Be Not Afraid of the “Mama Bear” known as Gloria Morin. Sure, she can be fierce when poked the wrong way (and she’ll let you know it)…but, other than the occasional instance when she rears the head of her animal kingdom’s counterpart,  you will find that underneath what some perceive as an outward “untamed” persona, beats within it, the warm, tender heart of a softly-stuffed Teddy Bear—the authentic Gloria.  Always truthful, never fake or phony, she adds: “I’m just me, take me or leave me, your choice.” 

The self-admittedly direct-and to-the-point-no-nonsense-Gloria puts it this way:  “I can be your best friend, but I can also be your worst enemy.”  There when you need her, she’ll always help or defend a friend. When cornered, she will always stand her ground. Conversely, she will let you know where you stand in her eyes, as she never talks behind your back. If you may think this is an over-“bearing” attitude…think again.  If you interpret Gloria to “grumble or groan” it is only an indication of the passions she defends and personifies when in her “Mama Bear” mode, protecting her “cubbies” (and I don’t mean the Chicago baseball team). This very town, her family, her friends, her Veterans, and her church, St. Joseph’s (even the actual building itself), are her babies, ones that she cares deeply about, ones she feels are in need of her watchful guidance, and ones deserving of her equal protection and preservation. Like any good mother, she doesn’t play favorites, either.

Always to hold a special place in her heart is this very town itself.  Gloria’s roots run deep within Lincoln. Even her own mother was born here! Gloria is the middle child of 7 children (2 younger brothers and 1 older—all deceased; 2 older sisters and 1 younger – all living.)  Gloria has lived on the same street in town for 74 of her 76 years.  In fact, her parents lived only five houses up from Gloria’s current abode, until her parents’ house had a fire and theirs burned down.  Later, when Gloria’s father died, she took in her mother to the house that is now Gloria’s present home, and, for 27 years, lovingly cared for all her mother’s needs until she passed. It is now Gloria’s hope and plan to preserve this house until her very own passing, so that she can keep it in the family for her three children: Kim, Darlene, and Drew (or for some of her 7 grandkids, and/or the 20 great-grandchildren that she has as of this date). Until that time comes, however, (and with the help of God’s good grace), Gloria’s demise will, hopefully, be put off a long way into the far-off future. In the meantime, for now, this house serves as Gloria’s “den” of happiness. It is where she “hibernates” when she is not roaming about this mountain town doing her volunteer work. It is where she finds her solace, and where she can reminisce about the town and people she loves.

She recalls how when her kids were growing up, life in Lincoln was different. She remembers a time when the Paper Mill was the town employer; both her parents and her husband worked there for years. She actually met him at the Lincoln Restaurant, at what is now The Gypsy. She was a loyal wife to Claude for nearly 45 years. He passed-on 12 years ago. Gloria, however, prefers to dwell on the good-ol’ days of Lincoln. She continues: “We had a bowling alley (now the Riverbank Motel); a drive-in theatre (Deer Park); the movie theatre was where the Knights of Columbus Hall was (behind what is now the Union Bank at the end of Coolidge Street); the hospital where I was born (now the building housing Udderly Delicious, next to El Greco’s); the high school (now the Penguin Ski Club); and the company store (what is now Lahout’s) which was owned by the Paper Mill.” At that, she excitedly beams, “You never left town to go shopping. It had everything; it was a grocery store, it had women’s and men’s apparel, and at Christmas time, upstairs, you could do all your shopping. There was a soda fountain and a meat department. Back then, she continues, “My street was a community by itself. At one point, over 21 kids lived on it. They played games like Kick the Can, Statue, and Red Rover. We had our own softball team, football team, baseball team. The telephone pole was home plate.” Now, she laments, “There are no kids anymore, no families anymore, just tourists, and a few local kids.” She feels there is not enough here for kids to do, except for skiing in the winter. If she had the money, she says, “I would buy the old IGA building (now a collectibles store) and make it into a roller skating rink and arcade. Kids need a place to go.”

Way back as a child herself, though, she always found something to do, like ice skating in winter. But one time, that activity nearly took a tragic turn. Thankfully, Gloria was there to save the day. In the days of Lincoln-of -old, kids skated on what was called Mill Pond, where large logs from the Paper Mill lurked haphazardly beneath the darkened water’s icy surface. Gloria was probably 10. She recounts the story: “My brother fell in. He was maybe 8-years-old. My other brothers and my sisters held onto my skates, as I was the tallest and the skinniest, and they put me under the water.”  Gloria literally fished him out—and saved his life! (To this day, she can only bathe using a hand-held shower, as she cannot be under any water at all; it just brings back that traumatic memory.) However, that day is telling and symbolic of the way her siblings felt about her: “I was the one who had to get things done.”

