It was fine town-meeting weather. The roads were passable. Spring was on its way. The good citizens of New Hampshire met, as they have every spring for 150 years or more, to elect the township officers, approve or amend the budgets, define the general policy of 224 towns for the coming year. It was the purest and the oldest manifestation of democracy in the U.S.
Mindful of the unusually heavy snows and the discomfort of the past winter, the cautious people of the Granite State unbound their wallets, voted to buy record amounts of snow-removal and bridge-building equipment. They laid out unusually large sums, too, for such postwar projects as road construction, sewer systems, sewage disposal, and memorials for their servicemen.
Pembroke decided to auction off its police station to the highest bidder. Weare sold its tramp house for $1 cash. Dorchester recessed at noon for a hot dinner and homemade fudge. Oldtimers pondered Surry's attendancethe smallest town meeting in yearsand concluded that "everybody's working." Mason was pleased that its police department cost only $8 in 1944, but voted to give it an additional $17 for 1945. Rye felicitated its venerable town clerk on his 83 years and his 58th term in office.
These were the normal, every-year matters of New Hampshire living. But this year, as never before, the sights of New Hampshiremen were set on wider horizons. At the bottom of every ballot in every town was a searching question: "To see if the town will vote to support United States membership in a general system of international cooperation, such as that proposed at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, having police power to maintain the peace of the world."
The question had been put there by State Senator Earl Smith Hewitt, and had become Senate Joint Resolution No. 1. In most towns there was little debate on it, and most townsfolk admitted that they did not know much about the plan. But they gave international cooperation a thumping (18-to-1) yea. Their sons were fighting all over the world, and they were for anything that gave hope of keeping it from happening again. As one townsman, who has a nephew in China, grandsons in North Africa and New Guinea, put it: "We're not so narrow any more. We've changed our minds about a lot of things since the war started."*
*For a glimpse at other U.S. minds, see INTERNATIONAL.