Lloyd Perreault Talks about the History of East Andover

At East Andover fire station on April 28

By Ken Wells

On April 28, Lloyd Perreault spoke about life in the East Andover village in the 1930’s and 1940’s, describing his experiences of the fires, floods, and hurricanes as a 14-year old volunteer for the fire company. Mr. Perreault’s complete talk may be heard at youtu.be/OulK9MZFX4I?si=qMl7AgIdGbnnQbfL%5B/caption%5D

So much of the natural and historic character of our small New England towns seems to remain “just the way it was,” but quite a bit has changed over the years. It takes the long memory of a story-teller like Lloyd Perreault to tell how fires, natural disasters, and yes, highway construction and development too, have left their mark on the places familiar to us.

Mr. Perreault, who was born in 1931, spoke at the East Andover fire department on a recent Sunday afternoon. I was surprised to learn there were once houses and businesses on both sides of Channel Road, which back then was the main road from New London to Franklin, since Route 11 hadn’t been built yet. The old buildings on the west side (where the boat ramp is today) were built out over the water on pilings. In 1936 the floodwaters of Highland Lake rose high enough to reach the East Office Post Office, floating the Channel Road barber shop to the other side of the lake. After the flood receded, the barber’s building was jacked up and put on blocks, re-opening for business in its new location.

Another revelation was electricity had not yet arrived in many New Hampshire villages. Water power was available in some villages like East Andover to drive the mills that were important sources of employment. Fire was the primary source of energy for homes and locomotives. Mr. Perreault recounted that because of this, buildings caught fire frequently, with about 110 Andover homes and structures catching fire in a single decade!

Mr. Perreault explained that during WWII, “all the men were off at war, so the fire brigade was all 14 year-olds. Fortunately one guy was old enough to drive the truck (a ‘32 Chevy) and the rest of us rode on the back bumper!”