Tom Roberts says
I remember when . . .

  • I remember upon moving to Wilmington in 1955, learning that I would have to walk to the fourth grade at the Whitefield School because our house was nine-tenths of a mile from the school, and only those living a mile or more away got to ride the bus. My mother was chagrined, but from grades 1-3, I had walked to school (uphill!) almost as far, so to me it was no big deal. It was kind of an adventure, especially when I figured out the shortcut from North Wilmington to Salem street via the railroad tracks.

  • While at recess from Mrs. Liston's 6th grade class in the Swain School, I recall how Fred Neilson and John Stanley would cross the road to the Town Common (which back then was mostly dirt from all the kids playing on it -- this was even before the flagpole was erected) and carefully draw in the dirt a series of enormous six foot long footprints traversing the common. I thought it was hilarious; some kids thought they were nuts; the adults in charge of us took a dim view of the whole project and the practice was forbidden.

  • One of my favorite parts of grammar school was in Mrs. Ahearn's 5th grade class. When the day's lesson plan was complete and there were a few minutes left to the school day, she would read to the class from a novel. This only happened perhaps a half dozen times, but I remember being transported by imagination into her stories, none of which I can now remember. At the end of the school year, I noticed her tossing into the waste basket her deck of pupil name cards. I retrieved it and have it to this day.

  • Several times just after starting the seventh grade in the high school building, I would become totally lost in the corridors, having to walk and walk in search for the room I was supposed to be in for my next class. Although I soon got my bearings in the new building, for years afterwards I would have an occasional dream about being lost in the high school corridors. This was sometimes accompanied by not only forgetting my locker combination, but even my locker number!

  • It was in seventh grade that I failed my school eye test, and had to begin wearing glasses. I felt embarassed about it, but after no one seemed to even notice that morning in Miss Quinn's homeroom, I got used to wearing them. It wasn't until I was prescribed bifocals in my early 50's that that feeling came back.

  • When Harry Sandler, owner of the North Wilmington Pharmacy, had his first anniversary celebration, Jim Webster, Danny Dupras and I presented him with a "cake" Danny had made by smearing concrete on top of a cinder block, painting it, and writing in it with BB's "Happy Birthday Harry" or some such, I forget the actual wording. Somebody took a photo of us with the "cake", and as soon as I locate it, I'll post it here.

  • In Miss Halperin's 10th grade Algebra II class, I remember Paul Foley walking to his seat at the rear of the class and punching me really hard in the shoulder as he passed. It seems I made a good, safe target. I never liked Paul much, altho I did hold him in awe after he climbed the ropes in Mr. Bellissimo's gym class, upside down! Mr. Bellissimo was not pleased, but Paul certainly earned bragging points that day.

  • Remember Lindy ballpoint pens? You could take off the top cap, force out the ink refill, and you had one dandy pea shooter that, to a teacher, looked like an ordinary pen. In Mr. Keady's 9th grade history class, Jim Webster, Danny Dupras, Fred Neilson and I had a constant battle going on. Fred found that hulled wheat made an accurate and stinging projectile, while Danny introduced a buckshot concept using birdseed. I greatly regret not learning more history in that class, as Mr. Keady was a rare and wonderful teacher. Ironically, I now consider history to be one of the most important of subjects, and am an active member in the Pittsfield, Maine historical society.

  • My first day in cross-country in the fall of '63, I couldn't understand why everyone started off the 1 mile JV course so slowly. After the first eighth mile, I was the first one into the woods, thinking, "This is going to be easy!" Less than halfway through the course, my side began hurting so much I could hardly run any more, and I finished the course alternating between a walk and a hobble. Later that day, Paul O'Leary told me that I had to pace myself on long runs, since cross country was not a sprint. I appreciated that advice, as it was from a peer, even more than I appreciated essentially the same advice from Mr. Kelley, who after all, was a teacher and a coach and was always telling us what to do.

  • After the last day of school my senior year, I walked home on purpose, with Norman Norton, I think. It was one of those times when I thought, "Well, now what?" even though I knew I would be attending Northeastern in the Fall. I had a feeling of accomplishment, of twelve years of schooling now behind me, and who knows what yet to come.

  • I'll add more to this when I get a chance.

Last updated 2-Jun-06.

Webweaver Tom "Fireball" Roberts