Our Neighbor and the End of an Era

According to the obituary last January, she was born in Massachusetts in 1919. I don’t question the accuracy of that report, but there is a larger truth. The article says as much: “She was a lifelong resident of Jaffrey.” In fact, Elinor Moore was Jaffrey to the very core.

In November 2006, I wrote a piece about how we got to Jaffrey. The short version is that we took a ride on a Saturday in 1986, saw the house on Gilmore Pond, and bought it. We have never regretted it, not even for a New York minute.

I should have mentioned Ellie, who lived in the red barn across the street. Starting on that first day, and for the next twenty years, she was our neighbor, our helper, our friend, and our historian. She knew everything about “the Cann house,” as it was then (and continues to be) known. And she knew about many subjects –flowers, birds, gardens, and the town. She was a virtual Jaffreypedia.

Ellie had a basic goodness about her that we don’t see too often. She was not impressed by wealth or status; she liked people who were fair, honest, and hard working (not “shiftless” as she put it). “She was a nurse’s aide,” the obituary reported, which somehow doesn’t quite tell the whole story. When we first met her, she was helping our neighbor, Marion Mack Johnson, who lived nearby and had owned our house before Mr. Cann. She later took care of others in the town, striking out each morning in her bright red car, stopping off at the post office on her way. For those whom she helped, she was a cheerful, undemanding person. She liked to chat, and to reminisce. Beyond that, she asked very little.

For us, she was a Godsend. With her across the road, we didn’t need an alarm system. She kept an eye out and would call us if she saw anything that didn’t look quite right. And she knew where everything was. If she hadn’t shown us how to turn off the outside water, our pipes would long since have frozen. She helped take care of our lawn until she “retired” several years ago. She kept us informed of the latest town happenings. She and Virginia had a great friendship, sharing a love of flowers and gardening.

Over the years she told us about her parents, especially her mother, and about the family poultry farm. She claimed that her fingers were crooked because of all the cows she milked when she was young. Once or twice she mentioned the beau she had a long time ago. Apparently the family didn’t approve, and that was that – she remained “Miss” Moore. We never got the details.

As age took its toll, she could no longer live on her own, so she lived out her last two years in a nursing home. We saw her there from time to time, but it wasn’t the same. She was still alert, glad to see us, but the life she had led was no longer. Ellie loved animals and missed her cat terribly. At the end of our visits to the nursing home, she always walked us to the elevator and, once or twice, went down with us and checked on the pet rabbit out front.

She lived a long life, 89 years, and now that she has gone, a part of the town has gone with her. “A graveside service will be held at a later date at the family lot in Conant Cemetery, Jaffrey.”

2017-05-19T20:27:50+00:00 By |