The Preface about the Old Man of the Mountain was incredibly interesting to me. I’ve lived in New Hampshire my entire life. I was such a small baby when we moved here from Massachusetts, New Hampshire is my home and I cant even tell you how many times I visited the Old Man, or just drove by him going to our various family destinations in all four seasons New Hampshire graces us with. I can tell you directly that I remember the moment I learned about the Old Man “dying” as I viewed it. I was just shy of 10 years-old and my dad, my brother and I were heading to a motocross race in Massachusetts, we lived on the seacoast and always drove through Plaistow, NH to get to our choice route. I went inside the gas station with my dad to get myself a snack for the ride and of course just to get out of the car and I saw it on the news and on all the newspapers lining the shelves at the cash register. All the headlines were reading “OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN HAS FALLEN” “OLD MAN HAS FINALLY PASSED AWAY” “REMEMBERING THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN” I tugged on my dad’s sweatshirt asking him what all that meant, how could the spectacular, majestic Old Man of the Mountain have “died?” And to this day, almost 11 years later, I can look back on my ten years in New Hampshire and remember all the times I saw the old man in passing, or when I stopped to look at him.
Even though it was revealed that there were extreme measures to keep the old man in place, I think that in this scenario it still keeps him real even though he had a face-lift and things holding him in place. His features were not reconstructed but held together until they just could not stand the test of rugged nature. New Hampshire natives and tourists alike still can cherish the memories and historical narratives that are the connotations of the Old Man of the Mountain. We as Americans find Native Oral Texts amazing and we cling to them, but the things they revolve around are just like the Old Man in essence, the narratives of locals and people that have had some interaction with the Old Man keep him alive and keep the emotional connection and, it seems, according to the Preface, emotional despair and loss a real and prominent thing. Regardless of the artificial aspects behind the Old Man of the Mountain, the narratives that were constructed around it remain the most important thing.
That brings me to another idea that relates around this idea that we are keeping the Old Man alive and there is this prominent thing revolving around the narratives that construct a thing that is no longer. Dead people, dead loved ones, people who have passed from this realm. People visit gravestones, they leave things there, they talk to a big slab of rock with someone’s name on it because it constructs a reality for this person who is no longer here. By visiting this rock we feel a connection to this person, and someone would argue that their body is still there, what about the people with memorials and their body isn’t there? It still gets visited and a body of a person is not the person themself. So even though we obsess over this site, of both the Old Man and a gravestone in some cemetery with someone you loves name on it, it’s the story and the events or connotations surrounding it.
Last year my friends and I created a new cross to put on the side of the highway for my best friend who passed away in car accident in 2010, every single one of us had a moment, a few of us shed some tears at this site where there was a car accident three years ago. We look around like we were expecting to see the wreckage that was cleaned up three years ago, but the lack of something isn’t what is important. It’s the narrative and the memories that are surrounding it. We can look around and reminisce and understand what happened and make sense of it and make sense of our past with this thing that was so tragic and that affected us so much. It is almost like a sense of closure and making sure that our memories and narratives stay alive.