Feb 4: FLORIAN WOITOWICZ (1921-2010 ) A great storyteller

Florian Woitowicz, like his father before him, is a great storyteller. His tales clearly depict life in the Forge Village section of Westford beginning close to 80 years ago, including rich history of the Russians, Polish, and French-Canadians who came to work in the Abbot Worsted mills. Florians everyday experiences and observances add much color to Westfords past. For years he has been a much sought-after carpenter in Westford. His love for nature and the outdoors is still reflected in his lifestyle today – he’s still tapping maple trees for syrup. Also, Florian continues to enjoy his camp in New Hampshire.



Tales from Forge Village

I’m Florian Woitowicz from 53 Pleasant Street. I was born and brought up on Story Street in Forge Village, when it was a dead-end street. But now, it’s not a dead-end street anymore, Story Street. It goes right around. But I remember its being a dead-end street. Our house was on Story Street, right on top of the hill on the right-hand side. My father bought that land from Prescott. Actually the lot line facing the village does not go straight. It has a jog in it, and the reason for the jog was because Richard Prescott, at the time, had a plum tree in there and didn’t want to part with it, even though my father said, “I’ll let you pick the plums as long as you want to.” But he still wouldn’t sell that little corner. That’s why we have a jog, or rather my brother does now, because he lives there. My father bought the land from there all the way up to the street, and I think Mr. Story owned that before he sold it to Richey Prescott. I remember Richey Prescott. He used to sell shiners to the fishermen. He had a gravity-feed [overhead-tank] toilet and a sink. He lived on Prescott Street, across from what is now Hervey Cote’s garage [52 East Prescott Street].

Incidentally, my wife was born and brought up right across the street from me. She is French. Her family came from Canada. [There were] more French [in Forge Village] than any others. [Her name was] Brule. She was born here. I’m almost sure she was born here, or she was one year old or something like that, but I think she was born here. Her father was a second hand in the mill. They call ’em second hands. They were boss of a floor, of one room. Her father was boss of a twisting room. A lot of the French originally came from Canada, and they still go back – Three Rivers, St. Michael’s, and St. Thomas.

I went to Cameron School, and then I went to Lowell Trade School. I also went to high school for a couple of years at Westford Academy, actually. Not the old Academy, the one where the YWCA is now [today, Roudenbush Community Center]. I saw a picture in which I thought Lawrence Academy and Westford Academy looked identical – saw it in Johnny Young’s bookstore, which you never heard of, I’m sure. That was right across the street from my father’s house. Almost directly across the street. Next to the old bowling alley, Abbot Worsted’s bowling alley. Actually, Johnny Young and another man ran that bowling alley – I think it was Dureault. And that little store across the street from the bookstore, it became a barroom. And they used to have a blind fiddler come there and play. I don’t remember the blind fiddler’s [name], but he would come and play. There’s only one of the Russians that played an instrument that I know of – John Bobryk – and, to me, he played the same tune over and over again. He had an accordion. And his cat cost him all kinds of money, because the cat would just about scratch up the accordion every year. Ha-ha! But he never played much of a tune on it.

They had the first Russian school in the cellar of my father’s house [today, a Woitowicz home, 5 Story Street]. I must have been about five years old at the time, because I remember the students sliding down the hill during recess. My brother and sister went there because my father thought it wouldn’t hurt them to learn Russian. So they learned the alphabet, but I never heard them talk too much Russian. The Polish can understand Russian, and even Lithuanian. Although the languages are all mixed here, they seem to be able to understand each other. Even though they come from different parts of Europe, it’s quite hard to tell where most of them have come from because they never said too much. One of them in particular, from what I could gather, lived near the Danube River – because he used to say he used to float a log down the river.

Probably between Graniteville and Forge, probably about twenty-five families of Russians. There were fewer Polish than Russian. There were probably maybe fifteen Polish families between Graniteville and Forge.

