THE S’s: Stories and Snow with Sherry

Feb 08, 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 week I had so much to share with you but most of it would have been in the form of stories. Unfortunately with this huge snow storm coming at us, that they say will be bigger than the snow storm of 1978. Hey, I just looked around and found a picture of me during the storm of 78’ that my dad took. There’s one of my mom Pearl too shoveling.  Kind of fun; I can’t believe I just found them, that’s when you know something is meant to be.  If you could see my pictures pile they are a mess, but there those two pictures were almost waiting for me to show you.  I hope you like them.

I haven’t even begun to type, and you know that I really look forward to telling my story of being on the Road each Friday morning starting around 5am.  You remember, house quiet, dog happy, all that.  Now it is 9:54 and I have so much to share but I’m just getting started, the house is full and moving, snow is coming, dog is barking. Dear goodness this might be short. Hey another S!

One of the first little phrases that I typed somewhere in WORD as I was getting ready for today’s story, I wrote to myself, “Stories are just so wonderful whether we are 3 or 93.” That’s another reason why I love Visit Londonderry so much and spreading Kathy and Steve’s vision for  bringing us all together. THE STORIES, the memories, the people. Our little place in the world, I guess.

This week I had the privilege, and yes I will use the word privilege, to talk with 3 people in our area that I have definitely put up on a pedestal through the years. The first one I only knew from a far, very far. He’s close to my age, but when I was growing up in this area as a cheerleader “want-to-be” one silly move ended that career which never really got started. He was doing, earning a reputation for himself, making a difference in people’s lives and establishing his first academy.  His name is Richie Bernard, the director and owner of the House of Samurai which was established in 1974.  Richie lives his passion for Martial Arts every day. He has earned the rank of Judan, which means he has a 10th degree black belt, the highest you can achieve.  He is a Chief Grand Master Instructor. In my humble opinion, he is the best.

The great news is that he is back in Londonderry. He took a break from the House of Samurai for a few years to pursue other things, but recently he reopened here at the location.  They were planning to have an Open House today (as you are reading, Saturday) but because of the storm he will be rescheduling that for next week.  I have always thought that the one gift we should all give ourselves and especially our children is training in the martial arts or self-defense, and it is never too late.  What Richie offers is something you or your children will have for a lifetime, it’s not just the physical skills that are taught, but humility, respect for yourself and others, self-control, and yes protection.

As Richie and I talked, me knowing him well, him never having heard of me before, we started sharing all the different people we both knew in common who had trained under him.  So many of our Law officials in New Hampshire, and when the name Mike Travano came up we both paused.  So strange in life how often we are connected to others without even knowing it.  Mike was a young police officer in town and friend of mine; we didn’t know it until this week but he was also a dear friend of Richie’s.  Sadly he died much too early in a very bad car accident.  That night he had stopped by to ask Richie to join him but Richie had too much going on at his Do Jo, so he passed.  It’s amazing how one decision that we often don’t understand at the time can make such a difference in our lives or those around us.  Richie and I remembered Mike together and that was pretty nice.  Make a real life change with House of Samurai. I’m so glad they are back.  Oh, I forgot to tell you Richie told me that he has his first student via satellite in Singapore! How great is that?

The next person that I shared stories with this week was Father Bob, from St. Jude’s church.  I was just about to call him one of our unsung heroes in town, but thank goodness he was honored as our Citizen of the Year a couple years back. Father Bob’s story is a beautiful one and now I understand why. He seems to have a great understanding of real family life, marriages, working, ups and downs that we all go through.

Did you know that our Father Bob was a Broadcast Journalist for years? He broke many big stories in the New England area on everything from businesses to gangsters!  From there, he went into the business world and was one of the top officers in a New England company. And this explains his deep understanding of married life: Father Bob was married for many years.  He understands the struggles that husbands and wives face because he lived it.  He told me the beautiful story of how he got the “calling” much later in life, went back to study to become a priest and at the age of 49 became our priest at St. Jude’s. That’s where John and I were married back in 1993, but at that time Father Bob was just like us trying to figure out life.

Father Bob’s journey as a priest here in Londonderry has always involved the strong belief that the church “can’t be an island onto itself, we have to be part of the overall community family”.  When Father Bob said this, it made me think of Michael Riccio, the owner of Café Teresa’s when he became a member of Visit Londonderry.  Michael said that as a business owner in Londonderry, often you feel isolated, like an island, and that Visit would bring our businesses and family community together. That’s the greatest part of our mission.

Father Bob has established so many things in town that most people are not even aware of. Our St. Jude’s Food Pantry that helps so many families right here in our own town. Father Bob said that when a family comes to him for help, he never asks them “Why?” or “how did this happen?” He gets them the food they need immediately for their children and family.  Feed them first, and then later find out what might be going on once they have been fed. How beautiful is that?

He’s not there to judge, and he will never turn his back on anyone in need.  I know for a fact that he is up late many nights making phone calls and trying to rally our town together to help.  St. Jude’s has created a wonderful family that welcomes everyone. Father Bob, established great children’s programs long ago. St. Jude’s has it all. Stop in, I promise you’ll be welcomed.

Another thing that Father Bob said as we shared stories is that “We need to work together for the common good and put our differences aside.”

The last person that I will only begin to tell the story of after seeing her on the Road this week (strangely enough we ran into her as we were leaving St. Jude’s 12pm mass) is Pat Dowling.  I have admired Pat Dowling for years and boy does she have some amazing stories.  If anyone should write a book I think Pat should.

We met oddly enough back in the 70’s, when I met her daughter Karin at Hood School. I had no idea then what a great women she was, but I learned as the years went by.  Pat was one of the first Realtors in Londonderry, and some of you might remember she had a small office close to where our Ford dealership is now. It was called Dowling Real Estate.  Pat has served on every board in Real Estate possible I think, and she has worked for Gianni and Maggie at Verani Real Estate for the last few years.

Pat and Karin, in my opinion, have always been two of them most ethical, friendly and intelligent Realtors in NH. Check out the Prudential Verani site and you will find them there.   For many years though Pat had been part of the NH House of Representatives and from what I’ve heard she did a great job for us.

As we walked out of church together, Pat told us her mission now is to build a new women’s prison in NH. This is something most people would not even think about. She explained to us that the prison that is presently used often has 4 women in one small cell. The conditions are poor and that this needs to be addressed. When she was done sharing a story with us that we had no idea about, both of our girls said they would like to get involved and help her. Pat has always been a great lady, who doesn’t complain about how things are. She works to make things better. As we learn more about what Pat is doing I will share the story with you here.

Well I just turned to look out the window and it is snowing! I wonder what is to come from all of this. As you are reading this tomorrow, we will know what the outcome was.  Please remember to check on your older neighbors or anyone that may be alone.  Somehow Storms and Stories always seem to bring us together.

With A Grateful Heart

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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