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Reprinted from the Weirs Times, by Mary E. Hover Contributing Writer

Once a week, if the weather was good, guests could go in the big open Allen 'A' truck, to the scenic railroad up Mt. Cranmore... they were issued box lunches so didn't need waiting on. Some of the work crew went along. Others preferred to stay in their cabins and sleep! Another outside trip was the boat cruise round Lake Winnipesaukee - once more, a box-lunch event.

Monday night was Allen 'A' Western Night, at the campfire grounds in the woods. A western band, bonfire and hot-dog roast added to the atmosphere, plus we of the crew, decked out in gold & blue satin western shirts, jeans, cowboy boots and stetsons. I wore my fringed buckskin jacket of which I was very proud. Some of us would get into groups and dance the polka. Western Night was when you learned the words to "Highways are happy ways, when they lead to the Allen 'A' (yeeeee-HAAA-WWWWWW!!!)" We workers were told to sit on the fence and look picturesque...***

Wednesday was Steak Fry Day at the beach...we waited on our guests at picnic tables overlooking the lake, wearing western outfits, only this time the girls wore white tasselled boots, yellow fringed shorts & weskits, white long-sleeved shirts, black string ties, & our stetsons. Harry played the calliope loudly & merrily!! It had wheels so could be taken anywhere, even in local parades. The beach is still there, on Lake Wentworth, but it is now named after Mr. Albee. I found an old postcard of the Allen 'A' beach on Ebay the other day but I didn't bid on it. It was up to about $4.50.

Another thing I remember about the beach...there was a bakery chef named Bob, who was the image of Peter Lorre of oldtime movie fame. He was a kind, sweet-natured man and would save treats for us workers (for some reason,
we were never officially given left-over eclairs and suchlike, until they were stale). Bob would slip them to us, fresh (hard to disguise a gooey eclair unless you had a convenient pocket or two), as we left the kitchen after the evening meal, bless him. He liked to swim, but management said he should use the beach before 7 am because he was fat and guests might take offense at him...I always thought that was a bit mean, but he didn't mind - it wasn't too crowded before 7 am and he could do his laps in peace.

Speaking of the kitchens at the Allen 'A', let me reminisce...guests could eat inside or outside on the verandah. Breakfast was served around 8 am and consisted of normal breakfast foods, coffee, tea, etc. Earl was our "Pancake Chef" and a good one too! For some reason, kitchen staff always seemed to be jocular and would make us dining-hall-crew laugh. Earl was dark-haired, dark-eyed and smoked a lot (not in the kitchen). My outstanding breakfast memory was the toaster...a chain-link-belt rotary thing on which you loaded the slices of bread and eventually, after going up and over and down the other side, they fell off into a tray at the bottom...and you took the paint brush out of the big bowl of melted butter and "painted" the slices of toast, cut them diagonally and placed them on each side of the eggs and bacon. If you were at a lull in serving your guests, you were expected to keep the supply of toast coming for your co-workers.

Lunch - strange, but I can't remember what went on at lunchtime, or even what, or if, we served, but we must've, so just use your imagination.

Our head chef was Hans - blue-eyes, rosy complexion, proper chef's hat. He handed out the dinners on heavy divided plates. We carried our large oval aluminum trays high, and learned to tilt them just so, to get through the right-angle turn out of the kitchen into the dining hall without spilling anything. We put the loaded trays down on folding tables with webbing straps & served from there. I can claim that I never spilled a tray in two summers of serving! I was able to carry 20 soups on my tray (with the underliner plates on top of the bowls and some more soups on top of the others) and still make a speedy turn out of the kitchen exit (luckily, we entered by another door!). With the tray carried high on my left hand, barely guided by a touch of my right hand, it tilted at a dangerous angle but no spillage. Such talent!!

Frank was the salad and dessert chef. He was jolly. For some reason, he'd suddenly shout quite loudly, "'Hello up there! Throw me a rope!!" Junior was the assistant dishwasher who lived in his own world. The dishes got sloshed back and forth in racks, in very hot soapy water, then rinsed, in deep sinks. Jim was the elderly dishwasher- in-charge - he went to the Princess Martha Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida, to wash their dishes all winter. Sometimes our guests would linger over their dessert, sit & chat, just when we wanted to clear the tables, set up for the next meal, and get out of there (especially on Friday evenings when I was supposed to be at the theater by 6 to prepare the talent show). White-haired Jim would come from the kitchen to the dining hall door, wiping his hands on his apron, then he'd look pointedly at whoever was still sitting at the tables, dawdling, and say in a loud, toothless, Gabby Hayes voice, "YOU KIDS GET THEM DISHES IN HERE!! WE AIN'T GOT ALL NIGHT!!" That usually did the trick.

Friday nights were the very best. I've always been a dancer, as a hobby. "The Black & White Orchestra" from Beverly, Mass, would arrive at the Allen 'A' about 6 and we'd start planning the program and rehearsing with the guests who'd
volunteered their talents. We resirt guys and girls would do various vocal and/or dance numbers such as "Welcome To Our Show,""Singing In the Rain," "Hawaii, Old & New," "On Moonlight Bay," "Goofus," "Jealousy (Richie and me and the tango)," and "Me & My Shadow." "Jamaica Lady/Brazil," was our rhythmic black-light finale. After the show, the lads would clear the chairs and the dance would begin. We were allowed to curfew, but no fraternizing (a rule we did our level best to break)!

An anecdote about the Hawaiian dance number...we wore short, fringed satin skirts & tops for "New Hawaii" but first I soloed "Old Hawaii" with a long grass skirt over my short skirt. Between the Old and New, I zoomed round behind the back curtain to make an entrance from the other side of the stage, leading the line of girls. To get the grass skirt off, I just untied a string and dropped the skirt. Well, one night the easily-untied bow turned into a monster of a knot that wouldn't come undone!! The social director took hold of the end of the string and came apart, and I had a lovely "stringburn" on my hip for days afterwards!

The orchestra leader, handsome and talented, was a National Amateur Show Producer Award Winner. He ran (and still does, as far as I know)a dance studio, a day camp for underprivileged children, played sax, choreographed, sang and danced. His mother came to the shows and sat watching her son from the wings.

Just one more thing - the night the girls down Rancho Lane thought they'd outwitted Mrs. A. and her famous
bedchecks...they locked the door from the inside, climbed out of the window and headed for the mighty metropolis of Wolfeboro. Later, climbing back through the window, they were confronted by Mrs. A, sitting in a comfy chair,

My very first assigned guests in 1957 were on their honeymoon - Jim & Josie Tringali - I can picture them, clear as a bell. I wonder if they remembered me on their 48th anniversary this year?

The work crew had different words to part of the theme song, as follows: "You give us work until the whole day is done, Ruin our joy and spoil all our fun. OH, HIGHWAYS ARE HAPPY WAYS, WHEN THEY LEAD TO THE ALLEN 'A'"!!!

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