The recent article about Warner’s Pond brought back some memories of growing up in Concord…
I grew up on lower Hubbard Street, down from the post office and around the corner from Emerson Playground. From a very early age, I and my soon to be acquired friends were dedicated baseball players. Sure, we played football in season and basketball at Hunt Gym with Dooley Thorpe and we even played a little hockey after we cleared the Fairyland pond…but land games were our forte.
And, we were good at the land games. We were in our own little bubble which was reaching inflation capacity when Concord and West Concord schools merged in our seventh grade at Peter Bulkeley School. Two separate cultures met. There had been little league teams based on geography. Walter Carew did summer playground in West Concord while we in Concord were blessed with John O’Connell. Oddly, they had grown up in Medford in houses which backed up to each other.
Perhaps the West Concord boys could not crack the skills of the Concord boys in our regular school sports: football, basketball and baseball…but whatever. We knew who we were and we knew that we were good.
Somewhere along the line, probably when we were in 8th grade (I am pretty sure of that since Billy Donovan, a year behind us in school, was with us), some West Concord guys came up to us and said something like “You Concord guys think you are so cool, why don’t we have a Concord versus West Concord hockey game?”
Weren’t these guys paying attention? We accepted the challenge. It was the winter of 1959-60.
My house on Hubbard Street was our clubhouse and my mother was our den mother and confidant. We piled into our station wagon with Mary at the wheel: Aronie, Boynton, Donovan, Doty, me and a few others. Confidence brimmed out of each of us.
And, soon after we put on our skates (they laced up their skates), confidence did its last brimming out. In our Emerson Playground-centric sphere, we neglected to consider that as much as we knew every blade of grass there, Ed Mullin, Eddie and Bobby Woodin, Billy Orpik, and the rest of the West Concord kids had grown up on Warner’s Pond.
I could get into the details of the game, but I have forgotten them. Suffice to say that our occasional jaunts to Fairyland did nothing to prepare us for the whupping that our West Concord brethren heaped upon us. 10-0, or whatever the mercy rule score was in those days!
My mother brought back to Concord a defeated, forlorn group of erstwhile hockey players.
Years later, with a twinkle in her eye, she gave me a coffee cup designed for the Save Warner’s Pond campaign.
Post Script: Emmanuel Aronie, the poet, was our most frequent visitor at Hubbard St among my peers from the time we met. While he was a standout quarterback in football and center on the basketball team, his play in goal that day did nothing to bring back memories of Gump Worsley.