Hopedale History
    June 15, 2014
    No. 254
    Al Tarca

    Hopedale in June

    Hopedale High graduation - stills and video on YouTube.

    Thanks to Erik Kahler of Mendon (West River Technology) for a wonderful addition to Peter Hackett's
    historic hike of Hopedale and Mendon. It's an interactive Google Earth view of the hike area which allows
    you to bring up more information on each of the sites mentioned by Hackett. Here's a link to the page about
    the hike. Near the bottom of the page, you'll find a link to the Google Earth page.

    The Milford Historical Commission will tour some of the famous Milford Pink granite quarries. If you are
    interested in joining a group, we will meet in front of St. Mary's Church on Winter Street at 1:30 pm on
    Saturday, June 14 with a rain date of Sunday, June 15. More on this at the bottom of the website version of
    the June 1 ezine.

    During the past two weeks I've made additions to The Friends of Elders Shop (press release, name
    change to Curiosity Shoppe of Hopedale, etc.)     William (the artist) Draper (Draper's portrait of President
    Kennedy, plus a newspaper photo of him painting the statue of his grandfather in Milford.)     New Homes
    Built in the 1940s (Several more Milford News articles about the post-war building boom.)     Tupper Lake  
    (Additional information on Draper's bobbin plant at Tupper Lake, New York, sent by Bill Wright.)     


    The sight of the airplane bound from New York to Boston which passed over Milford shortly before 3 o'clock
    yesterday afternoon so low that the exhaust from the motors could be heard plainly on the ground sent a
    thrill through the minds of several in Milford and Hopedale, for they feared for a few minutes that it was an
    enemy plane. Children were hurried into homes. Prayers were offered for their safety and there was much
    excitement until the mail-carrying plane soared off in the direction of Boston. Milford Daily Journal, June 7,

    Hopedale, the home of the largest cotton loom manufacturing plant in the world, and one of the richest
    towns in the state, now boasts a tax rate of $25 per thousand, a cut of $2 over the 1939 rate, making one of
    the lowest tax rates in the state. Milford Daily News, May 7, 1940


    Click here if you'd like to go to the full version of Al's memories, including much about one of the ships he
    served on during World War II.

                                                                                          Al Tarca

    I grew up on Hayward Street in the Plains in Milford. There was a hill on East Walnut Street where we would
    slide in the winter. In the summer we'd go swimming and we'd pick blueberries. We'd swim in the quarries.
    The ones off of Route 16. We'd often go to Dodd's Quarry. We called it the BA beach. No girls, no clothes. I
    learned to swim in an area of the quarry called the bathtub. It was very shallow. I lost my balance there
    once, and fell into the deep part. I did the dog paddle to shore, and ever since then I've been able to swim.
    In time I learned how to do all the other common strokes.

    Another quarry we'd sometimes go to was Quirk's. It's right near where the Stop & Shop is now. The places
    we'd dive from had names. The low couch, the high couch, the chair, the peak, and the running jump. It was
    a feather in you cap if you could make that jump.

    We'd do our blueberrying wherever there were high tension wires. Later on we'd go to Rosenfeld's sandpit
    in Hopedale. There was a swamp back there where we'd get them. We'd pick them and sell them. During
    the summers, my father would work at B.H. Bristow Draper's estate as a gardener. The cook's name was
    Delia. I don't know her last name. She asked my father if I'd pick blueberries for her so that she could
    surprise Mr. Draper with them. I walked over there from the Plains to deliver them.

    I had a paper route, starting when I was eight years old. When I was ten, I had two routes and I hired kids to
    help me. I had the routes until I graduated from high school.

    Kids used to play marbles a lot in those days. I came up with an idea of my own. I had a board that I'd set
    upright. It had grooves at the bottom with numbers over them. If a kid tossed his marble and it went through
    the opening, he'd win as many marbles as the number was. If it didn't go through, I'd keep his marble. I won
    a lot of marbles with that game. It was like my little casino.

    After high school, before I went into the service, I used to hang around at a place they called the Hearts of
    Ben. It was on East Main Street in the Plains. During the week we'd play cards for peanuts and soda. On
    weekends they'd play poker there. I'd watch them. They'd play five card stud. The house would get a take on
    every pot. At the end of the night,  the house would have all the money. That's when I learned not to go to the

    I went to work at Porter Shoe in Milford. Drapers wasn't hiring at that time, but eventually I got a job there. I
    worked at the sewer plant. The town didn't own it. It belonged to Drapers. In 1984, Rockwell turned the
    sewer facility over to the town. When owned by Rockwell, they weren't eligible for any state aid to improve
    the plant, but the town would be, so it was turned over to the town. After some time working in the sewer
    plant, I went to the shop and worked in the drill room. During the time when I was in the drill room, I went to
    Wentworth nights where I took a steam course. Then the war broke out, and in 1942 I joined the Navy.

    I was on a tin can. (destroyer) On one trip we escorted a merchant ship convoy bringing supplies to
    Murmansk, Russia. We were at the invasion of Oran and Casablanca in North Africa, and also Sicily and
    other places in Italy. We were part of the invasion of southern France. We came back to the States and I
    was transferred to another ship. It was a merchant ship converted for amphibious work. It could carry LCMs
    (landing craft, machinery) and LCVPs. (landing craft, vehicle, personnel).

    Seventy years ago today (June 4) we were in England, getting ready to invade Normandy. On D-Day, we lay
    off with a mother ship, near other ships, maybe 100 yards or so offshore. We dropped these boats into the
    water. We had troops aboard along with half-tracks, and armored cars also. We'd load them onto the boats,
    and off they'd go to shore. D-Day was seventy years ago this week. June 6, 1944. Al Tarca, June 2104

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Al Tarca, on left, outside his office at the Draper power plant.

The Achenar - the second ship Al served on.