The Cellar

The Cellar (
-   Cities and Travel (
-   -   Hampden, Hicks in the Sticks (

xoxoxoBruce 02-21-2015 04:04 PM

Hampden, Hicks in the Sticks
I mentioned in another thread I'd become aware of an facebook page for the old home town, where people have been posting photos, newspaper clippings, etc, from and about Hampden, MA. I'd post a link but it's a closed page. The guy who started it keeps access as tightly controlled as he can, but with almost "800 members" he's lost control of the page itself... it's become pretty democratic... that's a synonym they use in polite company, for chaotic.

So to make a long story longer, this thread is a place for me to post some of the stuff I found interesting (acknowledging extreme bias), and for your brickbats, guffaws, and catcalls. No Lynchings, I'm already hung. :p:

OK, small town, western MA, in the county with the same name, quasi-rural, suburb of Springfield(no, not the Simpson's Springfield). Population is about 5200 now but 1930 was 684, 1940 was 1023, and 1950 was 1323. Where my grandparents lived, and eventually my parents, got telephones in the late 1930s, but no electricity until the late 1940s... war effort, you know.
OK, that's the setting for these items I'll be posting now and then. I promise I won't repeat all this crap.

First Item: New Jr High School Principal, Mr Dennis, snappy dresser, new two-tone Buick 2-dr hardtop, neatly trimmed mustache, and not long out of being King of the whole damn US Marines, according to him. His mouth was reprimanding you, but his eyes and sneer said he wanted to kick the shit out of you, then make you march 60 miles, double time, 200 lb pack, and no water.
Um, not real popular with the students... at least us cool ones. :rolleyes:

That was in September of 1956, then by the end of November, THIS!

It's Dennis, that son-of-a-bitch, I see his fingerprints all over this. He'd call for full dress blues every damn day, if he could get away with it.
But with Joe McCarthy and Ronald Ray-Guns preparing to drive the commies out from under my bed, what's a school board to do?
This provocation set the stage for a running battle the next couple years. On a personal note, boots. I know this varies, especially in Old Blighty where Wellingtons are rubber, but for this time and place, this is correct.
I wore Wellingtons, but of course Mr Dickhead classified them as Engineer boots. Since that's what I wore all the time, everywhere,(unlike the whippersnappers these days who own two, three, even four pair of shoes), it's a problem. My mother got no where with him, Pop had to go down there. Mr 82nd Airborne convinced Mr Marine Corps to back-the-fuck-up.

Shirts outside of trousers was the next battle. Since my school clothes came with a Husky label (cloth bags for fat kids), I thought my shirt on the outside looked neater and was a lot more comfy. Turns out my mother agreed with me... or had become fed up with Mr I'm-in-charge, so that was a series of skirmishes that last until I graduated.
Toward the end of my illustrious Jr High career the sideburns became another bone of contention because there was no standard for length. Never give a power freak, or a recalcitrant student, any leeway for interpretation, avoid grey areas no matter what shade.

OK, I got a little long winded over a simple clipping but now I understand why my Grandparents would look at a very unremarkable snapshot and drift off with eyes glazed over for extended periods.:o

busterb 02-21-2015 07:22 PM

I went through some of the same shit

xoxoxoBruce 02-24-2015 10:31 AM

Poem For A Small Town
1 Attachment(s)
This poem is labeled anon. I Googled it just for the hell of it and it showed up a couple of places but no one taking credit. Therefore you are allowed to read it in any voice you want, Poe, Longfellow, R2D2, anyone.

I do know the art work was done by my first art teacher in grade school, however she retired when I was in I think 3rd grade. She had been really talented sitting with a pair of shears, no scissors for her, real shears, and she cut profiles out of black construction paper. You could even tell who it was. Her paintings sold for real money and wouldn't hang on anybody's refrigerator.

The first class with the new teacher, she brings an easel, pad, and water colors already mixed in jars. She proceeded to paint a black cat without a drawing under it, just painted the whole thing freehand, not as good as the old teacher was of course, but not bad. I couldn't make out much detail though, with it being all black,and without a drawing under it. The only thing that wasn't black was the eyes, they were still white because she hadn't painted anything in the holes.

