Best thing my father ever did was move to Hopedale. We bought the home on 107 Green(e) Street that
    Herbie Farrar built. Don’t believe I ever met the man, but his son was a year behind me in school. Good
    home. Bought it for around $16,000 in the late 50s; probably worth over $300,000 now. Hope the new
    owners appreciate the deal.

           We lived about half a mile from Spindleville. The Hopedale Country Club was there. As I never played
    golf the only function it served for me was sliding down the hills in winter and the seldom incursion into the
    woods behind it on some kind of mind adventure that was so pleasant in those days.

           Hillary Clinton is fond of quoting the now famous proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As an arch
    right-wing Reaganite libertarian, I hate to give Hillary any due…but she’s right. It takes a village and a family.
    The children of Hopedale not only had two parent families, but the same biological parents as well. The
    importance of this cannot be underestimated. I can think of very few children that only had one parent.

           And what a village it was! We had above average public schools, Charlie Espanet’s outstanding parks
    program, Sunday School, Brownies, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, catechism, band concerts, Chet
    Sanborn, Larry Heron, Reverend Simpson, Father Mahan, and Wally Unruh.

           The Boy Scout organization in Hopedale of the mid to late 60s was a troop you could have put on the
    cover of “Boy’s Life.” You couldn’t miss with leaders like George Daniels (the biggest heart of any man I’ve
    ever known), Leigh Allen and his sports car (wasn’t the Bond Aston-Martin, but it was the closet thing to our
    minds), Danny Malloy (ever quiet but always present) and my Dad. Thanks to Virginia Cyr, “The Milford Daily
    News” was practically a propaganda organ for Troop 1 Hopedale. Not that we didn’t live up to it, mind you.
    We did and the scouts have their selfless parents to thank. Our parents were a generation born in
    depression, forged in war, and oh so willing to volunteer time, effort and money for us - the most selfish
    generation on the face of planet Earth (after the French of any generation).
          
            We met at the Community House every Tuesday night from 7:00 to 8:30. Marching, drill, skills, games
    and noise making were all part of the curriculum. It was a meeting place for boys from other parts of town
    that you rarely visited. Paul and Jimmy Tower from somewhere on Saltbox Hill (or was it Soapbox Hill?
    Never did know for sure). Steven Burrill from a duplex on Dutcher Street.  A ‘duplex?’ just what the heck was
    that? Our horizons were ever expanding.

           Our favorite hang out was "The Lookout,” our campsite on the border between Hopedale and Mendon.
    You actually could look out across the valley to the gentle slope of Route 140 as it headed into Milford. I’ll
    never forget the most exciting ten minutes of my young life when a thunderstorm suddenly blew in whipping
    leaves around in dervishes that swirled everywhere. A full ten minutes of darkening skies, thunder,
    lightning, roaring wind, and boy scouts running around helter-skelter before the bulleting rain drenched the
    slow pokes. The cabins had been built by then and we just stood under the eaves watching nature’s show.
    Then it was over almost as suddenly as it came. It stayed cloudy and with it the hope that another
    thunderstorm would come. It never did and I was disappointed. Some moments have a magic all their own
    that cannot be duplicated, nor should they be. Each is a singular moment to be treasured as it happens and
    appreciated for life.

           My father was probably the most integral person in getting the cabins built. Not cabins actually, but
    something we called lean-tos. Dad and I would go up there once in a while and clean up, pound a few
    nails, etc. I was not skilled in carpentry as Dad was, but I lent a hand such as I could.

          Building of the lean-tos was the focus of some of our camping trips. Five were built and after a decline
    in troop activity were, indeed, vandalized. I have been all through that area and finally found a cinder block.
    Some people, huh?




























          Now scouting also introduced us to poker…well, OK, not quite poker, but definitely a variant. The wise
    scout put on as many t-shirts as he could to stave off the ultimate humiliation. This was certainly a violation
    of the spirit of the law. Unfortunately I was caught traveling light on my one venture into the game. But at
    least it was among friends and absolutely no girls allowed! (Maybe the Rules Oversight Committee will
    want to update the by-laws on that.) I forget what we called that variant of poker. Hm? Now, let me see?
    What was it?

