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December 15, 2005
Hopedale History
No. 50
The Fifties

In the last couple of weeks I’ve added the following to this site:

A page of short biographies of prominent Hopedale people from the Community years through about 1900.

A page on the Hopedale Community’s most vocal feminist, (and, according to one source, after she moved to New York, a close confidant of Walt Whitman) Abby Hills Price.

Since I find the local news rather fascinating, I’ve added an expanded version of the story I sent two weeks ago.


It’s not that I planned to do a story on the fifties in No. 50. The coincidence hadn’t occurred to me until I was saving it. Anyway, among the items collected by Virginia Cyr that we received from her son Mike a few months ago were five issues of a newsletter called Moments to Remember. They were written as part of the process of organizing a combined fortieth reunion for the Hopedale High classes of 1955 and 1956. Here are some summertime memories from Carol Strobeck Fannelli and Priscilla Knight Elliott.

                                                        The Pond Is Open!!!

                                                   By Carol Strobeck Fannelli

  It seemed like such a big beach we had back then in the 50s. Hopedale Pond in all its glory! We could hardly wait until opening day, stand in line to check in, and then head for the locker room to adorn our beachwear!!!  Back then, a strapless bathing suit for the girls was the ‘hip’ thing to wear, and the guys always seemed to wear the same style
bathing suit. (Boxer shorts style unless you wore one of ‘those’ bathing suits that looked too tight to swim in!!) The best time of all was when the bathhouse stayed open at night and we could spend afternoons and evenings there with our friends. If you were really lucky you might have got a summer job as a lifeguard. I think most of us took our swimming lessons there, and learned to swim at a young age! Do you remember the rafts we could swim to? What a big deal it was if you could go out “over your head” because you had passed the test and were an Advanced Swimmer! Those were the days!!!

It’s not the same now. In fact, the pond that seemed so big, and the beach that seemed to always have room for all of us to lie in the hot sun, seems so small. The sliding board is gone now. I guess time changes things, but can never erase our fond memories of Hopedale Pond and the hours of fun we had there.

       Just recently Priscilla Knight Elliott (Class of 1956) jotted down the following summer memories.

As summertime approaches, I think back to all the activities and fun times we had growing up. We didn’t realize at the time how lucky we were to live in a town like Hopedale. So much was done for us to keep us busy.

The Town Park was a “must” every day. Morning classes making gimp bracelets, and plaster of paris molds, What a mess we made, but it was fun! We would go home for lunch, and be back at the pond for swimming lessons at 1:00 p.m. Oh those “Beginners.” It took so long to be able to go outside the ropes!

On Wednesdays, we girls dolled ourselves up for the big Band Concert in the evening. Wasn’t it great? Popcorn, soda, “Birch-Beer” or “Cream,” and ice-cream for 35 cents. How we used to chase the boys all around the park! Wow!

I remember all the neighborhood kids putting on a backyard variety show. There were about fifteen of us, and everyone had a part in the show. We went through the closets, the “rag bag,” and asked our neighbors for clothes to make our costumes. We had clowns, tap dancers, ballet dancers and acrobats. An old wind-up Victrola played our music. W sold our tickets for 10 cents, and had Kool-Aid and home-made cookies for refreshments. The highlight of our show was Grandma Janes, Mrs. Mongeon’s 80 year old mother. She loved us kids and told us stories all the time. We had to have her in our show. She was so happy because we had asked her to share a story, and we were so proud to have her

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