Lear Historian Turns 95|
It was supposed to be Tobias Lear's birthday party, but Dorothy Vaughan opened all the gifts. For neatly a century of work, Dr. Vaughan
received the key to the city of Portsmouth from her friend, Mayor Evelyn
Sirrell on her 95th birthday. Normally a quiet event in the historic
Lear House on the narrow Hunking Street in Portsmouth's South End, yesterday's celebration was packed with well-wishers and newspaper photographers
"Don't want me to get too excited and have a heart attack," Dorothy
quipped, "I'm old you know." But her age was not in evidence as the
near-centenarian waved her arms animatedly and told tales of
fund-raising for her latest causes - the Tobias Lear House and the Wentworth-Gardner House next door. Formerly the town librarian for 53 years, Dorothy Vaughan was also instrumental in the formation of Strawbery Banke
Museum (press BACK to return) during the days of urban renewal in
Portsmouth. Mayor Sirrell announced that, by popular demand, Ms Vaughan
has begun writing a book about Her memories of Portsmouth history.
Glowing with emotion, the mayor awarded her friend with a proclamation
and the key to the city. "I used to have the keys to the library,"
Dorothy said, "but never the whole city."
"There hasn't been this many people here since George Washington
visited," Lear House docent Barbara Meyer said from among the crowd in
attendance. Washington visited the mother of Tobias Lear V in the same
parlor in 1789 and crowds from Portsmouth, according to legend, pressed
their faces against the windows to watch.
When well-wishers brought out a flaming birthday cake, the photo op was
too good to miss. The resulting pictures made the front page of both
local newspapers. Dorothy Vaughan, who frequently helps out with history
details on SeacoastNH.com stories, was presented with a gift by the
Portsmouth Historical Society and this web site - the sheet music to the
song "Portsmouth by the Sea" published by poet Clara Lynn in 1923 at the
city's 300th anniversary. "I remember Miss Lynn well," Dorothy said.
Following the ceremony, for work promoting the two historic houses,
SeacoastNH.com was awarded an honorary membership in the
Lear/Wentworth-Gardner Society. Had he lived, Tobias Lear would be 237
years old today.
MORE DOROTHY VAUGHAN IN THE NEWS
(Read and press BACK to return)
Foster's Online Story
The Portsmouth Herald Story
© 1999 SeacoastNH.com
Photos by J. Dennis Robinson