"Historic Highlights" for Gilford Steamer’s 14 Oct. 2004 issue

Signs of Autumn

Autumn is a beautiful time of the year in New England, but probably there is no place better to go to appreciate that fact than right in the middle of Gilford Village.

That was what Stan Piper had in mind in 2003 when he created the design for Thompson-Ames Historical Society’s wall hanging "Autumn Splendor which in turn was quilted by Ellen Peters. It was with obvious pleasure that Ellen Gelotte greeted the announcement that her raffle ticket had been drawn and that she would own the unique quilted wall hanging.

Saturday, October 2nd, one of Thompson-Ames Historical Society’s autumn work days, was an opportunity to stand in front of the Grange Building and look up Belknap Mountain Road towards Mount Belknap, observe the breath-taking scene, and recall the history associated with "Autumn Splendor".

"In my mind’s eye, the ‘Autumn Splendor’ of last years s quilt is perpetual," remarked Stan Piper, one of the volunteers who had gathered to work on Saturday morning. "Autumn colors are still as vibrant. Although there are many more houses now dotting the countryside, still just enough green space has been preserved to retain the essence of bygone autumn happenings."

He pointed to some distant areas and continued, "There’s where cows grazed, and there, fields where neighborhood farmers gathered to cut hay to feed cattle over the winter. This road, although now paved, still wends its way in that direction and connects the village and the farm lands. And, where horses and oxen used to tread, now motorized vehicles provide a different kind of ‘horsepower’."

The reverie came to an end as other volunteers arrived. Toting wheelbarrows, shovels and garden rakes needed to tackle the dampness problem caused by ground-water flow at the Meetinghouse, the other volunteers included Ed LaSala, Judy and Dale DalPan, Marge Muehlke, Jim Colby, Diane Mitton, Mary Frost, Pete Allen, and Terry Bobseine.

The plan agreed upon was to use sand to build up around the outside perimeter of the granite-block foundation to redirect the flow of ground water away from the building.

The workers took turns at the various tasks which included raking stones away from the outside perimeter of the foundation, shoveling sand from the basement into wheelbarrows, wheeling the sand outdoors to dump along the foundation, and then raking the stones back into place.

In front of the building, perennials needed to be dug up and removed along with the top soil before the sand could be banked into place. Then the plants and top soil could be put back.

As usual, one thing leads to another. It was decided to use edging to deter grass from the lawn spreading into the newly reset perennials, so Judy DalPan made a quick trip home to get edging which she had on hand. In the meantime, there was time to do some much-needed weeding in the garden beds that flank the raised-terrace entrance steps.

Of course time was taken out so that everyone could sip lemonade and nibble oatmeal-raisin cookies. This also was an opportunity to share news of recent happenings.

Marge told about the progress being made in reinvigorating the gardens at Rowe House. Gerald and Doreen Knight, who have spent much time weeding, were joined recently by Carmel Lancia, who, like Marge, is a Master Gardener. This winter will see these volunteers doing research into vintage plants so that herb and flower garden plans will be ready for spring.

This pause-to-refresh time also gave Jim Colby an opportunity to show the odd-shaped tomato that he had picked in his garden just that morning.

As discussion turned to tomatoes, Marge extended an invitation for any people interested to come to her vegetable garden at Muehlke Tree Farm to pick tomatoes from her unusually large bumper crop.

About 12:00 noon, work wound down and most of the volunteers left to go on with their afternoon plans.

Stan and Pete turned their attention to work on the unfinished kitchen door-frame project and to bring the $10,000-goal Fund Drive thermometer up to the $8,500 level.

When the Meetinghouse was finally closed up for the day, Stan mused, "Today exemplified the historic spirit of a good-old barn raising --neighbors volunteering to share in the necessary work of everyday living."

May this spirit always continue in our town.

The mission of Thompson-Ames Historical Society is to preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage of Gilford. Membership is open to all interested persons.

To volunteer or to become a member, please telephone 527-9009, or send an e-mail to thomames@worldpath.net, or write to P.O. Box 7404, or stop in at the Grange building whenever the "OPEN" flag is displayed at the door to the Hallway of Historic Signs.