No longer children, Groton neighborhood pals on Baker Avenue Extension ready for reunion

Groton - To people driving down Baker Avenue Extension, the boulder on the side of the road is hardly reason to stop and reminisce, if they even notice it.

But to children who lived on the street 30 years ago, it was an important place. Named "Turtle Rock" for its shape, they met at it, climbed on it, ate lunch on it and got called to supper from it.

"Doesn't look so big now, but back then it was huge," said Jeanne Muise, 51, of Exeter, N.H. On Saturday, she'll be with people who know exactly what she's talking about.

The neighborhood children who grew up on the street recently found each other again through social media and are holding a reunion at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Par 4 Restaurant. About 40 people are expected to attend, some traveling from as far away as Florida.

Muise made a lifelong friend on the street, Mary Anderson, who will be attending. But she hasn't seen some of her other former neighbors in decades.

"I bet 90 percent of them I wouldn't be able to pick out of a room," Muise said. "Because I won't recognize them until I hear their voices."

Everyone is in their 40s and 50s now.

Muise remembers when they were 10 years old or close to it, and riding on the back of a garbage truck.

Her parents bought the house on Baker Avenue Extension in 1962, the year she was born. The street was filled with large families then; one had six children, another, nine.

She estimates 42 kids lived on the street in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Muise was the third of five siblings.

"We would build forts in the woods," she said. "I remember one time, there were three or four of them; there was like a little village. . . And then the big kids would come and destroy them."

They grew up during the years of flashlight tag and phones with cords and black and white television.

"I remember wearing this dress; it was blue with white and a red neck. It was just a very ugly short-sleeved dress," she said. "Then you look at (other) pictures and I'm in it as a shirt because it got too short."

"We had encyclopedias," said Anderson, 51, of East Longmeadow, Mass. "They don't even know what that is (today). They really don't. We went to the library. No computers, no cellphones. Your mom yelled for you."

Children left their homes at breakfast and stayed out all day. They played kickball and made snowballs in the winter and went inside when the street lights came on.

They found joy in the simple things. Pat Fecteau, 54, said one year, road construction crews working on a nearby street left a pile of boulders outside. The children named it "Rock Canyon."

"It really was not a canyon. It was a pile of rocks," said Fecteau, Muise' sister, of Standish, Maine. "But that was what we called it."

Baker Avenue Extension is a dead end, so drivers have to make a three-point turn if they go that far. Kids called it "the turnaround," and it became another meeting place. Once, a speeding car lost control and crashed into vines.

The children were playing in the woods at the time.

"Somebody yelled 'accident!' and then all these kids come running out," Fecteau said. "I can't imagine the person in the car. All of the sudden, all these kids come running out like 'Children of the Corn.'"

The kids who grew up on the street remember not just the friends they made, but seeing their parents connect with friends, and their grandparents make friends.

"The people that lived next door to my parents, their grandmother was best friends with my grandmother," Fecteau said. "There was just a lot of connection, not just between the kids on the street but the adults as well."

d.straszheim@theday.com
@DStraszheim

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