Most of the [Russians] that I know of went to [church in] Maynard. But some of the younger ones went to St. Mark’s Church in Forge – right across from Cameron School. It used to be there. Now it’s over there by Day’s [75 Cold Spring Road, at the corner of Graniteville Road]. Some of the young ones – I guess a few of the older ones – went there, also.

There was John Bobryk. He was very good at weavin’ baskets out of willow trees, and making fishnets. He could make a fishnet in one day. And this used to be quite a thing at one time, you know, catchin’ fish with a net, which was illegal [in America]. And he never got caught for catchin’ fish, but it was the others that would steal his nets and then go fishin’ – they would get caught. Ha ha! But fishin’, strange as it may seem, was better then than it is now, even though they netted fish, so it might have had something to do with it. But then there was Kostechko, he’s still livin’, and Pete Worobey, still livin’. There’s another Worobey on Prescott Street that’s still livin’. A Secovich is still livin’. Cinsavich, he’s still livin’, and I think his wife is still livin’, and Kostechko’s wife is still livin’. But one of their sons died during the war, and the other one just died recently. So the parents survived two sons, but they still have a daughter. A lot of them still live here. Some of the daughters or sons live with them, or nearby.

A large majority worked in the mill, but they worked in a part where it was probably most strenuous, like in the washroom; also the combin’ room, or the spoolin’ room, which required a little bit more physical doing, and they were quite adapted. They were very good workers. They’d show up for work if they were crawling on their hands and knees, you know.

[Abbot] did more than the people appreciated at the time. This is my own honest opinion. In sports, we had a boys’ and a girls’ shore, a hockey rink, a clubhouse, and a girls’ club. Also, if you wanted croquet rinks, they’d supply you with the clay, and things like that. And if the boys wanted to go build a camp in the woods, they’d let ’em and they weren’t very strict. In fact, I don’t ever remember ’em bringing anyone to court for vandalism, even though a lot of times it might have been justified. They always tried to give the person with the largest family, as a rule, work during the Depression, or some days. So really, I don’t think they were given enough credit. They looked after the employees as much as they could. I remember the Depression. I never had to go hungry because my father always seemed to have a job. He could work on a farm. He could cut wood or cut hay or milk cows, also, besides being a butcher, so he didn’t have any problems getting work. But some of ’em did, I know.

And still, even though they’re retired now, they still work. Maybe that’s why they live so long, I don’t know. They always took pride in their gardens. I remember during the Depression when Abbot Worsted gave a plot of land, you know, for everybody to have gardens. They always used to take pride and see who could have the best one.

Ice Cutting on Forge Pond

A lot of ’em worked in the icehouses. They were very strong people. They cut ice in the wintertime. They would start out at Shirley, I think, then they went to Ayer, then North Littleton, then Forge, and then Chelmsford. And when the icehouses were filled they would then, in the summertime, load the cars. They were heavy drinkers, but I think you had to be to work in the icehouses, ’cause it was freezin’ weather. They were out in the cold when they were cutting ice, and then they were in the cold. The pastime used to be wrestling in Forge, I remember. At noontime there’d be wrestling. But most fellas couldn’t stand that type of work, because it was much too hard for the ordinary man. The wages were much better than what you would normally get, say in comparison to the mill at the time. But it was much harder work. I remember goin’ there and watchin’ them loadin’ cars, and sometimes the horses would slip inside the water and drown. One day three of ’em drowned. My father worked there. So then the story goes that all of the icehouses – Daniel Gage owned them – all burned, and they started burning almost in sequence. That’s when the artificial ice started to come in. My brother was working for a person delivering ice at the time. He was just a young boy, and he got a raise, and the next day the icehouse burned down in Forge. So he really never collected his raise.

The icehouse was quite an industry. They shipped to all over. Quite a few freight cars a day used to load. Shirley was the first place they started out, and then Ayer, and then North Littleton at Spectacle Pond, and then Forge, and then the place in North Chelmsford somewhere.