Now when the cat was done, I couldn't tell because I couldn't see much change for some time, she took out the jar of headache inducing nuclear yellow paint, and a rather large brush. When she was satisfied everyone who didn't have to pee was paying attention, she took the rather large brush and painted yellow over the cat. Not a second coat, more like trying to obliterate graffiti on a cement wall. Well the yellow didn't do a lot to the black, kind of tinted it a little... highlights I guess, except the eyes. Now those burning yellow eyes with no pupil, no detail, on an almost featureless black cat, were pretty impressive. The best part was nobody saw it coming, just as she'd intended. I had a 3rd grade shock and awe art teacher. :shock:

Gravdigr 02-24-2015 12:21 PM

I'm liking this.

fargon 02-24-2015 04:27 PM


xoxoxoBruce 02-27-2015 11:16 PM

1 Attachment(s)
This isn't the first cold winter in New England. Some winters were not real cold, below freezing at night but getting above freezing during the day a couple days a week. Other winters would have periods which were colder than a witches boobie, for weeks. I theorized we didn't have much snow when it was real cold because any moisture in the air turned solid, hundreds of miles before it could get to us.

It did make it unpleasant to get out of bed at 5, and hike down to the barn, feed, water, and milk, then hike back and get ready to catch the school bus at 7. And because the bus turned around at our house, I didn't have the luxury of waiting inside until the bus went up the road then wandering out because they always loaded on the way down. Back then they didn't give a shit which side of the road you lived on, extending clutch life was more important.

I remember this date when it hit 37 below down along the river, we were toasty at 25 below up on the mountain. But as much as it was the topic of conversation, it was only for a couple nights then back to normal misery.

glatt 02-28-2015 07:32 AM

Gotta be careful of those frozen deadly body parts, whether they be rat's tails stabbing cats or frozen legs of lamb used as bludgeons before they are eaten by investigators.

xoxoxoBruce 03-05-2015 11:09 AM

1 Attachment(s)
One of the local characters, one of the few more famous than infamous. Thornton Burgess wrote books about his friends, Peter Rabbit (briefly known as Peter Cottontail), Jimmy Skunk, Sammy Jay, Bobby Raccoon, Little Joe Otter, Grandfather Frog, Billy Mink, Jerry Muskrat, Spotty the Turtle, Old Mother West Wind, and her Merry Little Breezes.

There's is no River Road, he lived on Main Street. :rolleyes:

xoxoxoBruce 03-10-2015 10:17 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Speaking of Burgess...

BigV 03-11-2015 09:09 AM



xoxoxoBruce 03-13-2015 08:53 PM

John Hampden was a Brit rabble rouser who looked from what I've found, more like Don Vito Corleone.
I think Sundae posted a photo of his statue over there.

So Don Vito... er, John, along with four other dudes told King Charles I, he could run the country but only with Parliament's blessing.
Kings don't like that uppity tone, so wham bam thank you ma'am, the English Civil War was on.
But as only the British can do, the 9 year war 1642-51 was divided into three parts, 1642-46, 1648-49, and 1649-51.
I guess 1647 was tea time?

Anyway, the County of Hampden, state of Massachusetts, in the new world was named for John Hampden.
Now when the hicks broke off from Wilbraham (formally Springfield Mountains) some people didn't agree.
Not surprising considering how cantankerous those Yankees are.

xoxoxoBruce 03-21-2015 12:18 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I was curious what year, at least approximately, this happened. I asked some people but nobody I had easy access to, remembers Homer Goodrich or Hampden Garage. Well, it seems Homer must have had his spinach ration. Of course back in the day you used whatever bolt you could get your hands on, not like these whippersnappers with their 'torque to yield", one use bolts. :headshake

fargon 03-21-2015 06:38 AM

Eye injuries are never any good, did he fully recover?

Lamplighter 03-21-2015 06:43 AM

Poor bugger. I'll bet that hurt... go ask Harry Reid how much.

xoxoxoBruce 03-21-2015 08:42 AM


Originally Posted by fargon (Post 924209)
Eye injuries are never any good, did he fully recover?

Who knows, I can't even find out when it happened. I could probably narrow it down by combing the census reports, but I don't want to invest that much in it.

Undertoad 03-21-2015 10:07 PM

Whatever happened to ol' Threadeye?

xoxoxoBruce 03-22-2015 02:01 AM


Originally Posted by fargon (Post 924209)
Eye injuries are never any good, did he fully recover?


Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce (Post 924212)
Who knows, I can't even find out when it happened. I could probably narrow it down by combing the census reports, but I don't want to invest that much in it.


Originally Posted by Undertoad (Post 924271)
Whatever happened to ol' Threadeye?

