27 Guild Street (Rhymes with mild)
May 23, 1942 was a momentous day for the Corson family. We moved from an apartment on the North Slope of Beacon Hill in Boston to a wonderful bungalow at the top of a hill in Medford. Though only about five miles from Boston, Medford was considered the country at that time. One street ran along in front of our house and another along the back. On that back street, the neighbors directly behind us had goats, and two doors up from them a family kept chickens.
Our house was on a double lot, and my father, despite working six days a week, immediately started two projects: planting a Victory Garden and creating a plush emerald carpet of lawn. In the garden he planted tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce ,onions, and beets. A farmer-friend looked at an old photo of my father standing in the garden holding a hoe and said, “A weed didn’t stand a chance in that garden.”
It was a sure sign of spring each year when my father started making cardboard collars for his tomato seedlings, but spring really arrived with the delivery of fresh manure. I did not appreciate this at all, and even my mother insisted on keeping the windows closed that week!
The house had been empty for a year when my parents bought it, and the yard was totally neglected, the grass so tall I could almost get lost in it. My father bought a scythe and hacked away, yanking out weeds as well. He seeded, fertilized, watered and manicured the lawn, so, though it took a summer or two, it began to look like velvet. His yard work extended to caring for what was already growing on the property: rambling roses along the front fence, peonies, two umbrella trees, snowball bushes, and forsythia. He also went on to grow some prize dahlias and would also plant salvia each year.
In the center of the front yard, my Uncle Sam and my father erected a substantial flag pole, and on it, almost every morning my father raised the flag. When he took the flag down at night, he frequently had an audience of children, and they sometimes helped him fold the flag, strictly following flag etiquette. Near the flag pole was a birdbath which my father scrubbed and filled each morning until the dead of winter. Sometimes he had to break a thin layer of ice first.
My father would often walk around the property, hands clasped behind his back, inspecting with pride and enjoyment each and every blade of grass, each flower, each vegetable. My mother would look out the window and say to me, “There’s your father surveying his estate.”
© Dorothy C. Judd
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