Contrary to popular belief, Lydia Lansing, LBL46 of Resort Report fame, does not spend all of her time in Horsefeathers or Faye's, nor is she independently wealthy.
It's reasonable to be under that impression--Lydia may be a highly visible person, but her occupation is not obvious, although it, too, is highly visible. Pick up a menu at the Red Parka Pub or B. Mae Denny's, or read through the Mountain Ear's Summer or Winter Guides and you will see the results of what Lydia actually does--free lance graphic design.
This diminutive woman does actually work for a living. She has been as busy as she has wanted to be ever since she moved to North Conway in 1976 and walked into the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce office to introduce herself to then Chamber Director David Ingemie. "After I moved up here," Lydia explained, "I went to Dave at the chamber and he liked my work. Next, I started doing everything for Tyrol, and from there things just snowballed."
"But I thought she sold ice cream," you might say. And you'd be absolutely correct. Lydia does manage Big Licks in North Conway and Intervale, but selling ice cream remains a sideline for her. "I heard the business was for lease," she said, "and I just figured, what the heck. It looked like a no lose operation so I decided to give it a try." Running Big Licks has given Lydia new insights into her clients and their business problems. "I've found that I really enjoy business," said Lydia, "but now I can relate better to clients' marketing and bookkeeping needs. I also have marketing and bookkeeping needs."
Obviously possessing talent and ability in her chosen field, Lydia, nevertheless, has chosen to live in an area not considered a center for graphic design. Since her graduation from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, she has chosen the path less traveled. "I knew that the last place I wanted to live was New York City," she explained. Her first few years after graduation were spent in the academic environment of Cambridge. She then migrated back to her hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut, spending another few years working in the field of educational audio-visual design.
Moving to the Valley was a birthday present she gave herself after taking some time off work to reconsider where she was heading with her life and career. "I enjoyed my work, but I didn't enjoy the pressure of the job, and I was tired of living in the same place," she said. "I just came up here to visit friends and take a break, but I liked the area, and liked the people, so I packed up and moved here."
Though the availability of summer and winter sports attracts many of the year-round residents of Mt. Washington Valley, the attraction to Lydia was just the beauty of the place. "I've always considered myself a country girl, so I moved to the country," she said. "I work fast, think fast, and, therefore, burn out quickly. When I can live and work in a place like this, I have no need to be in a fast society--I put enough pressure on myself without adding to it."
It didn't take Lydia long to make an impact on her new community. Professionally, she found the resort area an ideal location to work on a free lance basis. Though she wasn't getting contracts from General Foods or the Ford Motor Company, the myriad assortment of hotels, stores, and restaurants provided her with a steady flow of business.
And while she is not a skier, living in ski country definitely proved an advantage in the expansion of Lydia's endeavors. "It started three years ago when Paul Lodi asked me to do all the graphics for the Junior I ski races that were held at Cranmore," Lydia said. "This year, I again worked with Paul at the Junior World's Alpine Ski Championships at Sugarloaf, which was the first time a race of this sort was held in the United States." Lydia's job was to do all the graphics for the event including designing the banners, bibs, gate panels, sponsor logos, and the program, plus doing all the on-site work and the staging.
"My job was to visually coordinate the event," Lydia explained. Apparently, she did a commendable job because Sugarloaf immediately hired her to do the same for their 1st Annual Celebrity Cup.
Lydia is no stranger to working with celebrities. Joining the large number of civic-minded people in the area who help make special events click by volunteering time and talent, Lydia has worked at the Volvo International Tennis Tournament since its second year in the Valley. Her involvement started at the hospitality desk, but since then, Lydia has done almost every volunteer job associated with the tournament aside from calling lines. For the last few years, she has been a fixture in the press room, giving refreshments, news, and advice to the many reporters who return each year to cover the premiere event in the Valley.
There is no question that the annual zaniness of the Spring Shampagne Stampede wouldn't be quite the same without Lydia's input (who can forget looking all over town for the LBL46 vehicle?). In addition, Lydia has been an active participant almost since the inception of another successful event in the Valley--Mud Football. Her exploits are not on the field of play though they greatly affect it. Often questioned by the Hogs' opposition about her creative timekeeping in the last seconds of a crucial game, Lydia steadfastly maintains that she is honest. "I'm the only person in all of Mt. Washington Valley who can be trusted to keep time at those games," she averred.
Lydia doesn't volunteer to help with only the more offbeat activities around the Valley. She also takes the time to serve as a board member for the Mt. Washington Valley Theatre Company, and is currently the secretary for the newly formed North Conway Village Association. "All of these things take a lot of time but I'll continue to do them as long as they are fun," Lydia said. "Getting involved and working for things I'm interested in are important to me. It took me a while to find it but I feel the Valley is my home, and it's very nice to feel a part of the community."