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The Goffstown Lions Club Popcorn Stand is open on weekends from May (Mother's Day) to the 2nd Sunday in September.

Hours: 1pm to 4pm

Goffstown Lions Club Popcorn Stand

History of the Goffstown Lions Club Popcorn Stand

Pop! Pop! Pop! Have you ever wondered about the history of the popcorn stand located in the center of Goffstown, next to Sully’s Market?  

The stand has been in existence since the 1930’s when it was operated by Louis Prince at the Shirley Station of the trolley line that ran into the Village from Manchester.  Nowadays, the trolley line and the station no longer exist, so for the non-historian, the station location is what we now know as the southwest corner of the roundabout at the intersection of Wallace Road and South Mast Road.  Each night he used his Model “T” Ford to slowly move the hard, rubber-tired wagon from his nearby home on Worthley Hill Road to the watering trough beside South Mast Road.  Plugged into electricity from an outlet on a utility pole, the stand would shine like a beacon light and beckon to all around. When a customer requested lots of butter, Louie would reply, “You betcha, you betcha.”

In 1944 the stand was purchased by Charlie Ray, owner of the land at the corner of High Street and North Mast Road.  The stand was moved from Prince’s property to this prominent village corner and over time the stand became a fixed structure, with electricity and town water.  It was reported that one family from Peterborough visited it every Sunday, not missing more than three Sundays in twenty years.  Due to its unique location and visibility, the stand has also served the community as a reference point for anyone asking directions to someplace.

On the death of Charlie Ray in 1957, the operation of the stand was taken over by his son-in-law, Donald Worden.  Known by his father-in-law’s nickname as “Popcorn Charlie”, Worden added soft drinks to the menu, followed by the specialty item of his wife Carolyn: rich, creamy fudge.  Each new season, newspaper ads would announce, “Look what has popped up this spring, and we’ll be poppin’ all summer.”

In September 1972 Donald Worden and his wife Carolyn Worden purchased the street corner parcel from the heirs of the Ray estate.  They continued operating the stand even though they resold the land parcel in June 1976 to Allen and Joan Beddoe, who lived at 9 High Street (now the High Street Farmhouse Restaurant).

In May 1980, the operation of the stand was taken over by fourteen-year-old Thomas Finneral Jr. who lived with his parents in Weare.  Tom borrowed $1,500 from his father in order to stock up on supplies.  Tom expanded the menu with hot dogs and sausages.  His parents, Thomas and Ann Finneral Sr., brought the street corner parcel and stand from the Beddoe’s in June 1984.

Finally, in April of 1986, the land and wagon was bought by its present owner, the Goffstown Lions Club.  Serving buttered popcorn and soda, the members of the club operate the stand on Saturday and Sunday afternoons throughout late spring and into the early fall months.  The stand is a “contributing structure” in the list of buildings/structures/sites/objects in the Goffstown Main Street Historic District, which the National Park Service approved in March 2007 for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the stand and the town of Goffstown have experienced many changes since the 1930’s, one thing that has not changed is this sure sign of spring and summer:  the aroma of “hot buttered popcorn” wafting through the air.    Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that can give us the most pleasure.

Revised April 2013, Author:  D. Pierce

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