Inside the walls were sawdust and they had like a huge hayloft that was full of hay, and after the icehouse was loaded, they would throw hay over it.

I remember the icehouse burning. Fire trucks from all over came, and, in fact, the dangerous part was the cinders that had so much heat. It would take big cinders and send ’em all over as far as Graniteville, and start fires. In fact, it started a log right in my father’s yard – the firemen happened to be posted, one truck was there – and they just put the log by the fire truck and kept warm. It was about ’40 [1940] I guess. Well, maybe things still weren’t that good financially, so it could’ve been just after the Depression. But I don’t remember the exact date. I remember the firehouse being not far from the school, with a Model T Ford in it. One truck, and it was a Model T Ford. I think one time they had’a back up to the fire, ’cause it wouldn’t go forward, if I remember correctly.

We used to go play there and catch pigeons, and we used to have a ball there—go swimmin’ where the run was. There used to be two big runs that ran out into the water. They don’t exist today, except some of the pilings; in low water you’ll see ’em. But they ran way out, probably 200 feet long.

I’ve heard of [horse racing on the ice], but I’ve never seen it.

[Forge Pond was] very good place for fishin’. Sunfish and perch, no trout; now you do, but then no trout; once in a while a bass, and pickerel. It was fairly good fishin’ at the time. Actually 20 years back the water was dirtier then than it is today. And I fish all over the place. The only dirtier piece of water in this area that I know of is the Nashua River. And that’s about the same as it was when I was a boy. I remember Forge Pond when they used to have cesspools running into it. So actually the water was not cleaner. In Graniteville, you can fish trout now, and I remember the only thing you used to be able to catch down there were suckers and turtles, that’s all. So the water now is actually cleaner.

The Russians used to eat salt pork. They used to get so much salt pork per day. When I was a boy, everybody raised a hog, practically. My father owned a butcher shop. At one time he had about 100 hogs in Groton where my sister lives now. And I remember almost gettin’ trampled by a hog. She had little ones. I went to pet them, and the hog almost got ahold’a me. Fortunately, I was able to jump on a Model T Ford. She had her front feet on the running board, and that’s why I remember it even though I was small. My father did have cows. I think five or six. And my brother got tossed over the top of one cow. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t like milk. He won’t drink it.

Doc Blaney

I don’t know if you remember [Dr. Cyril Blaney], but he was our doctor. You could really write a book about him. He was a little short man, with a goatee, and you might say he kept his office down to Wyman’s Bar, though he never drank. He never drank, and as far as I know, he never smoked. But he had his pills. He used to have a vest with all the pockets and all the pills, and we always were wondering how he never confused the pills, but he was very good with pneumonia, apparently. He would stay up with a patient all night if he had to. And you’d never worry. I don’t ever remember him sending anybody a bill. I remember him telling my father that he’d go like that, and he snapped his fingers. My father used to make fun of him 10 years later, saying, “Doc I’m still here.” But he did, when he went, he went like that, too—like you’d snap your fingers—so I guess Dr. Blaney turned out to be right.

He was what we called a character, at the time, because he liked to gamble a lot. There’s a lot of stories about him going to the racetrack, and some days he’d have a wad of bills, which I’d seen myself, big enough to choke a horse, and three days later, he’d be broke. But he was quite a doctor. He was a selectman for quite a number of years. Mr. Whitley, who was the superintendent at Abbot Worsted, at the time, was a selectman for quite a number of years, too. And he was quite a card player Doc Blaney was. They used to play rough in Graniteville over to Mr. McLenna’s house, but there was never any money involved. You’d swear there was a lot of money involved, but there was never any involved. And I heard the story of one man tellin’ Doc Blaney to shut up and he didn’t, so he hit him on the chin and knocked him out, and then Mrs. McLenna fainted. They brought Doc to first, so that he could bring McLenna’s wife to. So he was quite a character.

I never had him as a doctor. But my brother had pneumonia once. He was very sick, and at that time pneumonia was a very serious sickness. And he pulled him through all right.

