Humans of Hillsborough: Rosa Faucette Swanson and Jim Swanson

How long have you lived in Hillsborough?

Rosa: “I’ve lived here all my life.”

What is your favorite part about this town?

Rosa: “I think it’s the memories. It’s the memories of growing up, of, around the corner when James Pharmacy was a pharmacy. We would come up here with our grandfather and we would go in there. He had his own booth in the back that he would sit in, it was Mr. Faucette’s booth. And at the end of this road right here, used to be Minnis’ Grocery, and Mr. Minnis was in there with his groceries, the big things of hoop cheese and dried beans by the scoop and you know, the Pope’s dime store, all the things that you don’t even pay attention to when you were a child. And that [white building down the street] used to be the theater where my brother and I would go see Roy Rogers on Saturday. We would come over here on Saturdays and watch Roy Rogers and all that stuff and it is, it’s full of fond memories.”

I heard you speaking in Purple Crow about Hillsborough being a literary community. Are you a reader or a writer? 

Rosa: “No, I’m a reader, not a writer.”

What is your favorite genre?

Rosa: “I like to read biographies – historical biographies. Political figures are my favorite.”

What are you reading right now?

Rosa: “I’m reading the biography of George Washington.”

What has been one of the most interesting things you’ve read thus far?

Rosa: “At a very young age, George Washington learned how the political system worked. He was very proper and very careful. He was very much admired by the men that he served with because although he could be a very exacting task master and very punitive, he was right there with them in every battle, he was never the guy that sat on the horse behind everybody. People used to talk about how bulletproof he was, because he was very tall, he was a big man, sitting on a big horse, and the bullets would zing around him and never hit him, and they used to marvel, even the enemy would marvel at, ‘Why are the bullets not hitting this man?’”

Why historical biographies?

Rosa: “I just like to learn about people because you can get the biography about how they walk on water, and you can get the biography about how they’re the devil incarnate, but the real biography is the one that shows you the whole person, with the flaws and the good things.”

Switching topics, what do you do for leisure, what do you enjoy doing?

Rosa: “I like to garden and I like to cook.”

Do you garden for sustainability or garden flowers?

Rosa: “I like both. There is a saying that, ‘You should never make more gardens than your wife can weed.’ Jim has made more gardens than I can weed, but I’m retired now so I have more time to weed them,” she laughed.

What is your favorite type of flower?

Rosa: “I like peonies and irises, and I like lilies. But so do the deer, so I enjoy my lilies for the brief period they’re actually there and then they’re gone.”

What aspect of cooking do you enjoy?

Rosa: “I like making people happy. I like it when people enjoy what I’ve cooked. I like to bake – I think that is my favorite thing – I like to bake cakes and cookies.”

What is your best dish you’ve baked? Or one that is a running favorite?

Rosa: “I like to switch it up, I like to make different things. I don’t know what the best one would be.”

Jim: “Since she retired she has been experimenting with many different dishes. Many different cookbooks, and recipes from TV shows.”

Rosa: “I love to watch people cook on TV and I go, ‘Hey I could do that!’ And then I go try to do it!”

Jim: “And I’ve been eating it,” as he pat his stomach and laughed.

Rosa: “I finally realized – I used to have a real investment in, ‘is it good, is it going to be right, is it perfect.’ Then I was stressing out over a meal one day and Jim said, ‘Honey, it’s just food. If it’s not good, we’ll eat something else, don’t worry about it.’ After I adopted that attitude, I don’t have any fear in the kitchen now. I’ll try sauces and gravies, something I would never try before. But, I just like to try everything, all different kinds of food – and I like to grow and use my own herbs and vegetables.”

Lastly, how are you celebrating the holidays this year?

Rosa: “We will be celebrating Christmas at home with our dogs, Fritz and Eddie. Eddie is a 115 pound lab and the Fritz is a 15 miniature dachshund, and yes we do look funny walking down the street with them. People always laugh when they see us walking them – extra small and extra large.

“We just celebrate peacefully and quietly. At home, it’s a very spiritual time for us and Christmas is on Sunday this year, so of course we will be going to church, and it’ll be just a nice quiet day.”

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