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This Day in Norwood History-December 9, 1941-Mr. George M. Joy Spins a Lifetime of Tales at 85th Birthday Celebration

Believe IT OR NOT” householders Mr. and Mrs. George M. Joy live on the corner of Cross and Pleasant streets in a house built by Mr. Wilard Gay, formerly owned by Rev. Mohn (pronounced moan).

House Of Moods Here

Into one of the oldest houses in Norwood, over forty people went last November 17, to help one of the town’s oldest residents celebrate his 85th birthday. Perhaps some of them reflected, “Tell it to Ripley” as they approached the home that moods had built. For standing at the junction of Cross and Pleasant streets is the residence of Mr. and Mrs. George M. Joy; a house built in 1840 by Willard Gay; at one time occupied by a Rev. Mohne. “And may there be no moaning at the bar . . .” Mr. Joy quoted Tennyson as he reviewed the file of temperaments that make up his historic home, where he has lived for thirty-six years.

Mr. Joy. who was born in Dorchester in the fall of 1856, well remembers the death of Lincoln, for he was one of the “Paul Reveres” who spread the word around. Living only four miles from the Boston State House, where the news was received, he recalls being on the street and having a neighbor approach. “Do you see the flag at half-mast, and hear the bells tolling?” the neighbor asked the nine-year-old boy. “I hardly knew what a half-mast flag meant, but had heard the bells ringing, ” Mr. Joy said. “My father remarked that something terrible had happened, but you see, the only place that news was received was at the State House.”

The Civil War, the Spanish American War, and World War I have all passed through Mr. Joy’s life, and now he watches with intense interest the course of World War 2. “Times haven’t changed any,” he said, as he spoke of the American soldiers today. “In the Civil War, the soldiers’ food was good when they got it. And their clothing was good.— But I remember the shoes. Good thick shoes, but they melted in the rain and mud. My father bought two pair, for my brother and. me. and they melted away.”

When Mr. Joy was a boy, he dipped candles to light the house; and he recalls, in the fall of 1868 when his family moved from Dorchester to West Roxbury. His father had twenty head of cattle, and Mr. Joy drove these through the cold wintry weather to his new home. “It was only a few miles, but it seemed twenty,” he said.

He lived in West Roxbury for thirty years, has lived at Presque Isle, Maine, and when Norwood was South Dedham, had a horse-driven express that went between this town and Boston. He recalls the time when kerosene lamps lighted Norwood streets, and every evening, lighters went from one pole to the next. Only the square was electrified. “It’s really strange how, in those terrible storms, the kerosene, lamps held through the ni~ht,” he said. And remarking on the way in which the “old timers” worked, he exclaimed, “if they did that amount of manual labor now, they’d be dead-”

Mr, Joy still carried in his pocket a watch that hé winds with a key; a large timepiece that once had the hunters’ clock case. When he and Mrs. Joy posed for the Messenger picture, they sat before a desk that Mr. Joy’s father had built about a hundred years ago; in chairs that Mr. Joy had received as wedding presents, over fifty years ago, and Mrs. Joy took her knitting from the basket that was once her grandmother’s bonnet box.

Last Thursday evening, at the first meeting that the Norwood Grange had held since November 17, members sang, “Happy Birthday” to Mr. Joy, who, with his wife, joined in November, 1914, both still active members. According to Grange custom, Mr. Joy put 85 pennies in the box, and at the next Grange meeting, Mrs. Joy will account for her birthday, which comes this week. Usually, the couple is saluted by fellow members at the same meeting. But since November, Mr. Joy has been putting to good use the gifts which his friends gave him. Two packs of cards for leisure time; and a sum of money for taxi fare.

By PATRICIA KEELAN

(Originally published in the Norwood Messenger, December 9, 1941)

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