I was born in the master bedroom at 50 Inman Street in Hopedale. As far as I know, there was no doctor there for the occasion. My sister, Barbara, was born eleven years later. My father worked for Drapers for about thirty years. He was a millwright. He made anything made of wood that was needed in the foundry.
The stove in the kitchen might have burned wood or coal. I know it wasn’t electric or gas. Any hot water we needed had to be heated on the stove. The furnace in the cellar burned coal. Some people remembered my mother as “the peanut woman.” She’d buy the raw peanuts, shell them, put them in hot water and take the skins off, cook them, salt them, and put them in bags. Then she’d take them into Drapers and sell them. There are still people around who remember that.
I went to kindergarten at the Chapel Street School and first to fourth grades at the Park Street School. Then I went to the Dutcher Street School and then to the high school. Kids going to school then wore a kind of short pants called knickers. Mom and Dad couldn’t afford to put long pants on them. I didn’t have a bicycle until I was about twelve. Before that, I had a scooter.
For Christmas, we’d have a Christmas tree. I associate Christmas mostly with the Methodist Church in Milford. That’s where my family went to church. We didn’t get much. We’d be happy to get a stocking with some little things in it. We might get one big item.
My dad was born and raised in Rhode Island, so we’d go down and see Grandma and Grandpa down there.
My parents had a touring car. It would hold at least seven people. Little seats came down from the back of the front seats – jump seats they’re called. It didn’t have roll-up windows. It had eisenglass windows. There was a big trunk in the back of the car, and the windows were kept there when we wanted to have the car open. They had posts on each end, and there were holes in the doors for them. You’d put the posts into the holes. They kept out most of the rain, but not all of it.
Our cars came from Aunt Alice, my mom’s sister. She worked at Cornhill Street in the center of Boston. She’d come over to our house on weekends. She wasn’t married..She had her own income. She had enough to buy a car. More than Mom and Dad had. Maybe they paid her for it over a period of time. Anyway, somehow she furnished us with a car. I don’t know what the make of the touring car was, but after that we had Fords. They kept the car in one of the Draper garages between Beech and Park streets. Everybody in our neighborhood who had a car, kept it in one of the garages there.
Margaret Stanas’s parents had one of the first electric cars here. They stored it in a shed/garage type place behind the house on Dutcher Street. There was an apple orchard up behind that.
In our kitchen, we had a kerosene stove.
Up between Inman Street and West Street (140 now, but I don’t know that it was called that back then) there was a brook, and people had gardens there. On the other side of West Street, Drapers had a golf course. There’s a housing development there now. I used to go up there and caddy.When we’d go swimming at the pond, we’d have to sign in at the bathhouse. The right side was the girls’ locker room, and the side on the left was for the boys. Only Hopedale residents could swim there. There was a nice raft with springboards.
I remember Henry’s farm on Dutcher Street (200) quite well. It was owned by Norman Henry, whose son, Richard, was a friend of mine. They had a cow barn. There were trapdoors at one end of it where they could hoe down the manure where it would drop down under the barn. One day I was with Richard and he was going down under the barn. He wanted to go across to the other side. I said, “You go first.” He did. He went waist deep in manure. I didn’t go any further. I kept back as far as I could.
He told me later, “Boy, did I get hell when I got home.” Of course, home was just a few steps away. Later he moved to the state of Washington. His sister Murial married Wesley Tinkham and they moved to New Hampshire.
The Memorial Day parade was one of the big events of the year. The ceremony at the cemetery wasn‘t where it is now. It was held in the big rectangular area further back, and the participants would stand on the roads on all four sides. Now it ends at the Griffin-Dennettt Apartments, but I was a boy long before they were built. Then it ended at the Legion Home, which was where the police station is now.
Charlie Burnham was a very good friend of mine. He lived next door to the Henry farm. We were in the same class in school. He had two beautiful dogs. Dogs the average person in town couldn’t afford to have. He and his parents lived at the house on Dutcher Street. (192) There was a barn down back that was converted into a house much later.
Neighbors on Inman Street included the Eckersolls (49), Scotts (47), the principal of Dutcher Street School whose name was Belcher, Knight (43), MacLean (41), Wrenn (39), and Harris (52). The Battys lived on the corner of Lower Jones and Inman. (5 Lower Jones, although it was called Jones Road even at that end then.) Later they built a house across the street at the end of Inman (53), where the Harlows lived later. Victor Pepper lived on Lower Jones.
