By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Teachers from Laconia elementary schools toured the Lakeport Freighthouse Museum Monday afternoon with an eye to incorporating much of what they saw into classes on local history, which will give their students insights into the way people lived before there was an internet and kept their food fresh in ice boxes, rather than refrigerators.
Leading the tour were Ginger (Tefft) Ryan, who grew up in Lakeport; Armand Bolduc, president of the Lakeport Community Association; and long-time Lakeport resident Brenda Moulton.
One of the display items Ryan was very familiar with was a device with hair-curling irons which her mother, Lydia Tefft, used in her Black and Silver Beauty Salon in Lakeport during the 1940s. The curlers were connected by individual cords to a power source which sent an electrical current through them which helped curl the hair. A photo from 1947 shows what the beauty salon looked like.
Ryan said her mother moved to Lakeport from Berlin in 1925 and married Harold Tefft, who ran a construction business in Lakeport. She said that there were virtually no electric refrigerators when she was growing up and that every day an ice man would deliver blocks of ice to homes in the city which had ice boxes, which would keep food cold.
“People used to hang a sign out which told the ice man how big a block you needed, 15, 25 or 50 pounds and he would cut it from a big block of ice and carry it into the house, even to upstairs apartments. They used ice tongs and carried the ice over their shoulder,” said Ryan.
She recalled that Lakeport was thriving with activity at that time and was a very active rail center with paper trains coming um from Boston that went as far north as Plymouth, delivering newspapers, and then would head back south, picking up passengers headed to southern New Hampshire or even Boston.
“There was a 8:30 a.m. train to Boston and there were also trains coming into Lakeport from the Lake Shore Railroad, which came up from Alton and the Seacoast area. There was an even a turntable where trains would get turned around,” said Ryan.
She recalled as a child seeing a circus train come to town which stopped near where Lowe’s is presently located. “They used elephants to help set up the tent and we got to watch all the action as they set up.”
Recalling her days at the Washington Street School during World War II she said that the city of Laconia was the leader in war bond sales which led to one of the Liberty ships being built for troop transport to be christened as the SS Laconia.
“It was a great time to grow up in this city,” she told the teachers.
Ryan said Lakeport once had a large passenger station which was dismantled in the 1960s and stored in pieces near the Laconia Airport in Gilford until it was moved, again in sections, in the 1990s to Kimball Castle in Gilford.
The freight depot, which was built in 1899, replacing one nearby, was used as freight depot until 1972 by the White Mountain Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad and became a glass repair shop known as Win-Door from 1976 until 1999, when it closed.
The Lakeport Community Association, which was formed in 1997 during renovations of the Elm Street bridge, leased the freight station building in 2004 to establish the museum, which now houses many artifacts and memorabilia from Lakeport’s long and colorful history.
Bolduc said that he grew up on the Bolduc Farm in Gilford but had many memories of Lakeport and recalled that his family used to pick up food scraps from the Mount Belknap Hotel, now the site of a senior housing complex, to feed pigs which were raised on the farm.
He said that he later found several pieces of Belknap Hotel china in the feeding station at the farm and was able to save them and give them yo the museum,
Bolduc encouraged the teachers to use the museum as a resource for their students.
Jeana Mingo of Elm Street School, Ginger Ryan of the Lakeport Community Association and Ellen-Ward Hill of the Pleasant Street School stand next a display of electrical hair-curling irons which were used in the Black and Silver Beauty Salon in Lakeport in the 1940s. Teachers from Laconia elementary schools toured the Lakeport Freighthouse Museum, which houses historic memorabilia from Lakeport with the idea of incorporating that history into their classes. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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