24 hours of Love, Hugs and Backyards in Londonderry

Feb 15, 2013 No Comments by

The amazing thing about being part of Visit Londonderry is that I never know exactly where a week will lead. Even though I have lived here since the 60?s, grew up at Kendalwood Condos, taught at the High School, and raised my family here, each day I learn something special about our community. One thing is for sure, Londonderry is the best place to Live, Work and Play! Each week I will share with you some of the amazing businesses and things I have learned about Londonderry.

This is another strange morning as I start late to write to you about my week On the Road in Londonderry.  Things started off very, very slow. All of the sudden it was Wednesday, almost Valentine’s Day and I realized that my Road wasn’t all that interesting this week. I almost lost track of most of this week, but then it all seemed to come together in the most beautiful ways. Yes, in just 24 hours, and I promise it really wasn’t boring at all.

Oh I know what took up so much of my week: organizing. For some odd reason, I decided to attack our attic. Poor John thought one of us would come through the ceiling but thank goodness we both are safe.  I hate to even type this but we still had all our Christmas decorations, bins upon bins, hidden in our guest room. That had worked great for a month, but now we have ‘chosen’ family coming to visit us later today and the guest room was a mess; yes floor to ceiling. Now I know where my week went. Thank Goodness.

Anyway, early in the week another dear member of our ‘chosen’ family sent me an e-mail saying, “Hey, why don’t we all go out to dinner for Valentine’s Day?” Bart has a great 6th sense of knowing when I (we) are completely buried in one thing or another and I just can’t seem to get out of my own way.   A dinner out, a break, a beautiful place and celebrating Valentine’s Day all in one.  “Yes, yes, yes,” we said. “What a great idea.” Well as family life goes, V-day was already booked with basketball, basketball and more basketball but Bart said, “Let’s go Wednesday night.” And that’s what we did.

Now where do we go?  Bart said we should let Mere decide this time, but the place she picked was first on all of our list. Our own, right in our backyard, I almost typed the Homestead, but we all know it is now the Coach Stop.  Remember I told you before that for our family the “HomeyCoach” (maybe a new name) is that “go-to place” for us. We go there for celebrations like first communion dinners, our wedding rehearsal dinner years ago, and the tough ones too; dinners to sit and remember my dad with Father Moe, after he passed away, or even when John and I just need a place to relax and hide together.  Thank goodness the Coach Stop is there for us.

Wednesday evening finally arrived, I crawled down from the attic early, almost everything done, and we sat and relaxed and shared a delicious meal.  It was Ash Wednesday so my dream of a filet steak changed to haddock but it was perfect.  A gift. Now the funny thing is, wait until you read where my On The Road ended this week. Keep reading. I know, is she ever going to get to the point?

Valentine’s Day rolled around and I decided that hiding in the house and contacting our members from my computer and phone had to stop.  I dressed in red, you might have seen me and the day began.  I was a little blah, a little cold, worried about being ready for our family coming into town, but good people and no real direction changed all that.  I had planned to go here and there, but never made it. Wait until you read where the Road took me.

It all started when I had gotten an e-mail from Richie Bernard from the House of Samurai.  I mentioned this before but his son Greg wanted to become part of Visit Londonderry too.  How great is that, a new business jumping in right away to become part of our entire community?  I stopped by to pick up his membership form and the energy you see watching students and little ones train is contagious.  I think that alone gave me a lift!

Stop in and see Greg, learn about how Crossfit will change your life.  Greg is one of the most personable sincere, not pushy, “handsome”, oh but he is, young men in town.  This is not just another thing out there. Greg is a certified Crossfit Level 1 instructor.  To achieve this a teacher must train, take classes, complete tests and invest thousands of dollars in what they believe will change people’s lives.  You have to see for yourself, when I walked in the room I was shocked, I had no idea what it involved.  Finally a way to train that makes sense and works.  Let me know what you think after you visit.

