Hidden History – Moswetuset Hummock (Quincy, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 39, 2019

Location: Moswetuset Hummock, 440 East Squantum St, Quincy, MA

Hours: open daily, dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: Free parking is available for about a dozen vehicles:

Universally Accessible: Because of the dirt and rocky surface and a few slight inclines it is not universally accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: views of Quincy and the surrounding area, short trail, historic importance

Summary: A small, often overlooked park in Quincy, MA, has a special historical significance to Massachusetts

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Sometimes hidden history is in the wide open.  Such is the case with the small park located along the Wollaston Beach and Quincy Bay area.

The .4 mile loop (yes it is a very short trail) is easy.  Along the short trail you’ll see pretty views of the neighboring Wollaston Beach and Squantum (another name with a historical connection to the area).

While the trail at Moswetuset is short and easy, if you walk down the somewhat steep side of the trail, you can get some pretty views of Boston and the Quincy area.  These photos were taken from the rocky area off the main trail during twilight in March.

Moswetuset, which means “shaped like an arrowhead”, is often overlooked for the more popular Wollaston Beach which is located around the corner from Moswetuset.  Yet, the fact that it is overlooked gives it a special charm.   It also has an interesting historical background.

Moswetuset is said to have been the seat of the ruling Massachusetts Chief Chickatawbut.  It is also the place where Plymouth colony commander Myles Standish and his guide Tisquantum (Squanto) met with Chief Chicktawbut in 1621.

Named after the native tribe of Moswetuset, the name of this area would later become known as Massachusetts.

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As the sign below states, Chief Chickawawbut agreed to a treaty with then Governor Winthrop which neither side broke.  And, of course, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street which you may see in the background.  It is Massachusetts after all.

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From Wollaston Beach the area looks simply like a wooded area without much to see.

Yet, hidden within that cluster of trees lies a true hidden treasure with a hidden history.

 

Daffodil Festival (Naumkeag, Stockbridge, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 10, 2019

Location: Naumkeag, 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA

Cost: Trustees Nonmembers: $20
Seniors and students 15 and up: $15
Trustees Members: FREE
Children 6 – 14: $5
Children under 6: FREE

Hours (the Daffodil Festival ended May 12,)

April 14 – May 27
Open weekends only, with tours 10AM – 5PM (last tour starts at 3:30PM)

May 28 – October 8
Open daily with tours 10AM – 5PM (last tour starts at 3:30PM) including holidays

Parking: Free parking for about 20 cars is available.  There may be a lot for overflow parking as well.

Trails: Easy

Handicapped Accessible: No.

  • Naumkeag is not ADA-compliant, due to the age of the site. There are many stairs, a steep hillside, uneven footing, etc.

Dog Friendly: Dogs are not allowed in the gardens.

Summary: The Daffodils Festival is an annual event that has daffodils and other flowers, trees and plants planted along their trails.

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Each year, the Trustees at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, MA bring some color and beauty to the drab rainy early spring season.  Their daffodil celebration begins in April and last until the second week of May.  Just in time for Mother’s Day!

As you begin your visit at the Naumkeag Estate, you will first enter a greenhouse with a diverse collection of flowers and plants.

While daffodils are the main attraction, they aren’t the only flowers showcased at the festival. An assortment of other flowers, such as tulips, complement the daffodils.

The trees at Naumkeag are just as impressive as the flowers even if they didn’t have many buds or leaves on them at that time.

Naumkeag has many events and programs for children.  We saw these butterflies which were part of a children’s scavenger hunt.

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The stairs and trails are well kept.

There are many statues and other decorative items along the trails.

The estate at Naumkeag is much more extensive.  But, unfortunately, the rain prevented us from exploring it more.  I am sure I will make another trip to see more of this beautiful hidden gem!

If you missed the Daffodil Festival, fear not!  The festival is help every year in Mid April to early May.

Spring Bunny Quest (Francis William Bird Park, East Walpole, MA)

Date Of Event: April 27, 2019

Location: Francis William Bird Park, Polley Lane, Walpole, MA

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: There are multiple parking lots located on Polley Lane, Pleasant Street and Rhoades Avenue.

