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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Renaming Jew Pond the right thing to do

Letter to the Editor

A good deal has been said about the proposal to change the name of Jew Pond in Mont Vernon.

Before you dismiss this effort as “politically correct” or as a misguided attempt to remove a part of our history, I suggest you have a look on YouTube at “The Story Behind Jew Pond,” a beautiful documentary filmed by University of New Hampshire senior Katelyn Dobbs.

The pond has been known by several names. It started out and was known for decades as Spring Pond. Many continue to call it Carleton Pond.

But the name of the pond was so inconsequential that our town historian didn’t even mention it in the 1958 “History of Mont Vernon.”

How did Spring Pond become Jew Pond? One Historical Society member noted that “probably it was an insult.” Another said it was “kind of a snide joke.” 

Some have called it a pejorative, not unlike “Jew lawyer” or “Jewing down the price.”  In an era where our own hotel would not allow Jewish guests, there can be no doubt that it was derogatory.

While I understand we have many important issues before us, this issue speaks to our values and convictions, things that still matter even in difficult economic times.

By the townspeople affirming that we want to be known for doing the right thing, not for perpetuating an insult, we have a rare opportunity to right something wrong; let us do so.

Richard Masters

Mont Vernon