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Letters to the editor

Old Farmer's Almanac

Weather Ahead

Regarding your nice sidebar concerning the accuracy of The Old Farmer's Almanac's long-range weather forecasts (Winter '01), I thought you might be interested to know how we judge ourselves. Fact is, we don't evaluate our day-to-day forecasts as much as the specific precipitation and temperature forecasts for each month in each of our 16 U.S. regions, as well as five in Canada. In the last seven winter seasons, the accuracy percentage of these two all-important categories has varied between 60 percent and 90 percent. So we're convinced we're doing something right!

Now, you might ask, what about our old "80 percent accuracy" claim that hasn't ever varied in 210 years? Well, for instance, of the five winter months in New Hampshire (November-March), I don't recall our ever missing more than one!

As to our friend Andrew Rothovious, whom you quoted as saying our daily forecasts are correct only half the time, I'd point out that when you consider how many kinds of weather we can have on a given day, 50 percent accuracy is pretty darn good, no? (Would "uncanny" be too strong a word?)

Oh, I might add that, except for August, this coming summer in New England will be a bit cooler than normal followed by, we predict, fall, and then--oh, no!--winter again!

Judson D. Hale Sr.
Editor-in-Chief, The Old Farmer's Almanac
and Yankee magazine

Hooked on Jazz

I'm a jazz fan and saw your Fall '00 magazine with Clark Terry on the cover. I knew he did something at UNH, but I had no idea UNH offered so much in the way of jazz. Your alumni magazine is very informative, well written and well laid out. Much better than mine, which almost seems like a sports magazine.

Dick Sevatson
Dublin, N.H.

Hockey Highs

Thanks for the great article on UNH hockey (Winter '01). As co-editor of BlueLines, the official newsletter of the Friends of UNH Hockey, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Wildcats reached the ECAC final in 1977, not 1978, and that the team advanced to the NCAA final game in 1999. And mention should be made of the outstanding graduation rate (well over 90 percent) for hockey players at UNH. In this era of semi-professionalism on college campuses, UNH alumni should take pride in knowing that those who perform on Whittemore Center ice are students as well as athletes.

These corrections aside, kudos to Steve Hardy for capturing the flavor of what is so special about college hockey in Durham. My wife, Karen '72, and I have been faithful followers of men's hockey at UNH since we were students 30 years ago. Over time we have met many great coaches, players and fans, many of whom have become lifelong friends. Beyond the wins and losses, returning to the campus every weekend during hockey season has allowed us to maintain contact with the university and keep alive our interest in the future of UNH. And it certainly makes writing a check so much easier!

Gregory R. Ambrose '72G
Lynn, Mass.

Taking the Train

I read with interest the article in the Winter '01 issue about the Durham railroad station. The article notes only one serious train accident in Durham through 1958. Unfortunately, there was another accident in what I recall as the fall of 1957 or 1958. The brother of a UNH student was caught between two passing trains late one night and lost his life.

Myron R. Ashapa '61
Foxboro, Mass.

I enjoyed the piece on the upcoming resumption of passenger train service between Portland and Boston, including stops in Durham. One thing did jump out at me as I read the piece, and that was the reference to the year when the trains stopped running. I remember the trains well, as I took the train to the university several times when I was an undergraduate student here.

In coming back as a faculty member, I remember distinctly taking the passenger train to Boston several times. It was in the fall of 1965 that the action was finally taken to discontinue passenger service on this line. There were pleas, which went unheeded, to save the passenger service, and then there was the final passenger run, with some fanfare, and with the promised efforts by some to work quickly to resurrect the passenger service. The rest, as they say, is history. It may be that decisions and/or agreements were made/struck in1958 or otherwise, but the actual end of passenger service was in the fall of 1965.

Victor Azzi '55
Rye, N.H.

I enjoyed the article in the UNH Magazine about the train service that went through Durham. However, I believe there is an error, as I used to take the train from Durham to North Station when I was a freshman in 1961-1962. In addition, in 1964, my girlfriend (now my wife) used to occasionally take the train to UNH to visit me. I know this for a fact because I did not meet her until the fall semester in 1964.

The article stated that the passenger service stopped in 1958. I know the train in the early '60s continued on to Dover, but do not know if it went to Portland. Perhaps the service was curtailed in the late '50s and stopped in the mid-'60s?

George Craig '67
Burlington, Mass.

Editor's Note: Oops! We were off track. Train service did not end in 1958. But we were in good company. According to both the Everett B. Sackett history of the university and the Durham town history, passenger service was discontinued in 1958. The 1957 B&M Railroad annual report had this to say: "In recognition of this change in the American traveling habits, the Boston and Maine filed petitions with the regulatory commissions of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont calling for the discontinuance of some 150 lightly-patronized passenger trains." By May 1958, some 140 trains were approved for discontinuance, apparently including train service to Durham.

On Sept. 28, 1960, the B&M Railroad sold the Durham train depot to the university for $1. The deed included the condition that the depot be maintained in such a way that it could accommodate railroad passengers. The Dairy Bar opened for business in 1965.

Since so many readers recall using the train until 1965, it would appear that "approved for discontinuance" did not necessarily mean "discontinued," at least not immediately. Thanks to all who wrote to us for setting the record straight!

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