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Growing Up in a New Hampshire Country Inn

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In the spring of 1950, when I was 5 years old, my parents bought a small inn in Intervale NH, 3 miles north of North Conway. They operated it for 26 years, and thus it was the only home I knew as I grew up. I'm lucky to have many cherished memories of my childhood there - the brook through the back yard, the hills and forest behind it. As I grew, my horizons expanded; in high school my friends and I spent many a day hiking the White Mountains. And naturally skiing was a major part of my young life.

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Back at the turn of the century, the inn was known as "The Forest". The sign shown in this 1900 photo was in the barn when my parents bought the inn. My Dad cleaned it up and hung it on the side of the barn.

The inn was originally two separate buildings. The left section was built in 1835 as a general store; the right portion was a small home built in 1850. Daniel Carlton joined them together, and after raising his family there, added the third floor with its mansard roof in 1890 and opened "The Forest".

As you might imagine, this cobbling together of two buildings resulted in some rather uneven floors, the worse being the dining room where a large hump ran right across the middle of the room. After a while, though, we got quite used to it.

 

In about 1918 John and Gertrude Fernald purchased The Forest for $8000 and re-named it "Rest-a-bit".

The Holiday Inn name predates the national chain's use of it by several years. George and Charlotte Burgess named it Holiday Inn in 1946 after seeing the movie "White Christmas". When the chain built it's first hotel in New Hampshire, my parents sued them over use of the name.

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inn3  My big sister Pat and I in front of the first sign my folks hung out front in 1950. Over the years the style and shape of the sign would change a few times. 
 My Mom Winnie, big sister Pat, my Dad Ed, and me in the front living room. youth2 
inn4 Child labor! I quickly learned how much hard work went into running a small inn. Washing dishes, waiting on table, making beds and cleaning rooms - I did it all as I grew up. When I was in high school, my parents would occasionally take a little short trip for a night or two, leaving me and my good friend Judd in charge of the inn. 
The trusty Garland gas range in the kitchen. Here Mom and our cooks prepared meals for up to 40 people at a time. The last time I visited the inn, in 2008, it was still there.  youth3 
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North Conway was a major New England ski center in the 1950's, and the winter clientele came for the skiing at Cranmore and Black Mountains. I remember the couple that owned that Jaguar, which he often cursed in the cold of a NH winter.

A bit of Yankee-ania: that red thing on the porch is a dingle - a temporary winter entrance that helps prevent the cold winter winds from blowing inside when one opens the door.

 
 While we're talking about skiing, here I am on Race Day, at the end of a Junior Ski Program season at Mount Cranmore.  youth1
 inn6  Check out these prices from the late 1950's.
 The living room as it appeared in the early 50's. inn9 
 inn10  Although the open door indicates this is a summer picture, that fireplace was the center of activity on cold winters' evenings. Dad always kept a good fire going. That's Winnie and Ed (my parents)in the background. Guests quickly learned that that rocker was Winnie's "throne".
 Don't cry over spilt milk! Hearing a big crash one morning, we ran out front to find the local milk truck had had a bit of a mishap.  inn11
 inn24  In the summer, my folks occasionally would host a cook-out for the guests. That's my Mom at the table.
 In 1954 my folks bought the little stone cottage next door and converted it into two motel units. This was originally built for Mariam Cottle's use as a law office. Later it became the summer cottage of Earl and Jeanette Weatherbee, from whom my folks purchased it inn12 
 f8  This was the beginning of a life's career, although I had no idea at the time. I built this weather station for a 7th-grade science project. It sat on a stump in the back yard for several years, then was relegated to the loft of the barn. It was there for quite a few years, but eventually a new owner of the Inn sent it to the dump. It would be rather neat to have it today.
 In the 8th-grade, my pal Judd and I built this cabin beside the brook up behind the Inn. Talk about eco-friendly: it was built 100% from recycled materials. We spent many a night in it over the next few years. Long after my folks had sold the Inn it finally succumbed to the ravages of time and Mother Nature. It really should have been designated as a Historic Landmark <G>. f9 
inn13   The large elm tree in front of the inn is gone in this postcard from the 1960's.
We used to get some serious snow back then! This is my Mom in the pathway from the inn to the barn.  inn14 
 inn15  I had a love-hate relationship with our skating rink. My Dad and I would take turns every evening going out and hand-spraying water to make the smooth surface. Needless to say, we experimented with many techniques, but nothing worked as well as the "by-hand" approach. The rink had lights for night use and Dad ran wire for an outdoor speaker.
 A Christmas card from the late 60's. This shows the "winter sign" that Dad put out in the winter. This one didn't hang down as low as the "summer sign" and thus was less likely to be damaged by snow plows when the snow banks got high.  inn25
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The woods behind the inn were great for sliding. There was a winding road up the hill to my grandparents summer house. Here is Liz, my future bride, zipping down the hill.

One year I built a truly "rad" toboggan chute down through the trees over to the left; my folks made me destroy it, though, out of fear that some guest might get injured on it.

In the mid-50's I went off to summer camp for 4 weeks. I managed to convince my Mom to let me bring home two ducks that were at the camp. We had a small brook behind the stone cottage, where we built a little dam for them and had a old doghouse they spent the nights in. That first year, the guests got quite a charge out of helping to herd them into their house each evening after supper.

Originally Donald and Daisy, Donald became Donna when "he" started laying eggs the next summer, along with Daisy.

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inn62 "The Girls" soon learned that guests were a soft-touch for bread crumbs and made the trek from the brook to the Inn nearly every afternoon. While away from the brook, they quickly learned to drink from Dad's soaker hoses and sprinklers. He had one very old, slow-turning sprinkler that the ducks mastered: one would stick her neck in between the arms to stop it so the other could drink from the tip of the arm. Then they'd switch places.
They spent their first few winters in a pen inside the barn; then Dad and I built this winter house for them outside, so they could enjoy some sun on warmer days. They survived an attack by a weasel and dog bites and lived to a ripe old 13 years of age. Note the red flower box with its winter greenery. inn23
inn17 Dad's pride and joy - a Flying Dutchman Junior. He used to sail it on Silver Lake.
My grandmother and a guest enjoying the sun while they paint out behind the stone cottage. inn18
inn21 A major challenge in the winter is keeping water lines from freezing. One time-tested method is to run a bleeder line, a small stream of water constantly running so it can't freeze. Dad started putting a spray nozzle on the cottage's line and over the winter built up huge mounds of ice. It would last well into the spring.
While I was at Colby College in the 60's, my folks would host the Outing Club on it's annual spring trek to ski in Tuckerman's Ravine on Mt Washington. That's me in the blue and checked shirt on the right. My folks turned the inn over to the group for the weekend. The kids helped with the cooking, waited on tables, and helped clean before we left on Sunday evening. I guess it helped that my folks were also Colby grads, as are my sister and I. Click here for some pix of skiing in Tuckerman Ravine. inn19
inn20 My proudest day at the inn was 9 Sept 1967 - the day Liz and I got married. Following the wedding at the Congregational Church in North Conway, my parents hosted the reception at the inn. We were blessed with good weather, and my Dad had outdone himself that summer to ensure the gardens and grounds would be beautiful.
All right - everyone wants to see what a great couple we made, so here's a front-on shot. f56
PDR 2635 Fast-forward 40 years and here's the Inn today. Since my folks sold it 1976, ownership has changed hands 4 more times, most recently in 2005. It's had a couple of name changes along the way - one owner went back to the turn-of-the-century (1900) name: The Forest. The newest owners came up with an entirely new name: Glen Oaks Inn. Can't say I'm all that wild about the change from green to black.

Here are some more  random memories.