Monday, April 20, 2009

Memories of a Small Town

Two friends recently blogged about where they grew up; shared some childhood memories. So I figured, what the heck, why not;
here goes.
I grew up in the small suburban town of Dover, MA. It is located about 30 minutes southwest of Boston. I grew up there because my parents were given the land as a wedding gift by my father's parents; though one of my grandfather's sisters did argue she gave it to them as a gift. My paternal grandfather grew up in Dover. We lived next door to his family's house, where his sisters lived for years. The house is still there, but it is no longer in the family. We went to the same school he attended. It is also still there, but no longer used as a school. When we had a party line, one of his sisters was one of the operators.
Dover has a small quaint center of town. When giving directions to people from out of town, we would tell them not to blink, as they would miss the center of town. To this day, there is only one traffic light, and it is located in the center of town. The only sidewalks are found in the center of town. In the very center is the Town Hall. It used to house the police station, the library, as well as the town offices; a new library, police station, fire station, and post office have since been built. There is a volunteer police and fire department. The Town Hall has a tree they light every Christmas; red and white lights. There is the Drug Store; a few years ago it became a deli when the proprietor passed away. When we were kids, our dentist had an office over the Drug Store. He would give us wooden nickels to get ice cream cones there after our visits; one way to keep us coming back! There is one gas station (owned by a friend’s father when growing up, threw Christmas parties), a private school, a former public school, two churches, and a cemetery - where we would hang out on the stonewall for lack of nothing better to do. There is one small grocery store, Higgins; you really need to want to buy something badly to pay their prices; and attached to it, a package store (liquor store to some of you); that's where even today, you can catch up on the local gossip. The other place to do so is the American Legion. It is the local watering hole and used for
There was not a whole lot to do in Dover; in the winter ice skate at Channing Pond, in the summer play tennis and watch baseball games or attend a little two week half day arts and crafts camp. Even though Dover didn't offer a lot to do, we stayed busy. We rode our bikes or walked everywhere. We knew everybody, and everybody knew us; which was not always a good thing if you were doing something you didn't want your parents to know about. Dover is still this way today. The per capita income is higher, the houses bigger and more expensive, but the population has not grown
a lot.
When I was growing up, Dover had a population of about 4,000; the census was done door to door; I know firsthand because my mother had my older sister and myself doing it one year to make extra money. Not worth it. Babysitting was a lot more lucrative! The population has not grown in leaps and bounds. It is still very
Though Dover itself does not have a lot to offer, the areas around it do. Most people go north to ski in the winter; I did not learn to ski till I was in college. In the summer, most people head to the ocean; along the North Shore or down to Cape Cod. We spent my father's three week summer vacation (he was a sales rep for Raytheon) in Mattapoisett; not quite on the Cape, we didn't go over the bridge. My grandfather's sister Julia; we called Juju; had a house there. It was shared by three families, all related; we all got 3 weeks. Each summer a different one of the families would get the week of the 4th. It was a great place to spend the three weeks. We took swimming lessons and sailing lessons. We bowled at the local bowling alley. We hung out at the beach and at friends' houses. We went exploring to Cradle Rock. We got ice cream from the ice cream truck - we would listen with anticipation for the bell every afternoon. We went quahoging and scalloping. I hated this part. We had to bring enough quahogs home for my mother to make quahog chowder. I hated walking in the dark murky mud at low tide where these were found. We had to wear sneakers, so we would not cut the bottoms of our feet on the shells. I did like the quahog chowder! We spent hours in the sun. We survived many sunburns. My sister has returned since. I have not been back in years.
When I was old enough, I got "mother's helper" jobs for the summer. I worked on the North Shore and Cape Cod. I preferred Cape Cod. When I was in college, I got a job as a cook for a couple on the Cape. My summer jobs paid for my college education. When I was a senior in college, my parents bought and later built a house on Cape Cod. We spent a number of fun summers there. We no longer have the house, but I still enjoy going to the Cape.
Dover is close enough to Boston, we could take the train or the MTA into the city; to go shopping or to Red Sox games. We would go to Filene's Basement right before Easter to get our new Easter clothes! We could visit the many museums Boston has to offer. We are an hour from Salem, Marblehead, and Gloucester and about 30 minutes from Plimoth Plantation. We are also about an hour from
Newport, RI.
Dover has gone through many changes, though the center of town has remained the same. There are new subdivisions and bigger houses, but many of the people I grew up with have remained either in Dover or in the area. It is still a nice place to raise a family as my sister decided to do when she bought the family house. I enjoy returning to Dover every chance I get.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog. Loved reading about Dover. Wow, it kinda makes Huntington look like a metropolis! I think we had about 50,000 at one time. Now it's way down... not to 4,000, though.