Trail Size/Difficulty: 89 acres (3 miles of walking trails), easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: wooden cutout bunnies hidden on the trails, trees, play areas, tennis and basketball courts, trees, ponds

Web Site: Francis William Bird Park

Trail Map: Francis William Bird Trail Map

Summary: 6 cutout bunnies were hidden along the various trails at Francis William Bird park

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While bunnies are not uncommon at William Francis Bird Park (more commonly known as “Bird Park”), there were a very different type of bunny there earlier this spring.  To mark the arrival of the spring cotton tail bunnies to the park, Bird Park hid 6 wooden cutout bunnies for visitors to look for.

While there was a map located at the visitor center board near the center of the park showing where the bunnies were located, the Trustees, who operate the park, encouraged visitors to find them on their own.  So, I tried.  I tried for 3 hours.  I was also taking photographs of the wide variety of beautiful trees and other treasures of the park.  I did find 5 of the bunnies on my own.  Then, I gave in and found the last bunny after looking at the map.

The bunnies really weren’t too hard to find.  Even the “hidden bunnies” were in open view, even if they were located next to a rock or tree.

The bunnies also had a small notepad for visitors to write messages.  One popular message written on the notepads can be seen below.

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The park has been a hidden attraction for many years.  In fact, it has existed in one form or another for almost 100 years.  Francis William Park was endowed and created by Charles Sumner Bird, Sr and his wife Anna in 1925.  The park was created in memory of their eldest son, Francis William Bird who died in 1918 at the age of 37.  The Trustees, who operate the park currently, gained ownership of the park in 2002.

Bird Park has so many great features,  The trails are easy to navigate and there are many toys and playthings for children to use in the “tot lot”.  There are also basketball courts and tennis courts.

The main attraction of the park, though, must be the trees.  There are a variety of trees at the park with the names of their particular species.

I wonder what species of tree this is.

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One particular tree at the park stands out among the rest.  A plaque dedicated to Charles Sumner Jr is located at the base of this majestic tree.

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There are many stunning views at the park.

And, of course, what would Bird Park be without birds?

There are lots of benches to sit on and admire the views.  Some of these benches look pretty old!

In addition to an extensive play area, there is a cute little library in the children’s playground.

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The music court, built in 1931, was designed for performers to use to entertain the community.  There are changing rooms and restrooms (which I’m pretty sure are no longer in use) attached to the stage for performers to make costume changes before or during their performances.

Your dog will love the long trails and spacious field at the park.  The appropriately names Achilles, a 10 year old American Eskimo and Cocker Spaniel mix, didn’t let his injury stop him from roaming the park.

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Ruh roh!  It’s like Scooby, a 5 year old American Pitbull mix.  Zoinks!

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Hidden New England – Bewitched Statue (Lappin Park, Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: Countless times (photo provided was taken Oct. 14, 2018)

Location: Lappin Park, 235 Essex St (corner of Essex and Washington St), Salem, MA

Summary: One of the most popular attractions in Salem, MA was once a divisive topic of debate.  The Bewitched statue in Salem, MA, a seemingly innocuous statue, has a hidden history you may not be aware of.

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When one thinks of the most controversial witch in the history of Salem, the name that comes to mind, or at least used to come to mind, may not be the one you think of.

Dedicated June 15, 2005, the Bewitched statue shows Samantha Stephens (played by Elizabeth Montgomery) riding a broom (did she ever do that on the show?) with a crescent moon behind her (not even a full moon, jeepers).  This statue would prove to be a hotly debated attraction that would create almost as much drama as the trials itself.

While the statue is not exactly hidden, in fact it is one of the most visited attractions in Salem, MA, the history behind the statue may be hidden to many.

Browsing old articles and viewing old videos, which I will attach at the bottom of this post, many people claimed the statue “trivialized” the witch trials.  Some protesters claimed it was a tacky kitschy tribute.  Clearly, they had never  been to Salem before.  In fairness, though, it was mostly Salem residents who protested.  What I did find to be interesting is that some of the stronger supporters of the statue in the videos I watched were witches.  Modern day witches.  But witches nevertheless.  As an aside, there is a store that has been in Salem for some time that does psychic readings.  What’s the name of the store you might ask?  Bewitched In Salem.  So, there already was a connection albeit loosely with the show.

