Dan Malloy

    I've been doing this Hopedale history website since 2003. During that time I've often asked people to
    write down their memories of their lives, with emphasis on what life in Hopedale was like decades ago.  
    I've been thinking for some time that I should be doing what I've been asking others to do. I've finally
    gotten around to it, and here it is.

    My parents were both born in 1909 and both grew up in Milford.  My mother was born in Millis, but before
    long she, her parents and her older sister ended up at 59 Grove Street, Milford. My father's family (his
    parents had come over from Ireland, probably in the 1890s) lived in several places in the St. Mary's
    Church neighborhood. My parents met when my father was working with the light company, installing
    new street lights on Main Street. They were married in 1940. They bought a lot at 7 Oak Street in
    Hopedale. My maternal grandmother, who had come down from Nova Scotia as a teenager and worked
    as a maid in Millis for the Millis family, (the family  the town was named for), didn't care for the idea of the
    move to Hopedale. Allegedly, she warned my mother,  "Hopedale is damp. You'll die over there."  
    Perhaps by 1940 she had become enough of a Milfordian to take a dim view of the village to the west.
    However, the house was built and the move took place. I was born in May of 1941 and we moved to Oak
    Street early in 1942.

    While Dad was working for the light company and starting to raise a family, Hitler was keeping busy also,
    and by early 1944, at the age of 35, Dad ended up in the Army. He spent some time in Missouri, England,
    France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Missouri again, before getting out in 1946. During those years
    Mom had to shovel the coal into the furnace, get by on a private's pay, and push me in the stroller over to
    Milford a couple of times a week to do some shopping and visit her mother.

    I went to kindergarten at the Chapel Street School. It was all-day kindergarten in those days. Those of us
    who lived in walking distance would go home for lunch. My uncle, Tom Malloy, who had become the
    police chief a year or two before, would often be the crossing guard at the corner of Dutcher and Freedom
    as I would head to school, carrying my wind-up bulldozer. I don't remember much about kindergarten,
    except that everyone would have a blanket to take a nap on the floor and that my bulldozer was good for
    pushing blocks around. Our teacher that year was Miss Cunningham. Just about everyone else who went
    to school in Hopedale in the mid-twentieth century remembers having Mrs. Stanas as a kindergarten
    teacher, but she had a baby that year. Another birth I recall at about that time was my brother Ted, born in
    1947.

    I went to grades one through four at the Park Street School. Kids who lived, south of Route 16 went to
    Chapel Street through the fourth grade and those of us from the north end of town went to Park Street. We
    got together, in the same building anyway, at the Dutcher Street School, where we went from fifth through
    eighth. I continued to go home for lunch every day, up through eighth grade.

    During the summers in those years, I'd spend most mornings in the park and afternoons at the pond. In
    1949 the pond was dredged. By that time I was used to the idea that I'd be going swimming every
    afternoon. I felt somewhat lost that summer. I don't know when it reopened, but it seemed to me at the
    time that the dredging job was going to go on forever. Park activities that I recall include archery,
    shuffleboard, croquet and crafts.

    Neighborhood games often occurred at a little vacant lot at the upper end of Oak Street. It doesn't exist
    anymore, even though no house or garage has covered it. It's kind of chopped up and taken over by
    several abutting yards. Back then it was our kickball field. Neighbor kids in the games included Billy Hall,
    the Spencers, Dennis Johnson, Kurt Anderson, Lynn Lutz and several others. All this was just a few years
    before Little League came along, so it was pretty much a case of organizing our own activities. Other
    games included hide and seek, Red Rover and marbles. The type of marbles we played involved digging
    a hole in the ground and tossing a marble from behind a line in the dirt about ten feet away. If you were
    playing "keepsies" and your opponent got his marble into the hole, but you didn't, he kept your marble.
    Unless you were good it was safer to play "funsies," but I think we usually played keepsies. (When I
    started teaching elementary school in Mendon in 1964, kids were still playing marbles, but that ended
    within a few years.)

