Roslindale Op/Ed Http://TownOnLine.com
Hank Brandli grew up in Roslindale, MA and now lives in Melbourne, Fla. He will be sharing his memories of his hometown with Transcript readers over the next couple of months. He can be reached at email@example.com
April 04, 2002
“ Swede’s Pond “
By Hank Brandli
Swede's Pond is gone! Our resort, summer and winter palace with
surrounding woods has been replaced by a High Point Village complex.
Our hunting preserve has been taken over by a First National Food
Store; my father's casino by a housing project. The pond was filled in -
in the 1960’s to be used as a playing field for the complex. A friend
e-mailed me recently that his brother’s friend, Michael King, rescued
the last big snapping turtle just before the pond’s demise. He put it
in a shopping cart and transported it to Turtle (Muddy’s) pond on the
West Roxbury Parkway.
Swede's Pond was located at the end of Grandview Street, between the
George Wright Golf Course and Washington Street. My father called it
Swede's long before my time; in fact, he cut ice out of the pond and
stored it in an ice house nearby, as one of his first jobs.
That same ice dripped off the wagons on the streets of Roslindale many
years ago while being delivered to homes. I can still recollect chasing
after the "chips" the ice man spilled (just for us). It was so soothing
on hot days. While it wasn't sweet, it sure tasted good. We didn’t worry
about ‘germs” back then.
My main route to Swede's Pond was down Winton Street and over the
white picket fences at the bottom of the hill. Winton was a great coasting
place that we all loved in winter and brings back a lot of great memories.
Vivid in my mind to this day was the skylight apartment halfway down the hill.
My parents lived there till I was two. The rest of the kids got to this water
mecca through the hole in the fence on the third fairway of the Geroge Wright
Golf Course, or they took the many paths thru the woods from Washington
Street, Beech Street, and Grandview Street.
In the summers, my friend Dave and I would fish for horned pout or spear
pollywogs with our homemade bows and arrows. We learned about light
refraction while trying to impale these partially legged amphibians deep
in the clear water. The future frogs were never killedas we just
slipped them off the wooden shafts back into the water and they swam
away. These bows and arrows were not store-bought, but came from a
Redwood patch just below St. John's church on Turtle Pond Parkway. It
was a small grove of special Ash that produced the best material for us
to use. Often, we made a raft from the flotsam of the marshes and poled
along the edges of the pond we loved so much. Muskrat holes were
everywhere. Snakes too abounded on the one side where the mud oozed
and the water stagnated.
At the opposite end of the pond, a fresh spring flowed toward the George
Wright Golf Course. Most of the kids drank from this spring, except
me. My father had instilled the fear of death into me(having suffered
spinal meningitis as a lad). No matter how thirsty I was, I did not
drink these waters. I always waited till we made our break to the
cement water bubber on the George Wright close to the fence away from
the grasps of the motorcycle policeman named "Bill."
The woods that surrounded Swede's Pond offered a kid a multitude of
things to do, mischievous or otherwise. The local hunting preserve or
local dump teemed with wildlife, mainly rats! Our weaponry consisted of
sling shots, whereas the bigger hunters had their own BB guns. Near to
our game preserve was a geological wonder. Natural rock chairs
and tables that was one better than Stonehenge A place where my dad
played poker with his cronies years before.
There was another pond in this local area that probably still exists. It
was called "Muddy's" and was on the Turtle Pond Parkway opposite a
famous lovers lane or submarine racing cove. Could it be that Muddy's
official name was Turtle?
Now, there were many tales of the ole Muddy's lore that was told to me by
my father. Some are clear and questionable to this day. One of these
tales was that the pond was bottomless! My father related that many
years ago a horse drawn wagon crossed the frozen pond and while doing
so, fell through the ice. I, to this day still think there was "quick sand" at
one end of the pond. I passed this fable on to my children on our many
walks of exploration through the woods when I was married and living in
Hyde Park. This area was my old retreat, my "national park".
High on a small hill above a hidden cave on one side of the pond is one
of the most scenic places in all of Roslindale. I hope it is still there, un -
Talking about ponds, there was our pond. My father called it Moss Pond.
Dave and I would make our way through the woods between Muddy's and
Swede's to a very small clear body of water that was nearly covered with
fallen trees. Here we would become the "Great Wallendas" or Tarzan as
we teetered back and forth over the imaginative reptile-filled waters below.
Actually, no water life was present in this playground, no cans, paper, or
glass either. This pond was located behind the 4th tee of the George Wright
out of view of the golfers. Was this pond filled in during the local building boom?
If so, what a tragedy for kids of the village. Two of the first water wonderlands of
my youth, gone forever, I guess.
Every Sunday, during the summer months, there were great ethnic picnics
around Swede’s pond and next door at Munchbachs at the end of June St.
off Beech St.. Both picnic areas had large dance floors and band
enclosures, but Swedes was covered ( on rainy days a bunch of us used to
play soccer on the hardwood floor using entrance/exit openings as
goals). Both picnic areas had large wooden buildings with wide side
openings for cooking and selling refreshments .
My family and some of our relatives often went to the German picnics. I
can still see my mom and dad along with other couples doing the polkas
with the ethnically dressed band in their lederhosen and costumes as my
little sister and I shouted ”oompah!, oompah!, oompah!” as tuba played.
We all ate brautwurst with mustard/relish, sauerkraut, German potato
salad, cole slaw and applekucken for dessert. Adults drank German
beer/kids cider. We bought everything with tickets that were worth 10
cents each. Families purchased these chits that were on large rolls from
one central location. WHY NO CASH?
At some of the picnics at Swede’s pond, the empty beer and soda bottles
could be returned for a nickel not 2 cents like most deposit bottles.
Dave and I knew just when these money raising ventures were going to occur.
We kept our eyes open constantly for glass money vials.
Sometimes we would circle the raised dancehall and reach up and swipe
half empty bottles while the couples were dancing and pour out the
liquid after taking a swig or two and scamper to get our nickel. One
memorable Greek picnic, we made a staggering $1.85-a bonanza for 10yr
old kids in the 40’s.
In the winter months, Swede's Pond was the ice palace or Boston Garden
of the area. Barbara and Ann were the Ice Capades, while Charlie, Dave,
Art, Jocko, Fred, Richard, Jack, John, Rocky, Eddy, Mussy and the Walsh
twins were the Bruins and the ‘Pics’ of the day. The ice was like glass, and
the kids were the maintenance crews, with their own shovels, brooms and
"Mussy" got hit between the eyes with a puck one day. I can still hear
the ”Crack!”. Blood was every where. We got him home to Hautevale St.
as he held a sock with ice water from the pond over his nose. He was
cross-eyed for a long time as a reminder of Swede's Pond hockey games.
The stars of Hyde Park, Roslindale, Boston College ,Jamaica Plain, Boston
Latin and Boston English High Schools came from these hockey skirmishes.
We skated till spring thaw on white soft ice. One warm day, Dave and I
took our blades off and slid on an undulating pond surface that
suddenly broke into several ice floes. Needless to say, we were very wet
when we got to shore and dried our pants in the warm sun .
Another remembrance still fresh in my mind is a new pair of Christmas
present CCM skates and being allowed to stay home from school for one
day. My Dad accompanied me down Grandview Street below the stone
house where he and I laced my new "black beauties" real tight while sitting
on a root of a large tree. The memories of skating on the clear hard ice all
by myself with my Father watching, will linger forever.. Of course, others had
winter flooded Fallon, Billings, and Healey fields, but nothing could compare
to "Swede's Pond" in winter or the rest of the year for that matter.