Interviewed September 24, 2004
Colonial Inn, Thoreau Suite
Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer.
Click here for audio in .mp3 format
1954 was a time of the Cold War, awareness of the nuclear age and the atomic weapons race, fear of Communist infiltration, charges by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Communist subversives and the televised McCarthy-Army Hearings. The media of television was increasingly available to families and would change its dynamics. The nation was beginning to be an automobile society but life still centered around the family and town, families shopped locally, and students moved about freely without concern for safety. Concord was a hometown to come of age in of safety and security where people knew your name.
Presence of farms and open space- The Inferrera Farm on Lexington Road, assistance of the Middlesex County Extension Agent., Back of the Depot neighborhood.
The winning Concord High School football team, coach Bernie Megin and support by the Concord community.
Family life-Regime of having dinner, special nature and socialization of the Sunday family dinner, going to church together, life revolved around the family, unusual for mothers to be working. Introduction and popularity of television- a family event initially but changing impact on family dynamics. Movies at Veterans Building and outside of Concord. Girl scout activities, trip to Washington D.C., and meeting with junior senator John F. Kennedy.
Rite of passage with an automobile license, but reliance on parents cars. Concord High School- students from Concord, Carlisle, Bedford, Lincoln. Social division of classes between college oriented and vocational, girls not expected to take harder courses like physics.
Style of clothes, greater formality of dress for church, work, going into Boston- hats, gloves, stockings.
Civil defense protection from attack. Fear of Communism, televised McCarthy hearings, local impact of accusations on certain Conantum professors, the Conantum neighborhood.
Recreation along the Concord River and Lake Walden. Moving about freely without concern for safety. People knew who you were in town and looked out for you. Sense of a hometown of security and stability. Popularity of local corner drugstores of Richardson's and Snow's- soda fountains, hangouts for teenagers. School and local entertainment.
Six members of the Concord High School Class of 1954, gathered at the Colonial Inn before the beginning of their official reunion activities to do an oral history recollecting Concord during their era. The 137 students of the Concord High School Class of 1954 were from Concord, Carlisle, Bedford, and Lincoln.
David Casey lived on Crescent Road and is a physician living in Huntington Beach, California.
Dorothy DiCicco lived on Belknap Street and is retired in Acton.
Bob (Robert) Downey lived at 49 Lexington Road and is an investment banker with Goldman Sachs in New York City where he lives.
Hazel Maxine Fultz Goetschius lived on Walden Street and is retired in Monterey, Massachusetts in the Berkshires.
Dominic Inferrera lives at 49 Shadyside Avenue alongside the Lexington Road family farm and has been a heavy equipment operator and truck driver.
Barbara Pereira McGuigan lived on Sudbury Road and is director of development research for the University of New Hamsphire Foundation and lives in Stratham, New Hampshire.
Dominic - My mom and dad came from Italy back in 1925. I was born and raised here in a family of four and brought up on a farm. We made a living growing mostly strawberries and asparagus and ran a roadside stand on Lexington Road. The stand is still going today as a matter of fact. When I was growing up, I was enthused with hunting and trapping. I used to go check the traps early in the morning before school. I have been a member of the Concord Rod & Gun Club since I was 17 years old, and I've been interested in conservation all these years.
Maxine - My father, Max (Fultz) was the county extension agent and also covered the State of Massachusetts for fruit, but was the Middlesex County agent for fruits and vegetables. He used to go to Dominic's dad and would help him grow different bulbs. The extension service at that time was over by the Emerson playground. My father knew everybody around here who had a farm, so he would go to help and then he would come home with fresh vegetables, fresh corn. People always liked to load him up.
David - My neighborhood was not built up at that time. Crescent Road was off Elm Street but just one or two roads off. I understand now there's been more development around there. When I was a kid I used to go to the depot and be picked up by a farmer. A bunch of kids would get on a truck in the morning and we'd all go and work the fields and come back at night. It was a couple of interesting summers I did that. We'd hoe corn, pick, wash, and pack beets, and send them off to Faneuil Hall. It was only up until a year ago that I could eat a beet. I could never stand beets. Now I can eat a beet without too much discomfort. It was a lot of fun. It was a nice healthy outdoor life. We did not have a farm, but it was a wooded area around my house. I could walk quite a way, in fact all the way to the railroad track and there were no homes there. It was all woods and a couple of small ponds. I could see birds and small animals. It was semi- rural.
