Social and Political Commentary

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Melrose, 1885 to 1985 (conclusion)

 ... from the early 1900's

by Cliff Jones

This concludes our one hundred year journey of reminiscing by Cliff Jones. To read the first half click here.

[We left you hanging last month with the details of the struggle between horse-drawn carriages and the advent of horseless carriages (automobiles)].

Picture of Margery Carter's grandfather A. A. Dority in his Stanley Steamer in 1908

Band concerts, bonfires and parades every Fourth of July and May 30th. Bandstand at edge of (Ell) pond and park. Brass band always excellent and fireworks at ten. Canoeing on pond, two icehouses and people always ready to help move the hundred pound blocks of ice up the runway to the various levels for ice storage, covering them with sawdust for summer preservation. Ice houses and bandstand long gone now.

Without fail, Lyman Howe movies came in once a year to Town Hall auditorium [Melrose became a city in 1900]. Entrance fee twenty-five cents and the whole town turned out. Early goers got front seats in the balcony, an advantageous location to throw peanuts and popcorn on people sitting below in the arena. And speaking of eats, peanuts and popcorn sold for two cents for a large bag of either one. Ice cream cones, any flavor, at one cent per cone at Frank DeFusio's Fruit Stand.

In summers, the family always went to Maine or New Hampshire for the month of August. What a chore going! By train only to Boston, then to Portland and changing train to get to the lake area. We looked like a band of gypsies. Always shipped two trunks and lugged by hand our fishing poles, traps for minnows, bait boxes, hammock, suitcases and lunch. Not over 125 miles away, yet an all-day trip with three station changes. The best and final part of the entire trip was the two-mile horse car ride from station to farmhouse. It was fun for all.

Schools: Primary burned. Elementary still going. New high school, old one now a condominium. One Saturday each month I went with Dad to Boston. I would sit on the high stool in the teller's cage at the bank to count or stack pennies, or separate counterfeit money taken in. Then to the market at Faneuil Hall for lunch and to buy the provisions to take home via the trolley.

This leads up to the time for marriage. I had plenty of knowledge in love-making as Jack Ross and I used to sneak up to the kitchen window to watch the courting of Tom, the iceman and Katy, our maid.

I did a stretch in the Navy, World War I. Upon returning I was ready to take to the altar a charming bride by the name of Beryl. Prior to this, the ring. Still in gob's uniform having only one small change pocket in the tight pants. I went to Stowell's in Boston and bought the ring. I recall it was raining hard, and I had to carry an umbrella. Me, a gob with an umbrella! I dropped the small package in the umbrella, went home, gave Beryl the ring. Got hell for being so careless with such a prized package.

Purchased a double house for $6500 in 1919, rented second floor two bedrooms for $35 per month. Less than the price of an auto now. Married in 1920 and had three daughters.

At this time Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in his single-engine plane. We tried to follow the flight by radio. Speaking of radio, our first was a battery-operated unit. A twelve volt wet battery sat on the floor on a rubber mat. I recall when the radio caught fire and I threw it out the front door.

Our three daughters produced twelve granddaughters. Those twelve grand-children gave me fourteen great-grand-children. Today, one unknown still undercover and about to pop out in May, 1985.

And now Gratia, this brings me up to Wednesday, December 26, 1984 when my daughter Nancy, doing a "Meals on Wheels" delivery, introduced you to me in your beautiful, attractive home.

I trust this reminiscence of old times has not tired you but brought back many similar memories which transpired during your lifetime.

Three cheers for your one hundred years of "You know what" and may your following years be filled with excellent health and happiness.

Love U,
Cliff Jones

August 1, 2003

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