My friend Dunn C. Head and I were observing the first snow fall in Keene while having our coffee the other morning.
Dunn said, “It’s good that in Keene we have services ready to provide for the needy in good weather and bad. It would be a shame to have people scrounging for food, sleeping on the sidewalks with newspapers for cover.”
“Well,” I said, “we have the Salvation Army, churches and The Community Kitchen and others, for meals and support. Melinda Cambiar, all alone, after graduating from KSC, started The Community Kitchen service in the 1980s. Getting The Community Kitchen started, alone and without any facilities, churches providing spaces, many volunteers, is a fascinating history that needs to be recorded.
“Mindy, now Dr. Cambiar, recently passed on the kitchen to very able hands and she now operates Hundred Nights Inc. providing overnight services to individuals and families.”
“Will that be enough if we have a cruel winter and economic conditions worsen as many economic experts seem to be forecasting?” asked Dunn, taking a bite of his jelly donut.
“Wipe the jelly off your chin, Dunn. I’m sure that Keene area citizens will rise to help — after all we have a history of aiding the indigent and those unfortunate to be caught up in the complexities of life.”
“All gone,” wiping his chin Dunn asked, “What history are you talking about?”
“Yep, wiped clean — gone,” I said, “Well; the story is that years ago, in winter mostly, especially in the railroad era, when the Keene jail was located in the center of town, the prisoners were sent home to return in the morning and the jail was opened for the homeless, then mostly the railroad ‘bums,’ to spend the night in the warmth of the jail. So the story goes — I may be wrong.”
“Well that was good thinking by the City Fathers!,” Dunn observed.
“Yep,” I said,”There is nothing, absolutely nothing (nada), greater than a thinking human animal whose nearest evolutionary DNA relative is the chimpanzee.
“Got to see if the snow shovel is in the garage — see you tomorrow.”
197 Water St., Apt. 326