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50 years ago, a math teacher bought a Mustang

LACONIA — Walter Ayre Jr. says that when he first purchased a Ford Mustang 50 years ago he thought of it as something of a ''chick magnet'' and spent a lot of time cruising around with it so that girls could see him at the wheel.

Now 75, Ayre drove his yellow 1964½ 289 V-8 Mustang from his home in Eliot, Maine, on Tuesday to Irwin Motors in Laconia, where he purchased it Aug. 30, 1964, and met up with Dave Clark, who was Irwin's sales manager at that time.
''I remember him calling down the hall when we were talking about the price and saying that the difference between us on the price only amounted to 62 cents a month," says Ayre, who was 25 years old at the time and was working as a math teacher and ski coach at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro.

A 1956 graduate of Laconia High School, Ayre had graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1960 and joined the Navy, hoping to become a pilot, but turned to teaching after receiving a medical discharge.

He owned a 1961 MGA sports car convertible before buying the Mustang as his first-ever new car and recalls that he followed his dad's advice about negotiating and then walking away from the salesman. "I followed dad's advice, and, after walking out the dealership's door, the exasperated salesman followed saying: ''If I give you $10 from may wallet, will you buy the car?''

Ayre said that sealed the deal and he purchased the car for $3,329.35, which was reduced by $800 for his down payment and $1,400 for the trade-in, and left him with monthly payments of $67.05 for 24 months.

Clark said that the Mustang, which was first introduced at the New York World's Fair on April 17, 1964, and was the pace car at the Indy 500 in May, become an overnight sensation and within the first three months recorded 100,000 in sales.

''It was unbelievable. There was so much demand it was just about impossible to locate a car for our customers. We found two in Maine and sent two guys up to Fort Kent to bring them back here,'' recalls Clark.

Another 318,000 -- a record -- were sold in the model year, and within 18 months Mustang sales had topped 1 million, helped along in no small part by the car's appearance in the James Bond ''Goldfinger'' movie which was released in September 1964.

Ayre said that he took the car with him when he moved to Southington, Conn., in 1965 to help launch a new ski area and that it was there that he met and married his wife, Pat, that same year.

He then started in a new career in the textbook business on northern New England and used the Mustang as a family car for many years before relocating to Half Moon Bay on the California coast where he worked out of the company's headquarters in Menlo Park. He moved back to New England three years later, driving the family home in a station wagon while the Mustang was brought back in a moving van.

In 1981 he moved again to the Atlanta area, and stored the by now-well-rusted Mustang at a barn in Madbury, finally restoring it in 2005 and taking part in Mustang shows featuring cars from all over New England which were held for many years at Funspot in Laconia.

Ayre says he has turned down offers for his car and wants to keep it in his family by passing it along to his son, Steve, who is the owner of a 1996 black-on-black Mustang fastback.

Irwin Motors vice president, Chris Irwin, the third generation to head the local auto dealership, said he was pleased with the large turnout for Tuesday's event, which also featured the all-new 2015 Mustang. ''It was a lot of fun to see so many people here who are Mustang lovers,'' said Irwin.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 12:10

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Plan for weight room in drama space put on hold

LACONIA — Any plans the school district had to renovate the storage and classroom spaces around the high school auditorium and re-purpose a portion of them for a weight room have been put on hold until the district can complete a space-needs assessment of the building said School Board Chair Joe Cormier.

Cormier made his statements last night before a group of about 10 people who came to the School Board meeting to show their support for the performing arts programing at the high school.

Public statements supporting the performing arts were led by Josh Ross – a 2013 graduate of Laconia High School and former member of the Drama Club who continues to be active in theater.

"A community space like the theater is as valuable as any sport space you have," Ross said, noting that the performing arts is as important to the students who participate in them as sports are to the athletes who participate in them.

Ross noted a number of deficiencies in the stage area – all of which Superintendent Terri Forsten agreed with – and said that the school has spent enough money on sports and now it needs to focus more on the arts.

Public participation at last night's meeting was largely spurred by suspicions – that were apparently true - that the school was planning to convert the two rooms currently used by the drama program to a weight room and an aerobics studio. The issue gained momentum when the lights failed at a Laconia Street Car Company performance of A Few Good Men and company director Jessica Alward contacted School Board member Barbara Luther about the condition of the auditorium.

