Sawyer's Marks 70th anniversary

GILFORD — Sawyer's Dairy Bar marks its 70th anniversary this year and one thing that hasn't changed in all that time is the favorite ice cream of its customers.
Black Raspberry still is the favorite according to Larry Litchfield, who along with his wife, Pati, purchased the Lakes Region landmark 10 years ago and have succeeded in keeping alive the traditions of the iconic establishment int Gilford Meadow.
But there's more variety in the Black Raspberry area than there used to be according to Larry, who points out that it's also offered as Black Raspberry Chip, Black Raspberry Truffle and as Black Raspberry Yogurt.
And Sawyer's now offers 50 varieties of ice cream and churns out 10,000 gallons a year with Pati heading up the ice cream-making operations.
Litchfield says that he and his wife made a series of subtle changes to Saywer's since they acquired it, all of which were designed to keep the character of the beloved landmark while bringing customer-friendly operational changes.
''We gutted the back and completely rebuilt and modernized the kitchen and established a point of sale system and a kitchen management system and expanded the outside seating and remodeled the porch. We pushed the front wall out giving us a six foot by 30 foot addition which made us more efficient,'' said Litchfield.
He said the goal of Sawyer's is to get the food to the customers within eight minutes of it being ordered, a goal which has been met and has allowed Sawyer's to cut down on long customer lines and has enabled the restaurant to double its business since he and his wife took over.
''We couldn't do this without the young people who work for us. They learn a lot here and could run the place by themselves,'' says Litchfield, pointing out that some of the workers have six or seven years of experience.
Seafood has been a staple of the Sawyer's menu for years during which the restaurant earned a reputation for having the best lobster rolls on the Lakes Region. That tradition continues with the lobster rolls, fish sandwiches and haddock, scallop and clam plates along with a fisherman's platter and lobster bisque, and clam and corn chowders.
''We also go through a lot of hamburg and chicken,'' says Litchfield, who grew up in Chelmsford, Mass., and fell in love with the Lakes Region while attending Tilton School. He graduated from there in 1955 before heading to the University Denver, where he earned a degree in hotel and resort management. He went on to enjoy a successful career in business and finance.
He says that he and his wife enjoy the challenge of the business and are totally dedicated to making it a success with both working 15 hour days, seven days a week.
As part of the 70th anniversary, Sawyer's held a contest to name a life-size plastic cow which was in front of the restaurant for weeks. The cow, which was eventually named ''Scoops'', has been showing up in different spots all over the Lakes Region, most recently on Cow Island on Lake Winnipesaukee, which is only fitting as ice cream mix from Sawyer's was for many years delivered to Camp Idlewild for the camp's ice-cream making operation.
As part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary, Sawyer's will be holding a reunion at a date yet to be determined on a night during the middle of week in August for former employees.
Sawyer's was opened in 1945 by George and Ruth Sawyer as a small ice cream stand using milk from their own cows and was so small that only one worker was needed. Ruth convinced George that they should also sell coffee and it soon grew into a take out food business featuring fried food as well as ice cream. It soon became a popular destination for both tourists and locals and over the generations employed hundreds of local youths.
Judy Buswell of Gilford recalls working there in the summer of 1954 when a hurricane hit the area in August and blew down a sign across Rte. 11 from Sawyer's. She says that her mother called her at work as said there was a hurricane and that she was coming to Sawyer's to bring her home. She says that by the time her mother arrived, the sky had cleared and the sun was shining.
Ruth MacDougall, author of ''The Cheerleader" recalls working at Sawyer's during the summer of 1955 and says that she was stunned to see the changes made by the Litchfields when she visited Sawyer's in 2013 and told them that she had once scooped ice cream there.
John Cole of Laconia recalls working at Sawyer's in the summers of 1950 and 1951 and once spilling five gallons of strawberries and on another occasion pulling out of Sawyer's with two cases of bottled milk on the tailgate of the pickup truck he was driving being spilled on the highway.
But the most memorable event was striking up a conversation with two young ladies in a Massachusetts car one evening and arranging a date for the following evening with one of the young ladies who would within a few years become his wife. They have now been married for 60 years.

