July 4, 1916 Part II The Awards

Doll Carriage parade

This is a follow up to last week’s blog post about the activities in town on July 4, 1916. Although the parade had fewer participants than anticipated there were still many winners.  The judges were: Mrs.Lafayette Gregory, Mrs.Robert Homan, Mrs. Hooper R. Shaw, Mrs. Charles M. Green and Mrs. Horatio B. Buck.  The following prizes were awarded: 

“The Butterfly Group” consisting of a number of Miss Ella Ballard’s dancing class costumed as butterflies was awarded the first prize

“John Alden and Priscilla” children of Rupert Coffin, second prize. ( Rupert and his wife Edith were from Maine and he worked for the highway department in Marblehead. They lived on Lincoln Avenue.  The children were Granville Farriell Coffin, born 1910 and Deborah B. Coffin, born 1912)

“George and Martha Washington” received honorable mention. They were Thelma and Marion Dexter.  

Decorated Baby Carriages: Chariot – Dorothy Raymond – first prize. (She was most likely the one year old daughter of Ludger and Florence Raymond of Pleasant Street)

Pushing carriage   Helen Gillis – second prize (she may have been the daughter of William and Lillian Gillis, born 1906 and lived on Stacey Court)

Most Original feature: “The Bartlett Pair”  who were the children of Ralph Bartlett and Lillian P. Chapman. (He was a machinist living on Elm Street. The children were Elizabeth Glover Bartlett born 1912 and Ruth Chapman Bartlett born 1913

Girl Characters: Mistress Mary   Mary Laskey first place – (she was most likely the daughter of Emerson Roads Laskey and Leona May Day of Mugford Street, born 1909)

Fairies – Adelaide Glass   second place (4 year old daughter of Emerson Glass and Corrine Dykeman)

Older Boy Characters: Blue Beard   – Theodore Smith   first place (he was born in 1905, son of William Everett Smith and Eliza Gregory Reynolds)

Naval Reserve – Fred Broughton, Jr.  second place  (Fred was born in 1905 son of Frederick Albert Broughton and Mabelle Pope Gardner)

Small Boy Characters: Gold Dust Twins – Jeffrey Nichols and Nat Snow – first place (Nat Snow was most likely born in 1911 the son of Nathaniel and Amelia Snow of Washington Street.)

Yellow Clown – Azor Goodwin – second place (5 year old son of Henry Emerson Goodwin and Bertha Langley of High Street)

Decorated Doll Carriage – green and white     Harriet Coffin – first place – (she was born in 1912, daughter of Harry and Nannie Coffin of Darling Street)

Decorated Doll Carriage – orange – Barbara Brown – second place (she was born in 1911 daughter of A. Frank Brown, living on Sewall Street)

Best Decorated automobile was awarded to Harrie K. Nutting.

After the parade the sporting events were held under the direction of Mr. William Smith. The following are the winners:

Potato Race – William Gillis   – first place (he was the son of William and Lillian Gillis of  Stacey Court, born 1904)

Edward McCormack – second place (son of James and Augusta McCormack of Orne Street, born 1903) 

Forty Yard Dash – Lincoln Davis   first place

Nathan Tucker   second place (I think he was born in 1905; his mother was Bertha L. Graves and his stepfather was Herbert Graves and may have been the brother of A. Damon Tucker)

Ball Throwing – Caroline Reynolds – first place (daughter of Joel Reynolds and Carrie Gertrude Shepard, born in 1905)

                        Edith Dixey – second place (born in 1904 to Edward T. and Flora Dixey and lived on Orne Street.  She went on to become the physical education teacher at the Marblehead High School)

Three legged Race – Lincoln Davis and Charles Walcott – first place

            Morris Eaton and Herbert Townsend – second place (born 1908, son of Fred and Sarah Townsend, lived on Glover Street.)

Flag Race: Edith Dixey – first place

  Dorothy Collins – second place

Wheelbarrow Race: James Murphy – first place

                                 Edward McCormack – second place

One hundred yard dash: Charles Narbis – first place

                                       James Murphy – second place

80 Yard Dash: Edith Dixey – first place

                        Alice Black – second place


And that concluded the festivities for July 4, 1916. If anyone has photos of these events it would be great to see.  Did you find any relatives?

Pond St Assoc


July 4, 1916 A Spectular Event Planned

Redd's Pond Parade editedPond Street Association Arch      photo from my personal collection.

Fourth of July in Marblehead 100 years ago   Tuesday July 4, 1916

Marblehead does a fine job of celebrating the 4th in current times, but I came across the extensive program that was held in 1916.  It sounds like a lot of great times and those ‘Headers knew how to party for long periods of time.  The celebration in 1916 was celebrated under the direction of the Pond Street Association (PSA) and events were planned for over 26 hours. The Pond Street Associates was a group of neighbors from Pond Street that formed a group around 1914.  They were Arthur Hennessy, William D. Wright, Chester Dane, Herbert Hamilton and William Day.   This particular year there were a few weather delays but almost all events were held.  The following was the schedule as it was planned.

Celebrations started on July 3 at 8:00 PM with a band concert by the Marblehead Band from the M.A. Pickett Association headquarters. This continued until midnight with many families and visitors in attendance.

12:01 AM July 4    A National 21 Gun Salute was held

12:10 AM One million firecrackers were set off in front of the Pond Street Associates headquarters

1:30 AM Illumination of Redd’s Pond with 1000 pieces of red fire ( (I assume they were flares)

1:45 AM Display of water fireworks at Red’s Pond

2:15 AM A great and spectacular naval engagement ending with the destruction of a battleship by a torpedo.  This was held in Redd’s Pond with a miniature replica of a battleship 25 feet long, sailing majestically up the pond and was open fired on from a fort constructed on the shore. The weapon was a large roman candle electronically decorated.  There was a short siege, a torpedo boat was set out from the shore, submerged, fired its missile and the battleship was to blow up.  The submarine would emerge the victor with the flag waving over her.  This would have worked better if some little pranksters had not been fooling around with the wires before the show. The torpedo hit the battleship broadside and the boat didn’t sink.

There were about 7000 people in town to view these opening events and they started for their return trips home at about 2:00 AM in the electric cars, automobiles and jitneys.

The three arches which had been made for the previous year’s celebration were once again set up on Pond Street and decorated with red, white and blue electric lights.

2:45 AM   15 minutes for sleep

3:00 AM After the crowd had dispersed the committee in charge loaded the club cannon onto an automobile and proceeded to serenade a large portion of the town and at sunrise the cannon was taken over to Old Burial Hill, the salute was fired and  the flag raised.

7:30 AM the band concerts started again with the Marblehead Band performing at Atlantic Square and the Harris Bank playing in Town House Square

8:00 AM The Marblehead Band would march to Pond Street where they met with the 10th Deck Division and the Marblehead Navy Band.  The Harris Band was joined by the Boy’s Brigade and the Boy Scouts.   All would meet at Pond Street.

8:15 AM one blast of the fire alarm notifying that all automobiles be cleared on the parade route.

8:30 AM Two blasts on the fire alarm and the parade would begin from Pond St.  – Green – Elm – Spring and countermarched to Mugford – Washington – Pearl – Elm – Green  to Pond where they  ended.  The review stand and judges were at the Gerry School Playground.  About 600 – 700 children representing individuals and collective exhibits as well as decorated doll carriage participated along with the bands and decorated automobiles.

9:45 AM The reading of the Declaration of Independence by Representative John N. Osborne from a platform in front of the Pond Street Association headquarters, followed by a naval flag raising

10:30 AM   Another band concert on Pond Street and sporting activities under the direction of Mr. William E. Smith were held.  Some of the events included 100 yard dash, 50 yard dash, flag race, hoop race, ball throwing, candle race, wheelbarrow race and potato race.  Prizes were awarded.

