We all know that Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of our family, as well as motherhood, and maternal bonds of mothers in society. Mothers are the most important women ever to influence our lives. Everyone born into this world has a natural and immediate bond with their mom.
Growing up in Medfield presented a microcosm of the greater world around us where many families sometimes resided very close to one another. The nuclear family was considered to be the center piece of our society. The town of Medfield nurtured the experience of family by bringing many people together in their neighborhoods.
The Nyren family lived on Johns Avenue, part of a tight-knit community in Medfield’s first housing development, built in the years after 1945, when returning veterans and the ensuing baby boom caused a housing shortage across the country. The houses were almost identical but sturdily built Capes on small lots in an area bounded by Green, Summer, Pine, and North Streets. A strong sense of neighborhood and community quickly developed.
Paul and Mary Teresa Nyren had 11 children – 10 boys and a girl. While Mr. Nyren worked Monday through Friday as an engineer, Mrs. Nyren ran the household where she economized by stocking the jumbo sized freezer down in the basement of the home with loafs of Wonder Bread, meat, frozen vegetables and other groceries. Food didn’t last long in that household!
During the summer months she kept a close eye on the above-ground swimming pool where all of her kids could swim along with their friends at a backyard barbecue with hamburgers and hot dogs.
Mary Teresa was a tireless individual with a great sense of humor, always supportive of her kids from childhood to adulthood. She spoke her mind and offered thoughtful advice when asked. Her family read the daily Boston Globe with a special interest in the heftier, expansive Sunday edition. Mrs. Nyren would read that newspaper from front to back while entirely devoted to her family, a courageous woman who learned early what life was all about, after she took a crash course from the school of familial hard knocks. Both she and her husband were the glue who kept the gargantuan family moving forward.
The Curry family lived up on Green Street Extension, a name given to the part of the street past Summer Street that was unpaved until the 1950s. Margaret “Peg” and Ronald Curry had five sons and two daughters. Three of those kids grew up in the Great Depression; the last, born in 1947, was Bobby, who became an excellent athlete and scholar.
Peg worked as an LPN at Medfield State Hospital. She loved children and was always at home ready and waiting for Bobby and his friends to return after climbing Three Pine Hill, from the top of which you could see Medfield center. On the way back to the Curry house, kids enjoyed jumping over the numerous streams that ran along a good deal of the trail and pathways. When we arrived back at Bobby’s house Mrs. Curry greeted us with her mild and engaging Nova Scotia accent and would be ready to send us home with some cookies or maybe even a baloney sandwich with mayonnaise. She knew growing boys always had an appetite.
At 22 Pleasant Street, Fran and Connie Scribner raised a family of six children – Peter, Paul, Michael, Ginny, Judy, and Steven. If Mrs. Nyren was a scrappier individual, Mrs. Scribner projected a cool, calm and collected persona. All of her children were successful in their chosen field. Her daughter, Ginny, born with Down Syndrome, worked many years at Building 19 in Norwood. Ginny, with her big smile, was often honored as Employee of the Month as she made coffee for customers and worked the checkout line and stockroom.
During Hurricane Carol in late August of 1954, a giant spruce tree crashed into the right side of the Scribner’s home. That tree was the topic of conversation and consternation for two months until it was finally removed. Mom Scribner continued to raise all of her family after her husband, Fran, died at a relatively young age; he was one of the first people to undergo open heart surgery, from which he survived for a year. Connie was enthusiastic, distinguished and a very thoughtful mother who also taught elementary school children.
At 29 Pleasant Street, the Temple family lived next to Dr. Stagg’s house. Betty Temple (who had gone to elementary school with Connie Scribner in Roslindale) and husband Fred raised a family of five in a large white house that had horse chestnut trees in the front near the sidewalk along with a spacious back yard with a kids’ clubhouse.
Mrs. Temple was sophisticated, modest, and soft spoken and wrote numerous short humorous articles that were published in newspapers and magazines of the era. Among their five children were twin girls born in 1947, Susan and Cynthia, popular classmates of this writer. Mom Betty and dad Fred founded the Medfield Writer’s Group which met often and enabled participants to share and critique their writings. Mrs. Temple once asked me what I wanted to do with my writing and I told her I’d like to write and eventually be an author. She responded by saying, “It’s a tough way to make a living.” However, she mentioned she would be forever supportive of a writer just starting out in the profession.
Lastly but not least, this story ends with Mrs. “Dee” Flaherty who was married to my father, Mr. Ed Flaherty, for 50 years and lived at 15 Rear Pleasant Street, all within close proximity of most of the other families mentioned here. My mother took great joy in loving, feeding and raising all of her five children. As far as she was concerned, her children and her devoted husband, Ed, were all who mattered in life.
My mother always kept faith in the system, in humanity and in what she thought was the innate goodness of the people in her world. She liked Elvis Presley, and enjoyed listening to his music. She marveled over the fact that Elvis was born on her birthday, January 8. She was born in 1916, while the King was born in 1935. Mom also enjoyed the music of Lawrence Welk and never missed watching his television show, even after it went into syndication. Her and my dad’s favorite music of all had to be the Big Band sound – Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey and Glen Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra – albums they play to unwind after a hard day’s work.
As a child, I’ll always remember how fun-loving and affectionate my mother was. If I didn’t want the school lunch, she would make me my favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich or maybe a toasted BLT.
She was a very beautiful and sensitive woman and those qualities came through in her artwork, especially painting in water colors or drawing in pastels. This was a talent she would pass down to all of her children as well as grandchildren.
My mother grew up in an Italian household on Frairy Street. She learned to make Italian tomato sauce from her mother. It was a recipe that had been passed down for generations. Everyone who ever ate my mother’s spaghetti with her sauce raved about the flavor. I remember how my mother would make a pound of spaghetti and top it off with her sauce in preparation for special occasions, like a Boy Scout banquet or a regional 4-H Club dinner. That platter of food was the first food eaten all the time. People just loved her Italian cooking.
In 1999 on Mother’s Day I decided to give my mother a cat that I had adopted from the Medfield Animal Shelter. As she was living on Pleasant Street, I thought she would enjoy the company of this very affectionate and loyal pet.
It was the late winter of that year, and mice had gotten into the basement of the house. Gramma Dee, as she was known to her grandchildren, liked having the cat for company and decided to call her Blue, because of her coat color. Within just a few days the cat was able to rid the house of mice and a golden mood enraptured their home.
Gramma Dee grew to cherish Blue, and the cat in turn would nudge her way into Gramma Dee’s ankles. It was the cat’s way of showing thanks to Gramma Dee for giving her a home. As their bond grew stronger, their lives mutually expressed a goodness and union of two hearts and minds, both thinking and beating as one.
My mother was Dee Flaherty and she was the most important woman in our family lives. She taught me, along with my brothers and sisters, to love and embrace life. It is now with that same spirit that we all believe just a little more in heaven.