Continuing down to the next door I decided to stop into Pixie Preschool.  It wasn’t on my list, but seeing all those happy little ones coming and going with their parents, I decided to peek in.  No, I walked right in. I thought I might get the bum rush, which I deserved, so many wonderful things going on and I walk in without even a call first, but not at all. I was greeted by the nicest teacher, dark hair, oh I can’t find her name, what a love though.  I apologized and even with so much fun, love and learning going on around her, she said, “Please don’t feel that way.”

She was patient beyond what I deserved and took our information about Visit Londonderry and said she would leave it for the owner.  The owner and I met back when Rachel at Creative Fitness took a chance on Visit Londonderry in our early stages.  Pixie has been a part of Londonderry since I was in High School. It might have been the first official pre-school in town.  Does anyone know where it originally started?  If you get it right, I’ll come up with a little prize for the first person who answers!

Back to the Road. As I drove out of the parking lot thinking, “I’ll just head home,” I looked over to my left and there of course was Spectrum Gymnastics’ Academy.  You’ll think I’m nutty, but you’d be shocked if you knew how many times I have driven in and out of their parking lot.  I love talking to everyone about Visit Londonderry but I know from when my girls took Gymnastic lessons there years ago, Spectrum always has so much energy and great things going on that I just hesitated to walk in.

For some reason yesterday, I parked, and went in.  Oh Dear God, how does life move so quickly on us. All these moms and dads with their little ones of all ages, watching through the window as their children wave and smile because of all the new things they are learning they “CAN” do, and the confidence they are gaining.  That was us, it seems just like seconds ago. But it was over 10 years ago now. Wow.

I almost turned around and left, what a horrible time for me to ‘drop in’, but I had to walk into one of our favorite places the “office/store”. I thought Carol would never remember me, one of so many families that have passed through, but as soon as I walked in she greeted me with, “Hi Sherry, how are the girls? How old they are now?”  I felt like we had just seen each other yesterday!  Then she even said, “You are On The Road with Sherry. I love reading your stories. They remind me of myself and jumping from one thing to the next!”  She made my day, my week. I was even happier that I had climbed out of the attic now. Carol kind of gave me permission or a sign to keep writing.   She said my stories made her smile and that she has gone into many businesses in town she didn’t know about because of my On The Road!

As we caught up, the circle of life and those we are connected to became even smaller. Carol used the words “Guardian Angel” to describe someone that is to humble to be mentioned here, but I would use that word for Carol and her family too. Carol’s son Steven is an amazing local artist. He trained under our member Elaine Farmer, who offers many art classes right in town to people of all ages.  Remember she is also doing the paint parties now too!  When Mackensie took art classes with Elaine, Elaine shared with us what a very special student of hers was doing.

This was Steven Sullivan.  Steven didn’t just keep his gift for art to himself, he decided he wanted to help children in Africa who would never know this type of beauty.   He just didn’t send them a care package with art supplies, Steven gave up his life here and spent 3 years living and working with the children in a small African school.  He planned and raised money for supplies, and he lived what he said he wanted to do for 3 years of his young life.  Carol worked back here, sending supplies and organizing  fundraisers with Elaine and Sean, the owner of Spectrum, to support Steven all they could.  Now there is another Unsung Hero right in our own back yard.

If you meet Steven Sullivan, thank him for all his good work.  People like Steve are always the ones that will continue to do great things, especially for others as they move through life.  It’s just part of who they are.

Now back to Spectrum though. As Carol and I were catching up, Sean the owner stopped to say hi. What a great guy. Did you know Sean is another LHS graduate, and how great is this he is now coaching the LHS Gymnastics Team for our town?  We are so lucky to have a coach like him.  Seldom can you find a coach vested in the community and living what he is coaching his entire life.  Now, did you know this about Sean, he took gymnastics lessons at Spectrum when he was young. He went on to make quite a name for himself in the world of gymnastics and then came back to us. He bought Spectrum because he believed in it so much and has owned it for the last 14 years.

