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Friday, May 3, 2013

Gone, but not forgotten: Old Man remains a significant symbol for people in the state

Yes, the Old Man of the Mountain still is significant, and it should remain the state’s symbol.

Just how significant is it 10 years after its fall? “A couple of my friends got it tattooed on them,” said Samantha Hennessy, of Nashua. ...

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Yes, the Old Man of the Mountain still is significant, and it should remain the state’s symbol.

Just how significant is it 10 years after its fall? “A couple of my friends got it tattooed on them,” said Samantha Hennessy, of Nashua.

That might be going a little far, she admitted, but Hennessy’s isn’t ready to abandon memories of the Old Man even though it has been gone almost half her lifetime.

“I think it’s going to be here forever,” she said.

That was the opinion of almost everybody interviewed on Main Street around lunchtime Wednesday when, with the 10th anniversary of the Old Man’s fall approaching, The Telegraph performed a wildly unscientific sampling of people out enjoying the sunshine to see if it still mattered.

The answer was yes, from the young and the – well, less young.

In particular, nobody was ready to move away from the chisel-jawed profile as a symbol of New Hampshire on our license plates, road signs and other places.

“What would you replace it with?” pointed out Michael Madison, of Nashua, as he rested after a noontime jog alongside the Nashua River. “I think it’s the kind of an image that gives a sense of tradition.”

Madison holds that belief even though he never saw the Old Man, despite living “on and off my whole life” in New Hampshire, and says he wasn’t terribly sad when he heard that it fell.

“It didn’t have much of an emotional impact on me,” he said. “It was a bummer, but I wasn’t devastated.”

In contrast, husband and wife Mindy and John Denney, of Hampstead, who both grew up in New Hampshire, remember May 3, 2003, with sadness.

“It was devastating,” said Mindy Denney, as the couple enjoyed lunch on the sidewalk patio outside Martha’s Exchange. “We had all been there as children. We had gone up to see it.”

Their children, ages 12 and 16, never saw the Old Man of the Mountain since the couple was living outside of New Hampshire at the time, but they know about it, the couple said.

“I think that this is, and should be, the symbol (of the state),” John Denney said. “I think we need to see it on our signs.”

This strong pro-Old Man position was echoed by a couple of 20-somethings outside San Francisco Kitchen.

“My dad took me there. We hiked up and looked down on it,” said Curtis Morrow, of Nashua, who was in seventh grade when the Old Man fell. “I thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

His friend Adam Dugas, who was 18 at the time, agreed that the collapse was sad. “So many people had worked so hard to keep it there, the cables and mortar. But Mother Nature decided it was going, and it went.”

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@Telegraph_DaveB).