Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Clean-up Crew

Fixing some, adding others, and just messing around with a few others:

Green Machine
A month or so before the start of the high school basketball season, a friend of mine who is quite knowledgeable of the Class L scene suggested that Manchester Central, despite graduating a ton of talent, would "still be pretty good."

Now we find out how accurate that comment is as the Little Green are undefeated through the end of January. Add in a three-game sweep in the Queen City Christmas Tournament, and you understand why the Little Green has sights on a Class L three-peat.

The Good Old Orange, Blue and Black
Local sports fan Brian Bendiks was a 16-year old on Long Island when the Dodgers and Giants fled NYC, and he is sure that the color combination of the New York Mets came together in hopes of rekindling some fan interest for the Mets, the new team in town. In fact, he remembers reading about it. He reminded me that the Polo Grounds (home field of the Giants) was in deplorable condition and that the average attendance figures for the Giants (6,000 per game) and the Dodgers (20,000 per game) was a far cry from today’s attendance.

While much younger, local sports media personality Mike Murphy, a staunch New York sports lover, chimed in saying my older son was correct, that the blue and orange indeed represents the melding of the Dodgers and Giants colors.

How did I ever miss that all these years? Maybe I was paying too much attention to Ed Kranepool, Choo-Choo Coleman, Elio Chacon, Ron Swoboda, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, a young, pickle-brine soaking Nolan Ryan (and the very attractive Ruth Ryan), and Wayne Garrett. (And for the record, that’s without looking at any reference material, which accounts for any misspellings!)

Not doubting Mr. Murphy, but those colors look an awful lot like Syracuse University colors to me.

To Err Is
Writing this blog is like the Flying Wallendas without a net.......there's no editor to correct my gaffes. To wit:

The name of the park off the old Dump Road is Terrill Park, not Terrell Park. Hope I didn't offend any Terrells. Thanks for the editing goes to eagle- eye Paul Dallaire.

Kind of neat thing happening at Rundlett Middle School (real hard not to type Junior High, but I managed). The basketball coach of the boys B team is Mark Paveglio. The coach of the girls B team is Bob Paveglio, father of Mark.

So Bob and Mark get to ride the bus together to away games, chat about game strategy before and after the games, kibitz at practices, and just hang around like buds.

Kind makes your heart skip a beat, doesn't it?

Way Back and (thankfully) Out of Here
There are a number of us who yelled “hurrah” when the Red Sox deep-sixed Jerry Trubiano from its radio broadcast team. Apparently, Boston Globe sports writer Nick Cafardo didn’t see things the same way. In one of his Sunday sports sections this month, Cafardo added the following in his Appropos of Nothing segment:

“5. I still can’t understand why the Red Sox let Jerry Trubiano go.”

My guess, Mr. Cafardo, is that being a sportswriter – even the Red Sox beat writer for a while – you don’t have the opportunity to listen to many Red Sox games on the radio. If you did, you would understand what the rest of us understand: Trubiano was horrible and will not be missed. Sorry. He’s probably a great guy. But thankfully I have listened to my last “Way back!” only to find out that the shortstop is camped under a pop fly. And I won’t miss the inane bantering between Trubiano and Joe Castiglione that either went nowhere or agitated Castiglione, who, by the way, is not one of my favorites either.

That’s what happens when you grow up listening to Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin, Ken Coleman, Bob Prince (Pittsburg), Jim Woods (Pittsburg), and Bob Murphy. Trubiano and Castiglione just don’t stack up.

New Trade Manny Idea
If you don’t read Bill Simmons ( at under the Page 2 section , you are missing out. One of his recurring features is his Mailbag edition. Some of his readers are just plain creative and his answers are equally entertaining. Such as this creative way of dealing with Manny Ramirez:

Mailbag: The Sox should just tell Manny he got traded to Boston. He won't know the difference.--Mike H, Noxen, N.H.

Sports Guy (Simmons): I love this idea. They could go all out with this: Call him up, tell him he's been traded to Boston, have him pack up all of his stuff, fly him in circles in the team jet for five hours, then drop him off in Cambridge and tell him he's on the West Coast. He might fall for it. By the time the season starts, it will be too late for him to complain. I really think this could work.


Jim Veacock
His long right arm would shoot out from behind the old fashioned bubble chest protector. It would take a mini-pump before heading straight up as the man bellowed, "Steee-riiiiiiike." You could hear him all over the White's Park field, along White and Beacon Streets, and partway up Charles Street.

Jim Veacock umpired more of our games than anyone else. You may have argued with him on occasion or not liked his strike zone from time to time, but you always knew he was doing his best.......and you could guarantee that he knew the rules so if something funky happened, he'd make it right.

For me he was more than just an umpire. In my sophomore year of college I decided to take up umpiring as a means of making some money. Veacock was right there ready to help me learn the intricacies of positioning, strike zones, command of the game, and most of all, the rules. We'd work games together and talk baseball rules between innings and on the ride to and from the games.

He shared his knowledge and experiences with us because he wanted us to succeed, to carry the Concord umpiring torch on when he decided to get done.

