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PLACE NAMES IN MASSACHUSETTS
THE struggles, the weariness and even the theology of the settlers were reflected in their place names. Of course the names were transferred, largely, from English recollections. But others speak more of the experiences, the journeys and the beliefs of the people. For instance, Tophet Swamp in Carlisle is almost as expressive for Massachusetts as Hell's Half Acre is in the Yellowstone.
Heart Break Hill, just out of Ipswich, speaks for itself, and in this connection we may mention Break Neck Hill, in Freetown.
Half Way Brook, Nine Mile Pond, Five Mile Pond, Four Mile Pond, and Middletown indicate journeying appellations.
Moses Hill in Manchester reminds one of the law of the colonies. Even Mount Ararat in Millbury was not forgotten.
Labor in Vain Creek near Ipswich certainly affords fun to this generation though we doubt if it was applied in humor. One would almost think that Bunyan named the natural features of the state. Indeed, he did through those who read him.
Golden Cove Brook in Chelmsford is a touch of sunshine. Providence Hill near Westford indicates that Massachusetts did not give up wholly to Roger Williams its serene faith. Conscience Hills in Tyngsboro is of puzzling application, but Snake Meadow Hill near by we can understand.
Anybody who has worked through the woods to follow a direction toward a lake will understand how Sought For Pond came to be named. Abram's Hill is also in Tyngsboro. Rockbottom is a hard name for a village but a good foundation for Pilgrim life. Ghost Hill in Northboro, a little to the south of Mount Pisgah, is expressive but perhaps no more so than Sulphur Hill which is close adjoining. Neither was Mount Nebo forgotten, near Medfield.
Stirrup Brook is not an uncommon name; whether it means that one waded to the stirrup or lost that important aid to a traveler we do not know. But why Knickup Hill in Wrentham or Stop River in Norfolk?
Hopping Brook in Holliston is easy. Wrangling Brook in Groton evidently commemorates some border-line squabble and Witch Brook in Townsend brings back old memories. Spectacle Pond is often repeated, being applied to two oval bodies of water near together. Hell Pond is a hard name for a fair town like Harvard, as also is Purgatory Chasm in Sutton.
The various Rattle Snake Hills or Mountains, Bear Hills, Fox Brooks, Wild Cat Hills, Wolf Ponds and Hartlands remind one of the "varmints" and the game which our fathers fought or hunted, and Trap Fall Brook, Ashby, is a reminiscence. Ninteenth Hill in Winchendon indicates that somebody was simple enough to try to count the hills in Massachusetts, on his route, a thing which he evidently gave up.
We do not understand such names as Wine Brook nor Burned Shirt River, near Hubbardston. Bean Porridge Hill west of Fitchburg is no joke. Bloody Brook in Deerfield was named for the great massacre.
The naming of mountains from their shapes was common enough like Sugar Loaf in Deerfield, Peaked Mountain near Monson, Dumpling Mountain near Palmer, Doublet Hill in Weston, Horse Mountain near Hatfield, and Bald Hills are repeated all over New England.
Devil's Garden in the Notch of Granby is altogether too near Mount Holyoke College, it being on the way thence to Amherst College, but Bachelor Brook in South Hadley is better.
Streams named from their color as Red, Muddy or Black Brook or Green Pond are found. Names that are merely comical without apparent meaning occur occasionally like Mount Terrydiddle in Rehoboth just above Bad Luck Brook.
On the coast near Rockport a shoal is called Twopenny Loaf whether in derision or from the shape we cannot say, but Coffin's Beach adjoining is from the name of a man. Folly Cove near Rockport is one of those delusive entrances which afford no real protection against the northern gales. Ten Pound and Five Pound Islands in Gloucester harbor are familiar to the public, and also more sadly known is Norman's Woe.