    If the Lookout was our main campground, then Camp Resolute was no. 2. We used to take Route 85 to get
    there until 495 was completed. And so our horizons widened even more. Camp began on Sunday Afternoon
    and ended Saturday night with a huge campfire. Who can forget Mel Rota Jr. silhouetted against the dying
    embers of our campfire telling us the camp ghost story that every scout knew so well? The tale of “Minnie
    Manush.” We never grew tired of it, did we? Broke our hearts to find out there was no such place as the
    Lemon Squeezer.

    Our first summer we stayed at the Kiowa campsite. The tents had wooden floors, slept four, and the canvas
    was light, making the whole place well-lit and airy. That was important to me, for the next year we were
    situated in another campground where the aesthetics were not to my liking. Boy Scouts will remember
    those big, dark, heavy canvas army surplus tents. Slept eight or more and was always dark inside. I didn’t
    like it and had a poor camp.

    The main purpose of summer camp was the earning of merit badges. Usually this was done in groups and
    a scout rarely failed getting his merit badge. One summer I goofed off and got next to nothing. After a strong
    lecture from my father I came back the following year got five merit badges and completed the mile swim;
    Bobby Barrows was my swimming buddy.

    I worked in the camp kitchen summer of ’67 and hated every minute of it. Harriet Tubman should have come
    to rescue us. 6:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. washing dishes. We stayed in the cabin called “Phil O’Dell,” which was
    easily retranslated by us scouts into “Full o’ Hell.” Not far from the truth.

    Imagine eight teenage boy scouts without supervision under the same roof every night for a month. You get
    the idea. And everyone kept their clothes on. Imagine that. Some enterprising scout brought his TV set. One
    Thursday night the eight of us sat mesmerized as we watched Henry Fonda nuke New York in “Fail Safe.”
    Good idea that.

    Troop 1 Hopedale couldn’t play it straight. That summer of ’67 we had Eddie Rouleau banging out the
    march on his drum. No other troop had a drummer. No other troop had Brian Wright, a short little guy who
    lost his voice everyday calling cadence when we marched to the dining hall. Brian, affectionately known as
    “Fido," was the perfect caboose to the perfect troop.

    George Daniels. No introduction needed. Here we are lined up outside our tents on the third day of camp.
    There’s George, wearing the popular pith helmet, probably with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette
    in the other. Apparently someone noticed the latrines were not being used much. He says to us, “Raise your
    hand. How many of you have had your daily constitutional?” Daily…what? Say ‘constitution’ to a boy scout
    and vision of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin go through our heads. No hands went up. “Ok,” he says,
    “how many of you had a bowel movement?” Well, I’m pretty sure what he’s driving at now…but no one is
    raising his hand. “OK. How many of you need to take a flop?” Hands galore go up. Now we get it! Thanks for
    the memories, George…and to that always unnamed scout who would drop a lighted flashlight down the
    latrine.

    If a boy earned Eagle Scout, a Court of Honor was held. We had several. Once again parents selflessly put
    in enormous amounts of time setting these up. Dad made the background, well-done wooden mattes with
    the Boy Scout Oath painted on it. Dad made several merit badges out of plywood about a foot in diameter.
    These were sterling reproductions and I made sure Astronomy merit badge was up there. Whatever
    happened to them?

    We went on various other camping trips. We climbed Mt. Monadnock in Jaffrey New Hampshire (Fall of ’66
    as I recall). We were blessed with perfect weather. I hear-tell you could see the Prudential Center from atop
    the mountain. Leastwise…that’s what I heard. In ’68 we camped at Mt. Greylock. Someone brought a radio
    and we listened to Ray Culp of the Red Sox one-hit the Yankees. Wonderful times yield wonderful
    memories.

    We also participated in Council Camporees; one in the Spring and one in the Fall. Troops from all over
    would participate. There was no other Troop “1”…and we agreed. It was very competitive and the scouts
    tried hard to create a good impression. The best troop was announced Sunday morning. I guess no troop
    had ever won twice in a row. We had won either a Spring or Fall Camp, then came back and took No. 2 the
    following camp. Never cried so hard in my life. It is an odd sort of feeling listening to the leaders hand out
    the awards for best troop. On the one hand you want to hear your troop mentioned in the top three. But you
    want number 1! And the suspense can be unbearable. But our mettle was up to it.

    Another little curiosity of Hopedale was, for all the importance of Draper Corp., how little attention we got
    from the road signs. You know those green road mileage signs saying “Mendon 6” or “Franklin 4, Taunton
    35.” Ever see one for Hopedale? There was one at the far end of Dutcher Street just as one came in from
    Upton just past Doriannes. It said “Hopedale 1.” But this was a company sign, not a state highway sign. I’ve
    met several people who have moved to the Boston area. All know where Worcester and Framingham are.
    Some even know Milford. None have heard of Hopedale. And, truth to tell, we just might like it that way.

