Another fine afternoon of Rotarian fellowship came to order as Stanford Cross led us in a rousing rendition of America the Beautiful and Rev. Allen brought us together with words of thanks.  After digging into our lunch of carved roast and sweet potato salad, the meeting opened with the announcement of guests including Mary Bailey, David Moore, Bill Duncan, and Cindi Shanley – all of whom we hope to have join our ranks in the coming months.  Today’s meeting also enjoyed two visiting Rotarians:  Tom Grella (Milford) and Alyson Graybill (Hampton).


Neil Ouellett and Butch Ricci next came to the microphone to give the 2-minute presentation.  No, it wasn’t on how not to make friends and influence people, but rather on the history of fines in the Portsmouth Rotary Club. 


The first era of fines is classified as “The Testosterone Era” – typified by fining those who exhibited less than manly behavior (such as having a cute basket on the front on your bike – you know who you are Eric).  However, this type of fine seemed less appropriate as actual women then joined our club – whom you obviously couldn’t fine for not being manly enough. 


Next came “The Professional Era” of fines which typically singled out people’s professions as worthy of a wallet lightening.  As a concrete example, all Real Estate Agents were asked to put in $2 as a fine for the booming house market.


Perhaps seeing the audience tire of attorney jokes, “The Professional Era” then gave way to The “Just Because Era.”  Realizing that most people often wore clothes to Rotary meetings, the fine masters of this era often targeted such offenses as wearing shorts, striped shirts, or tasseled loafers.


“The Softer, Kinder, Gentler Era” then came about with Happy Bucks often replacing fines, where sunny days and honor students were more than enough reason for a donation.  But Neil and Butch are not too sure about this change, and instead intend to usher in The Grumpy Era.  This will be your long-overdue opportunity to complain about downtown parking and that barking dog next door to your house.


Announcements included welcoming new member Gloria Leblanc to the club and Stanford making a call for volunteers for a charity regatta event at the Portsmouth Yacht club.  The event is being hosted by One Sky Community Services, a local organization that helps members of our community with developmental and mental challenges live full and rewarding lives.


After announcements, we moved to today’s program which was about a planned memorial commemorating a historic African American Burial Ground discovered below Chestnut Street in Portsmouth in 2003.  The Chair of the African Burying Ground Committee and President of the Seacoast African American Cultural Center, Ms. Vernis Jackson spoke to us on the topic, discussing how this memorial would incorporate public art and take the form of a park and walkway covering the lower part of Chestnut Street.  When discovered, this burial site was found to contain the remains of over 200 African slaves, and as the only known African American Burying Ground in New England, this memorial would serve an important role in remembering this time in both our country and our town’s history.


George Carlyle then got up to speak more on the matter.  He reminded us that Portsmouth has a special place in American history, and has served as the looking glass for all that has happened, both good and bad, in this country.  The discovery of this Burying Ground reminds us that Portsmouth too was a part of this dark time in our nation’s history, and provides us with the opportunity to honor these men and women as our neighbors and citizens of Portsmouth.  George suggested that the memorial might also serve as a reminder that one need only look to last century to see that equal opportunity was often withheld from minority populations, including in Portsmouth – and as a reminder that we should always strive to look past our differences and see our neighbors as our equals in the community we share.


Our very own Gene Bailey then took the microphone with the simple and eloquent statement, “Let’s get it done.”  For more information and to extend your support, please visit


This week’s meeting closed with Bill Mortimer winning the 50/50, but despite cheers from the crowd… no match.