I happened to be looking through the 1950 annual town report this week – interesting similarities and wow! contrasts then vs. now.
|Population||4,549 (incl. 2000+ at hosp.)||12,024 (2010 census)|
|School population||484 (24 in senior class)||2,634 (240 seniors)|
|School budget*||$88,000||$33 million (up 375%!)|
|Property valuation||$3.2 million||$2.5 billion (up 781%)|
|Town debt owed||$360,000||$56 million|
|Library books**||10,000||92,417 total holdings|
|Births||58||96 (in 2010)|
|Deaths***||25 (plus 115 at hospital!)||69|
|Field Driver/Fence Viewer||3||1|
|Police Dept personnel****||3||17|
*The school superintendent, George C. Roy, lived at 67 North Street (aka the Cushman house), which, after a long period of neglect, is being restored.
**The entire librarian staff was paid a total of $1,460.
***The contrast in the death rate among Medfield residents (1%) and state hospital patients (5%) I find perplexing and disturbing. If it were a regular medical hospital, with sick people in it, you’d expect a significant number of patients would die of their illnesses. But since it was a mental hospital, I’d assume that a goodly percentage of the patients would be in decent physical health, and their high mortality rate would suggest negligent or incompetent treatment. Do any readers have thoughts on this?
**** Police Chief Coleman J. Hogan’s salary was $3,708. The two officers’ salaries totaled $4,189.
*****The murder occurred in early February, 1950.
The murder is an intriguing story with many questions, which are unanswered at this writing. Hogan wrote nothing in the 1950 report about the murder other than the digit “1” in the column.
I called former police chief Bill Mann; he didn’t remember anything about it. He said at the time it happened, in his pre-police and pre-Army days, he was driving a cab for Newell’s Taxi in Medfield, and he really knew everything that was going on in town. He mentioned reading, years ago, parts of Hogan’s police diary.
Current police chief Bob Meaney was away for several days when I tried to call.
I Googled Medfield murder 1950. There were no stories from the Globe or the Herald. There were two short and very similar items from wire services that had been picked up not locally, but in the Cincinnati Inquirer and the Chicago Tribune (next to an ad for a new Hotpoint automatic washer for $300 and a companion dryer for $250, when the average family income was $4,236):
Mother Admits Drowning Baby in Washbowl
Medfield, Mass. – A 31-year-old wife was held on a murder charge after Police Chief Coleman J. Hogan told him she held her nine-week-old daughter under water in a bathroom washbowl. The report of three physicians who performed an autopsy, however, said the infant died of manual strangulation.
The wife, Mrs. Marion DeVou, was ordered held without bail by District Judge Gilbert W. Cox of Dedham court for grand jury.
She was arraigned a few hours after Chief Hogan said she unlocked a bathroom door for a physician, who found the child’s lifeless body in the washbowl.
Hogan quoted Mrs. DeVou as saying the child was one of twins born to her Dec. 6, 1949. The other twin died at birth. Hogan said Mrs. DeVou told him she left her Cohasset home two weeks ago after a “squabble” with her husband James, a Boston production engineer, and had been staying with her parents in Medfield.
Google found no follow-up stories. If any reader knows more about this murder, please speak up.