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TOWNSEND — As Townsend approaches its 275th anniversary, we recognize the many generations gone before us. Their stories live on in books like the 1992’s “VOICES from their times and places.”

Here we listen again and invite you, our readers, to share your own memories of Townsend, to appear in this newspaper. E-mail your recollection or memory to or call the Townsend Historical Society at (978) 597-2160.

Millie Smith was 81 when she contributed these memories to “VOICES.”

Millie Smith

About myself: When my family moved from Pepperell to Townsend, I thought Townsend was the worst place on the face of the earth. Townsend and Pepperell were rivals in high school. I stayed with an aunt in Pepperell, so I could finish my junior year in high school there. Of course, the next summer, when I was going to be a senior, I met all those nice boys in Townsend. Townsend always went to Washington for their senior class trip, so I decided I wanted to finish my senior year in Townsend. But my mother made me finish in Pepperell. I’m glad she did; my classmates and I are still very close.

I went to Stevens Business College in Fitchburg. Eventually I went to work for Mr. Fessenden, for $17 a week, which was better than the $15 I was making at the bank in Fitchburg, and I also saved the $1 it took to take the bus.

Later, I was chief clerk of the Rationing Board during World War II. People had to have coupons for gas, sugar, shoes, canned goods, tires, butter, meat and so on. Each town had a rationing board. We had little books with coupons inside, which they tore out for everything they bought. There were always two or three people who were pretty lousy about it. In the late summer and fall, when the canning season started, people would come in to get extra sugar, and I know people came in who never canned a thing in their life!

Christmas: We kids didn’t want a Christmas tree because my grandparents lived in Gardner and one year we went there to have Christmas. Grandma had a tree. My Aunt Laura’s family lived in Springfield and they were coming by train. The train didn’t get in till late afternoon, so we had to wait till they got there before we could have our presents. So after that, we didn’t want a Christmas tree, we just wanted our stockings, we did not have to wait. We hung up our stockings, when we were real young, and got a dime, an orange and a big walnut in the toe. And then you’d have just one present.

The “blueing:” My husband lived in the town of Warren, Vt., in the Sugarbush ski area. There was no high school there. So his mother made arrangements for him to stay with a family in Randolph, where there was a high school. The family was Catholic. My husband and Mr. Salter used to sit around in the kitchen and watch the dinner while the rest of the family went to church. So he told my husband this story.

There was a terrible thundershower that came through one night. His wife got real upset. The children — I think there were about 10, with the boys in one room and the girls in another — were asleep. The wife said to her husband, “You’ve got to get up and get the holy water and bless those kids!” So he got out of bed and went downstairs and there weren’t any lights and he grabbed a bottle. He went upstairs and sprinkled all the kids and went back to bed. Next morning, the children came downstairs, dotted with blue spots. In the dark, he had grabbed the bottle of blueing instead of the holy water! But he said to his wife, “Well, it did the trick! They’re all still here!”

The big sister: We lived in Brookline, N.H. I was 7, my brother Malcolm was 3. We lived up by the old schoolhouse, and we walked down to the store to do an errand for my mother. Near the store is a canal, and a brook runs underneath the road. There were three or four boys standing on the railing looking down on the brook, where there was a pencil. They dared my little brother to go down and get it. So he went down and sure enough, he fell in. I grabbed him by the coat and kept him from going down. It was the spring of the year and the water was very high.

When we got home, my mother was ironing and her friend Eva was there. They looked at Malcolm because he was soaking wet and boy, they got him undressed and his heavy coat off, right away. All of a sudden, Eva turned around and said, “Why, Annie! Look at Mildred! She’s all wet, too!” And I hadn’t said a word. Every time I go over that bridge, I think of that.

I was a little mother. I used to rock my baby brother and give him his bottle. He’d look up at me with those blue eyes and say, “Sing ‘Smile Awhile,’ Sis.” I’d sing that and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

I had three brothers, and I was also quite a tomboy. I played baseball and football, marbles, too. Used to beat my brothers quite a bit, too!

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