Milford and the Souhegan Valley are chuck full of antique and consignment shops with people trying to sell their second-hand wares. For about 26 years in the mid 20th century, Milford had a world-famous second-hand shop called the White Elephant Shop. The business was started in 1939 by Harold Reed, who came from Newport, NH. He purchased the old McLane Manufacturing buildings on Nashua street and began by hosting community auctions. The business became so well known, Life magazine came to Milford in 1943 and did a story on the business. It can be seen in the March 22, 1943 edition and has several pictures including a great shot of a 2nd floor room where Reed claims to have some 4,000 chairs for sale ranging from $.50 cents to $2 each. At the bottom of this article there is a link to the Life magazine on Google. In addition to the White Elephant shop, Reed also owned property on Middle Street. He sold both of these properties in 1947.
Milford has been called “The granite town of the granite state” for more than 100 years. Milford’s granite industry was the catalyst to substantial growth in Milford, particularly on the East side of town. Though the first granite taken from the ground in Milford was as far back as 1850, the industry itself boomed between 1900 and 1930. Joseph Tonella brought his family to Milford in 1898. Prior to living in Milford, the family resided in Concord, NH and they came to America from Italy in the early 1880’s. His business was called Tonella & Sons as he involved his sons, Charles and Julian. In 1901 and 1902, Tonella purchased land on what was then the road to Brookline (today it is Old Brookline road off of Armory road) and started the “Tonella Queen Quarry”. Driving past this location today, you would hardly know a quarry even exists.
Being a kid and growing up in Milford brings back great memories. Just little things like riding my bike to Jim's store on Union street to buy baseball cards, sledding at Twin Tows and then walking all the way back to the center of town, hiking up to lookout rock up behind our house on Falconer Ave, etc. etc. I could go on all day with my Milford memories. The one event of my childhood that I often think about is the VFW's annual Labord day parade and carnival. The VFW still coordinates what some would say are the best parades in the state. I would guess that I've only missed a few of them over the past 40 years. My kids grew up going to the parades and I hope their kids get to enjoy the VFW parades someday. Kids today grew up enjoying the Pumpkin Festival. Before the days of the Pumpkin Festival, the VFW would host a great carnival every Labor Day weekend and us kids loved it!
Who can remember the Liberty Nursing Home on Elm Street? Liberty Nursing Home was located at what was then #39 Elm street. Though the building itself is no longer there, it stood just to the West of today's Smith & Heald Funeral Home. Today the location is the East wing of The Elm's nursing home.
In the Summer of 1947, Edgar and Marie Liberty owned the house next door (then #41 Elm Street and today the main building of The Elms nursing). They purchased the home just to their East (#39 Elm). They fixed the place up and converted it into apartments. It was called “Liberty Apartments”. In 1953, the Liberty’s sold their home at #41 Elm street, packed up their family and moved to Florida. Before their move to Florida, Marie Liberty actually owned and operated the “Milford Rest Home” for a period of time at her home at #41. When the Libertys moved back to Milford about a year later in 1954, Marie made plans for the “Liberty Nursing Home” at #39 Elm.