Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Day At The Park

These observations by a Boston Globe reporter came after the park land had been purchased, but before it had been laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted. There had been complaints about the crowds by abutters, so this may have been pro-park propaganda by the civic boosters at the Globe.

Boston Daily Globe June 29, 1885

Flocking To The Fields.

West Roxbury Park Visited by 20,000 People.

They Were Still Coming When the Rain Put an End to the Fun.

What a Five Minute's Shower Will Cost the Tourists.

The tide of travel was decidedly southward yesterday. West Roxbury Park has been a city Pleasure ground for a few seasons only, and the Common has many attractions to old residents, who go there from force of habit. From present indications its day is over, and hereafter those who want a few hours out will go elsewhither. Young people, fellows with their girls, and ladies and gentlemen, who with a sea breeze and clam chowder go to City Point this year, and young married people with their children, as well as citizens of a mature age, who simply want a ride and a view of country scenery, will go to West Roxbury.

To meet the demand that was evidently coming the Highland railway ran its usual cars to the depots, to Cornhill and to Temple place, and put on two additional lines, one ending at Park square and the other at Dover street. By this arrangement some arrived at and left Oakland Garden every minute from 10 o'clock a.m. until after the rain. They were needed, too. By 1 o'clock every bit of seating room was filled before reaching Dudley street, and in several instances the steps and platforms were loaded.

Groups of early risers, workingmen and boys,

Began to Stroll Into the Park

hours before noon. As the sun rose higher ladies and children added their bright garments to the browns and blacks of the gentlemen, making the green fields gay with variegated tints of red and blue, old gold and many metallic hues. Summer suits with straw hats and yellow shoes, were all the rage. Fully one-fourth of all the 20,000 people who were on the ground at 3 o'clock were children, ranging from 2 to 14 years of age. These were in the main tastefully dressed in light clothes, while many of them were ornamented with gay sashes. If they were representative Boston children the coming generation will not lack for beauty.

As the object of the excursions was evidently a ride and a view of the woods and fields the older members of the company sauntered from field to field, taking in the scenes, while the little folks ran and scampered like lambs. At the different ponds the usual game of making a big, good-natured dog go into the water after a stick was played by the boys, who enjoyed seeing the dog swim, and did not object to having him shake himself on coming out, even if they got wet by the performance. One dog, and great black Newfoundland, was kept busy all the afternoon, and swam many miles. Bouquets of ox-eye daisies, buttercups, fern leaves, clover and other plants were in great demand, as indeed were leaves, moss and fragments of stone. Every person

Had One or More Keepsakes

as a reminder of the day. The soda fountain and the ice-cream stand were patronized fairly well, but a majority were in pursuit of more aesthetic delights.

Shortly after 2 o'clock the clouds, which had been in the sky all day, began to grow denser, and soon it was evident that a heavy rain was close at hand. A few hundred of the more wise pleasure-seekers took the hint and hurried towards the cars. The majority however, felt that they were out for the day and were not to be frightened by a threatened shower. The clouds continued to grow darker and darker, and a few minutes after 4 o'clock the rain came down. Those in the woods far away from all shelter were the first to receive it. Then there was a rush. Silk dresses were taken up around the waists of the ladies, who held them there as they scampered across the fields and recklessly scaled stone fences that would on other occasions have been impassable barriers. Pocket handkerchiefs, shawls and lunch baskets were indiscriminately used as shields. Not one in a hundred had an umbrella. The few fortunate possessors of those useful articles were besieged by dozens of friends, who huddled around them in dripping masses. Many of the ladies had such pretty parasols, but they were of such small size that they were almost useless. Some of the ladies had such pretty parasols that rather than let the rain spoil them they preferred a ducking for themselves.

Every available place of shelter was crowded to suffocation. The car station restaurants and ice-cream tents were so crowded that it was with difficulty the waiters could move about. It was very warm in those places, and the demand for ices and cooling drinks was something tremendous. At one of the hotels, twelve quarts of ice-cream were disposed of during the few minutes that the shower lasted. It is impossible to estimate the number of quarts of

Soda Water, Ginger Beer and Tonic

absorbed during that time. When it began to rain there were about twenty-five open cars waiting on the tracks in front of the park. These were filled in a very short time. There were several box cars, which were soon packed The rain continued for about ten minutes, and the clouds then broke apart, giving promise of a pleasant evening. Soon the fields were again covered with the happy promenaders. The rocks were now carefully selected for seats, instead of the grass.

Though the rain was of short duration, great damage was done. A reporter sitting on the piazza of the car station overheard fragments of a conversation between two young ladies. "Oh," said one, "I do wish I was at home. I'm wet all over. Won't we get a lovely cold. My feet are soaked. Oh, Julia, do you know I believe that the color in those pretty stockings of mine has run I declare, it's a shame. They were such a lovely shade, and I only bought them yesterday."

"Botheration," replied the other young lady. "If I didn't have anything more than that to worry about, I'd by happy. Just look at that new feather in my hat - all wilted out like a drowned hen; and those pretty flowers, - why they don't look any more like roses than you do."

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