Arnold at work in his darkroom.
Arnold and Maggie on their wedding day.
Arnold during his Army years.
later. She became quite a swimmer. She was one of the best swimmers at Hopedale Pond. In 1928, we
moved in with my grandmother at 29 Hopedale Street. My uncles, John, Andy and Gene Nealley were also
living there at that time. Later we moved a short distance to the Water Cure House at 33 Hopedale Street.
We were there until we moved to 2 Northrop Street in 1941.
The Water Cure House was owned by Draper Corporation. Mr. and Mrs. Draper (Fred and Abbie – not
related to the Draper Corporation family) lived there, with their son, Robert, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Klock.
(Frank and Mellissa) Robert raised houseplants and one time someone, I think probably from the Milford
News, came to take a picture of a plant that was blooming. The reason for taking the picture was that it was
a plant said to only flower once every hundred years or so. Once when we were playing baseball in the yard,
I hit the ball through a window in the Drapers’ apartment. (One of the "other Drapers.") A bit later, Mrs. Draper
knocked on our door. She had the ball in her hand, and said, “I think you want this back, Arnold.” It was no
big problem. She didn’t say, “I could have been cut by flying glass.” Everyone around us was very nice.
Another time I was playing with toy handcuffs. I handcuffed my feet together and couldn’t get them loose. My
sister went and got Mr. Klock to come up and get me out. He said he’d had handcuffs when he was a kid
and it had happened to him, too.
I became interested in photography when I was quite young; probably around twelve. A friend and I had a
darkroom at his house at the corner of Peace and Progress streets. It was a duplex, and the Callahans and
the Nelsons lived there. Our darkroom was in the cellar on the Callahan side. We bought our chemicals at
Gibbs’s Drug Store.
Uncle Andy was only two or three years older than me. He moved next door to us when the Sniders moved.
We did everything together. I can remember building model airplanes with him.
My sister, Helen, worked at Milford Shoe. She knew a girl there whose name was Margarite “Maggie” Brita.
She arranged for me to meet Maggie at the roller skating rink at Lake Nipmuc. I took the bus over there. I
think we were sixteen at the time. We started going together and were married in 1948. We lived at 39 North
Bow Street in Milford from then until 1962. Then we moved here to 155 Hopedale Street and I’ve been here
My father signed up for the Navy the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. He was 37 at the time. I went into the
Army in 1945. I was in the 25th division. We went out to the Marianas, the Philippines, and Japan. It was a
wonder that we were able to get into the harbor in the Phillipines. There were sunken ships everywhere. I
was on ship for three months, but never got seasick, thanks to advice from my father. He told me to eat
crackers and stay in the middle of the ship whenever I could.
It took about thirty-one days to get to Japan from the Philippines. That was about twice the normal time. It
took that long because of a bad storm. I remember watching a destroyer escort near us. The bow would go
way up and then the whole ship would disappear. A little later it would rise up again. In Japan I was at a
base in Jugoya. There was an airfield there and there were bomb craters all down the middle of the landing
One thing I remember from Japan is that when I was on guard duty I’d often see a Japanese couple going
out early in the morning in all kinds of weather. Then I’d see them heading back home at night. Sometimes
they’d have a little bundle of twigs that they had picked up. That would be all they’d have to keep their place
warm. I began talking to them. They were very nice. They didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Japanese,
but with the help of a Japanese phrase book, we were able to communicate. They invited me to their house
to eat a couple of times. They gave me a pair of chopsticks in a little case that had been in the family for
many years. I didn’t want to take them, but they insisted and I didn’t want to offend them. I still have them.
There were Japanese working in our mess hall. They’d wear aprons with pockets, something like a
carpenter’s. When they’d clean the tables, they’d scrape anything left on them into the pockets and take it
home to eat. There was a red-light district near the base. We’d heard the girls working there needed money
to pay their parents’ debts.