    The areas to the north of Northrop Street and to the south of Freedom Street were covered with woods,
    and much of my time was spent in them. There was no Steel Road or Tammie Road, and Jones Road
    ended just a little beyond the end of Oak Street. Building dams in the brooks and little swampy areas was
    a favorite kid activity then. I'm sure my mother was convinced that I was going to die of pneumonia
    because of the number of times I arrived at home late in the afternoon with wet feet. Our other woods
    activity was building huts. We'd find scraps of wood and we'd straighten out bent nails and put together
    little shacks. It was considered important to keep the location of the hut secret, because if the wrong kids
    found out where it was, they would wreck it.

    In the woods behind Park Street a few of us had found a couple of discarded pieces of corrugated sheet
    metal. We brought them over to a large tree with some big horizontal branches out behind the
    Hutchinson house at 50 Freedom Street, and made ourselves a tree house. John Hutchinson, Draper
    plant manager, was probably convinced we were going to get killed and told us he wanted us to move.
    However, he did give us a cardboard refrigerator box that we could use for a hut at some other location.
    We took the two pieces of sheet metal down, and someone must have made the connection between the
    potential they had as forts and the fact that there were several apple trees in the area. We set them up
    facing each other, about fifty feet apart, and spent the rest of the day throwing apples at each other, only
    stopping at noon to go home to lunch.

    After the apple fight ended, we took the cardboard box into the woods behind Kurt Anderson's house at
    29 Oak Street. I think it was Kurt's mother who gave us a piece of what was called oilcloth, so we could
    waterproof the top of the box. At that time, the Draper houses were being re-sided with asbestos
    shingles, which must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Between the original shingles and the
    new ones, there was a layer of what appeared to be a waterproofed paper. We found enough scraps of
    that lying around to waterproof the sides of our hut. We also found plenty of dropped nails and we came
    up with enough scrap lumber to build an addition to the refrigerator box hut. I don't think we ever spent
    much time in there. We were more interested in building it than using it. In addition to me, the kids
    involved with that one would have been Kurt, Billy Hall, and probably one or two others.

    Another summer activity was blueberry picking. The area where those of us from the Oak-Maple-Jones
    neighborhood picked was along the Hopedale-Milford town line, between Freedom and Williams streets,
    long before it was covered with houses and offices. At the height of blueberry season there would often
    be about fifteen or twenty kids there at a time. I'd usually try to pick two quarts. I'd bring one home, and
    knock on doors to sell the other. I'd charge thirty cents for the quart, and often think of that now when I see
    them for sale and notice that the price has risen since then.

    In the winter, Northrop Street would be closed to traffic some evenings so that kids could slide there. I
    don't remember my age at the time, but one winter my parents said that by the next year I'd be old enough
    to do that. They stopped closing the road, though, so I never got to slide down Northrop. I also missed out
    on another downhill activity; the soapbox derby races. They were held on Freedom Street, starting near
    the Oak-Freedom intersection and ending at Dutcher Street. That ended after two years, probably
    because of a couple of accidents.

    There was a little pond in the middle of the woods between Freedom, Prospect and Adin streets. Like
    thousands of similar wet spots around the country, it was called Frog Pond. It couldn't have been more
    than a foot deep and fifteen by thirty feet in width and length, but it became quite popular for a month or
    two every year because it froze much earlier than Hopedale Pond. Somehow we managed to play hockey
    on it. Other favorite places of kids in that woods were the rocks that we'd climb on. The ones over near
    where Steel Road is now were especially good, because of a "chimney" in the rock that we'd climb
    through and a little cave we could crawl into. Walking from roof to roof on the garages at the edge of the
    woods was also good entertainment.

    One of the dramatic changes in life in the early fifties was the introduction of television. tt wasn't a case of
    everyone rushing out to buy one when WBZ-TV first started broadcasting. It was some years before they
    could be found in most homes. The first one in our area was at the Chilsons' at 54 Freeodm Street, but
    the first one nearer to us was at the Spencers' house on Oak Street. They were very generous about
    letting kids go in to watch. It wasn't unusual at all for the number of kids in their living room to be more
    than a dozen. We'd end our kickball game across the street to go in to see the late afternoon cartoons,
    western serials, Howdy Doody, Don Winslow of the Navy or Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Then we'd go
    home for supper (as it was called then) and often return for more tv in the evening. After a year or two the
    Halls at the corner of Oak and Northrop got a set and that took some of the burden off of the Spencers.
    The Chilsons were also hosting crowds of kids in those years, and I'm sure other neighborhoods had
    something similar going on. I'd hint to my parents that getting a tv would be a good idea, but it seemed
    like a long time before we got one. It was probably about 1952 or 1953 when we did. It was a typical tv of
    those days, with a twelve inch screen, and, of course, black and white; color still being some years in the
    future. So radio was our most common form of home entertainment for some years. Radio was a lot
    different then, with comedies, westerns, detective shows, soap operas, etc., and I still enjoyed listening
    to Jack Benny, Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy and several others, for years after we got the tv.

