Conclusion of a 3-part story
By Gus Widmayer
GROTON -- When he was young, to beat the heat, Win Sherwin would swim in the Squannacook River, though it was so wide and swift up behind Townsend Road that the boys used to consider it a feat just to make it to the island at its center. There was an old tree on that island that was long ago reduced to a stump. If a boy made it to the island, he would stand up proudly on that stump.
I asked about swimming in the Nashua River when it was polluted.
"A young man, much older than I was at the time, but about 25 years old, by the name of Lawrence drowned in the Nashua River. I was so young that I believed it was the river that killed him. That was enough to keep me away for a lifetime."
In the old days, they used to blow the whistle at H & V as a warning signal when fire broke out in West Groton. The only other time they blew that whistle was to impart school closings during winter.
"If it wasn't winter and that whistle blew, you knew there was a fire in town," Win told me. Every four or five houses in those days used a "party line" and were assigned a telephone number, such as 429. If you had wanted to ring someone in one of those homes, you used to have to dial the number 429 and then indicate the number of times the phone should ring. If it was 429 followed by four rings then it meant the call was coming in for the fourth house down the line. Win chuckled and confided in me, "If you wanted
Our genial visit was interrupted by a beautiful red cardinal coming to feed at the siblings' back yard feeder.
"His bride will be along any minute now," Win Sherwin relayed. We sat in wonder for a few moments at the beauty of nature just outside their window when I made my goodbyes. I asked Mr. Sherwin if he had any advice for the young men and women of West Groton.
"Behave yourself," he offered. "When I was young, I was always kind to my elders."
His sister Helen added: "That is true. He sang in church and at minstrel shows, and played piano."
Good clean living was the message I received, and one I relay here to every reader. Win and his sister Helen are sorry to see the West Groton Post Office close. They are good friends with Postmaster Toni Marhefka.
Despair not, however. They still plan to have her over once a month for cards and social time. If you want to see Win and Helen, stop in on any Sunday morning at Tiny's Restaurant in Ayer, where they go for breakfast. The proprietors wanted to keep a reserved table for Mr. Sherwin but he would have none of it.
"I'll wait in line with the next man," Win declared.
Oh, and by the way, to any nonagenarian single gals out there reading this column: I know a very jovial, upstanding fellow, an eligible bachelor, just waiting to meet you. Inquire within!