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Then and now.

In 1821 there were in Medford 152 1/2 houses and about 1,500 people. There were 121 barns that sheltered 105 horses, 78 oxen and 237 cows.

In 1921 the population is over 40,000, the oxen are a minus quantity, the horses 161, the cows 150.

It is evident that the milk supply is from outside, but what of the transporting force? There were no railroads, either steam, horse or electric, a century ago anywhere in the country, none in Medford till 1835. [p. 88]

For the 161 horses to draw, in 1921, there are 156 ‘vehicles,’ but there are 2,329 automobiles, including 59 trucks, enough to make a solid line nearly seven miles long. Such a line would reach through the city from Wear to Wellington bridges, with a branch down Main street from the square to Somerville line. No wonder, with ‘everybody on wheels,’ that the pedestrian has little chance or safety on the street.

Twenty years ago the auto was scarcely known. Nothing in mechanical history ever increased so rapidly. Nothing ever so fostered a spirit of extravagance in American people. Thoughtful people are inquiring as to results, near or remote. Good servants sometimes prove bad masters, and not every employer is wise.

The population a century ago averaged ten to a house; probably quite a few of the one hundred and fifty and a half housed two families, perhaps another few, more. Families were larger in those days.

Medford had its town meeting in its town meeting house; and there its coming citizens, the boys, early learned wholesome lessons, of which the youth of 1921 are lamentably ignorant. And on one day in seven the townspeople gathered twice in this same town-house, (meetinghouse they called it) for the public worship of God, and that, too, in all seasons. Never before 1820 or 21 was there a stove or fire there.

A glimpse of the town meeting of 1821 is worth while. The ‘committee on treasurer's accounts’ reported

the same all fair and correct. . . a balance in the treasury $742.225. . . expenses paid by the town last year $3801.64, as on file; which having been all considered by the town, Voted—to raise the sum of $4500, the present year, to defray the necessary expenses of Public worship. Public school, Poor, Highways and all other necessary incidentals & the surplus, if any, to be appropriated toward reducing the town debt.

That this was ‘good business,’ is seen by the report, a year later, of $1,256.89 in treasury. The town debt mentioned was $2,350. One item of this was paid, by using the recently acquired ‘Secomb Fund,’ the remaining [p. 89] $1,650 the treasurer advanced and took up the town's note held by the other creditor. As there was due from the collector $285 at the end of the fiscal year, there remained less than $100 to be provided for. The ‘Secomb Fund’ is intact today, and Medford's finances of that day show up well.

Medford, in 1821, polled just two hundred votes, giving her favorite son, Governor Brooks, one hundred and seventy-six. Fourteen amendments by the constitutional convention were carefully considered and all but one ratified by eighty-two voters.

Abner Bartlett was unanimously re-elected as representative but ‘begged to decline because of his business and professional avocations.’ The choice of his successor was a different story. Forty-six votes were cast, requiring twenty-four for choice. Two had one each, Dudley Hall eighteen, and Turell Tufts twenty-six. In 1821 the qualifications of a ‘voter in town affairs’ were

To have been resident a year, to have a free-hold estate of the annual income of ten dollars, or any estate of the value of two hundred dollars

In 1821 the town clerk was paid $30, and ‘the overseers of the poor $30 for the same period.’ One dollar and a half paid the constable for warning the town meeting and $I.75 per day the assessors. ‘A man for work on the highway had $1.50, a man and team, $2.50; every day to be ten hours.’ Holding no brief for union of church and state, we call attention to the fact that in 1821, ‘public worship’ had the first place in the annual civic financial budget. That ended in 1824. Today Medford's area is smaller, but its population has increased twenty-seven times—its expenses seven hundred times. No reasonabe person desires a return to outward conditions and surroundings of a century ago, the days of our grandfathers, yet with our heavily mortgaged future in view, which those coming after most surely will have to experience, we are led to think and say, ‘it is high time to awake.’

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