Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Traveling Tuesday: Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Traveling Tuesday: Sugar Hill, New Hampshire 

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Sugar Hill, New Hampshire is a tiny town about ninety minutes north of where I live. Nestled in the White Mountains, the town is named for the numerous sugar maples that dot the landscape. In the late 1800s, the area became a fashionable Victorian resort after the wealthy in Boston, Hartford, New York, and Philadelphia saw the paintings by White Mountain artists that were popular at the time. Hotels and hostelries were built, and rail service arrived in 1880. By 1900, the area boasted a 9-hole golf course and clubhouse, now on the National Register of Historic Places. 
That same year, Robert P. Peckett, Sr. purchased landed and opened the Peckett’s-on-Sugar-Hill-Inn. Trying to increase his winter traffic, he established the first resort-based ski school in the United States. (At this point, skiing was not a well-known sport in America.) Peckett recruited two German instructors, and the school became wildly successful. He continued to bring in European instructors, including Otto Lang. Some of the more famous students of the school were Nelson Rockefeller, Averell Harriman, and Lowell Thomas. 
By 1939, actress Bette Davis was ready for a break from Hollywood, having just completed two films. A
native New Englander from Lowell, Massachusetts, Bette decided a trip to New Hampshire would be a good cure-all. Familiar with NH and an avid skier after many trips to Europe, she made her way to Sugar Hill where she discovered Peckett’s-on-Sugar-Hill-Inn. During her stay, she fell in love with Arthur Farnsworth, the assistant manager, and they married the following year. Tragically, he died only three years later from a fall. 
Bette had so much pull that she told Jack Warner she would not attend the premiere for her movie “The Great Lie” if it was held in Hollywood. Instead, she insisted the event take place in New Hampshire, at The Jax Theater in Littleton. On her 33rd birthday, thousands of locals and Hollywood stars gathered to celebrate. Proceeds from the gala went to Littleton Hospital. (Check out this clip from NH television station WMUR: https://www.wmur.com/article/monday-july-9th-the-new-hampshire-home-built-by-bette-davis/22072670#
During WWII, Sugar Hill and the surrounding area would be used as training grounds for the 10th Mountain Division, the only one of its type in the military to receive intense specialized training for fighting in mountainous and arctic conditions. Made up of many young men who grew up skiing in the Northeast, the group spent much of their time in Franconia notch covering mountain travel, rock climbing techniques such as rappelling and belaying. Additionally, the hiking trails were the scenes of mock ambushes. Another aspect of their training was learning Norwegian, in the event they would be used to be sent to the fjords of Norway for an invasion. 
Although the grand hotels are mostly gone, Sugar Hill remains a popular location to visit year-round, and locals are still proud of their association to Bette as well as the part they played to train soldiers for the war. 


A Doctor in the House (A WWII Christmas Romance): 

They’re supposed to be allies, but mutual distrust puts this pair on opposite sides. 
Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart? 
Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she?

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