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Belmont Historical Society Program on Wit & Wisdom of Earlier Times

BELMONT — Whatever did New England villagers do on long winter evenings before cable, satellite and the internet?

On Friday, September 20 at 7 p.m., humanities scholar Jo Radner will be the Belmont Historical Society guest presenter at the Corner Meeting House in Belmont, and will provide some surprising answers to that question in her presentation entitled, "Wit and Wisdom: Humor in 19th Century New England".

Radner has been studying wintertime amusements in rural nineteenth-century Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. It is not surprising that our ancestors warmed up those long, cold evenings with social entertainments from music and dancing to charades, sewing circles, and neighborhood suppers. "What I didn't expect, though," says Radner, "was that so many village traditions were aimed at what people called 'mental improvement' – ways of training their minds" Adults eagerly attended "writing schools" for penmanship lessons provided by itinerant teachers, "singing schools" to improve their choral singing, and even "spelling schools," which were like adult spelling bees.

In the decades before and after the Civil War, however, the most distinctive events created by northern New England villagers were the weekly "lyceums," for which they would prepare formal debates on current or philosophical topics. These farmers and their sons and daughters would also compose and read aloud homegrown, handwritten literary "newspapers." Sometimes serious, sometimes sentimental but mostly very funny, these "papers" revealed the hopes, fears, humor and surprisingly daring behavior of our rural ancestors.

"I first came across a lyceum paper in my great-grandmother's attic in Fryeburg," Radner says. "I didn't know what it was, at first: an odd collection of jokes, parodies, poems, and whatnot. I discovered that I had dug up a major, forgotten tradition." Since that time, Radner has discovered hundreds of these 19th-century community papers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. "They give us the voices of ordinary people, teasing each other, worried about the future, dealing with real-life challenges."

Before returning to her family home in western Maine as a writer, storyteller, and oral historian, Jo Radner was a professor at American University in Washington, DC, teaching literature, American studies, folklore, women's studies, Celtic studies, and storytelling. She has published books and articles in all those fields, and is now writing a book titled "Performing the Paper: Rural Self-Improvement in Northern New England." She is past president of the American Folklore Society and the National Storytelling Network.

This program is open to the public and free of charge and the building is handicapped accessible. Funding for the program was provided by the Humanities-To-Go Program of the New Hampshire Humanities Council.

For additional information, please contact Christine Fogg at 524-8268.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 08:49

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Lady Grace Appointments Available for September


LACONIA — The latest prosthetic breast forms from Lady Grace Intimate Apparel are available right in your community.

If you or a loved one has had a lumpectomy or mastectomy and would like to find breast prosthesis to fit your needs, a certified breast prosthesis fitter from Lady Grace Intimate Apparel will be at Lakes Region General Hospital on Tuesday, September 24.

Appointments are necessary and may be made by calling LRGHealthcare's Breast Health Program Coordinator, Ginny Witkin at 527-2940.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 08:44

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Committee on Aging session on Laughter Yoga, Tai Chi

GILFORD — Belknap County Area Committee on Aging meetings are set to resume on Friday, September 13 at 10 a.m. in the Wesley Woods Community Room. The Committee will meet on the second Friday of each month and will cover a variety of topics designed to keep area seniors healthy, educated, and informed. Meetings are open to the public and area residents of all ages are encouraged to attend.

Marcia Wyman from the New England Center of Laughter will discuss the overall health benefits of Laugher Yoga, and Tai Chi, at theour first meeting. Laughter Yoga was started in 1995 by a Medical Doctor in India who also did yoga breathing. Scientific studies in the United States have shown that prolonged laughter improves both the body and the mind.

"It's a great way to feel better and stay better, " says Wyman , "and no side effects except joy and feeling renewed and refreshed."

For more information about the Belknap County Area Committee on Aging, or have a topic you would like to see addressed during these meetings, contact Stace Dicker-Hendricks at 603-528-2555 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Brenda Fortier at 603-267-9867 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 08:37

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Laconia Historical Society will hear story of LaFlamme's Bakery.

LACONIA — The Laconia Historical and Museum Society's September lecture program on Monday, September 16 at 7 p.m. will feature The History of LaFlamme's Bakery, presented by Lynda LaFlamme
This lecture will be held at the Laconia Public Library. Admission is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Donations are gratefully accepted.

Please note the change of venue. The program was originally scheduled to be held at the Water Street Cafe but due to the anticipated attendance has been moved to the library.

For more information about this lecture program, or if you would like to make a donation and/or become a member, contact Laconia Historical & Museum Society at (603) 527-1278, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit us online at www.laconiahistorical.org.



LaFlamme's Bakery (Courtesy Photo)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 08:33

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