I Made the Move! -- Patricia Evans
I Made the Move! Patricia Evans
Date of move: September 2004
By Tim Condon
Some people have all the luck! It's hard enough picking up and moving with your family to attain liberty in your lifetime. But think about people who have to make the move from far-flung places such as Fresno, California (Varrin & Edi Swearingen), Eugene Oregon (Christine Lopez and Seth Cohn), Forest Lake, Minnesota (Bradley and Margot Keyes), or Frost, Texas (Kat Dillon and her daughter Kira). Yikes!
Not to mention the inevitable search for a new job. But then there's Patty Evans. In order to live in liberty in her own lifetime, she had to pick up and move...a few miles across the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border. And--gasp!--she even got to keep her job (in Massachusetts), and now simply commutes across the state line!
Meet Patty Evans, whose roundabout introduction to the Free State Project may have resulted in the shortest move into New Hampshire of any migrating Porcupine.
"My first association with the Free State Project was about a year ago, driving south on Route 128 in Burlington, Massachusetts," Patty explained. "I am fascinated with vanity license plates, and couldn't help but notice the plate on the car in front of me. 'ANARCH', it said. Little did I know that I was driving behind self-proclaimed anarchist Amanda Phillips, the President of the Free State Project!" I made the connection when a co-worker told me a few weeks later about the FSP and Amanda, and her license plate. He thought I would be interested in the Free State Project because I grew up in Plaistow, New Hampshire, and had been planning on moving back to NH for quite a while."
One thing led to another, and soon Patty got a chance to meet Amanda Phillips in person. "A few weeks later my co-worker invited Amanda to stop by our workplace so we could meet her and each sign a Statement of Intent. I made an apple pie for the occasion, and decided to decorate the crust with 'NH' and a porcupine, the mascot of the Free State Project. Amanda liked it so much that she posted a photo of my pie on the front page of the FSP website for almost a month! The caption under the picture, coined by my co-worker, said 'Live Free or Pie'. I still use that caption as my personal signature, and include a link to the photo and the FSP website. LOL, you can still see that famous pie (long since eaten).
"Why did I join the Free State Project? Honestly, in the beginning I agreed to join simply to help with the membership count. I didn't consider myself Libertarian by any means, and the closest I ever got to being a political activist was making sure I got out to vote on the appropriate day. But I already had personal plans to move back to New Hampshire, a move of only a few miles because I lived in Haverhill, Mass., right on the NH border. I didn't have to make any soul-searching decision, like other more courageous members of the Free State Project, to leave my extended family, my job, and my home to move hundreds (or in some cases, thousands) of miles away from my hometown. In fact, I've been living in New Hampshire for almost a year now, and I still work at the same job in Burlington, Mass., and my family is nearby. So that part was easy."
Faced with the breakup of her 24-year marriage, Patty found it a good time to make the move to New Hampshire that she had been planning. "I have some very dear friends who live in Kingston, NH, who offered to let me stay with them for as long as I needed," she recounts. "I moved into their home in June 2004 and stayed with them through the summer. I am still so grateful for their hospitality and for the opportunity to live with them temporarily in New Hampshire. I remember the first night that I left work, and realized that I'd be commuting home to New Hampshire."
"'Home to New Hampshire'," she mused. "That sure has a nice ring to it!"
"My friends live on a small lake, so during that summer we spent many evenings out on the lake, in kayaks or in their canoe. Many of their neighbors around the lake do the same thing, so on the Fourth of July everyone paddled out to the middle of the lake to watch the fireworks. It wasn't town-sponsored fireworks, although we did see some professional displays from the surrounding towns. The fireworks displays we watched from the middle of the lake were from the yards of houses surrounding the lake. Everyone put on their own displays because fireworks are legal in New Hampshire! Many of the neighbors hunt together, and all take advantage of the open-carry guns laws too! It was that night that I knew I was never going to return to Massachusetts to live."
"So here I am, almost a year later, writing this letter from my new residence in Seabrook, New Hampshire. My personal life is still in limbo, so a temporary housing arrangement seemed like the perfect solution for now. I love the ocean, having spent all my summers growing up in a cottage that my parents owned in Newbury, Mass., so I searched for a place to live in the beach communities of New Hampshire. There are only 16 miles of coastline in the state, so I didn't have to search very long. I found a winter rental unit, actually half a house, at Seabrook Beach, and moved in during September 2004."
"Immediately after I moved back to NH, I couldn't wait to get those green and white license plates with the Old Man in the Mountain, and of course the state motto 'Live Free or Die' depicted on them. Until now, it's been almost 25 years since I had a NH license plate on my car," Getting the car registered turned out to be a "paper chase" for Patty, but she found out that the way they do it in New Hampshire still made it quite a bit simpler: "It's not necessary to go to the DMV in Epping, NH for most registration transactions," she recounts. "The Town Clerk in any New Hampshire town has the authority to issue license plates, renew registrations, and other routine registry transactions. So for a small $1.00 fee you can save yourself the trip to the DMV. And, as I mentioned above, I'm fascinated with vanity license plates, so of course I had to apply for one, which only costs $25.00. I picked one to honor the Free State Project, "QUILLS".
