Memories resurface for one Rockland native each time the snow flies

Sat, 03/04/2023 - 8:00am

One of the older boys picked up a young Arthur Adolphsen and put him between two "big guys” on a bobsled owned by Mouthy Flanders.

“Off we went down the hill, with a full load,” said Adolphsen. “We crossed the main street and burst through the door of what use to be a market.”

No one got hurt at the end of that run on Mouthy’s sled, which came complete with a big bell and a steering wheel.

For some, like Adolphsen, certain memories and milestones in their lives are generated by the type of sled, the height of the snow drifts, or the weight of the shovel.

In the 1940s, with huge snowstorms crippling Rockland, the City often closed Warren Street to vehicles so that the children of the neighborhood could sled down the street during the day and sometimes at night under the lights. The same sledding adventures also brought South Enders to Pacific Street (with options for sledding in either direction on that hill).

Sometimes the City would sand the road, with two men throwing sand with shovels. Kids would go along behind them throwing snow back over the sand.

Arthur’s mother, Irene, was the secretary at Rockland High School for many years, and when the family lived on Warren Street – two houses above the old Tyler School – a horse-drawn sidewalk snowplow made of wood cleared the way after storms.

“The driver and the horse were both named Arthur,” he said. “I used to take an apple out to both of them when they came by.”

By the time Arthur was a teenager, the family had moved to a different street, but the snowstorms continued to create memories.

Feb. 18, 1952 marks the 71st anniversary of a huge snowstorm that paralyzed traffic along Main Street. By years’ end, the south end of Main Street would again be paralyzed by the great Rockland Fire of 1952 (Dec. 12, 1952).

The second disaster called basketball players home from a game in Brunswick in order to help abort the flames. Boys volunteered to help the Fire Department. Adolphsen was assigned the task of moving and connecting hoses near Myrtle Street. Others were provided water pump backpacks and were assigned to some of the store rooftops to wet down the flying embers.

Though Adolphsen stayed on the ground during the second life-delaying incident, he was on the roof after the first, which closed schools and dragged teens outside for work detail.

Adolphsen worked at Newberry's while he attended Rockland High School. He remembers well the snow storm of '52. The manager called him in to shovel the roof.

“The snow was hard packed and the corner of Main/Spring streets was packed hard,” said Adolphsen. “I was able to climb the snow to the roof of the store; shoveled all day.”

That was the day that his mother’s brother, Maynard Curtis of Ash Point, died of cancer.

“A very large snow plow came to our house at 25 Grove Street, picked her up and took her to his home,” he said.


Caption for Rockland Historical Society Facebook photo:

A March 4, 1920 photo of a team of horses with a farm plow attempting to break up the 1 to 3 feet of ice and hard packed snow on Tillson Avenue after successive winter storms. Fearing a flood as spring approached, Mayor Thorndike called for volunteers to clear the streets in Rockland’s business section. The response was tremendous as 600 hundred men and boys armed with picks and shovels assembled in Post Office Square. Nelson McDougal, president of the Security Trust Company, worked closely with the Rockland Road Commissioner to assemble and direct the battalion of volunteers. The Oakland Park Band played throughout the day, moving along the streets to keep up the tempo of the shovelers. Doctors, lawyers, a minister, and even the local undertaker were seen taking part in the battle to clear the streets. Merchants contributed to a fund for general expenses and sandwiches and coffee were supplied all along the shoveling and ice breaking front.


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