LACONIA — More than 100 "legendary locals" of the Lakes Region — many familiar, some obscure — are profiled in the most recent book by Ray Carbone, whose byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the state for several decades.
Carbone said yesterday that Arcadia Publishing of Mount Pleasant, S.C., best known for its "Images of America" series, approached him about sharing the stories of unique individuals who left their mark on the region. Hesitant at first, he confessed that "once I got into I really loved it."
In 2009, Carbone published a coffee-table book titled "The Lakes Region of New Hampshire: Four Seasons, Countless Memories".
Carbone acknowledged the assistance of Daryl Carlson, a photographer who has also worked in the Lakes Region for years and Warren Huse, the mainstay of the Lacona Historical and Museum Society, with whose help he drew up a list. At the same time, he reached out to a dozen local historical societies and a number of libraries and museums for suggestions. Finally, Carbone remarked that "some people just fell into my hand. Some I don't even remember how I came upon them." In addition, he said that he took care to ensure that all towns in the region were represented in the book.
Carbone starts at the beginning with the surveyors who defined the northernmost boundary of Massachusetts at Endicott Rock at Weirs Beach in 1652 and Governor John Wentworth, who little more than a century later built the first vacation home in Wolfeboro, starting a tradition to which Mitt Romney is heir.
A section on the growth of the region features Ralph Cutillo of Steele Hill Resorts, who developed a farm in Sanbornton said to be "the best piece of real estate in the state"; Bob Lawton of Funspot, publisher of the Weirs Times and owner of the world's largest arcade; and Rusty McLear of Hampshire Hospitality Holdings who made over downtown Meredith. Some may find this fast company for Lin Bi, owner of the Chine Bistro restaurant in Gilford and the sisters, Stephanie McKim and Shelli Shumway, of Lakes Region Cupcakes of Tilton.
In "Community Glimpses", Carbone introduces John "Bud" Fowler, a black second baseman who managed the Laconia baseball team in 1885 and drew accolades for his play against the Boston Beaneaters of the National League. Then there is Annie Forts of Moultonborough, who put the "ability" into "disability" to champion the interests and expand the opportunities of the developmentally disabled.
Among the artists and craftsmen are the familiar faces of the late Bill Morrissey of Ossipee, whose hardscrable tunes earned two Grammy nominations; Grace Metalious of Gilmanton, who lifted the lid on the scandals of a small town in her best-selling novel "Peyton Place;" and Pepi Herrmann of Gilord, the master of cut glass.
Alongside them are Jules Olitski, once called "the greatest painter alive," a pioneer of abstract art who worked on Bear Island in Meredith; and Edra Toth, a Hungarian emigre who made the leap from living in a tenement in Boston to the stage of the Boston Ballet, and now lives and teaches dance in Wolfeboro.
Carbone tells of Thomas Cogswell, George Washington's wagon master who hauled tons of ammunition and materiel 400 miles in four weeks from New York to Virginia to force the British surrender at Yorktown; Brigadier General Harrison Thyng, born in Laconia and raised in Barnstead, an ace in both World War II and Korea and witness to the atomic bomb falling on Nagaski; Bernie Boutin, twice mayor of Laconia, who set John F. Kennedy on his way to the White House by engineering his victory in the New Hampshire Primary; Earl Sweeney, named Police Chief in Belmont at age 24 who recently retired as assistant commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Safety.
No list is complete. Some will question the absence of Tom McIntyre of Laconia, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1952 to 1978; Hugh Bownes of Laconia, the celebrated federal judge; and J. Oliva Huot and Dick Swett, two United States congressmen from Laconia.
Likewise, some may wonder why the late Ray Burton of Bath counts as a local legend in the Lakes Region. But then, during his 36 years on the Executive Council, he came to belong to the entire state. In the same vein, Babe Ruth on holiday in Meredith hardly qualifies as a "local," but the rare photograph is a genuine treat and Claude Rains's brief residency in Sandwich and permanent interment in Moultonborough might also be questioned.
These are petty quibbles and grist for a second volume but Carbone said he has no immediate plans for a sequel.
The book — "Legendary Locals of the Lakes Region" — is on sale at local bookstores, including Innisfree Books of Meredith, Bayswater Books of Center Harbor and the Country Bookseller of Wolfebooro.