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[p. 12]

We are apt to judge the past by the present, but do we ever really stop to think of the tremendous differences which exist between two or three generations? Let us consider, for instance, those conditions which existed in the days of which I am speaking and those of today; of the things your fathers lacked and did not know that they lacked, and yet got as much out of life as you do today with the multitude of things then undreamed of. Fifty-four years ago there was no water department system in Medford. Every family depended upon its own well or the town pump, and all so-called modern conveniences were altogether unknown. In the year 1853, I venture to say, there was not such a thing as a bathroom or a bathtub in the town. Hot and cold water on tap was only two years old in Boston, and Medford housekeepers only knew of it by hearsay. Gas, if used at all, was very sparingly used. My memory is not clear on that point, but I am quite sure that the popular light was known by the name of ‘burning fluid.’ Kerosene, which is a product of petroleum, did not come in until after the discovery of the oil fields in Pennsylvania ten years later.

There was, however, a fire department. Not a paid department, but purely volunteer. If I rightly remember, there were three companies, all friendly. I do not recall their names, but one of them had a house on High street near the Unitarian church, and it was a favorite lounging place of the members and their friends in the evenings. I think Captain Teel headed this organization. All these companies did good service, no doubt, when the need came. I remember only a single instance when it was called out. A fire broke out in somebody's shed. It took but a few minutes to subdue it, and then the whole populace adjourned to the engine house to partake of a collation, which consisted of crackers and cheese and a pail of hot coffee, in which everybody shared. There was no red-tape in those days. The collation— they called it co-lation then—was everywhere the custom,

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Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
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