William Bulger
Concord-Carlisle History Teacher

Interviewed May 3, 1977

Age 57

Concord Oral History Program
Cindy Magee, Student Interviewer
Supervised by Renee Garrelick

Click here for audio in .mp3 format.

Mr. Bulger is a Concord native as well as being a teacher at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School since September 1946. Cindy Magee, the interviewer, is a senior at the high school.

First of all, I'd like to tell you about the locations of the schools as they were in Concord then. I went to the first grade and the third grade at what is now the Youth Center. It was then called the Emerson School. The second grade was on a hill in an old wooden building called the Ripley Building on what is now the ground where the Hunt Gym stands. The fourth grade was an old wooden building called the portable building which now houses the school bus drivers over by the Peter Bulkeley Building, and the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades were in the Bulkeley Building. The ninth through the twelfth grade - the then high school - is what is now called the present Emerson School. There was also an old wooden building which was, as we knew it, the old high school, which later became the superintendent of schools office and there were classes in this particular building at the same time.

Now, during this time, we took all youngsters from the town of Carlisle. It was not a region, as it is today, but rather the Town of Carlisle paid tuition for each of their pupils. We also took in some students from Lincoln. In Lincoln the individual student was given the opportunity of going either to Concord High School, to Weston High School, or to Waltham High School. Lincoln paid tuition at whichever one of the three places that the pupil selected.

Of course, the school was much smaller at the time. As a matter of fact there were just 93 people in my graduating class. That was in 1937. And there was no such thing as school bus transportation, naturally, in those days. We walked to school in the warm weather, and then in the wintertime, not as a regular thing but on occasion, we rode to school on a pung. Now a pung is something that the youngster of today knows nothing about. It was a large wagon with high sides and instead of having wheels, it had big, large wooden runners with a steel belt on the bottom of the runner and was pulled by horses.

I can remember my teachers. I can recite just about every one of them. A third-grade teacher by the name of Leah Viles; my fourth grade teacher, Awilda Osgood; in the fifth grade, Mary Kane; in the sixth grade, Martha Arsenault; in the seventh and eighth grade, or the junior high, there were four teachers: Emma Clahane taught math; Minna Findeisen who taught history; Maude Findeisen, her sister, who taught English; and Margaret Murphy who taught science. Miss Legate was no longer around when I started school. Wells Hall was the superintendent of schools.

In the entire elementary and junior high system, there was not a male teacher. The males just didn't go into elementary education. Teaching has changed in the size of the classes, the amount of offerings that the kids have, the fact that they are able to better choose their own programs.

The Catholic Church here in Concord had quite an influence on my family's life. Of course, I was not aware of it myself, but my father many times told me that in order to attend mass on Sunday they had to hitch up the horse and wagon and go to Waltham. So all youngsters were baptized, first communion, everything took place in Waltham. Well, to me, it's sort of a happy event that the first catholic mass offered here in Concord was offered at the home of Molly Bulger, who was my great aunt. And since St. Bernard's Church has been changed, the stained glass window that was given to the church by Molly Bulger is no longer there, but in the back of the church now, there is mention made of the original donors of windows, and her name is mentioned there.

My family goes back to the year 1811 here in Concord. I can recall quite a few memorable events. Probably the biggest event for me in Concord at, shall we say, a tender age, was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of the North Bridge on April 19, 1925 which, as a matter of fact, turned out to be a horrible day - cold, wet snow had fallen during the night, and for the first time I saw a horse fall with a rider on his back, and he broke the poor fellow's leg and they had to take him to the hospital. That's the one thing I remember most about that parade. There was quite a crowd, nothing to what they had expected, however, because all the people in the vicinity had their farm land all set for parking privileges which they were charging, and not many people filled those spots up.

Also I can remember the hurricane, the first hurricane, of 1938. There was no prior warning of the hurricane. They expected that it would go out to sea, off Cape Hatteras, which it never did. It came right up over Long Island and then hit us here. There had been rain - quite a bit of heavy rain - a short time prior to the hurricane which loosened the roots of the trees and trees were down all over town. As a matter of fact, on that particular occasion, I caught the last train out of Boston, the five-minutes-past-three out of Boston, walked home, more or less leaning against the wind. The twenty- minutes-past-four out of Boston was blocked in Waltham, with trees falling on either side of the train on the tracks so the people had to spend the night in the train.

Another event that I can remember very well was the burning of my grandfather's auto shop, which was on Cambridge Turnpike where the Marabello greenhouse is now. The fire was set. It was a tremendously hot fire. There were about ten cars ruined in the fire, one of them belonging to General Leonard Wood who was a former Commissioner of the Phillippine Islands.

I'd like to make mention of two people to whom I owe a tremendous amount here at Concord-Carlisle High School. One is Helen Dexter whom I had both as a teacher and a colleague, and the other is Jack Donovan who was principal here at the high school for so many years and kept the high school a happy place to teach ... [plus ca. 35 seconds of dialogue not recorded in this transcript].

Text added 21 September 2011; audio added 16 May 2012. rcwh.