Oh, that’s just Ralph!

Life-size dummy often stops observers with his antics at Sargent Lake


BELMONT — For the past three years, the people around the east portion of Sargent Lake have been wondering what Ralph is doing on any particular day.

Once day recently, he was dressed as Rooster Cogburn and was wearing a sign telling people to slow down on the narrow dirt roads of Sargent Lake. Once he was working on the roof, plus he fixes cars and participates in July 4 celebrations.

Other times, Ralph just sits on the porch and reads books, magazines and newspapers.

Ralph's only problem is that he can't talk, walk or think. Not because he's stupid but because Ralph is a dummy – literally.

He is the brainchild of Norman Pratt, who build Ralph from some pieces of wood, hinges for joints, and a discarded manikin given to him by a friend from Maine.

Norman Pratt is a retired builder who loves tinkering around his home. About three years ago, he and a buddy came up with the idea of a life-sized dummy. So they built Ralph, a name they came up with at virtually the same time.

Dressing Ralph has become a family affair. The chaps for the Rooster Cogburn outfit were homemade by Ralph's daughter Cheryl, while his wife, Gail, spends time scouring used-clothing stores for some of Ralph's other outfits.

The Pratts often dress Ralph according to the seasons and some of their friends and neighbors will often stop by to see what Ralph is doing and how he is dressed.

"One time we had him on the roof doing carpentry," said Gail Pratt. "Because he wasn't moving, one of the neighbors came by to see if he was OK because he seemed to be working so slowly."

07-22 dummy Ralph with Sun

Ralph sits on the porch of Gail and Norman Pratt's home reading The Laconia Daily Sun. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

07-26 Ralph as Rooster Cogburn

Gail and Norman Pratt with Ralph dressed a Rooster Cogburn near Sargent Lake. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

Flamenco dance couple comes to Gilford


GILFORD — The sounds of rapping heels and clicking castanets, accompanied by arpeggios on classical guitar, will fill the Gilford Library on Thursday when Isabel and Roberto Rios, performing as El Arte Flamenco, introduce the music and magic of Andalucia to the Lakes Region with two shows on Thursday, July 28.

Isabel Rios is the stage name of Gladys Clausen, who with her husband, Patrick, moved to New Hampshire last year to succeed Fred and Maureen Clausen in operating the family business, Proctor's Lakehouse Cottages at The Weirs. Roberto is her father Robert Foreman, who also moved to Laconia a year ago.

Gladys has been dancing flamenco since she was a child and is equally well versed in the origins and evolution of the dance as well as the folklore of Andalucia. She said her interest in flamenco began with her father, who has played flamenco guitar since he was a college student.

"It was a family affair," she remarked, explaining that her brothers also danced. Moreover, she said it was easy to nurture her interest in the Boston area where there were many flamenco dancers.

Gladys said she and her father are hoping to kindle interest in flamenco in the region. El Arte Flamenco is available for hire at diverse venues, including festivals, schools, weddings and farmer' markets.

"As long as there is an audience for a desire for culture," she said, "we can be there." She added that she is seeking studio space were she can offer dance classes for all ages.

El Arte Flamenco will present a performance for children at 3 p.m. , featuring an introduction to flamenco pitched to children, a demonstration of the dance and an offer to dance the rumba with volunteers from the audience. The evening performance, beginning at 6:30 p.m. will follow the same format tailored to a mature audience.

For more information El Arte Flamenco can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling Gladys directly at 393-5506.

07-26 Gladys Clausen flamenco

El Arte Flamenco, Roberto Rios and Isabel Rios, along with Monica, Isabel's 3-year daughter, are pictured at Weirs Beach. (Courtesy photo)

Early warning? - Northfield police had complaint about Pines janitor last summer


NORTHFIELD — Affidavits released Monday from the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division regarding a former Tilton man who allegedly committed multiple sexual assaults on children at the Pine Community Center show a complaint was filed with the police in July of 2015.

The affidavit, which had been sealed for 60 days by Judge Edward "Ned" Gordon at the time of 73-year-old Robert Magoon's arrest, said former Pines Director Jim Doane was told about it. Magoon was a part-time maintenance worker who opened the door for the children before morning classes.

Doane told Magoon not to be in the building with any of the children and the investigation was dropped by the Northfield Police.

In early May, Magoon was arrested and charged with multiple counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault for inappropriately touching at least four girls between 6 and 7 years old. Affidavits also indicate that he is charged with one count of simple assault for kissing a 13-year-old girl on the lips.

A review of some video cameras inside the game room showed Magoon with one identifiable child on his lap and with a second unidentified child on his lap. Both children were coloring. Affidavits said Magoon and one child left the room for about one minute and returned to the game room where the child got on his lap. Police said the video should him touching her buttocks and playing with her hair.

Affidavits said two employees said they saw children sitting on Magoon's lap.

As of last month, the investigation into Magoon's alleged activities is continuing and he had not been indicted by a Merrimack County grand jury.

As for the Pines Community Center, Doane resigned shortly after Magoon's arrest.

In the interim, the board of directors of the Pines Center has changed the way the before-school program works, added additional video cameras to the center, and doesn't allow any children inside unless there are two staff members available.

Magoon is being held on $150,000 cash-only bail in the Merrimack County House of Corrections.