My grandmother, Elizabeth Amanda Noyes, was born in Hopedale in 1890. Throughout her life she would
speak often about growing up in a place "near Heaven, this wonderful Hopedale of ours." Her parents
moved there to raise their children in a place where faith and family came first, where they knew a hard
work ethic would prevail, and where they would feel secure.
Lizzie, as she was known, loved to speak of those first days swimming in the pond was allowed for girls.
Apparently a somewhat scandalous event, she felt it was a big step forward for women. This always
amazed me as she truly was old-fashioned: she cooked, cleaned, knew nothing about driving, or voting,
and my grandfather made all decisions.
Christmastime was a time to remember how Drapers always provided a stocking for every child. She
said she could always smell the oranges before she got downstairs. Younger children could count on
some small toy. If medical help was needed, it was received. Her parents knew they had a good solid
roof over the heads of their family. My grandfather, William, his brother John, and his father William all
worked for the mills. She spoke of long hours of work, but always said her father returned home with a
smile. Sundays were always for faith and family. It remained that way her entire life.
It was with sadness she saw things begin to change. She felt the small community feeling, the help of
the Draper Mill, the strict rules of faith were all to benefit mankind, making them each a better person to
go out into the world. She saw by the 1930s this was beginning to change. I can't imagine what she
would think today if she saw the destruction of the mill, so many old homes being torn down, and the
feeling of "community" beginning to ebb away.
She married a man also from Hopedale, Henry Bromley who lived with his brothers and widowed mother
and worked for the mills. All five of the Bromley boys worked there at some point in their lives, with Jesse
Bromley working at the mill from 1898 until the late 1940's when he went blind. He had been an
accountant. (The 1939 street listing shows Jesse and Evelyn Bromley living at 23 Bancroft Park and
William Bromley at 83 Hopedale Street.)
Thinking back now, I realize I envy her sense of peace and the joy of remembrance she had of her
childhood. It truly did shape the wonderful woman she became. So few of us can say that the place we
were born and raised influenced the outcome of our lives. What a gift the town gave to its people! Fran
The Noyes family at one time lived on the no longer existing part of Union Street that was west of
Hopedale Street. The houses there were moved when the Draper Company needed room to build a
larger foundry, and became the "Seven Sisters" on Freedom Street. Later the Noyeses lived near the five-
corner intersection at 14 Freedom Street.
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