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The Thompson-Ames Historical Society
writes a weekly news release.

The most recent article is shown below.
You may view previous news releases here...

Recent News from Thompson-Ames Historical Society

“IT’S A BOY!” read the sign posted on Gunstock Hill Road on Friday, August 19th. Rick and Connie Moses had put up the sign and the blue balloons to let interested folks know that their mare Phillie had given birth to a colt.-- The big event had taken place on Thursday at mid-night.

Following in the path of two years ago when Phillie had given birth to a colt which the Moses named Gilford, the new-born colt is named Glendale.

When I stopped by on Sunday evening to take a photo of Phillie and Glendale, in the next pasture Rick’s mare Abby and two-year old Gilford were quietly standing side-by-side and craning their necks over the fence as they eyed the new comer – with apparent approval.

News-making, such as this, is fitting to the town of Gilford whose roots as a farm community are preserved and celebrated by Thompson-Ames Historical Society which was formed 61 years ago. – Congratulations to Rick and Connie Moses!

Another news tidbit is that David Perry’s Gilford Cemeteries efforts have received favorable review as an Eagle Scout project.

The review board was especially intrigued with the computer component that spot-lights photographs of the various Gilford cemeteries and the individual gravesite markers. -- On-site research work will continue and provides opportunities for still more volunteers to become involved.

The goal is to make this project available on the Society’s website www.gilfordhistoricalsociety.org. -- Good luck to David as he now goes off to RPI as a freshman!

A letter that I received at T-AHS this past week is another newsworthy item.

The letter, which came from Ginny Clifford, a long-time Gilford resident who for years served as an outstanding 4-H leader, reads as follows:

Dear Joan, I read with much interest your article on harvesting Gilford’s blueberry fields. Harvesting blueberries as a college student is how I came to live in Gilford. W.W. Smith was one of my horticulture professors. In order for us to learn more than just book learning in his Small Fruit course, he would bring those of us who were interested for hands-on experience to Gilford.

His and his cousins’, the Watsons, berry-cleaning operation was at the former Triple Trouble Farm. He also had a large number of high bush blueberry plantings both at the Farm and down in back of where the Billings used to live on 11A.

It was really something to see the cleaning operation. The crates of berries from the fields were poured in front of this huge winnowing machine. This would blow out the leaves and other light items and the berries would roll down a 2 ˝ foot wide white belt where workers would pick out the small pebbles, stemmed clusters and other larger chaff. The berries were then rolled off into 10 and 20 lb. tins. -- There are probably still some women in Gilford who worked on the cleaning belt which was about 12-15 feet long.

…as you mentioned, it was necessary to burn off the low-bush blueberry areas every few years because the bushes got too tall and other brush grew in so it became hard to rake the berries. W.W. Smith and Maurice Watson and their crews would take blowtorches and start fires in the spring around the fields in a sort of controlled burn. I say sort of because once in a while it would get away from them if the winds shifted. It was pretty exciting sometimes.

I and my former husband were members of this crew on several occasions. Instead of paying us cash for working, Bill let us dig up some of the blueberry bushes in the field off 11A in back of what became the Billings’ home. I think our pay came out to be about 25 bushes. We then took these and planted them at my family’s farm in Franklin. They really did well there. Over the years I have added more bushes to the planting so I now have about 80 bushes. These bushes, especially the ones I got through W.W.’s offer, have produced thousands of berries and help pay my share of the tax bill on the property.

You don’t see too much of me in Gilford at Blueberry Time because I do most of the picking myself. I sell the berries at the Laconia Farmers Market and freeze quite a few for the home-baked pies and muffins I also sell at the market. Cultivated berries are pretty easy to care for. They require pruning, which is not an easy job if they get too big, and some fertilizer each spring. We have to put nets over them to keep the birds out. For this job I have help from my children. When the berries come the children also help me keep up with demand.

Well, back to how we came to live in Gilford. We really got to see a lot of the area when up on the mountains burning blueberry bushes. I never harvested the low-bush berries but once oversaw a crew for the Watsons after they moved the cleaning over to their home on Watson Road after Bill Smith passed away. When my former husband got the chance to be the 4H agent for Belknap County we found a place to rent in Wilkinson apartments (now the Belands) on Tannery Hill Road. We just moved down the hill one house when the family grew and have been here ever since.

I have shared the blueberry bushes from the farm with [son] Mike who has them in his yard in Laconia and with [daughter] Patti, from ones I had in by backyard here in Gilford. (They didn’t prosper here because it’s too dry and sandy.) Patti has them in her yard on OxBow. Now my other daughter Sandy and her husband built a house on the Cape and have had blueberry bushes planted. She called for my blueberry muffin recipe a while ago.

So the heat goes on, Joan. For Christmas I sent cards with a photo of me in among by blueberries. Thanks to Bill Smith, I guess you could call me a Blueberry Queen.

-- Ginny Clifford

I truly enjoyed receiving this letter from Ginny, who along with Sue and Robbie Robertson, personified 4H when my children were youngsters growing up in Gilford.

Thompson-Ames Historical Society’s archives contain many oral histories and letters such as Ginny’s which capture the essence of Gilford’s cultural history, from a time when our town was more agricultural than it is today.

Thompson-Ames Historical Society preserves and celebrates vignettes such as these and makes them available to the public. Pictured is three-day-old Glendale, a colt born to Rick and Connie Moses’ mare Phillie, in Gilford, at mid-night, on August 18, 2005. -30-