... Michigan resident renews connection via The Melrose Mirror
All are Melrosians (Charles writes) from Methodist Church scout troop who were on a Scout Jamboree in the early thirties, 1930 I think. Most in the picture, except the scout masters, are younger than I am (82) and are probably still alive and might get a kick out of seeing themselves with those old cars and banners. Even before he got a chance to see the picture (SilverStringer) Russ Priestley recognized the names of some of them from my description. Elmer Drew, Scout Master with glasses on the left-- Russ Dearborn in back of Elmer, Andy Sorenson, 4th from left kneeling in front of banner, James Rinn, 5th from left kneeling. Chas. Thompson, 7th from left in back, head between banners. Joe Flynn, 10th from left kneeling. Of kids sitting in front I can only remember the names of Nick Flynn, 3rd from left. Next to Nick is Joe Grant, who I think was killed in the war in the Pacific.
Editor's Introduction: The writer is Charles H. Thompson of Garden City, Michigan, a native of Melrose who thought he would share a 60-year old photograph with the SilverStringers and their readers. At age 82, he is a five-year veteran with a computer, and, because of his new connection with the Melrose Mirror, had to learn scanning, graphics and dispatching photos by email. So who says we seniors are too old to learn? His article is a compilation of five email messages.
Dear Silverstringers, Greetings.
I'm a former native Melrosian who has just become aware of your existence. My sister in law, Lois Stevenson, just returned home to Florida from her 50th Melrose High School reunion, cut a bit short by hurricane Floyd. When she went to Melrose she carried a picture I gave her of my boy scout Troop 7 at an early 1930 Jamboree. The troop met at the Methodist Church just north of your location.
The people in the picture were all Melrosians and I wanted her see if the Melrose Free Press would print it as an item of local interest. Local friends of Lois's there suggested your forum as a more likely choice and as I understand they will contact you with a copy of the picture.
All of the people in the picture, except the Scout Masters, are younger than I am (82) and are probably still alive and would get a kick out of seeing themselves and the old cars and scout banners.
Seeing the beautiful picture of your church on my P.C. made be a bit homesick-- the last time I was home my late wife, Anita Thompson, nee Hanes, another Melrosian, were there at my 50th M.H.S. reunion in 1986. Tempus fugit.
I hope this on line connection will be an ongoing thing enabling me to keep in touch with my physical roots. My mother, Mary E. Nourse Thompson, was born in Melrose in 1884. The only one in Melrose I've had contact with via e-mail is Gil Priestly shortly before his death last year.
Since then I've learned a bit more about what computers can do. I realized that your picture of the church and Russ Priestley's picture of young Gil and his siblings was done with a scanner but until the other day when my son took the picture and had it scanned into a 3.5in. disk, then brought it here and displayed it on my monitor, I had no idea that was possible---now I've got to learn how to send this letter with it. He told me how but my doing it is something else again. I've had a P.C. since '94 but I haven't begun to master the contraption. What they say about duffers not being able to program their VCR's pretty much applies to me.
I was born in Melrose in 1917 but spent much of my early years and went to 1st. Grade in Washington, D.C. I went eggrolling on the White House lawn in the Warren Harding or Cal Coolidge presidency. Imagine!
I lived in my grandparents home at 61 Willow St. and during all the school years, the Gooch and Lincoln before H.S., my sister Dot and I had a good life what with school and its activities, our friends, town functions, parades, winter carnivals, swimming and skating on Ell Pond, etc., and it wasn't until after I graduated in '36 that we realized there were financial difficulties and our father was not well and we moved to Philadelphia. He died there the next year and we moved back to Melrose where I worked a number of no good jobs until the war in Europe forced the govt. to put people to work preparing for what was to come. That made it possible for me to work outdoors which I liked and gave me some training in the construction field that after the service I continued all my work days until I retired in 1981
The commotion overseas
In 1942 I went into the army after they sent me to radio school at Boston Trade School and to give you some idea of what that commotion over seas did to our small group of friends, Melrosians all.
Al Marshall, who lived on Vine at the end of Willow, fighter pilot shot down over Germany.
Don DeLuca, who lived in the block on the corner of Willow and Essex Sts., bomber gunner, shot down in Yugoslavia on a flight from Italy to the Polesti oil fields in Romania, picked up by the Chetnicks, enemies of Tito and the Germans, so he survived the war. Otis Nelson, who lived across the street from me, lost on a PBY bomber in the Pacific on a flight from Wake Is. Nelson's Terrace, next to Nelson's Meat Market on Essex St. just west of city hall and the old Post Office was named after his family.
Don Mann, a member of the Melrose branch of the Mass. Nat. Guard, who lived near Melrose Station and was one of the kids forced like I was to attend "Mrs. Hess's Class of Ballroom Dancing and Deportment" that met in some second story hall just north of Stearns & Hill Drug Store. Killed on Guadalcanal.
Stuart Hanes my brother in law, lived next door to me on Willow. A flying artillery spotter, shot through the chest, in one side, out the other. He survived because the military had just got a new antibiotic: penicillin.
That's a bit of old Melrose history that I don't guess many remember.
I used to get some Melrose news from my sister Dot in Florida, who got it from Ernie DeLuca, Don's brother, in Melrose but they are both gone now so connecting with you SilverStringers will fill a void.
By the way, the Don DeLuca who had the great physique and played on the football team with your (Russ Priestley's) brother and me died in California 4 or 5 yrs. ago. After the war he married a girl from around metro Detroit and lived in Dearborn, Mich. about eight miles from me here. We used to get together occasionally before he moved west. And the guy who set the record in a national physical fitness test was Roger Knapp who lived on Rowe St. north of Emerson. He and his dog went to Washington,D.C., had their picture taken with the President and were on the cover of either Time or Life mag.
My e-mail moniker is ChampTom@aol.com
Regards, Chas. T.
Charles H. Thompson
Garden City, Mi. 48135-2122
P.S. The Melrose Mirror sure is a neat idea.
December 3, 1999