Windham Life and Times – February 14, 2020

Windham | Mid-Century Modern

NEW BOWLING ALLEY PLANNED

March 1959: “Plans to provide local bowlers with a new and modern 24 lane Candlepin bowling center were announced today by Frank V. Sandberg, Windham NH. The new establishment to be known as Sandy’s Bowl-a-drome will be located at located on Route 28 in Windham, N.H., just north of the junction of Route 111. Construction will start immediately with completion scheduled for approximately July 1st. Mr. Sandberg said the cost of the project is estimated at $300,000 which includes the construction of a 18,000 Sq. Ft. building and installation of Brunswick bowling equipment and Bowl-Mor automatic pin setters…”

GRAND OPENING OF GIANT BOWLING CENTER AT WINDHAM ON WEEKEND.

September 1959: Governor Wesley Powell has been invited to cut the ribbon and officially open Sandy’s Bowladrome, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The Bowladrome north of Route 111 in Windham is co-owned by Frank V. Sandberg and Benjamin Siegel.

The Grand Opening, which begins at 10:30 on Saturday will continue through Sunday. Prizes will be awarded to those in attendance. The first prize being a 100 U.S. savings bond.”

“The Bowladrome which features Candle-Pin type of bowling, will be New Hampshire’s newest and largest bowling center and will include 24 beautiful lanes. It will feature automatic-noiseless pinsetters, range finders, Tel-E-Fouls, subway bowl returns and electric hand dryers. Sandy’s is completely air conditioned by an 80 ton unit and the new spacious building (140’ x 127’) is housed in concrete and tile steel with more than 18,000 feet of floor space… Other conveniences for the bowler are the 150 car capacity parking lot and refreshments which are available at the Snack Bar and in modern vending machines.  One of the most unique innovations at Sandy’s is the drive-in canopy under which cars can discharge their passengers in the event of rain.”

“…The Bowladrome encourages bowling teams and is ready and willing to give assistance in forming bowling leagues. Regular lessons for bowlers will start in the near future. Leagues are now being formed…Wall to wall carpeting provides a soft-toe effect and feels as though you’re walking on air as you glide across the vestibule. The carpet is a bright color and depicts pins and bowling balls which is an ideal theme. All in all Sandy’s Bowladrome will add a great deal to this section of New Hampshire.”

DERRY PHONE SERVICE INCREASE MEANS DIAL SYSTEM BY MAY 5TH.

“Improved service to keep pace with the town’s continuing growth is the keynote at Derry’s telephone office on East Broadway.”

“Serving not only Derry, but also Windham, Londonderry, East Derry and Derry Village, the local office has seen and impressive climb in consumer figures during the last decade and a half. Chief operator Barbara Berry reports that since she joined the company in 1945 the number of lines in local use has shot from about 600 to more than 1200. Most of these lines are not single party, but have as many as eight customers. Accordingly the number of operators has gone form 10 to 22 over the same period.”

“Derry ranks third in this state in sales increases. The term ‘sales’ includes addition of lines, installation of extension phones and sales of new colored telephones. Miss Berry speculates that the spurt is due in part to the influx of new families moving into various housing developments around town. She predicts that the growth will continue undiminished. ‘The demand is always greater than we estimate,’ she says.”

“The pronounced and constant increase in demand could have only one result: Derry’s conversion to the dial system. ‘Derry is growing to the extent that if we were not changing to dial, we would have to add more switchboards and operators,’ noted Miss Berry.”

“The town will go dial on May 5, 1960. Preparations are already in full swing. Workman swarm through the pleasant stucco building that houses the offices, drilling, hammering, and even tearing down inside partitions in the process of preparing to receive the complex dial equipment. In October the component parts of the physical plant will arrive. They will be assembled during the seven months before the conversion date.”

“After May 5, Derry will no longer need any operators. Although the girls have been guaranteed new jobs in nearby towns like Manchester or Lawrence, they will miss the friendly, informal closeness of a small town.”