    Starting in 1948, we'd go away for a week's vacation each summer. That first year we went to a cottage in
    North Eastham that was much more primitive than camping is now. The next year we stayed for a week in
    Pocasset. After that, we always went to Hampton Beach. Route 128 was a new road the first time we
    went. One favorite family story goes back to a day at the end of a vacation week when we were leaving.
    Each of us had to make a few trips in and out of the hotel to get our things to the car. With everything all
    set, or so it seemed, Dad started down the road, heading for home. After a mile or two, Ted said, "Aren't
    we taking Danny with us?"  I don't know if there was much deliberation involved, but they did decide to
    return and pick me up.

    I was a Cub Scout for three years, with Mrs. Anderson and later Mrs. Hall as den mothers. Mr. Farrell,
    husband of my third grade teacher, was cubmaster for a year or so, and I think Mr. Moore, father of State
    Senator Dick Moore and also father of my classmate, former Hopedale fire chief, Don Moore, had the job
    for a while. I probably spent enough years in Boy Scouts to become an Eagle if I had worked on it, but
    First Class was as far as I got.  I enjoyed the camping trips ad the day hikes but didn't get into working on
    merit badges. Lymie Draper was our scoutmaster. (Lymie worked at Draper Corporation, but he wasn't
    related to the family that owned the company. Here's a page about "the other Drapers.") In addition to
    summer camp at Camp Resolute in Bolton, we'd often take day hikes on Saturdays. One common
    destination was a state forest area near Chestnut Street in Upton. We'd get there by going through the
    Parklands and up the railroad tracks. We'd also camp by the pond at the Nipmuc Rod & Gun Club at the
    end opposite the dam. There was very little traffic on Fiske Mill Road in those pre-495 days. I don't think
    anyone would want a group of scouts to hike along there now. I remember being at a camporee that was
    held in a field in Spindleville and hearing that there were men working nearby to turn the area into a golf
    course.

    By the time we were in fourth grade, some of my classmates had decided that it was time to take up
    smoking. The reason I'm sure that we were that young, is that I remember clearly that we were still in
    Park Street School at the time. A few of the guys had built an underground hut in the Parklands. I went
    there once or twice. The usual source of cigarettes was from parents who had left them around the
    house, not suspecting that their nine year old would be walking off with a few. One of my classmates had
    his first grade cousin there. He was smoking, too. (The smoking took place outside the hut. I don't think
    we went in.) The whole idea of taking a dried weed wrapped in paper, lighting it on fire and inhaling the
    fumes didn't appeal to me, but I had to touch my lips to a cigarette so that I would be involved too, and
    wouldn't talk.

    My father worked for the electric company for about forty years. He was foreman of a  line crew for a while.
    It was called the Worcester County Electric Company at that time. One night after work he mentioned that
    he'd had a snowball fight with some of my classmates while working on a job on Dutcher Street. The next
    day at school they told me about it too. He'd made a big hit with them, not only because of the snowball
    fight, but also for giving them rolls of tape. Baseballs were used, not just until the stitches gave out and
    the cover fell off, but after that, covered with tape, if any was available. Not everyone had tape that would
    do the job, but that black electrical stuff served the purpose very well and they were glad to get it.

    The playground at the north end of Park Street School was rather different than it is now. It was quite
    overgrown with trees and bushes, and there were some big boulders there. Some days I'd be among the
    lucky three who each got one of the three crowbars available to take out to recess. We'd dig in the dirt and
    pry a few rocks. Days that I didn't get a crowbar were often spent playing the same things we played
    around home after school - Red Rover, tag and marbles. Boys and girls were kept apart at recess - boys
    at the north end of the school and girls at the south end. (And...the girls didn't get to use the crowbars.)  I
    think we were also kept apart when we got to the Dutcher Street School.