“Babe” Kavanagh, he used to pal around with Doc Blaney. He used to like to pick apples, and he had a very distinguished gold tooth in the front when he smiled. And he sure liked to play cards and everything. He was quite a character. He originally lived over on Hayden Road, which is now Hayden Road in Groton, the old Kavanagh farm. And then they moved to Forge. Oh, and then there was a fellow, very good storyteller by the name of [Joe] MacDonald. He was a big man, and he could tell stories by the hour and never run out. And then there was another storyteller, very good, by the name of Dave Guertin. My father was fairly good at tellin’ fairy tales. The kids used to like him; he was pretty good at it. And he always used to finish a story with “I was there, because I know, because I drank wine and it run down my chin.” And that was his favorite ending. Ha!

[My father] did have a Model T Ford, and then I think he had a Studebaker.

At one time, whether you know it or not, during Prohibition, it was just like telling somebody you can’t drink. Well, it doesn’t work ’cause everybody was makin’ their own moonshine. I think probably Forge made about the best moonshine around, because persons from Ayer and other places would come down. But also, I don’t know if you remember, but they had what they called “Jakey legs” during the Prohibition era [1920-1933]. They were drinkin’ Jamaica gin, and it affected their legs, paralyzed their legs—several got paralyzed from it. Some of ’em it came back, some of ’em they did walk. Most of ’em are dead now. Some of ’em it took several years to recover. But they’d work. They’d go to work the next day, whether it killed ’em, you know.

The Trolley from Ayer & Snowplowing

I do remember the trolley cars. Just for a short time, because we used to take the trolley cars to go to a place to see a man that they called Sihan, which meant “gypsy.” He was a real horse-trader, at the time, but I don’t know what nationality he was. Probably a mixture of quite a few different nationalities, but he was quite a horse-trader. He would sell butter. But he mixed it with margarine. When margarine first came out, apparently, we knew nothing about it. And he would mix it. One time he got to feelin’ good over to our house, and tellin’ my father about it. And my father was quite put out because he used to buy butter from him. Ha- ha!

I remember the hill, Story Street, sometimes wouldn’t get plowed for three days in the wintertime. Sometimes Abbot Worsted had horses. A fella by the name of Lamy used to drive a pair o’ horses. They had also what they called an outside gang at Abbot Worsted. They maintained the roads, and the houses, and everything else. I have never seen ’em with a [snow] roller. I had seen ’em with a plow, a pointed plow that they would pull. And then they got the trucks later on, but I never saw ’em with a roller.


Sometimes we’d have a carnival. And I remember one of ’em blowing away in a hurricane. I think it was the ’38 hurricane. Well, it sort of wiped it out. It blew the tents to shreds, and it wiped it out so it was a total loss.

That was on the Abbot Worsted ballpark. Now the town owns it, but at one time you see Abbot Worsted Company used to maintain one of the best soccer teams in the country. They used to have persons that got very good jobs in the mill because they were very good soccer players. They were imported from England, and also Australia. And Jack Dundas – he’s still livin’ today – was one of your better soccer players. I remember running home from Sunday school just to watch ’em play. And they used to run trains from Forge to different places. In fact, someone this year – I think it was my son – threw some tickets in my truck, baseball tickets, mind you, showing that Abbot Worsted played in Brooklyn and also some team in Philadelphia. So they had a very good baseball team, at one time, apparently.

I remember [Abbot had a band]. They used to put on a minstrel show every single year, and it was really good. In the old hall. Abbot Worsted hall [Abbot Hall – later called Murray Hall, and razed in 1980]. That’s right in back of the old Abbot Worsted office, the stone one where now Murray Printing is [in 1977, Courier Westford, Inc.]. They used to play band concerts there, besides other places. But, they had a very good band. It was quite a large band, and that was all maintained by Abbot Worsted – the uniforms, everything.

