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Ghosts of the Gardens Theater are still there; I can feel them

To The Daily Sun,

There are ghosts all around us. Some of them are spirits of those who have departed. Some are memories of how we used to be. Although they are intangible, we attach them, with fervor, to tangible objects, buildings, places and when those objects are lost, buildings torn down, we mourn the loss of the past all over again.

The theater is the host to many ghosts. The theater is a place where reality meets fantasy, where people come to escape from reality. They can go there and, in makeup and costume, transform into another person. They can go there just to watch the transformation and to transport to another plane. In the coziness of community theater the creation of these spirits is even more profound. Neighbors, friends, family, classmates and co-workers make up not only the cast and the orchestra, but the audience as well. Yes, the theater is replete with ghosts.

I'm reminded of these ghosts today as I saw an article regarding the sale of the Gardens Theater in Laconia. The Gardens Theater was home to the Streetcar Company in the late 1960s and 1970s. It was a magnificent building then and still is today. I had the pleasure of touring through the building back in 2011 when it was on the market for $750,000. Now the price has decreased to $250,000. Oh lottery, where art thou?

The theater seats were gone, but the hardwood floor was still in wonderful shape. I stood in the middle and looked around. I looked up to the balcony where I sat though many rehearsals, watching my dad glide across the stage as Zoltan Karpathy or romance a teenage Susan Newell as El Gallo. I closed my eyes and opened them and once again I was at the Ascot Races watching in horror as Eliza dropped her delicate demeanor and screamed at her horse. There was a quartet. A barbershop quartet. Will Reed was the tenor, my dad was the baritone, I think Mr. Buswell sang bass.

Fritz was a doorman. Noel was an orphan. There wouldn't have been any lights without John. Dina was the tiniest little blond girl, injecting her angelic voice into a chorus of hooligans. There were people who designed and sold tickets. Parents and friends who baked. Cast parties with pizza and soda (and I have a feeling there was a bit of beer involved with the folks of age).
Jenny and I sat with a notebook and wrote numbers from 1 to well over 10,000. I think we were planning on setting a world record. I think we were bored one day when our dads were rehearsing.

Being there was like falling asleep in the backseat of your parent's car. You knew you were safe and you knew you belonged there.

The ghosts are still there. I can walk by the building and feel them. Some of them are gone from this world and some of them are just gone from my world. But when I stand there, I can feel them. I can feel them telling me I still belong and somehow, I feel comfort.

So, today, as I read The Daily Sun and saw the sale notice, I felt the ghosts again. I felt them with melancholy and a bit of longing, but mostly with the grateful knowledge that they will forever be a part of me. Yes, there are ghosts in the Gardens and I am one of them.

Hillary Seeger

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We hope to see BCCD seeds produce pumpkins for the festival

To The Daily Sun,

The 2016 plant sale hosted by Belknap County Conservation District (BCCD) drew strong  interest from county residents. Our plant orders are up 160 percent from last year. Many folks stopped by to pick up perennials, berry plants, shrubs, trees and even trout for their ponds on April 29-May 1. Everyone received a card thanking them for their support with conservation tips and a packet of pumpkin seeds.

BCCD appreciates local support for the plant sale which is a fund-raiser for the district and an opportunity to connect with county residents interested in learning more about they can conserve natural resources on their land. We can all make a difference in improving the environment by planting trees or growing our own food.

We offer special thanks to the Gilmanton Iron Works Fire Department and Picnic Rock Farms in Meredith, who offered great locations for our plant sale. Thanks also to our volunteers including Jan Hooper, Shirley Stokes, Quinn Broulliard, and a great crew from Belknap-Merrimack Community Action program Work Place Success that helped prepare plants for sale, and Gator Signs for a new banner for the sale. Lisa Morin, BCCD Program Coordinator worked long hours coordinating the event and packaging plants.

Now we look forward to hearing stories next year on how well the planting went and hopefully, to see the BCCD seeds produce some pumpkins that make their way to the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia on Oct. 22.

Your support for the Belknap County Conservation District matters. Our mission is to help landowners, communities and other organizations conserve soil, water and the natural resources of Belknap County.

BCCD achieves its mission by:

— Identifying critical natural resource conservation issues and needs.

— Initiating projects that demonstrate conservation best practices.

— Delivering conservation information and training.

— Creating access to technical and financial resources that enable conservation action

From our annual plant sale, to stream restoration projects, to community workshops on protecting water resources, to assistance with grants to towns and landowners, BCCD is committed to serving our county.

We invite anyone who is interested in natural resource conservation to participate in our programs and to learn more about what we do. Our website is at www.belknapccd.org/

Belknap County Conservation

District Board of Supervisors

Donna Hepp, Chair – Belmont

Dean Anson – Laconia

Earl Chase - Barnstead

John Hodsdon - Meredith

Ken Kettenring – New Hampton

Aaron Litchfield – Alton – Associate Supervisor

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