Ron Dube on mission to name streams, brooks

MASON – Self-admitted cartophile Ron Dube was studying yet another map one day not too long ago when something that caught his eye set him on a months-long mission to right a wrong.

Actually, it’s what didn’t catch Dube’s eye that triggered that mission: a body of water, sometimes called a stream, sometimes a brook, that runs right through his Mason property had no name attached to it.

No name? ‘That’s a shame,’ Dube may have said to himself, as he looked again at the map, which happened to be of the topographical variety, hoping he’d simply missed it.

Now, Dube, a retired Nashua science teacher who for several years in the 1980s and early 90s contributed a weekly science-related column to The Telegraph, can look back with pride as the man who literally put Black Fly Brook on the map.

A Mason resident for going on 50 years, Dube and his wife live off Townsend Road on roughly 35 acres of land dotted with little ponds and streams and brooks, most of which have names.

Now, Dube, building on his successful venture to name Black Fly Brook, has undertaken the same process on behalf of three other unnamed waterways, which he discovered while pursuing his favorite post-retirement hobby.

“I’ve always loved maps, topographical, road maps, atlases, all kinds,” he said. “My wife thinks I’m crazy… she’d be reading her novels and I’d be sitting next to her looking at maps.”

As Dube turns his attention to naming the other as-yet unnamed waterways in and around his property, he’ll follow the same procedure he did for Black Fly Brook, which started with a call to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office for guidance.

Shaheen’s people put Dube in touch with a representative of the U.S. Board on Geographical Names, the federal entity that makes decisions on such matters.

It took awhile, Dube said, but the important thing was getting the answer he hoped for, not so much how long it took.

He got that answer recently, and the fact the letter started off “Dear Mr. Dube, we are pleased to inform you … “ confirmed the answer he’d hoped for.

The letter, written by Jennifer Runyon, a researcher at the Board on Geographic Names, headquartered in Reston, Virginia, told Dube that the board, at its July meeting, approved his proposal to name Black Fly Brook.

Dube laughs recalling the name he initially chose: Dube Brook. The problem with that choice, he soon learned, was the fact he’s alive.

“They said they don’t name things after living people, they have to be deceased,” Dube said with a laugh, musing that perhaps someday, far into the future, there will be a Dube Brook.

He said he went through a couple other names before settling on Black Fly Brook – quite appropriate, his fellow Mason residents agreed, given the proliferation of the tiny, and very much annoying, pests that come with springtime in these parts.

Two names Dube has submitted so far, he said, are Skeeter Brook, for a stream that runs near his property and eventually joins up with Black Fly Brook, and Bladderwort Bog, a wetland through which the future Skeeter Brook flows.

As for Dube’s fellow Masonites’ reaction to having a Black Fly Brook in town, so far so good, he said.

“I’ve had practically 100 percent positive feedback from townsfolk,” Dube said, adding that people’s approval “is always preceded by a guffaw or a chuckle.”