In the old Abbot Worsted hall, they had movies for years and years. Plus, you know, different shows. It was a good place for entertainment, really.

I don’t think most people realized that Abbot Worsted had done so much for ’em, because during the Depression I remember a lot of mills being shut down in Lowell, and the Abbot employees were given two and three days work because there was no such thing as Social Security. [Social Security began in 1935 as part of the New Deal.]

At the time we went to school our teeth were taken care of – free – by the town, or Abbot Worsted. I think Abbot Worsted must’ve paid for it because right across from where Murray’s is now used to be the hospital, the Abbot Worsted hospital [today, Wiken/Deering home, 10 Pleasant Street]. What I mean by that, they had a dentist chair in there, and Dr. Cowles had his office there, and any worker who got hurt or examined came there. So they actually got quite a bit of free medical care. May Lord was the nurse for years and years. I remember going there getting a tooth pulled when I was a boy, when I was about seventh or eighth grade. Me and another boy went. They’d examine your teeth, and they’d say, “Well, you have to have some filled, and you have to have some pulled.” Then you went over there, and you got it done for nothing. What we used to get for nothing. Then, we were going to school.

[We got to Westford Academy by bus.] Well, it was something like what you have now, but they didn’t run nearly as well. They’d break down once in a while, but fairly good. Now when I went to school in Lowell, we went by bus. At first sometimes by train, because at one time there were four trains that used to stop in Forge – a mail train, and also passenger. You had two in the morning, and two in the evening. You could almost set your watch by ’em.

At night, the mill bell in Forge would ring at nine o’clock, and boy we had’a be home at nine o’clock. As soon as that bell would ring, everybody would scatter for home. It wasn’t just me. It was everybody. John Sullivan was the only [policeman] and he didn’t really patrol. It wasn’t a written rule; it was just that the parents’ rule was at nine o’clock you come home. Well, it didn’t pay anybody to stay after nine o’clock because there was nobody to play with.

On Story Street, there was a man by the name of Hervey Cote. He lived almost right across the street from my father’s. And he cut hair for years and years. Yeah, it was cheap. I think 25 cents. He originally came from Canada. He was French. .

Well, Halloween, the great thing was knock over the outhouses. And I just heard a story from one of the fellows, tellin’ us how they fooled this particular man. He had a shotgun in his hand. He was determined they weren’t going to turn over his outhouse. So a few of the boys went to talk with him. While he was talkin’, the others went and carried the outhouse away! And I gotta tell ya this story. Mr. Whitley was the superintendent, and he hired Angus MacDonald, a tall fellow with a squeaky voice, used to play the spoons. He hired him to watch his outhouse, so they wouldn’t knock it over. So a group of the boys would make believe they’re gonna tip it over, and he’d start chasin’ ’em, and while he’s chasin’ ’em, they’d tip it over. They were shorter, and they would run him under a clothesline. The clothesline would hit him on the neck and he’d flop backwards. Oh, they used to raise Cain then. I forget who the man was – even tipped one over when he was in the outhouse! But that was quite a thing on Halloween.


I the Depression years. Dick Spinner had a store then. This was candy, newspapers, things like that … and ice cream.  Besides he had a gas pump, the only one in town, if I remember correctly. Mrs. Katie Hanley had a store, and they would throw out candy [at Halloween]. The post office was also there. Mrs. Connell ran the post office. Really it was more of a post office than a store.

One of the stores there was Joe LeClerc’s. He owned that whole building right on the corner next to Hanley’s store. He also had a butcher shop, grocery store, you know, at the same time as my father did. My mother nursed her son, because at the time something happened and she couldn’t nurse her baby. My mother had a baby the same age, and she used to nurse ’em both. She’d bring him up to nurse him every day. She and my mother were great friends anyways, so it worked out pretty good. His name was Joe LeClerc. I think he lives in Pepperell now. But then the Clover Farms stores took it over. [Today, Village Store, 8 West Prescott Street]. There was a pool hall in there. Labbe had a pool hall. Also, there was another Labbe, had a restaurant next to it. And then Horace Wyman had a bar over there. And that burnt down on Christmas Eve. I don’t remember the year. We were all at midnight Mass, I remember, and it burnt down. It caught fire right about twelve o’clock, somewhere in that time.

