I have learned a lot from doing family history. One thing that I have learned is to assess a body of work. In other words, when I asked Grampy to write down a historical picture of his life, what is important is not only what he wrote, but what he didn’t. The silence of topic is as important as the conversation. When you read his version of history, please note that what he mentions is what he wants you to know, and what he doesn’t mention is what he does not want to be prominent.
Here is The Olden Days, by Alfred Thomas Balentine.
(This is a 6 page document hand written by Alfred Balentine while he lived in Iowa for the purpose of passing on his memories to be preserved in family history. It is handwritten in pen with many scribbles and corrections. I have neither edited text nor spelling as the original is from his hand.)
Here starts my Grandfathers hand written story for me to pass onto you.
Olden Days 1929
As far back as I remember about 1929, being I was born in 1919.The Blacksmith shop was owned by George Grey and my father worked with him for about 10 years. George Grey then retired and left the shop to my father, William Balentine.
My father worked in the shop by himself for about 10 years. In those days he would have a lot of horses to shoe. I can remember as a little fellow seeing as many as 6 or 7 waiting to have new shoes.
There wasn’t many auto those days and the trolley cards would go by on tracks with a crossing bypass on Washington St. and it went to Abington Center to Rockland and back then to No. Abington throu Howard Corner Washington St to Abington Again. My father would have two long horses from Little Fred Wyman’s Nursery in No Abington on Adams St come to the shop. Horses has never had shoes so they would have to put a oak twist on the lower lip and twist it to take the attention away from him working on his hoof. So my brother and I had to hold the twist. We were 10-12 years old. Ice was delivered by wagon from Island grove. Meat and Groceries were delivered by horse and wagon from Abington Center.
The owners would leave there wagon and horse at the shop when they were through with their delivery and they would walk home.
When my father was through shoeing the horses he would harness them to the wagons and tie the reins up in the wagon and send them home by themselves. Being near feeding time, they would go right home to their barn.
So then came those funny gasoline wagons and so went the trolley cars. Also the horse slowed way down and the busy old shop was very slow and my father lost his wife and he had children to raise so he started making oak wheel barrels to sell. He was also a carpenter and was to make wagon and wagon wheel at the blacksmith shop. He at one time made an ice Boat for someone from Abington.
But as everything was changing so fast, he had to give up the shop as he couldn’t make enough money to feed and cloth all of us so he went to carpentry.
I remember thing was so slow that he did a lot of work in the Blacksmith shop for the wonderful Mr. Griffin’s milk farm. And at Christmas times for two years Mr.Griffin gave my father money so we could have Christmas Dinner. He was the kindest man I ever met. We always went out to visit him and see the animals at the farm. I always remember his daughter Mary Griffin and Jim and Esther.
A lot of people would stop at the Blacksmith shop to visit him, tell stories and watch him work. As my father did a lot of rot iron fancy work for door hinges for barns and houses. One of the men was John L. Sullivan the boxer as he used to live in West Abington. His estate is still there today.
There is a big stone, like a mill stone that was used to put the steel rims on the wooden wheel. The steel rim was placed on the stone and small pieces of woof be places all over it. Then set on fire to get I the right temperature.
Then the wooden inside od the wheel witch was made in the shop was mold down back and placed in the millstones after the steel rim and hammered on very evenly and cooled very slowly.The rim and wheel would last until the rim wore out.
The big barn down back was built to keep the wagons in until they were reaped or completely built.
We also had a lot of fun in Abington. I started my first grade in Dunbar school in Abington.
Then my farther sent us to Adams Street school in No. Abington, there I graduated and went to work to help out at home.
I worked for Atwood and Co. for 6 years and then started work in heavy equipment. I have a lot of wonderful friends in Abington and No. Abington and So. Weymouth where my wonderful wife lived with me. I am happy to think of all the fun we had at Island Grove.
Years ago there was a band concert every weekend and we use to rent a canoe and paddle around the pond and hear the music.
There used to be groups come from towns around the Brockton, Rockland, Whitman, Hanover to have Company picnics. That is where I met my wife, Sara Kohler and was married for 57 years.
The buses came in from the back side and parked. There was a wonderful path that started at the left of the Bus Park and want around the over by the swimming beach and band stand, back up to the Archway and down to the left and around north end of the pouin back to the bus parking lot.
It was a very lovely world for people young and old.
Many years ago there was a heavy growth of pine trees that made it pretty and the big hurricane took a lot of the beautiful pines down. My wife and I up until 10 years ago, still use to walk the trail. We have a lot of good memories of the grove, the bridge and the archway. Even as my lovely wife is gone, my children and grandchildren still have wonderful memories of Island Grove.
Alfred T. Balentine Sr.