A West Warwick Native Walks Back into Her Childhood

principal's daughter in kt cty times‘The Principal’s Daughter’

principal john j. kellyAs Guest-Speaker, I Don’t Plan on ‘Pulling a Larry Wilmore’…


You know—the alleged comedian of “The Nightly Show” fame who some say ‘bombed’ at the 2016 White house Press Conference Dinner, as he skewered several, with the result an audible groan —or worse yet for ANY comedian—no response– came up from the audience.

No, I plan on sharing the funnier aspects of my life, in guest-speaking, and I’m slated for several opportunities to do just that.

A few years back, at my 50th. West Warwick High School class reunion, I boldly went where no woman goes, by stepping up to the mike and asking classmates if any of them wanted to date me, in high school (who does that?)

Amazingly (to me), hands shot up.

My reason for doing that? I wanted to find out—at last.

I had no dates….throughout high school, which put me seriously behind in social adeptness at attracting a mate all through college, for junior and senior high are the proverbial training grounds for dating and finding a mate.

I understood. In high school, no young man wanted to come to my house to pick me up. Why?  The principal of the high school, Mr. John J. Kelly, lived there– a stern, authoritarian man who’d be properly called “old school,” by anyone’s definition—if they were respectful.

Those who were not respectful called him “Old Chrome-Dome (he was bald).”

Out of earshot, of course.

I recall, distinctly, my sitting in a school assembly, when my father pronounced to the students: “And you’re not to go to Turcotte’s Hall, after a football game.”

Now, many considered that directive pure sacrilege, since Turcotte’s Hall was the “go-to spot” for celebrating with food, drink, and dance, after another glorious Wizard win, or an occasional defeat.

They groused: “Who does Ol’ Chrome Dome think he is anyway, telling us where we can go, when we’re out of school?”

I slunk deeper into my seat, praying for anonymity.

Yep, he’d take on almost-parental authority if the activity were school-related in any sense. Turcotte’s Hall owners had complained and he delivered the blow.

But in self-protective mode, I wanted no one to associate “Ol’ Chrome-Dome” with me.

No kid is that brave.

I recall a classmate dropping me off, once, looking out to see my father in his half-acre garden, pulling weeds, during the summer, saying, in shock: “Your father’s got legs!” He was wearing those half-leg length Bermuda shorts popular in the 50’s.

I realized at that point how very strange others’ perception was, regarding my father.

There was only one other girl who truly knew what having such a father was like.

Lorraine Weston lived across from Prata Funeral Home in the Riverpoint Congregational Church parsonage. A fun girl and spirited, Lorraine was two years younger than I, daughter to Congregational preacher, Reverend Curtis Busby. We were friends for a short while, in the way a two year difference in youthful friendships allows. So, while my father set educational standards, Lorraine’s Dad set a moral code, in the community.

Both were no-win situations for their daughters.

How did my older brothers fare, with the high school principal as their father? Perfectly well…for they were star athletes, named to All-State teams.

In so doing, they crossed the invisible line of acceptance.

For, as anyone knows, in West Warwick, sports is “king”…

And its stars are “princes.”

P.S. The photo on top left is of front page of Saturday’s Kent County Daily Times (where I appear each week) and one on right is my father, principal John J. Kelly, from the Chronicle, John F. Deering High School yearbook.


The above article appeared as Feature Story, on May 14, 2016, in the Kent County Daily Times. Ms. Kelly Mellor’s memories (and probably those of many others) will grace the front pages of this newspaper each Saturday.  If you wish to make sure you do not miss one, subscribe in upper right hand corner of this website and “Thank you” for your support.

West Warwick native, Colleen Kelly Mellor (ckmellor@cox.net), is a motivational speaker and freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Wall St. Journal, Scripps-Howard, and many regional newspapers. She is author to the children’s books Grandpa and the Truck (grandpaandthetruck.com) and is regular commentator in the Providence Journal. Her website is colleenkellymellor.com.