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To augment Tom Scott’s excellent “Butler’s Pond in Quincy - An incomplete history”, I decided to try to collect some musings and anecdotes about Butler’s Pond. I went to school at old Central Junior High in 1966 – 1969 and have returned as a resident of the building in 2018. I put the word out to my friends, to several Facebook groups, and elsewhere. By far, many anecdotes included skating on the pond. Perhaps this was because I reached out in winter, while we were in the midst of the COVID pandemic, but I think pond skating is memorable because it can only be done in the dead of winter when snow hasn’t spoiled the ice surface.
“Skating on Butler’s Pond”
Here are Cathy I. M.’s recollections about skating on Butler’s Pond…
“In the winter, we spent many an hour ice skating. I loved to skate and would actually go out early in the morning before school at Central Junior High. We also had the opportunity to skate during gym class as Mario Casali our gym teacher also loved to skate. I also skated after school and in the evening after supper and homework. Many kids skated at night under the glow of either the moon or one streetlight. I also often shoveled off a skating area when the ice was covered with fresh snow. Of course, the boys playing hockey would take my space but give in to letting me play after I would take their pucks and drop them in the water near the wall where the ice was often thin. Many a puck was lost there from missed shots. We would fish them out in the summer. The ice was also thin down near the Butler Rd side where water came in from the creek. During the winter we would also sled down narrow paths starting from the back of Central, down across the dirt road, then down and across the ice.”
I, too, was caught up in the ice hockey craze in the Boston area during Boston Bruin’s legend Bobby Orr’s career from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies. I was 11 in 1965 when Ridge Arena in Braintree was just built. My dad took me there to learn to skate and to play hockey. I was kind of a late bloomer in that regard. My boys started skating just after learning to walk.
While I was at Central Junior High from 1966 to 1969, we skated in Gym class when the ice conditions were suitable. I was reminded by Tracy D. that in Mr. Casali’s Gym class we were encouraged to perform “The Whip”. This is when skaters join hands and skate around. As the line of skaters turns, due to centripetal acceleration, I think, the skater at the end of the line is whipped faster and faster. Until they get shot off on a tangent or fall down. I don’t think a teacher would allow students to do The Whip in Gym class these days. Too much liability. They probably wouldn’t even allow pond skating.
By the way, the Quincy School Committee voted to name the new Central Middle School’s gym in honor of Mr. Mario Casali, who coached football, basketball and baseball at Central for 30 years and was a guidance counselor for 15 years. We should name something at Butler’s Pond for him. Or at least re-create The Whip next winter.
“Pandemic Pond Life” by Eddie G.
"Over the pandemic, I began to observe life at Butler's Pond. I had not paid much attention to it before, but because I had time to now stop, and look around, I started noticing things more: A flock of ducks constantly at the pond during any weather, a group of turtles, and a massive one my sister and I affectionately named Moses. The highlight of it all was a pair of two geese (Mr. Honks & Mrs. Honks, named by my sister Zoe) and their goslings. We watched the pair arrive at Butler's Pond, get accustomed to the surroundings and eventually lay eggs. When they hatched, we named all the goslings too (Cranberry, Waddles, & Theodore) and loved them with all our hearts. They then disappeared and we always wondered where they went. This Spring, they came back again. They are laying on new eggs right now. If we can clean up this pond, I believe that this circle of arrival, growth, absence and arrival again can go on for centuries."
“Central Junior High and Butler’s Pond” by Mike Delaney
I went to old Central Junior High in 1966 – 1969. Though it was over 50 years ago, I have two memories that include Butler’s Pond.
The first memory is running the 600-yard dash around the pond. I was probably in the 9th grade and I recall that my time was one minute and 28 seconds. It was the second fastest time in my class. The fastest time was 1:12. But as I look at the pond on a map and measure the distance around it, it seems shorter than 600 yards.
When I mentioned this to one of my Butler’s Pond friends, she pointed out to me that the part of the pond south of Merrymount Road hadn’t been filled in yet, so we probably ran around that part of the pond, too. Or maybe we ran less than 600 yards.
The second memory is in Mr. Haddad’s Science Class. We had a spirited discussion about what would happen if you took a metal gas can and threw it in the pond—would it float or sink? We knew that gasoline floated on water, but metal was heavier than water. So, would it sink or float? I don’t recall that we ever figured it out or ever did the experiment.
So, today, I had to do the calculation (with the help of the internet), if I couldn’t do the experiment. One gallon of gasoline weights 6.3 pounds, or 2.8 Kg. A one-gallon steel gas can weighs about 0.7 pounds, or about 0.34 Kg. The volume of a gallon of gas is 3.78 liters. So, the density of the gas and can is:
Density = Mass / Volume = (2.8 + 0.7 Kg) / 3.78 L = 3.5 Kg / 3.78 L = 0.92 Kg/L or 0.92 g/mL.
Since the density is less than 1, I expect that the can of gas will float.
I loved my time at Central and my Science teachers put me on the road to becoming a scientist. It helped me go to MIT, get a PhD in Analytical Chemistry, and work as the MWRA Lab Director for 25 years.
“Nature in Our Back Yard” by Cathy I. M.
“We moved to Quincy in 1964, I was in 3rd grade and moved from there in 1977. My younger siblings lived there until the late eighties. We considered ourselves so fortunate to live across from the pond. We would spend summer days on the banks watching the muskrats, snapping turtle fights, painted turtles sunning, and the beautiful orange, black and white multi-colored carp at the water’s edge. I also recall crayfish, not in the pond, but across the street in ‘the field’ that would have a huge puddle after a heavy rain.
I also spent much time on the ponds banks when I took photography in high school.
Another person in our family who also enjoyed the pond was our cat. She would spend hours hidden in the grass on the water’s edge watching creatures to catch. She actually brought a small gold carp home one day and left it on the back doorstep.”
"What strikes someone coming in from outside is the incredible amount of energy, enthusiasm and commitment that has been shown in defense of this natural resource over several generations. This has not been a case of just a handful of committed individuals but a significant proportion of local residents, their children and other students in local schools, their teachers, local government officials and representatives of the people, all working collaboratively." - Tom Scott