Ruth Doan MacDougall
As her time permits, Ruth writes essays about life in and around her neighborhood. Topics vary, but something interesting is always going on in Ruth's Neighborhood!
Reunion at Sawyer's Dairy Bar
September 18, 2015
Reading a Laconia newspaper in early July, Don said, “Hey, Ruth, listen to this!” and read aloud, “‘Are You A Former Sawyer’s Employee? Sign up to receive your exclusive invitation to our Seventieth Anniversary Employee Reunion Ice Cream Social.’”
Well, I definitely am a former employee of Sawyer’s Dairy Bar in Gilford, New Hampshire. I worked there the summer of 1955, scooping ice cream. So I e-mailed Sawyer’s, and there followed a warm reply from Ann, who was helping the present owners, Larry and Pati Litchfield, arrange this reunion. (The dairy bar had been started by George and Ruth Sawyer, who owned the dairy farm.) Then came the announcement of the date: “The Ice Cream Social and Reunion has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, August 26th, from 2 to 4 on Pati’s Porch.”
I remembered a phrase of my mother’s: I’ll be there with bells on. In my case, I wished I could be there with my old waitressing uniform on, but alas, I hadn’t saved it. Probably I’d never been able to get the hot-fudge stains out of it. But that was the spirit in which I RSVP’d that Don and I would be there.
As the day approached, I kept thinking more and more about that summer of 1955, the summer after my sophomore year in high school and after Don’s senior year. In The Cheerleader, during the summer of 1956 Snowy wonders if that summer of 1955 “would forever be the happiest summer of her life.” From the vantage point of this summer of 2015, it ranked as one of the happiest—and extremely young.
On August 26, we were a few minutes early so we drove past Sawyer’s and headed to a Scenic View pull-off for a wide view of Lake Winnipesaukee. We hadn’t done this in quite a while, a longer while than we’d realized. The sign for the view was still there, but the view was gone, the trees in front of it grown too high. The passage of time.
We drove back to Sawyer’s. After my best friend, Sally, and I worked there a restaurant section was added on, to the right side of the dairy bar. On the left side is another addition, an enclosure where people can eat their take-out meals and ice-cream cones at tables. This is known as Pati’s Porch. We were the first to arrive in the porch. Ann greeted us, and as she was giving us name tags other former employees came in. There ended up about a dozen of us, including spouses and Ann and the Litchfields.
We sat at the tables and reminisced, looking through the Sawyer’s reunion scrapbook of old photos and clippings. I talked to Butch, the older brother of Linda, who wasn’t present. Sally and I had worked with Linda, and, if I’m remembering correctly, Linda took part in a water fight that inspired a description in One Minus One. Shenanigans! Butch recalled an after-work stunt of squeezing in and out of the serving openings in the dairy bar, to see who could do it the fastest. I contributed the tale of how my sister’s boyfriend, who drove a Sawyer’s milk truck, once climbed up onto the roof of the truck and hung on while his Sawyer’s buddy did wheelies, trying to spill him off.
Butch recalled how groups of camp kids would arrive fifteen minutes before closing time, wanting not only cones but also frappes and banana splits. How Sally and I had dreaded that! John, another member of our generation, talked about making milk deliveries and the time he’d swung out of the Sawyer’s parking lot onto the road too fast and two cases of milk slid off the truck’s tailgate—“and soon there was George out in the road, shoveling up the glass.” This of course got us talking about milk delivered in glass bottles that sat on doorsteps until brought indoors “and in winter you could tell how cold the weather was by how high the frozen milk at the top had pushed up the paper cap.”
Of the younger generation, one woman who’d worked here as a cook recalled the breading of onion rings and chicken. I was vastly relieved that I’d only had to cope with ice cream.
Ah, ice cream. Sawyer’s most popular flavor is Black Raspberry and I wore a dark pink blouse in honor of that but I chose an old Sawyer’s favorite of mine, Orange Pineapple. Don had Chocolate Chip. Butch had a banana split—three scoops, three toppings, a mountain of whipped cream—and declared, “Sawyer’s makes the best.”
Such a happy summer, 1955. All these years later we were very happy wishing Sawyer’s a Happy Seventieth Anniversary.
Here’s the piece I wrote two years ago for Ruth’s Neighborhood about that Sawyer’s summer.
Ruth's Neighborhood Blog Entries Directory
Restoring the Colonial Theater (July 2016)
Reunion at Sawyer's Dairy Bar (Sept. 2015)
Going to the Dump (May 2015)
A Curmudgeon's Lament (Jan 2014)
Aprons (April 2014_
Our Green-and-Stone-ribbed World (June, 2014)
Playing Tourist (Oct. 2014)
Favorite Books (January 2013)
Penny Cats (March 2013)
Why Climb a Mountain (June 2013)
Sawyer's Dairy Bar (Oct. 2013)
Neighborhood Stoves (Feb. 2012)
Mother West Wind (May)
Niobe (July 2012)
Robin SUmmer (Sept 2012)
Marion's Christmas Snowball (Dec. 2012)
The Colonial Theater (May 2011
Mother Goose (June 20110
The Lot (Dec.r2011)