Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer.
Concord in the pre-automobile era represented a very special lifestyle.
Grandfather Hagerty came to Concord about 1818. He worked on the railroad in 1840 when the railroad went through. The land from the Sudbury River near Sudbury Road to the Reformatory was called Whisper Hill.
I had an Uncle George, who was a harness marker. He and his brothers were knowledgeable horsemen in the area. My Uncle John had a small farm and his most important crop was strawberries. The family farm was on Sudbury Road and it was purchased from my father by Mary Ogden Abbott's father.
I purchased a home that was then 8 Fairhaven Road. It is the third house on the right from the corner of Sudbury Road and Fairhaven Road. The house still stands but the porch has been removed. Porches were special in those days. It was a gathering place for the neighbors to come and call. This section of town was called Hubbardville named after Ebenezer Hubbard. The farm that was where my present house is now was George Hubbard's asparagus field.
George Hubbard had a bet with a man. The man's part of the bet was that if George won the bet he would surround George's farm with apple trees. George won the bet and some of the apple trees are still standing.
When I was young, I used to help George along with other neighborhood kids chase the cows home. Another pleasure when we were children was going up through the Abbott farm seeing the peacocks strutting around the farmyard and the fantailed doves.
Nearby was the George Wheeler farm and Mr. Wheeler used to hire the boys in the neighborhood to cut asparagus and pick beans. He was very good to the young folks. Then there was Grandma Poland who was a favorite of the children. She used to sit in a bay window, and she had a goose's breast bone that she would use to tell us the weather. If the bone was transparent, it would be a clear day; and if it was a cloudy day, the bone wasn't transparent.
During the winter when we were young, we would get up and rush down to the potbellied stove to get dressed. We would hear the hounds barking and we would rush to the window, and it would be Mr. Higgenson and his party going by. It was the hunt. Also in the winter when the milk was delivered, the cream would be standing way up above the bottles. We used to get sugar and make ice cream. They used a horse blanket to cover the milk in the delivery pung to keep it from freezing but that didn't do the trick.
We had Mr. Tuttle, who delivered pitch. And Mr. Ahearn came around in his wagon delivering meat. The Urquhart Bakery was a lovely bake shop in town.
My father used to go coon hunting with Ed Garfield, who was a descendent of President Garfield. Garfield Road was named after him.
In those days in the winter, the snow was very deep and the plowing was done by horses so we didn't get out as fast as we do now. We had to walk a mile to school in the morning, back home for lunch, back to school, and home at night, so we walked four miles a day to school and back.
I went to the Ripley School, Peter Bulkeley School and the old high school, which is now torn down. The Ripley School was located where the Hunt Gym is now. My father went to the little red school house, which is now down on Bedford Street. He started school at the age of 5. He and all his brothers and sisters were born in Concord.
In the winter they used to cut lumber on my uncle's land, which is now Conantum. The drifts were so high that we could jump from the drifts up on the lumber loaded on the pungs.
We used to go up to Fairhaven Hill and climb the cliffs up there which we thought was a lot of fun.
Old George Warren, an old time resident, used to go to Lake Walden fishing. He told me that he tagged some fish, threw them in Lake Walden and caught them in Fairhaven Bay, so there is an underground pass which connects Fairhaven Bay and Lake Walden.
Dr. Titcomb was one of the greatest doctors we ever had. When you called him, before you had the phone hung up, he would be at the house. In the winter he used to go by horse and sleigh, and when the drifts were so high and the roads weren't plowed and he couldn't get through with the sleigh, he would take the horse out of the sleigh, get on it's back and finish his calls.
He lived on Sudbury Road in the second house on the right from Devens Street. He had a cane that had a sword in it. One day my sister and a friend were coming from school and Dr. Titcomb was going to the corner of Devens Street and Sudbury Road, and as they were passing his house, he pulled out the sword and scared them half to death.
Movies used to be held in the Armory on Everett Street and when Dr. Titcomb would go to the movies Saturday night, it would invariably be flashed on the screen that he would have to go back to his office. So he never saw a movie through.
Dr. Titcomb was great for operating on people particularly taking out their appendix. He was so good at it that he would only take three stitches, he knew just where to cut. And they were afraid to let him go into the library for fear he would take the appendix out of the books.
There was a family that lived in the last house on Fairhaven Road just before Route 2. Several of the family members died of smallpox and because it was a contagious disease, they weren't allowed to be buried in the cemetery. So they are buried in a little wooded plot just beyond Route 2 on the left.
The distance from Fairhaven Road to Concord Center was one mile. We could walk to town, and when we went into town we knew everybody. The town was a quaint little town. Miss Houghton had a shop where Mary Curtis is now. She used to have nosegays of violets that were so fragrant including carnations and pansies as well as the lovely gifts she sold. Then there was Miss Buck's store. The entrance on Main Street is where the Concord Clothing Company is now. She sold yards, notions, and cloth. When you would go in there, she would hold you up for hours telling you different cures for different ailments. Then there was Billy Cross's store located where Mary Curtis is now also. He also sold dry goods, cloth, and so forth. The store was heated in the winter by a potbellied stove and when you would go in there, Billy and the clerks would be sitting at the stove with their feet up on the stove trying to keep warm. Every time Billy made a sale, he would write down the sale on a little piece of paper and throw it into a box he had there.
There was a shoe store on Main Street that I forgot to tell you about. It was owned by Frank Pierce and was located where the music store is now. We also had a Chinese laundry where George Vassel's jewelry store is now. Then Johnny Hansen had a shoe store on Walden Street where my mother always took us to get our shoes before we went back to school. In the old days, John Hansen was the old lamplighter. He used to come to Potter Street at Sudbury Road to light the lamp.
We had a blacksmith's shop owned by Mr. Moreau where the entrance to Stop & Shop is now. There was also one up Grant Street owned by Mr. McGann. Then there was one in back of Anderson's store owned by Mr. Furey. It was great fun coming home from school and going into Moreau's Blacksmith Shop and watching them shoe horses.
When I was young, we had streetcars that ran from the Veterans' Memorial up Main Street to the library, up Sudbury Road to Thoreau Street, by the depot to Main Street, and then toward West Concord and Maynard. We used to take the streetcar to Bedford to Lexington Park. They had an open air theater and animals and amusements. We used to go there when we were children.
I want to mention some of the teachers we loved. They were Maude and Minna Findeissen, and they taught four generations of my family. On the last day of school, the barges for the different sections of town would come in all decorated, and whoever had the prettiest barge would get the prize. Usually it was the group from Nine Acre Corner. They would string daises and wildflowers on their barge and it was beautiful.