As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with extreme pain due to severe, and sometimes debilitating, Osteoarthritis. Many of my online friends and acquaintances have offered guest posts, which have allowed me the opportunity to concentrate more on my novel, less on the blog, and work through pain management techniques—lots of hot baths, stretching, feeling sorry for myself.
Yep, one of the symptoms of early-age arthritis is depression, and for about two days I was near tears and not because of the pain. People tend to be in denial or ask the “why me, why now” kinds of questions. I have a follow-up doctor’s visit August 8th. They’re going to take more x-rays, talk to me about bone fusing techniques, tell me to quit my weekend job. Blah blah blah. I don’t have time for any of this.
Fuck ’em, and fuck my leg.
Last week, I strapped on my brace and climbed the 76-foot-tall Garrison Hill tower. The current metal and wood observation tower was built in 1993. When I heard the tower was registered as a national historical site, I had to laugh, because I mean I graduated from high school in 1991, so maybe I should be registered as a historical site too, but this is the third tower at the park.
The first tower was erected by Joseph Ham and Harrison Haley in 1880. The original tower was designed by architect B.D. Stewart, and was similar in design to a tower at Coney Island. The tower was known as “Haley’s and Ham’s Outlook,” and had a restaurant at the base. At the top, one could watch the skyline and examine the White Mountains via telescope. It cost ten cents to climb the five story all wood tower with open balconies on each floor. In 1883, for six cents you could take the train or the trolley to the tower. Haley planned a 3000 foot toboggan run as well, but the project never saw daylight. Still, 500 train/trolley tickets were sold each week, and men gathered on a weekly basis to play in a roller hockey league. Picnic areas and hiking trails were also landscaped.
In 1888, Dover purchased the park, Haley sold his railroad shares to Mrs. Mary Edna Hill Gray Dow, who became the first woman railroad president in the U.S. Sadly, in 1911 Haley’s and Ham’s Outlook burned.But by 1913, another tower had been built of all steel, commissioned by Abbey Sawyer to honor her late husband. Sawyer’s tower was removed in 1990 due to safety concerns.
The 1993 tower was built by volunteers and donations, and if you squint, you can read various Foster’s newspaper articles about how the new tower was built. Right now, there’s not much to do at the park except climb the tower. A small kiddie slide sits in the tower’s shadow as well as a picnic table. Plans for further development are, however, underway and slated to begin 2019-2020.
As I climbed the tower, I noted all the various bits of graffiti, and was at first disappointed by the inherent destruction, but found the messages left inspiriting.
And then the view:
Today, it no longer costs ten cents to climb, but is free and uplifting.