The “kitschy” and trivialization arguments are specious at best.  During the Halloween season, or really all year long, you can go to a “haunted house”, buy a shirt with a tasteless phrase or get your photo taken with a ghost, goblin or, ahem, witch just steps away from the burial ground and memorial to victims of the witch hunt.  It almost seems out of left field to choose this one statue to target as being offensive or a device to promote the trivialization of the witch trials.  Trust me, there’s lots of things to complain about in this regard in the city of Salem.

It almost seems like people wanted something to vent about and it became a convenient target.  As I mentioned above, you can buy tshirts with such phrases as, “I got stoned in Salem.”  Besides being tasteless it is inaccurate (witches were never stoned, at least not as a form of punishment by the city).  This is just one of the many attempts at humor that you will find on any given day in Salem.  It also makes me think of and  even yearn for the “salad days” when a statue in a historic city was our biggest concern.

While I do appreciate that we shouldn’t trivialize the witch trials and it’s important to remember this tragedy, it would also be hypocritical of me to say I am in any way above the fray.  I love to visit Salem, as my posts probably indicate, and I visit every chance I get. Not just during Halloween.  So, this is by no means a “hit job piece” on the city of Salem itself.

I also think, in  weird way, it’s okay to offer some entertainment and distraction from the all too real tragedy.  And, the city does a good job of remembering and honoring the victims.  You could even argue those affected by the witch hunt would rather we celebrate in the city than wallow in the obvious sadness of the history attached it.

There are several misconceptions about the witch trials in Salem which are important to consider when thinking about Salem’s role in the witch trials and peripherally Elizabeth Montgomery and the TV show Bewitched.  For one, most of the witch trial drama occurred outside of Salem’s current city limits (a lot of it occurred it what is now known as Danvers).  There is actually a memorial dedicated to where the witch trials occurred in Danvers, MA.

Another little known fact that I wasn’t aware of either until after I posted this, Bewitched did film some episodes in Salem.  But, Elizabeth Montgomery herself never lived in the area.

Also, as an aside, there really isn’t any correlation in the timeline of events of the witch trials and Halloween chronologically.  While many people visit the memorials to the alleged witches during Halloween, the witch hysteria began when Abigail Williams and Betty Parris experienced fits of convulsions in February, 1692.  By Halloween the hysteria would have been in full swing and many people would have already been accused and even jailed.  It is off putting to think the only connection is that Halloween is considered a scary time, albeit a fake scary time.  The Salem witch trials were a very real scary time, though.  Before I get too far off track, what would drive the city to promote this pseudo holiday?  See paragraph below.

So, why was the statue erected in the city of Salem?  Hmmm, let’s think about this.  If the words “money grab” come to mind pat yourself on the back.  TV Land spent a cool $75,000 to install the 9 foot bronze statue.  While that may seem like a pretty big chunk of change to put down for a statue it was a bargain for their marketing purposes.  Also, some of the money was spent to revitalize and “spruce up” the Lappin Park area where the statue was installed.  “Spruced up” may be in the eye of the beholder.  I think they mowed the lawn.  They also very subtly (cough cough) put their stamp on the property.  This is only one example of how the city profits off the tragedy.

Now, it seems the victor is clear.  You’ll be hard pressed to be able to take a photograph at the statue at least during Halloween season.   Trust me.  I know this first hand.  Kids climb the statue.  Older folks look fondly on the statue as a tribute to their past.  And, perhaps most funny, very young people and tourists can be heard asking “Who is this a statue of?”  You’ll rarely, if ever, see anyone protesting the statue (they protest other things but not the statue).  It seems the city of Salem has indeed become bewitched.

Below is a video that shows some of the controversy  surrounding the statue

 

 

Ames Nowell State Park (Abington, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 7, 2019

Location: 781 Linwood St., Abington, MA (30 minutes south of Boston, MA or 1 hour northeast of Providence, RI)

Hours: Open daily dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: Free parking  for about 50 or more cars

Trail Size/Difficulty: 700 acres/Easy to moderate

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, the main trails are handicapped accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Ames Nowell State Park Website

Trail Map: Ames Nowell Trail Map

Restroom facilities: Yes

Highlights: pond, wildlife, scenic, fishing, running trails, paths for dirt bikes and cycling, picnic tables, ball fields, grills, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter

Tips:

  • the park was hard to find by GPS – try looking for Presidential Dr and hook up to Linwood that way
  • The trail is not a loop – when you get to the boardwalk on the main trail turn back and backtrack to the beginning of the trail

Summary: Ames Nowell has activities for the entire family.  From the scenic views, fishing spots, pavilions and sporting activities, Ames Nowell has a variety of ways to enjoy the park.  The main trail is handicapped accessible and the park is dog friendly.

