Historic Highlights" for Gilford Steamer’s 2 Sept. 2004 issue

Looking back, taking stock, making plans

Sunday has come to be the day to finalize the week’s article for the Steamer. But this Sunday is also the day following Old Home Day. It’s a day to look back, take stock, make plans.

Without doubt, it was another wonderful Old Home Day. The sky was clear and the attractions appealed to the many people who turned out.

Early risers enjoyed the Rotary breakfast, perused the nearby sale exhibits, then drifted along to the library’s tent and to tents on the field as well as into the museum buildings until the coming of the parade enticed everyone to line Belknap Mountain Road.

Throughout the day there was a steady flow of visitors to the museum buildings. People seemed to start with the building closest to where they parked their car, so the Rowe House, Meetinghouse and Grange were busy from 9:00 a.m. on.

The Grange building is where I spent most of the day, along with T-AHS members Ed LaSala, Don Frost, and Terry Bobseine who was spelled by Mary Frost as soon as the parade ended. I helped serve lemonade and oatmeal-raisin cookies and distribute copies of a leaflet that gave an over-view of Thompson—Ames Historical Society events at the three museum buildings.

A heavy stream of visitors flowed through from the 9:00 a.m. opening until the 1:00 p.m. closing, interrupted only by parade viewing.

For some folks, it was their first visit to the building and they were filled with questions about the nature of the Grange as an historic organization. Others queried about the building itself -- how it started out (as a store envisioned to compete with the thriving business of the Village Store which had opened in 1836), how the interior areas evolved (the original wood shed was joined with a portion of the original horse shed in the 1940s to create the Grange kitchen while the remainder of the horse shed was enclosed to become a spill—over dining room for Grange suppers and part time youth room), how the Grange members washed dishes before the 1940s kitchen with its 7k-foot long copper sink came into existence (dirty dishes were passed out one back window of the then-dining room to be washed outdoors, and then the clean dishes were passed back indoors through the other back window), etc.

Other visitors marveled at the details of the 1800s Homestead room with its replica brick fireplace, bake oven, and ash clean-out that reflect design research focused on two vintage Gilford houses.

At one point sounds from the 1857-1907 Historic Store caught my attention. Stan Piper’s voice could be heard as he was answering a query about the location of the Potter Farm, the source of many of Thompson-Ames Historical Society’s vintage tools.

Suddenly strands of music wafted from the old up-right piano in the store. My heart skipped a beat for I was almost positive that Dick Duckoff, from Manchester, was at the keyboard. I slipped into the store and, sure enough, it was he! I told him how happy I was to have him visiting and adding to the vintage atmosphere as only his piano playing can.

As I turned toward the kitchen I spied Diana Duckoff, Dick’s wife, waiting for me. What a wonderful reunion! (Diana hails from Gilford. Her maiden name is "Hunt".)

That was the first of several reunions that occurred this Old Home Day. Three of my former students stopped in to visit with me. Two, whom I hadn’t seen since they were fifth graders, could recognize me despite my grayer hair -— but to my mind’s eye the appearance of each of these young adults presented a challenge. We reminisced about the eight field trips that had been part of their fifth-grade experiences, and we talked about the field-trip experiences that Gilford’s museum buildings offer to present—day students, especially in kindergarten and grade three.

Another former student, whose path has intersected with mine several times since he was in fifth grade, stopped by with his parents and his wife as well as their young child. Having moved back from Cal4ornia to the Washington, DC, area, the proximity allowed him to again visit during a Gilford Old Home Day. How special!

At 1:00, as planned, the Grange doors were closed for the day to allow us time to walk to the Meetinghouse to sit in on the final drama performance. Joanne Colby Clark and Stan Piper were sharing selections written by Robert Frost. Some literary pieces were truly familiar while others were not. After a brief introduction, the sharing started with "The Pasture", one of my favorites. I glanced at the printed program as the readers took turns.

