Salinger’s widow thanks neighbours for guarding husband’s privacyColleen Salinger expresses gratitude for ‘protective envelope’ provided by the people of Cornish, New Hampshire
JD Salinger’s wife has thanked residents of the town he made his refuge for more than 50 years for protecting the world’s most famous literary recluse from what one resident described as “the annual parade of English majors”.
Salinger, who died last week at the age of 91, moved from New York to the small town of Cornish, New Hampshire in 1952, a year after the publication of The Catcher in the Rye made him a literary sensation. His wife, Colleen Salinger, told a local paper that the author had been grateful for the “protective envelope” that locals had given him.
“Cornish is a truly remarkable place. This beautiful spot afforded my husband a place of awayness from the world,” she wrote in an email to the Valley News. “The people of this town protected him and his right to his privacy for many years. I hope, and believe, they will do the same for me.”
Neighbours told the paper that “how to keep everyone guessing where Jerry Salinger lived” was “one of the most enjoyable municipal conspiracies ever”. “You very quickly got kind of wrapped up in the joke of it all. They were all so desperate to see if they could talk to the great man,” said resident Peter Burling, who lived a few doors down from Salinger for 44 years.
Mike Ackerman, who runs the Cornish General Store, said he had never revealed to visitors where the author lived, giving out various false directions to literary tourists. “It really depended on the attitude of the person coming in how much fun we would have with that person,” said Ackerman, who met Salinger when he was working for UPS and delivering packages. “He was the type of individual where, if you treated him like he was everyone else, he would tend to open up a bit. A very nice guy.”
Salinger, the Valley News reported, was also a regular at his local church’s roast beef suppers, where he would arrive more than two hours early to ensure he could claim his usual seat, bringing along newspapers to read. “No one ever bothered him at the suppers,” former pastor Bob Moyer of Hartland told the paper. “I think many, many people knew exactly who he was. Had he been bothered, I don’t think he would have returned.”