Hardy Ballantine, neighbor since 1973
Hardy and his wife Jeanne first visited our small town when Hardy was hired to teach at a nearby university in 1970.
“We came over here that summer and looked for a place to live and there wasn't anything, so we camped out at the State Park. Jeanne was 9 months pregnant—“
“This was August, and it was hot,” Jeanne adds.
In 1973 they bought their house on North Walnut, and a couple of years after that they had their second son, Jeanne got tenure, and they took positions teaching on World Campus Afloat (now Semester at Sea). They traveled the world with a 5 year old and a 2 ½ month old, which worked wonderfully, but upon their return, Hardy says, “life was just too complicated with two small children and both of us working, and we were living comfortably on Jeanne’s salary.”
Jeanne adds that “Hardy wanted to do some other things,” so Hardy quit his professor job and did some other things. He joined the volunteer fire department, learned bookbinding and opened a home-based bookbinding business, renovated the house, and was a stay-at-home dad of two boys and a girl, Kate, who is my lifelong friend.
In an era of latchkey kids and dual working families, Hardy remembers fondly the benefits of being a stable presence at home, especially when his kids were in jr. high and high school.
“Being able to work at home was very important for this family. You hear about how teenagers don’t want anything to do with their parents and vice versa, but walking down the hall [of the high school], my kids were never embarrassed. That was always something I felt pleased about.”
Over the years Hardy has been a valued member and leader in local organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, the fire department, the Planned Parenthood book loft, Youth Soccer, Chamber Music, the Unitarians, and the Theatre Arts Association, which afforded him another opportunity to work with his kids and get to know their friends. He still seems surprised that “they never seemed to mind that I was there.”
Hardy and Jeanne travel in the way we all wish we could travel: frequently, to interesting locations for interesting reasons with a lifetime’s experience traveling together. This summer they will teach American students in Prague, as they have also done in Rwanda, Italy, Spain and Japan.