THIS & THAT: A tornado wreaks havoc at Fall Mountain

Fall Mountain

Fallen trees near Fall Mountain Union High School. Photo provided.

Imagine you have just played a big rivalry baseball or softball game on the road. It is a Friday night. Even though it is a Friday, you are just kinda sitting back on the bus ride home, readying yourself to hurry home and sleep because you have a long road trip for another game at Campbell on Saturday. And then!

Yes! And then…the bus driver pulls up suddenly to a stop on the driveway into the school. Many of you, have taken at least one drive to Fall Mountain and traveled down the long school drive with its well-placed speed bumps at one time or another.

You wonder, “Why are we stopped here?” It’s dark and you think, “Is there an animal in the road?” Visibility isn’t great, and it has been raining so although you try to look out the front of the bus, you wonder more and more. You have been here at this spot on a bus, many times, but this is very different. You have been stopped a while now.

“You couldn’t even see the road,” Fall Mountain Athletic Director, Gordon Danserau, said. “More than 50 trees and stuff were in the driveway.”

Batting cage knocked down from heavy winds. Photo provided.

I’m not making this story up. A couple of people told me last week that they had had a storm in Fall Mountain territory and many trees were down. When doing research on the Connecticut Valley Conference Track Meet, a coach told me, “Some type of microburst went through there, and they did a great job putting things back together so they could host the meet.”

The complication of what a storm is and isn’t takes some time to sort out. This Tuesday, Manchester’s Channel 9 WMUR announced the storm was officially a tornado. The damage was something else.

Thus, the athletes on the bus never made it to the school that evening. They saw the devastation in front of them. The trees made a mess, but there were telephone poles down as well. They presented a danger of an even higher degree. Athletes made phone calls and eventually everyone found their way home. Just think of how much bigger this problem would have been before the days of the cell phone.


Downed power lines and trees prevented students and coaches from returning to their cars to go home following an evening of games. Photo provided.

The athletes were able to sleep in the next morning. The trip to Campbell was postponed. All schools have had to deal with the weather this spring of 2018, but Fall Mountain had an extra twist. Athletes couldn’t get their cars for a couple of days. One coach had to have someone from his hometown in the Monadnock area come and get him to make his way home. Some things people needed such as keys were either in their vehicles or in the school, and they would have to wait a day or two before they were in their possession again. This took a massive cleanup.

The storm took place Friday, May 4. The Campbell games were rescheduled for the next Saturday, May 12. Weather stopped by again. The two schools now hope to play those games May 24.

There are four other schools in our reporting area and very few people in those communities even heard about this storm. Even newsgathering sources were left in the dark, just like Fall Mountain Regional High School, but in another context.

It is 2018, but in some places, for some reason, news does not travel well. In this case, even the story was in the dark.


There is this guy who keeps showing up where I least expect him. And the stories he tells me are even less expected.

Regular readers will remember about a little trip I took to the dentist earlier this year. I was surprised to see Rich Saypack in the waiting room. Rich always has a story or two and this time, he had a whopper. It wasn’t anything like his previous yarns. He was facing a battle with cancer.

The good news is, we spoke a week ago, and things are progressing. Obviously, he gave me a story. He said, “I feel pretty good. My energy is good, but my muscles are still regrouping. It’s like when we were kids, and we had to do a lot of sit-ups. When you do a lot, it hurts. That’s what it’s like now.”

Then, I called Springfield High School this week to track down a coach’s number. The response on the end of the line was, “This is Rich.”

Now I asked, “Why are you answering the phone?” Of course, he had a story.

“Right now, I am serving as interim AD,” he explained. “The position was open, and I thought it was the time to give it a try.”

After I questioned his sanity, I cautioned him about not overdoing it. He assured me, “Doing this is just about right for me right now. Sometimes I wonder what is missing for me in life, and I’m not going to find out unless I try something like this when I have the chance.”

I wonder where and what Rich’s next story will be. Stay tuned.

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