Are you city literate? Test your knowledge with this Manchester pop culture quiz

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

musings logo

It was several years ago that a smarty-pants professor named E.D. Hirsch Jr. wrote a book about the things you need to know if you were to be considered an intelligent individual in our society.

The book was called ”Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” Essentially, it offered a list of the kind of things your teachers always said would be important to remember in later life.

But you knew better, didn’t you?

You didn’t pay attention in class. So now you think the Alamo is an epic poem. You think Katmandu is something you order in a bad Chinese restaurant.

Do not despair.

You may not be culturally literate, but if you grew up in Manchester, you can still be ”city literate.” Consider this: If basic literacy means you need a base of knowledge that is shared by other people, city literacy only requires a base of shared experience.

For instance, if you’ve ever jumped into Manchester’s most famous swimming hole, we have a shared experience. On the other hand, if you think ”The Ledge” is a clothing store, well, we’ll need to work on that.

In any event, to be a true Manchester resident (and city literate) you should probably have done at least 10 of the following things:

  • Cursed under your breath while waiting in line at City Hall to pay your automobile tax.
  • Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 10.06.56 PM
    The Muchachos.

    Reveled in the brassy music of the Muchachos Drum and Bugle Corps in an Elm Street parade.

  • Lost a mitten on the rope tow at Mount McIntyre.
  • Wolfed down a Perillo’s hot dog while waiting for an MTA bus at the old Moreau’s Hardware on Elm Street.
  • Thrown sour balls from the balcony during a Saturday matinee at the State Theater.
  • Watched submarine races at Lake Massabesic.
  • Spied on fellow shoppers from the mezzanine level at Leavitt’s.
  • Drank root beer out of cardboard containers served by car hops at the A&W next to the scary Amoskeag Bridge.
  • Leaped into the Piscataquog River from the railroad trestle at Kelley Falls.
  • Ogled members of the opposite sex while cruising on Elm Street.
  • Risked your manhood (or womanhood) by riding your bike down the cobblestone surface of Cumberland Hill.
  • Shuddered in fear as you peered through the grating on your maiden stroll across the Notre Dame Bridge.
  • Dined on St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage at Bobby’s Lunch (before it was Billy’s Sports Bar).
  • Extra points for having spicy fries at Sabo’s; Same for a steak and cheese from Bob Nadeau’s.
  • Hooked your drive into the pond off the first tee at the Intervale Country Club.
  • Waited on the corner for a chance to pat the rag man’s horse.
  • Listened to the latest Beatles’ record on the headphones at Manchester Music.
  • Skating on Dorr's Pond.
    Skating on Dorr’s Pond.

    Trudged home with numb fingers and toes after a marathon skating session at Dorr’s Pond.

  • Had your car broken into at the Mall of New Hampshire.
  • Wept over the grave of a loved one at Pine Grove Cemetery.
  • Endured endless lines to buy Mother’s Day chocolates at Van Otis.
  • Paid a fine for an overdue book at the Carpenter Memorial Library.
  • Tingled with excitement as you trotted onto the turf at Gill Stadium for your first game under the lights.
  • Posed for wedding pictures at Pretty Park.
  • Gotten your change from the vacuum tube at McQuade’s Department Store.
  • Created a garish ceramic ashtray at in the crafts room at the Manchester Boys and Girls Club.
  • Skinned your knees on the coarse bottom of Livingston Pool.
  • Nursed an icy 10-cent mug of root beer from the soda fountain at Squog Fruit.
  • Zipped down the slide in your pajamas while awaiting a double feature at the Manchester Drive-In on South Willow Street.
  • Scrambled atop the cannon balls as autumn leaves swirled about Stark Park.
  • Puzzled over Picasso’s ”Woman Seated in a Chair” at the Currier Museum of Art.
  • Feasted on a post-midnight side of beans at the Red Arrow.
  • Pounded down the stairs for music lessons at Ted Herbert’s Music Mart.
  • Recommended the chicken tenders at the Puritan Backroom.
  • Wobbled atop eight unsteady wheels at the Bedford Grove Rollaway.
  • Raise your hand if you were on the The Uncle Gus Show!
    Raise your hand if you were on the The Uncle Gus Show!

