"IMAGES OF BELMONT", Belmont Massachusetts Historical Society
ISBN 0-7385-0466-1, Copyright and First Printed 2000 Arcadia Publishing, Charleston SC
My comments from memory, page by page, of the above excellent book.
Page 18, I recall the house at the corner of Concord Avenue and Cottage Street having walked by it many times while realizing it was unlike neighboring houses. Since we lived in two sections of Belmont, my first years to 1941 on Edward Street gave us a range of walking including Cushing Square, Waverly, Belmont Center , the Underwood Pool and Concord Avenue to the Clay Pit.
Page 37, The Frost house, 467 Pleasant Street, at first was 'just an old house' but as I grew up and spent a lot of time riding my bicycle to lawn cutting jobs around town I began to appreciate the age of such houses, the stone walls in front. At first we Belmont kids took a lot of our history and beautiful surroundings for granted till we got out in the world and realized what a gem was our town.
Page 38, Hill Richardson House at the corner of Grove and Blanchard I recall from way back. Obviously it had belonged to a larger farm.
Page 41, the picture of the very high front wheel bicycle of the day reminds me of a question my grandmother Anna Nix put to me when I told her I had bicycle or I had ridden a bicycle to Arlington Center, "Not one of those with the big front wheel, Joey? Those are dangerous." I guessed to what she was referring, and assured her it was a normal bicycle (although one speed with a coaster brake).
Page 42, the steamroller reminds me of later versions which were used on Belmont's roads.
The 1952 photo of Hill's Crossing is certainly a familiar scene. I rode my bike along there many times, you had to keep to the right since the MTA buses needed road room. I also worked briefly in the Munhall Gas Station which would be in the right foreground if the picture was taken from about 30 ft back from where it was.
Page 45, The Belmont Center RR station was on our walking route to Belmont Center so from my earliest impressions it was an intriguing edifice. When my brother and my friends, Johnny McGreenery and Brad Atwood would explore the open stairs and walkways around the building we thought it was high adventure. A major adventure was the tunnel showing to the left which went under the tracks with a stairway about 2/3rds way through which went up to the westboad platform. High school kids would try to squeeze their Model A's and B's through the tunnel. I recall a tale of at least one that got stuck. You were not wise to ride your bicycle through the blind corners to the rampways at the other side of the tunnel. I think it was during WW2 that I joined the Regan twins working for some hourly stipend helping Henry Boissoneau load the mail and shovel snow from the platform. There was a stove in the waiting room, probably a coal stove but I recall it was not very warm. Someone else worked there regularly with Henry. Might have been Willy Bicheler.
Page 52, I remember several officers of the Belmont Police on foot patrol. Officer Furfuro along Trapelo Road near the auto agencies, the officers in Cushing Square and Belmont Center checking in at their call boxes. The only patrol car I remember was a black Ford sedan with Inspectors Maguire and Grant in plain clothes, fedoras and overcoats.
The Belmont Center Bridge was the scene of many automotive adventures, skidding on packed snow, some flooding, the "dodgem" skill required to anticipate or bluff other cars so you got through without collisions. The steam train I recall very clearly since as in this photo it was on the single westboundtrack at the north edge of the raised RR bed which went behind the houses on Channing Road, clearly visible from our house on Alexander. Many times when the train was in that position I was waiting near Olive's drugstore to drive my aunt "Phine" aka Josephine, home, particularly in inclement weather. She rode those trains from about 1927 to her retirement in the late 60's. My brother and I took the train to the North Station in the 40's to watch the Greater Boston Interscholastic Hockey League saturday afternoon games at the Boston Garden. The images of the teams on the ice are still strong in my mind's eye: Arlington, Newton, Rindge Tech, Cambridge Latin, Melrose, Medford, Stoneham and Belmont. That was the entire hockey world to me till I found my way to some Bruins, Olympics and college games.
Page 53, The Tudor Block always intrigued me. At first as a little kid I would take such architectural splendor for granted, then gradually appreciation of it's distinctiveness would grow. It was the building for my one and only 'dance school' and apparently my first date buying a dance school partner a coke and even walking one home, my own first bank account, haircuts at Pino's and of course Olive Drug store to which I was dispatched via my bicycle to buy the most recent newspaper, my mother being an avid news reader.
Page 54. My uncle John who lived in Arlington Heights from his teen years to his passing told me about the ice cutting operations on Fresh Pond and Spy Pond Arlington. I found it to be an amazing story.
Page 55, I think we kids thought the Mr. Jenny with the fine gas station at the corner of Brighton and Pleasant was "the Mr. Jenny" who founded Jenny Oil Company.
Page 57, I grew up a block from the Underwood estate so was always proud that their products came from my home town although there was no sign of producing them on the estate. I still use their
deviled ham in egg salad sandwiches as my mother did for our summer outings.
Page 58. Belmont Gardens greenhouse bordered on the Winn Brook playground. Need I need say anymore about foul balls? I recall the tale about a steamshovel down there in the Clay Pit and when the water was down, but never very clearly you could see it's outline.
