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Rita M. Braskie… in Brief
At the age of seventy, when many of us begin to favor a bit more leisure time, Rita Braskie moved to Canterbury and launched a whirlwind pursuit of personal interests and community directed activities. She was a voracious reader and was thrilled to serve as a volunteer and a trustee at the Elkins library. She was an active member at several Shaker museums and helped to preserve and catalog archives as a volunteer at Canterbury Shaker Village. She took great pleasure in her modest collection of Shaker artifacts, but she absolutely treasured the friendships so gracefully extended to her by Eldresses Bertha Lindsay and Gertrude Soule and by sister Ethel Hudson. Rita was basically a self-taught and very capable weaver; but perhaps above all other things, she was a tenacious and inexhaustible gardener who loved nothing more than getting her hands in the dirt and doing battle with the weeds, the critters and the elements that might threaten her flowers or crops. Her stay in Canterbury was relatively brief, just eleven years, but they included several dear new friendships and some of the happiest days of her life. When librarian Sue LeClair suggested that the donations received by the Elkins library in Rita’s memory might be used for a memorial garden on library grounds, the Braskie family couldn’t have been more pleased. Some of our fondest memories of our mother center on the books and the gardens that she shared; and how appropriate it is that two of her favorite passions might be ongoing and of some service to the library and to the community that she came to love.
Dutch crocus, Daffodils, Iris, Crabapple, Aster, Common Yarrow, Annis Hyssop, Rugosa Rose, Rose Campion, White Spruce, Sand Cherry, Creeping Juniper, Azalea, Silky Dogwood, Orange Cone Flower, Mallow/Cheese Weed, Lamium ground cover, Goat’s Beard Baptisia/Indigo, Daylilies, Catmint, Queen Anne’s Lace, Joe Pye Weed, Bee Balm, False Sunflower, Lesser Knapweed, Geranium, Lady’s Mantle, Turtlehead, Garden Stonecrop, Common Blue Violet, Bull Thistle, Common Milkweed, Culver’s Root
35 plants total
When I was asked to speak about Elaine today the first thought I had was of her friendship. True, I was excited to have someone with actual library education and experience show up on the doorstep of the original Elkins Library and offer to volunteer. She was soon hired and professionally proved her value daily, but her caring ways, warmth, humor and understanding of life’s foibles won me over immediately in the friendship department. We had common interests, learned much from each other and shared lots of laughter. In the early days of Elaine’s employment at Elkins Library, she was also employed by the Hopkinton Town Library. Each library has their own way of doing things and it was a bit overwhelming learning the expectations of two libraries at the same time. It wasn’t unusual for a surprised patron to hear, Good afternoon, Hopkinton Library, when at our circulation desk. She was always good natured when I would jokingly remind her where she was and all three of us, Elaine, the patron and I would end up laughing. She also confided that she often answered the Hopkinton Library phone with a… Good afternoon, Elkins Library. The original Elkins Library building was built in 1927 and aging wood and an old stone foundation made it easy for mice and such to successfully search out warmth amongst us during the colder months. One wintery evening, Elaine was talking to a patron when she spotted a vole scurrying around the library. Employing the old corn husk broom, she began chasing the vole to usher it out the door. Being elusive and frightened, it tried to find a hiding place running up walls, under the desk and finally up Elaine’s pant leg! The next day, relating the experience, outrage quickly turned to laughter as she assured me there was much dancing and screaming, hers I think… not the escaping vole’s. I never did catch it. Elaine and I worked well together both in the library and exploring our interests such as sewing, shopping, sharing recipes, luncheons, chocolate and we even included our husbands occasionally over dinners. We had years of confiding in and supporting each other. The year my father died, knowing the holidays would be challenging, I began what became a tradition for a number of years inviting our closest friends for Christmas dinner. Elaine, Jim and Jim Jr., of course were with us. And, once again the warmth, caring and laughter shared with Elaine and her family carried me and my family through what would have been a very difficult time. Several years ago when a colleague of ours retired as the Director of the Deerfield Library, I invited Elaine to join me for the reception. It was a beautiful outdoor celebration and Elaine was so pleased to have the chance to express her well wishes to Eveline. They had become good friends at library meetings and shared the love of quilting. After the celebration, Elaine and I went out to lunch and it felt like old times, yet made better for we had many memories to reminisce and laugh about. I’ll always be grateful to Elaine for supporting me through the rough times and celebrations and smile as I remember her generosity, love and of course, her laughter.
- Susan LeClair presented these words to friends and family at the time of Elaine's Memorial in the Garden.