Archive for the ‘…all the old familiar places’ category

The more things change…

November 18, 2022

While I continue working on Part 3 of the Paul family story, enjoy this little diversion about Oakdale Square.

Oakdale Square doesn’t look all that different after 80 years, does it? The top photo is from a real estate postcard dated April 9, 1940. The bottom photo was taken November 11, 2022 after the 7-11 removed all traces of their presence here. When I was a kid, it was Danny’s Supermarket.

When the building was being constructed in 1925 (as 6 separate stores), the Dedham building inspector tried to halt construction due to neighbors’ complaints that the structure would create a “blind corner” for motorists. The builder, John Picone, of Newton, took his case to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts where it was heard by Associate Justice Harry K. Braley, who ruled in his favor.

Here’s an aerial view which was included on the Dedham Planning Board’s 1947 Master Plan for improvements in town. As you can see, Stop & Shop now occupies the vacant store. The original Oakdale School is seen at the lower right. It stood where the Veterans’ Park is today.

Paul Park Bonus Material!

November 14, 2022

Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about the Paul Park neighborhood, check this out!

The wife of Ebenezer

was Marietta

His mother was Susan

and his grandmother was Martha

Who put the Paul in Paul Park? /Part 2

November 12, 2022

So, who DID put the Paul in Paul Park? The quick answer to that question is this man:

Ebenezer Paul bought the house on Cedar Street and surrounding acreage from the Fales estate and moved here with his wife Susan and children in 1867. He farmed the land, and over the years added to his substantial holdings by purchasing adjacent lots. At the time of his death in 1898, Paul’s land holdings extended from Oakdale to Endicott, the Manor and Greenlodge. Upon his death, son Ebenezer Talbot Paul took ownership and management of the property and began subdividing it for housing lots in the 1920s. Here is the 1925 plan for a development which includes the site of my childhood home on Tower Street:

Interestingly, the development was named Ashcroft Wood, but nobody I know ever called it that. Hemlock Street was never built, and Sycamore does not connect with Alden. Neither does Beech connect with Turner, probably due to the huge rock located in what was known as “Ogden’s Woods” back in the 60s.

Here is a plan for another development named “Farview.”.

Mt. Vernon Street was later named Kimball Road, although it is essentially the same street intersected by the railroad tracks. The Cedar Street house can be seen on the left, and although it looks as if old Ebenezer was surrounding himself with a multitude of neighbors on his once quiet farmland, most of the houses on these streets were built in the 50s, long after his death in 1930. As a result of these real estate deals, Paul died a wealthy man, with an estate valued at about $1.3 million in today’s dollars. His wife Marietta passed away in 1949 at age 92. They had no children.

In December, 1951, the Town of Dedham purchased just under 3 acres from the Paul estate for $2,625 (about $30,000 in today’s dollars) for recreational purposes.

Paul Park was dedicated on June 8, 1952 in a ceremony attended by several hundred people. Music was provided by the elementary school orchestra under the direction of Miss Rhona Swarz and the elementary school band under the direction of Robert Shreve. Musical selections included When Johnny Comes Marching Home, And the Band Played On, and The Star-Spangled Banner. Director of Recreation William Ryan described plans for further development of the park including a baseball diamond, bubbler, merry-go-round, swings, slides, fire places, sand-boxes, and picnic tables. Fifteen years later I would sit at one of those picnic tables and make a loop potholder for my mother. Thank you, Ebenezer.

STILL TO COME:

  • More Paul Family history
  • Shenanigans at 390 Cedar Street
  • The Mystery of the Missing Plaque

Who put the Paul in Paul Park? /Part 1

November 11, 2022

The impending demolition of this house on Cedar Street has inspired me to make a post to this blog after a very long time. Having grown up on Tower Street not too far from this residence at 390 Cedar, I remember it well from passing it by on countless trips to church, school, work, or Endicott Pharmacy. While it clearly is being readied for the wrecking ball with its windows gone and construction fence surrounding the property, the house never really looked much better than this in all the years I lived in the neighborhood. It was obviously much older than the surrounding mid-century ranches and colonials, and its Greek revival styling hints at a more respectable past. In a series of posts over the next few weeks, I will offer a glimpse into that past and reveal the stories of the families associated with the house.

