... how so?
If you really want to know, I'll tell you. I am probably best qualified because I have lived here longer than any of our other scribes. If you allow me almost two years of college, followed by World War II, when I had to be away, it's a time span of more than four score and five years. Any other writer is a newcomer.
I believe I can present some facts which will be different from the others, so pull up a chair. In the early days, Melrose was a community of farmers. In 1845 when the Boston and Maine Railroad brought their line through Melrose, it changed the mode of living. Business people who worked in Boston found the brief commuting time to Melrose was very refreshing after a day of work in the big city. This town developed into a "bedroom community" and grew very quickly. We became a city in 1900 and in spite of steady growth, never reached a population of 30,000.
The beauty of this city is enhanced by the fact we are almost completely surrounded by green forest. On the southwest side, where I grew up from birth, is a large reservation which is preserved by the State of Massachusetts. This area continues up close to the western border. On the south border is Pine Banks Park, shared with the next city. Here we have athletic fields, picnic areas, and a small pond for fishing, all in a good size forest of pine trees, predominantly. On our eastern side, you may drive, bike or walk to U.S. Route 1, but a little bit south is our Mount Hood Park and Golf Course. A portion of this area was owned by John Slayton.
Appropriately, the road to this area is named Slayton. When he owned it, a 25 acre area included the summit from which the Wampanoag Indians used to send messages to as far away as Mount Wachusetts, over 40 miles to the west. Slayton had a watch tower built on that summit. That tower was destroyed by a fire. This 25 acre area was later given to the city and Melrose purchased 210 acres and developed a recreation area with the aid of the WPA. A spectacular Winter Carnival was held in 1936, using the wooden ski jump, along with a toboggan slide. An 18 hole golf course was part of that project. Over the years, only the golf course survived, but a new stone tower was built on the summit. With several ponds, walking trails, and picnic areas, it is a park for everyone.
On our northern border, a curious note: the village, which is a part of Wakefield, is named Greenwood, so we are completely surrounded by green.
We've had several notable residents: Geraldine Farrar, opera star; Mary Livermore, suffragette; Clarence DeMar, seven-time winner of the Boston Marathon; NYTimes Theater Critic Brooks Atkinson.
In sports, we had an exceptional coach, Harold Poole. He coached all three major sports: hockey, football, and baseball. To coach all three major sports is a rarity, but he produced winning teams in all three. After his many years as a head coach, he took over as principal of the high school and in his spare time he sold investments. Harold lived to the ripe old age of 100 years and eight months.
Centrally located is our Ell Pond. In the past it was used for swimming, fishing and small boats. In the winter it provided a large area for skating and hockey. Some residents enjoyed skating at night because the buildings on the periphery provided ample lighting. Due to excessive weed growth, swimming has not been possible for many years and warmer winters have prevented ice to become thick enough for skating. A few die-hard people still challenge the few fish remaining.
Years ago someone decided we should be called "The Spotless Town." One reason for this was liquor was prevented, thus no bars or package stores. A bunch of teetotalers? No, those who desired it would buy it in other cities, or many used to order it along with some groceries from a purveyor based in Boston. That liquor restriction has loosened in recent years with the decision to allow restaurants with a seating capacity of 100 or more to serve liquor.
So if you would like to reside in my city, come on down, or up. Everyone is welcomed.
February 1, 2008