Brenda Aldrich

Dear Friends,

The years seem to go faster, the older you get!  I’m not sure where time goes and what I do with it.  I have not worked much at the store this year.  I did puzzles and finished a challenging Cathedral Window puzzle, seven months after I started it.  I have another tough one still on the table, that I started in March of vintage Kellogg cereal boxes.   Lately, I have been enjoying reading books more than puzzling.

Covid put a halt to my community activities as it has for many of you.  Now the phone or computer links me to my family, doctors, church, and even bone builder exercise groups.  Covid certainly put its mark on this year. While many public events were cancelled; we created others, like graduation parades and I even had a drive-by birthday celebration.

Health-wise, it has been a tough year.  In December, I shocked my doctors by having strep throat. According to the doctors, you don’t get strep at my age.  After I recovered, I resumed physical therapy for balance and to work my new knee but Covid stopped PT.  In July, I fell and fractured my hip, thankfully the bones mended quickly without surgery. My leg still bothers me but I walk, exercise and ride my stationary bike.  In January, Brenda had eye surgery for a macular hole.  After surgery, Brenda had to spend 2 weeks flat on her stomach with only 15 minute breaks, and the next 2 weeks flat on her stomach for at least 4 hours a day and all night.  Thankfully, my niece, Wanda, came from Nebraska to live with us during Brenda’s recovery.

Family News: Sadly, this year; I lost two sisters-in-law, Irene Gray & Doris Gray.  My oldes t brother, Bob Gray, and his wife, Hilda, are doing well; still living on their own at age 93 and married for 73 years. My grandsons, Tommy and Will, experienced remote learning as Covid closed Oyster River School & West Virginia University. Their sister, Victoria, was working in the UK during England’s Covid lock-down.  My son, Cliff, retired this year after 35 years with UPS.  In his first week of retirement, he was running errands for Harman’s and for me as well as organizing our 7-ton Cheddar delivery!

Wildlife: The wildlife actually liked this crazy, covid year, with less traffic you saw more wildlife all day long.  We had various birds, turkeys, hummingbirds, a hawk, porcupines, coydogs (coyotes), deer and bear.  A bit too much wildlife for Brenda.   Our local bear raided the bird feeders and hummingbird feeders during the day, so I had to stop feeding the birds.  With no bird feeders to raid, he discovered ice cream.  He destroyed the locked ice cream freezer on Harman’s front porch.  The next night, he returned and broke a 2nd story window to enter the store.  He tried a few things but discarded them until he found the ice cream; he licked the wrappers so clean you would of thought they hadn’t been used.  After ice cream, he poked a claw in a maple syrup jug, making a sticky mess all over the store before he left.  On the 3rd day, he watched as Fish & Game set up a trap which Brenda made sure had ice cream in it.  Later that evening while Brenda was still at the store, he walked right into the trap for his ice cream fix.

Our Garden:  Weather and wildlife took a toll on Brenda’s garden.  Our last big snow (over 6 inches) was on May 9th and our first big snow (over 6 inches) was October 17th. It’s a short growing season and this year it was also dry.  The peas, carrots, lettuce, and onions didn’t grow.  The wildlife got all the corn except for 4 ears.  The new local bear checked the garden often, although I think the porcupine ate most of the corn.  We had plenty of cucumbers, cabbage, beans, tomatoes and way too many yellow summer squash.  Brenda made pickles & relish, canned beans, and put up plenty of tomato sauce.

Harman’s News:  This was our 65th year and we redefined ourselves.  In March, we teamed with local businesses to provide grocery services to local customers. Polly’s Pancake Parlor made bread & baked goods, Apple Hill provided farm fresh vegetables & fruits, local meat producers, dairy distributors, and a small grocery store joined in.  It kept small businesses going and helped customers that were quarantining.  It didn’t stop there, customers rounded up their payments.  We used those extra funds to help food pantries, pre-schools, other small businesses, Iowa farmers after the devastating storms and to feed Afghan families when there was no work due to Covid.  In August, the Executive Council of NH recognized the Grocery Box Project with a letter of thanks.

During this year, we had to balance our obligations to mail-order and in-house customers so we reduced store hours so that we had dedicated days for shipping and dedicated days to having the store open for customers.   It’s been a learning curve and we are still developing it. We also built a curbside webstore so when you order by mail-order, please make sure you are in the correct webstore.  You’ll find a few missing products this year due to Covid but we have also added a few new products.

