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Everson's Island - Green Harbor

CLICK HERE for a biography of Erastus Everson http://www.18thmass.com/blog/index.php?itemid=267 The following from Don Blauss' Blog - Written by Eric and Wes - Contributed by Don Blauss Sometime in the course of every summer, before the arrival of the youngest sisters Debbie and Heather, Mom and Dad would pack their six children into the station wagon, along with piles of bedding and beach towels, two weeks’ worth of food, diapers, kerosene, oarlocks, mosquito repellent, beer, Band-Aids, and all the other supplies necessary for a vacation at the island, the only vacation affordable to a family of limited means. For the Blausses it was a little leftover bit of Eden enjoyed for a couple of weeks, and a couple of long weekends every summer. Parental preparation loomed large, but for the six children it promised nothing but fun, fun, fun. Packed to near bursting with provisions, the Chevrolet beach wagon waited in the dirt driveway at 30 Phillips Street as everyone piled in on a Saturday morning in July. Dad had a week’s vacation from Peaceful Meadows, and was eager himself to sit on the porch of the two-room cottage, cradle a bottle of beer, and, as he so often said with a contented grin, "watch the rest of the world go by." The cat was always the last passenger to load in. Then, last minute bathroom runs completed and all in readiness, doors slammed, the car motor rumbled to life, and the journey commenced. At Lloyd Prario’s service station on Main Street, just beyond the deserted Hanson railroad station, with the smell of gasoline rising through the tailgate window, Dad would gas up the car for the big trip. Eighteen miles away high adventure and sweet relaxation waited. Wesley, Laurie, Donnie, Marlene, Eric, and Dave could hardly wait. Long years afterward the smell of gasoline still reminded Eric of going to Brant Rock, where the Green Harbor River joined the Atlantic, a salty smell of passion that bonded him and his siblings forever to the sea. The oil checked and the tank fueled up, and with a friendly good-bye from Lloyd as he stepped back inside to work on his perfectly-detailed dollhouses and model country stores, Dad would turn the car southeast down Route 27. Moments later Laurie would burst into song: "Oh, you can’t go to Heaven In a rocking chair ‘Cause the Lord don’t want No lazy bones there," with the brothers and sisters gleefully joining in, repeating each line in an ebullient echo. Verses followed for each family member: "Oh, you can’t go to Heaven In Daddy’s car ‘Cause the darned old thing Won’t go that far." Nor would Mommy’s boat, Wes’s pants, Laurie’s bike, or any other number of bright ideas provide the requisite transportation to Paradise. "The Ants Go Marching" came next, or "One more river, and that wide river is Jordan," with a succession of sing-along favorites close behind, and the singing didn’t stop until the familiar sights and smells of the coast caught the children’s attention. Next to Dad sat Little Dave in the car seat with its own plastic steering wheel and horn. Mom rode shotgun position, turned sideways to accompany the chorus of high-pitched voices. The Blauss family was going to the island! After a whole year they were on their way again. The thought of salt water, clam shells everywhere, crabs side-stepping under the wharf, periwinkles or snails clinging to the wooden posts that held up the dock, waiting for the tide to rise again, kept the kids in high anticipation. And for Eric, in the rough years that followed, the smell of beach roses always brought on the longing for and refreshed the vision of those hot, safe island days. From Hanson through Pembroke and Duxbury, along King Philip’s Path and over the bridge at Route 3 the overcrowded vehicle groaned happily. Soon they had reached the north end of Duxbury Bay’s extensive salt marsh and then the historic Winslow house and the sign for Camp Cedar Crest. They recognized they were close now. The old Chevrolet passed a few more sandy streets and cottages with neat hedges, came abreast of the Green Harbor Marina, and out onto the dike. The dike, the dike! Upon riding onto the dike everyone except Dad would exclaim, "Hi, island!" Pulling the car up to the guard rails on the river side, Don clambered out, untied the rowboat from the roof racks, and heaved it over the guard rails, the bushes on the slope below so thick that the sturdy, little vessel would slide right down the twenty foot embankment, gently and undamaged, on the cushiony underbrush. The boat was soon in the water and the Chevrolet partly unpacked. Most importantly the heavy aluminum beer keg that would provide their source of potable water was hoisted with effort over the side and everyone stepped back as it rolled crashing down the hill, ending with a splash in the marsh grass. The little kids remained itchily in the car. The loaded boat had no room for more than Dad and Wes once all the provisions had been stowed aboard. The first trip over began. Dad rowed. Mom and her children closed the car doors and drove the short distance to Marshall Avenue, then a left on Webster and another on June Street. In a little pink house lived the Helpins, where Edna stopped to fill more jugs of drinking water. The children were becoming antsy now to get on with it. Back in the car Edna drove slowly around the bend of the dirt road. A tall