Orphanage Memories

Having served as home for scores of children for over a century, we sometimes receive communications from alumni that are particularly compelling. Following is the text of one such e-mail received earlier this Spring:

You don’t know me but – I used to live at the orphanage on 125 Amherst St. Of course it was called the Protestant Home for Children back then.

Hi

My name is Fred J. Blake, a.k.a. Frederick E. N. Gilchrist. I entered the home on Feb 2, 1965 and left on Aug 19th, 1969. My sister Dora was there as well.

I remember we had 12 boys on one side and 12 girls on the other in the upstairs dormitories. I remember my first day and I was given the bottom bunk and two card board boxes to put my stuff in. I was very scared but had to act brave in the eyes of my sister. I remember we always lined up according to age when ever we did things and we always had chores that lasted for 30 days before moving on to the next chore. Fridays was fish day. I always ate with one arm curled around my plate in order to protect my food from being stolen from the other boys. I remember our study hall room on one side downstairs and the play room with the storage bins (we called them tilts). Mine was the very first one as you enter the room. All the light switches were push button. I remember the phone was all black and rotary. It was very heavy and also hidden from all of us. I only got to see it one time. I remember helping Mr. Cogdon build the new merry-go-round…it looked like a flying saucer.

All of us couldn’t wait for the summer to come. This was a special time when many of the teachers from the Nashua school would come to the home and we would learn so much for the next 8 weeks. Each week we learned something new and by the end of the week we were traveling on a bus to visit the place we had learned about. We couldn’t wait until the last week because it was the time of our lives. We got to go down to Anthony’s Pier 4 for lunch and in the morning to a historical place – but the best part was the Boston Red Sox game.

I’m sorry to have bothered you. I am sitting in the Marriott Hotel room in Vienna, Austria and I’m about to retire from 31 years of Federal Service to our Government and was thinking about my life and all of the wonderful things that have happened to me to get me where I am today. If it hadn’t been for those wonderful teachers and my last Foster Home of James and Judy Blake, I don’t know what would have come of me.

Sometimes I wish that I could go back in time and revisit all of the people along the way that had such a profound impact on me. Unfortunately they have all passed away.

I took a look at the Nashua Children’s Home website and was hoping that your webmaster might have had a section of pictures from years gone by so that all the children past and present could look through them and remember when.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention… I am a U.S. Diplomatic Courier working for the Department of State for Madam Hillary Clinton. She is just the latest in a long string of Secretaries of State I have had the pleasure to have worked with. I have met hundreds of dignitaries from around the world.

So, you can tell all of your students that at least one kid made it out in this sometimes cruel world. I am truly a walking success story.

Thanks for your time.

Respectfully,

Fred J. Blake

U.S. Diplomatic Courier

American Consulate Frankfurt, Germany


Photos: TOP An adult Fred Blake

BOTTOM Fred (circled on right) and his sister Dora (circled on left) attending a holiday party for the home sometime in the late 1960’s.

One comment


  • Catherine Johnson

    I was at the Children’s Home at the same time as Fred and Dora. I am in the picture (taken from an old newspaper article), as are 2 of my sisters. I agree with Fred, it would be nice to have a section of the website where we could see older pictures!

    Fred, I remember the trip to the Pier and the Sox game! 🤗☺️

    March 13, 2018

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