    I'd say I was never what could be reasonably considered a troublemaker in school, but in fifth grade I
    stayed after school a couple of times a week for what I considered to be very minor things. Miss Cressy
    wasn't one to put up with any nonsense, and just dropping a pencil on the floor was good for a half hour
    after school. Parents weren't notified. The kid would stay on the day of the offense and he'd get home
    whenever he got home.

    In eighth grade, our teacher was also the principal. So that he could keep an eye on the class and also
    carry on with his other job, the phone was in a closet in the classroom. One time he had to deal with a
    mother who had called to complain about the fact that her two angels had been kicked off the bus. The
    class sat there and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the whole conversation.

    By the time I was in seventh grade I'd spend just about every Friday night and Saturday afternoon during
    the school year at the Community House. I'd usually go down and back, through the little bit of woods of
    of Freedom Street and through the old garages. That's probably a route parents wouldn't want their kids
    taking after dark now, but back then I don't think anyone thought a thing of it. On nights when I was with
    Leigh Allen on the way home, we'd usually go along Dutcher Street and often stop at the milk-o-mat near
    the apartment house across from the fire station, and get a chocolate milk.  On Saturday afternoons the
    high school bowling league met at the Community House. Movies were shown in the big room there..
    Mainly though, I think it was a case of everyone was there because everyone was there. There would be
    lots of activity outside and many trips over to the soda fountain at the drug store. A couple of Friday nights
    a few of us dropped in on our English teacher, Miss McQuade, who lived over the drug store.

    Lots of kids in Hopedale had paper routes. They were in so much demand that, when a kid was ready to
    retire, he'd sell the route. I never owned one, but for a few years helped out on a couple. When I was in
    seventh grade, I worked with Dave Harris. He'd inherited the job from his brother, Jimmy. It wasn't the
    usual house to house route. We'd put the papers in a wagon at the Billy Draper paper store; the Milford
    News, the Worcester Gazette, the Boston American, Boston Traveler and Boston Globe (I think - seems
    to me that they had and evening edition then - anyway, we had three Boston papers) and we'd take them
    up to the main door of the shop, getting there just before quitting time. We were kept very busy taking
    money and making change for five minutes or so, and then we'd pull the wagon and the leftover papers
    back to the store. I'd get thirty cents each day for the job. Now that I think of it, it was an easier way to
    make thirty cents than picking all those little blueberries. I'd spend ten cents at the store for a Devil Dog
    and a soda. I probably still have the rest. Later I helped Jack Hayes on his route. He had about 100
    customers so he hired Rollie Boucher and me to help. On Friday afternoons we'd sit in Rollie's kitchen at
    the corner of Hopedale and Thwing streets and count the money we'd collected.

    In addition to television, another technological innovation reached Hopedale in the fifties. Dial telephone.
    I was in high school when that happened. One day we went over to the Community House, where a
    phone company person instructed us in the use of this new gadget.

    During the eighth grade, one morning a week, we'd go to the high school for shop and home ec. Half of
    the class on one day and half on another. As was the custom of the era, the boys would have wood shop
    and the girls would have home ec. Our first wood shop project involved making a cutting board. One
    group made boards cut in the shape of a pig, and the other did fish. I was with the fish group. After tracing
    the pattern onto the wood, we'd cut it using a coping saw. Then we'd file the edges and sand it until the
    teacher, Ernie Miller, said it was good enough to stain and varnish.

    At the end of eighth grade, we had a graduation. There was an auditorium, sort of, on the third floor of the
    Dutcher Street School. We did a lot of cleaning to get it ready for the big event. After the ceremony we
    walked across Dutcher Street to the Allen house where Mrs. Allen had a party for us.

