Thursday, March 23, 2023

NH-NJ Friends Meet Up

There's no doubt fact that we enjoy road trips. Since relocating to NH, we've taken in state getaways and to neighboring New England states, our own best company. Recently, on a return trip to North Conway, NH, we met up with long-time friends from our home state of NJ and shared good times. And, they introduced us to a popular New England form of bowling.

Friends & us at Peach's
If you ever visit this area of the White Mountains, be sure to make a breakfast or lunch stop at Peach's Restaurant, easily to recognize in a peach colored former cottage on Main St. This is a very popular eatery for local and visitors. If you get there in later morning, there's always a wait line, so we arrived right after the 8 am opening.

It's that good, especially the fruit pancakes and omelettes. Breakfast is available anytime. We checked the open hours because while Peach's opens for breakfast and lunch five days, not on Tuesday and Wednesday,

While this North Conway roadtrip wasn't a first for us or friends, Jill and Art, it was a first for meeting in NH and staying at the same accommodation, the Eastern Slope Inn. Our friends stayed in a time-share condo and we stayed at the historic inn.
Eastern Slope Inn, North Conway, NH, and it snowed during our visit
This impressive 200-room inn has a long history with several predecessors on the same site. Two were destroyed by fire. This was the same fate that felled many stick-built White Mountain hotels years ago with no fire safety features included in construction. 

In 1854, James Randall bought a boarding house on Main Street and renamed it the Randall House. It did very well until burning down in November 1902. His son, Henry Randall, who had assumed ownership after his father's 1898 death, rebuilt what became the second Hotel Randall, opening in July 1903. A 1916 addition brought the room total to 50 and 33 had private baths; features included telephones, electric lights and bells, steam heat. Centrally located, the Hotel Randall was a fashionable lodging. A 1921 expansion brought capacity to 150 guests. But, in November 1925, almost 23 years to the day, the hotel burned down again in under 3 hours

Construction on the third Hotel Randall soon followed. This one was built with fire stops in every wall, cement floors in the kitchen and basement, boilers outside the building, wiring in protective cable, and a sprinkler system. The new hotel opened in July 1926, but its success was short lived. Within three years, the economy turned as the 1929, the stock market crash led to the great Depression. Vacations were less affordable; travel changed with the arrival of the auto; guest cabins and motels replaced grand hotels. Hard-hit, the Randall family mortgaged the hotel to the hilt, basically managing it for the bank.

1950s Vintage ad (online source)
Enter North Conway native and businessman, Harvey Gibson, president of Manufacturers Trust Company in NYC. On a winter trip to the area, he saw 
that skiing and other winter sports could be a lucrative enterprise and bought the by then foreclosed Hotel Randall in 1937. 

Gibson updated the hotel for year-round use, renaming it The Eastern Slope Inn. Business thrived with snow trains bringing skiers to the area. A savy businessman, Gibson is credited with the growth of his home town as a nationally recognized ski center, success which continued after his 1950 death.

The inn fell on hard times and closed in 1975. Soon after Eastern Mountain Sports bought the property for use as a retail store and continued a ground floor restaurant. The rest of the building was unused. The business was short lived and, within a few years, the inn closed again.

In 1980, Eastern Slope Inn Associates, bought the closed resort. After extensive remodeling and added safety updates, the inn reopened in July 1881. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. 
Lobby of the Eastern Slope Inn; fireplace was kept lit
No visit to North Conway is complete without a stop at the North Conway 5 and 10 Cent Store on Main Street, which lives up to its slogan: It's Not Just A Store—It's An Experience. The Main Street store is North Conway's oldest continually operating business.
5&10 cent store, North Conway, NH, circa 1940 (online source)
Years ago, the store was the site of a general store, that was built around 1840, and continued in operation through various owners. In May 1939, it became a traditional 5&10 cent store when Sidney and Lillian Sweeney opened for business selling everything, practical and impractical. The store has been in continuous operation for over 80 years under several different owners. 
Interior views of 5&10 cent store, North Conway, NH
A walk through the store's interior shows that little has changed since the 1940s, aside from what's for sale inside. There's still the original tin ceiling, creaking maple floors and antique wooden counters displays made of glass and wood. The vintage cash register, while still there, is for display only. There's a definite atmosphere of vintage nostalgia here.

North Conway, NH, 5&10 cent store
When the North Conway store was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, it was one of only two known 5&10 stores in NH (now, the only one). Its current owners purchased the business in 1977. While, there's hardly anything for 5&10 cents in stock now, there's always something and purchase. We never leave empty-handed.

From their start in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the 5&10 cent store was where shoppers could purchase what was needed on a daily basis.

In 1880, Frank Winfield Woolworth opened the first 5&10 store in Lancaster, PA. By 1911, he ran 319 stores across the Northeast. The pricing policy was that a nickel or dime would buy anything. Most stores prospered when in the Great Depression people could afford to shop there. In the 1930s, inflation led to a top price of 20 cents. By the 1950s arrival of big discount stores, many independent dime stores closed. The 5&10 cent store basically left the American scene in 1997 when the F. W. Woolworth Company ended 118 years in the discount retail business.

