The Journals of
J. R. Reid Sr.1937-1943

Memorable Cars 1937

Our first car, a Reo, was a thing of beauty. It was a touring car, 1930 model, and had a sleek black body and the interior was upholstered with a beautiful blue plush fabric. It was a comfortable riding car and would attain a speed of forty five miles per hour without difficulty. It was five years old when we bought it in 1935, and it cost the magnanimous sum of fifty dollars.

We loved that car, but there was one drawback in owning such a luxury automobile, it only averaged ten miles to the gallon of gas, and this created a severe financial hardship for us on our annual trip home to Nova Scotia.

In 1936 we turned our beautiful Reo in for a 1933 Hudson Terraplane at an additional cost of one hundred dollars. This little car was a joy to own and operate. It was light, dainty and speedy and was trouable free. Not only that, but the gas consumption of twenty-three miles to the gallon was very much in line with our budget.

In 1937 we learned that my sister, Isabelle Jennings and her two children, Douglas and Mary had been deserted by Austin Jennings and left stranded in Cleveland Ohio. We sent for them and they came by train, arriving in Melrose about ten days later. Hypo therir big dog, also arrived with them.

They lived with us for a year. It was a happy year that we shared together. Happy that is for everybody except Hypo, who after a fight with another dog developed a tumor on his jaw and had to be put to sleep.

Dad wrote Isabelle and suggested that she and the children come to Nova Scotia to live, as his little house on the hill was vacant and they could live there. My three older sisters, my two brothers and I were all born in this house. My four younger sisters were all born in the house down by the roadside.

My vacation was scheduled for June, and when the time arrived we were all prepared and eager for the annual trip to Nova Scotia and home. At 5 am June 20, 1938 our little Terraplane was all loaded; a trunk strapped on the rear luggage carrier, suit cases strapped onto the right hand running board, which made it impossible to enter the car from that side. Fortunately, it was four door car and we had access by the doors on the left hand side.

The eight of us: Isabell and her children, Doug, age sixteen and Mary thirteen; Elva and I with our children: Wallace age seven, John age five and Joseph two and one-half all climbed into our little five passenger Terraplane and were on our way. We had packed lunches and about every hundred miles or so we would stop to stretch our legs or have a bite to eat.

We travelled the scenic coastal route #1 as far as Bucksport, Maine, and then IA to Bangor. From there we took route #9, the so called "Airline route" to Calais Maine. This was a narrow, dirt road the entire distance with many steep hills and sharp curves. Some of the hills presented a challenge, one memorable hill in particular. It was a hot day, our car was overloaded, and the motor was heating to the extent that five of the passengers had to get out and walk up the hill in order for us to make the steep grade. But make it, we did. We had covered ninety-eight miles through the woods in about five hours.

We crossed the border at Calais into St. Stevens, where we had supper and spent the night in the "Better Duck-in" cabins. In the morning, we headed for St Gerge, a distance of abouat twenty miles. This road was under construction and was a washboard disaster, but we survived that ordeal also. The rest of the trip home through St. John, on to Moncton and then into Nova Scotia, through Amherst and on to Truro through the Wentworth Valley was a breeze. It was late afternoon when we arrived, tired but happy, at Elva's home in Wittenburg. We had travelled seven hundred and fifty miles since leaving Melrose. In spite of the serious over-load, that little Terraplane never gave us any trouble, not even a flat tire.

"Beautiful things do, indeed, come in small packages"

Prone # 6 circa 1937

My wife Elva tells me that I should write about the happy and not the unhappy events of my life.

I wish to assure her, and you, that my life has been one long happy event, and she and our children have been what made it that way. The accidents that I have written about does not mean that I have been an unhappy individual looking for sympathy. On the contrary, in no way did I seek to convey the impression. To me, they were potentially serious, yet humorous situations that were part of my youth.

Life on the farm was years of hard work and long working hours. Although I was glad to leave the farm when I was sixteen, yet I feel that those years were highly beneficial to me.They molded my character, gave me a strong, muscular body and taught me that I was master of my own destiny.

If I had my life to live over again there would be little that I would change. I would marry the same wonderful girl, and would wish for the same marvelous children. But I would try to be a better husband and father. Also more considerate of fellow men.