12:30 – 1:30 Folks were finally given a dinner intermission

1:30 AM Daylight fireworks which were high powered bombs fired from a mortar to the height of about 300 feet where they burst distributing small presents  to children, about 40 gifts per bomb.

2:00 PM Band Concerts at Atlantic Square and Seaside Park

3:15 PM Marblehead Athletic Association baseball game vs. St. John’s of Cambridge at Seaside Park

5:00 PM Afternoon siesta

7:30 – 8:30 PM Band Concert at Seaside Park

7:45PM the illumination of Pond Street with 1000 paper Japanese lanterns

8:30 PM The grand illumination of the hills of the lower division of town in which 50 boy scouts set up 1000 pieces of red fire on the prominent outcroppings from Pond Street to Beacon Hill.

8:45 PM Fireworks display

10:15 PM   Good  night.

Things went as planned up until sunrise on the 4th when the rains began.  It was decided to postpone the rest of the events.  The fireworks were held the following evening. It amazed me how fast they could plan and change events and everyone knew about it and attended, including the out of towners and there was no Facebook or cell phones.

Activities resumed Wednesday evening when Pond Street from Mugford Street to Redd’s Pond was decorated with strings of Japanese lanterns every few feet and was very impressive. They were lit about 8:00 PM and burned until the end of the festivities. The Marblehead Band played in the Square until the fireworks began .  At 8:45 the Boys Scouts did their illumination from Pond Street to Beacon Hill.  The aerial display was then set off with many bombs and rockets and some smaller pieces.  The most spectacular display was the bright white piece with the silver shower and the two pillars with the insignia P.S.A. July 4 (Pond Street Association) .  This event ended about 10:00 PM with an estimated crowd of about 10,000 people.

The events of the 4th were concluded on Saturday with the daylight fireworks for the children, the parade which was held but with less participants and after the parade the sporting events were held.  So despite a few setbacks all events were held over the week and it appears a great time was had by all.   I wish I had a time capsule to go back in time and witness these events.

Here is to a glorious 4th 100 years later, sure to be a great time in Marblehead.   My favorite activities are listening to the bells toll and watching the fireworks over the water.  Nothing beats the reflection of fireworks over water.  If only I could improve my camera skills and learn to get some good photos.   What are your memories and favorite activities?

Part II of this blog will appear next week with the parade and sporting events winners. Maybe you will find your relative’s name in the list. 

Bombs Bursting in Air


Who was Caroline Etta Chase a/k/a Henrietta Foss

Bill Cobbett

When I started at the Marblehead High School my grandmother Emma Woodfin Foss Smith told me to behave myself because Mr. William Cobbett, the high school teacher was my cousin ( my 3rd cousin 4 times removed, I found out later.)  At that time I didn’t know half the town was related to me and of course I never thought to ask how he was related.  So I tried to behave myself. I had Mr. Cobbett for my homeroom teacher and I made quite an appearance on the first day of school.  I had my new bass weejuns on, a lovely (?) jumper that I had made (green, brown and rust colors) and into the classroom I went, flat on my face.  Those weejuns were slippery before you scuffed them up.

So how did Mr. Cobbett become my cousin? My great grandparents William Lackey Foss and Nancy Stacey Goodwin had 14 children.  When I first started my genealogy work I found and listed them all, when they were born, married and died and that was that, I thought.  I found no Cobbett’s there. Henrietta Foss (the first) was born in 1853 and died in 1855, she obviously never married.   Henrietta Foss (the second) was born in 1858 and that was all I could find on her.  She was a year old when her father died and 6 years old when her mother died, what happened to her and her siblings? Her mother Nancy Stacey Goodwin Foss did remarry in 1873 to Joseph Pratt Powers. 

