Just like everyone else, we struggle to find safe activities to interest our kids during the pandemic. An idea we tried was to educate the kids on some family and local history. We explored places that are no longer in use, and we found the deserted buildings and locales intriguing.
The top experience included the kids having the opportunity to see the home that their grandfather grew up in. No indoor bathroom with five children living in the house – I can’t even imagine. The home sits empty and isolated; someone else owns the property now and uses it for hunting. In order to reach the humble and simple dwelling, we traveled to the back side of the land through the woods; it was nestled perfectly in a peaceful open field. Soaking in the quiet environment and privacy was refreshing, and we were in no hurry to leave the serene environment.
We relived moments from my Father-in-Law’s childhood through his sobering stories. The boys ventured up into the deer stand that was still in use and discovered an amazing view over the property. In fact, they got so engrossed in their surroundings that they forgot to take pictures of the scene.
What About Bob?
Next up was our exploration of a downtown area left in the lurch after an overpass was built. Due to the firehouse and rescue squad buildings both being located on one side of the railroad tracks, passing trains would hold up emergency crews, thus creating the need for a change. An overpass took care of the issue but left the downtown businesses without visibility from the new road. New and modern businesses were constructed by the new passageway, leaving the downtown businesses slowly fading away. The road was eventually closed off at the railway crossing; dividing the old side of the downtown area from the new hub.
Before the overpass, several of the buildings were used in the movie “What About Bob”. The blue building seen in the photo became the “Winnipesaukee General Store” for the film, and the red building served as the fictitious town bus station. In the movie Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) and his family shop in the “General Store”. Bob (Bill Murray) rides the bus into town and exits beside the red store, meeting up with Dr. Marvin as he comes out of the store.
The production crew renovated the structures (they were in use at that time but required a face lift and interior altering to fit the movie scenes). It was quite the buzz around town at the time.
The kids found this information fascinating, especially after showing them a few short clips that featured the area. My husband and I were able to bring to life stories of this event happening to the small town during our childhood. My school bus would go across the railroad tracks heading to my local elementary school at the top of the hill, and we could see film production taking place. We stood on tiptoe straining to see a glimpse of any of the Stars. I never did, but it has been a fun story to tell.
Now the buildings are full of dust and barely standing – neglected and deteriorating. Inside the blue building is still the counter used in the movie and stacks of books collecting dust.
On the other side of the crossing, before the new downtown area starts, is the remainder of the old downtown area. These buildings weren’t used in the movie, but we had plenty of fond memories to share about the longstanding and respected businesses booming there during our childhood days. Now the buildings are left untouched and slowly falling apart.
Another railroad area was on our list but in a different town. This railroad stop was known for visitors dropping in at the local general store (and if the rumor is true – brothel). There was also a bank that was in operation starting in 1915. After it had closed, it was a barbershop. The bank still looks intact from the outside but seems to be falling apart inside. The facade on the roof clearly displays the date and name – adding the the appeal of the old building.
These are a few features of our recent quest for secluded adventure. We hope to have more this summer, and I will update as we do. It has been a great experience to explore local history actively. If nothing else, this has been a great way for our family to slow down and appreciate things of long ago and hear the stories that go with them. Find some interesting places in your area and learn more about them with your kids.
* Please note that any photos were taken from public access, or we had permission to be on the premises. It is illegal to trespass and I do not encourage anyone to do so. Getting in trouble would be memorable, but that type of memory is not what we’re going for. *