By Horace E. Hobbs
Hampton Union, September 14, 1983
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
It is that time again. Labor Day is over and it is time to get back to our studies. It is about the same now as it was when I entered the first grade at the Centre Elementary School except that teachers then were more professional than to offer a threat of strike. This was non-existent and the cry of "no contract, no work." had no place in schools where teachers got less than $1,000 a year.
There were no bus rides in those days, and I can remember my good mother walking me to my first day in school and meeting my first grade teacher, Miss Alice Adams. (We always called them miss whether or not they were married, that made no difference to us.)
To a boy, very near six years old, Miss Adams was the mature, motherly type. She had a nice smile, was friendly and wore metal-rimmed glasses that gave her the professional look. She was quite acceptable.
Miss Adams lived in a white house diagonally across Winnacunnet Road from my mother, and she not only supplied learning to us, she supplied water to us from the outside pump. Often she would let me take the red painted, pressed fiber bucket and go over to get water from her well. We made it a point to fill the bucket to the brim (with water) and slopped it all the way back to the school, set the bucket on its platform, hung the long-handled tin cup on its wall hook and we were in business. Of course, we all drank from the same dipper.
There was danger in crossing the road to get the water. The Centre School was where the red brick Centre School is located now. The electric car tracks ran along the street in front of the school, and warnings were always in order to look out for the trolley cars. Of course, in those days, the automobile had scarcely been born, but there were horse-drawn vehicles and sometimes the horses ran away.
In my 12 years in the Hampton schools I had only one black schoolmate and she was in my first grade. Her name was Martha, and her father worked at the Whitter Hotel, a famous old hotel which burned while I was in high school. It was located at the north side and east at the junction of Winnacunnet and Lafayette roads. Named after the French general, Lafayette Road is part of the famous Boston Post Road, and was travelled by many famous persons, even General Lafayette himself, and the father of our country, General George Washington.
Our elementary school in those days was housed in the first floor of the wooden two-story building which sat on the site of the present brick Centre School. This building is now used as a courthouse and found use as a fire station after it was moved adjacent to the old town hall which burned. My Uncle Henry was custodian of the new building. He was a custodian, but in my high school days I was "janitor" of the old building and swept the floors, washed the blackboards, cleaned the dusty chalk trays and carried armsful of two foot long logs to the second floor to feed the large stove that furnished heat.
The first three grades of school were called "elementary" and were held in this school. Therefore I spent my first three years of education in the first floor of this building before returning to it for grades six, seven and eight, called the grammar school. This meant promotion, or in fact elevation, along the way, since the second floor was all grammar school. In the meantime, we had spent two years (grades four and five) at the East End School opposite the Dana Garland Farm on the "Beach Road." These grades, four and five, were labelled "intermediate."
Before leaving the elementary school, I must remember Miss Josephine Joplin who also taught there. Her father was a builder living in the stone and wooden house opposite the water standpipe on Mill Street. She was cute!