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Yesterday and Today
by Bill & Connie Warren
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Winter Snow on Coffins Court


Yesterday, winter 1945, Harold Caswell Sweetser (our great uncle) lived at 74 Cabot Street which was his family's home; Harold was born there in 1897, lived his entire life, and died in the room in which he was born almost 91 years earlier. In the winter of 1945, Harold took a picture (from the hayloft door to his barn) of part of Coffins Court, the back of his house, and part of his neighbor's house because, in his own words, "The worst snow storm of the 20th century" (blizzard of February 8, 1945) had dumped a lot of snow in Coffins Court. Harold knew what a lot of snow was because Coffins Court was the Sweetser's private lane, and, before he went to work at the Portsmouth Navy Shipyard, one of his chores was to shovel a clear path through the lane. In 1945 Harold was 48 years old, and Coffins Court (which runs between Cabot and Union Streets) was a really long lane to have to shovel by hand. By the way, Harold also won "the plank" at the Portsmouth Navy Shipyard before he retired in 1964; "the plank" is awarded to the longest served employee at the yard.


Today Coffins Court is a city street, given to Portsmouth in the 1950s. The Sweetser house was sold following Harold's death. The barn we kept and it remains in the Sweetser family. This March we had a snow storm that dumped 22+ inches of snow in Coffins Court. But now, the city plows the snow for the residents on that street. I took the picture of Coffins Court from the same barn door a few days after the 1st big snow storm of the 21st century.

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