Armed with my own supply of Knotty Problems baseball rules puzzlers first supplied to me by Walter Smith, I'd pick Veacock's brain for answers to the trickier questions. And he'd give me some from his own personal experiences. For a kid who loved the inside part of baseball, these meetings with Veacock were a pure joy.

Like other talented people in Our Town - the Old Scout, Ruel Colby comes quickly to mind - Jim Veacock likely could have taken his chest protector, his old mask soldered together in a dozen or more spots, and his balls/strikes indicator and umpired at much higher levels. Instead he chose to stay in Concord and our town's history is that much richer for it.

He moved away from Concord a number of years ago, after retiring from the Post Office. He spent his later years in Florida, reportedly umpiring games well into his 70s.

Now the local newspaper brings us the news that Jim Veacock, Umpire, has passed away at the age of 90.

Rest in peace, Jim.

Paul Dupont
His name didn't appear in bright lights, his ego such that it didn't need stroking for his great and wonderful deeds performed in the world of Concord education. Nor did he ever need to chase his just rewards for teaming with his buddy Tom Thurston to keep Camp Fatima and Camp Bernadette afloat when both camps teetered on the brink of closing.

As directors of the two camps, they could have chucked it and let the camps close. But instead Dupont and Thurston put together video tapes (or was it slide shows?) and ventured off to Long Island and New Jersey in search of kids who would benefit from a summer or two or three in New Hampshire's wonderland.

The success of the two camps can't be measured in any quantitative means. But the love kids who attended the camps developed for each other has lasted much longer than a summer stay. Indeed, the bonds these kids developed have stayed with them forever.

And Paul Dupont was the common denominator for all of these kids.

When the tragedy of September 11, 2001, struck, I happened to be passing Paul's School Street house around noontime. Earlier in the day, a friend of mine had told me that many of the kids who attended Fatima over the years had jobs in and around the Twin Towers and that Paul Dupont had kept in touch with them over the years.

As I turned onto North Spring Street, Paul was coming down his back stairs. I pulled over and we talked. He was stunned - naturally - by the tragedy of the morning, and tears were welling in his eyes as he was thinking aloud of all the great campers - well educated, full of promise -who had moved on in life and taken jobs in New York City.

He had kept in touch with so many of the kids that his mind was racing, wondering which ones were in NYC that day, which ones had escaped the destruction, and sadly which ones were not as fortunate.

Kids - now adults - many of whom escaped the tragedy that day were at Paul's funeral last fall, bonding with friends from years gone by, honoring a person who made a difference in their lives.

Paul Dupont had that effect on the lives of many people in Our Town and beyond.

Betty Hoadley has written a eulogy for Paul that will appear in an upcoming newsletter for the Concord teaching community. She has graciously allowed me to print her thoughts.

"If a filled church for a memorial mass is a testament to a life well lived, then Paul Dupont must have had a life especially well lived.

On Saturday, October 21, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Dupont, an educator with 37 years of service to the Concord School District. He had been a teacher at Walker School, Broken Ground School and Rundlett Middle School. He had the unique distinction of having served as assistant principal at the middle school as well as serving as principal at the Garrison , Walker and Conant schools earlier in his career.

Dupont has been characterized as a “straight shooter,” one who “called a spade, a spade,” and one who clearly let you know how he felt about a matter. Though not trained as a school guidance counselor, he gladly took on that role with Concord school students and with his campers (and staff) at his long time summer work at Camp Fatima. Young people listened to Paul and trusted him. Many of his students were appreciative of the way he explained mathematics, emphasizing the logic and relevance of the skills he was teaching.

Paul Dupont was a people person with adults as well. Staff members liked to work with him and for him. His stability, his interest in every staff person and his ever-present smile resulted in good school morale. As one secretary at Rundlett put it, “He was a joy to work for.”

Dupont’s interest and involvement with Concord athletics was both varied and continuous. He served as the first CHS varsity men’s hockey team coach at a time when the games were played at White Park. His wife, Bev, remembers him returning home at midnight on winter evenings after spending some cold hours spraying the rink to make a new and perfect surface. He was active in the Concord Youth Hockey program for many years. And in more recent years, he served as ticket seller and ticket taker at CHS games and matches. Why he even joined the “mall walkers” group after he retired from the school district! Looking around at his funeral, one could see representatives of all these groups, and others as well.

Paul and Bev Dupont raised five children, all of whom went to Concord schools. The next generation includes 14 grandchildren. It is a close and supportive family with their adult children having many memories of a typical Concord childhood made better still by summers spent at the church camp in Gilmanton. Though Paul was a professional educator and a faithful community volunteer, he balanced that with being a devoted and attentive father.
Concord is fortunate to have so many men and women citizens like Paul Dupont who care so much about this community, care about its young people and actually make differences in their lives. He exemplified a unique blend of educator and volunteer. We thank him for all of that. And, along with his family, we mourn his having left us." - Betty Hoadley

Rest in peace, Paul. Your deeds are done and your memory will carry on.

Jeff Smith


Anonymous said...

Mr. Dupont was my 7th grade math teacher. He was without a doubt one of the best teachers I ever had. I am just now learning of his passing and am very saddened. May God bless both you and your family, Mr. Dupont, as he has blessed us with you.

Jay Sanders

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