A Place Called Home: Using Digital Media To Tell My Personal Story

My home town of Manchester New Hampshire was also home to the Namaoskeag tribe of Native Peoples, who settled around the Falls called “Amoskeag“. This area was settled by Europeans in 1719.  In 1751 it separated to form the town of Derryfield. It later became known as Manchester in 1810–named after Manchester UK, in admiration and imitation of its industrialization.

I was of the fourth-generation in Manchester New Hampshire. My Irish great-grandmother, Mary (Lyons) Manning ran a boarding house on Lowell Street. The spot where the building stood is now a credit union.

My actual birth place was at the old Notre Dame Hospital. [see the white roof of a section of a very large building in the middle of your screen–that is the original part of the Notre Dame Hospital. It is now part of Catholic Medical Center].  In the 1950s Notre Dame Avenue leading to this hospital was still partially cobblestoned.  Mom said that her teeth chattered from the bumpy ride as my father raced up the hill in their shock-challenged sedan.

It is strange how our memories shape our view of the neighborhood!

I grew up in a rambling house. The building started out as a 2-decker but ended up a 3-decker. My uncle cut the attic roof of the house off, raised it up, and built the walls of the house up to the roof to make a third floor. The neighborhood was mostly Irish families in the early 1900s when my grandparents bought it as their new home.

.Grandparents Manning with daughter Mary
in front of their house in Manchester NH.

By the time I was growing up here, the “south-east side” was a mix of Irish and French-Canadians, but with separate churches and schools for those groups.   Although a generation earlier ethnic tensions ran high, by the time I grew up here, the worst thing that happened was almost amusing (i.e. the “other neighborhood's” chanting of “Hey, French Fry” or “You–English Muffin” as they passed by the other group's open school windows). The “Irish” church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) that I attended was the victim of declining attendance, and cash-strapped parish coffers. It closed a few years ago, ironically merging with Saint Antoine/Anthony parish, its “competition” of earlier days.

My first high school “hangout” happened to be the first “McDonald's” built in Manchester. (Did you know that the inventors of McDonalds were from this city? As a teen, I remember nursing a soda and one bag of fries for several hours so security wouldn't kick us out of the parking lot.

I am fortunate to have been born in a city (Manchester, New Hampshire) that has been thoroughly mapped out by both Google Streetmaps, and MSN's “Virtual Earth” Live Search Maps. The use of these internet tools and family photographs have helped to make my personal story “come to life.” Manchester, and New Hampshire in general, is on the upswing both as a

place to live and to work. Boom and Bust appear to be cyclical.  Some

of the once bustling neighborhoods are touched somewhat with blight,

while other previously ailing sections (mostly the millyards) are

seeing a rebirth of development and activity.


P.S. This is my submission to the 46th Carnival of Genealogy, with the theme of “A Place Called Home.”  You still have a few days to submit your own version, with the deadline being May 1, 2008.  See you there!

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