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Myths of Medford.

THERE is an old saying that ‘a lie will travel a mile while truth is getting its boots on.’ Leaving out that short ugly word, it is nevertheless true that some half-truths and far-fetched stories find ready credence, and that newspaper men who are given things to ‘cover,’ somehow manage to cover, but do little to discover.

We are not an ‘information pagoda,’ but some strange queries come to us at times, and some stranger assertions, the makers of which are at once in high dudgeon at our dissent or disapproval thereof. For instance, a daily paper of Boston asserts that the Middlesex canal passed close beside the railroad tracks at Tufts College station, and that the embankments were plainly visible—this six years since. Yes, embankments were then there in evidence, not of the canal, but of the works of the Massachusetts Brick Company of 1870.

Again, we have had pointed out to us the bed and towpath of the same canal, near the Medford almshouse, by people who showed water as conclusive evidence. The facts are, that the canal's course was a mile away; their ‘towpath’ was the road-bed of the defunct Stoneham Branch Railroad, and water accumulated in a depression beside it every spring.

The old windmill tower on College avenue was said to be ‘the entrance to an underground tunnel by which fugitive slaves escaped across the Canadian border.’ A long tunnel, that.

And this: Governor Brooks was born, lived and died in the old colonial mansion with broad verandas and massive pillars, then being restored, at the corner of High and Woburn streets, but in reality the governor was born in Charlestown, lived and died near Medford square, and [p. 70] there are not, and never were, any verandas or pillars, massive or otherwise, about the house in question.

Again, there came to the editor of the register a clipping from a New York paper of a ‘Phantom Ship,’ said in the gruesome story to have sailed from Medford, Mass., never to return, but rather to appear in ghostly apparition, presaging dire calamity to superstitious mariners. The details of the story have escaped us, and the clipping has been mislaid. We recall that Medford, in this story, was on the sea-coast, with a harbor, which does not appeal to the credulity of Medford readers. The story evidently went the rounds of the ‘patent outsides,’ and we think also in the ‘plate matter’ of a Medford, Mass., paper. That no one questioned its publication, suggests the ancient query, ‘U nderstandest thou what thou readest?’

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