Carol Fanjoy, 56, holds a photo of where the portable classrooms were when the Fox School in Paris was a public school. Advertiser Democrat photo by Jon Bolduc

 

Carol Fanjoy stands in a hallway where lunch was served at the Fox School in Paris, holding a photograph of when a previous principal stepped in to help during a Thanksgiving lunch. Advertiser Democrat photo by Jon Bolduc

 

PARIS — For Carol Fanjoy, every room, hallway, nook and cranny of the newly renovated Fox School holds a memory. And those memories can be overwhelming.

The first day I got in, when I started the application process, the plumber let me in. I saw the front staircase, and I sat down … I actually had tears in my eyes,” said Fanjoy. 

Fanjoy, 56,  one of the first residents at the newly opened housing unit on Market Square, worked at the school as a head custodian for a decade.

Working as a custodian for 10 years in this building were the happiest years of my entire career. There was an awesome staff of teachers and support staff. We were Kindergarten to third grade, so we had the babies, and they were so good,” said Fanjoy. 

When Fanjoy worked at the school, children were served lunch downstairs, and would carefully carry their lunches up the grand staircase, now blocked off by a wall.

“The milk cooler was here, with the steam table where we served the kids. They would take trays and carry them upstairs. There weren’t too many accidents,” said Fanjoy, standing in a beige colored hallway to the right of the staircase, the place where a milk cooler and steam serving tables once stood. “It was crowded, but we made it work.”

One day, during a large Thanksgiving lunch, the school was short staffed. The principal of the school at the time stepped in, delivering hot soup to each classroom. 

“This is one of the happiest buildings I’ve ever worked in,” said Fanjoy. Among the happy memories; a piano that stood near the staircase where students would gather for sing-a longs. The building stands near the banks of the Little Androscoggin. One year, Fanjoy said, a mama turtle came up from the river, made a nest, and laid eggs. 

“I got a report at recess that we had baby turtles coming out of the wood chips. I immediately went outside, and yeah, we had baby turtles!  It had warmed up enough that day that they popped out of the woodchips, and [the turtles] tried to make it to the river. In the evening, it cooled off, and they dug back down into the wood-chips until it warmed up,” she said. 

Fanjoy, 56, is retired. She said her two-story house became too hard to heat during the winter, and she decided to apply for housing. All the apartments are handicap accessible Fanjoy said even paying monthly rent is less than what she was paying for oil in her previous home.

There was one place, I wanted to rent it so badly, and then I saw this place. I was like, why do I want to move to a place with old, run-down apartments,” said Fanjoy. According to Fanjoy, part of the visceral memories surrounding Fox School is the fact that it retained so much of it’s original character through renovations.

What they accomplished is amazing. They left so much of the charm of the old school … a lot of the old staff would probably be like me and get tears in their eyes,” said Fanjoy. 

Fanjoy said she feels like things have come full circle; riding in the elevator, which she said, is where there was once a kindergarten classroom; even her own apartment on the second floor, which was once a second-grade classroom.

“When I talked to Mrs. Pulhoski, the Principal of Paris, she goes, ‘you’re moving into Fox School? You’re kidding me!’ I told her where my apartment has, and she said, ‘isn’t that my old room?’” said Fanjoy. Sure enough, it was. 

Even the slightly unpleasant memories – like spending an entire summer moving furniture from classrooms on the upper floor to the lower floor and bagging student’s belongs during outbreaks of head lice still bring a smile to Fanjoy.

It was just a wonderful place to be,” she said.  And, looking out over a cleared field where portable classrooms and playgrounds used to be (including a six foot tower, the safety of which always made her uneasy) she can see scenes from a bustling past come to life. 

When the kids would be out playing, people from the nursing home would come out and watch them. [The kids] made cards for the nursing homes, went over for visits. What we did as a community; we were all there for each-other,” said Fanjoy.  And now, though the context has changed, Fanjoy is happy that the building has some new life.

“I want people to know that there’s still life in it,” said Fanjoy.