Friday, January 4, 2013


Some seven or eight years ago it was possible to buy ONLY IN MAYNARD bumper stickers, T-shirts and sweatshirts at local stores and at Maynard Fest, the annual street fair. The lettering for ONLY IN MAYNARD products was orange against a black background - Maynard's school colors. The sole remnant of this endeavor is bumper stickers for sale at Russell's convenience store, next to Town Hall.

"Only in..." can have different meanings: "Only in Vegas," has one; the Only-in-Portland ethos of the cable TV show Portlandia, another entirely. Only in America is a TV show about taking pride in things American, while "Only in Boulder" is the motto of Life in Boulder includes the Naked Pumpkin Run: flash mobs of people running down streets wearing real or plastic jack-o'-lanterns on their heads - and nothing else except running shoes.     

The words on ONLY IN MAYNARD products were deliberately printed so that the right side was noticeably higher than the left. Best guess is the wording was askew to convey that negative, rueful pride that only in Maynard could things (town things, school things, people things...) be so humorously incompetent or fouled up.

A recent example: use of snow blowers on the roof of Memorial Gym during the big-snow winter of 2010-2011 was intended to save the roof from risk of collapse, but instead resulted in roof damage, leading to leaks and severe water damage to the gym floor, which had been completely refurbished only months before. In the end this contributed one more reason for demolition of the gym in 2012. 

Back in 2005, to counter the prevailing negative impression, a group of civic-minded citizens approached Jesse Floyd, the then editor of the Beacon-Villager newspaper, to see if they could take turns writing a pro-Maynard column featuring the friendly and welcoming nature of this unique small town. The column lasted less than a year. Only in Maynard.

An echo of that positive intent was conveyed in a 2008 article in the newspaper that read in part "A clever slogan, coined some few years ago, continues to describe our singular uniqueness, our melting pot citizenry and our basic values for the 'good life.' That slogan, Only in Maynard, sets up the town as a special place where very special people do distinctive and exceptional things. This is especially true in the art of song and music as developed in our town."

An informal survey of people about town yielded both the negative and positive connotations, and also a third meaning - the concept of specialness. Only in Maynard can you see Santa Claus arriving by helicopter for the Christmas parade. Only in Maynard can you still find a local movie theater. Only in Maynard are the bars close enough together to have a pub crawl that might involve actual crawling (or at least walking) rather than driving. 

ONLY IN MAYNARD shirt - a collector's item
Harking back to the origin, the bumper stickers have TM superscripted above the end of ONLY IN MAYNARD, signifying that an application had been filed for a trademark. A initial check of the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found no application was ever filed, the omission apparently qualifying as one more "Only in Maynard" example. However, further search found that a service mark was approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in September 2003.

So after all this debate, what does "Only in Maynard" really mean today? Whether it is only in this small town are people so warm, friendly and welcoming, or only here are things so ruefully, headshakingly messed up, or a comment on the
unique nature of life in Maynard, my own opinion is that in comparison, bumper stickers reading ONLY IN ACTON or ONLY IN SUDBURY would make no sense whatsoever. 

Want to add your "Only in Maynard" story?  Do it in Comments.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Geocache Maynard: Boundary Markers

Geocache Maynard MA: This entry is intended as a resource for anyone thinking about setting up caches near any of the boundary stones. NOTES: There is a dispute as to whether the northwest stone is properly located. But as it's on private property, don't go there. And the southernmost is in the Wildlife Refuge, where setting up caches is a no-no.   

Maynard was carved out of Stow and Sudbury in April 1871. The border consists of five straight lines forming a five-sided polygon, 9.1 miles total length. Each corner was marked with a stone post 2 to 4 feet tall.

A 1904 Atlas of boundaries of towns of Middlesex Country provided longitude and latitude for each of the five corners, a description of location relative to then-current landmarks – some long since gone – and physical descriptions of stone markers erected at each corner. Starting at the north corner and going counterclockwise:

  1. 42 27 01.35     71 27 53.34        Northernmost, in woods
  2. 42 26 13.77     71 28 43.93        Northwest, in apple orchard (private property)
  3. 42 24 09.53     71 28 11.75        On trail in Assabet River Wildlife Refuge
  4. 42 24 25.24     71 26 35.19        Visible from Route 27
  5. 42 26 13.18     71 25 51.18        Near electric power substation
Maynard also has a Triangulation Station (benchmark), on the top of Summer Hill, next to the water tanks. The coordinates are 42 26 01.530 and 71 28 17.420. I think it is inside the fence around one of the water tanks. Interesting to think that this used to be a treeless pasture that afforded a 360 degree view!

Northernmost stone marker
Recent visits confirmed four of the five markers for Maynard are exactly as described in the Atlas. The fifth was replaced by a stone cut flush with the ground.

#1: The northernmost stone marker is deep in the woods north of the end of Rockland Avenue. The easiest way to access this is walking east from Red Acre Road, in Stow. Good boots and a walking stick will help.

#2: Heading counterclockwise, i.e., southwest, the next corner is the only one on private property, on the hilltop in the apple orchard on the north side of Summer Street.

#3: The southernmost marker is in the recently established Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. What is there is not the original. That was replaced by the U.S. Army in 1942 with a granite block embedded flush to the ground, because the stone post was in the path of a railroad line to the newly built ammunition bunkers. The base of the original stone lies on the ground a short distance away. The top is in the Maynard Historical Society collection.

Route 27 in background.
Note "2011" painted on stone.
#4: The easternmost marker is a stone's throw west of Route 27, not far from the WELCOME TO MAYNARD sign. The west side has an "M" and the east side has an "S."

Major roads that intersect the borders have smaller stone markers. Look for one where Route 117 crosses from Maynard to Stow. 

#5: The final cornerstone is near the electric power substation just before the entrance to the Concord Mews condominium complex. To get there, drive east on Route 62; go two football fields past Wendy's. turn right onto Sudbury Road, drive up the hill, take the left fork, and keep an eye out to the right. As one walks around the stone marker the letters should be in the order A-C-S-M for Acton, Concord, Sudbury and Maynard, but the actual order is A-C-M-S. 

Replacement marker in Assabet River Wildlife Refuge

The laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Title VII, Chapter 42) require that each town is to have  at least two of its Selectmen or their designated substitutes visit each of its border markers every five years or so in order to confirm that the markers are still there. This is referred to as perambulating the bounds. These official visitors are to paint the year of their visit on their town's side of the marker. Maynard traditionally visits the markers on five year intervals from its founding in 1871; it missed a couple of decades, but did mark the markers in 2011.