Bob - I worked on a farm picking strawberries. I remember that, and those were long days.
Barbara - My family built a house on Sudbury Road and behind us were just fields with a farm across the street. We could smell the manure in the spring when they put that out. And pheasants were everywhere. I had an Irish water spaniel, and he went crazy because we had pheasants in the backyard. Now that whole area is built up with homes.
Dominic - Now you can't find a pheasant in town. I remember when there used to be plenty of them. The Rod & Gun Club every year used to distribute about 30 to 50 birds just for the sake of hunting, and they used to come down to our farm to let them out because we had plenty of cover and food, left over corn stalks and stuff, that pheasants really enjoyed. So there used to be plenty of them and now you can't find one. There are other animals. This morning I saw five wild turkeys in my backyard. When I was growing up, I never saw a wild turkey. And there are a lot of deer around only because you just can't hunt anymore. The land is so congested that there is not enough open land to hunt because you have to be within 500 feet of a dwelling or a road. So there are so many animals around now just because you can't hunt them. The number of hunters has decreased big time over the whole state because of growth.
Dorothy - My neighborhood on Belknap Street was a very close knit neighborhood. Neighbor knew neighbor. You could visit each other. If your mother went out of town, to Boston, you went to a neighbor and stayed at their home. Everyone got along very well. The neighborhood was known as "Back of the Depot." It was made up of Italian, Irish and a couple of Scandinavian families. Behind our house there was a Scandinavian family and he was a carpenter. He did carpentry work for my grandfather. It was a tight knit family area. You could go off and leave your door unlocked and nobody would bother you. Everybody got along. There weren't any of these troublesome neighborhoods that you read about now in the papers. At the time of the oral history the 40 game winning state record of the Concord High School football team during the years 1948-1952 under Coach Bernie Megin had just been tied by Acton-Boxboro High School. Concord-Carlisle High School and Acton-Boxboro High School were scheduled to play the following week The September 30 game proved an exciting and close one but Acton-Boxboro broke the 40 game winning streak 19-7.
Bob - The winning streak ended in 1952. We lost two games in '52, which would have been my junior year. The interesting thing to me was that Concord at that time, of course so famous for the Revolution starting here and so famous for the transcendentalists starting in the 19th century, these were things you know, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott, but for us football was critically important. The winning streak and just the tradition of football here in Concord was everything. As I say, we lost two games my junior year, but we were undefeated again my senior year, that would be the fall of 1953. It meant so much to me. I had a brother who was at Andover, and dad wanted me to join him there, and there was no way you could tear me away from this place. It wasn't just the great academics or the traditions and history of the town; it was definitely that tradition of winning football.
Barbara - And how the community supported it. Thanksgiving morning, that game against Lexington - everybody went to. Whether you were a child or knew anybody on the team had nothing to do with it. Remember the games that were played in the south and they raised money to send the football team down to Winston-Salem for a post-season game. That was during the streak and that was an amazing thing. People donated money to send the team down there.
Bob - Many of the Catholic boys on the team went to mass prior to the game. It was just kind of what we did. It wasn't making a huge statement; it was just what we did. Games were on Saturday and you couldn't eat meat on Fridays in those days, so you would start off with a steak in the morning if you could get it at home and after mass you would go and eat your steak. That was the theory in those days, you get a lot of meat in you then you would be stronger in the game that afternoon. That little church, St. Bernard's, is still there that we all attended.
David - As Bob was saying, it was a really interesting statement when we went down to North Carolina and we were champions of D division and we played the triple A division of North Carolina for the Piedmont Bowl. I remember getting off the train and smelling tobacco. They treated us wonderfully down there. I was not a player, I was not that talented. I was smart enough to become manager and avoided bodily injury but it allowed me to travel with the team. I had fun with that. It was great camaraderie.
Bob - Charlie Mayo was the manager too.
Barbara - A lot of people went down too. I thought it was interesting how the community responded to the football team in high school. I wonder if it is the same interest today as the community had in the high school, not just the football team, but in the activities of the high school and were proud of what happened such as the concerts.
Dominic - I was in the band at the time so I wasn't on the football team. I don't believe we got to go down for that game, but we practiced every Wednesday out on the field to get ready for Saturday's game. It was quite interesting. I was a drummer by the way.
Maxine - Bernie Megin was a legend.
David - He was a legend in his own time. He was a motivating guy, and he was a good coach. I was always surprised that he didn't move on to college ranks. I don't know whether it was his choice or what. I thought he could do it.
