Friday, November 26, 1999
Carlisle Comments: To the younger residents of Carlisle
If I, a perfect stranger, say "Hi!" to you at the post office or transfer station as you rush about addressing the multitude of tasks confronting most young suburban families today, it is because that's the way it was when my wife, daughter, and I moved to Carlisle in 1963. We came from Lincoln in hopes of establishing our family in a genuinely rural community, while still remaining within the commuting orbit of Cambridge, where I worked. The post office was then located on the first floor of the white apartment house located next door to Dr. Richman's office. The postmistress was Mrs. Russell, who was ably assisted by Mrs. Daisy. Both were elderly, matronly, and children of the Carlisle culture. The post office was a social center, where picking up your mail was only one of the reasons you were there. The other was to interact with all the other townspeople you bumped into coming and going; plus, of course, the inevitable exchange with Mrs. Russell, who could bring you up to speed on things going on in Carlisle of which you might not yet have become aware. When our second, third and fourth children were born, Mrs. Russell and Mrs. Daisy were as glad to welcome them into the world as any more immediate family member. The post office was a place where "small townness" and a sense of community shone in all their glory, a fun place to go.
It was very much the same at the dump, which was what it was called prior to its promotion to a transfer station. The dump was open-faced with the bank towering over Lowell Street at the bottom of the dip, over which you threw your trash. Cars would drive in, turn around and back up to the edge of the bank. On a Saturday morning, all the spaces along the bank would be taken from time to time, primarily because the dumpers would fall into familiar conversation with the drivers of the cars parked on either side. It was often hard not to feel some pressure as you became engrossed in conversation which you wanted to continue, while knowing that others were waiting to occupy the space you would eventually vacate. You knew almost everyone at the dump, and if by chance an unfamiliar face appeared, you assumed that they were new arrivals in Carlisle and welcomed them with a cheery "Hi!"
The post office moved to the old Congregational Church, and in addition to Mrs. Russell and Mrs. Daisy, a new young guy by the name of Rick Moscatel came aboard, along with Mary MacPherson. Together, as they doubled the number of employees, they doubled the fun of the post office experience.
In response to Carlisle's growth, the post office has become a modern mail factory which takes in packages and grinds out envelopes. For many reasons including environmental concerns, the transfer station has become a giant trash receptacle. Both are now negotiated with alacrity and minimum social interaction.
It is hard, over thirty-six years in Carlisle, not to hark back during a post office or transfer station visit to the old days of warmth and community spirit which were such a blessing at the time and, once there in my mind, to see you and say "Hi!
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito