“Green Street Playground”, my 5.45 acre retreat located off of Green and Lime Street in Marblehead, MA. I spent a large portion of my life there, from the time I was probably eight or nine until my late thirties. My mother was probably tired of hearing “Ma, I’m going down to Green Street.” I used to be able to walk through the woods from my house on Peach Highlands over to Green Street, this was before Intrepid Way and Hoods Foam were around. High on top of the hill were swings and other play equipment, but the best part was the huge ledge we would climb on to get there. I am sure they would be required to have some sort of fence around the play equipment for safety reasons in this day and age. There was a path to the top but climbing the rocks was more fun. We would sit on the rocks and watch the goings on in the park, but I can attest that were a lot of biting red ants on those rocks. There was also a basketball court next to that. If I got bored at home I would take my bat and ball and head to Green Street where there were always kids to put together a team for a game of ball, or even an apple fight.
The playing field is where I spent most of my time. It began when I was 8 or 9 and I went to Park League for half a day in the summer. Here we played countless games of kickball, arts and crafts and made things with gimp. We didn’t have juice boxes or water bottles; we drank straight from the rusty old bubbler if we were thirsty. Then I moved on to Lassie League softball for several years and Green Street was where we practiced and played our games. If it rained hard we could be sure we would either be playing in knee deep wet grass, third base would be under water or our games would be postponed until the field dried out.
When I got older and could stay our after the street lights were on, my friends and I would sit on the rock on the Green Street side of the playground and watch the women and men play softball in their respected leagues. We longed to play on the women’s team but we were too young. I would be in my room doing my homework and see that the lights were on at the park and I knew there as a game going on and off I would go. In the day of Hartley’s and Carlson Real Estate Men’s league, my friend, Wendy Wright Bridgeo and I would get to sit on the team bench and keep the lineup and scorebook for the men’s game, that was an honor. Didn’t we think we were something to be able to sit with the college boys and watch and score the games. I finally got to be the age to play in the women’s league and it had disbanned; but a new one was formed when I was in my mid-twenties and once again I was at the park. If we weren’t playing our own game that night you could be sure there would be a crowd of players and spectators down there watching the games, sitting on the rocks. We often thought it would be a good idea to pad those rocks; it got awfully uncomfortable sitting there night after night.
This area of land was located behind 11 Green Street which happened to be owned by my Martin Ancestors. I didn’t know at the time that this land actually belonged to my family; I guess I just never thought about that stuff back then. When I was growing up the house was owned by Edith Cressy Martin Ball and William Ball, the white house next to Mullen’s store. The house was originally built in 1795 and is still standing today.
In 1835 the Blanchard family sold the 16 acre farm to Joseph Martin, my third great grandfather, who operated a dairy farm there. In the fall of 1925 the National Park and Playground Representatives visited Marblehead gathering statistics and determined that Marblehead needed more parks within the closely built up areas in the town. It was their opinion that parks added beauty and dignity to any locality. It was in December 1925 that Stephen C., Knott V. and Martha A. Martin offered to give the Town of Marblehead the option to purchase about 91,409 square feet of land at the rate of 4.765 cents per square foot making it to be about $4,356.00. They also stipulated that there should be a right of way granted for horse drawn vehicles or automobiles. The town took them up on their offer and purchased the land. I am glad they did as I have many great memories of the park.
The park was known as Green Street Playground until 1932 when it was renamed the Joel Warren Reynolds Park, also a relative of mine. To be continued next week …..