While I was in Japan, I was called to headquarters and asked if I’d like to go to radio school. Yes, I wanted to
go to radio school. It sounded a lot better than being in the infantry. I went to radio school in Japan, and then
more radio school at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. Later I reenlisted for one and a half years. (There was a
bonus for reenlisting. If you reenlisted for a year and a half, the bonus was fifty dollars for each year you’d
been in.) Some time after that, a colonel asked if any of us knew anything about photography. I said I did,
and soon after I was sent to photography school in Long Island City. That was near enough so that I came
home every weekend. The school was at the old Paramount Studio. We had lots of equipment to work with
there. I was there for about four months.
I went back to Camp Campbell as an Army photographer. One place I took pictures was in the operating
room at the camp hospital. They didn’t allow the distraction of flash bulbs going off, so I used infrared film
and an infrared flash. They were amazed at the pictures. I also took pictures in drunk driving cases. The
pictures were to show that the victim was being cared for, in case of a suit. Another job I was given there was
to develop X-rays. The men were X-rayed at the time of discharge, and a lot of them were being discharged
at that time.
Shortly after we were married, Maggie went to Italy with her mother and sister. They visited the town where
her father was from, and met many of the relatives who were still there. She loved Rome and said there was
so much to see there, that if she ever went back and had just one week in Italy, she’d spend it all in Rome.
After getting out of the Army, I went to work at Drapers. I wanted to work in the photography department with
Uncle Andy, Bernie Norton and Charlie Shanahan, but Charlie said one Nealley in that department was
enough. Before the war, I had worked in the foundry on loom sides and paint dipping, but I said I wasn’t
going back there. I went into the polish room for a couple of years. George Nichols was the boss, I think.
I built a darkroom at our North Bow Street apartment. Andy and Bernie would take pictures of couples at the
Rock Garden on 109. They’d bring me the film, I’d develop it and they’d return with the pictures before the
couples had left. The used a 4x5 press camera. I can also remember taking pictures of the guys fishing at
Nipmuc Rod and Gun. That was before spinning rods came out.
When we moved to 155 Hopedale Street, I built a darkroom here. I did wedding photography for many years.
Also, I held photography classes at my house. There would be nine or ten photographers here, and we’d
hire five or six models. I never charged the photographers. We’d each chip in and pay the would-be models,
about $25 each, I think.
Bob Hammond used to bring me lots of old Hopedale pictures and I’d make copies of them. He’d give one
of each of them to the high school, one to the Bancroft Library and one to the town hall.
I’ve been hunting and fishing since I was a kid. We used to get mainly woodcock, partridge, rabbits and
crows. I’ve probably shot about 1500 crows. Rabbits have become scarce around here in recent years. I
think it’s because there are coyotes in this area now, and more hawks than there used to be. The Nipmuc
Rod and Gun would pay a bounty on owls. You’d get a dollar each, or fifty cents for a little one. We’d hunt up
past the Parklands, going toward Upton, and in Nut Grove, south of the Hopedale-Mendon line near
Freedom Street. I’ve kept a book on what I’ve shot since 1948. I used to put turtle traps out on Hopedale
Pond to catch snappers. There are three in my book that I caught in 1948. One was 50 pounds, one was 25
and one was 15.
I was a member of the Nipmuc Rod & Gun Club. I’d always go to the clambakes there. They were great.
They’d have steamers, baked clams, lobster and watermelon. The clambakes at the Maspenock Rod & Gun
were good, too. I’d also go to the game dinners at the Fin, Fur and Feather in Millis. They’d have venison
(sometimes as meatballs, sometimes steaks), pheasant, and sometimes buffalo. The game plan there
cost $300 a year, in addition to the regular dues. One year I shot fifty-two pheasants there. There was a
place at the club where pheasants were released for hunting. We’d put out nine or ten bags of three
pheasants each. Then we’d go have coffee for a while and then go back for the hunt. There was a limit of
three. The dogs would point them out. It was a good way to train dogs. I think that’s why I joined.