“ ‘Since everyone knows everybody else,’ says Miss Berry, ‘we think of the townspeople as our friends. We are lucky here in Derry,’ she continues, speaking for the other operators as well as herself. ‘The customers are very polite. In return we try to bend over backwards to give good service and little courtesies.’ These ‘little courtesies’ will be what townspeople will most miss after Derry goes dial. No longer will Mothers be able to pick up the phone on a snowy morning and find out whether school is in session. No longer will the curious be able to discover where the fire is when they here the siren.”

“Nor will housewives be able to check their clocks when they run down, or ask directions for basting a turkey at Christmastime. Puzzled young scholars will have to use the dictionary to figure out spellings—and small children will not be able to call Santa Claus and hear the deep voice of some willing Derry resident answer their questions about the North Pole.”

“All of these service will go out with the advent of dial. But emergency service—always the pride of telephone offices everywhere—will remain reassuringly dependable. By dialing ‘O’ a telephone may reach a Manchester operator who has the numbers of all the Derry emergency facilities at her fingertips. Miss Berry thinks that most of the 22 operators in her office will take telephone jobs in other localities rather than give up the work they know. ‘There is something about telephone work that makes operators want to stay with it,’ says she. An operator is always learning. There is no monopoly on her job. When working with the public, there is something new every day. New ideas, new ways…that’s progress.” (You could listen in on the calls of all 8 people on the party line.)

WINDHAM PLACES STRINGENT RULES ON TRAILER HOMES.

“Windham elections were held on Tuesday as is customary but the business portion of the annual town meeting was delayed to the following evening after voters expressed this to be their desire in action under Article 2 of the warrant. There were no election contests. The following being re-elected unopposed: Town Clerk, Eleanor Zins; Selectman, Thomas Waterhouse Jr.; Treasurer, Richard Fellows; Tax Collector, RoseBoda; Trustee of the Trust Funds, Emma Jackson…”

“At the Wednesday meeting the town voted for strict control of trailers, zoning regulations being adopted for both trailers and mobile homes. It was also voted to give the planning board added authority under Article 15. A vote was taken approving the holding of Town Meetings hereafter on the Wednesday evening following the annual election day as was done this year. Under Article 26, it was voted to raise $1,500 to construct an office for the police department.

 

 

Windham Life and Times – February 7, 2020

Cobbett’s Pond Road about 1910

This photograph was taken by Herbert Horne about 1910. It is a nice view of Cobbett’s Pond Road from the meadow near the flume on Cobbett’s Pond. The back of the “Red House,” which was a summer house of the Horne family, is to the far right. The house on the left would become the Burrell family summer home in 1915. The Gavin McAdams house was built around 1810 and is the property facing the photographer. The hill in the background is where Farrwood Road is today.

 

Windham Life and Times – January 31, 2020

The Best Advice I Never Took!

Woodland Ridge was built as an investment by my Dad in 1982, on the Route 111 in Windham. It was one of the first commercial office buildings in town. Some of the early tenants included Prime Computer, SummaGraphics and Dave Wetherell’s Softrend.

Dave Wetherell and Softrend

I can still remember the “T” Ball games of the late 1990’s where various parents would brag about all the money they were making with their investment in a company in Andover known as CMGi.  The driving force of CMGi was David Wetherell. He was one smart son of a gun! A true visionary. He rented an office in Windham from my dad at Woodland Ridge, soon after it was built in 1982. He lived in Derry NH and that was his SAAB pictured in the parking lot. At that point he was running a company called Softrend.

Reuters, in their article titled, Big Personalities of the dotcom boom– where are they now?, writes the following about Wetherall and CMGi: Then: David Wetherell was CEO of the public holding and venture capital company CMGi, which helped grow to more than 1 billion in annual revenue with his energetic buying of then-notable internet companies, including Lycos and Alta Vista. He developed a tool called Engage to sell data that aided early versions of targeted advertising on the web. But shares of CMGi topped at $199 in 1999 and fell to about $6 in 2000. CMGi later became ModusLink Global Solutions via a merger.