As we talked briefly we both realized something we did know before, even though Sean had been the girls gymnastics teacher years ago. Suddenly it hit us both that Sean was one of my first Students at LHS!  Peg Agati developed a great class called Intro to Foods and Sean remembered taking it before he graduated!  How strange is that?  World getting smaller, smaller, and smaller. Get your kids involved, Spectrum even has great summer day programs and, wait for it, this year they started a Jetti and American Girl summer camps, too!

I don’t think Carol has any idea how much she made my day with her smile of recognition and words, but as I left I just wanted to give her a hug!  She just feels like an angel among us and I don’t mean to be corny!  Thank You Carol!

Again, I was planning on heading home, but after feeling so good about my unexpected visit to Spectrum I decided to keep going. “Where next?”  I thought.  I looked up Buttrick Road to my right and saw the Mr. Steer Plaza.  John had been telling me the last couple weeks, “You have to go in and see Betty and Bill at the CR Sparks Kitchen.” Well once I walked in I knew why he kept saying that!  This will sound crazy but the picture I saw when I walked in should be in one of the finest culinary magazines.  First I stood by the door and took in the beautiful atmosphere that they have created.  Lovely tables, with a flower and white covering inviting you to sit and relax with a friend.  Home cooked foods with variety for the entire family. A lovely women was rushing out with two complete Valentine meals and she stopped quick, realizing that she could also buy a very nice bottle of wine right there too. Betty and Bill standing behind their counter, proud of what they have created and waiting to humbly share their labor of love with us.

Cooking is love. It’s sharing a very special part of who we are with others, and trying to brighten their day, make a day a little easier, healthier, and lighter. That’s what Betty and Bill are doing there.  In the background, jazz was playing. I think that is the first time in such a long time in NH I have heard jazz being played in the background of any store. It changes your mood, your haste, and kind of tells you enjoy the experience. This is the very best part though. Some of you might know that Bill worked for CR Sparks for 27 years!  I could smell CR Sparks standing there. I know you think I’m bonkers but when you go in, you will know what I mean!  There is all kinds of real memorabilia that came right out of CR Sparks, too.  Oh and I really knew I was meant to go in when I checked the soups of the day and guess what one was called. Sherried Mushroom!  You know I look for little signs!  Stop in and if you think of it tell them I said HI.

Now you must be wondering where the heck did this day end? Oh dear, you might thinking. Dear God please make this day and story end. Almost done.

As soon as I left, I called John to say, “You were right.” And John would probably say I don’t say that  often. It’s a wife thing I guess, but anyway, I did and he was. We both realized that V-Day was almost over and we’d had no time for each other. What do you think happened next? John said, “Hey, head to the Coach Shop. (remember we had just been there 24 hours before!) I’ll leave the house right now and we can at least have a V-Day toast together.” Next thing I knew, there we were sitting at the bar upstairs, Acacia and Maureen taking care of us and making us feel welcomed. Again!  We had 40 minutes and the clock was ticking. Thank Goodness for the Coach Stop again.

One last thing, I love sitting at the bar because John and I never know who we might meet.  Well, sitting to my left was a lovely older couple.  I started talking to them, now I know that doesn’t surprise you, and they too, had been there two nights in a row. And they weren’t even from Londonderry, they were from Woburn, Mass.  Last night, as we celebrated Valentine’s day, they were celebrating their 48 year anniversary. Lots of unexpected turns in their road too, but here they sat next to us just last night.

With A More Than You Could Ever Know Grateful Heart   Sherry

On the Road with Sherry

About the author

Sherry has lived in Londonderry since the 1960's. Her mother was one of the first employees at Mr. Steer Meats. Sherry taught at the Londonderry High School for a number of years and spearheaded the first Career Education Class at the school. She has two daughters of her own with her husband John.
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