GARDEN OF THE WAYSIDE INN
BILLOWS OF BLOSSOMS - FRANKLIN COUNTY
WHISPERING GRASSES NEAR ASHBY
A HOPKINTON FIRESIDE
Clam Pudding Pond in Plymouth probably refers to a Pilgrim picnic. Does Moon Shine Hill in Buckland mean anything more than a silvery gleam? Perhaps Bread and Cheese Brook indicated the point where luncheon was served to men, just as Baiting Brook showed where the horse got his mid-day portion.
Trouble with the Indians was reflected in Heathen Meadow Brook, Indian Head Hill, Wigwam Hill and similar names.
Mount Lizzie was named before the little automobile tried to climb it, but Brimstone Hill in Ware yet gives off its aroma.
Someone has written an entertaining
book on names of persons. We have only to suggest here that Adam, when he named
the animals, knocked off work too soon. It would have added not a little to the
joy and beauty of life had we employed him in advance to name the places and
the persons of the world out into which he was to go.
THE ancients very wisely gave much attention to approaches. In fact, the approach was more than half of all in the effect of architecture especially as when one arrived there was so little to find, — merely an inner shrine perhaps. In domestic architecture and landscape effects,
the approach of a country place is its making.
In "Up The Lane" (p. 72) we have a curving country road which really has no connection by ownership with the house, it being the crosscut at a V of two roads. Nevertheless, as one goes up this lane toward the house it has the effect of a private approach and in things of this sort it is effect that counts.
If one can get an approach under a huge limb of a noble tree like that on page 91 it is something to be arranged.
The approach to Wayside Inn shown on page 127 is one of the best among the simpler places of the country.
Perhaps there is no appeal out of doors equal to that afforded by the changing scenes on a wisely calculated drive.
Such effects cannot be obtained, as a rule, with old houses, because they too often hug the road closely. It is frequently feasible to get an old road vacated as a public highway, where a dwelling is situated amongst the hills or away from general traffic. We have an instance in mind where an old highway, narrow and winding, was discontinued by the town and taken over by the owner of a dwelling upon it. He then had the seclusion of a country drive and all his guests experienced a pleasure far greater than could be secured by a new drive.
Such a drive is made many times more effective if it crosses a brook, on a curve if possible, the small stone arches of the bridge and the water effects adding to the composition. Some of these features are secured in "As it was in 1700" (p. 247) and "Newburyport Turnpike" (p. 259).
Aside from the beauty secured by an approach to a country dwelling there is the convenience of having one's abode in the midst of one's acres so that on every hand there may be features of economic or esthetic interest, — here a cornfield; there waving grain; at the left a clump of maples; at the right a stream; on the north a wooded hill; on the south the. gardens. There is no reason why the Japanese should, with their more limited opportunities, so far surpass us. Give them a little plot of ground and a stream anywhere near and they will create a water garden fascinating beyond measure. Our English friends have carried out the thought of water gardens but in a manner too formal for simple country homes. We need, merely, to help nature a little and not completely to tame her.
Given a brook, trees and uneven ground, a little paradise may be created anywhere. Water always speaks of wealth and plenty. For the Orientals anywhere it made a garden.
The drive first following a brook, then climbing a gentle declivity, then skirting along a somewhat elevated bank, then curving between fine trees and stone walls, not too fresh and perfect, leads us to new delights with every turn of the wheel. The architect is at last consulted but the landscapist almost never. His work is something that the owner feels he can do without. Of the two, however, we think that the setting of a home is more important than the edifice itself.
MAYNARD WATERING PLACE NINE MILE POND
PIE FROM THE OLD OVEN - COOPER-AUSTIN HOUSE
THE GOULDING HOMESTEAD - SOUTH SUDBURY
AN ORCHARD HOMESTEAD
We have dragged into this book one picture from Rhode Island (p. 226) for the reason that we have no such dwelling in Massachusetts now, and Rhode Island, though perhaps not to be included in our Series, has supplied us with several remarkable seventeenth century features of architecture of entrancing interest. A dwelling like this Rhode Island example would be impoverished, artistically, if it lacked its ivy. There are certain combinations that are irresistible. The Preservation Society is to be congratulated on the acquisition of this remarkable dwelling, the best of this class of the half dozen or so.
At Cohasset fine advantage has been taken of a rocky island as a summer place. An appropriate bridge spans the narrow chasm between the island and the main land and the approach is well nigh perfect. The shore districts of Massachusetts afford a great many sites which, in one way or another, could be made thoroughly attractive.
The "little house by the side of the road" has, we know, its merits and its call but we are learning these days that if we are to do any thinking we must get out of the road. One vehicle is a good deal like another and merely to see the world go by, though the procession may make a wonderful little poem, is not especially stimulating to the intellect. This reminds us that the best things in Massachusetts are perhaps not to be seen on the road at all. A motor boat or even a row boat will reveal more, probably, of artistic curves and banks decorated with arches of branches than a similar distance on a highway.
The use of islands in lakes, as dwellings, has received little attention. Every island of any elevation is, when reached, a site of great merit. If the waters that approach it are shoal a causeway may be built. If it lies near the shore a bridge may be thrown to it, but if somewhat removed from the main land an arrangement of keeping the noise and bother of a garage far from the dwelling at the main land end and a connection by motor boat is very appealing to the sense of independence. An island is a little world. There a few sheep may be allowed to wander over all the grounds and dispense with any need of fences or lawn mowers. Many English parks are kept in beautiful condition in this manner.
We show a camp on Lake Quinsigamond. We wonder why it is just a camp and not a home for eight months of the year.
Massachusetts has many hundreds of lakes of such a size that a single farm often goes all about one. The charm of "The Lady of the Lake" has appealed to everyone. How much this charm arises from the fact that the dwelling was on an island few have considered. The moated effects of the earlier European dwellings were artistic to a degree. It would sometime be feasible with far less expense than is freely put out on useless walls to impound a body of water about a knoll and secure a country place, distinctive, enchanting and secluded yet not out of sight of the public.
There are many regions on the north
shore and about our rivers like the Assabet or the Sudbury that would lend
themselves happily to such effects. The impounding of waters amongst the hills
is increasing the opportunities of this sort. Whether one likes deep waters and
bold sky outlines or the fen country of the eastern portion of the state, there
is something to please every cultivated taste. We have in mind now an estate on
which a vast fortune has been expended, with a very lofty and ornate iron fence
on each side of the highway which passes through the acreage. How much better
to have expended this effort on a site which required no such prison-like
THE MISSION HOUSE - STOCKBRIDGE
MEADOW ARCHES - LANCASTER
The old Choate place on the north shore is an island domain not yet spoiled by overmuch attention. We mention it because it often happens that too much is done in the way of precision and careful finish of approaches. People are putting cobble stone in their dwellings and cut stones in their walls, whereas they should reverse the process, as there scarcely ever was known a cut stone wall and there never was known a cobble stone house in the ancient New England days. It is far easier to learn the orders of architecture than it is to harmonize one's plan with the region and to place one's home so that it may appear as a part of the landscape.
On each side of the front door of a country place we often find beautiful elms. As twins they embellish the approach and lend it majesty. Even better than that they are connected with an ancient custom and have become monuments of romance. We have noted instances where the bride and the groom on their wedding day planted the youthful and slender trees which have gone on together until they afford a shelter to the aged couple and to their children after them to the third and fourth generation.
There comes to our mind a curving embankment across a depression through which a brook ran. The curve was so gentle and so neatly marked by ribbons of turf and so fairly shaded by rows of elms that the little brick gable of the homestead as it came into view was wonderfully effective. Yet all this was a very small farm place. It had no pretension to wealth or display. We have never seen anything better of its kind. This was probably the effect of unconscious adaptation. Hence the charm.
