Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Flower-viewing Trail Walk

First daffodils, blooming, week of April 7-13, 2019. 
Several efforts about town can be cataloged under “making Maynard interesting.” These include free band concerts in Memorial Park, “Maynard as a Canvas,” which brought us the murals on the Murphy-Synder building, two years of Maynard Rocks, and more recently, “Trail of Flowers,” started by yours truly.

Last fall, generous donations from Maynard Community Gardeners and the Assabet River Rail Trail organization made possible the purchase of 2,000 daffodil bulbs. Volunteers helped plant those in various locations. First flowers began appearing the week of April 7, with expectations that a peak will be achieved late April into mid-May. (A mix of early-mid-and late-blooming was chosen to prolong the flowering period.)   

A flower-viewing walk is planned for May 4 (rain date May 5). The event will start at 10 AM on the trail behind the CVS parking lot, to go north one mile to the Marble Farm historic site, where the largest number of daffodils were planted. Light refreshments will be provided. Given young children are expected to participate, please no dogs and no bicycles.

More in bloom, April 20, 2019
Daffodils were chosen because deer eat tulips, because daffodils have a good chance of naturalizing, meaning continuing to bloom for many years, and also creating multiple bulbs where only one was planted. Tulips, on the other hand tends to disappoint after three years. First year every bulb is synchronized to timing, flower size and height; second year the timing is not as tight; by fourth year some have stopped blooming entirely (instead managing only one large leaf), and the others are a chaotic mess on size and timing. Going forward, this project will still plan for tulips in flower beds closer to the center of town, with the understanding that more frequent maintenance will be necessary. Small bulbs – such as crocuses and snowdrops – will be sprinkled in.

What meaneth “Trail of Flowers”? Naming was borrowed from the Bridge of Flowers. This now-famous tourist attraction is a 400-foot long footbridge spanning the Deerfield River, between the towns of Shelburne and Buckland. Once a trolley bridge, its use for transportation ended in 1927. A few years later, the Shelburne Woman’s Club sponsored a proposal to cover the bridge with topsoil and plant flowers. Ever since, the bridge has been a free display of flowering annuals and perennials, open April through October. The Bridge has its own webpage, Facebook, non-profit status, donation program and cadre of volunteers. Worth a visit if ever out in northwestern Massachusetts.

Sign at Marble Farm historic site (across from Christmas
Motors) for
The impetus for Trail of Flowers was the realization that now that the north end of the Assabet River Rail Trail is completed, there is not much scenery to see, especially traversing Maynard. From north to south, the Maynard section starts across Route 27 from Christmas Motors, then wends southward between backyards to Summer Street. En route, it passes the Marble Farm historic site, and Cumberland Farms gas station. Beyond Summer Street: parking lot, bridge over Assabet River, parking lot, Main Street, High Street, and then a tree-bordered stretch to the Stow border.

When this project was first proposed to the Town of Maynard, there were three questions: Will this cost the town anything? Will maintenance by the town be needed? Will this interfere with the town’s intent to periodically mow grass and weeds immediately adjacent to the rail trail? With the answer being “No, No and No,” the Town replied “This is a great idea!”

Going forward, plans are for a planting of flowering annuals later in May, plus suggestions made to homeowners with yards abutting the rail trail that they consider planting annuals, perennials and flowering scrubs and trees next to the trail. In the fall, another round of bulb planting, perhaps extending into Acton. And so on, and so on.

More about the Assabet River Rail Trail can be found at a Wikipedia article and at the organization’s website: Current status is 3.4 miles paved in Acton and Maynard, 5.6 miles paged in Hudson and Marlborough. The gap between can be negotiation trough Stwo on a combination of dirt road and public roads. More on Trail of Flowers at  

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Maynard's By-Laws: 1872

Maynard, MA By-Laws, 1872
Not quite a year shy from the creation of the Town of Maynard, the residents adopted the first set of By-Laws on March 11, 1872, approved by state of Massachusetts on March 20, 1849. By way of comparison, current-day by-laws for Maynard is 95 pages. An original of the By-Laws is in the collection of the Maynard Historical Society. ARTICLE II is a more entertaining read than ARTICLE I. A transcript, in its entirety:   


Section 1. Town -Meetings shall be notified by posting attested copies of the warrant, calling the same, in the Post Office and five other public places in the town, seven days, at least, before the day appointed for said meeting; and if any emergency arises rendering it necessary in the opinion of the Selectmen to call a meeting upon shorter notice, such meeting may be notified by posting attested copies of the warrant in ten additional places in the town, three days, at least, before the day appointed for said meeting.
Section 2. The annual town meeting shall be held on the second Monday of March in each year, and a town meeting may be help on the first Monday in April for the purpose of completing any unfinished business of the annual meeting, and to act upon any new business.
Section 3. The financial year of the town shall begin with the first day of March in each year and end on the last day of the following February.
Section 4. No action shall be had at any town meeting on the report of any Committee previously chosen, unless the same shall be specifically notified in the warrant, calling said meeting.
Section 5. All notes given by the Two shall be signed by the Town Treasurer and countersigned by the Selectmen, or a majority of the Selectmen.
Section 6. It shall be the duty of the Constables of the town to see that the laws of the Commonwealth relating to truancy are enforced.
Section 7. The doings and expenditures of each board of Town Officers shall be reported in detail and printed and distributed each year.