Income inequality in Lakes Region found to outpace state number, which is twice the national average

LACONIA — The New Hampshire Business Review recently reported that income inequality in New Hampshire is increasing at almost twice the national pace and faster than in any other state; and nowhere is the trend more pronounced than in the Lakes Region and Belknap County.

Citing data from the United States Census, the report notes that between 2007 and 2013 the gap between rich and poor in the United States has widened by 2.6 percent but in New Hampshire by more than 5 percent.

The most comprehensive measure of income inequality is the so-called Gini Index, an international measure created by the Italian statistician Carrado Gini in 1912 and widely applied ever since. The index assigns zero to perfect equality while a value of one indicates that a single individual or family earns all the income and the rest earn nothing.

Based on three-year averages from census data, In New Hampshire, the Gini Index rose from 0.414 in 2007 to 0.435 in 2013. Carroll County posted the highest index of 0.468, followed by Grafton County at 0.46 and Belknap County at 0.44. But, during the same period, the index rose 10 percent in Belknap County, twice the increase in the state as a whole and the greatest increase among the ten counties.

In the Lakes Region and Belknap County widening inequality has been accelerated by the other predominant trend of the time — the rapid aging of the population. Between 2000 and 2010, while the population of the county rose by 6.5-percent the age group younger than 18 fell nearly as fast, 6.3-percent, to diminish from almost a quarter to barely a fifth of the population. Meanwhile, the median age increased from 40.1 to 44.7.
The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies projects that those over 65 will represent 37-percent of the Belknap County population by 2030, the second largest share of senior citizens among the 10 counties. As more and more affluent retirees have settled around the lakes, the disparities of income and wealth have widened.

3 Laconia apartments destroyed by fire

LACONIA — A three-alarm fire at the Wingate Village apartments on Blueberry Lane late Wednesday morning heavily damaged three apartments and caused about $150,000 in damage, according to Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson.
He said that the fire, which was reported at 11:09 a.m., left three units uninhabitable and displaced five adults and six children, who were later assisted by the American Red Cross in obtaining shelter, food and clothing. No one was injured in the fire.
He said that the fire started on the exterior of the building, a six-unit multi-family two-story wood frame structure, near apartment 35 and spread up an exterior wall to the attic space of apartments 34, 35 and 36.
''Crews hit the heavy fire from the outside and knocked down the fire in the attic of of 34, then advanced the hose lines into 34, 35 and 36 to extinguish the fire,'' said Erickson, who added that at one point the fire exploded through a hole cut by firefighters in the roof of unit 36.
He said that despite the rapidly spreading fire and high outside temperatures, which were close to 90 degrees, no one was injured.
''Firefighters did a good job in tough conditions,'' said Erickson, who estimated the value of property saved at $200,000.
No cause of the fire was available as of press time.
Crews from several area fire departments responded to the scene, including Gilford, Belmont, Meredith, Tilton, Sanbornton, Gilmanton and Concord.
Among the first to spot the fire was Kristen Jackman, 26, of Rumney, who was swimming in a pool across the street and saw the smoke. She immediately ran across the street and knocked on the doors of apartments 37 and 38 and helped the occupants get out of the building before firefighters arrived.
''She's our hero,'' said Jane Hanson, a resident of apartment 37, a sentiment echoed by James Rathbun of apartment 38. Both watched in their wheelchairs in the shade of a tree near as firefighters battled the fire.
Hanson said that she and her husband, Frank, were at home and their grandchildren were outside playing when the fire broke out.
''The kids yelled to us about the fire and this lady helped us out,'' said Hanson, who was grateful that her Jack Russell Terrier, "Sadie", was also able to escape from the fire.
''The vinyl siding went up in a flash,'' said Frank Hanson, who yelled ''Wow! Look at that'' as flames broke through the roof of unit 36.
Jackman said that she was grateful for the praise being showered on her but that her response didn't make her a hero. ''I just did what anyone else would have done in the same situation. I'm just happy that no one was hurt.''

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Kristen Jackman, rear, of Rumney is shown with James Rathbun, watching the fire at Wingate Village and Jane and Frank Hanson, whom she alerted to the fire and helped flee the burning building Wednesday morning. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)