Life-size dummy often stops observers with his antics at Sargent Lake
By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
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."
Ralph sits on the porch of Gail and Norman Pratt's home reading The Laconia Daily Sun. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)
Gail and Norman Pratt with Ralph dressed a Rooster Cogburn near Sargent Lake. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)
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