Former Lebanon History Teacher’s True Passion
Art Pease taught History for 36 years at Lebanon High School from 1971-2007 and now at the tender age of 70, he has entered the world of retirement. He has never shaken his passion for the events that make up our history, however, especially history related to Lebanon and its surrounding communities.
You might say that Art went full circle in his lifetime from teaching history to becoming a student of history. Researching tidbits of information of an historical event and sharing what he discovers with future generations has become an obsession. Art was born in Orford, N.H. and credits his mother with introducing him to the intriguing world of reading and history.
“We lived on a farm in Orford in those days, and my mother was an avid reader and very interested in history. She was also a dedicated collector and I recall going with her to the dump and scrounging around looking for bottles and other collectibles. You might say scrounging is in my genes!” Art explained.
These days Art has discovered that “scrounging” for historical memorabilia has become a lot easier with today’s sophisticated research tools including computer access to the entire world. Research on any subject is just a key tap away.
“There are so many resources available these days that it is incredible. I have used about every possible method including the census reports, books, an atlas, the computer and even a detailed map collection done by Dave Miller that not only lists the past Lebanon streets, but the names of the families that lived in each house. It is all there if you do your homework. Ed Ashey, the Lebanon Historical Society curator, and I often cross paths when seeking out historic memorabilia and we often bid on the same items at auctions.”
When Art looks back on his days of teaching Lebanon High School students, he points out that he took various approaches to getting the message across to young minds.
“To me, the study of history should be like a trivial pursuit contest. It should be just plain fun and entertaining at the same time. Back in 1971, I used to teach nine-week courses, so I tried to keep the students interested and I adopted a style based on story telling rather than just roll out facts. I told them to be skeptical about historic facts. Skeptical, but not cynical. I reminded them that sometimes we don’t learn the right lessons from history. What could I learn from studying an historic event?”
Art admits that reading is another of his established passions and, true to form, historical publications top the list… or fiction that is based on history.
“I love to read everything, but non-fiction is my favorite, and always has been. I read fiction novels with a historic background or theme and find them interesting. American History has also been my primary focus, as well. When it is said and done, one thing about studying history is that specific facts are critical and these days you can look them up faster than someone can make them up!” he exclaimed with a hearty laugh.
A self-proclaimed Civil War “buff” as well, Art is right at home in Lebanon where the Soldiers Memorial Building on North Park Street is located. This beautiful structure was built from 1886-1890 by the Civil War Veterans as a memorial to their fallen comrades and as a free public library.
Art will remain on his mission to reveal facts and articles from Lebanon’s history, and currently he has been donating many priceless artifacts to the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and the Lebanon Historic Society. He has the past well covered, but how does he feel about the future of Lebanon?
“Well, as far as physical expansion of Lebanon, that will be limited by the current layout without room to expand acreage. However, Lebanon remains the hub of the Upper Valley and going forward I see surrounding communities benefiting from increased employment created by expanding and new businesses settling in the area. That will be a key factor in the future.”