During the summer we’d go to the Methodist Church camp at Sterling Junction, which is on the way to Leominster and Fitchburg. There were six houses around the tabernacle. The Milford Methodist Church owned one of them. In the summer they’d have camp meetings with preachers speaking. A speaker might come from Washington, D.C to preach for a week or two. Milford’s cottage had rooms to rent upstairs. Downstairs there was a living room and two bedrooms. Then there was a door that went out to an open-air dining area. It was only used during the summer. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) was matron of the cottage when the church owned it. At some point it stopped being a camp and the cottages were sold. That was sometime after World War II. People bought them for living, not necessarily just for the summer as they had been used.
My sister and I would spend weeks with Grandma at the camp. My kids have memories of the place also. My grandparents had bought it from the church. They had tennis courts. It was quite a place. The post office was down at the bottom of the hill by the railroad track. It was in the train station. The way the mail came by train in those days was, the train would come in from Clinton and they’d throw a bag of mail off the train. The out-going mail would be put up on a post. The train would slow down, but it wouldn’t stop. They’d grab it with a hook. I had the job of going down and getting the mail for everyone I knew who wanted me to do it. They’d give me a quarter or a fifty cent piece. It wasn’t easy. It was a very steep hill. I’d ride my bike down and push it up.
We didn’t have running water or flush toilets at the camp. The toilet was a two-seater. It was attached to the back end of the house. Eventually my dad built a cesspool. Before that, there was a maintenance man who would come around with his pickup truck and he’d shovel it into the truck and take it away. Since we didn’t have running water, we’d keep a bucket of sand and a little cup near the two-seater and we’d sprinkle some sand in it after it was used. Those were old times.
The well water at the camp was beautiful. I’d have to go a couple of hundred yards from the house to the well. That was one of my jobs. I’d bring a couple of pails, pump the water, and bring them back to the house. Getting the bucket of sand was one of my jobs, too.
In the midst of the 1938 hurricane, a couple of friends and I decided we’d run across the Hope Street bridge. When we were running, the wind was blowing so hard that the sidewalks were moving. When we got to the other side, guess who was waiting for us? The police. “What are you doing out here in the middle of this hurricane?” If we’d been there at the wrong time, the wind would have blown us right off the bridge.
I never had my own paper route, but I filled in for other guys now and then. As a kid, if you had a paper route, you held onto it. When I was the age to have a route, nobody gave theirs up. Back then there weren’t pin setting machines at the bowling alleys at the Community House, and kids could make money by setting pins. Sometimes I’d do that.
People who lived in town could call Patrick’s (Henry Patrick’s Store) and give them their order. Patrick’s had a truck with open sides. Boys, and maybe girls too, I suppose, could work on the truck. There was a man who drove the truck and if you worked for him, you’d take the groceries into the house. You might earn a quarter a day or something like that.
They’d hire teenagers at the icehouse to help out. I worked there a few times. They’d cut a big section that was like an alley, as wide as they wanted the blocks of ice to be. We’d push the pieces with poles that had pointed ends, down to the bottom of the conveyor which would take them up into the icehouse. I think it was four stories high. The blocks would be packed in sawdust to keep them from melting. When trucks delivered the ice in the summer, kids would go up to the back of them and get
little chips to chew on.
The town hall had a dentist office where the town clerk’s office is now. Dr. Wentworth was the dentist. Eddie Paradiso’s barber shop was where the assessors’ office is now. Handley ran the Spa in the middle of the ground floor, and the post office was on the left side. I think my graduation in 1940 was there in the auditorium on the second floor.
Dr. Campbell’s home and office was next to the town hall, where the post office is now. The next house down was the Brae Burn Annex. The Brae Burn Inn, a boarding house, was across the street on the corner where the parking lot is now. I drove a school bus for fifteen years. We used to park the busses in that lot. There were only four of them then.
The Sneidermans had a junkyard up behind their house at the corner of Freedom Street and Williams Street. They had a store in a little building out near the edge of the road. I remember Mr. Sneiderman coming down the street with his horse and wagon, collecting rags and scrap metal. He’d ring a bell so you’d know he was in the neighborhood.
There used to be a brick building on Northrop Street, next to the park. It wasn’t occupied in the years I remember. (It was the Roper Shop, a brass foundry, that made boat propellers and other items for boats and cars.)
The Durgin’s had a neighborhood grocery store at their house at 120 Dutcher Street. The store was downstairs and they lived on the second floor. It was part of some chain of stores. I don’t think it was IGA, but something like that. The Jenks family next door (122 Dutcher) had a candy store in their house. They might have sold soda, too.
