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  Peter Randall '63

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Smuttynose Island
For generations of UNHers, the Isles of Shoals have been a place for study and reflection. Photo by Peter Randall '63

By Kimberly Swick Slover

See also:
The Learning Island
The Photos of Peter Randall
Visiting the Isles

Still she haunts the rocky Isles of Shoals, the ghost of a fair young bride who long ago was left behind by her groom, the pirate Blackbeard, to guard his buried treasure while he fled a British fleet. Wrapped in a dark sea cloak, she keeps watch on the far horizon and whispers, over and over, "He will come again."

The lonely ghost is an alluring icon of the Isles of Shoals, as much a part of their mystique as their stark beauty, abundant marine life and colorful history. These nine small islands off the New England coast have long enchanted members of the University of New Hampshire community, who return each year to conduct research, seek artistic inspiration or simply escape the clamor of the present day.

On a cold, rainy night in March, a crowd of locals fills a room at Portsmouth's Urban Forestry Center for a talk and slide show about the Isles of Shoals. The speaker is Bob Tuttle '43, a handsome retired medical school dean with the weathered look of an outdoorsman. Tuttle first visited the isles in 1941 as a UNH microbiology student to help Professor C. Floyd Jackson open the university's zoological laboratory for the summer. He now spends about 50 days a year on the isles and has become their unofficial historian. Tonight, he begins his presentation by gently teasing a woman in the front row. "Meg, I don't know why you're here. You've heard this talk 38 times." Then he proceeds to talk about his "favorite place on Earth."

In 1614, England's Captain John Smith was one of the first European visitors to the Isles of Shoals. He named the isles after himself, naturally, and two years later, in A Description of New England, called them the "remarkeablest isles . . . a many of barren rocks, the most overcome with such shrubs and sharpe whins you can hardly pass them. . . ."

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