Happy Saturday from beautiful Easton! The bright sun is glistening over the surface of Shovel Shop Pond this morning, it’s perfectly still mirror-like waters broken only by the ripples of a fish eating bugs that make the mistake of landing on the water’s surface.
This week I am taking a second look at some of the postcards from A. Frank Pratt, whom I wrote about two weeks ago. The four cards featured today are full color prints that date to the 1910's. To make these postcards, a photographer would take the photo of the desired building or landscape. Since these photos were taken with black and white film, the photographer would make notes about what colors to use for color printing, and send those notes along with the image to a printer for proofing. Black and white film was favored by photographers (think Ansel Adams) because the fine grain size of the film captured every detail in the subject matter, and allowed for excellent printing and enlargements without losing sharpness or other quality problems. If you look at the early color postcards, many of them were printed in Germany, which had perfected the color printing process. Since one could not be in Germany easily to see what the finished product was like, the notes provided by the photographers were vitally important to producing the correct image.
I chose these cards today for two reasons: the subjects are familiar and interesting, and the colors have stayed vibrant after more than one hundred years. All four cards were published by O’Connor’s News Store and printed in Germany. The photographer and/or artist is unknown to us.
First up is a postcard of our Museum, the former Old Colony Railroad Station. The photo was taken from across the street near the shore of Shovel Shop Pond. An old streetlight and several telegraph poles are seen in the photo, as well as a horse drawn wagon hiding behind the tree on the left. Just to the right of center is the magnificent sycamore tree that now is an Easton landmark. In this photo it is about one hundred years or so younger! I believe it is one of the original plantings on the site, which was landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted. Note the colorful hues in the sky, undoubtedly asked for by the photographer to make the photo more colorful, and more interesting.
Another Easton landmark is featured in the Oliver Ames Gymnasium card. Located on Barrows Street, and today housing the Recreation Department and the Council on Aging, the building served as the original gymnasium for the 1895 Oliver Ames High School. Built with funding from Anna C. Ames, the widow of former Governor Oliver Ames, the building also provided rooms for music instruction in the early days of the Anna C. Ames Band. The green paint is faithfully shown here, as well as four neighborhood boys who probably frequented the building.
Next up is “Queset Lea” as it was sometimes called, which stands behind the Ames Free Library. At the time of this photo, it was the home of Broadway producer Winthrop Ames. The photo shows the original landscaping. The drive, which now ends at a walled garden adjacent to the house, once continued to the stables at the rear of the property, and the home of Hobart Ames, which stood to the northwest of this house. It is a rare photo of an early Ames mansion (built for Oakes Angier Ames in 1854) featuring the original approach and plantings.
Last, we come to one of the newer buildings at the time, the Immaculate Conception Church on Main Street. Completed in 1904, the stone structure was probably about ten years old in this photo. Excellent detail is present in the photo including the intricate woodwork around the entryways. I must draw your attention to the roof colors in these postcards. The church has had a red roof as far back as I can remember, but this card has the church with a blue roof. Here we see the photographer perhaps taking some “artistic liberty” with his creation. In other postcards of Easton buildings, the roofs and other details in a photo are sometimes given a different color, for no other reason that the artist thinks one color was a better look than another. It is also possible that if no color for the roof was noted, the printer may have assumed slate was used as a roofing material, thereby causing blue to be used in the printing. I do not know if the printer from Germany would have sent a proof back to the publisher; I tend to think not, so there might not have been any corrections made unless the cards were re-ordered for additional printings.
Until next week, stay well,
Hello, and a very happy (early) Mother's Day! Let's take time this weekend to honor our moms and honor the memories of those moms we miss.
This morning, as I look out the window of the Museum towards the Governor Ames Estate, I can see a sure sign of pandemic recovery - the Easton Lions Club Fishing Derby is taking place! Excited children, all well-spaced out, are trying their best to get hold of a prize-winning catch along the shores of Shovel Shop Pond. After a long year that saw so many events cancelled, it is a wonderful sight to see things slowly coming back to normal.
Today's photo was included in our recent newsletter, but in honor of the anglers across the street this morning, I thought it might be nice to send it out in my update.
Wearing their “Sunday best” clothes, a well-dressed couple fishes at “Pout Rock, North Easton.” A handwritten caption on the back of this photo says “Oct. 5, 1902” and “Book Keeper, O. A. Ames Office.” While the names of the couple are not recorded, the name of the location is written on the front. There are two “Pout Rock” locations in North Easton: at the site of the former Flyaway Pond on Lincoln Street, and a second location on a high ledge off Pond Street that overlooks Langwater Pond. This photo was taken at the Flyaway Pond location, which is much closer to the water. Our well-dressed couple share what appears to be a bamboo fishing rod. Bamboo is a strong and resilient wood, and it was a popular choice for sporting equipment (does anyone remember the old bamboo shaft golf clubs that were once so popular? I had a few as a child, given to me by a neighbor who wanted me to learn golf.) Flyaway Pond's “Pout Rock” was also a popular spot for another activity, swimming, and on any hot summer day many years ago local boys would indulge in the coolness of the water, with or without swimsuits!