There was a Henrietta Foss born to William and Nancy in the Marblehead Vital Records, so we know she was born. She did not appear in the 1870 census with her mother and siblings although her sister Kate did, however we know that Kate died in 1867 at the age of 3 months.  Depending on who gave the information to the census taker they may have given an incorrect name and I believe this 2 year old was Henrietta.  Poor Henrietta did not show up in the 1880 census either.  By now she would have been 12.  Her brother Clinton, age 15 at the time, was living with his sister Mehitible and her husband Michael Phillips, but where was Henrietta?

 In this timeframe it was not unusual for families to “farm out” their children if they were unable to care for them and their parents had died.  Family stories said that Henrietta Foss was “taken in” by Charles and Caroline Chase and she does appear in the 1880 census with this family with the name Caroline Etta Chase, age 12. Perhaps the “Etta” was for Henrietta.   I have found no formal adoption papers for her so perhaps they just took her in and started calling her Caroline Chase.  Her marriage certificate indicates she was the daughter of Charles and Caroline Chase but there is no birth record for her under a Chase.  

I was researching at the Marblehead Historical Society in Marblehead and came across some Foss genealogy. A woman in Saugus had researched this line so I got in touch with her.  She was the granddaughter of Henrietta Foss!! She told me that Henrietta a.k.a Caroline Chase was well into adult hood before she knew she was actually a Foss. One day her sister Lizzie Foss Perkins knocked on her door and said “Hi, I am your sister” and told her the story of the family.  It seems that Lizzie was also “farmed out” and lived with the Perkins family who later became her in-laws.  

So everyone but poor Henrietta knew that Caroline Etta Chase was really Henrietta Foss, including my grandmother and Bill Cobbett.

 George Frank Cobbett was born 1865 in Woburn, MA and married Henrietta Foss a/k/a Caroline Etta chase in 1886. They had 3 children and lived in Lynn.

            Harry Leroy Cobbett 1886 – 1930

            William Putnam Cobbett 1888 – 1965

            Ruth Evelyn Cobbett 1904 – 1999.



Foss, Henrietta  George Frank Cobbett 50th ann
Henrietta Foss and George Frank Cobbett
Foss, clinton
Henrietta’s Brother Clinton.  Similar features

It was William Cobbett who married Barbara Abigail O’Donnell and they had a son William Kenneth Cobbett, born in 1933 and  died in 2012 who was a great Marblehead High School Science teacher. 

This is not the only puzzle on this Foss line. Another mystery remains in this Foss family of where did Henrietta’s brother, Charles come from?  There is no birth record of him; he just appears in the 1855 and 1860 census as being Charles Foss, son of William Foss and Nancy Stacey Goodwin Foss.  Maybe it was an oversight and he was not reported at the time of his birth or was in “taken in” by the Foss family? His marriage and death records indicate he was the son of William and Nancy, but perhaps he never knew!

 I have a feeling Henrietta and the entire Foss clan may not be Foss’s at all and may have had a  name change back in the 1700’s.  I have found no connection between my Foss line and the two New England lines in NH or Maine.  Will the real Foss family please step forward!

P.S.  This type of blog is also known as “cousin bait”  so if you know any Foss, Cobbett or Chase families please pass along.  Maybe I will be able to solve the Foss mystery.

A Memorial Day Poem

Carrie MasonI am sharing a poem with you this week written by Mrs. Carrie Mason which appeared in the Marblehead Messenger in 1872.  It was read by Miss Mary Barrett at the G.A.R. fair that was held  at Allerton Hall in Marblehead. 

Caroline Atherton Briggs was the youngest daughter of Dr. Calvin Briggs who was a prominent physician in Marblehead.  Caroline was born July 27, 1823 in Marblehead where she lived until her father died in 1852.  The family moved to Fitchburg, MA  where she met and married Charles Mason, a lawyer.  They were married on August 9, 1853 and had one son Atherton Perry Mason who was born in 1856.  Caroline graduated from Bradford Academy in MA in 1844.  She began writing poems at a young age and for several years she was a regular contributor to the Salem Register under the pen name “Caro.” One of her more well known poems was “Do They Miss Me At Home.”  Many of her poems became hymns in the Unitarian Church.  Caroline died from melancholia  on June 13, 1890 at what was the Worcester Insane Asylum and is buried at the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Fitchburg, MA.

