New Hampshire Primary Story from the Past

Back when I was a freelance magazine writer I headed to the North Country on assignment from Yankee Magazine to write a story about a town that appropriated funds to feed wild deer, Wilson's Mills, Maine, just across the border in northern New Hampshire.
It was a long drive from my home in Keene, so I left real early on a winter morning and got a motel room in nearby Errol, NH.

My plan was to tour the area by car, then talk to local people, several of whom I had lined up earlier by phone for interviews.

My hidden agenda was to treat myself to a couple of martinis and a steak at the very fine restaurant at the Balsams resort, so I skipped lunch. Not a good idea. By 3 PM, I was weak from hunger.

The best quote I got was from an old guy when I asked him what the population was for Wilson's Mills. He said, "I can't give you a number off the top of my head, but if I had to I could name 'em."

By the time I wrapped up I was starved, woozy, and bad-tempered. The only thing that was keeping me going was the thought of the martini and the steak that would follow.

It was 8:30 PM when I arrived at the Balsams. The place was packed with humanity, mainly media people. I couldn't get into the restaurant. No other restaurant for many miles.

"What is going on?" I asked in exasperation.

Everybody in the country but me knew the answer. It was primary day, and the people of Dixville Notch were poised to cast the first votes at midnight, a New Hampshire tradition far better known than the one of Wilson's Mills, Maine, where people fed deer during hard times.

I don't remember the year, who was running for President, or what the vote was in Dixville Notch. What I remember is my supper in the motel room, couple of Slim Jims, potato chips, and four cans of Schaefer beer, "the one beer to have when you're having more than one."