Archive for May 2011

Need a little “R and R?” Try jury duty…

May 10, 2011

The Millen Brothers/Abraham Faber murder/robbery trial was one of the most sensational criminal cases of the 1930’s, if not of the 20th century. The basic facts of the trial are related in my book and in shorter form in a post from last June entitled “An Execution in Charlestown.”

The trial of the three men accused of robbing a Needham bank and killing two policemen began in April, 1934, just a few months after the shocking crime. The jury was sequestered, and just as in the Sacco/Vanzetti trial the previous decade, they were lodged in the court house, sleeping on cots in one of the larger, unused court rooms. Their shower facilities were in the basement of the jail in which the accused were being held.

Perhaps the intensity of the trial testimony and the less than four-star accommodations prompted court officials to provide the men with a wide variety of leisure activities when the trial was not in session. These activities were recorded in some detail by Juror #11, foreman Ted Davis of Norwood, who had the “diary” privately printed after the trial was over. Along with the trip to Nauset Beach as described above and pictured below, other jury excursions and entertainments included:

* 3 Red Sox games and 1 Braves game
* A bus tour of the Mohawk Trail
* Taking in a polo match at the Dedham Polo Club
* Bowling, horseshoes, sing-alongs, long walks around Dedham
* Trips to Martha’s Vineyard, the Peabody Museum, Cohasset, Scituate and Plymouth

On June 9 the jury returned a verdict of guilty and, according to Davis’ diary “made for home as quickly as possible.” Jury Foreman Davis had an extra treat during his 2 month stint when he was allowed to see his new-born daughter in the hospital (accompanied by two Deputy Sheriffs) on May 29.

In the photographs below, Deputy Sheriff Norris Pinault (in white shirt) cavorts with jurors at Nauset Beach in Orleans. Thanks to Norris Shook, grandson of Deputy Pinault for providing me with the photos, the news article, and the diary kept by Ted Davis.

Advertisements

East Dedham Firehouse Tower…Gone With the Wind!

May 5, 2011

It was Hurricane Carol that took out the 80-foot bell tower, in dramatic and dangerous fashion on August 31, 1954. Lifted by a particularly strong gust, the tower tore loose from the building and sailed across the fire station, crashing into the house next door, where Mrs. Louise Guerrio was feeding her one year old son Joseph at the time. Miraculously, neither Mrs. Guerrio nor her son were hurt. A portion of the tower fell across Bussey St., crushing 3 cars and damaging the house at #219.

The steeple of the Old North Church and a WBZ radio tower were also toppled by the hurricane, which was more powerful and more devastating than the famous 1938 storm.

Here is a picture of the firehouse from the early twentieth century:

This is how I remember the firehouse looking when I was a kid:

Thanks to Firefighter Charlie Boncek for letting me use these images.

Where’d the tower go?

May 3, 2011

The firehouse on Bussey St. in East Dedham recently got a makeover, but even with its new siding it is clear that something seems to be missing on the right hand side. That something is the bell tower which can be seen in this drawing from a 1933 map of the town:

The question is… where’d the tower go?
FIND OUT LATER THIS WEEK!