Up to this point, I have told you only about the major accidents that happened during my youth in Nova Scotia.

I left the farm in 1924 and came to Melrose, Mass. Elva joined me, as my bride, six years later.

I have had numerous accidents during my adult life, each of which, in the span of a lifetime, were just incidents of momentary inconvenience.

So as not to bore you further, I will speak briefly of the most memorable:

Instead of attending the New York World's Fair, Elva and I decided that we would spend the money on two new chandeliers for our living room ceilings. The globes for the old fixtures had long since been broken. We shopped at Jordan Marsh and found two Spanish chandeliers that we liked very well.

While we were waiting for their delivery, in order to save time, I would take down the old fixtures. This was a mistake: Apparently they had been converted from gaslight to electric many years before, and I found that the nuts would not move with an ordinary end wrench.

So while standing on a step ladder, I used a monkey wrench, using much force. Climax: the wrench slipped, striking me on the forehead above the right eyebrow, resulting in emergency hospitalization and stitches.

Anti-climax: I had to hire an electrician to take down the old and install the new fixture.

Moral of this story:
"If you can't handle the wrench,
Leave it on the bench."

There was always someone or others that lived with the Reids at 146 W. Wyoming Ave. The following is a reconstruction of times, faces and accounts of the many who shared living space and company with John and Elva. Some were invited out of financial necessity - others because of compassion and hospitality.

1929: Living at the house, when John and Elva were married was Annie Gainford, from Demarara River, Georgetown, Guyana (West Indies). "Aunt Nan", who wore a red wig, was a friend of Grandmother Keene - who still owned the house. Nan lived in the house for 2-3 years. (She is remember as a kind woman with a rather raspy voice; she used to come to dinner in later years during holidays and played the piano for us).

Annie, with John's permission, rented some rooms to a midget and her boyfriend, circus performers who worked the Carney scene at Revere Beach. Although John could not prove they were stealing, the suspicions were strong enough for him to ask them to leave. Later, when Grandmother Keene came to visit from Barbados and noticed many of her treasures missing, Elva was accused of that larceny, taking the items and giving them to her twin sister. John straightened that one out, but it was an uncomfortable beginning for a new wife in a strange country, far from home.

From 1932-1937 "My Mom" Smith, her children: Laurel (a male nurse at New England Sanitarium) Myrtle, as well as their dog, and, later, two state children, who stayed in the "bunk room" were the next to arrive. John gave them notice to leave almost five years later when he discovered bedbugs coming from their room. It was during this period of time that the three boys were born to the Reid family: Wallace, 1931; John Jr. 1933; and Joseph,1935.

In 1937, Grandmother Keene died in Bridgetown, Barbados. Her will left the house to John and his brothers and sisters. John took out a mortgage, and purchased their shares in the house even before the settlement of the estate. He then installed a bathroom upstairs, and partitioned part of the upstairs as an apartment.

Isabel Jennings (John's oldest sister) and her two children, Mary and Doug (husband abandoned them in Cleveland) next were invited to live with the Reids. Isabel eventually inherited the bulk of Grandmother Keene's estate and moved back to Elmsvale, Nova Scotia. Doug, eventually a United Church of Canada minister and missionary to India, used to sell doughnuts door to door from a store on Main Street, Melrose. He was forgetful, though; once mailing a candy bar instead of the letter he had in the other hand.
1938-1942: Bob and Adell Morris and daughter, Ruthy moved into the apartment. Bob stuttered. The Morris' moved a few blocks west after his mother died.

1942: Fred and Helen Hogkins, ( a not very successful sex writer - who often had his wife pose for him, claiming that helped him write). Mrs Hogkins worked outside the home, he stayed home and cleaned the house. Had a daughter, and then a son, Steve. Eventually moved into his parent's home a few blocks east.

1943: a daughter, Angela Marguerite was born

1943: Mrs Bushee and daughter, Barbara (who had singing aspirations). Mrs Bushee used to complain about the noises the three boys made, and yet encouraged her daughter to sing at inopportune hours. She became angry at Angela crawling up to visit her. Her stay was obviously short term.

1944-1945: Charlotte Crane and son, Richie, later joined by husband Richard when his tour with the navy was up. A delightful family to have in the house. Richie and Angel were good playmates.

