Gorham's Pauline Curry tells her daughter Christine how her life-long camping tradition at Dolly Copp Campground in New Hampshire's White Mountains defined her life and love for the area.
Christine: So Mom, for my whole life you’ve talked about Dolly Copp and what it means to you. Can you talk about your first memories and first of all – tell me, what is Dolly Copp? Pauline: Dolly Copp is a National Forest campground. It’s located in; well it’s not Gorham, New Hampshire. It’s one of those “locations” or whatever. And it is one of the most relaxing, joyful places that has been part of my life. I think the story of Dolly Copp is interesting because people always want to know, well, what does that mean? Christine: Right, it’s kind of a funny name of a campground. Pauline: Yes. And it was named after a woman who lived there with her husband – Hayes Copp and she used to take in visitors at her house that was there. Christine: And that was like the 1800’s, right? Pauline: Yes, yes. And there’s a book called the Pilgrim’s Soul and that sort of talks about the story. Because she was one of the…she and her husband were one of the first settlers in the area. Christine: Pioneers. Pauline: Pioneers. And on her 50th wedding anniversary… Christine: So they say. Pauline: She announced that 50 years is long enough to live with any man and so she left and went to Maine to live with her daughter. Christine: So let’s talk about when you began working full time; what did you do? Pauline: Well, let me go back a little to when I was a teenager and I started working full time? I would plan my vacations so that I could go up with my parents around the same time. And by then I had met your Dad, Justin. Christine: Oh! Pauline: And he was not too enthralled with the idea of camping, but he said that he would come up. My parents had invited him to come up and visit. And so they set a tent out for him. And he came up and when he got there, he had brought the mattress from his bed. Christine: Oh, gee! I can just picture that. Pauline: And everybody that was there were just roaring when he took it out to put it in the tent. My father was really brutal with him because once he did that he really took advantage of him. He asked him to go next door – to the family next door that he knew – and to borrow the vacuum. And he said, “Sure.” And he goes over and asks. And you know, there’s no electricity at… Christine: Right. Pauline: …Dolly Copp. And so they just really roared. Christine: That’s so funny. Pauline: And he pulled a few more things like that. Christine: I’m sure! Pauline: Yeah. Christine: Do you have any stories about after you and Dad were married that you want to share with us? Pauline: Well, I had told Justin that I was going to be going to Dolly Copp even if he didn’t want to go. Because it really, um, it’s my – it’s part of my heart and it means a lot to me because of all the friends I’ve made and the joyful things we did with my parents and the hiking and… And so, he said that he would go up and try it. So, we were married in February and that June we went up to camp and we… Christine: June?! Pauline: Yes! Christine: Black fly season! Pauline: Well, it was worse than that. We camped in the swimming pool area – we had bought this tent and the midges were out. Christine: Oh… Pauline: I never thought of them when I said… It was awful! I have to say that was the only time that I was just about crying and wanted to go home, but I could do that because I didn’t think Justin would come back. So fortunately it was only for the weekend, but those no-see-ums are awful. Christine: Do you have any other stories about after you were married? You had 3 children… Pauline: Yes! David was… Christine: One after another. Pauline: David was born in June and we came up with him in the beginning of August, so he was about 2 months old. Christine: Oh my goodness. Pauline: And at that time there was no disposable diapers and so we had the cloth ones and that we were going to the Laundromat a lot. Then the next year we had you and you were born in July so we came up at the beginning of August and so you were a month old. But you know It’s really easy to go camping with an infant. And then Stephen was born the next October and so we had a little bit of breather which was good because he was born with a disability; Spina Bifida and he needed a lot of surgeries and a lot of different treatments and so he – it was that next August that he came up. Christine: Which is still, he was still under 1. Pauline: Yes, yes that’s true. One year when he was about 15 or 16 he wanted to push up Pine Mountain and I have to give him credit because he pushed all the way up to the Horton Center. He would, on any hill, he would push up 3 inches and roll back 2. Christine: And he didn’t have a racing wheelchair or anything or specialized wheelchair. Pauline: No, no. And he would not let anybody touch his wheelchair to give him a push. So he persevered and…he did it, you know. Christine: That’s incredible. Pauline: So… Christine: So, something happened in 2005 that was really wonderful that happened in your life. Can you tell us about it? Pauline: Mmm. I had always said that I would love to have a piece of property up there because I knew at some point camping would become a little bit difficult and also I’d like to stay a little bit longer and come up in the winter time. And we were very fortunate; thanks to you I think because you told me when the area was going to be developed – when they were putting the road in and nobody really know too much about it. We sort of figured out what it was going to be. My friend Lou came up and she and I drove up and drove in when they were putting the road in. So that day we walked around and decided where it would be; the perfect place to buy a lot. And I kept calling Ed [inaudible] and saying, “Anything yet, anything yet?” And finally he said the land was surveyed and they were ready to go through with starting to advertise. And so we, Justin and I went up quickly and… It borders Clay Brook and also the National Forest. Christine: Right. Pauline: And has the most magnificent views of Pine Mountain and Madison and Mount Washington. It’s just the view that I grew up with at Dolly Copp. We bought this – I hate to say kit because that sounds like it’s Lincoln Logs or something, but it’s similar. And then for 2 weeks in May of 2005 all our family and friends came up and helped to build the log cabin. And it was such a meaningful experience because it reminded me of the Amish log… Christine: Barn raising. Pauline: …the barn raising, so… The other thing that we did was that I wanted a gas fireplace at some point. That’s the other thing we didn’t have money for at the time. But I did ask everybody that came to help build to pick out a really nice stone. The rocks are so special because what they are are glacier rocks and so they are millions of years old and they are just beautiful. They have mica and granite and they sparkle and I saved them. Two years later we had a gas fireplace put in and Dan came and he did the work to put the stones up around the fireplace and the mantle is made out of a log and then the stones that people gave us are all along the…the whole…top. Christine: Mmm. Pauline: I don’t know what you call that. You know, from the mantle up? Christine: I don’t know. Pauline: And they’re just… Christine: It looks beautiful though. Pauline: …beautiful, beautiful stones and… You know, people gave such um, they were just wonderful about giving their time and to come and to help out even though they maybe never lifted up a hammer before. But, another wonderful thing that happened which was a surprise to me was that Lou said that she was going to give us as a gift the deck. Such and amazing, wonderful gift that that was because we didn’t have the money to do anything about a deck at that time. And we sit out there and just revel in the wonderful views that we see. Christine: Mmm. Pauline: I’m usually out there at 6 in the morning; everybody else is asleep, with my coffee and listen to the birds and just sit there and… You know, it’s just amazing. It’s such a wonderful gift.