The Inspiration Behind "Here Comes the Mount"

The following is the preface from the new book "Here Comes the Mount," written in the Summer of 2022 by Jared Maraio.


It’s August 23, 2022, and I’ve been General Manager for about a month. Our official 150th Anniversary was eleven days ago, and I’ve just received news that an important part of our legacy is lost.

Last week Barbara Higgins, our Gift Shop Manager, entered my office to inform me that “Follow the Mount,” a book written about our company, was low in stock. Barb has worked for the company seasonally for more than 20 years.

Barb informed me that during our 150th Celebration event, many commemorative items were sold. “Follow the Mount” was a hot item, and we were almost sold out.

“Ok,” I said. “I guess we’ll need to order more,”

“I tried,” she replied, “but the publisher has gone out of business.”

First printed in 1968, “Follow the Mount” was written by Dr. Bruce Heald, a loyal employee who worked for the company for more than 50 years. Though Bruce wrote many books, “Follow the Mount” was one of his signature achievements, and he continued to update the book before each reprinting. The most recent edition, the thirteenth, was printed in 2007. Bruce passed away in 2015.

The book was printed through a local publisher, who went out of business a few years after publication. Its assets were purchased by another printer, which was then bought by an even larger publisher. So began our investigation.

A few hours ago, Barb let me know that she finally spoke with the publisher. They’ve never heard of the book, the author, or our company. They have no way to reprint it. It was a dead end.

“Perhaps it’s misplaced and will turn up at some point,” Barb suggested.

I have a feeling it won’t, and I feel a deep sense of loss.

I’d worked alongside Bruce Heald from 2002-2006. I was in my mid-20s, and although he was approaching 70 I often think he had more energy than I did. He had a quick wit and a devilish sense of humor. Sometimes, you’d see a twinkle in his eye right before he delivered a real zinger. He knew my grandfather, who’d worked with Bruce as Purser on the Mount Washington. 

Bruce was fond of going to many of the restaurants near his home in Meredith, NH. He’d arrive later in the evening when the dinner rush was over. He’d sit at the bar alone, have a drink, and chat with anyone who happened to be there. I think he may have been a little lonely after losing his wife. I’d just moved to the area to take care of my ailing grandfather. I worked in the Mount Washington Ticket Office, and would sometimes go out in the evening for a drink. I didn’t know anyone in the area yet, and I was a little lonely too.

Bruce and I would run into each other every now and then, and he’d tell stories about the ship. Sometimes the stories were about people I knew, but many of them were about people who were gone. As he talked he’d become animated, slapping his knee or clapping his hands as he’d laugh about comical interactions with customers, practical jokes by the deck crew, or gossip about previous generations who worked on the ship. He loved history, and he loved the ship. And now his labor of love was lost.

That really hurts.

Maybe it’s the perspective that comes with age, or the nostalgia that comes with an anniversary year, but I’ve become very aware that I am a part of a group of individuals who need to protect the legacy of the Mount Washington. I can feel the weight of it, just as I imagine many who came before me felt it.

I’ve come to understand that any ship, especially this ship, isn’t just engines and steel. It’s a symbol of sacrifice, perseverance, and the hopes and dreams of those who came before us. The Mount Washington is their legacy, and the Lakes Region and the state of New Hampshire are better for it. Their stories should be told.

For more than two generations, Bruce Heald was the steward of those stories. And I know from personal experience, only a fraction of what he knew made it into “Follow the Mount.” I know that because I heard so much more, sitting next to him in Meredith with a drink in my hand.

I also know that there will be much more to tell. Even in the few years since the last edition of “Follow the Mount,” we’ve been hard at work building a company that is better than ever before. And I’m sure that long after we’re gone, that work will continue.

So I’m hoping that these 150 or so pages will both honor Bruce’s contribution, and become a jumping off point for our future. Our work on the ship will never be complete, and neither will our stories. Perhaps every few years we’ll write a chapter or two, and in another 150 years this book will double in size. I sure hope so.

But for now, I hope you enjoy “Here Comes the Mount.” It incorporates information from “Follow the Mount” as well as stories passed on through the crew, those documented in other sources, and our company’s own archives. And of course from Bruce.

Faithfully,

Jared Maraio

August 23, 2022


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