A Life: Teacher Polly Frizzell made sure to give back

  • Polly Frizzell, left, with her sister Clara Fuchslocher in October 1967 after Fuchslocher graduated from secretarial school in Chile and Frizzell convinced her to move to New Hampshire. (Family photograph) Family photograph

  • Polly Frizzell with her grandchildren Ciara, left, and Camden at a wedding in 1994. (Family photograph)

  • Polly Frizzell, center, with her daughters Joanna Anderson, left, and Heidi Fuller at Frizzell's strawberry shack during the picking season in Charlestown, N.H., in July 2018. (Family photograph) Family photographs

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/8/2021 9:31:10 PM
Modified: 8/8/2021 9:31:12 PM

CHARLESTOWN — When friends and family would visit Polly Frizzell, they were often greeted with slices of homemade American bread topped with a creamy Chilean aioli. She made the recipes from memory, taught by her mother and mother-in-law, blending her two cultures into one delicious welcoming dish.

“My kids, if you ask them what they remember about coming to Grandma’s, that’s the first thing they’re going to say,” said Heidi Fuller, one of Frizzell’s daughters. “That’s how (I) learned to eat artichokes… we didn’t care if we ate cardboard with mayonnaise.”

As an immigrant from Santiago, Chile, Frizzell loved the Charlestown community and believed strongly in leaving it better than when she came, said Fuller.

Her generosity and strength of spirit helped many people feel welcomed, once even letting a friend of her son Mark stay with them when he was having a hard time at home. That friend lived with them on Peachblow Farm for multiple years during high school.

“Mom made it that kind of place,” Fuller said. “We always had a hundred people in the house. So, what was one more, right?”

Frizzell died on June 29, 2021, after struggling with dementia for about four years. She was 80.

Despite the symptoms, she was “spunky right until her last day,” and still often helped her husband, Bob, with his spelling in her third language, after Spanish and German.

Frizzell carried traditions of artichokes and aioli with her when she immigrated to the United States in 1962. She left Chile at 20 to follow Bob Frizzell back to Peachblow Farm off Old Claremont Road in Charlestown after his farm youth exchange program ended.

They soon were married, and she became a U.S. citizen three years later.

“(She) wanted wholeheartedly to be part of this country,” Bob Frizzell said of his wife nearly 60 years later. “That was important to her, to make sure she gave back and my children do the same thing.”

Working on the farm collecting chicken eggs and running the popular pick-your-own strawberries day she started with her sister Clara Fuchslocher, Frizzell embodied that value of learning about her new home and giving back.

From her mother-in-law Martha Frizzell, Polly learned to bake bread and braid rugs. She became an avid bridge player, playing in local bridge groups.

Frizzell also was part of a group that founded the Charlestown Women’s Club, where she was president for many years. Now disbanded, the legacy of the club can be seen on Main Street, where lampposts put up by the club still light up the town.

Frizzell’s welcoming nature and identity as a Spanish-speaking immigrant drew foreign exchange students to their farm, too, said Fuller. Whether they wanted to stay for a short visit or six months, Frizzell made sure her home had open doors. She also worked with Welcome Wagon to bring welcome packages to new residents in Charlestown, as she knew how difficult moving to a new town could be.

“It was partly because of Mom, but the farm was a place where everybody hung out,” Fuller said. “It was just a big social thing.”

Fuchslocher, whose family lived on the farm as well, remembers serving iced tea to pick-your-own strawberries customers with her sister.

“We just had good time together and helped each other all along,” Fuchslocher said. “Polly was my big sister so I followed her everywhere from the start.”

In her work as a substitute teacher at Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, N.H., Frizzell left a lasting impression on many students. One of them, Kristen Pomeroy, who had Frizzell as a teacher during all four years of high school, remembers her requiring a hug every time they met, in school and out.

“I’m going to miss her hugs more than anything,” Pomeroy said. “You could be having the worst day and you’d see Polly and instantaneously you’d be smiling.”

One of her favorite memories of Frizzell was in her first year of high school. After being reprimanded by the school principal for addressing the teacher as “Polly,” Pomeroy remembers Frizzell yelling back at an administrator that it was fine because Pomeroy had known Frizzell her whole life.

For the rest of high school, Pomeroy was allowed to call her Polly.

“She was probably the most supportive person that I would ever see,” said Fuller, Frizzell’s daughter. “Whatever I wanted to do, Mom was right there behind me, supporting me ... She was like, ‘You can do it. Would you rather come home and sit by the fire with me and knit?’ and I was like, ‘Nope, I don’t want to do that so I’ll stay here and get this done ...’ I made it through, probably because when I needed something, she was right there.”

Fuller said she thinks her mother would want to be remembered as a “smart strong woman who wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself and her community and was proud of her family.”

In addition her sister, husband, daughter Heidi and son Mark, survivors include daughters Debra Hunter and Joanna Anderson, eight grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and five step-great-grandchildren.

Jasmine Taudvin can be reached at jtaudvin@vnews.com.

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