A NORTH SHORE KITCHEN
TO CHILDREN living in the country a generation since, the arrival of the tin pedler was the most important event of the month. He had a very large cart generally painted red, that had faded to a mellow tint. It was full of wonderful drawers on every side which were revealed when its doors were opened. What treasures were disclosed from these drawers! We children stood, all agog, with eyes like saucers. To us that pedler's cart was the Pandora's box of every conceivable joy. It was a small dry goods and notion store, a hardware shop and a little of almost everything else. Brooms stood in a rack at one corner and huge bundles of rags which had been taken in barter were tied on top and held in by a dainty little rack, for be it known unto this generation that the pedler's cart was a work of art. It was graced by a fine goose neck front, and, like an epic poem, it had a beginning, a middle and an end. We were especially eager to get a few tin dishes and small shovels for the child's garden. Not much money passed in these transactions but while paper was still made from rags a big bag of clippings and discarded garments would purchase quite a quantity of hardware with a few spools of thread and papers of pins.
BERKSHIRE MOUNTAIN BROOK - WORONOKO
FAIR OLD SUDBURY
ABOVE THE BROOK - WELLESLEY
The pedler himself was almost as interesting as his cargo. He was lean and long as the ancient mariner and most likely was old. He drove a good horse for the load was heavy. How he ever lived was a mystery, but he lived well and always knew at what farm to stop for dinner. At one time the pedler's cart was an important institution being, in one instance, sent out in great numbers by a wholesale merchant.
The old pedler often talked to
himself as people who are alone are in the habit of doing. It is a good habit.
They always have attentive listeners and are never interrupted nor are they
ever subject to dispute. Like the philosophers they are least alone when alone.
We have heard of late some rumor of the revival, in the form of a glorified
gasoline wagon, of the pedler's cart. There is no reason why it should not
bring Paris to every door! It was only twenty years ago that we actually found
on the road the tin pedler (p. 132), but so far as our recent experience is concerned
he is as extinct as the passenger pigeon.
THE old joke in the almanac fifty years ago ran:
"Boy, where does this road go to?"
"Don't go no where as I know's on."
The information extracted from this juvenile philosopher is about as satisfactory as the average.
Lost in a maze of the Worcester county hills at a crossing of two roads within a few rods of another turn, with not a house in sight, we start on what seems to the charioteer the probable direction. "That can't be right," says the fair passenger. We throw a veil over the remainder of the discussion. When one is weary or ripe for a little sharp argument what is better to set one off than a difference of opinion on two roads, when information is scant and opinion strong?
It requires a mile's run to reach a small farmhouse. The front door is never opened, apparently. On the way to the back door a large and somewhat uncertain dog is met. The usual hypocrisy of "good doggy!" follows. We find a lonely woman who is pleased with the sight of human kind. The unfortunate investigation begins. We wish to go to a point beyond her knowledge and the points within her knowledge we know nothing of, so that minds do not meet.
The best way to Ware is the first left hand road after you pass a right hand road. That is, you do not take the narrow road into the woods but the first wide left hand road. You go down over the hill until you come to the school house and you take the middle road there. When you come to a bridge you do not cross it but you keep straight ahead on this side of the river, and then you had better inquire again.
Is there anything more humiliating than to ask a direction and within twenty rods be at a divergence of opinion as to whether we were told to turn to the right or to the left? We have personally tested a great many fellow travelers and we find that it is seldom they agree on the directions given.
What is a road? After two or three miles we see a man ploughing. We walk across the ploughed field. You know how it is. The dirt fills into your shoes even when you do not go over them. You ask for enlightenment. You learn you should have taken another road two miles back. "But," you object, "We were told to take the first left hand." "Oh, well, that was not a road and that did not count." By this time, as you go back to your vehicle, you are informed that of course you were wrong all the time. But what is there about traveling by motor that keeps us from going back? We had rather go around over half of the state of Massachusetts. This is not obstinacy but enterprise, and a desire to explore. Who knows what beauties lie over the top of the hill?
UNLOADING AT THE STACK - CAPE COD
WATERING TROUGH - BERKSHIRE
By this time the road is springy and rocky and narrow. You hear an inquiry, "What would you do if you met a car?" Anybody who imagines that there is not mystery and variety, romance and heroism, to be had on an exploring trip does not understand hill roads and human nature.