A posting later made on Facebook fueled the controversy about the drama program. School Administrators told the Daily Sun last week they were unable to comment about the rumors because the concerns had already be brought to the attention of the School Board.

Anticipating a contentious meeting, the School Board asked for a police officer to be present.

Sharon and Mike Pond – self-described empty-nesters whose children were very active in the performing arts – both said they would volunteer to raise money for some much-needed auditorium repairs. The Ponds spearheaded the fundraising to replace the sound board in the auditorium after it failed 18 months ago.

They both told the board that, in their opinion, the arts had been forgotten during the renovations and additions over the past three years and hoped the school district would now focus some money and attention to the auditorium and the areas surrounding it.

School Board member Mike Persson said he was happy to see such positive support for the arts programs but said he wished the people who were posting on social media had come to the meeting.

Forsten said the space needs study would be performed in the spring of 2015.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 02:36

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United Way thanks Terrill for service, vision

MEREDITH — Jack Terrill, who for 10 years was the face of the Lakes Region United Way, serving as its executive director until it merged with Granite United Way in 2013, was presented with the Live United Award last night at Church Landing at a celebration honoring his efforts on behalf of the organization.
Terrill is leaving the agency, where he has been the Senior Vice President of Community Impact for the last two years, to join his wife, Diane, in Naples, Florida, where she has been named as airport manager.
He joined the United Way in 2002 after a long career with Pike Industries and was praised by Randy Eifert of Cross Insurance, who was on the board of directors which hired Terrill, as ''one of our greatest community leaders of the last 25 years.''
He said that during Terrill's first 10 years, the amount of money raised locally and positioned the Lakes Region United Way for its merger with Granite United Way – a more centralized version that has been able to streamline its overhead expenses and reach more people in the community.
Eifert praised Terrill for his vision and leadership skills and his ability to encourage collaboration as a model for social change.
Christian Zimmermann, CEO of Pike Industries, recalled working with Terrill at Pike Industries in the late 1970s, when their jobs involved patching cracks in highways and later when Terrill was in charge of transportation in his dispatch center duties and then when Terrill was a project manager.
''Jack's a likable guy. He was always a master of details and earned the trust of all the blue collar guys who worked for us,'' said Zimmermann. He said that Terrill was able to convince the workers of the importance of the United Way and set in motion the momentum which has seen Pike increase its United Way contributions to over $80,000 last year.
Zimmermann said that he always thought Terrill would do well with the United Way when he left Pike in 2002 and said it was a great move for the non-profit to hire him.
Terrill was instrumental in merging Lakes Region United Way with the Carroll County United Way and the Whole Village Family Resource Center in Plymouth.
Granite United Way Board Chair Mark Primeau said Terrill played a key role in the "success of merging Lakes Region United Way and Granite United Way into the strong organization it is today'' and noted that Terrill also brought the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement to New Hampshire where it presented its first national conference on community impact.
Primeau said that he first met Terrill eight years ago when he first came to what was then Laconia Savings Bank. Terrill invited him to lunch and persuaded him to join the United Way board. ''He twisted my arm. It's not easy to say no to Jack,'' said Primeau.
Terrill said that he was humbled and moved by the tributes, which were very much appreciated, and said that the key to success ''is always to keep trying.''
Also speaking at the event were Denise Tucker of LRGHealthcare, a member of the Granite United Way campaign cabinet, who described how United Way had helped her family when she was growing up in Oklahoma, and Erica Brough of Lakes Region Child Care Services, who described how the local United Way helped her and her children and enabled her as a single mother to advance her career.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 01:44

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Drug use suspected to have caused death of 50 year-old woman found on Tuesday morning

LACONIA — Emergency responders suspect drugs played a role in the death of a 50 year-old woman, whose body was found inside a parked motor home on Kingsley Avenue at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 18. Officials have not yet identified the name of the woman who died.

A press release, issued by Laconia Police yesterday evening, reported that police as well as members of the city fire department responded to 30 Kingsley Ave yesterday morning for the report of an unresponsive person. Upon arrival, police found the deceased woman and interviewed two people on the scene. The release states, "The case remains under investigation and appears to be drug-related." An autopsy was scheduled to determine the case of death.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the police at 524-5252, the Laconia Crimeline at 527-1717 or to leave an anonymous tip at laconiapd.org.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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