My Brainy New Hampshire Mom

My mother was anything but average. Some of the challenges in her life pushed her to achieve. 


parents insisted on her attending a parochial school beginning at the

age of 7, when she began grammar school at Saint Anthony's School (then

called Saint Antoine) located on Belmont Street in Manchester, New Hampshire. This little English-only speaking Irish girl entered a building

for two years where only the French language was spoken or permitted.  She related

how difficult this was for her, to initially have little idea of what

was being said. There were no accommodations for those who did not

speak French. 


said that it was with great relief that an English-speaking

Catholic school, namely Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), opened and

she was able to attend in its first year.  It was a longer walk–a mile

away. At this new school, the teacher's discovered that her former

school had not been a hindrance to her education, as they allowed her

to skip a grade due to her advanced knowledge.  During this time she also contracted polio.  Her

life was spared. However many months were spend recovering from both

the disease and from the surgery that repaired a seriously affected ankle and

foot.  She graduated from OLPH's first grammar school graduating class.


she attended St. Joseph High School for Girls.  Those were in the days

when the girls and the boys went to school in different buildings. Even

the class photographs were taken separately.  My mother didn't talk much about

high school, except that she had some wonderful girlfriends, and that

she spent as much time as she could at the

Manchester City Library. She graduated in 1938.


high school graduation, she entered the New Hampshire School of

Accounting and Finance. She enjoyed working with numbers, and wanted

very much to become a bookkeeper.  She graduated in June of 1939.  She

was employed as the bookkeeper for several locations. After her

marriage and becoming pregnant, she stopped working outside of the

home.  She continued for many years to rent the top two floors of our

home, which had been converted into apartments, as a home business. 

She not only handled the rental agreements, payments and such, but she

also compiled and submitted the yearly tax documents.


very busy with five children, she didn't stop learning.  She was an

avid reader, and during most evenings you would find her “with her nose

in a book.” When the oldest of her children had left home, she took up

painting–first reading about, and then creating–watercolors and oil

paints being her favorites.  Her subjects were usually favorite


Typical of a loving mother, she always said her greatest accomplishments were her children.


This article has been written as my submission to the 48th Carnival of Genealogy at Creative Gene. The topic is “Mom, How'd you get so smart” (etc., see bottom of last carnival article for description).  Submit your own story by May 15th, 2008.

.Above Photographs, all of Mary Manning.
First two photographs: 1933, first graduating class of OLPH Grammar School, taken in front of the school
Third photograph and fourth: 1938, graduating class of St. Joseph High School for Girls
Fifth photograph: June 1939, graduating class of New Hampshire School of Accounting and Finance
Note: the original, larger versions of these Manchester NH Graduation Photographs can be found here, along with a list of the graduate's names.

.Above music. (the player default is OFF, you must select the “>” button to begin)

mother did not graduate from a little red schoolhouse, but instead a

large brick building in the largest city in New Hampshire. I thought

this song was charming, and certainly fits the theme of my article, so

I've included it here. “In the little red school house” was written by

A. Wilson & J. Brennan, and is performed by Billy Jones and Ernest

Hare. [American Memory, Library of Congress, The Motion Pictures and

Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies]

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