• Joe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #94: Franklin Street, Exeter


Waterfront property

As the Exeter River makes its final freshwater turn before plunging under the Great Bridge to meet the saltwater Squamscott, it passes by Gilman Lane and the Academy playing fields to starboard and Franklin Street to port. It's been gussied up in recent years, but Franklin Street always had on working clothes, blue-collar riverfront epitomized by Al's Automotive establishment. That bend in the river itself is a grassy sward, the backyard to a two-story duplex, the upper story of which Sarah and I occupied as newlyweds in 2005-06. There were two bedrooms - a tiny one I claimed for my growing library, and a much more spacious master suite with gorgeous views of the river.


No kids yet, but two cats (Rook and Renly). The first of the Cut-throat Tag-Team Yankee Swaps (complete with broken glass sand cookies). Barbecues and parties on the big lawn. Sarah was in her first year of medical school in Boston, so I filled my time with the town (hiring a new town manager, Russell Dean), running RYLA and the Seahawks, and writing much of the first draft of Minotaur. It was always busy, but often fun - ah, before the children.


We had two memorable climatic events during our stay. One was a sweltering heat wave that coincided with a power outage, resulting in near-unlivable conditions. If memory serves, we wound up fleeing to Stratham to crash with Jessica and Buddy Jamieson and their blessed air conditioner. The other was much more dramatic - during one of the frequent hundred-year floods of the era, the Exeter River overflowed its banks to such an extent that it swallowed Franklin Street whole. We were thankful to be on the upper story, as the first floor was inundated - the tenants there fled in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. I have vivid memories of Public Works employees working overtime to protect the River Street power substation with sandbags, of pickup trucks driving through deep water and being yelled at by residents that Franklin Street was a no-wake zone. The water in my own driveway was chest-deep (on me, anyway).


We weren't there very long before we bought the place on Pleasant View Drive. It's been a nomadic lifestyle, with seven addresses now in the 12 years we've been married (not counting Sarah's various school apartments). But we seem to cram a lot of life into each stop along the way, and Franklin Street was no different.

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