Bob - Yes I think he could have done it. He had the Notre Dame tradition. He played for Notre Dame, and he was a very inspiring coach, no doubt about that. He also had two terrific assistants in Walter Carew and John O'Connell. These guys were great. I'm looking at this old article here in 1953. Megin is interviewed here and he talks about his assistants. Now you have all kinds of special coaches for everything and every position, but then to have three coaches of that caliber was quite amazing, to have that kind of depth and talent in coaching was extraordinary.
Maxine - It was my understanding that he didn't go on to college because of the streak and he was having such success in Concord and he enjoyed that.
Dominic - I remember the band always had to play the Notre Dame fight song.
Barbara - In our family you always had dinner together. No matter what you were doing, in sports or whatever, you had to be home at dinner time. Going to church together was another thing that my family did. You had to be there. In our family there were a lot of events that were family oriented. It was unusual in those days for the mother to be working, so you had that kind of atmosphere of family always there.
Maxine - We always had dinner Sunday afternoons. We would all go to church and then when we came home, my mother would prepare the afternoon meal because we had one meal and whoever was around stayed. So she never knew how many it was going to be, so we always had turkey pot pie. We could have anywhere between 5 and 10 people.
Barbara - Catholics and Protestants got along very well. I always had Protestant friends and there were never any problems.
Maxine - Every Friday afternoon there was Stations of the Cross, being Protestant everybody knew there would be Stations of the Cross, and you had to wait for your Catholic friends.
Dorothy - Saturday evening we used to watch "Gunsmoke" and a couple of other programs and then on Sunday I believe it was the "Colgate Comedy Hour". We always sat there together. Of course, we only had three channels, 4, 5, and 7. We were one of the first in the neighborhood to get a television and I remember it was this great big thing. The screen itself was probably only about a 12-inch screen but you had a big piece of furniture. It was black and white of course.
David - It did lessen family conversation. Certainly in our house at least it changed the dynamics of the dinner meal on Sundays in particular when Ed Sullivan came on. Then the TV trays would come out and we would sit there and eat while we were watching. It probably changed a lot of dynamics in conversation as to the lack of it. I really think that was a big event in terms of family dynamics.
Dorothy - I remember sitting down having supper and watching the clock saying, "Oh, 10 minutes. I've got 10 minutes to do the dishes because I have to watch a program." My father would be watching the news and we would say, "Okay, now it's such and such a time, we're going to watch our program." But I remember always every Sunday you could not go near the television especially during spring and summer because that was baseball season and then came football season and we could not disturb him during that. After the game was over, then he would say, "Now, you can watch your programs."
Bob - We were one of the very last to get a TV and that was because, like you were talking about David, if you're all watching TV, you're not participating and you're not having conversations and so forth, and my father had instituted something for our family that was about fading at this time, but he had started it when we were much younger. Before television, the idea was we could not, my brothers nor I, go to a movie unless we had read a book and given a book report or learned some poetry or "To Be or Not To Be" or the Declaration of Independence or something like that. My father would give these assignments and then my mother had to hear us complain. But he instilled that in us and it was fading anyway just because of other interests by then, but television was obviously not going to be conducive to that, so he resisted getting a television for a long time. We were probably among the last. By the way, I never did that with my kids and I always kind of regretted it. Maybe it's the difference in the family. In other words I never had my kids have to read books and give book reports like my father did. It was a wonderful thing. I can still recite the Declaration of Independence or "To Be or Not To Be."It stays with you for a lifetime, so it's a wonderful idea. I just never adopted it myself as I was just too busy with life, and that's because life was different when we were bringing up our kids. You just didn't have time for this. We ate at different times; we met together at different times.
Dominic - Many a night we sat and listened to the radio. I can remember sitting with my ear to one of those old radios. "The Shadow" and all those programs, such as "Superman". We couldn't wait to hear them. Our ears were glued to the thing.
Barbara - Something that occurred to me when Dottie said there were so few channels was that we were all watching the same program. The community knew about the same programs. We all knew what happened in "I Love Lucy". It was something that did have an impact on our conversations in general in the community. Whereas today with 140 channels, you don't have that same common background and interests.
Dorothy - Back then if you missed a program, you could always ask your neighbor what happened. You know like "I Love Lucy" or what happened on "Gunsmoke".