It would seem that was—and continues to be—the case. As a young mother, Gloria kept very busy, waiting tables and cleaning hotel rooms. She even ran a deli at the Kanc Country Store and worked at the Village of Loon’s “Not So General Store” restaurant. There, she made everything from scratch from homemade potato salad to soups and more.  She likes to cook—something she continues to do to this very day—both for her Veterans and her church families.

Gloria is very active with the American Legion Auxiliary #83 in town, located on Main Street. She has helped with Veteran’s Day breakfasts. For the last 15 years, she was the organization’s Treasurer. Gloria actually serves as the V.A.V.S. representative for the Manchester facility of the State of N.H. for the Veterans American Legion Auxiliary. She explains:  “I go every single Wednesday to the Manchester V.A. to pass out personal items for the vets, like body wash, shampoos, etc.”  She has done that for the past 10-11 years, with the exception of two winters ago when she fell through a glass slider and shattered her arm, requiring 4½ hours of surgery and something like 41 stitches, a minor setback for the on-the-go Gloria. When it comes to her Vets and her attendance at church, she is unstoppable.

Over the years, Gloria has been very active within the St. Joseph’s church and senior citizen communities. She made all her sacraments and was even married at St. Joseph’s.  As a child, she sang in the choir; her kids were altar servers at Mass. At one time, and for 32-35 years, she ran the Christmas parties, spring flings, and fall things for local seniors, sometimes at the parish hall or at the Community Center, and sometimes at Mr. W’s (the old pancake place, where the Union Bank is now.)  At some of the seniors’ summer cookouts, she would take on the role of  “blender-of-the-drink-blenders” making any of their requested concoctions; these were held on the grounds of the Legion Hall. In winter, for every single one of the seniors, Gloria bought Christmas gifts. One year, she made May baskets for all of them, each one filled with candy. She explains: “You delivered them to your friend’s house, knocked on their door, left it, and ran.” And, of course, she cooked, boy did she cook! Gloria has run the bereavement committee at St. Joseph’s for the past 12 years, catering countless Mercy Meals for those parishioners unable to pay for one, or unwilling to hold one at a not-so-intimate venue like a restaurant. “I love doing it because I feel I can give some family some rest and they can socialize here…you can be yourself,” she explains. She and her two BFFs (Lorraine Logiudice) and (Patty Papio, on occasion) work diligently to put on a huge spread of varied food choices for grieving families and friends of deceased parishioners after a memorial service or a funeral Mass.

Meanwhile, ever-the-organized and plan-ahead-person, Gloria has all her funeral and final arrangements made—and the terms are very specific. She has her outfit all picked out: a country western number, one with black jeans and a matching top, just the way her husband was dressed when he passed.­­­­­­ For herself, at the cemetery, there will be a battery-operated bubble machine with a cassette playing Anne Murray’s Could I Have This Dance, their wedding song. After the funeral Mass with a casket, she is to be cremated; her ashes placed in two separate urns, one mixed with her husband’s to be buried, and one scattered with his at their favorite picnic spot in town, up on the Kanc. Gloria hopes that her own Mercy Meal will be held at St. Joseph’s.  She explains why:  “That is where the most important things began in my life, and I would like it to end there.” Also, as she was never a fan of the current interior design of the church, she is adamant about where she is to be placed during her funeral Mass: “I want my casket where the kneelers were. If not, I’ll jump up and that’ll be it.”  But, most importantly, Gloria’s favorite hymn, Be Not Afraid, will be sung (in its entirety). When all of those requirements for her final wishes are met, then—and only then—will Gloria Morin, the affectionately named “Mama Bear” be tamed…her Teddy Bear heart at rest.

P.S. When Gloria is not running around town completing all her volunteer activities, she can be found enjoying two of her favorite playtime passions: shopping, and/or gambling with Lady Luck. She regularly attends Bingo down at Fun Spot in Laconia with her friend, Lorraine. “She drives, and I make the lunch.” (Figures Gloria would make the lunch, right?)

P.P.S.  If you would like to view some photos from the days of Lincoln-of-old-through-the-years (that include some of its residents during town celebrations, etc.), Gloria has donated many of her photo albums to the Historical Society (now located in the old Protestant Church) for all to view, and as a means to protect and preserve that legacy.

                                                                                                                                                 — By: Denise Rush