A version of this article ran in the Kennebec Journal on June 7, 2012 as part of their series, ” HALLOWELL: The way it was”under the title HALLOWELL 250th: Going home again
BY AL AND DAWNA TREGEMBO
Returning to Hallowell after many years away is a strange but wonderful experience. Some things remain the same, others change dramatically. Strolling the streets bring back many memories and emotions. Although things look about the same, you know they have changed.
One of the most dramatic changes is a private residence where Hallowell High School had once stood. The school opened in 1920 and graduated it’s last class in 1962. A much treasured landmark gone, but never forgotten.
Walking up Central Street brings back untold memories of the carefree and wonderful days of our teen years. From the fears we felt upon entering those “hallowed halls” to the exhilaration of graduating four years later (for most at least) had been a wonderful and fun filled journey.
Probably everyone remembers the “heh, heh, heh” that Mr. Roy snidely uttered during science and biology classes; and Mrs. Daker with her stern scoldings when we did not meet her expectations in English classes. Mr. Daker always managed to bend the rules a bit for our athletes, and we all remember how he never tired of telling us how he slept on boards and ate black bread. Did anyone ever figure out what he was trying to tell us? Surely there was a coded message in there somewhere.
Mrs. Clark was noted for her insistence that we roll our r’s in French class. She also made sure we dressed in costume for the Latin Club’s Saturnalia celebration. We were quite a sight dancing and cavorting around in our togas (bed sheets) and our tunics (bath towels). It really was a lot of fun in spite of our initial dread. Even way back in the 50’s teenagers still hated to admit something that adults created was fun.
Does “A S D F G ; L K J H” sound familiar? That would be Mrs. Asher in first year typing class with her glasses perched on the edge of her nose, as she called out in staccato and watched over us like a hawk watching it’s prey.
Everyone must remember Carl Nickerson. He was the custodian, aka janitor back then. Carl was a friend to all and knew everyone by name including our parents. He took great pride in our school and was our number one sports fan. Everyone had a friend in Carl.
The fear of a “2:30” (detention) prompted most of us to do our homework and keep out mouths shut during class. No one wanted to go back to school and sit in a study hall from 2:30 to 4:30. Plus, we got in trouble with our parents when we got home late! We didn’t have the luxury of cell phones and text messages.
Remember Freshman Initiation? For a whole day we had to be subservient to a senior to whom we were assigned and dress in a fashion meant to humiliate us. We had to meet the assigned senior at his/her home, carry their books in a pail, and whenever told, kneel down and recite the “Freshman Prayer” which we had committed to memory. If we made a mistake or complained, a consequence was at the ready. We were paraded down Water Street for all to see. Oh, yes, it was quite a day! It all culminated that evening at City Hall where further humiliation ensued as a few chosen Freshmen performed consequences to the amusement of parents and friends(?). It was all done in the spirit of fun and the evening concluded with a dance. Everything returned to normal.
Although our school was small, we were big in school spirit. Home baseball and football games were played at Vaughan Field. Although the boys’ basketball games were held at the Augusta State Armory, we did have a small sunken gym. Rumor has it that it was originally built as a swimming pool, but that is a myth. The original plans for the building show it as a sunken gymnasium. In fact, our parents played their games there and the girls’ basketball games were still being played there in the 1950’s. Spring training for baseball pitchers and catchers was held there as well.
It is a popular belief that you cannot go home again. These recollections seem to prove otherwise. You definitely can go home again.