COTTAGES ON WALKEY AND YORK ROADS
The two cottages at the center of the view are still standing on Cobbett’s Pond in Windham NH.
There was once a wonderful gathering place in Windham, where the townspeople met to discuss politics and all of the interesting goings on in town. Back then, in the 1970s, Windham was still, a genuine, “rural oasis” and the morning meeting of the town notables was presided over by the venerable Ray Barlow, who often cut to the quick, with his wry wit and conversational abilities. I recently came across this article, from the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, August 9, 1979 announcing Ray’s retirement and sale of the store.
“WINDHAM, NH.— Ray and Grace Barlow are the Windham Country Store. But come the morning of Sept. 5, the familiar faces of the couple who have owned and operated one of Windham’s favorite spots for the past 7 1/2 years will be replaced by those of the Thomas Klemm family.”
“ ‘When I bought the store I said to Gracie ‘8 years and we’ll get out,’ Ray Barlow 55 stated. ‘It’s 7 1/2 years later and we’re selling out.’ ” But in those 7 1/2 years the Barlows have built a business that caters to 2,500 customers daily, seven days a week. Eleven hundred of those are regular customers, and all told, from 5 a.m. when the Country Store opens its doors until 9:30 p.m. when the Barlows finally head home, 30 dozen doughnuts and 600 cups of coffee plus a variety of grocery goods, cigarettes, newspapers and magazines, wine, shiners (over 6,700 dozen were sold to fishermen last winter) and worms are sold to patrons.”
“Originally, the Windham Country Store was a house that was converted into a small store in the 1950s. It catered to the summer trade and was closed during the winter.”
The Barlows, thanks to what Ray refers to as simple ‘Yankee ingenuity,’ took that small store, expanded it at least four times the original size, bought milk trucks and converted them into cooler compartments, took the garage and made it into a storage room, and took the sheep shed and made it into a coffee-klatch room.”
“ ‘People who come in every morning now have a place to sit without having to get dressed up,’ Barlow said. ‘We’ve got construction workers, businessmen and housewives who come in for a cup of coffee and chat.’ The conversation covers a wide variety of topics
‘We fired Nixon three weeks before he had the brains to resign,’ Barlow recalled. ‘This is not a gossip shop. It’s above that. The people that come in here have a wider spectrum than just Windham.’ ”
“The Barlows run the Country Store as a family business. Ray puts in 84 hours each week and Grace works 77 hours. The Barlows’ son-in-law Gary Carpenter, sic. (Carbonneau) helps to run the store, and their daughter Nancy Guilfoyle, runs the food stand just to the side.”
“ ‘We’ve only been on four two-week vacations together since we came here,’ Barlow said. ‘It never was a second home. It’s all been fun— every day has been enjoyable — because it’s always been different.’ ” Barlow has had five different and distinct careers since World War II. After his discharge he worked for H.P. Hood as a bottle washer, working his way up to head foreman. Then he had a lumber hauling business. After that he became an administrative supervisor for Sanders Associates in Nashua. He developed Windham Estates, building 100 homes. Certain things stick in Barlow’s mind.”
“ ‘Rosalynn Carter came in here back in 1976 and told Gracie it was too cold to use the pay phone outside and wanted to use the store phone,’ Barlow recalled. ‘Gracie told her no one used the store phone, kicked her out and told her to go outside and use the booth. Mrs. Carter told Grace her husband was running for president, but that didn’t make any difference to Grace. When she saw Mrs. Carter on TV later as the president’s wife, she nearly died.’ ”
Barlow continued, ‘Then one day Bob Newhart came in and had coffee with us. We had a heck of a time.’ He was staying at Cobbett’s Pond for a week.”
Ray is a collector of and lecturer on Sandwich Glass. After the store is sold he will devote full time to writing six volumes on that subject.” Karen Breehey, Granite State Reporter. And Ray did go on to write his Magnum Opus on Sandwich Glass.
The Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the incorporation of the settlement of Windham NH took lace on June 9, 1892. A beautiful, hard cover book of 124 pages was published to commemorate the event. On the title page is the quote, “There comes a voice that awakens the soul. It is the voice of years that are gone; they roll before me with their deeds.—Ossian.” “To the descendants of the first settlers wherever in the wide world scattered, this record of a celebration in honor of the names, the virtues and deeds of the Pioneers. that gallant band of people of Scotch blood, who founded the township of Windham in New Hampshire, this volume is inscribed by the executive committee.” Of interesting note, on the invitation, is that the town was settled in 1720 and incorporated in 1742. The invitation states, “It is proposed to make the most interesting celebration ever held in Town. Tents will be erected, and everything done to make the occasion worthy of those in whose honor we celebrate. Descendants of the early settlers, wherever located, natives, and former residents, are cordially invited to return to the old home, and with the citizens of Windham participate in the festivities of the day. Your presence is requested. Please notify the Committee of your acceptance. William Harris, Leonard Morrison, William Cochran, Alphonso Campbell. The photograph above shows the Windham Glee Club, which performed at the celebration.
