Turner's Public Spirit, March 31, 2023
A look back in time to a century ago
By Bob Oliphant
Center. Mr. and Mrs. Harry Whitney (Sadie McMaster) are being congratulated upon the arrival of a son [Donald Arthur] on March 21.
Miss Amelia Lambert has been a recent guest of Mrs. Alma Richardson in Marblehead, and of Mrs. Frank Collins of Arlington.
The Legion and Auxiliary held their regular meeting at headquarters [20 Boston Road] on Monday evening. Although the attendance was small the social evening was pleasantly spent, and refreshments of coffee and sandwiches were served.
Miss Ruth Fisher, of Providence, R.I., was in town over the weekend on account of the death of John M. Fletcher.
The pageant which is to be given at the Congregational church on Sunday evening will be in charge of Miss Elva Judd, who has been assisted by Mrs. Harry Ingalls.
Chief Whiting was in Cambridge on Monday, the cases of Frank Jeramer [probably Jaroma], Constanti Silwin [probably Szylvian] and John Lascovitz [probably Lewkowicz], for assault and battery on Steve Belida being called for examination.
The police were called to a house in Graniteville on Tuesday night to investigate a case of family trouble.
The Tadmuck club held their regular meeting in the Unitarian church parlors on Tuesday afternoon, bringing out a large attendance. The farce, “Cupid in shirt sleeves,” was presented by members of the club and was thoroughly enjoyed. The cast was made up of Mrs. Eva Wright, Mrs. Bertha Hildreth, Mrs. Florence Hanscom, Miss Mary G. Balch and Miss Alice Howard. The musical part of the entertainment was also much enjoyed and consisted of a group of songs by Mrs. Arthur Whitely, of Graniteville, and a piano solo by Miss Alice Swenson.
The farmers’ institute was held in the town hall on Wednesday. The speakers proved very interesting and the ladies of the Congregational church furnished an excellent dinner, Mrs. George F. White, chairman, assisted by Mrs. Charles Hildreth, Mrs. Swenson, Mrs. David L. Greig, Mrs. William Roudenbush, Mrs. William E. Wright, Mrs. John Feeney, Mrs. Charles Wright, Mrs. Phonsie Isles, Miss Edith Wright, Mrs. George Walker, Mrs. Warren Hanscom and Mrs. Fred Meyer, the two latter having charge of the dining room and decorations.
The many friends of Samuel L. Taylor were pleased to see him in attendance at the farmers’ institute on Wednesday.
The high wind of Wednesday caused a great deal of damage and many of the telephone lines were put out of order.
Harwood L. Wright is reported on the sick list.
Mrs. Charles Robinson has been ill with a grippe cold.
Master Clayton Wright, the young son [age 5] of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney W. Wright, is at the Lowell General hospital for treatment, and it is hoped that the youngster will have a speedy recovery.
Philip Prescott and Miss Betty Prescott are in Washington, D.C., where they went to join their uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar R. Spalding, who are on their way home from Florida.
The school committee and board of health held a joint meeting on Tuesday evening and some articles of special interest to parents will appear in this paper in the near future.
With the passing of John M. Fletcher the town loses another of her older citizens and the sympathy of the community is extended to the family.
Congregational Notes. The Friday evening meeting this week at eight o’clock will be the last regular prayer meeting before the special prayer meeting. An even larger attendance than last week Friday is earnestly desired.
On Easter Sunday morning the choir will render special music appropriate to the day. The Sunday school, junior and young people’s meetings at the usual hours. In the evening, at 7:15, the Sunday school will present an attractive Easter pageant.
Beginning on Friday, April 6, a series of gospel meetings will be held in the church every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening at 7:30. The pastor has secured William T. Murphy, formerly of Worcester, to have the general direction of these meetings. Splendid singing may be anticipated from night to night. Among those who are to sing will be Miss Reatha Reid, the Morse sisters and Messrs. Sherman and DeLong.
About Town. The hottest heat wave thus far this cold zero wave season was 55° in the north shade at the Old Oaken Bucket farm on last Saturday.
At the meeting of the Grange on next week Thursday evening the first and second degrees will be conferred.
The next meeting of Middlesex-North Pomona Grange will be held on Friday, April 6, in Odd Fellows’ hall, Bridge street, Lowell, at 10:30. Dinner will be served by Billerica Grange. An interesting program has been arranged. In the afternoon, at two o’clock, Prof. Frank Waugh will speak on “Pomology,” a subject with which he is well acquainted.