chain-link fence surrounded a high voltage electrical transformer, and just to the far end of the fence a circle of dirt and grass had been worn down by car tires, a circle about thirty feet in diameter. A guide wire from an electrical pole anchored in the middle of it. Often another car would be parked there already, belonging to Belle and Bill Dexter, "Auntie Belle and Uncle Bill." They owned, after years of squatting, the little log cottage down the path, the family’s next, if temporary, destination. Nine years of residence on the unclaimed property had given them title to it. Uncle Bill mowed the trail from the parking area to the river. In some places boards or slabs provided dry footing over the muddy spots. Blackberry bushes groped out from the sides, snares for unwary children carrying bundles and boxes of provisions. A lightly-laden younger child could pause and refresh himself on fruit before running to catch up with his older siblings. The Dexters’ cottage and clearing seemed a long way from the car. It wasn’t, much less than a quarter of a mile. The world just seemed that much bigger when we were small. The Dexters and their grandchildren relaxed in lounge chairs and hammocks on the shaded lawn at path’s end, Uncle Bill nursing a Narragansett beer, Auntie Belle with a mixed drink and Kent cigarette in hand. Edna and Auntie Belle exchanged big hugs. Uncle Bill’s greeting, though seated, was no less sincere. Now another generation had arrived. In terry cloth underwear and no shirt, three-year-old Cathleen Dexter, their granddaughter, ran uninhibited over the soft carpet of grass, so gentle on bare feet compared to the bristly island lawn. Three years older, Marlene was just as likely to run shirtless after her under the shade trees. Modesty was not an issue for Edna’s children until the girls started to develop, and the Blauss girls developed late. The island was private, and the Dexters’ was the transition into the freer world where underpants ruled. No one deliberately stripped on arrival, but a toddling David clad only in diapers fit seamlessly with the terrain. After nearly a year’s absence, everyone visited. Donnie and Eric tangled cheerfully on the rope swing. Into the hammock clambered Cathleen, Marlene, and David, maybe baby Brenda Dexter as well, and Laurie provided wild pushes, while Edna sat with Belle and Bill and exchanged the news of the year. Cathleen and Brenda were the children of Laddy Dexter, lobsterman son of Belle and Bill, who had settled in Brant Rock, less than a mile from the cottage where he, his brother Danny, and his parents had spent their summers, and his parents’ presence provided easy babysitting service. The kids romped. The adults jibber-jabbered while awaiting the arrival of Wes and the unladen boat. Eric ran to the riverbank, hurdling a ditch, barely noting the old stone fireplace and Uncle Bill’s thatch duck blind, to await Wes’s arrival. The muddy riverbank dropped into salt water, shallow off the Dexters’ pier. Clamshells littered the bottom. Dropping to his belly on the rough wooden planks, Eric reached down into the river to examine several. While he paddled, Wes appeared around the end of the island with the empty boat. "Hello!" shouted Eric, leaping up to run with the news. "Here he comes! Hurry up! Hurry up!" Edna would stay with the Dexters a while longer. Not enough room in the boat for everyone, but the kids crowded down to the shoreline, possibly with supplies in tow. "All aboard that’s getting aboard!" Laurie announced. Into the back clambered Eric and Dave, Laurie wedging her skinny self between them. Marly and Donnie got the front seat. Wes stood up with one oar, handed the other to his brother. "Here, Donnie, help shove off," said the rower. Shoving against the muddy bottom, they broke the suction of the mucky flats and inched off from the bank. The boys sat. The oars were slipped back into the oarlocks. Wes turned the stern upriver and the bow toward the island, pushing one scull forward and he other back. Often one oar only worked at the turn, the other poised horizontally, relaxed over the water’s surface. Eric would study his older brother’s rowing techniques. ‘I’m going to row the same way,’ he’d think. From Dexters’ dock to the end of the island was about a hundred feet. A wide flat extending out from island’s end gradually dropped to a depth of four or five feet at high tide. Showing off, Wes pulled hard. The boat, overfull and low in the water almost to the gunwales, raced over the flats, just clearing the muddy bottom. Eric watched the swirls of water twisting off the end of the oars, the boat racing away from them with each pull. As the family rounded the point of the island, the dike came into view. If the tide was coming in, white foam floated up the channel in the current. Wes steered out toward the center of the river to avoid shallow water and the thick, algal bloom that covered large areas of the river in midsummer. The green, slimy growth could drag on an oar, making it too heavy to pull a stroke, and the oarsman would perform annoyed contortions, rolling the blade, until the gunk fell off. Sumac groves swept by, the stand of birch trees on which they would soon be swinging. There, close by, sat the little barn red cottage. Closing in on the sandy landing area, Wes alternated strokes, left, right, left, right, one oar in the water at a time, the port oar pulling slightly harder, arching the