August 17, 2006

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Nashua Publisher's Note: The art of remembrance
By†Jeff Rapsis

At my motherís house this weekend, I was reminded that Nashuaís big art show in Greeley Park is this weekend. Because right in her kitchen hangs a modest oil painting done on a piece of slate ó one that I got for her at last yearís Nashua Area Artists Association show.

The painting is of the village center of Harrisville, a small town to the west of here where both my father and my mother spent time as kids long before they met each other. Later, my parents bought a lake camp there, so itís where my brothers and I spent our childhood summers.

The Harrisville connection on both sides of my family is one of those weird coincidences that sometimes occur in life.

What happened was my fatherís family moved out there from Nashua in the 1920s for work in the local textile mill, though they later returned to Nashua. Totally separately, my motherís father trekked out there from Nashua in the 1930s (they called it ďSiberiaĒ), bought some land in the woods and built a hunting cabin for him and his buddies.

My father and mother, both Nashua natives, met each other in the years following World War II. Imagine their surprise when Harrisville popped up.

My father never lost touch with the place. He was a professional pilot, and for some reason that part of the world has attracted a lot of pilots, both active and retired. So in summer, he would put floats on his plane and go pond-hopping, visiting pilots and other old friends.

Though my fatherís been gone for nearly 40 years (he would have been 90 this year!) and my mother hasnít been up to Harrisville in years, the connections remain.

Get this: A couple of years ago I ran in a 5K race in the town and happened to win a raffle prize ó a $10 gift certificate to the Harrisville Store. The nice woman who gave it to me asked if I was related to Jack Rapsis, the pilot. I said yes, and she confessed that ďsome years agoĒ she and a friend as young girls used to hide in the blueberry bushes along the lake and watch my father work on a float plane without his shirt on!

Anyway, the Harrisville painting now hangs in my motherís kitchen right next to the door to the bathroom, so you can be sure it gets looked at a lot. I had a few beers at a family gathering this past weekend, which is why I saw it several times, which was at least enough to remind me that this weekendís art show is coming up.

Thatís the great thing about the NAAAís annual show. You donít have to be a collector of fine art or spend a lot of money to find something thatís meaningful to you. Itís real art by real people, and thereís such a variety, youíre sure to find something unique and special that speaks to you as much as the painting of Harrisville speaks to my mother.

The show runs Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19 and 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Itís at Greeley Park, which is the big green place on Concord Street just north of downtown.

This year Iíll be looking for a picture of a shirtless guy working on a float plane. If my mother doesnít like it, I know a woman I can sell it to no problem.


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