Bob Holmes

      During WWII as you may or may not recall, Draper Corp. was well entrenched in the war effort.  
    People employed had  picture "ID's" to gain entrance to work  There were guard houses in a few
    places around the shop.  One place was at the corner of Hopedale and Freedom Street where our
    "Little Red Shop" is currently located.  As kids we passed this corner at least four times a day going to
    and from school.

      I vividly remember one of the guards in particular was a gentleman by the name of  "Bill" Honey.  He
    was extremely well liked by the kids.  He, being a smoker, as most men were at that time.  But "Bill"
    had smoking tricks to entertain us with.  One of them was to take a lit cigarette and flip it into his mouth
    and make it disappear, only to flip it back out in a second or two and continue puffing away on it.  This
    was with no hands, just a flip of his tongue

      Another was to hold the cigarette up to his ear and appear to breath the smoke in through his ear
    and exhale it out of his mouth.  Sure fooled us.  He would always have some type of harmless trick or
    entertainment for us.  I am sure that more than once, I was his assistant, or at least he told me that he
    needed my help.

      Incidentally, around 1949, I was the lucky kid that was the "Safety Patrol" (today they call them
    "Crossing Guards") on that same corner. Needless to say there were no more guard houses needed
    in 1949.   

      Just another little thought.  When we walked along Hopedale Street., in front of the shop approaching
    the "windy corner" of Freedom St., we often looked into the "tilted" open shop windows and talked with
    the folks doing "piece work" at the work benches in that area.  I remember that one of them was "Larry"
    Heron, a well know disabled WWII blinded veteran.  We marveled at the way Larry could precisely
    insert small loom parts into his "jig" and bend, punch, shape or whatever he did to them just as
    quickly as possible.  Not only that, but he would talk to us and knew many of us just by our voices.  

       Wonderful times, great people, great little town.   Bob H.

     The following is from an email sent by Bob on May 15, 2008.


       I was sad when I saw these pictures of the rail cars  being scrapped. I still picture them in fine
    shape, well not so much anymore.  Progress?

       We grew up in what we thought was a very healthy environment.  Living at the corner of Freedom
    and Progress Streets seemed just about as good as it could ever get.  However, when you think about
    the G& U tracks about 100' to our west, the large scrap iron piles next to the tracks and right next to
    that, the dump burning almost constantly.  We would watch the magnetic crane hoist the dusty, rusty
    scrap iron into the rail cars, breathe in some of the dust for sure. They then were taken to the foundry
    for smelting and when the furnace was stoked with the necessities for the high quality gray iron
    casting of Draper Corporation, the black smoke would billow all over the valley of our fair town on
    warm, humid days, I remember my Mom having to do the wash all over again because they would be
    covered with cinders from the foundry.  We often would enjoy climbing on the scrap iron and "pig iron"
    piles, a bit of a challenge.  Sometimes we would find very interesting discarded treasures in the iron

       I am sure that the air in Hopedale is of a better quality than it was then, but I think the quality of life
    and the feeling that your neighbors were almost family was greater than it is today. This is not to say
    the neighbors are not as nice, but not many of them have lived next door for two or three generations.

         Dan, I did enjoy the pictures.    Thanks for the memories,
                                                                                                               Bob H.

     Bob sent the following memories in June 2010.

                                                               Pete's Meadow

    The area was at the north end of the dump, was definitely not a pond, more of a swamp with moguls,
    or hummocks, scattered all over the area.  I suppose that is why it froze over so easily, being very
    shallow as well.   It did turn into a brook as it meandered along the northwest side of the dump,
    behind what eventually became Draper Field and went along to the ski hill where we had a culvert
    under the bottom of the ski hill to ski over. I have no idea what happened to the brook after it went by
    the ski hill, but it must have continued under the old trolley or rail line that went up to Mendon.

    We did skate in between and around the hummocks.  Probably just enough to cause us to look
    forward to some real skating, knowing that the big pond would soon be safe for the whole town go
    occupy on a Sunday afternoon and any free time available.

    Just beyond Pete’s Meadow was where there were many victory gardens during WWII.   I believe that
    Norm Henry was the farmer that would plow and harrow the garden area every spring during the war
    years and even after for a time.  The gardens were right at the bottom of Salt Box Hill (Freedom St.)
    and were thus accessed from Freedom St.  Wonder what the EPA would say about having the
    gardens so close to the town dump in today’s world.

    As kids, the dump, before all of the restrictions were created, was quite a place to live and learn.  
    Shooting rats for target practice.  At 12 or 13 years of age and older, we would have pellet guns or 22’
    s.  Whenever there was a dump fire, burning back underground, the fire department would come and
    hose into the dump banking.  When this happened the rats were extremely numerous and very actively
    moving all over the banks. It would be when the fire department was putting out the underground
    burning that we would be on the other end of the banking firing away.  We reduced the rat population
    considerably at those fires

    The entire dump story is an interesting tidbit in itself.  I’ll save that for another time.