    Introduced a Popeye cartoon on “The Uncle Gus Show.”

  • Helped pitch tents for a free pass to the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus at Gossler Park.
  • Searched in vain to find your picture on the back page amongst The Union Leader’s ”Monday Night Shopping Winners.”
  • Explained your reason for attending the old New Hampshire College thusly: ”If you can’t hack it, CAC it.”
  • Trooped down to Rheault Photographers for your high school yearbook picture.
  • Looked on in awe as ski jumpers flew through the air during Winter Carnival events at Blueberry Hill.
  • Placed pennies on the railroad tracks so the B&M trains could mash them beyond recognition.
  • Tried in vain to pick up the 7-10 split at Queen City Lanes.
  • Dressed to the ‘nines for your Friday night dinner date at Aurore’s. Or the 88. Or Verani’s. Or Angelo’s.
  • Popped a balloon for a bargain banana split at the lunch counter at Woolworth’s on Elm Street.
  • Checked out your favorite book from the Bookmobile.
  • Figured out the hard way why they referred to the Granite Street Theater as ”the spitbox.”
  • Shot a rack of balls at J.B. Conner’s Pool Hall at Bridge and Elm.
  • Purchased your first Boy Scout uniform at Floyd’s Department Store.
  • Hummed along to the radio jingle for Tren Furniture.
  • Dickered over the relative merits of Ferretti’s, the Federal Market and Grand Union Champagne.
  • Tried to sneak up the down escalator in the old Sear’s Department Store on Elm Street.
  • Rejoiced when WKBR morning man Bill Morrissey announced that school was cancelled by a snowstorm.

So how did you do? Even if you weren’t city literate when you started this list, I figure if you made it this far, you are now.

Your diploma is in the mail.


John Clayton

John Clayton is Executive Director of the Manchester Historic Association. You can reach him with your historical (or existential) questions at





email box

You’re one click away! Sign up for our free eNewsletter and never miss another thing


About Carol Robidoux 5644 Articles
Journalist and editor of, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.
  • Cayte Scarlett

    This list discriminates against younger residents of Manchester. Most of these experiences listed here are from a bygone era. I can only claim three items on this list and I would imagine that most Millenials reading this list would find these so-called “Manchester Experiences” to be rather foreign to them; belonging to a Manchester that really doesn’t exist anymore. Update this list and include some of the downtown events that Intown Manchester has developed. Movies in the park or Taco De Mayo etc.

    • Kim

      It’s a history lesson of baby boomers’ experiences’ growing up in Manchester, during the 1950-1970’s.. Perhaps your parents would enjoy reading this. I don’t think John was discriminating against younger folks, he was telling his account of his first hand experiences and what better way to know history than to hear it from someone that had experienced it? By the way, there are many residents of Manchester that can identify with what he is saying here. Peace out!

  • Mark Murray

    I have to agree with Cayte – This list is definitely geared towards old-timers. Manchester still has a lot going for it to create some new memories. That said, I got 23 of them. 24, if Sabo’s fries and Nadeau’s steak and cheese count for separate points.

  • I got about 15 of them

  • Gary Tibbetts

    Fantastic….there is my life in Manchester all written out….Thanks John!!

  • jleafe

    Oh jeez, now I feel like I’m a hundred years old!!

  • Jim Molloy

    John, how about the winter carnival sculptures in the parking lot of the valley street shopping center? Or the king and queen candidates for the winter carnival hitting you up to buy a button from them? The visitor center on the old Queen City Ave. The list just goes on and on.

  • Sue Dupont

    Old-timer here, 33!!

  • Priscilla Jacobson

    this was marvelous …….. laughed all the way through it……Great memories for a lot of us in the eighties…I lived in NC.when our Nat. guard was activated in1962……..lied in Virginia for 41/2 years…22 years in Bedford…….But everyone of these bring back super memories….thanks John…….

  • Priscilla Jacobson

    this was marvelous …….. laughed all the way through it……Great memories for a lot of us in the eighties…I lived in NC.when our Nat. guard was activated in1962……..lied in Virginia for 41/2 years…22 years in Bedford…….But everyone of these bring back super memories….thanks John…….