After about eight miles we seem to be on familiar ground and find ourselves at a corner where we diverged. This is comforting because we are on the right road now, only we are going in the wrong direction and have been for three miles!
Never mind, we have seen a part of Massachusetts that no wise man ever saw. A gem of a landscape may reveal itself almost anywhere and from what unpromising material pearls are made!
In a western Massachusetts village we wish to see an object of interest at the public library. We are told that Aunt Jane Jones used to have the key. She lived in the cottage beyond the church. Aunt Jane said "No, Hepsy Hunt now kept the key, in the last house in the village on the left." Hepsy was away from home but out back of the barn the hired man told us that he did not know where that key was now, but he more than half believed they had it up at the grocery store. There we are told that it had been too much trouble and they kind of thought the minister had it, but he was out of town today. We still wish to find that key and we mean to do so on the next visit to the town.
And that leads us to enter a little
upon the ways and means of obtaining pictures of the country.
THE fisherman goes out in the hope that he may bring something back. If he is so fortunate as to secure a perch he has to do something with it yet, which is not so agreeable. Fishing for pictures is a diversion which appeals to many persons. There are supposed to be in the neighborhood of twenty million cameras in our broad land and there are probably at least nineteen million persons who privately think, and not so privately either, that they can make just as good pictures as anybody. They like to show these pictures.
The question what will interest does not enter into the discussion. It is taken for granted that the multitudinous attitudes of Mary's baby, fore and aft, larboard and starboard, or keeled over are all fascinating. If it were not for babies, what would become of the camera trade?
Then there is the picture of the family in the new car at the door. To be sure, the car is just like every other car and the door, unhappily, is just like any door. If all the falsehoods told about pictures are laid up against us — but then, there would not be space to write them all.
A good picture is, doubtless, worth while for the satisfaction of the person who obtains it as well as for others. The certain test of its quality is difficult to apply, but popularity is at least a sign that others agree with us. Be slow, gentle reader, to say that it is easy to find good pictures. Composition seems easy like all other work when it is successful. It is a subtle question. What constitutes sufficient importance to be worth recording in the composition?
Often one knows on the instant that a thing is good. We remember a beeline that we once made across two states for one picture when we knew all things were in their prime and the setting was complete. It was better than a myriad of ordinary pictures.
A picture near Pittsfield (p. 147) we waited to obtain standing with bulb in hand from five o'clock in the morning until eleven. Not a moment in that time was there a lull in a furious wind. Even so, we do not claim that the result was altogether satisfactory. What is so cold as early morning cold in the summer with a white frost and a long excursion before breakfast? For it is often the case that pictures must be had near sunrise, if ever. Then, perhaps, there is silence. Those rare days when the quiet of five o'clock and the tender greens of spring coincide, and you have reached the beauty spot, are never forgotten.
THE WEALTH OF MAY - WARE
FARING TOWARD WACHUSETT
HOLLYHOCK ROW - HAVERHILL
A MIDDLESEX LEAN-TO
On one occasion a sturdy farmer came out to a bridge where we were looking down a brook with our camera, and asked us what we were looking at. We told him we were surveying for a new railroad but he did not seem to believe it. Thus information is often wasted. Another day in the long drive approaching a hill farm we were endeavoring to record the exquisite beauty of a great crabapple tree in its luscious prime.
The genial owner of the farm with his wife came out full of curiosity to know what we should do with the picture. For one thing, we should send them a copy. It had never impressed them as anything unusual but it was a fair and rare vision, the turfy road beneath it being covered with its May snows. It is clearly improper for us to state which picture in this volume records the incident, but now we have established a warm friendship with the family. They believe it the beauty of their home. They understand it to be something worth the pause of a traveler. Its setting has somewhat lifted their thoughts now that they come to have its beauty endorsed. Thus some men never know how beautiful their wives are until they hear it outside. It is so much better to know without being told, but better to be told than not to know.