See above.

xoxoxoBruce 03-24-2015 11:18 PM

1 Attachment(s)
It says water tanks but we would call them watering troughs.

xoxoxoBruce 03-26-2015 03:00 PM

1 Attachment(s)
1908, traveling Kickapoo Indian Show. They also sold beadwork and Kickapoo Indian Snake Root medicine and worm lozenges.

xoxoxoBruce 03-28-2015 01:46 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce (Post 922451)
I do know the art work was done by my first art teacher in grade school, however she retired when I was in I think 3rd grade. She had been really talented sitting with a pair of shears, no scissors for her, real shears, and she cut profiles out of black construction paper. You could even tell who it was.

This is one of her Christmas cards.

xoxoxoBruce 03-29-2015 12:19 AM

2 Attachment(s)
There are some advantages to everybody knowing everybody... and their business. :)
In the early '70s Joe Kelly's barn burned, I heard it was kids playing with matches. It's hard for people who never lived in a farming environment to grasp what a horrific tragedy a barn fire is. Not just the loss of a building, and more than the death of some livestock. It's a loss of the accumulated fruits of the past years labor, like your boss says he wants last years pay back. Oh and half wage for the next few years.

They had trouble getting enough water on it to kill it completely, so Rodiman pushed his D-8(they go any damn place they want), through the woods to finish the job.

xoxoxoBruce 04-03-2015 03:40 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Whenever my Cub Scout troop went anywhere, there was the den mother, usually one or two other moms, plus always an older Boy Scout. I always thought he was a bully, but come to find out he was a murderer.

This is the first three pages of the story as written almost a year later in a magazine. Surprisingly they got the major points right.

xoxoxoBruce 04-09-2015 07:38 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Towing the Soap Box Derby cars up the hill.

xoxoxoBruce 04-22-2015 04:54 PM

2 Attachment(s)
During the Big One, WW II, Daddy Warbucks was raking in the cash like a Cocaine Cartel Chief.
That had to come from somewhere in bigger lumps and a lot faster than taxes could reap.
The solution was what we call a War Bond drive, but at the time they were called War Loan Drives.

Don't know exactly when this one took place but the captured V-1 would indicate later in the war.
It looks like people had been signing the V-1 and the tow truck with chalk.

xoxoxoBruce 04-27-2015 09:21 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I found this one interesting, although no one else probably will. Looking south toward the hills of CT. The edge of Chet's barn on the right, Leonard's house on the left and my horses in the middle.

Clodfobble 04-28-2015 06:54 AM

I didn't know you had vehicles with only one horsepower, Bruce. :)

BigV 04-28-2015 08:32 AM

positively bucolic. thanks xoB. :)

glatt 04-28-2015 09:19 AM

Do you still have horses? When was that taken?

xoxoxoBruce 04-28-2015 09:29 AM

I'd guess by the paved road and lack of barn/garage behind the house, that was probably taken around 1970ish. The horses are buried in that pasture.

xoxoxoBruce 05-09-2015 07:27 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Oh my god, hide the women, children and livestock. The boy scouts, lots of them, are shooting GUNS.

Led and encouraged by miscreants like this... Not only that, when they win the prize is BULLETS!
Mark my words, by the end of the year, the whole town will be accidently murdered in their sleep. :eek:

xoxoxoBruce 05-10-2015 03:18 PM

1 Attachment(s)
For Mothers' Day the Grange planted trees.
Homer, one of the sons of Mrs Percy A Fuller mentioned in the clipping, died this week at 95.

xoxoxoBruce 05-12-2015 12:49 AM

1 Attachment(s)
A tongue in cheek piece I wrote, knowing both Leonard and George were avid readers of the magazine.

Griff 05-12-2015 05:58 AM


glatt 05-12-2015 07:49 AM

That's great! Reminds me of that video a few years ago of Griff's saw rig of death.

xoxoxoBruce 05-16-2015 11:36 PM
You'd think it was the Rock of Ages.
Jesus, people...
Don't stop thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

xoxoxoBruce 06-02-2015 12:49 AM

2 Attachment(s)
The town's song.

Gravdigr 06-02-2015 05:12 PM

Two phrases leap out at me from post #35:

"An attractive granite boulder..."

was moved with

"...the town tractor."

xoxoxoBruce 06-02-2015 06:28 PM

Well you can see from the photograph the rock is quite comely.
Smooth shoulders rounding down to the classic boulder shape so often seen in classical paintings and motion pictures. Then the shapes falls away to a solid Congregational worthy base. A light and dark patina shows it's classic features to good advantage.