Last week a silver fox, or a half-way one, was seen almost onto the piazza at the house where the Norman Phillips family live [2-4 Lowell Road] at the intersection of the Lowell and Depot road, near Westford depot. It is probably true that foxes have suffered from hunger this winter, for they cannot bud an apple tree like the partridges. If they did we would probably choose a committee on extermination to appear before the legislation to help bloc [sic] our poverty.
The Cushing & Company grain truck from Chelmsford Center became stalled in a combination of mud and snow on last week Friday on the Stony Brook road. The Drew farm horses were unable to pull the truck out of the mud combination, and M. Edward Riney, with his snow plow truck, was sent for, and after some hard work it succeeded in rescuing the grain truck. Upon the return trip the snow plow truck became stalled by the same combination on the Lowell road, opposite the Old Oaken Bucket farm, and the grain truck helped out the snow plow—a case of rescued rescuing the rescuers.
Arthur G. Charlton and John Howard were drawn as jurors at a meeting of the selectmen on Friday evening.
At a meeting of West Chelmsford Grange on last week Thursday evening Rev. E. E. Jackman spoke on “How the Grange and the church can work together to benefit the community.”
- R. Jenks, of West Acton, formerly of this town, has been doctor-foreman of a crew of men practicing tree surgery at Forge Village.
General Nelson Monroe, nephew of James Monroe, fifth president of the United States, celebrated his ninety-eight birthday on last Sunday at his home in Arlington Heights. He is holder of the Boston Post gold-headed cane, and a veteran of the Mexican and civil wars. He enjoys good health and likes to talk over the news of the day with his friends, and is eagerly looking forward to his 100th birthday in 1925. The good old Monroe doctrine has lived to a good old age. Some folks think that it has outlived its usefulness, like some folks. We dissent until conglomeration is converted to common sense.
Amos Polley, on the Morning Glory farm, is trying to catch up with the weather and is out in the field with a hired man rushing the spring work like a mile a minute. Those beans that I reported planted St. Patrick’s day have started with a rush that no emergency brake will hold. Zero weather and snow have no effect upon them.
A large gang of men are laying new rails on the Stony Brook railroad along the line of the Old Oaken Bucket farm.
No, I did not write the article in last week’s issue and copied from the Boston Herald about the chief of police. It being under “About Town” I expected to get all the compliments that were coming; also, some brickbats. I decline to testify whether I have received compliments or brickbats, both or neither. I haven’t received compliments enough to give me a swelled head or brickbats enough to prevent me from being still among the survival of the fittest—I mean physically and not mental transcendental skyward. I am living and plead guilty of being too ignorant to write a piece with so many errors in it, one of which was the salary, which should have been $1500, and $300 for the upkeep of the auto.
The ice is reported to be a mile and a half thick in Iceland. How appropriate the name. Any drowning accidents there from skating on thin ice?
Martha Taylor Howard and two boys, who have been living at the home of her father at the Old Oaken Bucket farm, have returned to their New Jersey home at Bound Brook. We miss the entertaining chatter of youth which helps to keep age from becoming aged, and the patter, patter of youthful feet across the floor in the early morning as a signal timetable to get up by. Oh, I love it as a signal compared to the daylight saving early to rise signal which never did agree like the youthful patter-feet signal.
I was glad to learn from Littleton that John H. Hardy is to be the manager of the Read-Drew farm [164 Main St.] in this town, as it joins the Old Oaken Bucket farm with a discontinued road between. It will be quite handy and convenient to slip over and have something called knowledge slipped over on you. I have lots of room for that kind of slipping.
Daniel H. Sheehan, who has been in winter dry dock in Lowell, has returned here for early spring planting.
First Parish church (Unitarian) Easter Sunday service at four p.m. Special music: “Easter dawn,” Woodman, “My task,” Ashford, Mrs. Ruby Felch Smith, soprano, of Fitchburg. Preacher, Rev. Frank B. Crandall, the minister. [Sermon] Subject, “The threefold masteries of Easter.”
Death. John Marion Fletcher died at the Lowell hospital last Friday morning [March 23] as the result of an operation from which he failed to rally. Death came as a shock to the community; few knew of his illness and he was at the hospital a comparatively few hours. He was born in this town and lived here during his life of 77 years and 3 months. He was the youngest child of John B. and Joanna (Hildreth) Fletcher, and was educated in the public schools and Westford academy, when John D. Long, a former governor, was the principal [1857-1859]. He succeeded his father at his retirement as storekeeper [of the Fletcher general store on Lincoln Street] many years ago and followed it up to the time of his death.
