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Tea brings fashions of Gilford's yesteryear to life


October 17, 2012
Aspects of Gilford's history were fashionably displayed during a special Bicentennial Tea this past weekend.

Local models displayed fashions from Gilford's past on Saturday at the Union Meetinghouse at the tea, one of many bicentennial events celebrating Gilford's history.

The event was hosted by the Thompson-Ames Historical Society, with help from the Bicentennial Committee with a host of volunteers. The tea showcased fashions along with the recently displayed collection of authentic outfits from Gilford's history.

The tea was the result of joint efforts between Thompson-Ames Society President Karin Landry and Diane Mitton and Kathy Lacroix.

The historical society has received many outfits from the Victorian era through the past 60 years, most of which have been packed away. Lacroix said Mitton and Landry spent all summer bringing out many old outfits and helping to preserve them.

"Our clothing collection at Thompson-Ames is the most fragile of our collection," Landry said.

Landry said she helped steam the items and put them on the dress forms as others worked on tailoring and other forms of restoration. This proved to be more of a difficult task, as many of the outfits were smaller than the dress forms and had to be put on with great care.

"It was quite a fight against the dress forms and getting them on," Landry said.

To celebrate these restoration efforts and the display, the three organized an afternoon tea to display the fashion's from the town's past.

"It's through the efforts of many that our event is possible," Landry told the audience.

The event was possible through a $1,500 grant from the Samuel P. Pardoe Foundation, which provided items including new tablecloths. Members of the historical society provided an array of finger sandwiches, scones, cookies, and other treats for the event.

The emcee was Sandy McGonagle, who was sworn in as the town's first female selectman in 1978 and served on the board for nine years. Cindie Graham donated the flower arrangements that sat on each table.

McGonagle lauded the event for keeping with the sense of community and recognizing the town's history, especially with the bicentennial.

"I think with such pride for our ancestors and the hopes and dreams that they've had the work that the Thompson-Ames Society does is really carrying on this tradition," McGonagle said.

McGonagle introduced each outfit and gave detailed explanations iof their purposes and historical context.

Geoff Ruggles kicked off the event as the town crier in a traditional outfit.

Dr. Kelly White, a pediatrician and poet, read several poems about life in Gilford from the earliest days. She also read selections written by Alvah Hunter reflecting on life in Gilford in the 1850's.

Sandy Perry, Bridget Eldridge, and Judy Cott wore traditional outfits for the 19th century

Dee Chitty wore the heavy black dress and black veil of a woman in deep mourning and Dot Chitty wore a lighter black dress and black hat for someone in "ordinary mourning."

Raye Mellow-Andrews wore an outfit for a woman working the fields and Bridget Eldridge, who is also a sophomore at Gilford High School, wore a dress and apron of a farm girl. Naomi Eldridge, a fifth grader at Gilford Middle School, wore the typical white shirt and black skirt of a schoolgirl from that time. Sally Bickford wore the outfit of a school teacher.

Bill Bickford wore a traditional 19th Century suit to play Alvah Hunter.

The show also displayed outfits from the past hundred years, Jennifer Eldridge wore one of the first Girl Scout officers' uniforms from when the scouts were formed in 1912. Bridget and Naomi Eldridge then came up with their current Girl Scout vests as a comparison.

Mia Gagliardi dressed as a flapper from the 1920's. Amanda Gagne wore a Red Cross Motor Corps Uniform. Representing more modern times was GHS sophomore Delaney Andrews, who wore the prom dress worn in 2004 by Janie Landry, Karin Landry's daughter.

Most of the outfits worn in the show were reproductions. The fashions on display at the Union Meetinghouse are authentic. They will remain on display through the Candlelight Stroll around Christmastime.

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