Chelmsford Historical Society
Outline of Interview Feb 27, 1982 Walter Fletcher
17-born in Medford, Mass.
20-family moved to Chelmsford, 1897
24-built house in which he presently lives
27-whole family moved, including grandmother
37-Mr. Fletcher was seven when the move was made
41-family move is the story of farm people who came to Lowell to work in the mills
44-father's family was from Vermont, mother's family was from northern New York State
46-at that time the young people were heading for the mills
54-his father's grandmother refused to move, lived alone on farm
58-mother's parents also stayed on farm
62-"farming was a good life"
71-father worked in brother's meat market, remembers store didn't have any heat, saw pictures of frost on the windows. People used to put little gas lights on the window sill to melt the frost off the windows in winter s there was not heat in the store
110-Cooperative Grocery Sale,where Middlesex Supply is today
112-it was an English ooncern, every customer was a shareholder at five dollars a share
118-there were a lot of traders
119-every six months profits were divided
127-there were lost of cooperatives around
137-father became a salesman for National Tea and Butter Co., a chain store
159-school was a little white building on Stedman Street, grades 1-4
164-switched to North Road School, contained all grades from 1-4th year of High School
170-attended 3 years of high school
174-liked school "better than today"
177-Susie McFarlin, best teacher, "ruled with an iron Hand" but everyone liked her, the boys especially
193-during lunch played on the Common
199-often went to the bakery where the First Bank and Trust Co is today
206-this was Harry Dutton's Bakery, he lived on Pine Hill Road
216-most of his group had nicknames
222-after three years of high school worked for Draper Co., in Hopedale
224-biggest manufacturer of textile machinery in the world at that time
228-worked in payroll dept., in 1910 there were 500 workers in the foundry
232-he worked here one year, quit over raise refusal
244-worked on milk route while in school o delivered for E.C. Perham
256-barn was at the corner of Dalton Road and Westford Street
260-used to get up at midnight to drive the milk wagon
267-laundry in the basement of First Bank and Trust Bldg, operated by Ralph Adams and Bert Sweetser
271-drove a laundry wagon for a time l picked up and delivered by horse and wagon
280-"wet wash" washed at laundry sent back to owner to be dried
286-big wash was done for 50
290-often drove school children home while delivering
299-worked in plumbing shop in the Center
305-owner was H.H. Richerdson, died 1918
309-"Donovan and I both worked for him so we bought the business"
311-first began working in plumbing shop in 1911
318-Richardson's shop was in Central Block, beside brook
322-Fletcher in business 24 years
325-worked especially on steam fitting, installed many big boilers such as in the old high school, McFarlin, Westland
343-most of his work was local in better times
345-Depression, 1930's, contracted work in Brookline for nine years
349-he employed a five man work crew steadily for nine years
354-connected with wholesale firm in Boston, they would recommend him if he used their products
357-still self employed but looking out for Wholesaler's interest, to see that people bought stock from them
365-Depression affected business quite heavily, lost a great deal of money through bankruptcies and other people's failures
375-"speculator" builders were absolutely no good to work for
392-Electric Cars installed around 1896
395-took electric car directly to Center
397-Golden Cove Race Track was once a pasture connected to a farm which is now the "Town House" operated by George Coburn
407-used to drive cows down Manahan St., across the RR Track to where the race track was
409-in fact the man who cut the brush to build the race track lived in the Fletcher Household
412-used to swim in Hale's Brook, now River Meadow Brook
419-there were no houses around, the Fletchers at the time
421-remembers one house was built as "bait" by speculators to see if it would sell
426-there were lots of big farms; George Perry's farm was where Demoulas is today
435-Glen Avenue was all woods
436-Nelson's Candy house was one a big sandbank
437-it was dug out to construct Rte. 3
438-Sandbank was used for fill as people needed it
443-Glen Ave. was originally a Hay Road for hauling hay out of the meadows
447-Chelmsford didn't grow very fast until after WWII, only 9,000 population after the war
450-increase was caused by speculators
462-Fire Departments in the early 20th century was "more efficient than today"
464-Fletcher was chief 1920-21 had a horse drawn pumper, then the department acquired the first motorized pumpers, Mr. Fletcher drove the first fire truck in Chelmsford
471-Department did not own a horse
472-when a fire call reached the station, someone rang the bell at the Unitarian Church, then grabbed the first horse in sight to drag the pumper to the fire
475-this was before the water system was installed
480-everyone ran to assist when the alarm sounded
500-hand pumper was operated by a group of men lined up on each side working the levers
509-today's firemen are paid, in the early part of the century volunteers received 50 per hour, often gone only a half hour
515-firemen formed their own organization
516-Town Fathers thought they could do better so the force quit until Town Fathers asked them to come back
519-firemen themselves owned all the equipment in the fire house, even the stove used for heat was bought by the firemen
522-Town began supporting the Fire Dept., around 1922, after Mr. Fletcher left. Chief had his own telephone and was paid $350 per year
527-Mr. Fletcher had to pay for his own phone, received 75 an hour
533-"those fellas were all handy men, they knew what to do"
535-there was only one pumper in the entire town
537-the first motor trucks were Model T Fords, one in the West, South and East
540-North and Center had a big truck
541-motorized pumpers
542-first fire truck kept down in back of Town Hall in sheds
546-Mr. Fletcher was on a Committee of three to install the first fire alarm
547-$100 to $150 allowed for the job
552-one member was a tailor, the other worked at the Post Office, he was in fact the Postmaster, neither was very mechanical
554-bought a second hand box and bell striker
558-Unitarian Church allowed the striker to be put in the bell
559-fire alarm box was installed and a permanent man was put in the fire department
566-an Air Compressor was later installed by Mr. Fletcher, as well as a whistle on the steeple
574-firemen contributed 25 per month for a supper
576-drew three names out of a hat, those people had to get the supper
580-suppers were held at town hall, in the banquet hall in the basement
583-upstairs there was one dance floor, often used as a basketball court
591-there were five basketball teams in Town playing in a league
599-the baseball team bought their own uniforms and equipment
602-football team started around 1900,played on the Common and in McCoy's Field on Dalton Road
607-there was no recreation in the schools
610-every boy who was old enough had a job
615-Mr. Fletcher took out the papers for the first mail carrier in Chelmsford RFD Carrier
617-with a horse the carrier delivered house to house, approximately 30 miles a day, 5 days a week
633-after the route,mail was turned in at the office
634-Post Office was in Chelmsford Center where the Gift Shop is, the Plumbing Shop was also there at one time
642-Fletcher and Donovan set up shop in the former Post Office
646-Post Office was a very political appiontment
649-Representative Hazeltine did the appointing
653-Sweetser's Market used to be where the key shop is
659-Post Office moved quite often
667-a man named Richardson was elected Town Constable, he was the Chief and force all in one
671-tasks as constable s posted warrant for Town Meeting
679-collected unpaid poll and dog taxes
682-"Special Officers" were appointed in every section of Town; Quessy in West, Gookin in North, Robinson in East, Warren Berry in South
687-the major problem was groups gathering on the Common
693-dealt with noise complaints
697-can't do same things now

End of interview
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