Archive for February 2011

The Blizzard of ’78- The Final Word

February 23, 2011

My sister got these for everyone in the family. It pretty much sums up the whole experience.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

February 21, 2011

George and Abe. Two of our most famous, accomplished, and popular presidents. Both of whom visited Shiretown. How many towns can claim that such important figures in U.S. history spent time within their borders, and be able to point out the exact place and time of the visit?

Washington spent the night of April 4, 1776 at the home of Samuel Dexter. Then General Washington was on his way to New York after having successfully driven the British out of Boston. The house still stands on High St., although it has been much altered over the years. There is another Shiretown tale associated with this house which involves the Battle of Bunker Hill, a suicide, a curious soldier, and a rotting corpse. That tale will be told here at a later date.

Just down the street from the Dexter House is the Community House, also known as the Judge Samuel Haven House. It was here that Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln was entertained for lunch on September 20, 1848, while traveling New England in support of presidential candidate Zachary Taylor. Later that day, Lincoln spoke at Temperance Hall on Court St., before catching a train at the station that once stood in the Square where the town parking lot is now located. Below is a map commemorating Lincoln’s Massachusetts visit. See if you can find details of the Dedham trip on the map!

Other presidential visitors to Dedham include Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams.

Blizzard of ’78 Part 3- A Haven in the Storm

February 19, 2011

Today it’s Joe’s American Bar and Grill. When I worked there for a month as a sophomore in high school in 1975 it was Boraschi’s Villa, and the decorative sign from that incarnation can still be seen in the main dining room of the Route 1 eatery. But in 1978 it was J.C. Hillary’s, and for several days during the Great Blizzard it became home to stranded motorists who trudged up from their abandoned cars on Route 128. Over 500 motorists stayed at both Hilary’s and the Showcase Cinema across the street, which became a Red Cross shelter for several days. Another 20 refugees from Route 128 made their way to the Caulfield home on Vincent Rd. where they were given shelter.

The lobby of the old Showcase Cinema with stranded motorists

Roads were closed by order of Governor Dukakis, and both state and local police were busy handing out citations to people who disobeyed the order.

School in Dedham was closed for 7 days, with Dukakis declaring that the days did not have to be made up, so Dedham students only went to school 176 days that year.

A portion of the roof of the Dedham Mall collapsed over Cummins, a women’s clothing store.

During the storm burglars broke into The House of Sports on Eastern Ave. and made off with $5000 worth of sporting goods, including the toboggans that they used to transport their plunder.

And I walked around with my little camera, taking fuzzy pictures of the Tower St. neighborhood.

Below: The house on Tower St. after the Blizzard of ’78. The bottom picture was taken after another memorable storm, the April Fool’s Day Blizzard of 1997.

Blizzard of ’78 Part 2

February 7, 2011

This Dedham eatery may be long gone, but it figures in my next tale of the Blizzard of ’78. Do you know where you can find this remnant of the past in present-day Dedham?

The Blizzard of ’78

February 6, 2011

Rte. 128 at East St.
Driving around the narrowed streets of Dedham and listening to the news stories of buildings collapsing under the weight of snow naturally causes one to think back to the Blizzard of ’78, which occurred 33 years ago this week. Now 33 years isn’t all that long ago, yet I find it hard to recall many specific details about the storm. Some of my recollections include: walking out to Rte. 128 near East St. to look at all the abandoned cars- people walking from Roche Bros. in Westwood pulling sleds with groceries-watching some guy in a tiny jeep try to plow Tower St. (he finally gave up and left the jeep there in front of the mountainous pile of snow he’d created).

I was working at Wrangler Wranch in the Mall at the time, and I remember some time after the blizzard getting a check from the state for the missed work days due to the state of emergency that kept the Mall closed. What are your Blizzard of ’78 memories?

Etna Rd. and Capen School
LATER THIS WEEK- Blizzard Tales from Dedham!


February 1, 2011

It’s been a long time since the last post, but now as Dedham celebrates 375 years as a town, it is time to share more tales from old Shiretown. If you are new to the blog, be sure to read all the old posts. Let me know what you think- suggest possible topics- send photos. Let’s celebrate Dedham’s birthday together!

Catching Air in Tower St. Backyard; February, 1971

We had a small hill in the backyard and would build jumps out of snow. Those plastic coasters were the newest thing at the time. In the background, my older sister is about to go down the hill with my year and a half year old brother in his plastic bathtub.
When I visited the old neighborhodd a few years ago, the family that bought the house on Tower St. from my parents told me they also sled down the hill, which they have named “Mt. Wilcox.” I love when traditions are carried on through the years.