Section 1. Coasting [sledding] in any of the public streets is prohibited.
Section 2. Playing ball or throwing stones, or snow-balls, or any other missiles, in any of the public streets, is prohibited.
Section 3. No person shall throw or place the carcass, or any part thereof, of any dead animal into any pond, stream or water within the limits of said town, or leave the same or any part thereof, in any public street, or near any building or public street.
Section 4. No person shall place or cause to be placed any filth or rubbish in any pubic street.
Section 5. Bathing in any public or exposed place is prohibited.
Section 6. All profane, or immoral, or indecent, or gross or insulting language, or conversation in any public place or street, is prohibited.
Section 7. Every violation of the foregoing sections of article second or any part thereof shall be punished by a fine of no less than one dollar nor more than twenty dollars, to be recovered by complaint before any Trial Justice in the County of Middlesex.
Section 8. The foregoing By-Laws shall take effect from and after their passage, and their approval by the Superior Court.

At the annual town Meeting of said Maynard, holden on the 11th day of March in the year 1872, the foregoing By-Laws were adopted. [Approved by the Superior Court March 20, 1872.]

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Maynard's Co-operative Associations (part 3)

Kaleva Co-operative Association certificate. Note share
number 508 and dated 1915. (Historic Society collection).
From an earlier column, we learned that the Kaleva Co-operative Association, started 1907, morphed into the United Co-operative Society of Maynard in 1921. It continued to exist to 1973. “Kaleva” refers to an ancient, mythological, Finnish ruler known from a nineteenth century work of epic poetry and story-telling compiled by folklorist researcher Elias Lonnrot. The work, “The Kalevala,” is regarded as the national epic of Finland, instrumental in fostering a sense of Finnish national identity that culminated in the Finnish declaration of independence from Russian rule in 1917. Locally, immigrants had formed the Finnish Workingmen’s Socialist Society in 1903, from whom the 187 founders of the Kaleva co-operative were drawn.

According to a book, “The Finnish Imprint,” a delegation of Finnish immigrants had initially approached the large and prospering Riverside Co-operative Association with the idea of becoming members. Because many of the recent immigrants did not speak English, they asked that the co-operative hire Finnish store clerks. This suggestion was rebuffed, with a reply that if they did not like the service they received, they should start their own store. They did. The business was initially capitalized at $1,600 from sale of 320 shares at $5/share (equivalent to approximately $125 in 2019 dollars). The initial location was a rented storefront at 56 Main Street. By 1912 the co-operative had bought the entire two-story building, soon after added a bakery operation, a dairy with home delivery, and a restaurant on the second floor, serving meals to hundreds of workers living in neighboring boarding houses.

United Co-operative Society of Maynard certificate. Note
share number 11837 and dated 1947. Click to enlarge.
Maynard was not the only home to a Finnish-organized co-operative. Fitchburg has the Into Co-operative and Quincy the Turva Co-operative. In 1919, Maynard and these and others merged to create the United Co-operative Society of New England. This was short-lived due to financial and political disagreements, the end result being that the Maynard group reorganized as the United Co-operative Society of Maynard, and Fitchburg becoming the United Co-operative Society of Fitchburg. The latter was the last of the Finnish co-operative to close its doors, in 1977.     

United’s by-laws had added an eighth principle to the previously describe Rochdale seven – continuous expansion. Over the initial 50 years membership grew from 184 to 2,960 members as coal and firewood (1924), fuel oil (1933) and ice (1934) delivery were added. In addition to the Main Street store, a branch store was opened on the northeast corner of Waltham and Powdermill Roads (1926), superseded by moving the branch store operations to a new building at the northwest corner of the same intersection (1936). This remained active until it was sold to Murphy and Snyder printers in 1957. Next door, now the Seven-Eleven/Dunkin Donuts store, was an automobile gas and service station (1934). A credit union was added in 1948.

United's Main Street store, 1957. Now Look Optical and other businesses.
A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor at that time stated that the United Co-operative Society of Maynard was one of the ten largest in the country, calculated either by number of members or annual sales, and was also one of the ten oldest. More than half the households in Maynard belonged to United. At its peak, the co-operative had more than 50 full-time employees, with medical benefits and life insurance – unusual for that era.  

United survived the competition from an A&P supermarket operating on Nason Street (in the building now housing The Outdoor Store), but the presence of Victory Supermarket on Powdermill Road, combined with the freedom to food shop elsewhere provided by increased car ownership, put pressure on the co-operative. In June 1973 that was a vote to dissolve. United's By-laws had an interesting clause: On the occasion of dissolution, which required a 3/4 majority of votes at a meeting, the assets would be used to pay the purchase value of the outstanding shares. As a disincentive to taking this action, any surplus would go to the Co-operative League of the United States rather than to members.

In 1981, a natural foods effort named the Carob Tree Co-op was started in Concord by Debra Stark. It later moved to Acton, then Maynard, where it occupied a small store on River Street, then back to Acton. In addition to paid staff, members took turns volunteering at the store. Several ex-members reminisced about being part of Carob Tree, but so far there is no paper trail to document its brief existence, or the date of its demise. Debra Stark went on to start Debra’s Natural Gourmet, in West Concord, in 1989. Perhaps the failure of Carob Tree was a catalyst for her marvelous success.

Assabet Village Co-op Market: "Join Today!" sign
And now, well into the 21st century, there is an effort underway to launch Assabet Village Co-op Market. See for details. The beginnings date to February 2012, when a small group of people met to discuss forming a co-op. The cost of membership was set at $200. To date, 1,055 people have joined. The near-term goal is to find and commit to a retail space on the order of 7,500 square feet, with immediately adjacent parking. Once a site is identified there will be fund-raising effort to reach the capitalization goal of about $1.2 million, hopefully achieved via a combination of local and state grants, bank loans, and interesting-paying loans from members. This is expected to take 4-6 months. Once launched, Assabet Village intends to make a point of sourcing food from local farms. And if all goes as planned, Maynard will once again be a co-operative town, 145 years after the start of the first.