Times Past: The art of staying busy in 1930s Greenfield

  • A young boy sells papers in the 1900s in Hartford, Conn. One of the ways Robert Bitzer earned money over the summer in Greenfield was selling Ladies Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post. WIKIMEDIACOMMONS

Monday, January 08, 2018

Having left our residence on Meridian Street in 1934, my parents, brother and I moved into an apartment at 19 Shattuck St. in Greenfield. How would I and my brother keep busy during the summer months out of school?

My brother became very much involved with Boy Scouts and he loved to go fishing. To have any kind of spending money, we both did the following. Before the new buildings were built at Lunt Silversmiths on Federal Street, there were beautiful lawns. After a rainstorm, we would search for nightcrawlers and worms with flashlights, and bring back any findings to sell to fishermen. We had a small sign on our front lawn saying “Nightcrawlers for Sale.” To keep them alive, we fed them coffee grounds and sour milk.

I also had a paper route. I sold Ladies Home Journal and Saturday Evening Post. At night there were baseball games at the field located on the Cleveland Street side of the present Veterans Memorial Field. There was a team called the Cream Tops, managed by John Conway. He would pay me to go after all the foul balls hit over the fence, onto Cleveland Street and the neighbors’ lawns and porches. Shattuck Park then had picnic tables in the woods, and that’s where we had several picnics with our family and relatives.

I also would go house to house collecting newspapers and magazines. I would bring the tied bundles by cart-fulls to Kramer’s Junk Yard on Wells Street. They would pay me so much a pound. When we had a little spending money, we would use it at the Shattuck Park Store, now the location of Adams Donuts.

This is how we spent the summers of 1934 through 1936 here in Greenfield.