The town always had to have a tractor, not just for mowing, but for a front end loader with which to load trucks and carry attractive boulders.


xoxoxoBruce 07-18-2015 10:16 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Aunt Dot is a genuine badass.
My grandfather built on the mountain with lots of woods to harvest and sell for firewood. His cousin built a couple miles away in the lowland by the river and farmed. This article is about my mothers cousin, Aunt Dot. She always wore men's cloths, like bib overalls and a flannel shirt, never married, and took no shit from anyone. She worked in Smith&Wesson's factory custom shop (the Wessons lived close by), and shot on the company pistol team in competitions.

I last saw her at year ago at my mother's funeral. Now in her mid-90s she managed the rough terrain and side hill of the cemetery pretty quickly with no assistance. Genuine old New England Yankee, and genuine badass.

Sorry the end of the article was clipped off but you can make out what they are saying.

BigV 07-19-2015 09:22 PM


Gravdigr 07-21-2015 05:02 PM

Go Aunt Dot!

xoxoxoBruce 07-31-2015 12:10 PM

1 Attachment(s)
It's Stoll there, but very little paint as that's not environmentally correct these days.

xoxoxoBruce 08-18-2015 04:59 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Hey, get away from that nice '57 ragtop, ya brats.

xoxoxoBruce 09-05-2015 07:05 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Gordon Casey was a local character and fire chief back when the volunteers elected the chief. This race was in 1951 at the Plainville track in CT. That track was dirt when it opened but the fans complained so much it was paved before the second week. It ran from '48 to '81 then sold to a NY developer who bought several CT racetracks. Now it's a Lowes home Improvement, Loews theater, K-Mart and A.C. Moore plus several fast food restaurants. I noticed the byline on the clipping is Monica Tinty. The Tinty family was principal owner of that track. I guess the paper was happy with free coverage. :haha:

Gravdigr 09-07-2015 09:59 AM

I enjoy this thread.

fargon 09-07-2015 04:04 PM

^Me Too^

xoxoxoBruce 09-10-2015 10:43 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Seems Casey was doing well at Riverside too. That's where I misspent my youth. Riverside Amusement park had a 1/5th mile paved oval track, which is great for spectators. To short to go really fast, so they'd have to duke it out through traffic. In Casey's day they were averaging about 40 for 25 laps, in mine they were closer to 50. If that sounds awfully slow, try in in a local parking lot, it's like doing 15 mph through the grocery store with your shopping cart.

The cars were latter '30s coupes, gutted out with roll cages and no glass. Minimum weight was around 1200 lbs. Any V-8 engine(mostly Chevy and Ford) under 301 cubic inches, as modified as you could afford, with a single carburetor, open headers, and no blowers. Burning a racing fuel that made exhaust which smelled sickeningly sweet from the nitromethane.

Every Saturday afternoon we'd go to the park, slip into the woods behind the Rollercoaster and hang out for awhile. Then when the race teams started arriving we'd stroll into the pits and hang out with the drivers and crews. Then just before the racing started, we'd walk across the track and up into the stands. The only thing we had to do is make sure to get our hand stamped with the invisible ink that glowed under the blacklight, when going to the toilet or refreshment stand. If we forgot, it was pay to get back in, which usually wasn't an option, or hang outside until whoever drove came out. The woods/pits route was out after they started racing. A lot of time invested, but every Saturday night for five months, times seven years, adds up to about $600. Shit, you could buy several running used cars for that kind of money, if we had it.

The feature race was 25 laps with a 50 now and then. Then once a year came the 500, not miles, laps, which was 100 miles. That was the biggie, the one you missed family shit and cancelled dates to see, Riverside's superbowl. And like the NFL's superbowl, more often than not it was boring. It's a long race, don't break something, and don't dice it up with other drivers because there's plenty of time. Ho hum. But sometimes two or three cars would get into a serious battle.

Every single one in our crowd rooted for Gene Dixon's M-6 sponsored by Walkers Motors who supplied our school busses... except me. No surprise there. I liked Buddy Krebb's flying 0. If Dixon won, the ride home was rough with everyone breaking my balls. If Krebbs won, I couldn't return the abuse being seriously outnumbered, so I would take the high road... I could be gloating smugly just as well up there. :D

Gravdigr 09-11-2015 12:50 PM

The closest track that raced regularly was about 60 miles away. I can remember going there with the neighbor boy and his dad a few times. His dad even raced, and won, occasionally.

Quarter-mile, round dirt track.

