By Ann Marie Donahue
As I head to the old band room in Smithfield High School, the corridor is lined with large murals of classical musicians. The love of music doesn’t seem to change over the years. I remember the squeaking of clarinets, oboes, and various instruments, until our band director raised his baton and we began playing in unison (sometimes!!). He was very passionate about our band, and it was quite apparent to the audience by his animated antics during our productions. My two sons inherited my love and appreciation of music, and became members of the Ponagansett High School Band.
My next visit is Room 100 once occupied by our business teacher who taught “Gregg Shorthand”. There were certainly no males in the class, just young women who thought we wanted to be secretaries! I guess we weren’t all that ambitious at the age of 16, but it came in handy anyway. I still use it almost everyday.
Next stop: Room 207, where we had typing class. I can still picture our teacher, who usually wore a blouse with a big bow at the collar, as she would waltz down each aisle, dictating letters to type… “asdf (space), jkl; (space), qwer (space)”. We were always reminded not to look down at the keyboard or there would be points deducted! Of course, we could always use the old “correct-o-tape” to fix a typo if necessary. Those manual typewriters could cause severe cramping on the fingers. Who could forget the swing of the carriage return lever. Thank God for the IBM Selectric typewriters that the class eventually obtained.
On to the gymnasium, which has improved dramatically — all new flooring, bleachers, a work-out room consisting of various fitness machines. The locker rooms haven’t changed much. Our gym teachers always made sure we showered after class, but if you tried to refrain from ruining your hair style, they’d be certain to give a little shove to be sure you were completely submerged.
A quick peek into the ladies’ room where I am instantly brought back to the thick clouds of cigarette smoke that once lingered in the air. During our tenure at Smithfield High School, it was not only acceptable to smoke, but was the thing to do. The room would be chock-full of teenage girls puffing away before our next class. Once the bell rang, all butts would be doused, unless of course, a teacher arrived prior to the bell, then everyone scrambled like rats to get out of Dodge. We must have stunk to high heaven.
I’m getting a little thirsty, so I head to the cafeteria. There are no soda machines anymore. The Coca-Cola machines have been replaced with something called the “Green Street Deli.” I can’t imagine anyone choosing that over the turkey fricassee or hamburg delight. These two delicacies consisted of a lump of smashed potato (served with an ice cream scooper) topped with gravy and few shreds of meat. Always a favorite! If you were in good with the hot lunch ladies, you sometimes got a second scoop.
On my way out, I remember 1978, when the fire drill would go off, and my friends and I would hop into the 1975 AMC Pacer that I shared with my brother and sister to take a joy ride. The Pacer was also known as the “Fishbowl.” The doors didn’t work too well, so we all had to climb in the windows. I don’t know how that car passed inspection.
My last memory of Smithfield High School is of the Senior Prom of 1978. I wore a gown that I borrowed from my cousins. There were three teenagers in that family, and all wore it consecutively. There was no visit to the salon for a new hairdo or a mani/pedi, and there certainly was not a stretch, white limo driving up to pick us up. I think we took the fishbowl.
Happy anniversary to Smithfield High School. Thank you for the fun memories.