Random Thoughts

Memories of Ell Pond

... thoughts from previous articles

by Ann Robbins Talbot

Because I lived in the Wyoming corner of Melrose, Ell Pond did not figure in my
childhood until I got to Melrose High. My freshman homeroom, 203, overlooked the
pond. Any S-period daydreaming was done gazing past the knoll at the sunshine on
the water. My favorite senior classes, Miss Damon’s English and Miss Kershaw’s
Latin, also faced Ell Pond. The great scenery is a lovely background to happy
I had done my early skating at Lincoln Rink and the little ponds in the Fells
woods. In an article titled “Skating Season”, I remembered Ell Pond in the
following way…

…“But the greatest fun was skating on Ell Pond. We would play Snap the Whip or
skate from shore to shore with our friends. When the boys finished playing pond
hockey, they would come to find their girlfriends for a final skate. Holding on
to the end of a hockey stick, I would glide across the ice with the cold wind in
my face making my eyes water. Freezing fingers and toes were forgotten in the
thrill of speeding in the darkness, living in the moment, making an indelible
memory of my teen years.”

In my college years Ell Pond came into my life in the aftermath of Hurricane
Carol. I recorded it in two articles, “Remembering a Great Building” and “Wading
through the Flood Waters”…

…“As the storm quieted, a friend and I walked from her house on West Emerson
Street to see what had happened. Ell Pond had grown in every direction. We
walked around to Melrose High, wading a good deal of the way. The pond and the
school were one entity. We waded waist deep into the cafeteria. Everything was
floating. Each of the stools made a circle on the surface of the water. That was
the last time I entered that lovely old building, and I guess the last time I
ever will.”

…“Do you remember those little wooden stools held together by heavy wire? Always
a little too low to be comfortable. Just the right size to fit under the long
cafeteria tables. Narrow enough to allow one more late-comer into a group. Wide
enough for an average student to relax during a quick lunch of sandwich and

All those stools were floating. Round brown polka dots on still gray water. Some
gently touching one another as friends. Some stuck in corners, not bothering to
try to escape. A few in the corridors where they did not belong. Most contained
by the cafeteria walls. All acting like the teenagers that used them. Had they
resided in the high school so long that they had assumed the personalities of
the kids?

My friend and I waded thigh-high through the cafeteria. We located "our" table
where daily we piled our textbooks and purses until the tabletop had
disappeared. Lunches in our laps, we settled down to hear the latest from our
friends, the five W's of teen life in the early fifties -- who went where with
whom. Monday noons were most animated rehashing the weekend, with Fridays
anticipating the weekend to come.

The custodian told us it was time to leave the hall of floating wooden circles
and tons of water brought by the Hurricane named for my friend – Carol. We bade
goodbye to the cafeteria knowing that waters would recede and relief would come.
We never did return. It was our final farewell to the lunch room of our youth,
three feet of water and hundreds of floating stools.”

As time went on I returned to Melrose to decorate gravesites each year. I would
pass the nursing home near the hospital where my father-in-law enjoyed the
scenery of Ell Pond from his room as I had done several years before from my
classrooms. It is amazing how a phrase like “Ell Pond” will pull long forgotten
tales from your mind.

July 6, 2012

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