Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bonfires At Forest Hills

In my recent post about Judge Emmons, the Boston police commissioner titled Police Commissioner - Hanged in Effigy, I mentioned the long-lost practice of celebrating the 4th of July with bonfires. Here we have two articles describing the practice as it occurred at Forest Hills at Galvin's field. So here's a question: where was Galvin's field? I'm guessing that it was between Washington street and the railroad tracks near the Arboretum. Perhaps it was on the east side of Washington street - there seems to be more room on that side of the street and it was not yet built up at the time. I also wonder when the city was able to outlaw the bonfires. At this time they were already under the supervision of the city, and regulation is just one small step from elimination. And eliminate they did.

Boston Daily Globe July 4,1910

Bonfires Redden Skies of Boston and Vicinity.

[Opening paragraphs skipped]

The Forest Hills athletic association had one of the largest bonfires in the city at Galvin's field off Washington st, Forest Hills.

The octagonal pile, 50 feet high, was composed of more than 500 railroad ties. The interior of this great wooden chimney was then filled with barrels, boxes, mattresses and refuse materials, and the whole was saturated with 25 gallons of kerosene oil. The top of the pile was ornamented with the national flag, which was removed before the match was applied, and across the front of the pile was a large white banner with the words "Forest Hills A.A.

Pres Charles A. Murphy of the association and his assistants have guarded the bonfire for days to prevent its being "touched off" prematurely. Saturday night Dick Fallon and his two dogs were watchers, and they were kept busy until daylight in preventing miscreants from attempting to fire it.

Dist Chief Michael J. Mulligan detailed a member of the fire department to watch the fire and a line of hose was laid from a post hydrant for service in case of need.

At the stroke of 12 Pres Murphy made a brief address to the 2000 people present. Then there was a series of bugle calls by buglers Ernest Coleman and Edwart McDermott, the flag at the top of the pile was lowered and the match applied.

The committee in charge was Pres Charles A. Murphy, James Finley, John M. Rowan, Cornelius J. Murphy, James Kelly, John Broderick, Fred Every, Arthur Freish, Thomas J. McAdams.

[the article continues with descriptions of other bonfires around Boston]

Boston Daily Globe July 4, 1913

Bonfires Blaze As Fourth Comes In.

Between 6000 and 7000 persons witnessed the bonfire and attendant exercises in Galvin's Field, Washington st, Forest Hills, at midnight. The bonfire consisted of a pile of railroad ties and inflammable materials, which had been reared to a height of 35 feet, and preceding the applying of the torch at 12:01 a.m. by Richard E. Corcoran, about 200 members of the Motley A.A. under whose auspices the fire was held, marched from the rooms of the Tilden Club in Forest Hills sq to the field.

Remarks were made by Pres George Sayce, Mr Corcoran and others, and amid the tooting of horns and the burning of red fire the pile was ignited.

Following the illumination the Motley A.A. held open house at the rooms of the Tilden Club, and ice cream and cake was served to the patriotic youngsters who assisted in the building of the fire.

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