There was a Jewish man that came around from Lowell. We called him the ragman. He came and he collected Jakey bottles. This was the Jamaica Gin. This was during Depression times, and they were returnable at the time. He would give you a penny for two of ’em. My brother did quite well collecting ’em. The peddler also collected rags and everything, and he actually ended up quite a wealthy man. My mother could talk Jewish [Yiddish], and he could talk Jewish, so she knew him quite well, and he turned out to be quite a wealthy man just from collecting rags. Used to sell ’em, and I guess they used ’em in paper and things, iron and things like that. Apparently it worked quite well, ’cause he owned apartment buildings and sent his kids through college.

Then there used to be another, we called him an Indian, used to come down where the old depot was, and used to sell different medicines. And his attraction was he used to have a big snake in a cage. He was supposed to be an Indian, had herbs and things like that. But I don’t really know if he was an Indian or not, but I remember the big snake he used to have in a cage. And he’d come about once a year, not more often than that. Like that other fellow that I told you we called Sihan, he sold butter and sometimes meat. He was quite a horse-trader. He’d come in a wagon. Later on, I think he came in a vehicle, but at that time he came in a wagon. I don’t remember any other peddlers. Oh, later, there was a man from Lowell that used to come, a Greek man that used to sell clothes from door-to-door – mostly cloth, a lot of people sewed then. He would have these bolts of cloth, and you picked out what you wanted.  He just took the scissors and cut off so many yards, and he’d go from door-to-door. If he didn’t have it, he’d bring it next week. Actually I think he did quite well, because he had quite a good business. Forge was known for paying their bills, so if you didn’t have the money then, it was all right the next time. He knew he would get his money. It was a known place for not gettin’ stuck on your bills. It really was.

I remember Mr. Connell peddlin’. Oh, Mr. Hildreth, Bert Hildreth, used to peddle fruit and vegetables with his cart. And also Joe Connell did it a little bit. Then there was another fella by the name of Alec McDonald that had a farm. He was quite a fella. He always had horses, and did loggin’, all different kind of odd jobs like that.

Walking & Foraging

I was one for prowling the woods. I still like the outdoors, and I travel the outdoors. I used to go fishin’, mostly, to North Littleton or Forge Pond. We would walk as far as the Concord River to go fishin’, and back. We would walk to Nashoba Brook, to the Acton section, and back. You did a lot of walkin’ in those days. You thought nothing of walkin’. At one time they used to have a big ski jump in Ayer, right where the Willows is. In fact, they used to run the train out of Boston just to go there. I’ve watched ’em ski jump there. Some of your world famous ski jumpers, at the time, used to jump there. It only stayed up two years.[It was built in the fall of 1935 and in use only a few months in early 1936.] It got struck by lightning and got burnt down. I remember going there a few times. We walked up the tracks, all the way. I forget what we paid for admission – 75 cents. It was quite a lot for us at the time. I remember goin’ to the Groton Fair and walkin’ all the way to Groton and back.

But you have a lot of wild grapes throughout town. You have a lot of hazelnuts or filberts, whatever you want to call ’em. You have a lot of hickory trees, some pignuts, some butternuts, the black walnuts—mostly cultivated ones—growing on somebody’s lawn. But I like to pick a lot of nuts. I like to eat ’em. I’ve gathered nuts for years, and grapes and mushrooms, also. My mother used to have me gather mushrooms, and she used to dry ’em, put ’em in soup.

