• Joe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #44: Mrs. Gowen's Kindergarten, Great Bay Road, Greenland


Unlocking the stories as we speak.

I've attended my share of schools in New Hampshire - UNH, Exeter High, Exeter Junior High, Stratham Memorial School. We'll get to all of them in turn, some of them more than once. But the first one, the first school I ever knew, was Mrs. Gowen's little private pre-school and kindergarten on Great Bay Road in Greenland. I spent two years there, polishing all those social and academic skills one needs for elementary school. I can vividly recall the agony of learning to tell time on a clock with hands, for instance, and projects with lots of glue and rounded scissors. Beyond that, I remember little about the place itself (I can scarcely picture the late Mrs. Gowen herself, I'm sorry to say) or any of my classmates (beyond Shelley Prince, who would be afflicted with my company all the way through graduation from high school).

What I do remember is walking there and back again with my mother. It was a half-mile from where I grew up, and we'd cover that distance at a stately pace twice a day, traversing the Stratham-Greenland border and counting the chipmunks we'd see darting among the stone walls that paced the length of Stratham Lane. It was half days, I think, and on the way home I'm sure I talked my mom's ear off about the things that mattered to a five year old in 1979 the same way my own boys have been known to do. We'd get home and have tuna fish sandwiches and wait for the bus to bring my brother Al home from the show (he was in first and second grade by then, a pro's pro, up at the old SMS). It was the first and only time I really had my mom to myself, and I remember that more than anything that went on in that farmhouse/schoolhouse. It's not there anymore; it's been closed for a long time. But the chipmunks still grace the stone walls on Stratham Lane, and my mom still makes the best tuna fish sandwiches.

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