Making his story my story

In 1976 I followed in my father's footsteps as a writer and photographer, starting with a newspaper job for the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey. In the years that followed I received a master's degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, New York; lived among the remaining potato farmers and fishermen on Long Island's North Fork, and then covered the dazzling highs and crippling lows of the technology industry from Route 128 in Boston. In 1991, I started a freelance career, becoming an international travel writer and photographer, principally for The Boston Herald.

My work has appeared in a wide variety of publications from the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post to such magazines as Vermont Life, Northern Woodlands and New Jersey Monthly. In the mid-1990s, my interest in photography led me to produce four illustrated books about specific North Shore communities along New Jersey's coastline. The Pike Books tab enables you to discover which ones.

After my father, Robert E. Pike, died in 1997, The Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton, negotiated for a new edition of his North Woods classic Spiked Boots. I wrote the foreword and supplied never-before-published photos from the Pike Archives, including a family snapshot of my dad, his uncle who raised him and to whom the book is dedicated, and me in the parlor of the Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vt.

When the 21st century began, I expanded my career in books by taking 46 travel essays and 400 photographic postcards culled from a 6,000-plus personal collection to write Greetings From New Jersey, my first book for Rutgers University Press. Published in the fall of 2001, a second printing of A Postcard Tour of the Garden State took place in the spring of 2005. In 2006 I produced a companion volume for children growing up in the Garden State subtitled A Workbook for Young Adventurers.

My next book returned me to the start of my writing career in Asbury Park where I spent seven years examining the changing fortunes of a once-popular residential resort. With 200 rare images identified publicly for the first time and 60 mini-memoirs from those who lived, worked, worshipped, and were educated in this coastal city, Asbury Park's Glory Days bowed April 29, 2005. The paperback edition arrived in April 2007.

Next the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce commissioned New Jersey: Crossroads of Commerce. I tracked how key industries from the Dutch trading companies evolved to dot.coms over a 300-year span. Chapter 6 looks at 21st century trends in health care, the green movement, and transit villages. Published in 2008, this book is found on the reference shelves of most public libraries.

The Spirited Ladies of Liberty Street is my ninth book and my first literary collaboration. Co-written with Frank "Pat" Dodd, a retired state Senator, this historical novel was released July 29, 2009. The narrative is equal parts mystery and moxie as it uncovers Dodd family secrets and connects them to historical events from Prohibition.

Asbury Park: Where Music Lives is Book #10, representing quite a milestone since Book #1 in 1995. I was chosen to manage the editorial direction and publication of a volume to complement the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music. On March 6, 2011 we debuted Where Music Lives with a "book jam" of the musicians whose memoirs now are a part of our nation's cultural history. Curating associated programs enabled me to use my skills honed during six years as an adjunct university lecturer. To find out more about my academic achievements, please click View my Linkedin bio in the right-hand column.

In 2012 I sold my childhood home on the Jersey Shore and moved to the Upper Connecticut River Valley and my ancestral home town, Waterford. For the first time since 1954, when my great uncle, Harley Ellsworth Pike, and his wife, left with the flooding of Upper Waterford to complete the hydro-electric grid on the river, a Pike lives in this rugged outpost once defined by 15 Mile Falls.

As fate has it, I live overlooking both the river and the final resting place of my ancestor, Daniel Pike, a Massachusetts Minuteman during the American Revolution. He sought a new adventure for his family, including twin daughters, when the war for independence ended, and moved here from Royalston, MA. By 1790 the Pikes were one of the 10 founding families listed on the Vermont Census.

From 2012 through 2014 I turned job-hunting into my own adventure by exploring several different opportunities from hospitality and healthcare copy-writing to bookstore events coordinator and memoir coach to Lower Waterford village postmistress and freelance writer of hyper-local and lost history. With other curiosity seekers who are a mix of long-time residents and relative newcomers, I co-founded the Waterford Historical Society.

Realizing that old age is the last, great frontier left to discover, I landed a full-time position as the first-ever communications and development director for the Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging, a service agency launched in 1979 to prepare hot lunches for seniors. My vision is to put a contemporary spin on getting older because that process is on-going since the moment we are born. Let age, then, be a continuous journey of hope.

A graduate of both public and private schools, I received a B.A. degree in English and French from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and a language certificate from La Sorbonne in Paris. In the tug-of-war between my Yankee father and French mother to name me, a hyphenated first name resulted: Helen-Chantal. It's both a pesky and symbolic piece of punctuation, reminding me that a hyphenated life is one meant to be well-lived.