This is not the first time that putting together a picture of Gilford's history has been likened to the process of assembling a jig saw puzzle. The process in this case is related to some of the Weeks family, to Murray Weeks in particular.
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3-3-05 "More Jig Saw Puzzle Pieces Come to T-AHS"
To set the scene, let me start by saying that Murray Weeks was born on March 4, 1908, to Maude (Moore) Weeks and Willis Edwin Weeks whose farm, on Belknap Mountain Road near the junction with Hoyt Road, is still in the Weeks' family.
I first ran across reference to Murray in The Gunstock Parish: A History of Gilford, New Hampshire, which Adair Mulligan wrote in 1995.
But it's something that happened just this past week that I'd like to talk about first.
In response to a message that was relayed to me by Ernie Bolduc (himself a Gilfordite by birth), I contacted Ben and Madeleine Weeks, Murray's son and daughter-in-law, and made arrangements to visit with them.
On Saturday I drove to their farm, the farm that Murray had grown up on. Madeleine greeted me at the door and soon Ben joined us.
There is something so special about an old house and this farmhouse is no exception. To add to its specialness is the fact that this house that Madeleine and Ben live in is the house that Murray
grew up in!
Madeleine suggested that we sit at the dining room table, so we did.
Then she gently set down on the shiny dark surface a small bundle. I recognized the bundle's fabric as that of a flour sack that had been machine sewn to form a pillowcase, as Madeleine remarked, "I've found dish towels made of similar material, towels made by Murray's mother - Ben's grandmother."
Ben and I chimed in, "Flour sack material was used to make clothing, too."
In reality, flour bought by the sack was also eyed for the fabric designs, and if one bag would not yield enough yardage, two bags of flour with fabric of the same design would be purchased.
Frugality had many faces in bygone days.
As Madeleine opened the bundle, she stated, "Being Murray was an 'only', meant that Maude was able to spend a lot of time observing him and saving things that were special. She even made a small photograph album into which she placed pictures of Murray as he was growing up."
Madeleine reached for a small wooden box similar to the ones in which cigars were sold in the past. I recalled how many uses we had made of such boxes when I was a youngster.
Madeleine opened the box and took out some old photos. Holding out to me one old photo she said, "This picture of Murray was taken about 1910, when Murray was probably a year or two old."
True to the time, Murray was wearing a dress and high leather shoes. He was posed in front of a spinning wheel, one hand resting on a handle. His eyes were bright with a seeming twinkle.
We set the photo back in the box and then turned our attention to the contents of the bundle as Madeleine carefully lifted out the contents and placed then on the table.
"Maude made these outfits for Murray to wear," stated Madeleine. "They're all sewn by hand with the tiniest of stitches."
She laid each article out and we looked admiringly at the designs and tiny stitches -- a long pink-print dress with a matching jacket, a white jacket with pink trim, a white night dress, a white flannel shirt, and bloomers.
"Maude kept these items over the years. Each year she would check them out, launder them, and put them away again," remarked Madeleine. "We've kept them in good order now that she is gone."
These precious family keepsakes Madeleine and Ben were offering to Thompson-Ames Historical Society for safe keeping as part of Gilford's history. How precious they are to the family and to Gilford!
The other item in the bundle was a book, Painting Pastimes for Young Artists, a book that Murray had used when he attended the one-room schoolhouse around the corner from his house
--Weeks School House / Hoyt School House / School House No. 9, the several names by which the schoolhouse is known, with the last one being the name that appears on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Murray was quite good in art," commented Madeleine as she opened a plain white envelope that had been tucked into the book. In the envelope were many cut outs of animal figures; each had been made using newspapers.
"Maude used to say that Murray would just pick up a pair of scissors, and, without drawing any lines to guide him, he would cut out animal shapes," Madeleine stated.
We looked at each cut out in turn and marveled at the workmanship. There spread on the table before us were sheep, chickens, pigs, horses, foxes, a skunk, cows - even a cow in a position similar to the one that jumps over the moon, per the nursery rhyme.
Also tucked into the book was a fabric collage of a football player with a big number 10 on his shirt and a football in his hand.
We leafed through the book together and marveled at the lessons presented and Murray's artistic responses to each assignment. - These artistic endeavors of Murray were also being offered to the historical society for safe keeping as part of Gilford's history.
We chuckled over the incidents cited in Adair Mulligan's The Gunstock Parish, incidents probably relayed to Kathy Francke by Murray himself.
One reads, "Murray Weeks remembered a day when he and some friends at district No. 9 school returned late from the lunchtime recess. The teacher, believing that they were deliberately truant, sentenced them to two weeks of indoor recess. 'We didn't think too much of that so we ran out the door and climbed upon the roof. The teacher was a large woman and when she appeared with the stove poker and told us she'd fix us all if she ever caught us, we decided to stay up there for a while!'"
Another incident is relayed this way, ".Murray Weeks recalled that 'one warm day, when the kid beside me (in school) had his big bare foot sticking out in the aisle while we were practicing penmanship with those sharp [dip] pens, I just couldn't help it. I threw my pen like a dart at his big toe.'"
Referring to Murray's achievements in adult life, Adair states, "Murray Weeks tapped a ninety-acre sugar bush on his land between 'The Commons' and the Foxborough Road," -- "near where the Franckes now live, " Ben added.
And so, these vintage items have been offered as jig-saw puzzle pieces to Thompson-Ames Historical Society to help preserve and celebrate Gilford's cultural history.
In addition, the Weeks have offered to share copies of their family tree, developed as they've undertaken family genealogies.
Gilford is thankful for generosity such as this that helps promote a fuller picture of our history.