Jane and Shawna

Employee News:  It’s been a tough year. The holiday crew last year included Allie, Bev, Carl, Carol, Chelsea, Colleen, Dawn, Jane, Kathy, Kelly, Shawna with Brenda & Valerie in the office. Chelsea was here for just for a few weeks as she was preparing to take her PT exam (which she passed).  Early in 2020, Jane was diagnosed with a brain tumor and her daughter, Shawna, left Harman’s to be with her mom. Sadly Jane passed in June.  Shawna decided to pursue nursing and will earn her LNA this month.  In March, Valerie left to be with her Mom full-time.   Covid has impacted our team as many of us are high risk or live with high risk family.  Kelly, Kathy and Allie kept us going through tough times.  Carl & Colleen stepped in when those 3 needed to step away or reduce hours.  We are building a new team for this holiday season.  Carl is thrilled that he isn’t the only male in the building as Brendan is here now and Cliff is around occasionally.

We want to thank so many of you that have supported Harman’s and our team through this year with your business, kind words, and general encouragement. You have made the days much easier for all of us.

During this holiday season, we will do our best to give you the best customer service that we are able to.  We will gift wrap our items and include gift cards. If you ordered last year, we have a record of your order with all the addresses. We will have a smaller team this season as we want to keep everyone safe, so it may take us longer to fill your orders. Please order by December 6 for Christmas delivery.  Order by Nov. 24 (Tuesday), for a free gift.

Maxine Aldrich (and Brenda, too) 

All of us at Harman’s do wish you a Safe, Healthy & Joyful Holiday Season
with wishes for a Better Year in 2021

Order by November 24nd to receive a Free Pound of Harman’s Cheddar*
*Limit One per Customer, must be included in existing order, not shipped separately.

Dear Friends,

Another busy year is ending. I work less at the store and spend more time at home doing puzzles.  Brenda estimates that I completed over 50 puzzles since last November.

Christmas Day: I completed the Zen Wooden Lupine Puzzle.  It was a challenge.

A uniquely shaped puzzle.

The summer puzzle that is still in the works.

Besides puzzles, I’m active in the Grange and still do the dictionary project.  I take dictionaries to 3rd graders in the Lafayette and Bethlehem schools.  Other grange members deliver them in Bath, Lisbon and Landaff. The Willing Workers Association and my college’s Vail Museum also get some of my volunteer time.  I am part of a Bone Builders group and we do a bit more than exercise.

This summer, I had a knee replacement, went to Rehab, and had physical therapy.  I’m working to improve my balance and use of the knee but it has curtailed some of my activities this year.

2018 Family Christmas. Back row – Grandson Jake, Grandson Logan, daughter-in-law Nancy, Grandson Will, daughter-in-law Patty, son Bob, Son Steve. Front Row – daughter Brenda, myself, grandson Tommy, son Cliff, daughter-in-law Pauline

Family News: This year my grandson, Jake, graduated from Plymouth State University with a business degree.  My grandchildren are growing up and the youngest, Tommy, is now in the 7th grade.

Sadly; my youngest brother, Melvin Gray, and my sister-in-law, Edith Aldrich, passed away this year.  Edith was town clerk for Sugar Hill for 35 years and one of our town’s original officers in 1962.

Edith with her grand-daughter.

My Siblings: Older brother Bob, myself, Madeline, Melvin, Flora and my younger brother John is missing from this photo. I was one of 11 siblings.

Richard’s daughter, Linda, and myself at Polly’s Pancake Parlor


This spring, Polly’s Pancake Parlor put on display the WWII 10th Mt Division skis and ski boots that belonged to my husband’s brother, Richard.  Richard wasn’t that tall but his skis are.

Our museum had a quilt exhibit this year that included an antique signature quilt with a block signed by my husband’s great-grandmother, Ada Harding Aldrich.  The museum also exhibited quilts made by my daughter Brenda and niece Barbara to show that the Aldrich family still quilts.


Special Events: The ladies of the town’s Willing Workers Society surprised me by renaming their High School Scholarship in my honor, The Maxine Aldrich Education Merit Award.  We gave out three awards this year and I was able to present them.

In July, I was the Grand Marshall of the Old Home Day parade in Franconia.  My son, Cliff, drove me in Sugar Hill’s antique fire truck until the truck overheated.  Men in the crowd pushed us past the reviewing stand but we had to sit out the rest of the parade.


Later this month, the Franconia Notch Regional Chamber of Commerce is presenting me with the Northern Star Award to recognize my contribution to business and tourism in our area.

