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Woolly Mammoths in N.H.? Yes!

Dr. Fred Prince and the woolly mammoth tooth.
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." 

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North Country
1:59 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

The Secrets Of Neighbors & The Helicopter In The Barn

What my neighbors see.
Credit 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.

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North Country
5:00 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Who Lived In N.H. 12,000 Years Ago?

A stone's throw from the Jefferson 6 dig site, an iron bed sinks into the grass.
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.

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Arts & Culture
1:00 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Making Music In The Streets of Plymouth

Jacob Stern, fiddler for the Crunchy Western Boys.
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."

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Arts & Culture
1:00 am
Fri June 20, 2014

The Tiny Sailboat Regatta

Bill Hagerup (left) and Cliff Martin
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.

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Foodstuffs
11:00 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Foodstuffs: The New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail

Regular, waffle, or sugar cone?
Megan Flickr CC

There are plenty of trails that lead to scenic vistas.  Up mountains, down into valleys.  But there's only one that leads to ice cream: The New Hampshire Ice Cream trail. 

Somewhere in a New Hampshire field, a cow, fawn colored, like a big deer, lifts her head from the tall grasses...

A Jersey cow, she has no idea that the milk she makes from the grass and hay and grain she eats is high in butterfat - about 5%, which makes her milk ideal for ice cream.

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NH News
6:30 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Ghost Ship On The Seacoast

Alicia Preston and the ghost ship.
Sean Hurley

A couple who hoped to start a security business for this year’s World Cup has run into financial trouble as they also work to repair a large boat docked on New Hampshire’s Seacoast.  Andresa and Marcelo Nunez’s boat has now become something of a mysterious legend to those who have seen it drifting in Hampton Harbor.  NHPR’s Sean Hurley brings us the story.

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North Country
6:02 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Rainy Start To Holiday Weekend In Mount Washington Valley

Valley Train Conductor Alex Schwarzmeiller
Sean Hurley

While the summer tourist trade won't peak until sometime after school lets out, Memorial Day weekend gives local businesses and attractions a mild forecast of things to come.  NHPR's Sean Hurley visited some destination spots in the Mountain Washington Valley and sends us this report.

Standing beside the North Conway Scenic Railroad's Valley Train, Conductor Alex Schwarzmeiller gets ready to bellow in an old fashioned way at the top of his lungs.  

All aboard!!!

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NH News
5:43 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Police Commissioner Resigns But Questions Remain

Main Street in Wolfeboro. The town relies on summer tourism.
Sean Hurley

Although Police Commissioner Robert Copeland submitted a letter of resignation earlier today, the people of Wolfeboro worry about the possible long-term impact the racial controversy could have on their town. NHPR's Sean Hurley spoke with residents over the weekend, before Copeland’s resignation and looks more closely at what led to today’s events.

On Sunday Joanne Parise sat on the shore of Wolfeboro Bay.  On nearby Main Street, families lined up for ice cream, gazed in shop windows, and consulted maps and guidebooks.  The summer tourist season has already begun. 

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NH News
10:28 am
Fri May 9, 2014

White Mountains Community College Faces Declining Enrollment

21 year old WMCC student Mariah Middleton.
Sean Hurley

Enrollment in the network of seven community colleges in New Hampshire nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010. But while overall growth is up, the North Country’s White Mountains Community College is seeing a decline. 

Go to a restaurant, school or office in the North Country and chances are you'll find a White Mountains graduate.

You see em at the hospitals, you see em at the doctor's office you see em in the schools. 

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Arts & Culture
6:00 am
Fri April 25, 2014

I Think I Knew When I Stole The Book - The Poetry Of Deborah Brown

Deborah Brown at Frost Farm
Sean Hurley

As part of National Poetry month, NHPR's Sean Hurley has been introducing us to a New Hampshire poet every Friday. Today, in our final part of the series, we hear from Deborah Brown who lives in Warner. Brown published her latest volume of poetry, Walking the Dog's Shadow, in 2011.  

Deborah Brown recalls the moment she knew she'd become a poet.

I remember really falling in love with poetry as a kid.  Certainly by middle school years.  But I think I knew it when I stole the book.

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