I probably have about ten of my dogs buried out back. Most were Labs. Labs are easy to train. The last one I
had was a Brittany spaniel. The only way to train them is to hunt them every week. The Brittany didn’t retrieve,
but he was a good hunter. I had him about twelve years. If you lose a dog while hunting, you leave your jacket
on the ground. The dog would find it and stay there. I’d go back and get him. Rabbit hunters would do that
with beagles all the time.
After my time on the polishing job, I was transferred to the gear shaping room. I had one or two guys working
for me there. Donald Halpin was a piece worker. I was a rigger. At Drapers, the term rigger referred to
anyone who set up machines to specs. They were starting to get into automation, using a Warner & Swasey
machine. It was a three-station operation. There were two automatic drills. The drill would go in, then back
out and the threader would go in to do its job. There were four machines. When I finished setting up one, I’d
go on to the next and set it up for a different casting.
George Harlow came to see me one day. He asked me to meet with Mike Rickey and Doug Wells, who were
with the shuttle blank department. I asked George if he was looking to transfer me because of poor work,
No, he said, they needed a rigger on the blank shuttles. I worked with Sumner Coleman there. The shuttle
blanks were dogwood. Later they tried apple for a while, but that didn’t work out and didn’t last for long. I’d
set up the drills to drill the shuttle blanks for the spurs and a countersink hole for the ferule. At the next
station, the girls (there were four or five of them) would dip the spurs into glue and put them into magnetic
heads on each side. The shuttle blank would be put into a V-shaped device. The girl would hit a pedal on the
floor and the spurs would be forced into the shuttle. If the shuttle wasn’t lined up correctly, it could go flying
twenty or thirty feet across the room at high speed. I only saw that happen twice, and fortunately no one was
hit. Then the shuttles would go to Bob Hines who would put them on a lathe and turn them down. Ward
Gibson and Jimmy Sangster were riggers running profile machines. I think we had six of them. They would
profile the insides of the shuttles. I worked there for a while, until the shuttle job went south. Then I became
a guard for three or four years, working for Bill Burrill.
On the guard job I’d always be switching from working days to working nights. That got to me after a while.
Finally I went to Tony Allegrezza and told him I wanted to get out of that job. I’d go to bed and get up not
knowing if I wanted to eat breakfast, dinner or supper. Tony sent me to see Chandler, the personnel
manager, in the Main Office. He said there was a lieutenant position that had never been filled. They gave
me the job, which had regular hours, and I went on salary. In 1979, as things were slowing down, Vic
Rutana called me in and told me that he was going to have to lay me off. He pointed out that the good thing
was that hunting season was about to start.
After Rockwell sold the plant, one of the new owners got in touch with me. They needed someone there who
knew where all the shutoff valves, etc. were. They were very good to me, and I worked for them for four or five
Eventually I left the shop for a better deal. Roy Rehbein, who had worked at Drapers, had gone to work for
GTE in Westboro. He told me he was looking for someone who knew about photography. When he
described the job to me, I said it wasn’t anything I knew about. It involved a computer controlled piece of
equipment that probably cost around a half million dollars. It took pictures of blueprints and put them on
aperture cards. Four aperture cards were made up for each blueprint. Two were sent to secure underground
storage facilities in different parts of the company, one went to the company that would use it and one was
kept on file in Westboro. The picture on the card was very small, but when it was blown up you could read
everything. Roy said he had learned how to use the machine and I could, too. He offered me $100 a week
more than I was getting so I took the job.
After a few years at GTE, I retired. I have been hunting and fishing with Richard Hoberg since we were about
twelve. Now that we have the time, we get out fishing regularly and hunting when the season arrives.
Memories Menu HOME
Two pages from Arnold's hunting notebook.
Arnold (front) and his friend Richard Hoberg (back)
fishing on Hopedale Pond. Photo by Judy Belbin.