“In 1942, Windham was a sleepy little town of farms and woodlands and a population of about 735 people. The town had one industry, a tack factory, manned entirely by the gentleman who owned it. There was no regular fire department and the one truck, that had recently been purchased, was manned entirely by volunteers. There was one place of worship; The Windham Presbyterian Church. ‘And Windham laid claim to only four street lights, all located near the Canobie Lake Railroad Station. Somehow or the other the town gets along without streetlights and will not have to worry much about blackouts.’ ”
“Windham at that point was dependent on the summer resort business. And 1942 was a bad year as a result of the war and rationing. Many of the visitors who spent the whole part of the summer there were staying home, not being able to make long trips with their cars. The folks who were living in cottages at Cobbett’s Pond, Shadow Lake and Canobie Lake, were driving from their camps to catch the train at the Canobie Lake Station, rather than driving the full distance to work.”
“At the time of the celebration there were nineteen Windham men wearing the uniforms of the armed services and fighting in World War II. Because of gasoline shortages and rationing, Windham was forced to limit the size and length of the long planned celebration. ‘Instead of three days of merry-making, water carnivals, historical pageants and old homestead reunions, the town will keep the celebration down to one day.’ ”
“Giving orations that day were clergymen, prominent citizens and Governor Blood. The highlight of the celebration was the dedication of the war service flag containing nineteen stars and honoring the boys that were fighting in the war.”
“Lester Evans, Presbyterian pastor, presided over the morning and afternoon rites. J Arthur Nesmith, general chairman of the observance, and a direct descendant of one of the 16 original settlers of the town welcomed the crowd in the afternoon and spoke about previous anniversaries. The dedication of the service flag was conducted by Maurice Tarbell, a World War I veteran. Ironically, his son would be the only Windham casualty in World War II. There were papers delivered, more speeches made, letters of congratulations read, poems spoken and more prayers offered. Music was provided by the Masonic Band and a chicken dinner was served to nearly 400 people at town hall.
“June 27, 1917: Monday night shortly before midnight , the house of Town Clerk and Selectman John E. Cochran near the center of town was destroyed by fire with most of its contents. The barn and connected sheds were saved, and from the house the town records and a small amount of clothing and furniture. It was a narrow escape from a still more serious catastrophe, as Mrs. Cochran had retired later than usual and had not fallen asleep when she was startled by the smell of smoke and discovered the roof of the ell near the kitchen stove was all ablaze. Mr. Cochran and son, Olin, were quickly aroused from slumber , and if help had been near the flames could probably have been extinguished. Attempts to reach neighbors by means of a telephone failed and before help arrived it was impossible to rescue much of the house. The origin of the fire is mysterious. As the chimney from which it must have caught was a new one, built only a few years ago, and there had been only a small fire in the kitchen stove early in the morning. The house was a fine old mansion built by James Park many years ago and occupied since 1871 by the Cochran family. It was filled with furnishings, many of which money cannot replace. Every kindness has been shown by the neighbors to the afflicted family, who have found temporary house-keeping quarters in the parsonage nearby.”
“July 10, 1917: A shocking accident occurred just below the Center on the Lowell Road one evening last week. Eben Tallant, of Pelham, was going toward home, riding one horse and leading another, when he saw the light of a motorcycle on which Mark Haskell and Carroll Webber, two young men of the West Windham Road, were approaching at rapid speed. The cycle crashed into the horse that Mr. Tallant was riding and a general mix-up resulted. All were considerably injured; the horse had to be killed; it is not yet known whether Mark Haskell will recover fully or whether injury to his spine will be permanent. It was a very unfortunate occurrence, and all concerned have the sympathy of the community.”
“July 24, 1917: A second terrible motorcycle accident occurred in town Friday evening about 10 o’clock, which caused the death of one of our best and most esteemed young men. Oscar F. Low and Miss Sadie Bloomfield, the latter a nurse at Tower Hall in Derry, were returning from a ride on the former’s motorcycle, and when near the witch hazel factory in the east part of town, (Rt. 28,) collided with an auto truck which it is said had only one head-light lighted, thus deceiving the driver of the cycle. Miss Bloomfield escaped with minor injuries and was taken to Tower Hall. Mr. Low was terribly injured and died while being taken to the Lawrence hospital without gaining consciousness.”
“August 7, 2017: Another serious calamity is to be recorded. The buildings of Eugene K. Gross, situated mid-way between the Center and the Junction were struck by lightning in the hard shower of Thursday August 2, and burned down. The bolt struck the barn, in which was a large quantity of last year’s hay and so much of the present crop as had been harvested. Mr. Gross was taking a nap in the house at the time and was the only occupant of the premises, his wife being on a visit in Westboro Mass. Workman on a neighboring farm saw the smoke and roused Mr. gross. Nothing was saved from the barn or the shed connecting the barn and house, the losses including a horse and calf, all farming tools and a complete set of carpenter’s tools. From the house practically everything was saved except the kitchen stove. The former house of Mr. Gross, on the same farm but not the same location, was struck by lightening and burned in June, 1898. The new house was made out of a long carriage house that was not burned at that time.”
May 18, 1917: Mrs. Julia Baker has had her old pavilion on the shore of Cobbett’s Pond (at the lower end) transformed by carpenter W.A. Kimball into a handsome and commodious cottage. We hear she will occupy this herself for the summer and rent her spacious farm mansion. This Eastern Illustrating photograph shows the pavilion after it was remodeled into a cottage. The picture below shows Mrs. Baker’s home on Range Road with a Cadillac in the front yard. The cottage is at the far right.