Letters to the Editor

Uncle Ben

Virginia Stuart's fine article "Cents and Sensibility" in the Spring 2006 magazine provided me with more information than I had ever had before regarding "Uncle Ben." I am a descendant of Ben Thompson, a great-great-great niece living in Portland, Ore. My maternal side of the family were Thompsons. Lucien Thompson was my great uncle. I have Mary Thompson's 1837 sampler on our dining area wall.

Are there any Thompson descendants who live in New England? I know some in the Western United States. I would like to hold a Thompson reunion in Durham if enough people can be located. If you are related to Benjamin Thompson, please write me at 1140 NE 190th Pl., Portland, OR 97230.

Judge Ebenezer Thompson, Ben Thompson's grandfather, would surely take issue with Virginia Stuart's observation that he "stole ammunition and weapons out from under the British at Fort William and Mary in New Castle" in 1774. In fact, when Durham's Major General John Sullivan (the leader of the second raid on Fort William and Mary on Dec. 15, 1774) made the same claim, Judge Thompson took him soundly to task, stating in the March 13, 1789, issue of the New Hampshire Spy that the contention "[t]hat I ever was concerned, directly or indirectly, in taking the stores from Fort William and Mary, in 1774, is absolutely false." Thompson, who presumably later assisted in disposing of seized items, started out with Sullivan on the raid but, like others, apparently returned home before actually reaching the fort.

The events at Fort William and Mary and the roles of participants are particular research interests of one of your readers, a former president and historian of the N.H. Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. My web article on the raids (containing a link to a list of identified participants) can be found at http://www.nhssar.org/essays/FortConstitution.htm.

"Cents and Sensibility" was a treat, but I cannot remember a Durham waterfront on the Oyster River. If you can explain where this was located, I would appreciate it.

Virginia Stuart '75, '80G replies: Disputing the claims of local historians over the years, Thomas Kehr '83 points to compelling evidence that the judge did not actually arrive at Fort William and Mary (although he did help ferry the military stores back to Durham). Regarding Durham's waterfront village: it was located on the Oyster River just east of what is now Route 108.

The Big Picture

I was surprised and pleased to see the mural on the cover of the spring edition. It might be of interest to you to know more about it. My friend and former instructor John Hatch was commissioned by my uncle, the late Bradford W. McIntire '25, a district court judge and businessman in Durham, to do the mural in 1954 for his new home. After Judge McIntire's death, his widow, Helen Spinney McIntire, sold the painting to some individuals who wanted to preserve the interpretation of an historic account of life in former days by donating it to the Durham Community Church, where it hangs today.

Editor's note: Posters of the mural of Durham by the late UNH art professor John Hatch are now available. Visit www.alumni.unh.edu/marketplace for more details.

Books vs. Bytes

"Digital Dimond" by Clare Kittredge was well done and very timely. As a book lover and part of a family that currently owns well over 12,000 books, I am not too sure that I ever want to relinquish the look, smell or physical presence of books. But as an executive M.B.A. student with a paper due every week, I greatly appreciate access to various web-based sources of data. I don't have the time after working all day to go somewhere to get the information I need. When Ms. Kittredge quotes Bill Ross, "...It needs to be a meaningful collection and usable to people," I see that the care and diligence I remember from my days as a student at UNH remain. Nearly 30 of the 12,000 books in our "meaningful collection" are from a collection of political science books discarded in the spring of 1998 by professor Tom Trout. He flung them out of his office, announcing that with the fall of the Soviet Union the books were worthless: they had all become "history" and he taught current affairs and political science! Ravenous, incredulous students--myself among them--swooped down on the collection and cleared that "history" away, and the poor history department was never the wiser over what it had lost.

Dog Lover Revealed

The unidentified man feeding water to the dogs in the photo on Page 42 of the spring issue is my husband, Jeffrey "Bass" Basseches '85. The dogs were Millie and Alex. Bass has lived in the Seacoast area since graduation, and owns a garment dying business in Somersworth, N.H. He still plays soccer and goes to see Truffle, a popular band from UNH that still plays in the area.

Editor's note: Our thanks to a number of alums, including Jeffrey Alan Hoye '01, Aveen Kenny Berger '88, Drew Kiefaber '86, '89G and Ellen Pulsifer Ervin '88, who also identified the dog-friendly student in the photo of Senior Picnic 1985.

Twice More Into the Fray

In the spring letters column, Ms. Butler-McGee corrects Mr. Leavenworth's version of a familiar quotation from Winston Churchill. Her correction needs correcting. The adjective Churchill used was not "errant" but "arrant." Look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls.

How my great Shakespeare professor William Hennessy would have loved your tiny tinkling tempest in a bat's belfry regarding Churchill's famous putdown of preposition pedantry. You still haven't got it right: It's "arrant" pedantry up with which he would not put. As in the "arrant knave(s)" that appear in "Hamlet" and elsewhere in English literature, meaning "complete" and "utter." While UNH Magazine may already have a "staff grammarian," it also obviously needs to add a "vocabularian."

Clicks? Fiddlesticks!

While thumbing through my sister's copy of the spring UNH Magazine, I came across Jody Record's essay, "Going Places." As a scholar of philology, I was slightly appalled to see Xhosa described as "a language that combines words with clicking sounds." The clicks found in Xhosa, and several other African languages, are just like any sound (or letter) found in English. We would not refer to Xhosa as being a combination of words and clicks any more than we would refer to English as a language combining words and vowels; they are simply a fundamental part of the sound inventory of the language. This may seem to be a trivial point and certainly did not detract from Record's pleasant anecdote, but I felt the need to clear up this misunderstanding in order to avoid the misconception that other languages are so different they may be beyond the grasp of our (English) intellect. They are in fact, not so foreign when studied more closely.

Happiness is a Comic Strip Exhibit

Thanks to the magazine and especially Dale R. Valena, our UNH Museum curator, for researching and creating the exhibit "Campus Comics: Cartooning at UNH." The annotations on the events of the times were an amusing as well as insightful look at life at UNH over the past century. I hope it will inspire current and future students to continue "cartooning at UNH."

For the Record

The Spring 2006 article "Into the Woods" stated that the population of New Hampshire in 2000 was 2.5 million. It was, in fact, 1,235,736.