1946: Bill and Merle Southam, John's nephew from Ontario, stayed with the Reids right after their marriage and until they found an apartment in Cambridge where he was in the Ph.D program in Chemistry at M.I.T.. Merle was fun to have around, as she knew French extremely well. Bill was sharp and had a good sense of humor.

1947-1949: Paul and Isabel Bourneuf and son, Peter. Paul made his living by playing piano in bars. While drunk one night he shot holes in the attic roof while target practicing. Elva cared for Peter for two years while Isabel worked.

1949-1950: Marilyn Cooper and illegitimate son, David. She worked at Brigham's restaurant - later married and had twins. Elva cared for David, a guaranteed handful!

1950-1951: Mrs Crosby and sons, Terry and Jon. She was accepted as a tenant before telling John that she had two sons. Terry once stole kerosene from the basement tank to use in his Crosley car - and put the Reid cat in a bag in the basement and used it as a punching bag. He worked at the local horse stables and would come to the table without washing up first. Jon would spy on his mother when she dressed. Mrs Crosby would wax her legs and sit for hours in front of a fan blowing over a pan of ice cubes.
1951-1954: Gail Adams came to live with the Reids during the week, at the the request of her grandfather. Gail's parents were divorced and mother worked. Angel was forced to have her sleep with her. Gail was insecure, often demanding and stole things from Angel

1954-1955: Everett Nickerson, a friendly bachelor from Nova Scotia, and attending Seminary in Boston. He was a friend of Wally's at Acadia University. He impressed the boys with the number of shaves he could get from one razor by sharpening them on the inside of a drinking glass! Told corny jokes. He married while there and both lived at the house before moving to a church in Malden, Mass.

1955: Pamela Billings was brought to the house one Sunday afternoon by her mother, who was suffering from a breakdown. She asked Elva to care for her baby. Pamela's parents were separated, but would come Sunday afternoons to play with Pamela. John and Elva would have adopted Pamela had her parents not decided to get back together.

1960: Mrs. Oppenheimer, a nice old German lady who was bedridden. Elva would bring the meals, change the bedding, and generally care for her. Mrs Oppenheimer would walk a hundred steps around her bed after each meal.

1961-1964: Julius Clark, a heavy-smoking, always coughing, former newspaper reporter. He moved into the back bedroom, ate his meals out, but lived in that room most of the time, listening to every opera program he could on the radio.

1970: Pauline Lewis, from Fredrickton, New Brunswick - a friend of Josie Nickerson, came to live for the school year while attending MIT to be a school superintendent.
compiled by John R. Reid Jr.

UFO? 1943

Much has been written regarding UFO's and probably I can add little of additional interest, but I will tell my story anyway and perhaps you can explain to me what it was tht I observed.

It was during WW11 in the early fall of 1943. I had been rejected by the armed forces due to a back injury that I had acquired in my youth. Needless to say, I felt badly aabout beign classified 4F so I applied for a defense job, moon-lighting 6pm to 11:15pm five nights a week at Hersey Pape Lining lkCompany. This was in addition to a forty hour week tht I was working in the Ration Banking Department of the First National Bank.

For two years I worked this shift. I would arrive home from Boston at 5pm, hastily eat supper and then peddle my bicycle to the plant, which was located in the old Converse Rubber FActory on Washington Street, Melrose. At that timek, ghe whole triangle of land bordered by Washington, Gould and Pleasant streets was a vacant field.

I was riding down Washington Street at dusk that evening, on my way to work when, suddenly, from over Boston Rock in the east, there approached a transluscent lighted object. It was in the form of a dirigible and appeared to be about forty feet long. An eeried blue light filled the entire body of the object and a chill of fear ran down my spine as I stood there observing it. I felt tthis wasn't anything that belonged to earth. Why was it poised there motionless unless something within it was also observing me?

Was it my imagination, or were there faintly moving shadows within the luminous lighted object? It was broadside to me, at an altitude of about fifty feet aned remained there, motionless, approximately one hundred anf fifty feet fraom me, for three or four minutess. Then it slowly gained altitude and in a flash it streaked over the treess and disappeared over Elephant Rock in the southwest of Melrose.

There could be a logical explanation for the appearance of the flying object, but to me, it remains un-identified."