OLD Washington Piccard rebottoms chairs, gathers the flags in the full of the August moon, and insures lasting qualities by carrying them through the doorway to his house, cut end first. In gathering them he excludes the "female flags." Anyway, the chair bottoms lasted a hundred years, if properly used. But he should have cut them in June.
An old Newbury house had an iron
rigging just inside the front door for lowering heavy valuables into a secret
cellar beneath the floor of the front hall. Secret panels in walls the usual
device of romantic novelists were not rare in reality. Secret passages in chimneys
seem ever to fascinate explorers. A dwelling near the Newburyport Turnpike has
lately been found to contain in its chimney an ancient room with the furniture
intact. [See page 198.]
BERKSHIRE BROOK - LANESBORO
THORN TREES - BOSTON
SNOW COVERED PINES - NEEDHAM
MAN AND THE STORM
When the sharp blast falls from mountain walls,
And swirls o'er the winter plain,
And weaves its woof over fence and roof,
In a blanket without stain,
Oh, then to tramp that snow-raised ramp!
Oh, then for the stiffening fight!
The February gale may hurl its hail,
We breast it with our might!
Oh! what are your palms and your silken calms,
Oh! what are your southern skies
To the half-hid rills and the snow-crowned hills,
When the wild cloud past them flies?
We exult in the death of the winter's breath,
When the twilight softly falls.
For we storm the snow when high drifts blow,
And deep unto deep still calls!
The men who dwell where moor and fell
Are buried beneath the blast,
These are the men who tame the fen
And lift up the homes that last!
The life is nil without the will
Steeled to an iron grasp,
For the soul is as high as the northern sky,
And the heart exceeds its task.
The town crier of Ipswich is said to have uttered this jingle after every ringing of his bell:
"Run rogues, run,
The court's begun,
Stand before the justice,
And tell what you've done."
Some villages are said to have revived the custom of the town crier and we believe in one or two instances, perhaps in Nantucket, the custom never fully went out. It was a good method not only of disseminating general news but was useful for advertising and in this way eked out the scanty honorarium of the crier.
The rag rug is in certain districts of New England beautifully made but in other parts it is wretchedly done. We once had a letter from a woman of the wilds describing the sort of rags which she preferred. She said, "Shirtes do not make very good rages. Vestes are no good for rages. But pantes make very good rages." And yet it was not an angry letter.
Having occasion for a bee expert we wrote to a gentleman known to be skilful, asking his assistance. We received a letter which has been much prized: "In several ways word has been brought to me that you wanted your bees overhawled and set up right. Twice I have been very nearly stung to death and there are very risky chances for me to run. I swore against the business quite a while ago. I will try to say now that I will not answer any call or calls to work with the Bees. Stinging is very painful and dangerous to me, and so far as I know there is not any law that compells me or any other person to run any risk simply because moneyed man requests and demands it. I have told everyone for the past 7 years I should not work at bees to please anyone. I have ''the constitutional right to work or refuse to work at anything that is injurious to me in every way. Mr. — attempted to dictate to me yesterday that I should go to do your work regardless of the painfullness of being stung. Just like someone 2 years ago that demanded I should trim up and shape some large trees after I had explained to them that as soon as I got off the ground I became very dizzy, their statement was that I must do their work anyway. I have bees of my own. I shall not care for the bees that are not my own when I let my own go. Mr. — has an expert that works for him that he has recommended until now it is Mr. —. besides there are Mr. — and — that claim Honors in Bee Handling. But don't be fooled by anyone that I like to Monkey with the Bees. I won't do it. More than that I am not a worshiper of aristocracy patronage in any shape or form, so don't be fooled any more."
MARLBORO BIRCHES MITCHELL DOOR - NANTUCKET
THE BEAUTIES OF OLD AGE - CARLISLE
AN ORCHARD BORDER - FRANKLIN COUNTY