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Walpole ‘87 alumnus speaks at library

By Cameron Small
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

Last Thursday evening, November 10, the Friends of the Walpole Library hosted Walpole High School alum Maureen Stanton to talk about her latest book. Stanton, a member of the WHS class of 1978, spoke about her 2019 memoir, “Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood”. The memoir discusses growing up in Walpole, the impact of having Walpole State Prison employed as a disciplinary tactic by divorced parents, and seemingly conflicting moral codes amidst the economic recession of the early 1970s. 

Stanton read a few passages from the memoir, then opened up the proceedings for questions and comments.

The first portion of the memoir recounts Stanton’s mother telling the children to behave, or they would be put into the prison. But as her mother took then-fifteen-year-old Stanton to commit a felony, the attitude and words changed. “She’s not warning us against that behavior, but against getting caught.”

Stanton’s reading went on to discuss various encounters of shoplifting, and a breaking-and-entering “premeditated to the absurd.”

Not mentioned in the selected passages, but also discussed, was Stanton’s experience with angel dust, a slang name for PCP; there was a lag time between when the drug was introduced and when it was recognized as a problem. Stanton mentioned getting involved with the substance in the mid-1970s. The first major article published about it was years later in 1979, because it remained an underground phenomenon about which not much concrete information was available. A program in schools to raise awareness and to try to steer kids away from drugs started much later in 1989.

“Body Leaping Backward” was an attempt for Stanton to reconcile with her past. It was also written for teenagers today. “I’ve heard from teenagers who come to some of the same issues about self confidence,” Stanton said. “I want girls to have a teenage voice out there, really honest and raw.”

Stanton’s first book, “Killer Stuff and Tons of Money” was a winner in 2012 of the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction.

The Friends of the Library encourage anyone interested to join for the next event featuring former radio host Bill Littlefield on November 17. 

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