February's Letters

The Cultured Club

“Get Cultured” in your November 2003 edition tried to do an overview of New Hampshire arts. [Your list of] performing arts venues glaringly omits Keene’s Colonial Theatre, University of New Hampshire and Plymouth State University. Out of all the organizations mentioned, only Peterborough Players holds a contract with Actors Equity Association, the professional theatrical union. No mention is made of other Equity houses, Tamworth’s historic Barnstormers, Whitefield’s Weathervane, Hampton, etc. What about other non-union houses, Mt. Washington Valley Repertory in North Conway, New London Barn, etc.? Readers accuse you of not covering much above the Notch with reason.

There are two professional opera companies in New Hampshire. The new Granite State Opera and Opera North in Lebanon (founded in 1982). Opera New Hampshire is an imported out-of-state touring company. Under music you fail to mention Nashua Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Choral Society or North Country Chamber Players and their long-established summer concert series at Sugar Hill and the many music summer series emanating from Wolfeboro.

Can we now expect a forthcoming essay on fundraising for the arts in New Hampshire? That would make for a very interesting story indeed.

Albert Santerre

Getting Ideas

I have enjoyed your articles and photography in recent issues. Since I am adding a “great room” onto my house, I have found some good ideas for design and furnishings, such as the [December 2003] article on “Designing for the Art of Conversation.” I have been trying to find some good lighting ideas and there were several in this issue, especially in the Lighting Center ad.

Lori Wyble

Memories Worth Preserving

I’m not sure how far and wide your circle of subscribers may be, but living 20 miles east of Kansas City, Missouri, I’m not as far removed from New Hampshire as one would think. Beginning in 1950 our family spent a vacation every summer in Franconia. We always stayed at the Green Ridge Cabins on the Gale River. They were owned and operated by Willis and May Harding. Like other cabins of the time, they offered very little in the way of frills — no television, no radio, no air conditioning, and no refrigerator. We bought a block of ice about every other day for the small ice box. There were very few restaurants in Franconia in the early 1950s, so Mom prepared most of our meals in the cabin’s small kitchenette.

For entertainment we would go fishing in the Gale River. From the silver bridge over Route 117 you could look down into the clear river below and see the trout. But catching them was a different story.

Once in a while someone staying in one of the cabins would catch a bunch of fish at one of the local ponds or lakes, and we’d have a fish fry for all the guests.

We also spent a good amount of time sight-seeing around northern New Hampshire and Vermont. There were no interstate highways back then. We got to see things that the average vacationers miss nowadays. We would always go to Echo Lake several times during our stay. Back then there actually was an echo. But because of the highways that have been added, today’s swimmers probably wonder why it’s call Echo Lake. One day would always be spent visiting Crawford Notch and the Willy House. And we would go to see The Old Man of the Mountain, Profile Lake, and The Basin.

My dad had worked at the hotel, Peckett’s on Sugar Hill, in the summer of 1949. My brothers and I worked there in our turns as well. Peckett’s is gone now, as are most of the grand hotels of that era. Sunset Hill House is still there.

Those were wonderful summers.

Yes, Peckett’s is gone. The echo at Echo Lake is gone. The old silver bridge across the Gale River at Highway 117 has been replaced. The Green Ridge Cabins are gone. Even the Old Man of the Mountain is gone. Interstate highways now bypass the old two-lane roads. I guess that’s what some Americans call “progress.”

And I guess when all those of my generation are gone, the memories of a simpler, more appreciated, more beautiful New Hampshire will be gone as well.

Both of my parents passed away at the Lafayette Elder Care Center in Franconia, Mom in 2001 at the age of 84, and Dad in 2002 at the age of 93. They spent their last days overlooking the White Mountains they loved so much. Ironically, the Lafayette Elder Care Center stands on the same piece of land where the Green Ridge Cabins once stood many years ago.

Christopher Dauten
Blue Springs, Missouri