Here is her poem on Marblehead:

Marblehead Forever


Old Marblehead Forever, of course she was the first

To rally, when the cry, “to arms!” through all the nation burst,

She never yet has been behind, deny or prove it still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


A queer old place, but every stone that trips you in her streets,

Is instinct with the loyal pulse that in its bosom beats.

This may be a metaphor, it is, but true as gospel still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


The dear old town, it rises now before me, quaint and gray;

I see the hurried ranks go forth, as in the olden day;

First in the fight, to help the right; impetuous, headstrong still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


So Marblehead Forever, God Bless the dear old town,

She’ll never shame her goodly name, her name of old renown,

And, shirk who may, she’ll have her say, in spite of treason still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


Her daughters rise and bless her, her sons go forth to save,

Their country’s honor and her cause, or find a martyr’s grave,

For though the heaven should fall, they’d keep this old flag waving still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.


Then Marblehead Forever, and give her three time three,

First in the fight, to help the right, and first she’ll always be,

Come life, come death, she’ll keep, unstained her ancient honor still;

For Marblehead is Marblehead, has been and always will.

Memorial Day

Dan Dixey photo OKO's 1966

Hat’s Off!

Along the street there comes a blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,

A flash of color beneath the sky:

Hat’s off!

The flag is passing by!! 

This is one of the lines of the poem “The Flag Goes By” which we memorized and recited at the Memorial Day Celebration at the Gerry School Playground in Marblehead. Every year each school in town held Memorial Day Services. I believe we learned this one in Mrs. Roller’s third grade class. As I remember we had to really blare out, “Hat’s Off.”  Every year chairs were set up on the playground and we sat with our class, reciting our poems and singing patriotic songs as our parents watched us. We probably wore a patriotic outfit complete with a white cardigan sweater.  I think one year we played a patriotic number on our song flutes. At the junior and senior high school American Legion Awards were given out to a student at both schools. Students were recognized for their scholarship, leadership and character and were presented Legion pins and plaques and their names were inscribed on permanent plaques within the schools.  Any of you readers receive the award?

Memorial Day  Sea Scouts

Memorial Day was always quite a celebration in Marblehead; they seemed to have a love for parades. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself this year as the holiday in 1956 was very rainy but the parades went on, no matter what the weather. Every year there is a chief marshall of the parade and in 1956 it was Vernon S. Sanborn, commander of Clarence Bartol U.S. W. V. The parade was made up of 5 or 6 divisions in those days with lots of marching bands.  Members of the parade included the town dignitaries, Clergyman, National Guard, all the Veteran Organizations in town and their auxiliaries, the Scouts including the Sea Scouts who that year were led by Donald E. Sweet, Gold Star Mothers, and marching bands including the OKO’s with their bagpipes.  That year Lt. George Girard headed up the police delegation which led the parade.

High School Band Memorial Day
High School Band  1960’s

The parade would start at Town House Square and proceeded down to the wharf where there would be a wreath ceremony.  They would then march back up State Street to Washington and up the one way street on Pleasant Street to School to Essex and stop at Memorial Park.  There another ceremony would be held.  It was here that the Scouts in town would join the parade and continue up Spring Street to Elm to Creesey to Green to Turner Road and into Waterside Cemetery to the Grand Army Lot for more exercises. Following the exercises the procession would re-form and proceed out of the cemetery to Turner Road to Green Street to Mugford to the Town House where the flag would be raised to full staff and then dismissed.

Memorial Day Eliza's
At Great Aunt Eliza’s on Memorial Day 1965     The family waiting for me to pass by in the parade in my Girl Scout attire.