390 Cedar St. on November 10, 2022

A little farther east from this spot, on the corner of Cedar and Tower Streets, lies Paul Park. During the summer in the 1960s, Paul Park was practically my second home. My brothers and sisters and I would make the short walk there with neighborhood friends to spend the day making pot holders and plaster of Paris animals, playing red rover, checkers, and mancala (which we called simply KAY-la for some reason), and holding Jimmy Fund White Elephant Sales under the supervision of the young park instructors of the Dedham Rec Department. I’m sure none of us knew that the park where we spent so much time and loved so well owed its name, in fact its very existence, to the family who once lived in that spooky, rundown old house at 390 Cedar Street.

Dedham Tales- An Anniversary

February 16, 2013

Who is this man?  Where in Dedham is he sitting?  Why did he come here?  Answers coming soon…

Shiretown 3.13

Aerial views of old Dedham accompanied by quotes from Steely Dan songs

June 16, 2012

Some screen shots from Bing maps. Looks like their photos need to be updated!

“And I’m never going back to my old school…”

St. Mary’s was closed for nearly as long as it was open.  I graduated from there in 1973, the year it was announced that the school would close in 2 years. It was torn down in the fall of 2010.

“Everyone’s gone to the movies…”

The Showcase Cinemas stood at the corner of Elm St. and Route 1 for 35 years,  yet the Frosty’s ice cream stand  that occupied this spot for 10 years seems to be more fondly remembered, at least with Dedhamites of my generation.

“Bad sneakers and a Piña Colada my friend…”

The bad sneakers were issued to me during my unexceptional stint on the Dedham High track team.  They were black canvas with white stripes, a big white rubber toe and crepe-like soles.  We called them bobos.

The Piña Colada (my friend) is a reference to the drinking that went on at the Practice Field (upper right in photo) back in my high school days, although it’s more likely they were drinking Schlitz. Today a renovated Stone Park and new Avery School can be seen in this view. 35 years ago this month, I received my DHS diploma here.

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!

New Deal Art in the Post Office

April 23, 2011

Early Rural Mail Delivery by W. Lester Stevens
© Damianos Photography

Early Rural School by W. Lester Stevens
© Damianos Photography

How many times have you been in the post office in the Square and seen these paintings in the lobby and wondered who painted them, when were they installed there, and why? Well, now the wondering is over.

The two murals, Early Rural Mail Delivery and Early Rural School are the work of Rockport based artist W. Lester Stevens (1888-1969), who created the oil on canvas murals in 1936 as part of the Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP), one of several art programs which fell under the umbrella of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the New Deal agency that employed millions during the Depression.

The federal art programs were created to not only help out-of-work artists, but to enable average Americans to view and enjoy works of arts for free in public spaces. Hundreds of murals were installed in post offices, schools, and federal buildings across the country. Most of the art depicted inspiring scenes from America’s past. You can view 40 other works of New Deal art that survive in Massachusetts (and many more across the country) at this website: http://www.newdealartregistry.org


A comic strip from 1939 featuring a Post Office mural

Dedham is fortunate to have such a treasure; go see it in person in the Post Office lobby, 611 High St.
Thanks again to Joe Flynn and George Milne of the Dedham Post Office for their help in photographing the murals, and to Lynne Damianos for the great photos.

The Dedham Post Office at 75

April 19, 2011


July, 1935


September, 1936


April, 2011 © Damianos Photography

The Dedham Post Office on High St. celebrated its 75th anniversary last October. The cornerstone was laid in a ceremony the previous April. Thanks to Customer Service Supervisor Joe Flynn for the following pictures which show the progress of the construction throughout 1935.


February, 1935: I love this picture which shows a great side view of Memorial Hall, which was located where the police station now stands.


April, 1935


June, 1935: Looks like Bonnie and Clyde have stopped by to check out the progress of the construction.
NEXT: The Post Office Murals

More Mall!

May 20, 2010

These scans are ads from the Dedham Transcript’s 1986 supplement celebrating the town’s 350th anniversary. The first pic shows that odd little sunken garden where people could sit and relax. Also visible is one of my favorite stores- Paperback Booksmith. I would browse there while my father did the grocery shopping at Stop and Shop down the other end. I remember once spotting this creepy looking paperback with a silver reflective cover and being immediately drawn to it- Stephen King’s The Shining.

This ad lists all the stores that were still in business in September, 1986. Woolworth’s was still hanging in there in ’86, but. alas, looks like Wrangler Wranch had reached the end of the trail.