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Windswept – Rudi Honkola Gives Major Gift to Library

by Peter Crane

We're pleased to give advance notice of an extraordinary gift to the Observatory's Gladys Brooks Memorial Library.

Rudi Honkola, of Bethel, Maine, recently approached the Observatory with a very generous offer. Rudi, originally from Salisbury, New Hampshire, served as an observer from October 1946 to January 1951, and also in 1955 and 1956. His career as a weather observer and geographer brought him to Alaska and to several years of service in Antarctica.

With the fascination that service in the polar regions typically engenders in the devotees of those frozen lands, Rudi, over the course of several decades, assembled an estimable polar library, including about 700 volumes devoted to those areas, their scientific research and exploration. Among the books are real polar classics and books destined to become classics.

Rudi contacted the Observatory recently and offered his collection as a gift to the Observatory - a remarkably generous gift which we are very pleased to accept.

Many individuals associated with Mount Washington, and with the Observatory, have had an affinity for the Arctic and Antarctic, for a variety of reasons. There are, of course, real similarities in the environment of the mountain and the areas of high latitude, both in terms of the appearance of Mount Washington's "tundra" and in the weather which prevails here - typically Arctic or sub-Arctic, and occasionally, on the bitterest of winter days, Antarctic in its intensity. There is also the history of exploration of the mountain, and of the polar regions, which have some interesting cross-connections, including the sad tale of Winfield Scott Jewell, who trained for Arctic service on the mountain as a member of the U.S. Signal Service, and who died tragically on Ellesmere Island. Fortunately, most associations of the mountain with the poles have been happier ones.

On hearing of Rudi's gift, Guy Gosselin, Executive Director emeritus of the Observatory, remarked, ""When I first went to the summit and looked at the little library that observers had put together over the years, the single largest category of books were those dealing with Arctic and Antarctic exploration - I think because early observers viewed their experiences as similar in some ways, and probably thought of Shackleton and others as kindred spirits. That aside, there is a real Arctic and Antarctic connection for the Observatory in the Lady Franklin Bay expedition, and in the sojourns of modern observers in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, of whom Rudi is but one example."

Guy commented further that the gift of the Rudi Honkola collection "is an opportunity for the Observatory to increase the significance of its present collection -- in a way that is related to the mission - and increase also the prestige of the library. It has always been my strong feeling that the library part of the Observatory's work and image has served, and will continue to serve, the Observatory well."

The addition of so many books about exploration and research in the Arctic and Antarctic will also be a splendid and significant complement to our growing technical library, planned as a part of our just-beginning World Meteorological Organization-recognized Regional Instrumentation Center.

We are very grateful to Rudi for his remarkable and generous gift.


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