 My family always had a great place to watch the parade at my Great Aunt Mary Eliza Foss Phillip’s house, who lived right next to the Powder House. We would gather on the lawn and watch the parade both going to the cemetery and returning back.   When I was a girl scout everyone would wave when we went by.  My mother remembers when she was a girl scout “ one year it was so cold marching that Aunt Eliza came out with a pair of mittens for her.”  I bet they were homemade white wool ones.  Back in the ‘60’s we had to dress in our complete Girl Scout uniforms including white gloves in order to march in the parade.  We also had to stay in formation and actually march!

Me Girl Scout
All decked out in my Girl Scout Uniform



What are your Memorial Day memories? Besides the parade I think of lilacs. It seems the lilacs were always in bloom for the parade and now they seem to bloom much earlier.



Thank you to Dan Dixey for the use of his color photos of the parade from 1965 – 1966.

Green Street Playground Part II Joel Warren Reynolds 1876 -1931

Joel Warren Reynolds
Joel W. Reynolds


It was voted at the 1932 Marblehead Town Meeting to rename Green Street Playground to the Joel W. Reynolds Playground. It was also decided at the same town meeting to make this the playground where the high school athletic teams would play their games. Joel was a great athlete in Marblehead who passed away in 1931. He was also my third cousin 3 times removed in my Smith line. My fifth great grandfather, Joel Smith was the 2nd great grandfather of Joel W. Reynolds.  

He was born in Marblehead on February 22, 1876 to the Hon. William Reynolds and Elizabeth Allen Magoun. He attended Marblehead High School but did not graduate from there; instead he passed the entrance exams and went straight to school at Bridgewater Normal School. (Normal Schools were schools created to train teachers.) He was the fastest runner at Bridgewater and also pitched on the school baseball team.  After graduating from Bridgewater he was employed as a teacher in the State Normal School at Castine, ME where he taught successfully for six years, at the end of each year he was promoted and given a pay increase. In 1901 after receiving great recommendations from both the principal and the superintendent in Castine, he was appointed principal of the Marblehead High School.

Joel was married on October 21, 1897 in Marblehead to Carrie Gertrude Shepard, known as Gertrude. She was the daughter of William H. Shepard and Carrie Goodwin, born on March 13, 1878 and she passed away on June 26, 1958. She graduated from Wheaton College and was the first female graduate student at MIT. They had 5 children born in Marblehead:

  • Morrill Shepard Reynolds   May 15, 1898 – 1984. He married Theresa Gill in 1925.
  • Joel Warren Reynolds, Jr.   July 22, 1901 – 1979. He married Marion Newhall.
  • William Hooper Reynolds   July 22, 1901 – 1973. He was single and an English professor.
  • Carolyn Edith Reynolds       February 21, 1905 – 1997. She married Ralph H. Morse in 1934.
  • Margaret R. Reynolds         March 8, 1907 – 2004. She married Arba Swain Taylor in 1942.
Joel Reynolds and wife edited
Joel and Gertrude


Joel continued to play baseball for various teams in the North Shore Baseball League. In the Marblehead Messenger of August 26, 1904 there was an article about his athletic career:

            “Joel W. Reynolds, now playing right field for the Lynn Association Nine, was born in Marblehead and is the principal of the high school there.  Everybody recommends Joe as being a perfect gentleman; he is popular and a favorite on the team.  In Marblehead he was known as the town’s fastest baseball product.  He was also an excellent runner.  At a State track meet held in Taunton he won two trophies for running, one for the 100 yard dash which he did in 10. 2-5 seconds and the 50 yard dash in 5. 3-4 seconds.  His first real baseball work was the North Shore teams of several years ago, where he pitched some fine ball. At that time the North Shore Athletic Club had the strongest semi-professional team in the area.  Joe had retired from the diamond to devote his time to his school work, but his friends in Marblehead insisted he play and that he did in the Young Men’s Temperance Team of Marblehead.  The Lynn team scouted him and asked him to play short stop and then right field for their team.”  

