Another Place in a Different Time

Originally posted on Simple is Working – 9/10/11

“They” say you can never go back and you know something “they” probably are correct.  However, the other day I went north to visit with my father and he wasn’t home, so I decided to go drive around places I used to haunt growing up.

I took a drive through Newport – Maine that is.

The beach in Newport over by the American Legion Hall.  I spent most of my summer days here from the age of 10-13.  I was one of the “float” rats.


Yes it was a rainy and windy day. This is a view down Lake Sebasticook from the other side of the beach. Where I am standing now when I was a kid was an island separated by a mud flat from the shore.  The town filled it in several years ago to make it a point with easy access and a picnic table to sit at.

I have no idea who Shaw Street was named for (I could search for it, but never did).  I have a feeling that they were not related at all to us, usually you have to be important to have a street and school named for you.  Our family certainly was not all that important in the scheme of things in Newport.  We were at the low-end of the middle class growing up, but we told everyone that the street was named after our family 🙂 even though it wasn’t.

We used to live in a house, that belonged to Banton’s Mill, just to left of this sign and I would walk over to the old Shaw Street School (now a housing development) and come home for lunch and then go back.  That would be unheard of in today’s school world of 20 minute lunches and not being able to leave the school grounds during school.  A different time.

The old Little League Diamond, if I wasn’t at the beach, this is one of the other places that I could usually be found in the summer time. Never was all that good, but I loved to play. Back then it had green plywood and 2×4 for the fence and there wasn’t a park/tennis courts in back, it was the town’s winter sand pile (which we also used to slide down in our metal flying saucers and get yelled at by the town crew because it was too dangerous – i.e. my dad and some of his friends).

I remember when this house was built, we were all so excited to see who would be the first one to hit it. It was safe none of the Little Leaguers that I hung around with hit, though we tried and tried, but I know of a couple of high schoolers who bounced a ball or two off the side of the garage, who were former little leaguers ;).  I also wondered how my grandparents knew if I was at the ball field or not.  Pretty easy to see now, my grandfather just had to come out and look down the road with is binoculars and he could tell where I was or where I wasn’t 🙂

My grandparents old house, I spent most of my time there until just before 9:00 P.M. (curfew) and had to rush back to my parent’s house. Lot of memories for me in that house, I still call this my home.  There used to be two more trees in the yard, but over the years they became diseased and were taken down.  That old oak tree that you see there, provided more acorns, which us boys used as ammo for our acorn fights. Yes we threw them and quite often hit each other with them – you learned to make some pretty moves to avoid being hit, because those little suckers left black and blue marks – our version of paintball.  Where that two car garage is, is where my Cousin Mikey and I used to play wiffle ball and try to hit it over the Hudson’s garage for a homerun.

What is now the Newport Elementary School. At one time this was Newport High School and then the Junior High/Elementary School (it replaced the Shaw Street School).  I have a lot of memories of this place, I played soccer, basketball and baseball on those fields, also had some interesting recesses up there.

Yes we still had daily recess in Junior High when I went to school and if I remember right, it was a good thing to have, it let many of us undiagnosed ADHD boys, get moving around a bit. Recreation and getting outdoors was more important to me than just doing school work. Never would happen in today’s academic world of testing and accountability, recess is considered a waste of time, which I disagree with, but that is a different soap box.

Higgins Memorial Gym (good old Doc Higgins). During the winter time this is where I spent the majority of my time.  I learned to play basketball here, had several sprained ankles and a couple of concussions.  Back then we fouled hard and it was part of the game and yes we had a couple of shoving matches here or there, but it was the way we learned to play the game and how to take a hit.

I got knocked on my ass boxing in PhysEd and when I told my father about it, he asked did I get back up again and when I told him I was knocked-out he just shook his head and walked away.  I didn’t get to tell him that I had gotten up, but fell down three times and tried to keep hitting the guy who whacked me, before the teacher stopped me and carried me to the bleachers. Oh well memories.  School dances were held here and I will always remember slow dancing to  “Hey Jude” with Marilyn for reasons better left unsaid, but I remember them.

I also worked for the school district my Junior summer and we painted this whole damn thing inside and out.

We just called it the gym and everyone knew what you were talking about.

The house where I spent my life from about 1969 to 1975, the longest that we spent in one place, it was my great-grandparents house and we moved in when she couldn’t do it by herself anymore.  My parents were young and we moved around a lot in Newport while I was growing up.

I remember living up on North Street (by the tracks), Grove Street, and Water Street (in front of Banton’s Mill), Mill Street (above the Laundromat).  But this is the place that I remember most, only it was sunbeam yellow then, I remember all those damn paint cans and dad making the black decorative shutters out of 1×3 wood.  It also had a connected barn and there are lots and lots of memories in this old house.

The memories came back of times with Jay, Sol, Ricky, Robbie, Johnny, John, Gibby, Roxanne, Brenda, Valerie, Maryann, Chuck, Bobby, Evelyn and so many others that I grew up with…

It was a nice trip down memory lane and it brought back a lot of good and bad memories.  No living and growing up in Newport, Maine during the 60’s and 70’s wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t always the good times that you want to remember and romanticize about.

I don’t have a lot of rose-colored glasses when it comes to those times, I just prefer to focus on the good stuff that happened there and then.  I am glad that I did grow up in Newport, it made me who I am and I am pretty comfortable with how I have turned out in spite of growing up in Newport.  A double-edged sword as we would say.

No you can’t go back, but you can sure look around and see the changes that have happened to where you grew up, from when you were younger and think about all that has happened in your life since then, what has been gained and what has been lost.

When was the last time you went to where you grew up, took a few pictures, thought about the “old days” and finally smiled at the memories?

That is what I did last week, I took a trip down memory lane, about another place in a different time – that no longer exists and will never be here again.