Horse and Pung Snow Plowing No Fun in the Good Old Days
By Ted Ashby
anyone wish to.
Especially not Fred Evers.
He's highway superintendent, and has worked in that department 42 years.
"It was brutal."
The task is so much simpler now that, following a big storm, Fred might not have to
hoist himself from his bed until, say 3:45 a.m.
"One piece of snow equipment I recall was a big pung (oblong box on runners) hauled
by six horses. The V-shaped plow cleared a path in the street, and the rest was
shoveled by hand. The snow was simply cast beside the road."
The men, who sometimes worked 48 hours without sleep (they halted to eat), got the
princely salary of $18.40 for a 54-hour week. "There was no overtime pay."
By spring, the plowed streets had a foot of hard packed snow on them.
"Even kids helped shovel snow."
The snow-fighting force normally included 15 men, 54 horses, and a few tractors.
"We first cleared in front of the stores, with horse-drawn plows. Hauled the stuff to the
snow-dumps in pungs pulled by tractors."
No heated cabs for the men sitting up there on the front seat of the pungs. Toes got
cold, ached, and then warm. Frozen.
Then, as now, Hopedale plows sidewalks on both sides of the street.
"Many a time I've driven a span of horses pulling a sidewalk plow."
He was a foreman then. As superintendent since 1943, he still is unable to suppress
the impulse to work. Said the townspeople:
"You'll find him out there with his crew. First, though, you'll HEAR him."
Hopedale has 26 miles of streets, and the snow removal staff draws high praise from
one and all.
"We also clear at schools, Town Hall, three municipal parking lots, and the driveways of
all doctors. Five of those."
This with seven men, including Evers; one snow loader; one overhead bucket; five
trucks with plows (and they hire two more when necessary); four tractors, two of them
used in sidewalk plowing.
"We sometimes add off-duty firemen to the force. And we permit no cars on the
Their formula: Inch of snow - salt all over; more snow - start plowing; after plows - salt
and sand mixture all over. The Boston Globe, February 1, 1961.
Below the article there was a photo of Fred Evers watching Charlie Gaffney operate a
Early Highway Department Vehicles Highway Department
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The gentleman in the back row, second from left,
hat, open sweater, appears to be Fred Evers.
Barney. They were done as glass slides. Barney's
Hopedale pictures were taken between 1890 and 1910.