Stay well, and until next week,
Happy May Day! May 1st dates to early Celtic tradition as one of the four days that falls midway, more or less, between the Solstice days. At one time May Day was a day to celebrate workers and a push for an 8-hour workday, but that holiday was replaced by Labor Day. Today we think of May Day as a day to dance around Maypoles and give May Baskets of fresh flowers and perhaps a home-baked sweet treat to someone special. I wonder if anyone still does those things?
Have you ever purchased something at a store with the intention of putting that thing away, keeping it in true “new” condition for later generations? What if you did that for a collection of items? A few months back I received a call at the Museum from Carol Odell. She had a collection of Easton postcards once owned by her ancestor A. Frank Pratt. The postcards were Easton places, so of course, I was very pleased to accept them for our collection. People collect postcards for either the subject matter featured, or a sentimental note on the back, or even for specific postmarks such as an RPO (rail post office, mailed via a railroad post office) or a hard-to-find postmark such as Eastondale. I have been collecting postcards of Easton since I was about 18 years old. As you might guess, many of these cards have been mailed, read and re-read, and show a lot of wear and tear. Even their age (most of them date to between 1900 and 1930) cause them to deteriorate.
A. Frank Pratt (1847-1931) married Hypathia (1848-1927), the daughter of widowed Mary Franklin, and the couple lived in one half of a duplex at 9 Oakland Avenue from the 1880’s until his death. Mrs. Franklin owned one half of the duplex, and the Pratt’s owned the other half. A. Frank was a grocery clerk in Easton although it is not known which grocery he may have worked at. Some of his family worked at the Ames Shovel Company, so it is possible he may have worked at the Ames Company Store. There were several other stores on Main Street as well that may have provided employment. One of them was O’Connor’s News Store. From the beginning of the 20th Century, O’Connor’s published several series of Easton postcards, which during those years, was quite the fad for those who had pen pals. Demand for images to send of your hometown drove the postcard market. A. Frank began purchasing postcards as they came out (the earliest in the collection date to before 1907) until he died, and set these cards in a very safe place. Thanks to the care provided by him, and subsequent generations, the 59 cards he purchased came to us in pristine condition! They look just as nice as the day they were purchased, crisp images, no bent corners, creases, or smudges. These are the best preserved postcards I have seen.
I chose six of those postcards for you to view today. They are all from the same series, probably done in the late 1920’s, and feature real photos of Easton on each card. Real photo postcards are exactly that – faithful prints from the original photographs, not touched up or altered. They were printed in Taunton by the H. A. Dickerman & Son Company. All of them are titled on the front so you can easily see what is being featured.
Enjoy these wonderful images, the nice May weather, and of course, Happy May Day!
Hello, and happy Election Day in Easton! As I write, the town is holding elections at the Oliver Ames High School. There are few, if any, contested races, though with two openings on the Select Board, and two incumbents not seeking re-election, we will see some new faces.
Graduation season, Mother's Day, and Father's Day will soon be upon us! I offer a gentle reminder that the Museum is open for shopping, and we have a terrific selection of items that would make a great gift for someone special. Check out our Museum store online or plan a visit! Memberships make an excellent gift as well.
I came across an interesting artifact the other day and I thought I might share it with you. Back in the early 1880's, there was much excitement in Easton over word that a trolley line would soon connect North Easton to downtown Brockton. The former Brockton Street Railway Company began service using horse drawn trolleys on tracks in 1881, and by the mid-1880's a horse drawn trolley car would be running along Main Street in Easton to bring workers, and shoppers, back and forth a few times each day. By about 1892 to 1893 the company introduced electric trolley cars, and a number of other lines joined the growing system. Before 1900, a traveler from Easton could take any of several trolley lines to either Brockton, Taunton, Stoughton, or Mansfield. High school students could take the trolley to school in North Easton and return home at the end of the day. Once these local lines connected with larger companies, one could travel around most of the east coast of Massachusetts, making day trips to beaches, parks, and fairs easy and affordable. Eventually, the old company was absorbed into the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Company beginning in 1919, and that company continued trolley service until the 1930's when busses replaced the aging trolley cars. Service was provided by bus to Easton until around 1968. Today, the successor to the old public transportation system is the Brockton Area Transit, or BAT, system of busses. Today, no bus companies (excepting school busses) offer direct service to Easton.