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Named after the grandson of Oliver Ames, the 35th governor of Massachusetts (1887-1890), Ames Nowell was purchased during the the Great Depression when the previous land owner could not afford the taxes for the land. It is now a haven for hikers, fishing enthusiasts (bass and pickerel are said to be abundant there) and anyone else who enjoys being out in nature.

Proving that it is indeed a hidden treasure, I had a hard time finding Ames Nowell.  The best way to get there is to punch Presidential Dr in your GPS and follow it on to Linwood Rd.

When you do finally arrive at Ames Nowell, your best bet is to go to the left and follow the trail that way.  That is the path that leads to the major attractions.  I went in both directions (left and right) on the main path and following the trail to the right only led me on a short, very muddy trail.  The trail ends at the residential homes that act as boundaries for the park.  I was able to take a few photos and there are some pretty views.  But, it’s not worth traveling on it unless you’re just looking to add some mileage to your hike.

The jewel of the park is Cleveland Pond.  The trail follows the side of the pond.  Fishing and non motorized boating are allowed at and in the pond.

The trails at Ames Nowell are graded as moderate.  I would consider them more on the easy level, especially if you stay on the main trails.  There are boardwalks, bridges and other man made structures to walk on during your travels.

Of course, I did not stay on the main trails.  That is the best way to capture the beauty of Ames Nowell after all.

There are a wide variety of birds at Ames Nowell.  Hawks, kestrels, cardinals and woodpeckers are just a few of the many types of waterfowl and birds present at the park.

Birds aren’t the only animals you’ll find at Ames Nowell.  Deer, fox, coyotes and other four legged animals are said to roam there.  I didn’t see any of them during my visit.  But, I did see mt first garter snake of the year.

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While the trails are mostly well defined and the website for the park recommends visitors stay on the main trails, I took many of my photographs off the main trail.  In fact, if you take any of the side trails near the end of the trail by the boardwalk you will find yourself in a huge field with paths for dirtbikes and ATVs.  It also where I was able to photograph the kestrel show above in the group of bird photos.  There are also side trails off this open field that have vernal pools.

Ames Nowell is dog friendly and there were many dogs at the park during my visit.  Kea was one of the cute dogs I saw at the park.  Kea, whose name is of Hawaiian origin that means “white”, is a 10 year old Westie.

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For those of you still waiting for spring, I did see a hopeful sign of spring!

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Bare Cove Park (Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 30, 2019

Location: Bare Cove Drive, Hingham, MA

Cost: Free

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are 2 parking lots.  The larger parking lot located at Bare Cove Drive has room for about 100 cars.  There is also a smaller parking lot off Beal St

Trail Size/Difficulty: 484 acres, easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, there are paved trails but the side trails may not be accessible to all

Dog Friendly: Yes (see website for rules for taking dogs to the park)

Highlights: wildlife, birds, nature, lake, easy trails, cycling, running, scenic, museum

Website: Bare Cove Park

Map of Park: Bare Cove Park Map

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Once the site of a ammunition depot, Bare Cove Park is now a 484 acre park full of wildlife, scenic views and trails for running, cycling or just walking.

There is a variety of birds and other wildlife at the park.  Foxes, coyotes and even deer have been reportedly seen at the park.  So, do keep this in mind if you do bring your dog.  I didn’t see any aforementioned animals at the park.  But, I did see a diverse group of birds there.

Granted, I did have to go off the beaten paths to view some of these birds, particularly the hawks and kestrel.  But, you should see lots of cardinals, blue jays, sparrows and other smaller birds in your travels, even on the main trails.

The main trails are paved and wise in most parts.  So there is lots of room for cyclists, runners and people walking with their dogs.

