Thursday, May 23, 2013
This is just a simple stone, from some simple kids. It says, in its entirety, "In memory of Willard, from the Damon School Children." Willard was Willard Beal, I believe an old principal.
Of course, it could have been the school's pet rabbit, for all I know.
But wouldn't that be nice, to be remembered and honored by a group of friends or peers? I think it's pretty cool, what the Damon School kids (and I was one, briefly) did for Willard, be he man or bunny.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Hull has eight streets named for World War II casulaties, and Meade Avenue is one of them.
The town sent its fair share to the fight, of course, but because of the miniscule size of the population comparative to most other towns in the Commonwealth, that share was small. Still, to lose eight is too much. To lose one is too much.
How did Meade go? The history books could tell us, as the Hull-Nantasket Times from the era certainly still exists, as do the town reports. But his tombstone shares enough information: "311th Inf 78th Lightning Div, Killed in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany, March 11, 1945."
With the Axis Powers on its heels, the Allies were pressing the fight. In one last desperate attempt, the Germans went on the offensive, forcing the "bulge" into Allied-held territory. It would be futile, but it would take some lives, like that of Hull's Richard Meade.
I wonder if he had survived the war, what he would have done with life life? I wonder if I would have met him. There would have been a damn good chance.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Good ol' Osh. So many stories to tell.
Now here's a guy who could drive a steamboat. He, in fact, drove the first steamboat through the Cape Cod Canal when it opened in 1914, the Rose Standish. But what would you expect from the son of Joshua James?
Probably not the name Osceola, but that came about for a special reason. When Joshua was a little boy, at the time he lost his mother, Osceola the Creek Indian was dying of hunger in a prison, held by federal troops after a chase through the Florida swamps. He became a tragic figure to people in the northeast especially, who took pity on this noble character, just fighting for his people's survival against overwhelming odds. The story apparently stuck with Joshua, and in 1865 Osceola was born.
So Osceola was the next generation, the next great hope for lifesaving in Hull. And he excelled. While his father took over the federal Life-Saving Servcie job in town, Osceola grabbed the reins of the local volunteer lifesaving team, leading it well into the 1900s. In 1927 he led the final dramatic wooden lifeboat rescue off Hull, aiding the crew of the five-masted schooner Nancy.
Man, I gotta get that steamboat operator's license. Seems like the key to life success to me.
Monday, May 20, 2013
While Captain Galiano represented all that was good about a local politician - at least superficially - John Smith glistened as the shining example of the political machine era boss. And don't let the good Captain fool you; he ran right alongside Smith in what was known as the "Old Ring."
I've been counting Smiths along the way. I'm not prepared to tell you how many I've run into so far, but it's dozens, and not a single one of them has had a word to say on their tombstones. It's been disheartening, actually. And the same holds true for this edition of John Smith.
But this one? Fixed elections, closed door town meetings, misappropriated funds, bribery, you name it - it's all been linked to him. But why was he able to stay in power so long, from 1893 til 1926? Lots of times he gave the people what they wanted: jobs for themselves or their kids, in exchange for votes.
Smith was the ultimate big fish in the small pond, but he made his fortune, even if it meant squashing a lot of people along the way. Under him there was always another scheme, another plan to pocket public funds. But once you were drummed out, watch out. Life could be a living hell.
Maybe I can learn something from Boss Smith. Maybe I'm too nice. Maybe I should be finding new ways to make money. Maybe I should run for selectman and learn to drive that steamboat...
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Captain Galiano was a lot of things, and they're all on his tombstone. What's more, his face is, too, in relief. Maybe this is the way to go.
"Chairman, Board of Selectmen. His love for Hull was unsurpassable;" - love that word; not only was it unsurpassed, it wasn't possible to surpass it at all! - "Pure, sincere, and unselfish his tireless energy toward civic improvement. During his 30 years of loyal service commended esteem and admiration from every fellow citizen. His eloquence and sterling qualities distinguished him among men."
But wait, it doesn't tell the whole story, does it? He was a steamboat captain (where he got his title) and when ships ran aground off Hull, he was a volunteer lifesaver as well.
And weirdly enough, he looked like my grandfather, kind of spookily so. The Galluzzos, and apparently the Galianos, have a sort of droop to the outer edges of the eyes in old age. I already see it starting in me, and remember it well in my dad. So, is this generally the face of my future? I'll have to come back in 30 years and find out. I can't guarantee that by then I'll be a selectman, lifesaver or steamboat captain, though. But one never knows.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
This one always gets me. Wilhelmina may have been one of the Esther Dill-William James offspring. I just don't know, because I can't find the connection. But a 19th century James buried in Hull with a Dutch first name, well, let's just say there are dots to connect.
But that's not what gets me. Poor Wilhelmina had a terrible life, from what I can see. She is buried next to four babies with headstones of the same design, and on her own stone are the words, "At Rest." She was only 28.
Are you with me now?
Friday, May 17, 2013
So, picture little Hull. In 1850, barely 250 people lived in town, finally rebounding to its American Revolution era population after nearly three quarters of a century. Joshua James was born at the low point, in 1826, when the town numbered just about 125 souls.
Yet he grew up to be the greatest, or at least the most prolific, lifesaver in American history.
Fast foward a while. The town is growing again, mostly because the seashore has been discovered as a popular summer resort. Lots of things at play - Industrial Revolution, the separation of classes, the start of the "week-end" getaway, more. Still, Hull had fewer than 500 year-round residents, even until 1890.
One of those residents, though, had a voice, and a damn good one, She grew up at 30 Main Street, the niece of Joshua James (and who wasn't?), and went on to follow her calling: "Renowned coloratura soprano, noted both in Europe and America for her marvelous voice, her wonderful art, and charming personality." Bernice James De Pasquali hit it big time, performing with Enrico Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera House. She sang professionally until she could no longer, wearing herself out and dying while on a tour in 1925.
Her remains were brought back to Hull, where on Christmas Eve, she was known to sing "Silent Night" at Elm Park, just for the locals. She was buried in the "old cemetery," with so many of her ancestors, with the words "With deepest sorrow we mourn and cry, 'until we meet again' goodby, dear heart, goodby."
Not bad, for a local gal.