When I was a kid, Russ Erving (1889-1977), who lived on Foundry Street, told me about the trolley tracks from the old Easton and Mansfield Street Railway Company that were still hiding under the blacktopped street. In his younger days, he was one of the trolley car drivers for the Brockton system before busses arrived on the scene.
Our item today is a fare token for the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Company. Made from copper, and about 7/8" in diameter, it was good for "one fare" in whatever zone you used it in. The fancy token, produced by the Scovill Company, probably dates to about 1930, just around the time that bus service began replacing trolleys. It is difficult to date it any better than that, so I cannot say this is a trolley token. Still, it is something we were all familiar with whether it was used for a trolley ride or a bus ride.
Until next week, stay well,
Hello! A few weeks back I remarked about the nice warm spring weather we were having, but I also said I was not quite ready to put away the snow shovels and scrapers. Well, I put the snow scraper to use yesterday as temps fell during a rainstorm, bringing snow to most of Massachusetts. Coming out of an appointment around 11 a.m. yesterday, I found the car windows covered with ½ an inch of very heavy, wet snow. So much for spring in New England!
With the expected arrival of real spring weather, restaurants are gearing up for outdoor dining. Today I want to share a menu we recently acquired thanks to help from Bob Vogel. Brooks Farrar was well known in the area for his duck farm which stood in the vicinity of 300 Turnpike Street in South Easton. Known as State Road 138 in the days before the highway system was implemented, Route 138 was populated with a number of roadside stops for travelers, and Farrar’s was one of them. Besides raising ducks for the commercial market, he also had a gas station and a restaurant. In the days before World War II duck was a very popular food choice. Farrar goes into great detail on the superiority of fresh duck on the back of this menu, pointing out the high caloric count and how it exceeded both nutritionally and economically other meats and seafoods. Given that this menu probably dates from the late 1930’s it was important to point out that your money went further by purchasing duck rather than seafood or other meat items!
What might you find on the menu at Brooks Farrar’s Restaurant? Many familiar things as well as food items that were once popular, but now forgotten by most. Upon opening the menu, you are immediately looking at three dinner menus, priced at $2.00, $1.50, and $1.00. The offerings for a nice dinner range from a full hot duckling with an appetizer and all the trimmings, to a more basic dinner of a ¼ duckling, potato, peas, stuffing, dessert and a drink. Fresh bread is also provided. If you were looking for a lighter meal, there were plenty of menu items available to choose from. You could get such standard fare as bacon and eggs (presumably duck eggs) for 40 cents, baked beans for 20 cents, a toasted egg salad sandwich for 25 cents, a hamburger for 10 cents, or a roasted skinless hot dog for 10 cents. Among items you will not find on a menu today are creamed duck (or chicken, an up-and-coming alternative) for 75 cents, duckling pies with potato, gravy and bread for 50 cents, a capon sandwich for 40 cents, a sardine sandwich for 10 cents, or cream cheese and jelly for 15 cents. You could also choose from duckling soup, tomato bisque, or fish chowder for 15 cents. Salads ranged in price from capon salad at 60 cents, to shrimp salad at 40 cents, and sardine or egg salad at 25 cents. Sides included mashed potatoes for 5 cents, french fries for 10 cents, and potato chips for 10 cents. On the back cover you could choose from any of a number of lunch specials. You might order bacon and asparagus tips on toast for 45 cents, sauteed duck livers with french fries for 60 cents, or perhaps a broiler sandwich with cranberry sauce, lettuce and mayonnaise for 60 cents. Prices for lunch specials included pie or ice cream, and coffee, tea or milk. A selection of beer or ale might finish off your lunch or dinner. A note implores the customer to take the menu home with them so they could call in a telephone order.
Wherever and whenever you choose to dine out this spring, take a good look at the menu. I wonder what future diners will think when they see the food offerings we have to choose from?
Until next week, stay well!
Happy Saturday morning to all! The weather here in Easton has been excellent all week. Lots of sun and warmth means the real beginning of yard work. I have been enjoying the bright yellow daffodils that are in full bloom around town. April showers are soon to follow though, so it looks like indoor spring cleaning will be the order of business this week.
Many of our students are returning back to school full time. Graduation is in the near future, and with that thought in mind, let’s take a look at a rare example of an early Easton graduation.
