As we in the Deerfield Valley are edging closer to the anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, I want to remind us all of how close we came to legal and historical disaster in Wilmington. We would have had in the future no birth, death, or marriage certificate records; no deed transfer records, survey maps, no written historical notation of the town’s 261 year trajectory had Susie Haughwout, our town clerk, not had the prescience to check on her downtown offices at 8 am on that miserable Sunday morning. Rallying Pat Johnson, Larry Nutting, Jim Burke, and Ann Manwaring to rescue our town records, the five of them piled the volumes, maps, and ledgers on the rolling office chairs, ferried them to the elevator and up to the upstairs meeting room, trip after trip for two hours, until it was no longer safe to stay in the building.
It boggles the mind to think how crippled the town would have been if those documents had been lost or damaged. The deed to my newly purchased house went down the river with my lawyer’s office, so I had a small taste of those consequences. When you run into any of those five people downtown this month, be sure to thank them for their contribution to our town’s continuity.