boat around the end of the little dock and pulling it up alongside. "Land ho!" yelled Laurie. "All ashore that’s going ashore!" Donnie, holding the bow rope, secured the rowboat. Everyone else scrambled onto the pier. Someone had to go get Mom, still over at the Dexters’. In the early summers the job went to the "big kids", Laurie and Donnie, but soon Eric was volunteering to go, hoping to practice his strokes and turns the way Wes and Mom did. There was no rush. The children unloaded provisions. Bags and pillowcases and cardboard boxes were lugged up onto the lawn, then instantly deserted as their bearers raced around in a near frenzy of delight at their summer homecoming. Back upriver Eric headed to pick up Mom. Pulling alongside Hidden Cove, not really a cove, but a little indentation in the bank that Donnie had named, where a double birch tree grew out from the island almost parallel with the water, Eric practiced his sculling techniques. Pushing the left oar and pulling the right, he turned the boat in a few quick circles. Then scaring himself because he was alone, he rowed as fast as he could for his mother. Hopefully she would be waiting for him at the dock and not still jibber-jabbering with Auntie Belle and Uncle Bill. That was unlikely. A whole year had passed since they last saw each other. They had plenty to talk about. But now Edna was ready to move on. She had plenty to do when they got to the island, even if "those kids" hadn’t vandalized the cottage as they did almost every offseason. "Those kids" broke windows, scattered crockery, smeared peanut butter on the walls. Edna didn’t know who "those kids" were, but once or twice they were spotted retreating from the island as the family approached, and many times they had broken into the empty camp and spent the nights drinking and trashing the place. Occasionally they might be spotted on the mainland, carrying guns. The little ones were fearful of them. Was there vandalism this time? Edna wanted to know. Eric reported that all was well on the island. Still, even without "those kids’" efforts, Edna had many chores ahead, washing the dishes, airing out the blankets, and all. She and Eric pulled up at the dock. Eric beamed as his mother commented on what a good rower he was becoming. SEE COMPLETE BLOG HERE ISLAND GAMES Donnie and Eric poked around for hours at a time in the pram, taking turns rowing, naming landmarks like Hidden Cove, and catching crabs. Afraid to grab at a pinching rock crab, Eric stuck to snails and hermit crabs in their stolen periwinkle shells. Wes, Laurie, and Marlene were climbing in the dense jungle of grape vines that blanketed a sumac grove behind the outhouse and provided hours of near trampoline-like pleasure on the treetops. Curled up in the sun, Fluffy or Snowball or whichever cat was then the family pet watched Dave dig in the sand. Edna watched too. Toward midday, the gang gathered for lunch, peanut butter and jelly or banana sandwiches, followed by Edna’s eternal admonition, “No swimming for an hour now. You could get a cramp and drown.” The kids could easily entertain themselves until the afternoon sun beat down so intently that clothing fell in little heaps across the bristly lawn, summer-baked to a prickly carpet, and everyone migrated to the small, sandy beach. It was time for a “Happy Fizzies Party.” A big kid must have named it, but everyone took part. All the kids, including the Tobins and other friends, crowded into the big boat and rowed into the channel, a little toward the dike from the dock. Donnie dropped anchor, a half of a cement block tied to the bow rope, and then everyone went stark, raving mad. Crawling over the seats and each other, balancing on the gunwales like tightrope walkers, kids would start shouting silly phrases like, “Washington Crossing the Delaware!” or “Happy Fizzies Party!” At the end of each statement they would strike a ridiculous pose and then plunge, as accidentally-looking as possible, into the river. The water, cold, salty, and bubbly or fizzy as it was, no doubt gave the activity its name. Using boats and plastic floats or inner tubes for bases and pitcher’s mound, they played water baseball and kickball. The batter stood at the end of the dock. Often a beachball, light and brightly-colored and striped, was hit with a whiffle-ball bat and floated through the air like a balloon toward the dripping infielders. Beachballs broke easily. More often a heavier plastic ball, about a foot in diameter, sold at the Brant Rock Market next to the plastic buckets and shovels, served the purpose. Pitchers dove and shortstops dog-paddled and catchers danced on the pier. Shouts and splashes punctuated the hot afternoon, refreshing everyone, and wild, wet laughter entertained them all. Headhunter! A game invented by us, a perfect pastime for a jungly island and a tribe of active, anxious, young savages. Here in Eric’s own words is a description of the game and environs: “The landscape of the island has always been a changing scene. Clearings and paths overgrow in a season. You stop mowing. It never stops growing. Sapling sumac and blackberry vines spring up in weeks and take right over if unchecked. Dad was not as diligent as some of us later became about mowing. About twenty feet out of the porch door, facing southeast, was a grove of sumac. Pretty good size too, six or seven inches at the butt. The yard was mowed. “The Grove” was also mowed about