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Ken Silvestri's Southbridge Recollections

I lived in Southbridge for a relatively short time but those years will be fondly remembered for the rest of my days.  Although I donít recall your name, we must have crossed paths many times for we are the same age and knew so many of the same people.  My fatherís family had lived in Southbridge since the early 20th century and my dad seemed to know everyone.  He had worked at the Southbridge post office since World War II and probably met everyone in town one time or another. His father was a mason who had emigrated from Italy and sadly, died when my dad was only five.  The story goes that around 1927, my grandfather was working high up on the then, new Notre Dame church when the scaffolding let go, plunging him to his death.  From then on my dadís mother had to support her five children any way she could. She was quite a woman.  Unfortunately, I only knew her in her final years, but she still inspired awe in all of us for the great job she had done. My mother and I came to town from the Boston area in 1954 where we had an apartment in the old Prattís farmhouse on Woodstock Road. After a few years, we moved downtown and in Ď57 she met and dated my dad and they married in í58. He adopted me and from that point on, my dad instilled in me the affection for the town of Southbridge that he loved so much. I could go on and on about my life there, but you have asked us in particular about the í55 flood.  It was surely a great catastrophe but, being only 4 1/2 years old at the time; I can tell you only what I had experienced in my own small world.  My mother and I were living on Everett Street in a second floor apartment, next to the old Polish church.  We didnít have much, but my mother had saved for a long time to buy me a special toy, a pedal tractor.  You know the kind. Toy vehicles like that were popular back then. It towed a cart that I put stuff in and pedaled up and down the sidewalks endlessly. I loved that little tractor.  The landlord was kind enough to let me store it in their garage which had no door at the time. I remember the rains of Hurricane Diane, lots of it. I remember the WESO bulletins and my motherís worried expressions. I saw the water rising in the streets and then the cars and trucks stopped driving by.  I remember the Civil Defense boats coming down Everett Street!  I donít know why we werenít evacuated, but I guess the authorities felt we were safer there for the time being.  But the worst, the worst part of that whole thing to me wasÖto my horror, I saw my little tractor floating down the driveway and swept down the street, never to be seen again.

Ken Silvestri

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