Memorable Trip Back to School

Return to Centre School Table of Contents

By Steve Jusseaume

Hampton Union, September 12, 1997

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

(Left to right:) John M. Holman, Nancy S. (Wright) Pacheco,
Barbara (Garland) Woods and Evelyn (Miss Philbrick) Squire.)

Some 60 years ago John Holman, Nancy Wright and Barbara Garland walked into Miss Evelyn Philbrick's second-grade classroom at Hampton Centre School, washed, scrubbed and wearing their best new school clothes.

A week from today they're coming back, and they're going to take their former teacher with them. Next Friday Holman and his two classmates, plus Miss Philbrick (as John remembers calling her) will visit Centre School and the second grade classroom of Rita Colby.

"She's still sharp as a tack," Holman said of Miss Philbrick, now 92 years old and carrying a different last name: Squire.

He and Nancy (also with a different last name: Pacheco) talked about the old days, and their impending visit, this week.

Miss Rita Colby, 2nd grade teacher
& Evelyn ("Miss Philbrick") Squire at Centre School,
September 19, 1997.

The idea to revisit the school came to John last spring. "My wife is a kindergarten assistant, and I was at the old place with her and walked through the halls, and found my old classroom," Holman said. "I looked in and saw Rita Colby, and told her of my idea, and she thought it would be fun."

Nancy was last in the school about 13 years ago. "I was there with my grandson Stephen, and I said to him, 'This was grammy's classroom once.' The school actually didn't look too different... It was so nice back then. Everybody knew each other, and you had a closeness with your teachers."

The place is different now. The old cloakroom's gone," John said. "The hooks are still there, though. But the blackboards are different now. They're not scratchy like they used to be."

In 1936, they recalled, there were two school buses in town, one for the beach and one for the town. "Yes, Lou Clark drove one and Jimmy Eastman drove the other," John remembered.

She smiled. "Oh, Mr. Clark was tough. He'd stop that bus right in the middle of the road and walk down that aisle if anyone acted up," she said.

"When we got to school, the boys were on the east side of the school and the girls on the west side, separated by an imaginary line, and woe to whoever steps across this line ... to Principal Sears' office post-haste," John remembered.

Nancy recalled one story she's going to tell the second-graders. "I have this piece of paper Miss Philbrick gave to me. It reads, 'There's a little girl in the second grade who makes me very happy.' Guess who that student was?" she asked.

John laughed. "Oh, you were her favorite, but I can beat that story," he said. "I remember in second grade, one of the girls caught my eye and became my very first girlfriend. Must have been the new plaid dress ... You know, she gave me a pencil sharpener for my birthday or Christmas, I can't remember which. And, believe it or not, it still works today as good as new."

And he reached for a brown paper bag and pulled out a pencil sharpener he has saved all these years. He showed it to Nancy and she blushed.

"I can't believe you've saved that for so long," she said, recalling the gift she had given to John all those years ago. Then she added, "Does your wife know about it?"

And they both laughed.

Return to Centre School Table of Contents