I know quite a lot about mushrooms – well, I know which ones are edible and which ones aren’t. And most of the Russians, incidentally, are great mushroom pickers. Even today the old ones are still gathering mushrooms. They know which ones to gather. There’s only a couple of real bad ones. In fact, I saw one right next to my garage – one of the amanita families, the Destroying Angel, which is the most poisonous of all the mushrooms. But there is the Fly Amanita, and my mother used to say they used that to kill flies, by boiling ’em and putting ’em in a bowl, and settin’ ’em on the table. Maybe that’s where it’s got its name, Fly Amanita; this one here is like yellow, looks like oatmeal on top. These are the two you have to really watch out for.

I found a puffball, right off of Howard Road—13 inches in diameter, and 43½ inches in circumference. I’ve got a picture of that with my daughter holding it on her head. [photo below.] I found that back maybe 10 years ago. I did find one on Hildreth Street, Mrs. Collins’ house, probably 6 inches in diameter, and I told her it was edible, and she said she ate it. And I saw her a week later; she was still here.

The Quarries

At that time quarrying was quite a business. My father actually worked at Palmer’s Quarry for quite a while. They had a railroad track running up there from Graniteville at one time. You know as you go from Forge to Graniteville, you take that sharp curve before you get to the pond? The little pond in Graniteville? Well, as you’re going from Forge, just before you start the corner, if you bear left, you go right up that hill that brings you up into the quarry. They used to load the stone from Palmer’s, right there by Palmer’s, where it starts around the corner.

Also, there was Hildreth’s Quarry [initially Reed’s Quarry]. That was another big quarry [closed about 1930]. Where the Catholic church [St. Catherine’s of Alexandria Roman Catholic Church – then a wooden building across the street] is now, there was a loading platform for stone for the Hildreth Quarry.

But there’re quite a few little quarries. Then there was another quarry just up the road where the Groton/Westford line is. I forget the name. The railroad, the old “Red Line,” ran right by that one, and they got a siding off of that. But that was a different railroad track. That’s the one, that goes across where the arched bridge is now – [the Stone Arch Bridge c. 1872; granite for it was furnished by the Reed/Hildreth Quarry]. Those were quite picturesque when they ran that Nashua line. I just forget the name of it [the Nashua, Acton, and Boston Railroad]. Very nice arched bridges were made out of stone, and they’re still standing today, very good stonework.

[My father] also used to put in a lot of foundations out of stone, and dry wells. My father was good at setting up stone, and I’d help him as a boy. I remember right over here, right in front of the [West] Cemetery where that Prescott was buried, right across the street, putting in a couple of cellar holes. One was for Gelinas and the other was McCarthy, I think it was. They would pick up the stones off the walls and the ground, and they would make foundations out of ’em at that time – also your dry wells.

The early ones were slate. Now there was a soapstone – more of slate – but a soapstone quarry in Groton, but there was quite a large one in Harvard. So some of the early ones probably came from there. The marble probably come from Vermont, although I have got a piece of white marble in my fireplace that comes from right in front of Kimball’s, when they put in Route 495. I collect minerals, and when they were putting in 495 it was quite interesting. They ran across a spring there in that hill. And today the water from that spring runs very cold out of the drain on the right-hand side going towards Littleton.

I remember Howard Road with the two farms there. And Woodworth’s [Beaver Brook Road], when he had the chicken farm, right on the Westford/Littleton line, where the power station is. He had a huge chicken house on the left-hand side that burned down. Pick up a poultry book, and you were almost sure to find some mention of him in it, because at the time he was one of the biggest, or the most modern chicken farmers of his time. He started trap-nesting chickens, and breeding ’em, and I guess then Cobb started after that in Littleton.. Woodworth was the most modern chicken farmer around at the time.

From June Kennedy’s book Westford Recollections of Days Gone By; Recorded Interviews, 1974-1975, A Millennium Update (2006), pp. 507-526, an edited for the February 2019 Museum & Historical Society discussion group with June’s permission.]

Giant puffball measuring 13 inches in diameter and 43½ inches in circumference,
with Woitowicz children, David, Anne, and

Prescott Tavern in Forge Village