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Plymouth Depot hosts the party of the century!



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Hundreds of partygoers on the platform welcome the Hobo Railroad to the Plymouth Regional Senior Center as the Depot celebrates 100 years of public service. (Wes Lavin/Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
July 21, 2010
PLYMOUTH—The beautifully renovated former B & M Railroad station is once again the pride of Plymouth, "still chugging along" at 100 years old, and still serving the public as a vibrant regional senior center at the very heart of community life.

The community's love for this historic building was in evidence this past Sunday afternoon, as hundreds gathered for the Centennial Celebration of the station to reminisce, rejoice and look forward to the future.

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Revelers prepare to sing “Happy Birthday” to the Plymouth B & M Station as Bob Decker and Councilor Ray Burton light the candles on the cake! (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
Community members remembered the many people who have worked so hard over the last few decades to resurrect the station as a senior center, bringing it back to life after a period of decline and abandonment in the 1960s and '70s. Architect Tom Samyn of Samyn D'Elia Architects has provided the vision and skill to guide the restoration, and many prominent community members like Bob and Mary Crowley have pitched in to bring the dream to fruition.

Only the extraordinary staff of the Plymouth Regional Senior Center and the good folks at the Flying Monkey could pull off the extravaganza that greeted partygoers at Sunday afternoon's centennial celebration. In addition to the requisite cake and ice cream ("hoodsie's of course"), there was a collection of railroad memorabilia to interest the history buffs, a model train to delight the kids, a silent movie with live music (courtesy of the Flying Monkey), a silent auction to support the Center, and most importantly, the social event of the century.

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Harkening back to an earlier ear… Ladies in period costume help recreate the atmosphere of a bygone era during festivities at the Centennial Celebration this past weekend. Pictured: Ginger Williams of Thornton looks lovely in lavender! (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
If you were wandering the streets of Plymouth or shopping out on the Tenney Mountain Highway and wondered where everybody was, for that brief, glorious moment, just about everyone was marking the milestone at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center.

The Senior Center's "one-and-only" original character, Bob Decker, called the crowd to attention with a bell that came originally from the Concord B & M Station. "Decked" out in conductor's cap, a leather vest and everyone's favorite mustache, he warmly welcomed visitors and tried to create order out of the bustling hubbub of anticipation under the canopy of the railroad platform as the Hobo Railroad, blowing its whistle, pulled into the station.

Standing next to Plymouth Regional Senior Center Director Sharon Lane, Councilor Ray Burton served ably as the Master of Ceremonies, reading a proclamation from Governor and Council, and warmly congratulating all the members of Grafton County Senior Services on this momentous occasion.

Grafton County Commissioner Martha Richards brought greetings on behalf of County government, and state Sen. Deb Reynolds also read a proclamation from the state legislature.

Local residents from Plymouth and dozens of surrounding communities turned out, many donning period costume to help recreate the atmosphere of a bygone era in the heyday of railroad travel. There was a lot of reminiscing going on, as the railroad station clearly holds a firm grip on the heartstrings of many native New Hampshirites.

Judith Brown, elegantly dressed in a full-length mauve and black lace gown, with a matching hat, sipped iced tea and chatted with former Senior Center Director Carolyn Wynn in one corner of the station. Brown says she grew up in Rumney and fondly remembers all the stories her father would tell about his bowling league that met in the alley that used to be located under the station. Her uncle was a conductor on the Concord to Woodsville line and would stop at Plymouth when she was a little girl.

"This place has been here since forever," said Brown.

Her husband now drives the Senior Center van that assists locals to get to the "depot" for meals, activities and services.

In the memorabilia displayed at the event, Ashland's Pat Provencher was "tickled pink" to spot a copy of the Plymouth Record Newspaper from April 6, 1939, where she is pictured, at the age of eight, standing in front of the train station, pointing to the place on the tracks where she had a "narrow brush with death" while trying to rescue another child from being run over by the train.

Breathless with excitement, she once again was "hailed as a heroine" as she told the tale of pulling her school friend off the train that had sideswiped him, and was dragging him along, threatening to pull him underneath the train.

There was so much to see and do; there were so many people telling stories; so many laughing and enjoying the moment, that it would be impossible to capture it all. The Record Enterprise will try to follow up with stories about the station in the weeks and months ahead.

Many more photographs of the festivities can be found online at the Record Enterprise Facebook page.

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