Wildlife: We had lots: turkeys, birds, bear and deer.  I had an owl visitor that sat on my porch railing and in my apple tree for 3 days. Neighbors stopped by to admire him. We had so many birds that we fed them all summer.  Not only that, but we had to get my bird books out to identify them.  Our squirrel-proof bird feeders also proved bear-proof, so the bear scattered Brenda’s garden tools around.

One morning, there was a ruckus in our chimney.  Brenda cautiously investigated with her camera as it was hissing like a snake.  It was a Merganser Duck with a needle-like beak.  The duck was probably warming itself on the chimney and fell, the chimney is now capped!  The police removed a very angry, hissing duck.  Lots of duct tape was put on the carrying box as that beak was being wielded like a sword.  The incident went viral when our police chief wrote a facebook post about the capture & release that spread to newspapers and even to the television.  Click on the previous links to see the posts and tv spot.

Our Garden:  Brenda got the garden in very, very late. We grew enough to make our pickles and relishes but other vegetables didn’t grow well.  We had our first and last picking of corn on September 18th due to frost. The raspberries did well so we will have jam.

Visitors:  Brenda had several visits from colleagues she worked with when she was overseas.  Some stayed for hours and a few for days.  Unfortunately some of her friends don’t give advance notice so she misses them (hint!).  Karen, Ruth and Joan from the UK came to visit.  They wanted to see the lupine and wildlife.  In three days they saw bear, moose, turkeys and more.  Most of our visitors join us at Polly’s Pancake Parlor.  Karen, Ruth & Joan wanted the same meal they had on their last visit which was 29 years ago, so then we had to go back the next day to try something new.

Harman’s News:  This year, we divided our delivery of 28,585 pounds of Harman’s Cheddar (14 tons) into 2 deliveries in June and October.  We couldn’t do this without friends who help with the unload, even in the rain!  Their willingness to do this enables us to use part of our cooler to extra-age some of our Cheddar.   In March 2020, we will offer 5-year Aged Cheddar and a very limited amount of 10-year Aged Cheddar.  Watch for the postcard to come to your mailbox!

Sunny June Delivery

Rainy October Delivery








New products:  The customers of Rick LeBlanc’s family catering business urged him to offer his  Maple BBQ and Maple Bacon BBQ to the public. Now we bring this superb BBQ sauce to you! New Hampshire’s Little Acre Balsamic Fig Mustard has returned and is as delicious as ever, try it on a slice of Harman’s Cheddar!   Check out our web-store for more products including a limited offer of a new Wozz Kitchen CreationWild Blueberry Maple Walnut Compote, delicious on your meats or paired with Harman’s Cheddar.  And Apple Hill Farm has made a limited supply of the Christmas Jam they made a few years ago to help me out when I couldn’t make jam for the ladies Christmas Sale in town.  It’s a delicious mixture of cranberries and strawberries.

Employee News:  Allie graduated from Plymouth State University, summa cum laude.  She is working in media but still works Saturdays for us.  Shawna now works with the Franconia Notch Park, but also comes in to help.  We enjoyed having Steve work with us this summer, now he has returned to teaching.  Kim, one of our maple producers (Old Man Maple) joined us and it is great to have her maple expertise.  Kelly rejoined our team and brought along her sister-in-law, Colleen.  Dawn is here most weekends and many of our Holiday crew fill in during the year as needed.


Last year our Holiday crew included Allie, Bev, Carl, Carol Y, Dawn, Don, Donna, Jane, Kathy, Pauline and Shawna with Brenda and Valerie in the office.  They worked weekdays, weekends, nights and ran errands to get it all done on time.  I wasn’t able to be up at the store fulltime but I did put in as many hours as I could.  Mid-November through mid-January, our crew shipped 2,410 packages, cut and wrapped over 7,880 pounds of Harman’s Cheddar and processed 1,798 orders. On December 18th, our crew cut and gift-wrapped over 280 pounds of Harman’s Cheddar and still sent out 271 packages.  Here’s a few photos from our holiday season.



We enjoy hearing from you by mail, phone, e-mail, or in person when you visit.  We love reading your posts and seeing your photos on facebook.  During the holidays we gift wrap our items and include gift cards. If you ordered last year, we have a record of your order with all the addresses.

For Delivery by Christmas, please order before December 11 as it takes us a few days to process and insert your order into our shipping queue.  Please order early and allow extra days for inevitable winter storms and power outage delays.   Let us take the hassle out of your holiday season; sit back and shop from the comfort of your home or office.

Maxine Aldrich (and Brenda, too)


All of us at Harman’s wish you a
Joyous Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!