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Town of Norfolk Massachusetts
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Norfolk Stories II - Introduction

Having lived in Norfolk all of my married life, working in the Town Clerks Office for several years, I eventually became interested in Norfolk History. That was my motivation for joining the Norfolk Historical Commission in 1980. Over the years, I got to know many people in town and thought it would be fascinating to record their recollections about life in Norfolk -growing up, serving their communities and for many, choosing to live the rest of their lives in this little town. It was suggested that I write down some of the events that stand out in my memory about Norfolk.  

The most spectacular event was the celebration on the Norfolk Centennial in 1970. Young and old enjoyed the shenanigans of the Brothers of the Brush and the Centennial Belles and many participated in their doings. Life was simpler. People knew their neighbors and they helped one another. Town Meeting was held in the grammar school auditorium in the 1950’s and was quite eventful, at times, as were the board meetings that were not taped back then.

The woods and fields were open territory to young nut and berry pickers. Swimming was done at City Mills Pond, Cressbrook, Mann’s Pond, Stony Brook and Town Pond. There were bonfires at City Mills, Sharon’s property on Dedham Street, carnivals on Town Hill, St. Jude’s and the Federated Church. Stanley Chilson filmed a lot of these events. Norfolk Historical Commission presented some of these films on the local television station in later years.

The train was an important method of shipping produce, chickens and eggs to Boston. Highland Lake Grove Park drew thousands, including Rutherford B. Hayes, to enjoy the racetrack, restaurants, boats rides and other lake activities.  

Homes and some establishments were used as offices for the Town Clerk, Tax Collector and Treasurer before the old Town Hall on Main Street became available. People coped with few necessities trying to provide for their families and did not have the modern conveniences of today. Ice, coal, milk, bakery, meat and fish deliveries, as well as produce, were made to homes. Mothers stayed at home and preserved and canned fruits and vegetables; sewed, knitted, crocheted and cared for the animals and gardens along with the well being of the family. Children dressed appropriately for church and school changing their clothes to play in. Wardrobes were limited and stores were also. Since there were no clothing stores in town, parents drove either by horse and buggy, or by car to the nearest town to purchase them.

The people who lived through these times and told their stories have provided to us a priceless gift. I hope you will find these stories as entertaining and informative as it was for me to sit and listen to them.

Thelma Ravinski

Norfolk Town Hall, One Liberty Lane, Norfolk MA 02056  Phone: 508-528-1408
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