        And in September 2011, Bob sent this:


               I just read about the “Seven Sisters Gang””.  I have to tell you that I loved it.  I did get a laugh out
    of the fact that it was near Draper Field.  of course that means where Draper  Field was later located,
    since that gang of “groupies”s melded in the mid 30’s, long before Draper Field was even a dream.   

    The Holmes’s (46 Progress St.)and the Soderberg’s (136 Freedom St.) lived in the house on the
    corner of Freedom and Progress St., in fact Shirley and Gladys Holmes moved into that house in 1927
    and the Soderbergs not to far from that date.  I never heard of the Tulen name so the Seven sisters
    Gang must have driven them out before I was old enough to know the Tulen name.  Good job guys.

    I did know or recognize most of the names in the “Gang”.  They were a generation ahead of me or I am
    sure that I would have been mixed up with them as well.   I hate to think what might have happened to
    the poor cat.  I’ll bet Johny Cembruch knows.


    And sent in June 2012., in response to a dog tag with Robert Stewart, Hopedale, Mass on it.

        Hi Dan,

    Keep on finding these interesting tidbits.  If we could only bring back the good times of old Hopedale

    Yes, I certainly remember the Stewart family of 29 Progress St.  I know that you must have known Ray
    Stewart, although I do vaguely, recall a Bob, he must have been Ray’s older brother.   There was, I
    believe a sister Norma.  From my remembrance, there was no father present in my years of knowing
    the family. I delivered the morning newspaper to them for six years and my brother for six years
    previous to my taking over the route

    On a more hysterical recall, the Stewarts had an old apple tree in the backyard beside the alley.  On
    two different occasions when I was old enough to climb an apple tree, but too young to understand.  
    Two or three of my pals, including myself, decided to de-apple the (what we thought) old uncared for
    tree in late August.  However, Mrs. Stewart would call my mother and inform her of our venture of our
    mischievous ways.  We were informed that many years previously, the deceased Mr. Stewart had
    graphed three or four other varieties on to the original tree and therefore had a sentimental standing
    with Mrs. Stewart.  The result was that I was to round up my pals and go clean up the horrific mess we
    had made on the ground under the apple tree.  I really think that my mother and Mrs. Stewart had a
    couple of good laughs over the fact that this was the easiest way to get the scrawny and wormy apples
    picked up and discarded.  I find it hard to think that we went back a second year for a repeat
    performance (dumb kids)  Oh, by the way, Mrs. Stewart was a wonderful person, she never got angry
    with us.  (this mat be my reason for her letting us de-apple the tree without interruption, since she new
    she would get a good clean up job following)

    A day or so later, Bob sent the following:

              !942 thru 1954

    All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. These newspapers were
    picked up at “Billy Drapers Store” Arthur, my brother, who was six years older than I, delivered for 6
    years, starting in 1942 followed by myself for another 6 years, thru June of 1954 delivered the
    newspaper, six days a week. It cost 2 cents a paper, plus 2 cents each week for us  We had to be out
    of our house by 5:45  every morning.  Our Dad made our breakfast of cereal, bacon, eggs, milk,
    orange juice and toast , 125 papers per day, walking in winter and biking it when the ground was bare

    On Friday afternoon or Saturday morning,we had to collect the 14 cents from each customer. The
    favorite customers were the ones who gave 15 cents and told you to keep the change. The least
    favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day and when they
    were home they gave you a dime and 4 pennies This was for the Boston Post newspaper
    The Herald, Globe, Record and Worcester Telegram were all 3 cents per day and with the 2 cents for
    me, made the 6 day weekly price 20 cents and usually just two dimes, occasionally someone would
    give you a whole quarter and say “keep the change”

    Here's what Bob sent about the pond in winter in January 2014.

    I think they stopped cutting pond ice around 1946. We skated near the procedure and the ice
    fishermen were in the same area at times.   The pond was quite an attraction in those times.  Mr.
    Dewar (Arthur), Susan Dewar’s dad, would lead a zillion kids and adults in a big whip and go from the
    damn area up around the island and back, usually falling apart about the time we neared the bath
    house.  Bob Aldridge used to sell home made pop corn balls at the beach area on Sunday afternoons;
    maybe Saturday too.  He had a huge wooden box that was full of them and  he sold them as fast as he
    could collect the 10 cents for each one.   There were usually two or three pond hockey games going
    on as well.  I remember John Bonin had a hockey goalie outfit and no one else had any equipment.
    Dull skates and wooden hockey sticks well taped up were the average equipment.   

                                       Memories Menu                                Art Holmes' s Memories              

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    Above - the Homes home, 46 Progress Street, foreground on left. The right side, home
    of the Soderbergs, was 136 Freedom Street. The photo is from Model Company Town.

    Below - the house in 2013