Candy is no longer 1 cent
There is a lot of candy for sale here and with good reason. I read that years ago stores would keep shelves just as well stocked as (back then) penny candy sales were crucial to Woolworth’s success. 
He believed that confection, alone, would pay the store's rent. Another reason for his success was a model that still works: importing goods from foreign markets with cheap labor which in the 1880s was Europe, today it's China. 

The 5&10 cent store is gone, but its principle continues. In today's marketplace, the 5&10 cents of 1935 has the purchasing power of $1 and more, keeping hundreds of  dollar stores in operation.

Saco Valley Lanes, Fryeburg ME
Now, about that new to us sport we tried on this road trip.

Unless you're a New Englander, you may not know about candlepin bowling, which includes ourselves as natives of NJ, we only played 10-pin bowling. 

Our visiting NJ friends were very familiar with this game, despite having never lived here. As avid skiers, they visited New England for years with their now adult children and bowled at Saco Valley Lanes in Fryeburg, ME. They showed these first-timers how to play, it was challenging we found out. 

No, the game isn't played with candles, but the pins look like them, which is how it got the name. Candlepin bowling is a popular indoor sport in New England states of NH, MA, ME and also Eastern Canada.

Differences, of course, there's several between candlepin and standard 10-pin bowling: pins are tall and thin, balls are smaller, handheld without finger holds, players roll three balls per frame instead of two. Many candlepin bowlers maintain the sport is harder. (We agree.)

Candlepins, balls, electronic scoresheet
In 10-pin, bowlers throw one frame at a time, two balls per frame. In candlepin, it's two frames, (called boxes) three balls per box, scored by bowling 12 strikes: one in each box, and a strike with both bonus balls in the 10th box. Even if you knock pins over, they’re not cleared until your three-roll turn is up. Unlike in 10-pin bowling, no one has bowled a perfect 300 game; the highest sanctioned candlepin score is 245.

According to the International Candlepin Bowling Association (ICBA) website, candlepin bowling dates to 1880 and is credited to Justin White, owner of a Worcester, MA, billiards and bowling hall. Years ago, pins were inch-thick dowels, resembling candles. In the late 1960s, plastic candlepins began replacing wood candlepins. 

Nashua, NH, has a candlepin bowling center. We plan to practice for a re-match the next time our friends visit. That's because while it was a fun afternoon in Maine, we definitely need a lot more practice. 
Art, Jill, Dorothy (Beatrice) and Patrick (Grenville)
Yes, there was ❄️, both on the way to North Conway and during our stay. Our friends went skiing at nearby Cranmore Mountain and we snowshoed on the trail system near the inn. 
Snowshoeing on trails behind the Eastern Slope Inn
This was the first time we had used our snowshoes in several years, but the good thing is that we had not forgotten how — just keep walking.


David M. Gascoigne, said...

Snowshoeing is like riding a bike - once learned, never forgotten. And a great way to enjoy winter.

My name is Erika. said...

What a fun get away. I've stayed in the Eastern Slopes Inn before, but I didn't know the story behind it so thanks for sharing it. And I am a candlepin bowler myself. I really don't like 10 pin. Since candlepin started in Worcester and that is my hometown, that explains why I prefer candlepin to ten pin. In fact growing up, I don't remember any 10 pin bowling lanes. My daughter was just at the Nashua candlepin bowling center few weeks back when she and her husband met some friends from the Boston area for a night out. I'm glad you had a nice get away and some fun time with your friends. hugs-Erika

Rita said...

What a beautiful place!
The old store was fabulous.
Never heard of candlestick bowling. I'm not good at regular bowling so I'd be horrible at candlestick--lol!
Glad you had a good visit with your friends! :)

MadSnapper said...

the snow shoes don't look like what i pictured in my mind. I miss the 5 and dime stores, the dollar stores are great but nothing like those old stores.the hotel is gorgeous and I like all those old buildings. never heard of candlepin bowling but i am really bad at regualar bowling, and it looks like these would be easeir to knock over

Linda G. said...

What a grand hotel! I played candlepin bowling, while vacationing in Maine, many years ago. Bob hasn’t played. I will have to keep in mind your points of interest in North Conway the next time we are there. The restaurant sounds like a good choice. Breakfast is our favorite meal to eat out.

baili said...

Wow what a post dear Dorothy!
i loved the amount and type of knowledge provided by you my friend!

enjoyed learning about old Hotel who aw many ups and downs throughout the history .

it is Majestic hotel and huge of course ,marvelously decorated .so inviting environment i must say :)

building is awesome at first look .must be expensive i guess .

i think Bowling is added to new gyms here too because both of my elder sons while we were in Karachi visited the gym regularly to bowl .i had some pics too but forgot to share every time when i post.
Breathtaking snowy scenes !!!!

i am glad you enjoyed walk in snow (that looks in tons oh dear) while wearing your old snowshoes :)
joining old friends in such adventurous trips is always wonderful!

hugs and blessings

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Beautiful inn. Thank you for the wonderful history lesson

Marcia said...

