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Nahant Historical Society

41 Valley Road, Nahant Massachusetts 01908 781-581-2727


howe estate
The Nahant Quilt

Memories of the 1950’s and 60’s
By Carol Ann Somerby Masters

My father came upon the stone house at 391 Nahant Road across from Forty Steps Beach to visit a client and loved the house and location. He had an opportunity to buy it, as he had always wanted to live there, so we moved from Winthrop.

I grew up in that house from the age of seven until we moved to Swampscott after Junior High Graduation in 1951. I loved the house and watched the ocean during all the storms, when the waves would splash against the rocks and pull the small rocks out to sea. The house was so large, 22 rooms. One day our precious dog, Friskie, a Border collie, disappeared. She was missing for well over a week. We finally heard her one day scratching at the door to the attic where she had accidentally been closed in. There she was! I don’t know why we never heard her barking!

My father had a New York 1950 yacht, which was 72 feet long (50 feet at the water line). He would take my brother and me out on this sailboat, and we would anchor at East Point and fish from the boat. We caught flounder and mackerel. I’ll always remember fondly my youth in Nahant.

Note: Nahant Harbor Review readers who have enjoyed the Memories Project would no doubt like to know that Carol Ann was my dearest friend for over sixty years and was one of the first to contribute her memories to the Nahant Historical Society’s Memories project in 2006. Sadly she passed away the summer of 2007. Carol Ann’s fondest request was to hold her memorial services and reception at Forty Steps Cove on a yacht below her former home. As per her wishes, these services were held on Labor Day Saturday and will be forever remembered by all who attended.

Submitted by Anne Deluca Coté

A Memory, by Patty Flynn Demit

According to Town records, my family, the John Flynn family, was one of the earliest settlers in Nahant.  Records indicate that my great-grandfather came to Nahant from Ireland in 1851, and was naturalized in 1855.  His house was on Little Nahant Road, in what used to be the Drooker house, right on the bend near Howe Road.  He had one son and four daughters.  The book “some annals of Nahant” by Fred A. Wilson, published in 1928, indicates that my great-grandfather was one of the first Catholics in town.

My grandfather, Timothy Flynn lived in that house with his father and mother until 1912 when he built 91 Fox Hill Road and moved there with his wife Celia and newly born son, my dad, John P. Flynn.  He and his wife raised a family which consisted of four sons and two daughters, William, Edward, Joseph, John, Virginia and Alice.  My grandfather worked for the Motley family on Cary Street as a gardener and landscaper up until he passed away in 1943.

My dad, John, was the organist at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in the 1930s and 1940s where he met and married my mother, Sara B. Cole, who had moved here from Somerville in 1937.  Sara was the soloist at St. Thomas’s and John directed her and the choir. 

(The Cole’s had summered on Locust Way in Nahant for many years in what eventually became the Gaudet home.  Claire Gaudet was also a Cole.  In 1940, John moved his new bride to the Tierney house on Central Street where they began their family which would soon number nine, three sons and six daughters.  His mother continued to live in the family house on Fox Hill with her daughter, Virginia.

With dad’s background in music, he was approached by Johnny Comfort about becoming the organist at Comforts Roller Skating Rink at the Relay Yard in Bass Point.  He played there for many decades right up until the rink burned down. 

For years, John played the organ at the rink to the delight of neighbors of the Relay Yard neighborhood which now included John, Sara and their five children on Sherman Avenue where they moved to in 1948.  It was there, especially in the summers, that John would be working at the rink and all of his family would lie in the beds, windows open wide and enjoy his music. 

Many, many nights, John would lull the neighbors to sleep with his melodies while the skaters wend round and round to his wonderful organ sounds.  We would be disappointed when it rained, and we had to close the window.

In 1953, with five of his children born, John and Sara moved back into the family home on Fox Hill Road, where the family continued to live until 1988, when the property was sold.  The remaining four children of the Flynn family were born on Fox Hill Road.

All nine Flynn kids attended the Nahant Public Schools attended the Wilson and Valley Road schools.  Only a couple of the kids were privileged to attend the Johnson School.  Eight of them attended Lynn Classical, and they were known as the Nahant Flynns as there was another family named Flynn from West Lynn who were called the Lynn Flynns.

During the summers, those old enough would be at Sandy Beach from morning to night taking care of each other.  We would walk to the playground via the wooden bridge over the ‘ditch’, make our crafts, and bring however many we made home to our mother.  I think our mother was the only mom who had six of everything we made, but she never complained.

We would have our lunch, pack some snacks and clean clothes, and head back to Sandy for the afternoon.  We would play for hours and, with any luck, Father George Croft from Harbor View Road would be there to play with us.  We would get thrown up into the air and splash down in the water – seeing who could make the biggest splash.  This would go on for hours.  We never knew where Fr. Croft got the strength, as every kid on Sandy Beach would be lined up to get thrown in.  We would also build sand castles and forts in the afternoon.   At dinner time, we would all be washed off in the ocean, put in clean dry clothes and brought home.  (We always knew when it was time to go home as the horns would go off, and we knew to get on our way.  The horns would blow at 11:45 am and at 5:00 pm.  Word has it that they blew to notify the town workers that it was time to return to the station for lunch and for dismissal.)

After dinner, the older Flynn kids would be off with friends to explore the town.  The first stop would always be Greco’s store for a hot dog and a Bierely’s orange soda.  Mrs. Greco would be at the grill from morning until night and always had a smile for the town kids.  Her hot dogs were $0.20 and soda was a dime.  We would just hang around out front or across the street, and as long as we didn’t cause a problem, we were allowed to stay until dark.

ON Friday nights, we would go to the Town Hall for the YMCA dances from 7:00 – 10:00 pm.  There would be music by a DJ and there was always lots of fun.  Refreshments were $0.25 and at 10:00 all the parents would be outside to pick up the kids.  Many romances started at the ‘Y” dances, and some couples remain together today.  Years later, when the Y moved its programs to the new YMCA on Nahant Road, (the old Village Church) many of those kids were now parents picking up their children.  A new generation had the same fun until the Y closed and the building was sold as a private home.