Punchard was Andover’s high school for 100 years, and I lived so close to the ivy-covered building I could see it out my windows. I looked forward to attending the legendary school, but, the year before I was to start, a new high school, named Andover High School, was built. I was disappointed.
In the movie of my mind, I see standing-room-only crowds on the sidelines of Punchard games and the All-Girl Band victoriously playing the Punchard fight song while parading through town. In 1911, Punchard’s first varsity fields appeared with the opening of the Playstead.
Then, a young man named “Pop” Lovely took on coaching football and baseball. Called Pop because he was prematurely bald, his legend grew so great over the next three decades that the football field at Andover High is named for him. He was revered throughout Andover for he taught rough boys not only how to win, but how to be gentlemen. Good sportsmanship was the overriding theme to Lovely’s coaching, and the lessons taught those rough boys were later taught by those rough boys to their children.
William Goldsmith, Punchard’s first great principal, was strict yet loved. He allowed his students to pick a name for his newly born daughter, and they chose “Punchard.” Thus came Bessie Punchard Goldsmith, a colorful, strong-willed, Andover character of the 20th century and a long-time Andover Townsman columnist, who, on her death, bequeathed 130 acres to AVIS.
For three decades preceding 1940, Nathan Hamblin was the school’s principal. Carrying a walking stick and wearing three-piece suits and a Van Dyke beard, he strode to and from his Chestnut Street home to Punchard. Personifying the word dignity, he brought academic excellence to the school. Like Goldsmith and Lovely, Hamblin taught basic values of right and wrong and stressed educational fundamentals. During the era of Hamblin and Lovely, it seemed an inordinate number of Punchard students received college scholarships. The whole town was interested in Punchard, and each week, the Andover Townsman had a school column written by a Punchard student.