That was a lot of fun. Fist fights, driving around the track before the race, cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, live music...Pretty cool stuff for a kid raised by safety nazis, and fraidy cats.

xoxoxoBruce 09-11-2015 03:00 PM

We used to go to the Stafford Speedway in CT, once is awhile. Half mile dirt oval that had 4 inch wire mesh above the wall that protected the spectators. Know what, that wire doesn't stop dirt worth a shit. :lol2:

xoxoxoBruce 10-01-2015 06:30 PM

1 Attachment(s)
This would be in the late '50s, the local Lions Club sponsored a Walkathon, whatever that is. I supposed it's walking(heel&toe) for some set distance.

The guy that won is tagged as from Ft Monmouth, NJ, but that's a fer piece down the road, so he's probably local, maybe home visiting, but being in the military stationed at Ft Monmouth, that's his address.

The guy in the funny hat was the race organizer, and on the far right the President of the Lions Club. My Dad was chairman of the Board of Selectmen at that time, so I guess that's why he got tapped to present the trophy.

The trophy looks like a piece of crap to me, but I guess they all are unless you win the America's Cup or the Stanley Cup.

xoxoxoBruce 10-09-2015 08:13 PM

1 Attachment(s)
This is where Pop worked before the Army called.

xoxoxoBruce 11-17-2015 06:18 PM

1 Attachment(s)
There's badass Aunt Dot again. No idea why this was in a NH newspaper, or why they fucked up the which was who in the caption. Can't figure out the backdrop either, looks like sand with holes dug in it, but there seems to be a bottom edge like a curtain or poster. Could be the shot out target board, I guess. Whatever, Dot don't care. :haha:

Gravdigr 11-18-2015 01:45 PM


xoxoxoBruce 11-23-2015 04:22 AM

2 Attachment(s)
The VFW, not to be outgunned by Dot's Ladies Pistol Team, finally got their 155mm Howitzer. I love the attraction of possible new members noticing the big gun, excuse. They're right on Main Street, often with crowds big enough on summer weekends they spill out into the road, and the most popular bar for many many miles around. Nah, it made the collective memberships dicks 155mm longer. Probably officers get a double share.

It says members from as far away as Wales, that's Wales, MA, not across the pond. :headshake

xoxoxoBruce 12-14-2015 12:00 AM

That howitzer is now been moved from down by the hall up to a small berm beside the road. Looks like it was leveled up with 2x12 cutoffs, and a bunch of extras piled underneath. Wonder when, and/or if, they'll pour anchors.

Ran into badass aunt Dot on Friday, told her I belong to a small online community and had posted a couple clippings. The one of the pistol club and the rabid raccoon story, so now people all over the world know her as badass Aunt Dot. She grinned like only a wrinkled 95 year old lady can, and said, "I lived that."
Yes you did, Dot, yes you did. :notworthy

Griff 12-14-2015 06:20 AM


xoxoxoBruce 12-19-2015 08:46 PM


Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce (Post 925220)
Whenever my Cub Scout troop went anywhere, there was the den mother, usually one or two other moms, plus always an older Boy Scout. I always thought he was a bully, but come to find out he was a murderer.

This is the first three pages of the story as written almost a year later in a magazine. Surprisingly they got the major points right.

More poop on this murderer
He murdered his folks and brother in 1958 at 17 years old
Went to jail in 1959 at 18.
Paroled in 1974 at 33. Got married and had a job.
Jailed for not reporting to his parole officer in 1982 at 41. 8years and still on parole?
Was denied parole, and preparing for another parole hearing in 1984 at 43 when he failed to report back to a residence in Boston when he'd been assigned.

Also, I just got the trial story.

Certainly has had a troubled life, bad karma for bullying us cub scouts .

xoxoxoBruce 03-23-2016 07:42 AM

This is a drone video of the old cemetery on Chapin road. Some of the dates go back to the 1700s. I had to turn the sound down half way.

xoxoxoBruce 04-01-2016 04:15 PM

But they still just do what they want to do!
Why can't they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids today?

xoxoxoBruce 04-10-2016 11:21 PM

3 Attachment(s)
In 1763 the town was incorporated as part of Wilbraham, until it split off in 1868. The road from NY to Boston passed through until Ben Franklin moved it over to make the Boston Post Road come out even. The Scantic river at an elevation of about 250 ft, squeezed in between 1000 ft peaks, was fed by a number of streams, so it had water power. But being 15 miles from the City of Springfield, the Connecticut River, and the railroad, when horse and wagon was the only alternative, I'm amazed how much industry happened.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:10 PM.

Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.