    As pleasant as Hopedale was (and there’s no denying it) the border of our world did not stop at the end of
    Dutcher Street or the runway in South Hopedale. The entire surrounding environs were picturesque as well.
    Was there any real difference between Hopedale and Mendon? Culturally, perhaps. After all, Hopedale was
    dominated by Draper Corp. But as a rule the geography of Hopedale was pretty much the same even as far
    away as Douglas or Dover.

    Milford was the oddball, the only town of any real significance in the surrounding area. Milford was decidedly
    a much larger town providing services that one would have to go to Framingham to get. The best thing
    about Milford (a town I otherwise generally did not care for) was The State Theater. I still remember
    watching “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure,” “Sound of Music,” and “The
    Andromeda Strain” in the darkened theater.

    Speaking of movies – was there anything better than watching the latest James Bond movie at the drive-in?
    Nothing. Dad would never tell us when we were going. But we always knew around 6:00 when Mom started
    making popcorn and putting it in a brown grocery bag. We might get drinks at the drive-in. But never popcorn
    (such was the budget of a typical American middle-class family). Typical of the times, exemplifying the
    chaos of the era, the “Milford” drive-in was in Mendon. Well, I mean why not? Saw plenty of good movies
    there. “From Russia with Love,” “Spartacus,” “The Guns of Navarone.”

    Growing up in the 60s was all at once a contradiction between generational values. Maybe it always is. On
    the one hand we were fairly well isolated from many (not all) the controversies of the day. I mean, were
    black kids ever bussed into our pristine, lily-white, suburban-like schools? Did student war protesters
    march down Main Street? None that I recall. But rebel we did in our own quiet way. I was mostly an observer
    to this.

    Hopedale had a reputation for having excellent schools. I suppose. Funny. Winners never cry about bad
    refs. “A” students never complain about the teaching. I was far from an “A” student. Teaching is next to an
    impossible task.

    The town was divided roughly through Progress St. that ran between Draper’s and Hopedale Pond. Those
    of us on the Dutcher Street end attended Park Street Elementary. The others attended Memorial on Adin
    Street Mr. Stephens was principal. I guess he moved to Connecticut;  a fact we never would have
    remembered if some truck hadn’t jumped the median and created an untimely vacancy in first grade.

    I guess our schools were as good as they could have been. But I believe this eternal truth will always exist:
    There will never be a generation of American school children who, upon seeing six inches of snow on the
    ground, do not rejoice in their hearts when WMRC announces school cancellations.

    Those who had an aptitude showed it just as quickly as those who didn’t. I didn’t. Kindergarten was a half-
    day affair. Mrs. Rae taught Kindergarten. Mrs. Glenn taught first. She’s the only Velzora I’ve ever known. Now
    it must be remembered that we had Mrs. Glenn as a teacher when John Glenn was orbiting the Earth. You
    make the connection. Miss Scahill was our second grade teacher.

    The Sainted Georgia Wells taught third. She was to be, and always will be, (for we had a finite number of
    teachers and whatever influence they had upon us has probably reached their half-lives by now) my all-time
    favorite teacher and, NO!, I selfishly will not share her with anyone else.

    I only remember two things from her class as odd as that may sound, given to how high a pedestal I have
    placed her on. We did a play where everyone had a speaking role. I even remember my line. “The king is
    coming and will put us all in the dungeon!” The other? Sing along now. “This land is your land, this land is
    my land!” Patriotism. An essential ingredient to any capitalist power.

    Mrs. Kleya taught fourth. Mrs. Durgin taught fifth at Dutcher Street.School. She was also the principal. On
    November 22, 1963 she was called out of the room for a moment, came back in, wrote a note, handed it to
    me (goodness knows why) and asked me to bring it to all the rooms. Naturally being curious I opened the
    note and read it. I was the first kid in the school to know that JFK had been shot. I remember it not
    registering. After all, how can someone shoot a president? Must be a mistake. It wasn’t.

