Down by the Old Mill Stream: Anecdotes and Tales from the Old Neighborhood, Lawrence - My Hometown

Down by the Old Mill Stream: Anecdotes and Tales from the Old Neighborhood, Lawrence - My Hometown

by Richard Edward Noble


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"Down by the Old Mill Stream" was one of my dad's favorite songs. My dad would have a few beers and then turn up the radio. He and I would then begin to harmonize to the smiling yet cynical faces of the rest of the family.
I suppose we weren't all that good.
It sounded great to me, though.
This memory goes back to my early childhood and the late 1940's.
We didn't have a TV in those days.
Before all we Americans became addicted to the TV, people had pianos in their living rooms and music emanating from a tube filled contraption that sat in the parlor somewhere in the vicinity of that old piano.
One way my dad's generation entertained themselves in the evenings in the tiny parlors of their tenement apartments was by harmonizing around that old floor model radio.
I'm old enough to have experienced the tail end of that type entertainment.
It obviously impressed me. I've never forgotten us doing it together
Whenever I hear songs like "Down by the Old Mill Stream," "Sweet Adeline," "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," and "A Little Bit of Heaven," pictures begin flashing on that big screen in the back of my head.
My father knew all the words to those songs. I loved to listen to him recite the introduction to "A Little Bit of Heaven."
"Have you ever heard the story
Of how Ireland got its name?
I'll tell you so you'll understand
From whence old Ireland came."
Every time he did it, I thought he was making it up on the spot and telling the story to me.
I thought "Down By the Old Mill Stream," was the personal story of my mother and father's romance when they were courting in Lawrence, MA, their hometown.
The old mill and the stream were down on Canal Street. The picture that always came to my mind whenever I heard those lyrics is on the cover of this book.
I since learned that the old mill in the song was not a textile mill but an old fashioned grist mill and the stream was not one of our Lawrence canals like the one flowing behind Lawton's Hot Dog Stand on the corner of Canal and Broadway.
My dad liked the slow, romantic version of the song. He would sing it all the way through like a romantic ballad before I'd burst in like one of the Ink Spots or the Mills Brothers. He sang it with such seriousness and sincerity how could I not believe it was my mom and dad's personal story?
I remember the verse for the most part.
"Down by the old Mill stream, where I first met you,
With your eyes of blue, dressed in gingham too,
It was there I knew that you loved me true,
You were sixteen, my village queen, by the old mill stream."
I thought gingham represented a white wedding dress not a checked tablecloth type of fabric. But in review, the checkered tablecloth design fits Lawrence better than the wedding dress anyway.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781484130506
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 04/22/2013
Pages: 210
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)

About the Author


Richard Edward Noble was raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He attended St. Rita's grammar school in Lawrence, Central Catholic high school also in Lawrence, Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill and Merrimack College in North Andover.
His mother and father and grandparents - on both sides of the family - were Lawrence textile workers.
Richard lived in Lawrence until the age of twenty-seven and then migrated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he met his wife Carol. Richard and Carol have been a team for over thirty-five years.
Richard has been a truck driver, a butcher, a beef boner, a beef breakdown man, a dishwasher, an oysterman, a fruit picker, a restaurant manager, a chef, a small butcher shop owner, a Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman, a fry cook, a broiler man, an expediter, a restaurant line boss, a hole digger, a swill collector for a pig farm, a raw bar man, a sous-chef, a tomato sorter, a sander in a spray paint factory and the owner/operator of an ice cream parlor and sandwich shop in Carrabelle, Florida.
These experiences and many more were published in Hobo-ing America - A workingman's tour of the U.S.A. and other works by this author.
Richard is now retired and working as a writer. He writes fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. He published a column in a local newspaper. In 2007 he received a first place award for humor from the Florida Press Association for this column.
Richard has a variety of interests - philosophy, history, politics, the American and world labor movements, economics, poetry, music, biography, autobiography and the unique history of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

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