Talking Trump at a New Hampshire Dump

Jan 19, 2017

Following the New Hampshire Presidential Primaries last February, NHPR’s Sean Hurley went to visit the bellwether town of Shelburne, where the voting numbers almost exactly matched those of the State as a whole.

With the inauguration upon us, Sean wanted to find out what the people of Shelburne were saying about our incoming president. 

So he went back to the place the locals gather each week – the town dump. 

Note: As with all of Sean Hurley's stories, we recommend listening to the audio

It’s 6 A.M. on Saturday and it's six degrees outside. Six men sit together in the transfer station in Shelburne. "Dump’n Donuts" they call it - and while there are donuts and coffee and the trash has been tossed, the six men are enjoying a breakfast of taco soup made by transfer station manager Ken Simonoko’s wife.  

Taco Soup for breakfast.
Credit Sean Hurley

The men turn from their soup to stare at a security monitor mounted on the wall and watch as a small car pulls to a stop at the trash compactor.  Matt Tassey is the first to guess who it is.

“Is that Cosgrove? Yeah, John Cosgrove,” Tassey says.

“He's a Hillary supporter,” Daryl says.  

“I'd a brought my hat if I'd a known he was coming,” Randy says.  

I ask what his hat says.

“Make America Great,” Randy tells me.  

So far, everyone here at Dump’n Donuts is a Donald Trump supporter, and the minute John Cosgrove steps through the door he knows he’s in the lion’s den.  

But that doesn’t stop him.  

“I have never been as embarrassed about anyone representing this country as this man,” Cosgrove says. “He may do the best things in the world. But his treatment of people? I spent a lifetime as a teacher trying to bring out the best in people. And all I've seen this man do is belittle and intimidate.  I'm ashamed to see he represents my country as a president.”

Randy, who wished he’d worn his Trump hat, shrugs. “Oh he's got his opinion. He and I don't see eye to eye.”

“But we respect one another,” John Cosgrove says. “Hey listen, we've had huge battles. I've hollered and screamed and walked out of here pissed off. And we come back and that's the way it is. And that's the way it should be.”

But with Trump’s inauguration just days away, both across the country and here in Shelburne, it’s unclear if the way it should be is the way it is. 

Behind my seat on the counter is a mason jar labeled “RG’s Canada Relocation Fund.” It’s stuffed with cash and Randy tells me why. “You know when people in the movies or out in Hollywood say if Trump wins I'm leaving the country? Guy here in town said he was leaving so we took up a collection to help him go. And he ain't gone yet either!” Randy says.

My bowl of Taco Soup and the collection jar for "RG".
Credit Sean Hurley

I ask if “RG” knows the jar is here.  

“Oh yeah!” Randy says, “we brought him in to show him!”

Everyone’s shocked when Dave Hamel comes through the door.  Nobody saw him on the Dump Cam. 

“My sister is here for her first visit to Dump'n Donuts,” Hamel tells the group. “I'm bringing her down to the library now because she's never seen the library either.”

Hamel’s sister Lorraine died in December and Hamel is taking her ashes on a tour of the town.

Ken Simonoko and Dave Hamel (right).
Credit Sean Hurley

Though no collection was raised for his departure, Hamel is another Shelburnite who planned on leaving. “I said I was moving to Mexico way before Rosie O'Donnell and the rest of them said they were moving,” Hamel says.  

And even though he didn’t vote for Trump and says doesn’t like him, “I believe that he is arrogant, egotistical, chauvinistic, and definitely a woman basher.”

Still - he’s come around to the idea of Trump as President. “As I view what he is doing with the patriotism that we are so longingly desiring to reachieve and have lost for years,” Hamel says, “I have to take my hat off to him because he's doing things like nobody else ever has.”

In the three hours I’m at the dump, only one woman comes through the door - Sally Manikian.

“I came here to drop off my trash and then we're going to go hit the trails,” she says laughing.  

A competitive dog sledder, Manikian says she voted for Hillary Clinton and still hasn’t gotten over her defeat. “It's just so strange. It's so surreal,” she says. “I have fairly strong mental blinders and I think they went up about a week ago.”

I walk outside with her to see her sled dogs.

Sally Manikian, about to head off for some dog sledding.
Credit Sean Hurley

Winter is here and Trump is coming.

Sally Manikian gets in her truck, off for a 30 mile mush in the woods. I wave to Dave Hamel as he passes, heading off with his sister to show her the town he loves.