Dominic - Milton Berle was the biggest. I remember the special night for the Milton Berle show. You wouldn't miss that. I remember going to the neighbors just to see that before we got a TV. We were lucky enough to go to a neighbor to see it.-
Barbara - For movies we went to Maynard or Boston or Waltham.
Dominic - The Veterans Building used to have a movie on Sunday afternoons for kids.
Barbara - I think it was Saturday afternoons.
Maxine - As Girl Scouts we were raising money for our troop to go down to Washington so we put on movies at the Girl Scout House for the little kids on Saturday mornings. We made lolly pops and pop corn and had balloons, and we raised a lot of money.
Barbara - We were called Senior Social Scouts and the reason why was because we were the first candy strippers at Emerson Hospital and had our picture in the national journal of hospitals because we were the first. Maxine's mother was one of the Girl Scout leaders. It was quite an interesting program we had. We didn't get the badges, but we did a lot of community work, volunteer work.
Maxine - When we raised the money to go to Washington, our biggest thrill was meeting John F. Kennedy. He had his picture taken with us at the Capitol, and then he autographed all our pictures for us. He was Senator then.
Barbara - Oh, I should have brought it. I have a picture of you and Senator Kennedy, a snapshot that I took and still have. We were disappointed at the time because Senator Saltonstall was the senior Senator and he wasn't available so this junior Senator came. So of course when we met him, we all fell in love with him because he was so handsome and so dynamic. He spent several hours with us taking us through the Senate and we went on the train. And he talked to us about how important it was for us to get involved with our community and to study history. He was really very different on a one-to-one basis than he was on television. He was very quiet, very serious, and very friendly.
Maxine - He was very patient. He gave us a lot of time. We were impressed.
Bob - Thinking about movies, the best actor in 1954 was Marlon Brando and the best picture was "On The Waterfront". "I could have been a contender!"
Dominic - They made a movie in Concord, "Never Too Late," but that came a little later.
David - When you got your drivers license, it changed your life. Before you had your driver's license you obviously were dependent upon some older sibling or if you were lucky a friend or someone who could drive you to such exotic places as Waltham or Boston or Newton or even to Maynard to see a movie. So when you got your license, it was quite an event and freedom. That is freedom if you could ever get your dad to let you drive the car.
Barbara - And that was different than today because it was unusual to have a second car that teenagers could have, and it was matter of bargaining with a parent to get the car. Anybody who had their own car, that was really big. Sheila Dougherty had her own car and several other classmates.
Bob - Coburn Benson really had an old car.
Barbara - How different it is today when most families have two or three cars. Kids think they need to have a car.
Dominic - There were only a half dozen in the parking lot when we went to school. Sometimes kids had their parents cars on occasion but there weren't very many.
Maxine - At the high school we had kids from Carlisle, Bedford, Lincoln besides Concord and West Concord.
Barbara - The high school was organized around a choice of whether you were going on to college or not because they had college courses, commercial, and non-college. As a freshman you were almost making that decision whether you were going on to college or whether you were going on to a technical field or to work. It was sort of tracking and in some sense that segregated people too early in my opinion. It was very much an individual thing.
Bob - That still happens a lot in Europe today. In modern western culture decisions were made at a very young age.
Barbara - I haven't looked at it recently but the percentage of students from Concord who are going on to a four-year college is much higher than it was in our day. But I remember when I took physics I was one of two women in that class, and I bet today it would 50-50. But it wasn't considered a choice for a woman to take physics.
David - I remember there was a big debate about that Barbara whether they were going to let you in that class.
Bob - Did they let the guys into homemaking?
Dorothy - Yes, I think so. In homemaking they ate the cookies.
Barbara - Very clearly the expectation was not there. I think if my family didn't have the expectation for me to go on and pursue, I'm not sure the school would have been there to say that. My parents really insisted I take those tougher courses and I had to really argue with the guidance counselors to take them.
Maxine - I was thinking about the clothes we wore the other day. No one wore slacks to school. You didn't wear jeans. You always wore a skirt. The guys wore chinos but never jeans. The big thing was the penny loafers and the neck scarf and sweaters.
Barbara - You wore the scarf under the collar of your blouse and tied it. It was very uniform when you think about it. Those who sort of strayed outside that were looked on as oh, you wore a leather jacket!! But in church you always wore a hat and gloves. You didn't even go into Boston without wearing gloves. My father always wore a hat. I don't remember seeing baseball caps in school. You know everybody wears a baseball cap now. You had to be on a baseball team to wear a cap back then.