Chick DiCicco had a barber shop in his house on Dutcher Street. (110) It was near Mongiat’s house. George Mongiat had the drugstore in the center of town. Later, Chick moved down to where the barber shop on Hopedale Street is now. His wife, Nell, had a beauty parlor in the same building. I don’t remember him very well. I always had my hair cut by Eddie Paradiso.
The trolley had a barn on East Main Street in Milford. The tracks there connected to Framingham and they came to Hopedale. It turned off of Route 16 onto Hopedale Street and stopped in front of the shop to let anyone off who worked there. It continued on to a bridge over Hopedale Pond and then to Lake Nipmuc in Mendon. Then it went all the way to Uxbridge where it connected with the Providence & Worcester Railroad. For trips just going back and forth between Milford and Hopedale, they could switch the backs of the chairs and go the other way without the passengers having to travel backwards. In warm weather, the trolley sides were open.
Bob Austin, who lived at 4 Dennett Street, used to sharpen skates at the pond when there were skaters there in the winter. He’d bring his truck down by the beach and jack it up. I don’t remember if he’d take the tire off or not, but he’d keep the truck running, and somehow use it to operate the grinding wheel.
Maroney’s Grove in the Parklands was a popular place for picnics. On the side of the road that goes out to Hazel Street, there was a spring. Since I’ve moved back here from Florida, I’ve looked for it, but I haven’t found it.
Harlan Hart, who lived on the corner of Dutcher and Dennett streets (105 Dutcher) had a little workshop out behind his house. He did shoe repair work there. People years ago didn’t just throw out their old shoes and get new ones when they were worn out. Lots of people did their own shoe repair work. My father had a little metal gadget that was used to hold a shoe while you worked on it. I don’t actually recall him using it. I think it had probably originally belonged to his parents.
There was a guy named Weaver who was playing baseball at the town park and hit a home run that I remember. The ball went through the opening in the wall at Northrop Street and right up Park Street. He was a big, muscular guy.
In our senior year in high school, we’d take a trip to Washington. We went by bus. We raised part of the money for the trip by collecting newspapers. People would bring them to us and we’d store them in Allen’s barn, that was almost across Dutcher Street from the fire station. (33 Dutcher Street) David Allen was in my class. We’d tie the papers into bundles and then sell them to Drapers. Mom and Dad, in most cases, couldn’t afford to pay for the whole trip. Money was not easy to come by back
After high school, I applied for a job at Drapers and got one in the shuttle department, up on the top floor. The man who was later my father-in-law worked in that department. The shuttles have a metal tip at each end. His job was to sit at a wheel all day and grind them down. Piecework. I don’t know how he did it, sitting there all day doing that. After a while I went into the Draper apprentice school. Fred Hullah was in charge of that. After the school, I was on the maintenance team. When things broke down, you’d have to go fix them.
I met my wife at the Methodist Church. My mom and dad and I sang in the choir. My mother was the leading soprano vocalist. I went upstairs one Sunday and this nice young lady was sitting in the last pew. Her parents belonged to the Universalist Church. She had come to the Methodist Church with some other girls. So we met and got acquainted and got married. We had four children; Richard, Nancy, Ellen and Marcia.
At one point a friend and I went to California. We went by bus, all the way. After I got married here, I wanted to go back there. I had friends there. My wife didn’t really want to go, but she did. We were there a year or two, and my son, Richard, was born. She came home with him to see our parents. It was too much for them and for her, for her to go back, so I agreed to come back here. I went to work at Drapers again. I worked for the cafeteria people. My job was to repair the vending machines. They had stations all through Drapers. Rita Sullivan and two or three others had wagons they’d pull out of the kitchen and through the shop loaded with goodies, to fill the vending machines and to sell also. Later I worked in quality control, and when Drapers closed down, I went to work at Dennison in Framingham.
I used to be in a singing group, the Hopedale chorus. We’d go to nursing homes and entertain. Larry Heron was our male soloist. I was the funny man. One of the women in the group would make costumes. She made a “little boy outfit” for me and I wore it and sang “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” My family was there. Marcia and her two sons came quite a bit. That was just one of maybe a half dozen songs where this woman made things for me to put on.
I lived in Florida for some years, but moved back to Hopedale several years ago. I live at the Griffin-Dennett Apartments. Marshall Clark, April 2013.
Memories Menu HOME