In the spring of 1957, my family moved to Newtown, Conn. and I attended Mary Elizabeth Hawley Elementary School, then serving students grade k-7. It was dedicated in 1930 and named for the benefactress, who also donated funds for the Cyrenius H. Booth Library named for her father. The school now serves k-4. I also taught kindergarten there while I was in college to finish a year for someone on maternity leave. When I entered eighth grade, the junior high addition to the high school was complete and my class transferred. I graduated from Newtown High School in 1964. At that time there was no Sandy Hook Elementary School, but we lived in Sandy Hook, which has a post office and shopping center now and is a part of Newtown, along with Hawleyville, Dodgingtown and a few other minor burgs. When we lived in Sandy Hook in a new development, the activity in town related to some factories – fabric fire hose, plastic molding – situated on the Pootatuck River, which originally was the water power for the factories. There was also about one block of retail – bakery, pharmacy, five and dime, etc.
This morning, Monte Draper and I traveled to Red Lake for a story assignment for the Pioneer. We didn’t play the radio because we had plenty of Pioneer personnel news to catch up on. When I arrived home, Doug was eating lunch and listening to the MPR news station. He said something about a school attack in China and suggested the Chinese attacker could have been copying Newtown.
“Newtown?” I said. (There are plenty of Newtowns in the country.) He said, “Yes, Newtown, Connecticut.”
That’s when I learned of the horror in a town I called home for nearly 10 years.