Page 59. I was very familiar with the section of Pleasant Street shown since I raked leaves for a few years on the big front lawn of the Belmont Women's club across from the Library.
Page 60. My older sister, Harriet worked at McLean Hospital but I don't know the year. I recall going to pick her up there, the curved drives, the brick buildings. It may have been a summer job along with a friend whose name I don't recall. I know they were happy to quit, that working with patients was not their cup of tea. I know she also rode her bicycle up there.
Page 62. The great and glorious Town Hall holds some dear memories. We attended some theatrical productions there. My mother always worked the polls and for awhile she was either a Town Meeting member or attended such meetings. I found it natural to do the same when living in Sudbury. I recall shocking my family by appealing an excise tax on my '39 Ford. Good I did, I had been charged for a '49 Ford. The steep walk up the front is memorable and I was a youngster then.
Page 65. Ah yes, the Victory Gardens. There was a quite large one across the RR tracks from our house so I walked through it to junior high during WW2. We had ours in our back yard. I recall seeing a large rabbit, reportedly a "Belgian rabbit" in the pathway of the garden which was between the RR tracks, the Concord Avenue field and Concord Avenue. It seems most of the gardeners walked there to maintain their plots.
Page 66. I've sent pictures of my first library to my grandkids in southern California. I loved the place and have been a local public library habituee where ever I've lived since.
Page 69. I'm very familiar with the interior view of St. Joseph's since my mother was a soloist there from the 30's to the 60's and as her youngest son accompanied her many times to the choir. I felt quite honored, particlarly after the service when friends would compliment my mother as we descended from the stairwell to the choir loft. Some women said, "He has your smile Harriet" which was/is true and I never forgot it. Also when I might have sat out a long funeral the organist would slip me a quarter, big money back then.
Page 71. The last Civil War survivors reminds me of my seeing the last Spanish American War survivors in a parade going along Cottage St and Concord Avenue probably about 1942. My guess on the year is based on the fact we had moved to the Winn Brook in 1941 and I know I was alone, being the parade fan of the family.
Page 77. I know I was at the World War I memorial salute event about the time as the one shown, 1941. I know I watched some parades from the sidewalks surrounding that World War I memorial.
Page 83. Sure do remember the scrap drives. I was 10 at the time of the 1942 picture so if names were applied on the kids in the pics I'm sure I'd know some of them. I never did go all the long way to the Strand after we moved to Alexander Ave.
Page 84. I used to stop on my bicycle and check the names on the Honor Roll on the Town Hall Lawn. The old cannons on that lawn had always been a favorite attraction for me.
Page 89. I became attached to the house, barn and grounds of the Belmont Women's Club after Dick Bolles and I somehow secured the job of raking leaves and I think shoveling snow. The caretaker lady was very nice and we chatted about life in Belmont. I got her permission once to peek in the barn attic where theater stage artifacts and some antiques were stored. One day, must have been 1946 she was surprised that I did not want to wait around after I had finished setting up chairs for John F. Kennedy's scheduled speaking to ladies gathering. We did exchange waves as his limousine came up the driveway as I was wheeling my bicycle down it.
Page 91. We used to try to keep track of which of the family lived in which house in the Underwood estate. I wonder if the two kids we observed in actual gas powered small cars in the driveways were those of Francis Davis.
Page 107. As a kid I wondered why the Town Hall Annex had a school type front drive on Moore Street. I was surprised to read that the cafetaria and gym were added in 1938-39 because I recall watching the construction so I must have ridden my bike from 24 Edward Street. I do remember the gynasium foundation more than that of the cafeteria. We used to ride our bikes around a small track on the Orchard Street side.
Page 109. That center door was the entrance my brother and I used when attending Belmont High School. I recall the creaky stairs, particularly if one was either late or very close to it. I think the typing class I took was in the upstairs room on the right of the picture.
Page 111. I don't believe I ever set foot on that junior high front entrance area, always entering at the end nearest the Chenery School. Having attended Kendall and Winn Brook, the Chenery School looked to me more like a neighborhood library.
Page 113. I took the flowers by Oscar Duncan so much for granted that when I transferred to the Winn Brook for the 5th and 6th grades it seemed barren around it.
Page 114. The only time I was in the Burbank School was for a short term when my brother and I were in the Boy Scouts. I think it was a post associated with St. Joseph's Church.
Page 115. My fifth and sixth grades were at the Winn Brook school. I peered out those upstairs windows a great deal, studying Coolidge Rd in front of the school where many of my friends lived.
Page 116. Well, well I certainly remember Eva Burns who never lacked in controlling some of our more rambuctious students. I also recall Lillian Kales and Marion Ryder who were my teachers for those years, although I recall a teacher change or two in my fifth and sixth grades.
Page 119. The Underwood pool was my first exposure to the world of other kids than my neighborhood. The picture is well before my time since I never saw the house in the background.
Page 122. The Belmont Country Club certainly was a beautiful place. I caddied there about 1946 for I think one summer. Fran Winslow and I rode our bikes up there. I can recall cruising down Marsh Street in time to caddy. I did learn something about golf. I think there was something for the caddies when the Ryder Cup team practised there because I recall seeing them close up.
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