On a Blog for VentureFizz, Keith Cline discusses Dave Wetherell and CGMi: You may remember that CGMi had the naming rights to the home of the New England Patriots which was known for a time as CMGi Field. Cline says that “at its peak, the company had over 70 investments, 20 subsidiaries, 5 thousand employees, and 1.5 billion in annual revenues. Its market cap was 41 Billion and ranked somewhere around No. 7-9 in the world in terms of aggregate traffic to all of its properties”

“Wetherell became Chairman, CEO and orchestrated a leveraged buyout of the company in 1986. CMGi’s core business was focused on selling mailing lists of university faculty and information buyers to educational and professional publishers. After taking over, Wetherell built up the company’s revenues and market share, and took the company public in 1994. Shortly after its IPO, Wetherall founded BookLink Technologies, a web browser company, which was sold to American Online for an all-stock transaction that yielded $72 million for CMGi from and initial $900 Thousand investment.”

“The proceeds from the sale of BookLink allowed CMGi to focus on a two pronged strategy . It would incubate its own startup internet companies and also have an investment arm, CMG@ventures to fund early stage internet companies. As the business grew, CMGi became a NASDAQ 100 company and market leaders like Microsoft, Intel, and Sumitomo held minority positions in it. CMGi’s portfolio included companies like, Alta Vista, Engage, Lycos, GeoCities, Raging Bull, NaviSite, Furniture.com, MotherNature.com, MyWay.com, Snapfish and others…” “AltaVista was developed by researchers at Digital Equipment and was the Google of its time…According to Wetherell, Novell and CGMi were planning a merger and Eric Schmidt would have been CEO of the combined entity but the merger was put on hold when the market crashed during the Spring of 2000. He also mentioned at one point CMGi discussed acquiring Google, but the board was against it.” (They also looked at investing early on in ebay but the board thought the valuation was too high.

Are you wondering where Dave Wetherell is today? After retiring from CMGi he “started as a sole angel investor, (in Biotech) and it blossomed into an investment firm with $200 million under management, called Biomark Capital.

    So what was the “best advice” that I never took. Dave Wetherell told me to invest in software companies. This was when the likes of Wang and Digital ruled the  technology scene. Microsoft Windows would be introduced in 1985. Well there is good news folks, I still have my Pets.com sock puppet; that must be worth something. Speaking of SAAB’s, I also drove a SAAB during the eighties. My SAAB had an odd quirk; it would suddenly come to a stop on the interstate.

Personalities of the Dotcom Boon…Reueters

VentureFizz: Dave Wetherell and CGMi

Windham Life and Times – January 17, 2020

The Merrill House Auction

From the Logbook of William Austin Brooks

     August 3, 1900 from the William Austin Brooks Diary: “In the afternoon we went to the auction at the old Merrill house. We arrived at 2 o’clock and found the sale in progress. Teams were hitched to the fence and trees along both sides of the road and about the house. The house itself is an ancient New England farm house, weather beaten and gray with over one hundred years. Outside in the sunlight stood the furniture, a mahogany high boy, a low boy, a bureau, and two mahogany tables; one a work table with drop leaves. They stood for inspection, a row of veterans, showing scars of many years of faithful usage and now to be sold and scattered. The auctioneer was selling various humble articles, pails, tinware etc. including house things the use of which is now obsolete; a tin kitchen hatchel, wool and flax carders, a hand press, bellows, etc.

     On the whole it was a pathetic sight; one that brought many thoughts to mind of the stories the old house and its contents might tell of an earlier and more primitive life in a new country. Austin climbed on top of the chest of drawers on which the auctioneer placed several articles. ‘How much do I get for this collateral, all except the boy?’ I took four pictures of the scene at different standpoints.

Inside the house people were sitting, talking in low tones and one could not help thinking it was a funeral. On the dining table was displayed the crockery and china ware and men were bringing up from the cellar a lot of preserved fruit, boiled cider, etc. How little Mrs. Merrill thought of this disposition of her labor when she put them up. In another room were the feather beds and bedding. We took the children into the garret, which was unfinished except a room at one end. The lots so far brought small sums, 5, 10 and 15 cents but the china brought more, a blue platter 1.75, etc. Mary bought an iron pan for 15 cents and I two old blue plates, both cracked, for .15 which the auctioneer knocked down to ‘that good looking man.’ I blushed. The highboy brought $16.00, the bureau $14.00, the work table which I bid 3.00 brought 6.00.

