Hopkinton, MA
Hopkinton, US
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Tales from a Townie: Signals and sleds

by | Apr 5, 2023 | Featured

This tale takes place around 1953. I had just joined Boy Scouts the year before. Besides regular meetings on Friday nights with the whole troop, we had patrols that consisted of six or seven guys. The patrols usually met during the week in the afternoon to work on badges and small projects.

Several of the guys in the troop needed to pass signaling requirements. Our patrol and another decided to join forces and work together. We planned to meet on an evening at the ball field, which was located where the middle school is, near the water tanks. We needed enough space between the two signal groups so that we couldn’t yell back and forth. As luck would have it, it snowed about a foot the night before we were to meet.

One of the patrol leaders lived in the house at the fork in the road at Wood Street and West Main Street. He called us all and told us to meet at his house instead of the ball field, and bring our sleds.

Back in the 1950s, the snowplowing equipment was nowhere as good as it is today. The roads were never scraped clean, and the remaining snow got packed down — we called it “white ice.” They didn’t use salt on the roads, just a little sand on the hills. This “white ice” remained until either it rained or got warm.

There was much less traffic then, and most people who had to drive much put chains on their back tires.

So, here was the plan:

A couple of guys would go to the bottom of the Wood Street hill (Ben-Pond Hill) and set up their signal station. The other station was at the top of the hill.

The guys who needed the signaling would send messages back and forth, and also signal the bottom of the hill when the rest of the guys started down the hill on their sleds so they could stop any cars that might come along.

We had a great night. The ones who needed the signaling got it, and we all slid down the hill until we got tired of walking back to the top. And no one got run over.

Times certainly were different then.

1 Comment

  1. Helen Deiana Ware

    Thank you to Bill for writing the great memories of our youth! Bill and I were classmates.
    We were so lucky to grow up in Hopkinton! I think we had the best life ever.
    We went sliding on George Oliver’s farm on Wood St. I think we knew everyone in town when we were growing up.

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