Joel also learned to play tennis, playing at the Outing Park which was located next to Seaside Park. This park was run by the YMCA and there were four tennis courts. Joel was one of the star players of the Robinson Farm tennis club, of which he was one of the founders.

It seems that sports and teaching were not his only talents. In an article in the Boston Herald on March 27, 1921 there was an article about his fad and hobby of raising tomatoes.  At that time he was the sub-master at the George W. Putnam School in Roxbury. At his home on Prospect Street in Marblehead he raised 30 varieties of tomatoes.  He raised some tomatoes that grew in clusters like grapes, some shaped like pears and others like peaches.  He obtained the seeds from a chef of a large hotel in the area.  It was said that his wife “had to purchase green tomatoes if she wanted them for pickling as her husband produces nothing but ripe ones and so early that the supply is exhausted by the time the pickling season starts.”  In 1925 he was elected Janitor of the Tomato Club in town and was served a luncheon on his birthday at the club by Dick Phillips

Joel W. Reynolds passed away October 16, 1931 at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He was the sub-master of the Theodore Roosevelt School in Boston at the time. Few of the boys at the school knew he was a famous baseball player in the early 1900’s in Lynn and Marblehead in the New England League.  According to the columnist Tom McCabe “he was a pioneer in playground work and did much to build up the spirit that now prevails in this work. Boston was the first municipality to recognize the value of a playground for its school children.  The way boys looked up to him and followed his advice did much good, and many successful business men today in Greater Boston owes his sane view of things to the way he was taught to play by ‘Jo’, as the boys loved to call him.”

Along with being the Principal in Marblehead he was also a Selectman in 1914 and was on the School Committee in Marblehead from 1912 to 1920 and was voted Chairman. He was also a member of the Abbot Public Library trustees from 1906 – 1921. He also served on the Green Street Playground Committee and was on the committee to design the town seal. His funeral was held at the Unitarian Church and he is buried in Waterside Cemetery. There was a fine tribute in the Marblehead Messenger on Friday, October 23, 1931 about his great accomplishments:

            “He was not only a teacher but also a companion.” When he first went to Boston to teach at the Wendell Phillips School in the West End he taught young boys raised in the city where they had taught to be suspicious of newcomers. All their barriers went down when they met Mr. Reynolds and they organized “The Joel W. Reynolds Boys Club” in the West End Settlement House and a banquet was held in his honor.  He also served as principal of the Eliot Evening Program, and as Supervisor of Playgrounds.

When World War I broke out he was 42 years old, but he took the examination for the United States Marines, passed and was ready to join the army, but decided to continue his teaching and family duties.

I will leave you with this letter that was printed in the Marblehead Messenger October 23, 1931 which was sent to him from a former student, while Joel was in the hospital.

            “Hurry up and get well. Marblehead needs you, with your kindly smile, warm and friendly way, and big heart. There aren’t enough folks like you in this world. What an infinitely more pleasant place this world would be to live in if more of us had the blessed gift of your sunny, sympathetic personality! You were my first school teacher and I shall never forget the charm and brotherliness of the atmosphere which surrounded you in old Marblehead High School. Everyone in the school looked on you as a big brother and friend – not as just a high school principal. I envy you the rich treasures of deep and abiding friendship that you have accumulated for yourself during your useful, self-sacrificing, cheery life. As I get older, the more strongly I am convinced that, after all, what really counts in this world is happiness, contentment and friends. The one who possess these is rich and successful no matter what his financial or social status. And all these things you have in glorious measure.” 

I want to thank Jennifer Wach Hickey, Joel’s great granddaughter for letting me use these photos of her great grandparents in this blog.

Green Street Playground – Marblehead, MA Part I


Cows at Green Street  edited copy

“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.

Lassie League Jacket
My Lassie League Jacket from the 1960’s

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.

Martin Ball House copy copy

 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 …..