    Mr. Furphy was probably our first male teacher. Ever one for movies I recall he bore a slight resemblance to
    Alan Ladd. I enjoyed him tremendously. He served in the Navy during WW II. He told us how when he came
    back to America after the war, he took out a matchbox, filled it with good old American dirt, and kept it on the
    mantelpiece. Why not? When I visited him he said he still had it…up in the attic. Gee! I sure hope so.
    It was on to the Adin Street for junior high and high school. How could one not be intimidated by the older
    students or the stern looks of Mr. Hanum and Mr. Sayles? I had no ear for my teachers but I did have an ear
    for hall talk.

    How could anyone possibly pass a high school biology exam? (No longer called ‘tests,’ mind you, we
    upped the ante with ‘exams.’) But we got through it, didn’t we? Some better than others.

    We had some outstanding teachers. Coach Klocek hated the dance portion of the P.E. curriculum as much
    as we did. Was anything so detested as walking into P.E. and seeing the record player out? But was
    anything so wonderful as walking into science and seeing a film projector set up?

    Mr. Spinazola taught biology. None better. Tall and skinny, he bore a resemblance to some actor who could
    have played Sherlock Holmes. Witty, articulate, knowledgeable, we learned much. So far as I recall he never
    had any classroom management problems. He took over for another teacher who did. He never said a
    word, just walked in the room, explained his grading system and started teaching. End of behavior
    problems.

    Mr. Kushlan taught history and provided me with one of my few triumphs in high school. It was the custom
    on the last day of school during the assembly to give gag gifts to your teachers. One year Mr. Brown, our P.E.
    teacher, got a plastic hamburger. Of course there is a marvelous story that surrounds why. Mr. Wade got a
    broken golf club because he played lots of golf. Mrs. Rose always got a box of tissues as she always had a
    tissue stuffed up her sleeve. (Must have been the fashion in 1890.) You get the idea.

    Well, we seniors were planning the gag gifts for the teachers and the committee was having trouble coming
    up with a gag gift for Mr. Kushlan. I hate to say it but Mr. Kushlan wasn’t much of a history teacher…unless it
    was oral history. He told us so many of his war stories we knew them by heart. I could tell them now. So I
    suggested we give Mr. Kushlan “a history of Jewish war stories.” I ain’t much for braggin’ on myself, but that
    got the biggest laugh of the night.

    Education. I don’t think we’ll ever learn to do it right.

    In one sense there is so much and so little to tell. The memories of youth can be an odd mixture of
    associations. I cannot think of those days without thinking about “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible,” or
    “Secret Agent” for instance; or the Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. The ’67 Red Sox couldn’t have come at a
    better time; for our whole life experience may be one ‘impossible dream.’ The pleasant discoveries on
    hikes through the woods are now neighborhoods of $700,000 homes. We regret this. Intellectually we
    shouldn’t. After all, the cherished homes we grew up in were once the woods of play for other children.

    How much longer can Hopedale be “a shelter from the wicked world?” The stewardship will always fall to
    another generation. Our generation had its turn at the wheel. The payment is not in gold or silver but in
    wonderful memories.

    And those we have in abundance.

                             
Hopedale Boy Scouts in the '60s                        Memories Menu                       HOME   

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Days of Hopedale Passsed

by Fred S. Loeper

Hopedale in the 60s (Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Suburbs)

                                           The Speed of Sound

                                                                by Fred S. Loeper               

      Who can forget those lovely, lazy, languid summer days growing up in Hopedale in the 60s?
    No responsibilities to speak of, school was out of session, and the older you were the wider the
    horizons.

      I remember a curious phenomenon and so will you after I describe it, though you have
    probably given it no thought at all. It was something that happened everyday, but was particularly
    noticeable during the summer at high noon; and then best heard away from the middle of town.
    This phenomenon I speak of is not unique to Hopedale and could probably be heard throughout
    the country. Whether or not you can hear it today with the demise of the mill towns I'm not
    sure.             

      The town whistle would blow at precisely 12 noon. And if you listened carefully you could hear
    the surrounding towns and their whistles as well. Toot, honk, rumph, OOOO, brumph. All within
    seconds of each other, each sounding further away than the one preceding it and each
    sounding just a little different. You never knew exactly which towns were coming in. Milford was
    number two like as not followed by ?? Mendon (if they had one), Upton, Bellingham, Franklin,
    Medway. Do you think we could have heard Blackstone or maybe even Woonsocket?   Hard to
    tell. But I found it a pleasing thing, a gentle reminder that Hopedale was not alone in the
    universe and that we could connected by something as simple as sound traveling its required
    1000 feet per second.

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