Dominic - In the Catholic church at that time women always wore a hat when they went to church. You had to have your head covered when you went to church.
Bob - As to haircuts, for the guys it was always a crewcut.
Barbara - I worked a summer in Filene's in Boston and you were not allowed to wear a sleeveless dress or blouse. You had to have your arms covered and you had to wear stockings.
David - It was pretty uniform. Everybody wore chinos and shirts. I'm not sure if the white bucks were in then. But that was kind of the uniform.
Dorothy - In that 8th grade picture I showed you there are some kids who have saddle shoes on, so I think saddle shoes were in then.
David - It's sort of interesting though because even though it was not a uniform, some schools like my daughter's school, require a uniform. This was not mandated, we just did it. Pretty much everybody wore the same clothes.
Maxine - And your skirt was calf length - it was not short.
Barbara - And when we had proms, we all wore long dresses, very covered up.
Dominic - I've got a picture here of the old industrial arts school we had there. This was where the Emerson Umbrella is today. We had woodworking class, machine shop, auto mechanic shop there.
Barbara - And for some reason they had the physics class there too on the second floor.
Dorothy - When we lived in Concord, my father was involved in civil defense, but then we moved to Acton in 1957. It was in about 1960 when we were having trouble with Cuba and all the rest, the neighbors got together and that was when they started to build fallout shelters. My father and a neighbor went to Harvard where they had a Civil Defense Office and got blueprints on how to make a fallout shelter. It was made of cinder blocks but I don't know the exact dimensions. They were put together like you were making a brick wall and then it was plastered over. It was built so radiation couldn't get in. You had to have supplies for three to seven days which consisted of water, a transistor radio, flashlight, extra batteries, canned food and a sterno stove to heat your food, and also a couple of chairs or chaise lounges to sit on until you heard the all clear on your transistor radio.
Bob - What you're talking about wasn't so much 1953 or 1954, it was five or six years later. I remember Nelson Rockefeller in New York was big on bomb shelters and so forth. It was very true and you experienced it here, but for me I was long gone from Concord by the time bomb shelters got to be a big issue.
Barbara - But civil defense was a part of that time because I was part of the neighborhood group and my father had some responsibility. He was head of the food service at Middlesex and Middlesex was designated as a place where people could be fed. He would meet with town people to make plans if it was going to happen. So it did happen in the early '50s because I was still in high school then. We had civil defense drills as to where people were supposed to go and what to do, but I never had a fear. I never thought something was really going to happen as opposed to today with the terrorists. I think there's a fear that we know something terrible can happen here. I remember take-cover drills in grammar school but not in high school.
David - In high school, it was more of the threat of communism. I remember in Spanish class we spent more time talking about communist dialogue that went on much more than we did about Spanish. There was a real division in the country about how many communists there were and where they were, how big a threat they were. It was a big discussion at the time. You look back at it now at least I do and I think how could we have been so stupid to think all this stuff, but in those days that was very much in the headlines, and it tore apart a good part of the country for a while.
Barbara - My history class watched the McCarthy hearings in the spring of our senior year. We were asked to watch it at home and we had to report on it. That was much of our history discussion. I remember there was one Harvard professor who lived in Conantum who was accused of being a communist and it really hurt his family. It was devastating to him. It was written up in the paper. He was not a communist but McCarthy accused him as well as a number of other Harvard professors. It was a very terrible time for some people. I remember those hearings very well and I thought he was horrible.
Bob - I can remember we had a track meet with Rindge Tech in Cambridge. We used to go in there and as we went past Harvard, I remember someone saying, "You know they don't let you in here unless you're a communist." I thought that doesn't sound right but maybe. It's a good thing I'm going to Dartmouth. You heard it in the oddest ways. You wouldn't talk about it and then something like that would come up.
David - Innuendo and all kinds of pervasive stuff like that.
Barbara - People lost their jobs. And Conantum as you remember was built for faculty members by Harvard (MIT). I babysat there for one of the architects and he was being accused of being communist. It was very real. McCarthy did a lot of damage to a lot of people unfairly I think.
Dorothy - I think even the movie theater producers and directors were accused and blackballed.
David - It was Welch the lawyer. That was the defining moment when he said, "Have you no shame, sir?" McCarthy just started to shrink down at that point. He became nobody after a while. I think he loved being hated as much as he loved being loved as long as he was there and as long as he was part of the scene. But when nobody paid any attention to him, that was the worst thing.
