DATELINE: Jaffrey, NH, the Real Grovers’ Corners
Around this time each year, small-town Americana in the location of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, holds its Halloween Scarecrow contest.
For one month, residents line up a series of ghoulish scarecrows along the intersection at the center of town, not far from the bandstand and the old White’s Mill that was owned by the famous Massachusetts family that once lived on Old Mill Circle across the state line.
The homemade scarecrows of Jaffrey are judged by a committee during the fall festival, but while they hang on their crosses, it is vaguely reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s horror scene at the end of Spartacus when the road to Rome is lined with crucified slaves.
This mishmash of creatures resembles all kinds of people and are equally distracting and disturbing, but within the fun of the Halloween season.
In our opinion, Jaffrey is the real inspiration for Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our
Town. He called his little NH town on the Massachusetts border, Grovers’ Corners.
Some think it is north of Jaffrey in Peterborough, where Wilder lived his summers. Indeed, arty Peterborough even has a plaque to honor itself, but the more modest Jaffrey better fills the bill.
Wilder makes up some coordinates, longitudes and latitudes are off deliberately as the author tried to obscure his inspiration for the setting of Our Town. And, besides, the railroad of 1910 ran over the border in local Winchendon, not far from Jaffrey, and is featured in the play.
You won’t convince us that the place where the scarecrows roost is not Grovers’ Corners where a gothic cemetery scene highlights the 1938 play. The scarecrows are a recent tradition, but make Jaffrey the best bet as Grovers’ Corners.