Like all of his ancestors before him he was a live and active democrat of the old-fashioned New England safe foundation type. He always had an opinion on town, state and national affairs. He was appointed postmaster under President Cleveland’s administration, and I recall from memory that he was appointed assistant postmaster under President Wilson’s administration, his son, J. Herbert Fletcher, being appointed postmaster. He has held various town offices, being on the board of registrars and for many years one of the election officers.
He was by nature social and at all times brimful of a good-natured round of chat, and I have had many friendly bouts with him. He could always hold his part of the chat and sometimes mine. I shall miss his jolly way of getting at me in so vigorous and refreshing a way. Like his ancestors he was a contributor to the support of the Old First Parish church.
The deceased leaves three children, J. Herbert Fletcher and Miss Eva Fletcher, of this town, and Mrs. John Wilson [nee Edith Marion Fletcher], of Chelmsford.
The funeral was held from his home on Sunday afternoon, Rev. F. B. Crandall conducting the services. There was a large attendance of neighbors and friends and a profusion of floral offerings. The bearers were Alec Fisher, Alfred Tuttle, William E. Wright and Arthur Walker. Burial was in the family lot in Fairview cemetery.
Budders. I quoted last week from New York state that the partridges had about half ruined the apple crop by budding the buds. But why travel so far for evidence when closeby [sic] there is the Nashoba Fruit Growers association, who at their March meeting in West Acton saith “The partridge has become a menace to the fruit-growers. These birds have ruined about half the crop for the coming year by eating the fruit buds. The fruit growers will ask for legislation allowing them to destroy the birds when found damaging the trees.” Paste onto this an appendix from Groton, “One partridge shot was reported to have 582 buds in its crop.”
Well, now, gentlemen, also ladies, before you get off with such a story as that let me assist you onto the witness stand for cross-examination. I do not pretend to know much about law except by way of my middle name—Law—but I have been studying with him long enough to dare to ask a few questions.
Is it true by the law of nature that the more you will reduce pests in numbers the more you will increase the damage done by those remaining? If you answer yes, then we ought to have a closed season, instead of an open shooting season for the partridge, so that they can increase and so decrease the budding pest. Seventy years ago, when I was approaching my blooming time, the partridge was so noticeably abundant as it is now noticeably very scarce, and under government lock and key, and yet in those blooming teen days there was no such wide-spread alarm as “they have destroyed half of the apple crop this year,” and there was no partridge that had the capacity of 582 buds. That must have been a sort of Jonah-whale partridge. Did it swallow tree and all?
Now if it is not true that the more you decrease the number of partridges the more you increase the damage done, then how do you account for this “half a crop of apple” scare? Explain you, who are on the witness stand telling a story; it does not tally with the fact that we have had to resort to a closed season to prevent threatened annihilation of the partridge. There is no dispute but that the partridge does some budding, and there is no dispute but what the most scientific and modern method of raising the largest and best colored apples is to thin the apples on trees at an average expense of fifty cents per hour. I would like to see anyone do it at that price, and the poor partridges will do it for nothing and board him or herself; and we want to exterminate him for working so cheap.
I have yet to learn that the birds are serious threatening factors to civilization and the life of man, or ever have been. If so, please produce the evidence you who are on the witness stand. Of course, the birds must have something to eat. If they entertain with their song and with their scarlet tanager plumage they increase the sum total of your aesthetic development. Be as generously considerate of them as you would to a hand-organ and monkey-man; give them a cent’s worth of rights to a strawberry, cherry or apple tree buds, for it may [be] the means of preventing running us in debt harvesting what they haven’t harvested, for one man writes, “I raised $5000 worth of apples last year and they cost me $6000.” What a pity that the partridges could not have budded that man from debt. I suppose he would shoot them if they did.
“Old Harvard Days.” In reviewing my lesson, “Old Harvard days,” I find that I have two teachers. They will both be necessary to pry me out from the foot of the class where nature has highly endowed me with the essentials for a permanent place. F. S. S., Sr., asks “How many of the boys remember when the present Mr. Turner’s father started Turner’s Public Spirit?” [the home newspaper in Ayer of The Westford Wardsman] Although I am not one of the boys appealed to for the use of my memory, I am as free to answer as when I went to the old Stony Brook school. I always answered all easy questions, whether it was my turn to answer or not, and passed the hard question on to the other fellow, who was sometimes a girl fellow. Well, I remember John H. Turner starting Turner’s Public Spirit, although I was not there at the “raising.” In addition, I recall two healthful, helpful, inspiring conversations I had with him, one at the Old Oaken Bucket farm and one in Ayer. I also recall being present at his funeral whose death removed one loyal to common sense righteousness.