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One of the many great things about Bare Cove is that it is beautiful all year.  You might think that it wouldn’t be very pretty during the early spring time.  You’d be wrong!  But, seriously, the natural colors and the trees are majestic.  Even the multi colored ones. Alt If you are looking to see plants and flowers and other colorful views I do recommend visiting in the mid to late spring, summer or, of course, fall.

One of the hidden historical aspects of the park is its military past.  The area was used to produce and distribute munitions and other military devices. Until 1971, military goods were produced here.

In an effort to commemorate the service of the people who worked at these depots, there is a small museum with exhibits, photos, military tools and other gadgets that were made at the depot.

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There is also a viewing area to watch videos and DVDs about the history of the depot and how Weymouth and Hingham, MA contributed to the war effort.

There are two monuments outside of the museum.

One of the monuments is dedicated to all of the workers who helped the war efforts.

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The next memorial is dedicated to the workers who lost their lives when a ship they were unloading, the USS FY 415, exploded and sank on May 11, 1944, when signal rockets caught fire.

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Another interesting part of the area near the museum is that the posts which the bots tied onto when they originally unloaded their munitions at the depot are located in front of the museum.

There is also a fire museum nearby.  During my visit, a fire truck from the museum was on display at the park.

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But, the hidden history doesn’t end there.  A sign posted on Bare Cove Path indicates that an Almshouse (called “Town Farm”) used to be there.

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In short, almshouses were a place for the indigent or those who could not care for themselves.  To find out more about Almshouse, you can refer to my previous blog post about Almshouses.

With its winding trails and access to water, Bare Cove Park is a great place to take your dog.

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Kevin, a 2 year old Boston Terrier, posed for me during his walk around the park.

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Cooper, a 9 year old Golden Retriever, played fetch in the water during his visit.

 

Hidden History – Almshouse (Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 30, 2019

Location: Bare Cove Park, 45 Bare Cove Dr, Hingham, MA

Summary: Bare Cove Park was once home to one of the first charitable groups in the colonies and states.  “Town Farm” at Bare Cove was one of the many almshouses in the states.

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New England has a long history of helping others.  One of the ways the people of New England have reached out to help others is with the creation of Almshouses..  In Christian tradition, alms are money or services donated to support the poor and indigent.

In short, Almshouses were charitable housing units designed to help the indigent, particularly widows, the elderly and those unable to pay their rent.  They were maintained by a community or charitable group.  Originally, they were attached to churches and other religious groups.  They were later adopted by local officials and governing bodies.

Although they have a short history in the colonies and states, they have a much longer history in Europe.  In fact, Almshouses are a tradition that was brought over from England.  The first recorded almshouse is said to have been built in 1132 at the Hospital of Saint Cross in Winchester, England. It is still in existence today.

The almshouse in Hingham, MA, (“Town Farm”) which once stood in the area in the photograph below was built  in 1832 and it lasted just over 100 years. It was the third almshouse in the city.  Although the sign doesn’t say specifically where the almshouse was, it was in this general area.  Trees, a few condos just out of view behind the trees and access roads now stand where the almshouse once stood.  This sign, where the defunct almshouse once stood, is located on Bare Cove Path at Bare Cove Park.

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Almshouses in the colonies and states were not just a product of Hingham, MA, though.  In fact, almshouses were abundant throughout the colonies and United States way before Hingham erected “Town Farm.”

The first almshouse in the United States was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1622. The original Almshouse was burned down in 1682. When they decided to rebuild it they chose a different location.  But, these alhouses also dotted the Northeast in such places as Pennsylvania.

However, almshouses weren’t just used for altruistic purposes.  In addition to providing a needed home for the poor, mentally ill and physically impaired, the homes were also used by some as a place to drop off vagrants, criminals and addicts.  This made some of the almshouses unsafe.  Allegations of neglect and unsanitary conditions were also rampant at some of the homes.

By the late 1800s and part of the 1900s, almshouses were largely gone.  This was in part because the Social Security Act prohibited federally aided old-age assistance to residents of public institutions.  This was because the creation Social Security was thought to make these types of homes unnecessary.  Little did they realize how healthcare costs would sky rocket in the ensuing years.  The prohibition of legally funded almshouses also paved the way for privatized elderly care homes.