Barbara - My brother was at Harvard at the time, and I think that was probably why it made such an impression on me because there was a lot of turmoil there and he brought that home.
Barbara - I do remember the Conantum neighborhood because it was very modern in construction and design. This architect that I mentioned who became head of the architectural department at Harvard had designed some of those homes, and he was roundly criticized because they were not colonials. They were these very, very modem designs and some people were offended by that. They were very open style and they used space very well and they were cheap to build because they didn't have any basements.
Maxine - I remember they were a lot of young academics who moved in there. Remembrance of boating along the Concord River and Lake Walden
David - The South Bridge boat house is still there, and I remember going there as a kid. That's where I learned how to boat and that's where I learned to love boating. I have always had boats ever since then. I grew up there learning canoeing first and then a motor boat, a little 7 1/2 horse power engine out to Fairhaven Bay. I think the river played a big role in everything I enjoyed about the town -- all three rivers, the Concord, the Assabet, and the Sudbury. It's unique.
Maxine - As girls on Sunday afternoons, we used to go down to the river and get a canoe and paddle all the way up to the North Bridge, but going back was like paddling uphill.
Barbara - I remember walking up Sudbury Road and crossing Route 2 and walking through the back woods to Lake Walden and walking around Lake Walden. I'm not sure I'd try that now. It seemed so safe at that time. We had no fear. At least I had no fear of walking alone at night or in the woods or anywhere in Concord. That's quite a change now.
Dorothy- I used to baby-sit for a family over on Elm Street, and I had to baby-sit at night and I'd walk home. Nobody bothered me. I used to walk up to Howard Johnson's from my house and never thought anything of it. Two or three of us would walk to Howard Johnson's on Sunday afternoon.
Bob - I enjoyed the canoeing mostly. I didn't do an awful lot of it but I remember reading Thoreau's The Concord and Merrimack and then I read that someone had redone that route following the Journals and trying to go up the Concord and the Merrimack, and what it was like described then and what it was like now. It was a very fascinating story because obviously in 150 years there's a drastic change.
Dorothy - Around Lake Walden a lot has changed in 50 years too.
Dominic - I used to do a lot of fishing at Lake Walden. There was a lot of good trout in that pond. I remember on opening day, April 15, that place was literally surrounded by fishermen. Now you don't see as many. In the middle it is very deep and in some areas it is really deep. There's the story way back that that pond and White Pond were connected underground, but there was never any proof.
Bob - I used to serve hamburgers and hot dogs in the food place along Route 26 at Lake Walden. I worked seven days a week at 90 cents an hour serving hot dogs and hamburgers and maybe some French fries, 12 hours a day, and it was great.
Maxine - You had a little white hat, didn't you Bob?
Bob - I think I did.
Dominic - There was a trailer camp right there. But they reconfigured that area right in front of the pond when the state took it over. At one time you could just walk right down in there and not have a problem and all that area was parking. Now they make everyone park on the other side of the road. Growing up on the farm one of our treats as kids after my dad used to tell us if we finished weeding all the rows of tomatoes, he'd take us over the Lake Walden to go for a quick dip in the pond. That was a big treat for us. There were no fees then.
Maxine - Wherever you go, people have always heard about Concord and Lexington and when you say you grew up in Concord, immediately they have a picture what was it is like, and I think that's why you still think of it as your home.
David - Even as far as the West Coast people would know about Concord. They don't pronounce it correctly but I was out fishing about two weeks ago actually and a friend asked was I going to be playing golf and I said no, I was going back to my reunion. He asked where it was and I said Concord, Massachusetts, and he said, "Oh, you mean Con'cord. I was out there two years ago and I loved it." People love the place probably because in part it's the historical significance but more than that. It's a comfortable place. When I grew up and when we all grew up, it was a safe place. It was a place where somebody said earlier you could leave the doors unlocked and you could walk safely. It was small enough so that you knew a lot of people. You were not just a number, you were a person. You knew people and they knew you. If I had a little problem, which occasionally I might have, Chief Ryan would call my dad, and things would get smoothed over. It was nice.
Dominic - At one time you could go downtown and know almost everybody in the town and now you don't even know anybody. Those people knew who you were and if you got into trouble, you got reprimanded by them plus when you got home, your parents reprimanded you.
