Confessions of Boyhood

                                                                                By John Albee   

      Over the Green Store is a hall where formerly Adin Ballou used to preach his various gospels of
    Universalism, temperance, peace and abolition on Sunday afternoons following the morning
    services in his neighboring parish, the Hopedale Community.  As my family was attached to the
    Baptist and Methodist persuasion I cannot now imagine what drew them to hear this famous
    reformer of society and religion.  They must have attended in this hall, for though I cannot recall
    anything else. I do remember going to sleep there in the hot summer afternoon in my sister's lap.  
    But any kind of a meeting was a temptation not to be resisted in that little community.  Adin Ballou
    was in full sympathy with all the other reformers and transcendentalists of the Commonwealth and
    when I search myself for an explanation of my early and intuitive attraction to their ideals I sometimes
    fancy they must have visited me in my sleep in that old hall, or perhaps I heard something which lay
    like a seed in the unconscious, secret recesses of my being until time and circumstances called it
    forth.  For I find it recorded that he fired his hearers with aspirations for "grand objects and noble
    ideas."

     The paragraph above was copied for us (Elaine and Dan Malloy) by Myla Thayer when we were
    working on our book on Hopedale during the spring of 2002.  Elaine inquired about a source of
    information on the Green Store and was told that we should contact Myla who had been a member of
    the Community Bible Chapel for many years.  When we first visited her, a carpenter was making
    repairs to damage done by a car that had crashed into her house in the middle of the night, several
    months earlier.  Myla, well into her 90s, seemed to have taken the accident in stride and was evidently
    sleeping well, not worrying about a possible repeat of the accident.  She provided us with all the
    information we needed and even copied the lines above from John Albee's Confessions of Boyhood.
    We used some of Albee's recollections in a caption under a picture of the Green Store in the book. DM

                    History of South Hopedale              Bellingham Historical Commission Green Store article      

                                                         
Milford News Green Store article                HOME     

     John Albee, 1823-1915, was the literary man of the town. His father was a farmer, who died when
    John was a little boy. He began to work at twelve years of age as a farmer's boy, clerk, etc., but was
    sent away later to school and college, and graduated at the Harvard Divinity School in 1858. While
    he was a teacher and a preacher in Western Massachusetts he was married, and his wife, who was
    a nurse for love of the work, established a remarkable charitable hospital in Boston. They had a
    beautiful home on the seashore at Newcastle, N. H., where he wrote books of poetry and
    imagination. He was one of the chief supporters of the Concord School of Philosophy, lectured
    there, and edited the Portsmouth, N. H., daily paper awhile.

    His second wife was a writer also, and their home was at Tamworth, N. H. His "Confessions of
    Boyhood" is an imaginative autobiography, with pictures of life in Bellingham long ago. His home
    was not far from the Scammel house at South Milford, and he never lived in a village here. Here are
    a few sentences from that book.

     "The traveller, journeying through the highways of Bellingham, would see nothing to attract his
    attention or interest. It has no monuments, ruins nor historic associations; no mountain, nor hill
    even. The Charles River has travelled so little way from its source as hardly yet to be a river. The soil
    is stony and pays back not much more than is put into it. The fine forests of white oak have been
    mostly reduced to ashes. Scrub oak and gray birch have taken their places, but do not fill them.

     No eminent sons have yet remembered the town with noble benefactions. It has had no poet and
    no mention in literature. The reporters pass it by. It is not even a suburb, last sad fate of many towns
    and villages. This is one of the reasons for my attachment — its unchangeableness, its entire
    satisfaction of sentiment.

     Fortunate is the town with a river flowing through its whole length and boys and girls to accompany
    its unhasting waters. It was made for them, also for the little fishes and the white-scented lilies. For
    a few hours of the day the great floats of the mill wheel drank of it, sending it onward in the only
    agitation it ever permitted itself. Then there was Bear Hill, though never a bear in the oldest memory,
    yet the name was ominous to children.

     Before cities and factories had begun to stir the ambition and attract the young by opportunities for
    fortune and fame, Bellingham was the home of an intelligent, liberty-loving people. It was the best
    place in the world to be born in. I thank Heaven for a town removed from the track of progress,
    uninvaded by summer visitors and business enterprises; land left sacred to its native inhabitants, a
    sluggish stream, unprofitable earth, huckleberry bushes and the imagination.

     It grieves me that the Charles has never been celebrated in verse or prose, but by one short song
    of Longfellow, while the Concord, which rises on the same watershed and almost from the same
    spring, has had several famous poets and is historic in Revolutionary annals. Our stream wanders
    a hundred miles in its efforts to find the ocean, and it never has any headlong haste to arrive. It
    saunters like a schoolboy and stops to visit a thousand recesses and indentations of upland and
    meadow. It stays for a cow to drink, or an alder to root itself in the bank, or to explore a swamp, and it
    rather wriggles than runs through its eighteen townships. It is likely to stop at any one of them and
    give up the effort to reach the sea. For my part I wish it had, and actually, as in my memory and fancy,
    ended at the outermost shores of Bellingham."  History of the town of Bellingham, Massachusetts,
    1719-1919, George Fairbanks Partridge.