Patty quickly found that there were financial benefits to living back in New Hampshire when she started shopping for car insurance. "Although New Hampshire doesn't require auto insurance, I decided to insure anyway, since I commute each day almost 40 miles into Massachusetts. I was able to insure my car through Geico, which would have been impossible in Mass., since they don't do business in that state. The result was that my insurance bill went from $1,150 per year in Mass. (I'm a step 9 driver, the best rating you can have), to an annual cost of only $850 in New Hampshire."
Even though she may or may not be living permanently in her present town of Seabrook, Patty Evans has found that she loves it there. "I just love small towns," she says. "There's an exchange area at the Seabrook town dump where people can drop off unwanted items that are still in working order, so someone else can have them! I haven't been there yet, but I also understand that's also the place to go to hear all of the latest town gossip."
"In this small town, I'm greeted by my first name at the post office. And neighbors who have lived here for years have invited me to their homes for coffee. During the Christmas holiday I was invited to a neighborhood wine and cheese party. When I had surgery on my throat in December, five minutes after I got home my doorbell rang; it was a neighbor who lives across the street. She had been waiting for me to come home so she could bring me a container of homemade chicken soup. Amazing! My friends thought I was very brave to try to start a new life by moving to a town where I didn't know a single person, but after living here for six months, I feel more a part of this community than I ever did in Haverhill after living there for 25 years!"
Yet another adventure Patty had was the first time she got to vote in a New Hampshire town election. "I moved here from Massachusetts in September 2004, but since there is no minimum period of time you have to live in the state before being allowed to register, I was eligible to vote in the March 8th elections. On the way to the polls I couldn't help but notice the proliferation of campaign signs along the sides of the road. Hand-drawn signs stuck in snow banks called out simple messages like 'Rachel Small for Librarian' and 'Asa Knowles Tried and True'."
I knew I had arrived at the Seabrook Community voting center because the snow banks, before and after the center, were literally covered with candidates' signs, some professionally printed, but many homemade! One giant sign, eight feet by eight feet, said 'Write in Earl Frost - Selectman!' in bright red, hand-painted letters."
"Even though I got there early at 9:00 a.m., I was surprised to find the parking lot was almost full. I found it amazing because it was a very cold and rainy morning. If this were the town in Massachusetts that I had moved from, the rain alone would have caused low voter turnout. In the pouring rain I saw many senior citizens, some of them handicapped, dutifully struggling to get out of their cars so they could go vote. The citizens of this little town take their right to vote very seriously."
"At the entrance to the Community Center, both sides of the sidewalk were lined with candidates. They were toughing it out in the cold and rain with umbrellas and big smiles. They welcomed each voter as they arrived, and some passed out what looked like business cards. One of the cards I received was quaint, and yet stirring: 'Write in Earl Frost III - Selectman - New Blood'. Inside the Community Center there were even more candidates greeting voters. After making my way through all the smiling candidates, I entered the Community Center gym and was directed by yet another smiling face to a line forming in the middle of the room. When it came my turn to vote, a poll worker told me I could pick any booth that 'didn't have feet'. I puzzled over that for a moment, and then realized that almost every booth had a curtain and a set of feet below it. Seabrook's town charter specifies that 'all elections for municipal offices and statutory ballot questions shall be by Australian Ballot in accordance with state and federal laws'. I soon figured out that 'Australian Ballot' means 'secret ballot'."
"The most interesting Article to vote on that day concerned repealing a 'cat license' ordinance. It turned out that Seabrook was the only town in the state, and possibly New England, to have a cat license requirement. Citizens of Seabrook were charged $7.50 each year for their cat licenses, and the fine for unlicensed cats could run up to $70.00. The intent was apparently to reduce the feral cat population in Seabrook, but like so many government bright ideas, the ordinance seemed to have the opposite effect. Many citizens, owning more than one cat, and not able to afford the license fees and fines, released the cats into the wild, which in turn increased the feral cat population in the town. Of course I voted to repeal it! And the repeal succeeded, by 1,043 to 747 votes."
"I have to say, I am so impressed by this town and its people. I am so glad I moved here. And I hope that I can help with an 'evolution' (not a 'revolution') through my association with the Free State Project. There is a level of grassroots political activism here in New Hampshire that I haven't seen since the early 1970's. Free State Project early-movers are already taking active roles in their new communities in so many different ways. They are running for local offices and become involved even at the State House level by getting to know our representatives and the House Bills they support. Free State Project members are also testifying at hearings at the State House, and protesting injustices--such as the recent zoning variance issue in Hampton that threatened to destroy a resident family--by handing out flyers and standing in front of the courthouse with handmade signs during hearings on the matter. FSP Porcupines are also raising money for pro-liberty organizations like the Liberty Scholarship fund and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance."
"The most amazing thing about the FSP early-movers is how much they care for each other and their new home state, and how willing they are to help each other become comfortable in their new homes. I have attended a few Seacoast Porcupines group monthly meetings, and have become acquainted with many of the Seacoast early-movers. I also met Kate and Adam Rick when they were visiting last summer at a 'Meet and Greet' at Newick's in Dover, NH. I've also helped out a little by reviewing pending House Bills and posting them on the House Bills email list. And I'm also responsible, along with my fellow Porcupine co-worker, for the release 'into the wild' of the Geocaching Free State Project Travel Bugs."
Says Patty, "The Free State Project early-movers are like true pioneers, laying the groundwork, clearing the fields, and planting the crops that will support the liberty-loving communities of New Hampshire's future, and I'm proud to be a member of this group!"
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