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Fritzie & Louise: The Ride of a Lifetime

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You meet many people on the road of life. Sometimes the road is rough, sometimes it is ride-like-the-wind smooth. For Fritzie and Louise, a chance meeting along the road proved to be the ride of a lifetime.

Fritzie and Louise - A Story About a custom Annalee design

Fritzie Baer loved motorcycles. He especially loved his Indian-brand motorcycle with a sidecar. He was rarely without it. One day while out on a ride he, by happenstance, passed a young girl walking down the road. He quickly made a U-turn and asked that girl, whose name was Louise, if she wanted a ride. That meeting led to romance, and one year later on June 25, 1923, Fritzie and Louise eloped to the Catskill Mountains in New York. Their marriage and on-road partnership would last more than 60 years and produce five children. The majority of those years were spent in the Lake Winnipesaukee region of New Hampshire, where the couple would make an indelible imprint on the area. They would also become friends with Annalee Thorndike, whose fledgling doll business needed a tune-up to get noticed. (But more on that later.)

Fritzie became a well-known amateur motorcycle hill climber in the 1920s. He would turn that passion into a career with the Indian Motorcycle Company, where he managed a dealership at the factory plant in Springfield, Massachusetts for 19 years. He would later serve as a promotional and sales representative for the Indian Company.

During those years, Fritzie and Louise would share numerous trips in their Indian motorcycle and sidecar, including five separate trips to the hospital for Louise to deliver each of the couple’s children. Each child would also find its way home in Louise’s arms in that same sidecar.

Laconia Motorcycle WeekEventually the growing family would move to New Hampshire and settle in the Weirs Beach area of Laconia. Fritzie, as the founder of Fritzie’s Roamers Motorcycle Club and president of the NH Motorcycle Dealers Association, would be instrumental in bringing the New England Motorcycle Gypsy Tour to Laconia in 1938, where it has been held ever since. He would also be among the prime movers in expanding Laconia Motorcycle Week, which is the oldest and longest-running motorcycle rally in the United States. Fritzie would also work as a referee for racing competitions for more than 20 years and became a nationally recognized announcer at racing events. Today the Fritzie Bear trophy is awarded annually to a notable supporter of Laconia Motorcycle Week.

Fritzie & Louise Baer at the Boston Ski Show with young friend
Annalee skiing dolls on display at the Boston Ski Show.

Fritzie became even more grounded in the Lake Winnipesaukee area when he took over the management of the Belknap County-run Gunstock Ski Area in 1950 during the early days of New Hampshire skiing. He was responsible for many major improvements during his tenure, including installation of the first T-bar lift, the construction of the Red Hat Trail (Fritzie always wore a red hat), and developing better grooming techniques.

It was during this time that Fritzie and Lousie Baer became friendly with Annalee and Chip Thorndike. The Baers had a store at their home and were among the first to retail Annalee dolls. Fritzie also used his influence as the head of Gunstock to support the doll makers. Annalee’s dolls received a big boost of publicity, which translated into increased sales, when her ski dolls were used to promote Gunstock at the Boston Ski Show in 1954.

Bob Arnold, Fritzie & Louise’s grandson, remembers: “One summer day, my wife Heidi and I were having lunch outside at a Meredith restaurant. At a table across from us, I recognized Annalee Thorndike, creator of the famous Annalee dolls, and her husband Chip. My grandparents had told me the story once of how they had used Annalee’s skier dolls to make an exhibit for the Boston Ski Show. For a small company in Meredith NH, this was huge. I went over to Annalee and introduced myself as Fritzie and Louise’s grandson. To my surprise, Annalee began to tell me the same story that my grandparents had told me many years before, of how they used her ski dolls at the Boston Ski Show and  ‘…put her on the map.’”

A Custom One-of-a-Kind Design

Fast forward to 1973:  Fritzie and Louise are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with a party. To commemorate the occasion, Annalee creates a very special one-of-a-kind design to thank the Baers for their friendship and support throughout the years. The design tells the story of Fritzie and Louise together, as always, in their motorcycle and sidecar. Today that design is loved and cherished by the Baer’s grandchildren, who are very proud of their grandparents and the mark they made in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and beyond (including helping Annalee on the highway to success).

June 25, 2023 marks 100 years since Fritzie and Louise were married. It also marks the 100th anniversary of Laconia Bike Week. The coincidence is both amazing and appropriate for a couple whose life together began somewhere along the road.

Collector Resources

We want to make it easier for you to get information about past designs, track your collection, and even browse catalogs from the past. Visit our Collector Resources for more Annalee designs from the archives.

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