We have in our collection a small booklet from 1882 titled Easton High School – Program of Graduating Exercises. You have noticed by now that this does not have “Oliver Ames High School” as the school name. In 1869 the Ames family built a multi-story wood high school building for the Town of Easton. The building was Italianate in design and included a clock tower (it was from that tower that many of the photos in our new book Easton In Stereo were taken.) This dominant structure stood on the site now occupied by the 1895 Oliver Ames High School on Lincoln Street opposite the Rockery. When Governor Oliver Ames offered to build the 1895 school, the old Easton High School building was moved to the southwest corner of the schoolhouse lot, and continued to be used as a primary school until it was torn down around 1930 to make room for the classroom wing and gym added on to the high school.
Inside the booklet is the order of exercises for graduation, which took place on Friday, June 30, 1882, at 7:30 p.m. The event probably took place inside the school building which must have included a small auditorium. The class motto was “Onward and Upward.” The program features ten orations, essays, or recitations by graduating seniors, interspersed with five musical performances. The topics of the talks given by students include “As is Life, so is its End”; “Finding our Place in Life”; “Make Life Worth Living”; “Labor and its Reward”; “The Right Use if Things”; and “Short views we take nor see the lengths behind.” The Class Prophecies were read by Jennie E. Shepardson, and the Valedictory titled “True Manhood” was presented by Thomas H. McCarthy. Both male and female students are featured speakers. The evening wrapped up with the presentation of diplomas by Rev. William L. Chaffin representing the School Committee.
Although it is nearly impossible to find a complete list of graduates (whose ages ranged from 17-20), this booklet at least contains the names of those who took part in the graduating ceremony. Of particular interest to us at the Museum is graduate Heman Howard, who some fifty years later would research and write about old houses in Easton. We have a copy of his research on these early houses, some of which are no longer extant. Other familiar names include members of the Buck, Selee, Rankin, Finley, Berry, Toothaker, Wade, Young, and Dickerman families. Unfortunately, the names of those who provided the music are not noted.
I am off to get my first Covid vaccine on Monday, one jab closer to some sense of normalcy. I hope you all stay well, and until next week,
Greetings from a very cold Easton! This morning, the temps were in the 20’s when I headed out to begin my day. Were there an Easter sunrise service this year we would all be bundled up and sipping hot coffee!
On occasion I receive telephone calIs or emails from people who confuse us with other Easton’s around the United States. Last week I received an email from another Easton! Andrew Glovas, Director of Operations, Northampton County Historical & Genealogical Society in Easton, PA., sent me a note regarding a donation they received from someone in Pennsylvania that detailed the building of a school house. He was sure that this document belonged to Easton, Massachusetts, and following a brief email exchange for further information, arranged to have it sent to us. When I received the materials I was very excited to see two handwritten construction contracts for building schools in Easton. Even more important, these schools were built prior to the Civil War, a period that we do not have many documents from. Today I have attached a scan of a contract to build a school house in District Number 9, which is the former school building at Easton Center (not to be confused with the current Center School Elementary School still in use). The old school still stands at 350 Depot Street. You know it now as The History Room, and it was for many years The Music Machine with Anne DiSanto. This contract lists the terms and conditions and basic information about the school building, as well as the signees. If you look up this address on Google Maps you can easily see the old school house. At one time the school received an addition, so the building you see today is about twice the size as the original building. A transcript of the document is given here. You can check out our sister museum in Pennsylvania by visiting their website at Sigalmuseum.org. We extend our sincere thanks to Andrew Glovas and the Northampton County Historical & Genealogical Society for making sure these precious documents made it safely home.
Between Hathaway Leonard of Norton of the first part, and Charles H. Reed, Daniel A. Clark, & Henry Dailey all of Easton (of the second part) a committee authorized by School District No. 9 of Easton to contract with said Leonard of the first part, to build a School house for School District No. 9 in said Easton twenty-seven by thirty-eight feet on the ground otherwise in accordance with the plans and specifications bearing even date with this contract.
The said Hathaway Leonard of the first part agrees for the sum of seven hundred thirty-nine dollars to build a School house in District No. 9 in Easton Bristol County State of Massachusetts, 27 ft. by 38 ft. the dimensions in other respects to be according to the plans and specifications bearing even date with this Contract.
The said School house to be finished and ready to be occupied on or before the first day of August eighteen hundred fifty-nine.
Dated at Easton this thirty first day of January 1859.
Signed sealed and delivered in ) Ch. H. Reed
Presence of ) Daniel A. Clark
Minot E. Phillips ) Henry Dailey
) Hathaway Leonard
Hello! What a terrific day here in Easton! Between rain yesterday and rain forecast for tomorrow, we have a sunny day. Today, the Easton Baptist Church is having a Covid-style Easter Egg Hunt, and next Saturday, Covenant Congregational Church is sponsoring an Easter Scavenger Hunt! It is so good to see some community activities after such a long time of not much at all going on.