By Pat Glodis
As I stroll through the many streets and pathways that I once skipped, ran and walked through so many years ago, I feel joy and love for the place I called my neighborhood and home. I look back and know I was one of the fortunate ones, a child from a modest Irish family, one of six children raised in this unique place. My mother was also a native of this special place called Quinsigamond Village. She was born in 1906 and lived all her 98 years in the village. The oldest of four children, she attended Quinsigamond School and later was one of the original members of theMother’s Club that would meet once a month. Most of the other mothers were from the Swedish population. I remember, while in school, when the moms would meet and we students could smell the aroma of fresh perked coffee and homemade pastries.
HOW SWEET IT WAS
Strolling through these tender and loving memories, I recall so many places and experiences I had as a child and teenager. Now looking back on those many days of yesterday, I am so grateful and feel so privileged to be one of the lucky ones to have lived in such a unique and historical place, a settlement known as Quinsigamond Village in Worcester, Ma.
It was a kinder and more gentle way of life in this quaint neighborhood, a hidden jewel located on the South East side of Worcester, Massachusetts. Tucked away like a valley between Vernon and College Hill, yet it was just a short walk to the Millbury and Auburn line. The village was almost like a private, invisible, gated community.
Come along with me as I stroll down memory lane …….. Starting at the intersection that once was Millbury St and Ballard St., just after crossing over the first set of railroad tracks, stood one of the buildings owned by the American Steel and Wire Company. In front of the building was a bus stop with a bench to accommodate our older folks waitingfor the bus. If for some reason you missed your bus and had a few questions for the industrial doctor and nurse assistant on duty that day, you could hop in and get a little free advice. I recall, on a few occasions, my mom bringing me in as a child needingto be patched up after a fall or cut.They were always so happy to see the children and the adults living in the neighborhood. As a teenager walking home from Providence St. Junior High School, I would cross over the bridge and look down at the Blackstone River. It was always fun to see the river rushing and flowing through and hearing the loud splashes coming from the waterfall.
Then, at the end of McKeon Rd you could see the Community Building that was given to the residents, from the American Steel and Wire Company, to use for meetings and social activities. Every Friday night we teenagers would attend a dance. My friends and I loved to participate, as it was the event of the week for all the teens. Then I would pass by my old grammar school and wave hello to the firefighters across the street. Now, still standing is the vibrant and successful Berg’s Florist, a shop that keeps all of the community and surrounding towns well supplied with special floral arrangements.
Just a short distance away was the cobbler shop, known as SARKIS. Sarkis was owned by an Armenian family by the name of Gartatzoghian. Mr. Gartazoghian raised hisfamily on Ekman St. In fact his son Harry still lives in the same house. He also ownedand operated a gas station, for many years at the end of Providence and Ballard Street. We had everything one would ever need or want in our little village. There wasAnderson’s Pharmacy, Olson’s Jewelry [later on was owned by the Borglund family] located at the corner of Whipple and Millbury St. Now that part of Millbury St.is known as the Blackstone River Rd. Also, we had a gas station, hardware store, and Lindquist & Lundin Funeral Service, we even had our own medical members [Dr. Hagberg, MD and dentist Dr. Nelson.]
In the center of the village was, and still stands, our beautiful Monument Park, a parcel of land donated, by the American Steel and Wire Co., to the neighborhood families who lost loved ones during the 2nd World War. My mother lost her first cousin, Sargent James J. Garrett. That same parcel of land is home to one of the first churches built in the village, The Swedish Baptist Church, originally located on Stebbins St.
The quaint historical church is now known as the Belfry Café, a great place to enjoy breakfast, lunch and evening dinner. Now as I stroll along, I remember our Five and Dime Store and the two three deckers thatconverted their 1st floor to convenience stores. One was Archie’s and the other was known as Quinsigamond Spa. You could get all your newspapers, magazines, milk, bread, oh I can’t forget the penny candy and the soda fountain with all the special treats like a hot fudge sundae, frappes, soda and of course a good cup of coffee.I remember the US Post Office and the Emmanuel Lutheran Church where I enjoyed belonging to one of the best Girl Scout Troups in the City. The church now is our Community Center and the Emmanuel Lutheran Church has been rebuilt down the road a bit. We had several churches located in Quinsigamond Village, along with The Salvation Army, which was also one of the first places to worship and gather for social events. During the 1950’s we had our first Catholic church, St. Catherine of Sweden.
Oh, how sweet it was to peek in and catch the aroma of delicious baked pastry at the Svea’s Bakery and then move on to Anderson and Sundquist Market, to buy and enjoy all their unique Swedish specialities. Our Helen’s Bakery still carries many of the delicious Swedish baked goods.
During those early years we also had a furniture store, beauty salon, and a barber shop. Then a short stroll down Wiser Ave. was Johnson Steel and Wire Co., which employed many of the families in Quinsigamond Village. We even had our own dairy, I believe they called it The Creamery. This Creamery was located on Ekman St. and as a child my mom would send me over to the facility to purchase a pint of whipping cream to top over fresh strawberries. We had another Dairy called Salmonsens on Victoria Ave.We now have, Barbara’s Flooring, Keating Landscaping Co., the Village Pizza and many new companies with more still to come.
Now I have saved the best for the end of my stroll, GREENWOOD PARK.Greenwood Park was like a private country club, a place of many fond and pleasantchildhood memories. I would love to share a few of them with you.
A hop skip and jump from my house on Whipple St., I would pass over Victoria Ave. that abutted the back of the park. On many days I would see the caretaker, who lived in the small house down past the recreation building, mowing a large area of grass. I would then catch a glimpse of the older teens and young adults playing tennis.Skipping quickly passed the activity, I could not wait to reach my destination soon enough to jump in the swimming pool and meet with some of my classmates and friends. We played, laughed and did the seesaw, swings and then another dip in the pool. After all the activity we would run up to the shower building and get freshend up. I tell you it was just like a private country club. I recall having so much fun doing lots of arts and crafts and playing games. All of these activities, during the summer months, were supervised by professional trained personnel.
During the early evenings and weekends the families could participate and enjoy a baseball game and ,oh, how exciting it was to enjoy the big bonfire during the Fourth of July Celebration.
This story is about a time gone by, that once was and can never be again. But I believewith the historical history and what it once was, we can make it even better today.
With the many dedicated and committed people in our community the village is well on its way to become a vibrant and successful place to live, shop and invest in. Come join me in celebrating the re-birth of this historical industrial gateway to the City of Worcester, and the discovery of the lost hidden jewel that is on the horizon of a new birth.