|The Etna, NH First Baptist - Hanover Center, NH First Congregational ChurchSunday Worship 10 AM||
GETTING TO KNOW...Gini Hawes
“Is it Mozart or is it Hayden? One can’t always be sure.” noted Lord Kenneth Clark in his television series “Civilization”. Well, throw in a little Cole Porter, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and we have a person in our congregation who is always sure. Gini Hawes has been such a prominent part of the life of our church community that she is already well known. And yet …
Where was your home? I was born in Strafford, New Hampshire, where I grew up in a farmhouse built by my grandfather. I started in a one-room schoolhouse and eventually graduated from high school in a class of eight. I was the salutatorian (by a half point!). My father was an accountant and my mother was a teacher and later served on the school board. Interestingly, they met at a choir rehearsal. I grew up in a Free Will Baptist Church and since then church has always been a central part of my life.
Was yours a musical family? Oh, yes. My grandmother, father, and mother all played piano, and grandmother and father played by ear. In fact, one of my memories is of us all getting in the family car and taking Sunday afternoon drives. The “folks” were in the front seat and my sister and I would be in the back. We sang all during those drives—World War I songs and hymns and the like. Family legend has it that when I was 18 months old I stood on the top step and sang God Bless America.
What were your instruments? I began taking piano lessons when I was five years old along with violin lessons and organ lessons later. I am afraid my violin career was short lived because I once put my violin case on a radiator. I don’t recommend it; no matter what we tried, the violin still fell apart. I pretty much developed my own piano technique, which follows my grandmother and father in that I play primarily by ear rather than sight reading.
When I was in school I began to play for all sorts of school events and town functions. In fact, the first time I ever played as an accompanist, it was for a singer in the local Catholic church. Later during college I played Sunday morning services for a Unitarian church.
Do you have a favorite style? Improvisational jazz is my favorite. I love Miles Davis, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ella Fitzgerald. I also enjoy Broadway show tunes, traditional hymns, and Gospel music.
Did you have any special desires as a young person? Yes, I always wanted to travel. I always loved going from place to place and I am very good at packing. A good bit of this wish was fulfilled during our years in the Air Force, and even today I am ready to help any of my family pack things up if they need help.
How did you meet your husband? He is a Hanover boy, but we met in college at the University of New Hampshire, where he was a couple of years ahead of me. We met on a blind date (almost literally on my part!). I wasn’t wearing my glasses or contact lenses and couldn’t see well. When he arrived at the house, I asked my girlfriend to go downstairs and see what he looked like, then come back up, help me down the stairs, and push me toward the right person. We were married in three months and have celebrated our 59th anniversary, not to mention having six children.
You might be interested to know that we eloped and married on a Saturday night after final exams and the following morning I had to play for services at the Unitarian church I mentioned earlier.
Tell us a bit about your family’s Air Force years. We had a wonderful time. We were stationed in Florida, England—where we were stationed with many Royal Air Force people and their families and where we were quartered in a full house—Texas, Montana, North Dakota, Alabama, California, Strategic Air Command Headquarters in Nebraska and finally Arizona. I still have friends from our duty in England. John was in strategic missiles, which made for very interesting and important duties at that period of history. We retired and came to Hanover in 1981.
Back in the early days of our service, there was a great deal more formality in service life than later. For example, service etiquette was very regimented, down to the type of silver service you had, the type and length of gloves the ladies were expected to wear, the social obligations of the wives, and the separation of officer and enlisted rates. Nevertheless, there was still great camaraderie.
How about your post-service career? I went to nursing school and achieved my RN while we were in Nebraska. When we “retired” to Hanover, I went to work at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in the OB-GYN service until I left in 2010. Those were wonderful years and the staff had such great professionalism and a real sense of fun. Of course, after I left Dartmouth-Hitchcock, I did visiting nurse association work and worked in a nursing home for a while. Then, almost by chance, I had an opportunity to begin babysitting, which I do now. Currently, I babysit for a lovely couple from Morocco.
How did you come to the First Baptist Church? A former minister at my home church had been the minister at the First Baptist; so I migrated to it. I felt very comfortable in a “country” church. I joined the choir and then, when the opportunity came about, began to play the piano and organ for many years.
If newcomers to the area were looking for a church home, how would you describe our church? I would tell them that it is a very friendly place with relaxed services, a fine Sunday School program, and a good musical ministry.
Interview by Ralph Puckett and Karen Hoffmeister
GETTING TO KNOW...Jane Graham
As a young woman, Jane Graham moved two states eastward and we are glad she did. Jane has had a varied and interesting life in the Upper Valley, where she is a member of the Hanover Center Congregational Church and has graced the life of our community. It is a pleasure to get to know someone dedicated to a life of service leavened with gratitude.
Where was your original home? I was born in upper New York state a few miles from the Vermont border and lived on a farm. I grew up in the East Whitehall Brick Church, which was built in 1826 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Five generations of my family were baptized there. You might be interested to know that the church was heated by two wood stoves and that my grandfather used to supply the wood and build the fires before every service. Just across the road from the church was the one room schoolhouse where I began my education. At 192 years and counting, the church is still without central heat and electricity. Every year it hosts one service on the second Sunday in August.
Will you be there this year? Absolutely!
Tell us a bit about your education and career. After college I became a Registered Nurse and joined my brother in Hanover, where he was an intern at the original Hitchcock clinic. He eventually became a gastroenterologist and worked at the Mayo Clinic for over 40 years. I served at the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital for many years in different capacities, the last of which was at Dick’s House, the college infirmary, before the college became co-educational.
Along the way I married John and we had a daughter and a son. We were truly blessed with five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
And after Hitchcock and Dartmouth? In 1966, I got into school nursing, which I loved. I began in Hanover, which had about 1600 children in grades K-12. When the Ray School opened in 1970, I moved there. It was perfect for me! The little ones were so open and teachable and the staff were so close knit. It has an amazing reputation that continues to this day.
Did you have any memorable experiences as a school nurse? Among many, one in particular stands out. It was the day Stanley the Python made the trip from the Montshire to the Ray kindergarten class. All the children were excited, but so, unfortunately, was Stanley. He somehow managed to bite one of the little girls on the cheek. She was not really hurt, but the pandemonium was general. I must say that Stanley’s visit was indeed a dumb idea. Interestingly, a number of years later, a young lady came up to me and asked if I remembered her. It turned out that she was the little girl who had the too close encounter with Stanley.
As I understand it, your career extended beyond school nursing. It did. I retired from school nursing in 1989, after 23 years. My husband and I regularly attended Dartmouth sports events. After he passed away in 1998, I really missed the experience. My son suggested that I work in the Athletic Department. I have done so for 18 years, am still loving it, and have even added one long morning at the alumni gym to my duties at football, soccer, and hockey games. Over the years I have met so many nice people who have become friends.
What are the prospects for the Big Green this year? The football team will do well, but I worry about the hockey.
You mentioned that you have lived in the same house in Hanover for over 60 years. Does one ever graduate from being a “flatlander”? My husband was a true Vermonter and always considered me a flatlander. Out of respect for him I remain a flatlander.
How did you come to be a part of the Hanover Center Congregational Church? I attended many churches in the Upper Valley over the years, but the Hanover Center Church has always seemed a perfect fit.
If newcomers to our area asked you for suggestions for a church home, what would you advise them?
I would simply invite them to come experience our church.
I feel blessed to have lived a healthy and active life and to have a grandson nearby who always keeps me busy.
Interview by Ralph Puckett and Karen Hoffmeister