Barbara - Your parents knew what was going on. I walked a mile from our home to the center of town, and all those neighbors knew who I was and we knew the police chief and he knew us. It was a very safe environment. You didn't think about it not being safe. It was the absence of fear rather than thinking I am safe. You didn't even think about it, as a woman especially.
David - People watched over one another.
Bob - I was introduced to the chair of the Board of Selectman since I've been back here. I don't remember knowing that person when I lived here. What I love about Concord is the look of the place is unchanged in 50 years. To me nothing has changed. So much of America is a mall, and everything is homogenized, but Concord is unique, authentic, individual, that's the look you get. I haven't checked any of the stores, and I'm told so many of the stores are upscale. You can't see that as a visitor. You identify the look but maybe not in what's in those stores.
Dominic - There used to be the corner drugstores, Richardson's and Snow's, and they are no longer there. One is a toy shop and the other is a leather goods shop. They were hangouts for us teenagers. They had a soda fountain.
David - I remember going there after school either to Richardson's or Snow's and I think I mostly hung out at Richardson's. It was fun to stand outside and watch the passing parade.
Dominic - If you wanted a Coca-Cola, they would mix you the Coke right there.
Barbara - Cherry cokes.
Dominic - They had the syrup and the soda water there and that's how you would get a Coke.
Maxine - We used to get out of school at ten after two and we knew practice would start at three so if you ran down really quick you could stop at Sally Ann's and get a regular donut for a nickel or a jelly donut for a dime, and then you would go to the drug store and get your Coke or cheese crackers and make it back by 3:00.
Barbara - We did that regularly. And they would ask about the family. I sort of followed Concord through the years because my parents lived here until 1996, and it has been subtle in some ways, but there have been real changes in terms of the growth. The cost of housing has made it more homogenized.
Bob - But you don't see that in this downtown section.
Barbara - You don't see the change of ownership, the change of stores and what it meant to people living here, the most expensive stores and the lack of a drugstore. It really did change the way you thought of the town as you lived through those years. It's still a wonderfil town no doubt about it, but it's different. It's wealthier, housing is more expensive, everything is more expensive. I think we had a more diverse population in the '50s than you have today. More people could live in Concord.
Bob - Whatever happened to the Enterprise and the Monitor and whatever the third newspaper was? Are they still around?
Barbara - No, the Concord Journal is part of a larger group called the Community Newspaper. At least there is a community newspaper.
Maxine - Where we lived, I think it had five apartments and we had a big one in the front and right behind us was two old maid school teachers, one of whom was Miss Dyer who was a science teacher I think. She was old then, at least we thought. We had slumber parties and they would always give cheers for Miss Dyer. The garbage can was a big thing with her and we would always put something in her garbage can, and as soon as my mother and father would get home, she would make a beeline to tell them exactly what had happened. She was a legend.
Dominic - How about Minna and Maude Findeissen in grade school?
Dorothy - The one I wanted to mention was Miss Goodfriend. Don't you three guys sit here and tell me you don't remember Miss Goodfriend.
Barbara - Oh, she was sort of glamorous.
Dorothy - She was young and thin with reddish-blonde hair and well developed and the guys used to stare when she walked by. And David had a player piano in his home, and if you got really lucky you got invited as a group to David's house when we played that player piano and Charlie Napali could not pump it.
David - Charlie had a problem with that. He's a big strong bruising guy but he never could catch on to the timing on the pedals.
Bob - You know that's one thing that kind of distinguishes our era because we were just a little before rock and roll. We were just on the cusp of rock and roll. At that time Broadway shows were very big and it certainly was important. I know My Fair Lady was just coming out then and we all had the long playing records and that sort of thing. My mother had 18 years of voice lessons and taught piano and so forth. I'll show you the picture from our school newspaper of our group Three Joes and a Nose, and my mother would rehearse us. The Three Joes were Charlie Mayo, Charlie Napali, Bob Davidson and yours truly. She would rehearse us and we sang at the football banquet.
Barbara - I played the piano for you one time.
Bob - I think you did. But the sad thing about that is I am the only one left of those four.
Dorothy - And David was in a band too in high school.
Barbara - I played piano for Bob when he played a solo at graduation. Do you remember that? That fantastic trumpet lullaby.
David - We had the Logger Rhythms as a group. I played the one string bass, the wash tub bass.
Dominic - How about the old minstrel shows we used to have at Monument Hall? We used to have one every year at Monument Hall.