When it was time for "The Grindstone", something not printed in the program happened. Fred Clark, Joanne’s husband, who had been a member of Streetcar along with Joanne and Stan, walked toward the stage and started to talk. At first he addressed his remarks to a young boy in the audience, but then he spoke to the others present. He shared some experiences from his youth, called attention to the sketch of a grindstone in the printed program, and then, in conversational tone, recited "The Grindstone" -- and truly from the heart, for it is one of his favorite poems!

Following the poetry sharing, everyone paused to enjoy light refreshments as they viewed the Gilford/Lakes Region Playhouse display and spoke with Diane Mitton about Thompson—Ames Historical Society’s collection management endeavors. It was pointed out that the climate control efforts, which are in place to protect the museum items and archival materials from the devastation of high humidity and extremes of temperature, had also given comfort to those in the T-AHS museum buildings that afternoon.

Outdoors at the tent, we joined Dot and Dave Pangburn who were ready to close up shop for the day. We pitched in to help while the happenings of the day were shared.

Dot stated that there had been true enthusiasm for the T-AHS raffle items on display at the tent and that Estelle Miller and Nancy Fischer had helped sell raffle tickets. This year’s quilted wall hanging "On the Farm", created by artist Stan Piper and quilter Ellen Peters, was still on the display rack and waving gently in the breeze. The American Girl Doll "Molly" was standing next to the toy piano and some items in her raffle wardrobe. Dot relayed that Carole Hunt Johnson had stopped by and said that the piano recital dress that she is making for Molly will be completed soon so that it can be put on display as part of the items whose winning raffle tickets will be drawn on Saturday, December 4th.

Upon inquiring about the other goings-on at the Meetinghouse, we learned that Lloyd Ekholm and Dave Pangburn had been kept busy setting up chairs for many parade viewers to use. Also, the CoSeed table with the A B "Sees" Gilford spiral-bound books created by Diane Alting’s third graders had generated considerable interest.

Just then Connie and Rick Moses arrived with puppy Peaches on a leash. We commented on the blue ribbon that Connie was sporting —— recognition of their parade entry. Rick was quick to point out that their horse performed well except for a momentary white-eyed response to a balloon but that soft words of assurance calmed the situation.

With all hands busy, the tents was soon down and the display items stored indoors, so that we could follow the red-brick sidewalk to the Rowe House.

There we were greeted by a still smiling Kathy Lacroix who stated that there had been a steady stream of people stopping by all day long. Visitors had marvelled not only at the unique Greek revival cape with it~s vintage furnishings but also the demonstrations that were part of this year’s Old Home Day "Open House11 . Folks had stood around to see old skills being kept alive as Cathy Goodmen spun, Esther Peters knitted, Barbara Smith Turner darned, Marlene Witham wove, and Kathy had demonstrated rug braiding. Tour guides for the day included Cindy Kupetz, Jerry Lacroix, Nan Fay, Terry Bobseine, Carolyn Brown, Gerald Knight, Linda Arel, Marge Muehlke, Daryl Thompson, Priscilla Puleo, and Pete Labonte who also relayed to inquirers what it has been like to live and work on a Gilford farm.

As we were clearing the refreshment table and closing up the Rowe House, Kathy remarked that some offspring of the vintage Rowe House lilac plant will be gracing another door yard to add a special dimension to the pleasures of spring.

Everyone was ready to sit back, listen to the Community Band concert, watch the gala fireworks display and agree that this Old Home Day had lived up to all expectations.

But for the Thompson-Ames Historical Society it is also the time not only to carry out the plans for the rest of 2004 but also to start to plan for 2005.

We welcome other community members to step forward and join us in working together to preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage of Gilford.

Won’t you contact us and express your willingness to participate? The Thompson-Ames Historical Society telephone number is 527-9009 and the mailing address is P.O. Box 7404, Gilford, NH 03247-7404. Also, the office in the Grange building is open whenever the flag is on display at the entry door, including on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

To echo Robert Frost’s poem, "Won’t you come, too?"