Now teacher No. 2, who signs “A,” connects the grammar school with Edwin A. Hildreth, Stanley B. Hildreth and Miss Emily Hildreth. Unless I am mixed up in my genealogy they were natives of Westford, but can only recall Edwin, a tall man with side whiskers and wore spectacles right front of his eyes. It is possible that they are children of the Edwin A. Hildreth whom I refer to. If I have not recited my lesson right I am willing to stay after school and get and recite it all over again. It would make me feel like my old school days, which also included asking the teacher some questions, and with those aged memories in view I wish to ask Teacher No. 1 a few questions:
Where is Lover’s Lane? I have been informed that it starts out of the center of the town. Just so-so do five or six Oak hill roads, which sometimes adds confusion to confounded. Where is Hell pond, and why was it named after hell? I am planning to go there some time—I mean to the pond. Where does that lovely little brook rise that shoots out from the woods and between the rocks near the Old Mill district on the road to Ayer that runs in the direction of Littleton and Aroostook, Me.? I was informed that it was the outlet of Bare hill pond, but as I leveled across to Bare hill pond, using by head for a level, I concluded that you must have a more modern set of the laws of nature in Harvard than we have in Westford in order to have water run up hill without objecting to it and have to use force to make it obey.
Now, as I am on the bear trail, how many Bare hills have you in Harvard? A previous teacher said that there were three Bear [sic] hills—East Bear hill, West Bear hill and Bear hill. Now looking at it from a distance of twelve miles to the northeast it seems that you would have hard work to find anyone well versed in genealogy to find room to squeeze in three Bear hills and find room for Prospect hill, but perhaps my teacher meant by simple Bare hill (and perhaps this is the way you spell it) one of the several numerous Oak hill roads. When it is bare of snow it would not be unappropriate [sic] to call it Bare hill or Bear hill without a bear. Be careful how you answer, please, because when the sleighing gets poorer I am going over to Harvard to prove your answers and it may result in teacher staying after school.
Graniteville. Notices have recently been placed in the mills of the Abbot Worsted Co. to the effect that beginning on April 30 there will be an advance in wages in keeping with other mills. The Abbot Worsted Co. has mills in Graniteville, Forge Village and Brookside.
An excellent concert was given in Abbot hall, Forge Village, on Sunday evening in aid of the building fund of St. Catherine’s church. The hall was filled to overflowing and the proceeds must have substantially increased the building fund. After the concert the talent, all of whom came from Lowell, were entertained at a luncheon by Rev. and Mrs. S. Malone, the pastor of the church, who expressed his appreciation of the success of the occasion.
At the M. E. church last week Friday evening Dr. Charles E. Spaulding, D.D., of Worcester, preached a very interesting sermon on “Brazil and its present activities.” After the services a meeting of the fourth quarterly conference was held, during which a vote of thanks was extended to Mrs. Lucy A. Blood for her long and faithful service as a member of the trustees. Mrs. Blood was voted at this time a trustee emeritus of the church. A request was also extended to Rev. William E. Anderson, the present pastor, to continue in the present capacity for another year.
Mrs. F. L. Furbush has recently returned from a very enjoyable visit spent with her daughter Mrs. Owen McNiff, in Cocoa, Florida.
The Abbot Worsted soccer team will meet the Shawsheen club in a state cup game at Forge Village on this Saturday at three o’clock. This is the first home game the Abbots have had for several weeks and is expected to be largely attended.
The Brotherhood held a very successful concert in the M.E. church on Thursday evening. The talent was given by the Mendelssohn male quartet of Lowell, assisted by Mrs. Alice Livingston Gage, reader, and the Larkin orchestra. The concert was very largely attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Church Notes. At St. Andrew’s [Mission], Forge Village, holy communion and sermon at nine o’clock in the morning. Children’s service at 7:30 in the evening. Dr. Peabody will make the address at the evening service.
Center. Miss Annie B. Dudley, who teaches at Forge Village, is enjoying a vacation at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer G. Dudley.
News Items. George Hill, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Hill, has accepted a position in Forge Village.