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[p. 16]

Mystic no. 4.

Looking over some early numbers of the Register I read an article concerning the Medford fire engines. Jackson No. 2 seemed like an old friend from the past, as it was under the engine house that Miss Chase taught a small school, where I was once a pupil, in my younger days, for a short time. The house stood opposite the Center Grammar and High schoolhouse, as it was called in those days. When the alarm for fire rang, some of the unruly boys would rush out of school and over to the engine house, regardless of what would happen to them afterwards—and it always did happen—on their return.

I think it was the lunch after the return of the tub (as they termed it) that appealed to them, more than the help they could afford. This consisted principally in yelling. They had fun in seeing which of the ‘tubs’ could wash over the others. Having two brothers and a cousin in that Center Grammar school, I heard a great deal of ‘tub’ talk. There were three engines, if I remember rightly, General Jackson, Governor Brooks, and Washington. A favorite query among the boys was, ‘Who do you blow for?’ This question, asked of a well-known individual, the answer was always, ‘The Orthodox Church,’ which was to the point, as he pumped for the organ in that church.

Reading of these engines reminded me that there had been a fourth (although not generally known), Mystic No. 4, in the early '50s. It was short-lived. At that time there was a boys' engine in Malden, and some of the West Medford boys thought they also needed one. They formed a company, appointed a captain and clerk, and engaged John Hebden, who lived in the house near Meeting-house brook, later occupied by a florist, to build it. The next move was for an engine house. A new building to take the place of the almshouse having been built on Purchase street, there was a small building left on the place on Canal street. It had but one room, [p. 17] where an insane person was kept—Nathaniel Crowell, commonly called ‘Nat Crow.’ It had one window with iron bars. It would seem in those days insane people were looked on as criminals, and treated worse.

The boys secured this building, had a door cut in it large enough to run the engine into, and, it seems, fastened by a staple, as one day we were surprised to see a poster which read—

Mystic no. 4.

Five dollars Reward.

The above sum is offered for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who entered the above Co's engine house by drawing the staple on the night of the 19th inst.

Per order

I cannot recall any fire they attended, as that was tabooed. I have said it was short-lived. Alas! they could not raise money enough to clear off the debt, and the tub was claimed by the builder, who was also the foreman.

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