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A quick lesson in French

Hi. I’m Fred.

 

Here’s our house. It’s on a hill near Chandler Road but not really ON Chandler Road.

A0BD0418-6532-4401-B2E5-45FFDA782515 When we moved in, we got rid of a lot of trees and made a field next to the house.

And we planted some vegetables across the street. We freeze them so we can eat them anytime.

And we got some chickens, pigs and even a couple of milking cows. Here’s one of them with me and my sister Louise.

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Here are the cows all grown up. Brownie and Bonnie. We drink their milk even though it’s not the kind you can sell at a store. If it sits for a while and nobody drinks it, you have to scrape a LOT of cream off the top and REALLY mix it before you can even swallow any. But down it goes, somehow.

Milking cows Brownie and BonnieWe’re calling our farm Hilltop Farm. It’s not the biggest hill in the world, but it’s kind of big. Now that some trees are gone, I can see some things pretty far away, like that new store called Dale Pharmacy. That’s pretty far. Sometimes I can hear people singing down on Mill Street. They belong to a Polish club. They’re loud!

Here we are, all four of us. Louise, me, David and John. Our last name is French.

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Louise usually grabs my butt when it’s time to pose for pictures. And that’s Taffy, the cocker spaniel.

Me and my sister Louise, and (dog)

Me and Louise like to do grownup work, like cutting logs. We also help slaughter the chickens and pigs when it’s time to eat them.

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Here’s me, a little older and very mature, with my friend John Seavey from 100 Locust Street. One day, I chopped his head off.

Fred French and John Seavey decapitation

Me and John, and Billy Hayes from Chandler Road, call ourselves the three musketeers. We ride around the neighborhood on pretend horses that are really just tree branches that we hold between our legs.

Here’s Louise in the dark clothes, rasslin’ with Mikey Mohan from 59 Mill Street, the REALLY old house on the corner of Chandler. Mikey’s real name is Michele, but everyone calls her Mikey because she’s as tough as a boy. So is Louise.

Looking at the top of Red Coat Lane, Burlington MA

That’s Michele on the left when she was little. That’s her grandfather Wilbur behind her, and her sister Lyn next to her. The hound dog is Chester. He lives with them even though he belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Rahanis at the pig farm down the hill on Mill Street. For some reason, he would rather live up the hill. Maybe it smells better.

Chester, the Rahanis dog

Here is Mikey’s house. It’s one of the oldest houses in the town.

59 Mill Street, Burlington MAHere’s our driveway off Chandler Road. It goes to our garage. That light on top of the garage shines on the driveway for us at night. It gets dark around here.

Chandler/Ellery house early 1960s 2 Burlington MA

My father built a printing shop behind our garage. We were so excited, we invited some other kids for a record hop.

Ellery printing shop inauguration dance Burlington MA

Dad’s printing business is called Northeastern Press. He prints some textbooks for Houghton Mifflin in Burlington, and the weekly programs for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and lots of wedding invitations too.

J Ellery French in his printing shop on Ellery Lane

Now we’re a little older. That’s me on the left, and my friend John in the middle with his head put back on, and Louise.

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And that’s my brother David. See that telephone pole lying down with him? It’s on the ground because Otis smashed into it and knocked it over. Otis is our farmhand. He was trying to bring home a turtle for me, but the turtle crawled under the brake pedal, so when he got to our house, he couldn’t stop the car.

Ellery Lane early 1960s Burlington MA

Here’s grown-up me.

Fred French military pic Burlington MA

And grown-up Louise. She became a second-degree blackbelt in karate. And it all started with grabbing my butt.

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Our plants might not be around forever. Or even the animals. And not even us. But I hope at least my Dad’s name lives on somehow. His name is J. Ellery French.


 

Ellery Lane today.

Ellery Lane Burlington MA

Here’s 7 Ellery Lane, built in 1885. The front looks a little different now, only because the corner “doghouse” entrance was replaced with a central entrance. Plus it has shutters.

R.I.P. David, John and Louise French. David died at 23 after a singing engagement on Nutting Lake, Billerica. On the way home, he crashed his car on Roller Coaster Road (the nickname for Middlesex Turnpike before it was flattened and straightened).

The Nutting Lake scene then and now:

Regarding that singing Polish club on Mill Street:

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Falcon Park 1963 Burlington MA
Falcon Park is the clearing with the semi-circle of cabins, on the upper left. Today it would sit between Dublin Circle and Thornton Drive, off Mill Street.

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Polish Falcons in Burlington
Polish Falcons in Burlington. Thank you, Julie Czyzewski DiMatteo.

 

 

15 thoughts on “A quick lesson in French Leave a comment

  1. Another great story. Didn’t know a lot of these facts. Thank you for your research and putting this all together.

  2. What years does this cover? A little before my time, but I recognize some of the family names. Was Mr. Mohan the high school principal or the superintendent? I assume the camp for Polish kids was located in Burlington, being “the country” at the time. Anyone know where the Polish enclaves were–Boston? There is still a Polish-American Club you can see from the Xway in Dorchester. Love stories told in pictures.More, please.

  3. This was awesome to see – I moved to Burlington in 1955 – off of Peach Orchard Road. Was there before the High School (now the Marshall Middle school) was built. I remember when we used to celebrate Kid Day at the end of June! and all the fun we had going up to the Park! Nice to walk down memory Lane, was John Seavey, Carol Seavey’s big brother? Keep up the great stories. Makes me smile.

    • Hello – My name is Carolyn French. My father is Fred French. I read this comment to him on the phone and and he said, yes, indeed – that would be his sister. He almost thinks that it may have been Carolyn

  4. Great story.
    Falcons Park was deserted when I “discovered ” it with a friend bicycling.
    Often wondered about this place and it’s origin/history.
    Now I know. Thanks.

  5. Fantastic story – as always! Tom Mohan was also my sister, Cheryl’s Godfather…..I used to believe she had an ‘in’ when in High School -ha! Thank you for your time, efforts and wonderful stories; great memories!

  6. carl johnson, piner36@comcast.net…………………….i recall in 1952,some of the city kids from the falcon camp would come up locust steet and pick blueberries for old man macecknie……………one was a platinum blonde polish girl,a beautiful girl……………i was smitten for the longest time……………………does anyone remember the pretty spring that macecknie had………….nice old fella…………….

  7. Thank you for that wonderful story. I felt like I was back in Mayberry! I was born in 1954 and back then Burlington was the country. Our road, Woodcrest Ave, was dirt and then mud in the spring. I too could see Dale Pharmacy from my house and we could easily walk there or Simonds Park when I got older. My wife and I had a tear in our eyes reading this story tonight. I am sure every town in Ma. or in our great country, has many similar stories to tell and I was glad that you were able to share yours. Keep those stories coming.

  8. Thank you for that walk down memory lane!
    Louise and I were partners in crime when we were in 9th and tenth grade. We both worked the three lunch shifts together and were really big thorns in Mr. Mohan’s side. That man was a saint!
    We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs and did some crazy things.
    This really brought back some really good memories.
    I am so sorry to learn of her passing, she was a great friend.

    • Hello Carole, my name is Carolyn French – the daughter of Fred French and niece to Louise Carolyn (I was named after her)
      Im talking to my dad on the phone and he loved your contact. He said that Thomas Mohan was the father of his first girlfriend, Michelle / Mikey
      He said that he wishes that he could go back in time – he remembers you. Do you remember the other partner in crime with Peggy ?

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