Gary Crooker

Gary Crooker – Sports and Old Books

Gary CrookerGary Crooker has been “Mr. Old Home Days” for the last seven events – 35 years. And for the past 12 years he’s been at American Legion Post home where people think of him as the bartender, although he does a lot more than that.

But before that, what he called “ancient history,” he did other things. A Lyndeborough boy, he graduated from Wilton High School in 1968. While there, he developed his interests in two fields – sports and writing. He was a member of a soccer team that went to the state championship, “but we never managed to beat Oyster River,” he said.  He carried that interest into writing and spent about 12 years covering sports for local newspapers, The Milford Cabinet and for a while the Monadnock Ledger, and “some stringing for The Telegraph.”

“It was sort of a back and forth, writing and sports,” he said. “I loved writing in school and some teachers steered me in that direction.”

Baseball is his favorite sport. He recalled a game at the old Pine Valley Park. Wilton, by then the Co-op, went into the last inning many runs behind and he left. Wilton went on to win – an interminable final inning – requiring an apology for his faithlessness in his game analysis. “Every sportswriter has a story like that. There is no time clock in baseball.”

He compiled a team history for the Booster Club, “Wilton Sports 1940-1974, A Look Back.” It lists the team records, coaches and Booster Club members. The Historical Society has a copy.

Images of AmericaHe is also the author of an “Images of America” book, “New Hampshire Old Home Celebrations,” in 2009 (available on Amazon HERE).

“I had been associated with Old Home Days as far back as 1969 and realized there wasn’t one out there and I was kind of inspired.” The “Images” are a formula picture book, and it was easy to fit in, he said. “I went to a few celebrations but mostly worked with Historical Societies.” He and his father, Wes, traveled to a lot of towns “I’d never visited before. He really enjoyed that.”

His father was a World War II veteran and Gary got involved in the Legion through him.

“I’m not a veteran myself, but those World War II guys. I liked listening to them. It was quite an experience. And now they are all gone.” He added, “The Legion does a nice job, following all the guidelines. People need to get out and socialize.”

And then there are the old books. Gary ran “Crook’s Books,” a used bookstore in the basement of the Wilton Falls Building for several years. “It’s still around,” he said. “If we ever have book shows again, I’ll be there.”

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