By Rob Fay
This week I hi-jack this Column as a GET WELL to Rich.
It was 1985. My family moved from Westport Massachusetts to Litchfield N.H. I remember that day vividly. It was a different Litchfield back then. My new house (The yellow one in front of Innes Field) was the last house on the road. With miles of woods and ATV trails, I could see snowmobile tracks coming in and out of my back yard. It was cold, desolate and unwelcoming.
My Mom and Dad had basically dragged me kicking and screaming to this place in the middle of my freshman year. I did not want to be here. I did not plan to stay. The move really affected me. I considered suicide. My parents put me in therapy. I didn’t speak to my father for at least a year. I was miserable.
My sister was a fifth grader and was lucky enough that our new neighborhood had some girls her age. Amy Gault, Jessica McDougal and Nicole Lascelles were quick to take her in.
I rarely left my room. Never went outside.
One day Steph came home from playing over Nikki’s house. She told me “Nikki’s Dad asked how you were doing”. I was shocked to hear that anyone cared to ask. I never met Nikki’s Dad. Steph must have mentioned to him that I was a bit of a recluse.
Rich Lascelles often asked my sister and my parents how is was doing. He could sense I was having a rough go of it.
After a year or so old wounds began to heal and I would play wiffleball with some of the neighborhood boys. Although 5 or 6 years younger than me it was a way to get out of the house and play some sports. I was coming out of my shell. Rich WAS the Recreation Committee in those days and was in charge of all the fields. He could have contracted any old landscaper but he asked me to mow Brickyard field. I can’t remember how much it paid but I guarantee it came out of his own pocket. He knew some responsibility and a little money would go a long way.
A few years passed and I made some friends. We liked to play basketball but in the winter it was almost impossible. The only gym in town was GMS and the Principal wasn’t always keen on afterschool pick up games in his building.
Talent Hall was still under reconstruction from a fire and , of course, Rich was in charge of that as well. From time to time He would let us in to play basketball. The hoops were still useable and if you could ignore the cold you could have some good pick up games in there. He always looked out for the kids. He still asked “How’s Robbie?” whenever he saw my mom or sister.
To this day it still feels weird to call him “Rich” and not “Mr. Lascelles”. Whether it’s a task to digitize his old family videos or help with a tribute to Pat Jewett, I would do anything for him. We need you to get well soon, Rich! This town still needs some to lookout for us the way you looked out for me.
See you soon, Mr. Lascelles.