Lilacs and Fields
By Pamela Jordan
Quinsig Village today. CECELIA file photos.
I love this time of year – it’s Lilac Time! Growing up in Worcester’s Quinsigamond Village, it was almost like you could smell the scent everywhere you went. And the colors – dark and light and white. Where I lived at the bottom of Holy Cross Field, there is a street called Oswald. It was about a quarter mile long and was a dead end. In the back of every yard was a continuous hedgerow of lilacs eight or nine feet tall. I would sit under the bushes and read, surrounded by the heavenly scent. I often wondered who planted all of those lilacs.
I found out later in life why there was such a proliferation. An old Swede from the once Swedish neighborhood told me when a new outhouse was needed, a spot next to the old one was dug, and a lilac bush was put in the old hole! They are long-living bushes, as long as the dead branches are trimmed off. A lilac will not grow on a branch where a previous one bloomed.
So when I was a little girl in Quinsig Village it was tulips and forsythia and lilacs for Mother’s Day. And my Mom always welcomed my bouquets. She had a special vase for special occasions, and I always felt so proud that she used it for my gifts.
On the other side of the hedgerows were the fields, Holy Cross and Currans, and many which were unnamed – it was just “The Field.” If any of you remember the names of others, please let me know!
One of the many side streets branching off Greenwood Street or Blackstone River Road – going up the hill, deep into the residential section of Worcester’s Quinsigamond Village.
The fields were glorious for kids – forts and fencing with Catalpa bean pods. Berry picking and quiet chats. It was possible to traverse the entire Village from Butler Street to the Auburn line at Packachog without ever walking on pavement. We would leave in the morning with sandwiches and snacks, pen knives and books, and be gone for the day. Nobody worried about bugs or ticks. It was a simpler time. As one went along, other kids would join in. The days flew by and, as dusk drew down, we would take the streets back home – nobody wanted to be in the fields in the dark.
Many of these fields are gone now – accommodating new duplexes and houses taking up the green spaces. I was down at my old stamping grounds last week and while many things have changed … the lilacs are still there.