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Times Past: Childhood memories in Greenfield range from painful to precious

  • The intersection of Bank Row and Main Street, as seen in the late 1960s. Recorder File Photo

  • The intersection of Main and Federal streets, as seen in 1953. Recorder File Photo

  • BITZER



Monday, August 20, 2018

Walking to the older Green River School on Washington Street when I was a student there in the early 1930s had its perilous moments.

To get to the school from where I lived on Meridian Street, I had to cross Deerfield Street, a heavily traveled street that, at that time, had no crosswalk, no traffic lights and no crossing guard. In crossing this street one day in 1932 or 1933, I was struck by an Alexander Coal Company truck. The driver must have thought I was not seriously hurt, for he took off with his truck!

Eventually, my parents and the police found out who had hit me. I think at that time my parents received $50 from the coal company. To this day, I think my left leg must have taken the most punishment, for I have had medical problems with it ever since. I feel very fortunate, though, to not have been killed.

Another painful incident that has been etched in my memory is a fight I had with a boy that lived on my street. I came home with a bloody nose, and remember my parents went to have a talk with the boy’s parents.

But my childhood also produced much more positive memories. Shortly after my skirmish, we moved to an apartment at 76 High St. This was an upstairs apartment that had two outside porches and a pantry.

In the earlier years, to keep food cold, they had an icebox located on the back porch. Greenfield Ice and Trucking Co. delivered blocks of ice to its customers. My parents did not own or drive a car, so various goods needed to be delivered to us. They had an egg man from Whately, a Bond Bread salesman, an insurance man and got groceries from Koch’s grocery in Turners Falls and Greenfield.

How I remember helping my mother carry bags of meat and other groceries from the Grower’s Outlet store located where the Greenfield Savings Bank drive-up window is now. Another grocery store of the past was the Grand Union, now the location of CVS.

The apartment had only two bedrooms. My brother slept some of the time on a bed in the hallway, but his favorite place was the front porch. It was screened in during the summer months, but during the winter, plywood panels were hooked together to help keep out the cold. Nevertheless he slept out there and my mother made sure he had enough quilts and blankets to keep him warm. There was no source of heat out there, but he loved it anyway.