Hopedale's Glorified Mill Pond

                                               Another Prize Article in the Best Thing in Your Town Contest

      Hopedale, Massachusetts has been "done to death," in the stock phrase of those who write and those
    who publish.  After living in the village for four years I found that it was know by Germans, Italians,
    Englishmen and Frenchmen for its model homes, its paternal government, its famous strike against some
    of the conditions appertaining to paternalism.  But there is one thing which, strangely, has never been
    cataloged abroad--this is its glorified mill-pond.

      A mill-pond is an ugly spot, God wot.  Never was an uglier pond than the bare, bulrush-shored, mucky
    stretch of bog and water which nestled, up to 1898, right in the heart of this community.  From this dingy
    morass clouds of mosquitoes arose each night to swoop down upon the unhappy inhabitants.

      But in one famous day and year at the annual town meeting a few progressive souls advocated, as they
    had for a decade, "the purchase of about five acres for a town park" and succeeded.  The town annually
    appropriates $2500 for the care of the Park, and the sale of trees brings in five hundred or so more.  There
    has always been at the head of the work a scientifically-trained forester.  The present man has held his
    place for thirteen years and is an artist in his line.  His one ambition has been to keep the park with so
    carefully careless a grace that the casual visitor shall declare "nature did it all."  Nature did--mighty little.

      The first care of the committee was to attend to the immediate needs of the community; so an extra
    appropriation of twenty-five hundred was voted.  The worst part of the swamp-land, immediately under the
    noses of the villagers, was drained with catch-basins, a hedge of shrubbery was set about, and a field for
    football and baseball was built.  An annual field day for athletic and aquatic sports has increased the
    interest of all in this portion of the park.  Gradually to this end, into which a bit of orderly, artificial decoration
    was allowed to creep, was fitted up for the recreation of the toilers.  There is a bath-house, a shore of
    imported sea sand, and wharfs for boats and canoes.  Unfortunately a group of small boathouses have
    grown up, sheds of the shed-iest type; but their days are numbered.

      Then slowly with the years began the work of transforming a hideous muck-hole to a lovely plaisance.  The
    lakelet was drained, dead trees removed, boulders blasted; but the artistic sense sufficed and an ancient
    stone fence, cutting under the waters, has been left.  In a drought it makes an exciting bit to negotiate in a
    boat, yet is so lovely, so odd, that nobody complains.  Huge lilies, a pink-stained variety and native to the
    pond, were encouraged; the lotus has begun to bloom in sheltered nooks.  The townsfolk gather these
    blossoms by huge armfuls every morning, every social occasion overflows with them, and the two pulpits
    droop under their burden every Sabbath; but the supply never fails.

      The appreciation of the people of their own work is immense.  They own boats and canoes almost to a
    man-and a woman, and vote enthusiastically for the efforts at mosquito extermination, while the attempt to
    induce the wild natives of the woods to seek refuge here is encouraged by everybody.  The result is that
    squirrel, pheasants, quail, rabbits, as well as all the common, and uncommon, birds have learned that in
    this park is safety from the volley of the gun.

      From the nearer end of the water pleasant glimpses show the huge factory looming up like some
    medieval factory and houses "beside the pond" are in wide demand.  Only the very fortunate obtain one right
    on the shore and, having obtained one, never let it go. The whole morale of the village is raised and
    transfigured by Hopedale's glorified mill-pond. James Church Alvord, The Independent, Hopedale's
    Glorified Mill Pond, Littleton, Massachusetts, April 3, 1916

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