Our granddaughter had her birthday party at a bowling alley and they had candlepin lanes. Quite automated too. The bumper guards went up for the kids and down for the adults. We didn't get to bowl but watched. It did look harder.
You had a nice get away.

William Kendall said...

That inn is a beauty.

Vee said...

The inn is a wonderful one. I enjoyed seeing it and the five and dime. Candlestick bowling is so much fun, but I have not played in decades. My snowshoes were gifted to a niece a few years ago. I am an old stick in the mud.

Sandra said...

The hotel is majestic. I could live there. I have never snowshoed nor cross country skied. Mark used to cross country, but both of us were downhill skiers. Life just got too busy to continue, what a shame. I also have not head of candle pin bowling. Thanks for all the interesting information in this post.

Michelle said...

This looks like a fun getaway. Beautiful inn!

DUTA said...

Awsome exterior and interior of Eastern Slopes Inn; fabulous North Conway store! Snowshoeing and candlepin bowling sound like great fun.

Emma Springfield said...

And a good time was had by all. Lovely.

photowannabe said...

You two live a wonderful and charmed life.
I love the looks of the place you stayed. Wonderful atmosphere and that it snowed only enhanced the trip for sure.
When my Hubby worked for Saga Holidays Tours he took clients from the UK to North Conway and they stayed at a resort on Loon Lake or something like that. That was about 35 years ago, so the memory has faded! He said it was the most beautiful area.
Boy, going back into the Dark Ages gets harder as we age!

Bijoux said...

Another beautiful hotel for you guys. And that ‘general store’ could keep me entertained for awhile. Thank you for the candle pin bowling lesson. It looks fun, despite it being challenging.

Barbara Rogers said...

What a lovely visit you've recounted for us. The hotel is super, and I might have tried candlepins a few years back!

Boud said...

You do get around. And this post was definitely worth the admission fee! Tons of interesting information. I'm hopeless at ten pin, so I don't think I'm a candidate for a harder game. But I could handle the dandy candy counter!

Pamela M. Steiner said...

OH, I LOVE seeing photos of my old town, N. Conway! We lived in Conway for several years and I know that area well! I wonder if you also visited Zeb's General Store while there? It is similar to the 5 and 10 cent store. I am very familiar with the Eastern Slope Inn, although I never stayed there. I used to work up in Jackson at Nordic Village and our sons also worked in several different establishments in N. Conway. We also lived in Fryeburg, ME, for a while, and I remember the Candlepin Bowling center, although I never bowled there. I am not very good at bowling, although I think I would do better at that style than the regular because I am a lefty and always had a hard time finding a ball to fit. Anyway, I thank you for sharing the photos from a familiar place that we loved, snow and all!!

gigi-hawaii said...

That Inn is so beautiful and enticing. I would love to stay there. I remember the Woolworth here in Hawaii and was sorry it closed. Glad you had a good time with friends.

Linda P said...

What an enjoyable trip. The hotel site has an interesting history. I like the sound of the eatery, the bowling and snow shoe activity.

Eggs In My Pocket said...

All of your photos are so wonderful and it sounds like you and your friends had such a wonderful time!

David said...

Hi Beatrice, We love those old inns that dot New England and one finds occasionally in other areas of the USA. They are usually a little pricy for my taste but we do seek out their dining rooms. I have never gone snowshoeing...or gone skiing for that matter. Sledding and tobogganing were about the tops for me re: winter sports. I did go ice fishing once... Never could skate. I've also never heard of Candlepin bowling but it looks interesting and I'd like to give it a try. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Rob Lenihan said...

Well, this was quite a trip.

The Eastern Slope Inn looks beautiful. And what a fascinating story behind it.

The 5&10 looks like quite an experience indeed. I could crazy--and broke!--in a place like that.

And I never heard of candlepin bowling but it sounds funky. I used to live in Waterbury, CT and the was a duckpin bowling alley in town, but I never checked it out.

Glad you got to break out the snowshoes.

Great post!

diane b said...

Another happy adventure with friends. Snowshoeing looks like fun. Never heard of candlepin bowling either.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

What a great getaway Dorothy! The Inn is the type of unique lodging I'd really enjoy. We love RVing and certainly on road-trips would rather do that than stay in 'cookie cutter' freeway motels (or worse). But we love a fabulous getaway or vacation with a historic and elegant place to stay like this one. Congrats on remembering how to snowshoe! The Colorado kids enjoy that but certainly something we've never tried. (We used to ski a little bit in Oregon).

Rain said...

Snowshoeing! How fun! I only got to use mine once this winter! The candy aisle looks tempting! ☺