    Before the launch of Sputnik in 1957, science education, especially in elementary school, didn't amount
    to much. We didn't have a science text until seventh grade. Our fifth and sixth grade teachers liked birds,
    so the closest we came to a science class was hearing about birds and doing a little bird watching. By
    the end of eighth grade I had only seen one science demonstration in school, and that was because one
    of the kids brought a magnet and some iron filings to class. Other than that, my only clear memory of
    science in those years was that we had to write answers to the questions that were at the ends of the
    chapters, into a notebook. (I think we had to write the questions, too.) Ballpoint pens were a new
    development, or at least not in common use, and I did my notebook in pencil. By the time the teacher
    checked it, the writing had become rather smudged. I must have been using a soft lead pencil. He said
    I'd have to copy the whole thing over. I have no idea how many pages there were, but it seems to me now
    that it took all of my spare time for weeks to get the job done. That's the sort of experience that has been
    said to turn a student away from a subject, but I can't say that it had that effect on me. I really enjoyed
    general science, biology and physics in high school.

    There are a couple of things from science class that I still remember quite well Mr. Drew, our biology
    teacher, had a punctured eardrum. That turned out to be a real plus in teaching about the Eustachian
    tube. Teachers didn't light up cigarettes in class on a regular basis, but in the interest of science Mr.
    Drew did one day. With the punctured eardrum, he could exhale, but didn't let the air out of his mouth or
    nose, so instead it came out of his ear. If you know a smoker with a punctured eardrum, you might ask for
    a demonstration. Years later I'd tell that story when teaching a unit on air pressure.

    Another memorable day in science class occurred in chemistry, well on into the year. By that time it was
    assumed that we knew enough about chemistry so that if we were given a "mystery substance," we could
    do a few tests and identify it by the end of the period. We worked in teams of four and we went back and
    forth to the supply closet getting needed chemicals for the tests. I don't think we figured out what it was
    that we had, but I do remember the discovery I made during the next class. At some point I happened to
    look at my hand and saw that the ends of all my fingers had turned black. I had a chemical burn. It was a
    few weeks before they were back to normal. It turns out that I shouldn't have been picking up sodium
    hydroxide (lye) with my fingers. I'd often think of this years later when I'd use lye to strip paint.  

    Mercury is fascinating stuff that isn't allowed in school anymore. I remember Mr. Drew making a mercury
    barometer. That must have been in freshman year general science. He poured the mercury into a yard-
    long glass tube, put his thumb on the open end, turned it upside down, and put the end into a bowl of
    mercury. I think he also showed us that nuts, bolts and nails would float in mercury.  

    I took wood shop for the first two years of high school and I still have about everything I made. I didn't have
    a desk in my room at home. I didn't think I was up to making a desk (probably Ernie didn't think I was,
    either) but I figured a table was all I really needed. We had to pay for materials; it might have cost me
    about fifty cents or so. Lynn Lutz helped me to carry it home, up through the Prospect Street garages and
    on to 7 Oak Street. That was probably in 1957 and it's been used for one thing or another ever since.
    Actually for the past fifteen years or so, it has been my computer table. Hopedale High still has wood
    shop, but unfortunately many schools have dropped it in recent years.

    I might have been interested in joining the basketball team in high school, but I don't think it would have
    worked out. It was considered pretty much essential to be able to get the ball through the hoop more than
    ten percent of the time, so that, along with other athletic shortcomings, kept me out. I became a manager.
    I've sometimes asked kids where they think basketball games were played before the gym was built. I
    don't recall that any of them ever knew. It was in the same place where scout meetings, high school
    plays, minstrel shows, dances, four Aerosmith concerts, and town meetings were held. The town hall.   
    The Draper Gym opened when I was a sophomore in high school. In addition to seeing about all of the
    high school boys' basketball games there during its first three years, (including  the undefeated team of
    the 1956-57 season), I remember being there when the Celtics played. Yes, the ones who also play in
    Boston. If you didn't live in Hopedale back then, this may seem hard to believe, but it really happened.
    Twice! Here's the story from some Milford News articles.

    After Friday night basketball games, just about everyone would go to the Red Shutter. I'd get there with
    fellow manager Jack Hayes, who was one of the guys in the class who had a car. The area has changed
    so much, I can't remember what the Red Shutter looked like, but it was across the street from the present
    site of the Route 140 McDonald's.

    When I graduated in 1959, from General Draper High School, as it was called then, there were twenty-
    seven of us in the class. Since our fortieth year reunion, we've gotten together annually, and we recall
    stories from that different world that was Hopedale in the fifties. Dan Malloy, December 2007.

                                     
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