Letters to ...

Letters for May 2009

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from readers

American/Canadian writer spots 'bad word' in first "Where on Earth ..."

From: Linda Granfield, MHS '68 [mailto:lindagranfield@sympatico.ca]
Sent: April 6, 2009 2:55 PM
To: melrose@media.mit.edu, attn: Stringer Don Norris
Subject: Where on Earth Are We?

If I hadn't walked up that street every day for my four years of Melrose High School I wouldn't be writing to you.

This April photo (and a lovely one it is) is taken from the former First National parking lot entrance, looking up Linden Road.

Some thoughts --
-- Coming down that hill to go to school (it's a lot steeper than it appears!) during icy winter days was a frightening bit of work. Skidding was the norm.

-- Pushing grocery carts filled with brown paper bags of Finast products UP that hill was v-e-r-y difficult. Pushing the empty cart back to the store was much easier and meant a ride for a younger brother. (Not many two-car families then --and the manager let us take the cart from the lot.)

-- It was impossible to ride a bike UP Linden Road. And you went too fast going down! Lots of "wipe-outs" at the foot of the hill!

-- For many years the First National had lovely red/pink rose bushes along the fence (out of the picture) to the right of this shot. The fragrance during the final June weeks of walking to school was wonderful.

-- Linden Road crosses Green Street, where I grew up and the family lived until 1996, had residents representing the world. The Colemans (Ireland), the Kapelos family (Greece) and the Gregorys (Mrs. Gregory was a war bride from Italy).
Loads of kids who played together.

-- a final bit -- there are some huge shady trees missing today, but there was a huge tree right near where that gray car is parked on the street in your photo. I was once walking with a brother who was about six years old at the time. We were, as usual, going to the First National to get something. Suddenly he stopped me and told me to close my eyes. Right near the tree.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because somebody wrote a nasty word on the sidewalk," he announced. "You can't see it."

And someone had written a "nasty word." In chalk.

I peeked, but let him guide me past the chalk-writing, my hand kind of over my eyes.

I thought of that bit of long-ago (1974?) chivalry the moment I saw your photo.

Thanks for bringing attention to a corner of my youth!!

Linda Granfield, MHS '68
previously of Green Street, now living in Toronto, Canada

... and editor Don Norris replies ...

Hi Linda -- and congratulations. You win the prize -- a big pat on the back. Sorry, but we have absolutely NO budget at all for a prize. Yes, I too (now that you mention it) walked to high school down that street for two years -- my folks were on Cochrane Street, so I came down Howard to Green, to Linden -- no, that's not right. The shopping mall wasn't built in the late '40s, so I went by the church and down the parkway.

I was there, working with the Melrose Free Press, the morning the partially-completed mall blew up. The gas from a broken line poured into the cellar of a stationery store (as I remember), and the explosion sent paper bits half a mile into the sky. The whole town was papered. Seems to me that was at 5:00 in the morning. I also got to cover the destruction-by-fire of Deering Lumber -- one of our Mirror reporters is doing a series on it -- and the Deering family have several large photo books -- with all my photos. Alden Perkins (Deering owner) was a friend of the Free Press editor, Dorothy Raymond. I never knew what happened to those pictures.

With your permission, we'll re-print your response, and probably my response to yours, in the May issue. And we welcome any such stories connected to Melrose -- you write very well (must have had Miss Amy Damon for English).

Don Norris, MHS '49
One of six editors.

... and Linda responds ...

Hi Don,

What a quick response from you!  Yes, of course you can use the letter.
Cochrane St.? That was a hike for you. Past Horace Mann School? (that was my elementary school) and it was a long walk from Green St at the Parkway end)

Yes, the Towers Plaza explosion. That happened in the 60s. My sister worked at Wellwoods, the sort of 'general store' that was there, the store that had the leaking gas. Some windows blew out at our house as we were so near the plaza. You're right about the greeting cards all over the place. We had lingerie hanging from our tree! Rather embarassing to have underwear draping one's front yard just as your teen friends are walking by the house on their way to school!

The Deering Lumber articles with your photos sounds great -- I'm looking forward to it. Aren't those Perkins the same family as Perkins Cove up Ogunquit? Speaking of Ogunquit, did you know that the R.H.(?) Stearns of Melrose drugstore fame, had a lumber yard and built a huge house on the Marginal Way? House is still there as a bed-and-breakfast place. I just found out about that a couple of years ago. I have notes around here somewhere if you ever have someone there who wants to pursue the story.

Thanks for the compliment on the writing. It's my job. You might like to see the pictures of 'growing up in Melrose' that I've got on my author website: www.lindagranfield.com

And, lastly, I bought some lovely circa 1888 photos of Melrose (not postcards) on eBay a few years ago. Interiors and exteriors. No identification as to where they were taken. I could scan (not for a few  weeks, though, because of work) and send and they might be a nice addition to the Where On Earth Are We? lineup? Let me know and I'll get to it for you.

I wonder how many former-Melrosians read the magazine every month? I've learned so much!

Have a great day!


PS: Thanks for a super magazine!

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