Many articles, including the sewing machine (5.00) were bought by Mr. Jewett who has bought a farm, He is a stal-wart, good natured looking giant of 35 years, 6 ft 6 inches tall. The auctioneer joked him a good deal about getting himself a wife now that he has a farm. It was a lively scene, the people and the teams in the bright sunlight, under the blue sky.”

 

 

Windham Life and Times – January 10, 2020

The Steamer Mineola

Canobie Lake with Windham NH in Distance

The Steam powered Mineola leaving the dock at Canobie Lake Park. The Windham shoreline is in the background. Windham once owned all of Policy Pond (Canobie Lake) and much of Salem, but out of spite, over a bitter religious feud between the Scotch Presbyterians and the English Congregationalists, it was given away in 1752.

Windham Life and Times – January 3, 2020

“Footprints of Genius”

William Meserve and his workshop on Route 28 in Windham NH,

William Meserve Windham NH

“A leading dentist in Lawrence became much interested in his work, and in 1902 contracted with him to build a two seated surrey. This contact led to the formation of a company, and a gasoline demonstrator, in the form of a truck was built. The company seemed to be ‘off to a flying start’ when ill fortune overtook it. One of the four men who formed it proved himself unequal to his responsibility, and financial disaster terminated this infant industry.”

“Nothing daunted my father and he continued to experiment, and finally brought forth the first gasoline propelled four-cylinder, two cycle motor with lift valves, so designed as to give the same results as an eight cylinder car of today. This car had a compressed-air self starter (which we believe to have been the first ever in service) and many additional features which other automobiles did not have until years later. Two of these were a wheel base of 140 inches and a three speed selective transmission. The chassis and engine of this car were invented and built by my father, the wheels and body being supplied by nearby companies. It was finished in 1904 and ran 125 miles without a stop on its initial trial. This was everywhere considered a remarkable feat. It was built for a lawyer in Derry, where my father moved to provide better educational opportunities for his growing family. The car proved to be most dependable, and gave long years of satisfactory service.”

“What might of developed from his work and experimentation we shall never know, for Fate again took things into her own hands. That same year he was attacked with rheumatic fever, and was for months was too ill to do work of any kind…”

From the history of Derry, NH. From Turnpike to Interstate we learn the following: “William Meserve and the First Automobile. Both Windham and Salem lay claim to William Forest Meserve, but Derry can put in its bid as well. Although he had no formal education after he was seventeen years old, during his lifetime he could have qualified for any of the following: mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, millwright, architect, draftsman, carpenter, and musician among others. William Meserve made the first automobile in Derry in 1900. (?!) He and his family lived in Derry for several autumns and winters during the early years of this century. Their permanent home was in Windham.

“In 1904 Will Meserve built another automobile in Derry. This was the first car he made completely—everything except the wheels and coach work. It had a four cylinder engine, that developed thirty-two horsepower (calibrated by the conservative standards of those days). It was a two cycle engine with lift valves, hence it had the power of an eight cylinder motor. It had a three speed transmission and a compressed self starter. The car was built in the rear of the Bartlett block in the part that had a large door facing Franklin Street. Built for Attorney Benjamin T. Bartlett, it was heavy, weighing 3,300 lbs. In June, 1904, Meserve, along with Attorney Bartlett, Bartlett’s nephew, Benjamin Piper, and another young man, Ernest Low, gave the car a thorough workout. First they drove it to Manchester and back. Travelling times over the rutty dirt roads of that day were forty minutes going and thirty-seven minutes returning. Then they immediately ventured forth on an 125 miles trip that encompassed Nottingham, Durham, Portsmouth, Kittery, Maine, then back to Portsmouth, Greenland, Hampton Beach, Exeter, Epping, and finally back home to Derry. The new machine performed perfectly throughout the trip and did not require a single adjustment on route.”