twenty feet in. To the right, looking south from the door, at the edge where the land dropped off about four feet to the river, and running alongside the grove, was a cleared extension from the yard, about twenty feet wide. The grass in this area was a little pricklier on the feet. On the edge of the lawn where it dropped off to the river bank, there was a brown porcelain stove that Mom and Dad burned the paper trash in. Just a few trees into the grove a hammock hung, tied to two trees. The hammock served as goals in a game of Headhunter. One person would be IT. When gathering around to start a game, someone would yell, “Not IT!” The last one to say, “Not IT!” was IT, although some of us little kids might get out of IT sometimes. Being IT to a young, little fellow like myself was a dreaded and burdensome task. The game went as follows. Everyone not IT would lie across the hammock face down and count to whatever. I remember Dave and me repeating the numbers counted out by the big kids, somewhere around ten, because we couldn’t count much higher. Whoever was IT had this old wet mop. The difference between Headhunter and Hide and Seek was that the person who was IT would hide. After the count those who weren’t IT would look for the one who was. As those not IT strayed away from the hammock they became more vulnerable to the Headhunter, whose job it was to tag someone with the mop before they reached the hammock. Upon reaching the hammock we always dived across sideways and somersaulted right around it. The younger the child, the closer to goals one stayed, so when the bigger kids dove across the hammock we were usually on it already, holding on tight for the ride. The hammock would flap around like a sheet in the high wind, and Dave, Marlene, and I must have looked like cowboys on a rodeo bull, hanging on so as not to be bounced off and fall easy prey to the wild, approaching Headhunter. I can still see clearly in my mind the view of the trees against the sky, upside-down from looking under the hammock, spinning and tumbling around as each lucky player made it back safely to goals ahead of the Headhunter’s screeching yells. And I can still see Donnie. He was IT. He kept his cool in his hiding spot long enough for the more timid of the players to wander further from goals. I was halfway past the house. Some of the big kids were even further toward the bunkhouse when Donnie stood up from behind the brown porcelain stove, shaking his mop violently in the air and screaming, “Ya! Ya! Ya! Ya! Ya!” I don’t remember whom he chose to tag but he had us all dead to rights, and immortalized himself in my mind as the undisputed Headhunter champion of the island and the world. As the dry and lightweight tassels of the mop hovered against the southern sky at dusk, and the tribal-sounding yell pierced the silence of the quickly approaching twilight, in the view of the low, jungle-looking fauna, even his face was momentarily transformed into that of a savage. And I hardly noticed that he wasn’t robed in grass clothing and adorned with a necklace made from the teeth of his past victims — or that he was wearing glasses.” MORE ABOUT ERASTUS EVERSON Erastus next appears in the 1894 Marshfield, MA Directory, seven years after his wife’s death. His residence is listed as “North, on Green’s Harbor” and his occupation as a journalist. Family legend says that Erastus was granted the land north of Green Harbor, and the small island on the river as a reward for his Civil War service. I would like to research more about this. When was he granted the land? Did he have a permanent residence here? Certainly by the 1890s he did. Here is a photograph of Erastus in front of his hunting shack with two hunting dogs, supposedly on the Marshfield island which our family now owns: Erastus died in 1897 in Marshfield, MA at the age of 60, having lived a very colorful life. Family legend says the Marshfield island was passed to Sherman McClellan, but at the time of Erastus’ death, Sherman was only 11. Sherman, Roddy, and Lillian’s mother was Imogene Everson. Both Imogene Everson and Erastus Everson were great-grandchildren of Levi Everson and Eunice Briggs. Erastus, having no children, passed the land via his cousin Imogene, and the land was eventually handed to Sherman McClellan. It eventually came to be owned by the Blauss Family. ...to visit the mblauss blogspace please click below... Taken from the mblauss blogspace ..... September 2012 - Charles Hamblin contacted me with the following information. "I grew up (1972) and currently reside right around the corner from the island and knew the families that were referred to in the article. The Helpin's didn't live on June St. The high voltage transformer, the Helpins and the Dexters were on Allen St. I grew up with Cathleen Dexters younger brother Greg. I too had plenty of time spent on the island, winter and summer, skating and canoeing". See complete blog here http://30phillipsst.blogspot.com/2007/02/going-to-island-erics-version.html
Erastus Everson
Erastus Everson
Aerial View of Everson's Island
Aerial View of Everson's Island
Fishing from the Dyke with View of Everson's
Fishing from the Dyke with View of Everson's
House on Everson's Island
House on Everson's Island
Old Postcard
Old Postcard
Erastus Everson
Erastus Everson
Erastus Everson
Erastus Everson
Erastus in Front of His Hunting Lodge with two Dogs
Erastus in Front of His Hunting Lodge with two Dogs