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More Thoughts from Loon – Birgitta Walsh
Birgitta Walsh

More Thoughts from Loon

Five miles north of out condo there is an old friend. One I met in 1938 the year Birgitta was born and I was just seven years old: The Indian Head. In those years we traveled to visit my fathers relatives in New York. We drove starting in Quincy, Mass and travelled US Route 3 The Daniel Webster Highway north to US Route 2 .Then west on the Mohawk Trail through New Hampshire and Vermont across To New York. A very long drive in those days with low speed limits and cars that moved slower than todays cars do. I recall thinking that it was nothing but woods and hills endless hills up and down over and over. A child’s view of his small world. I remember stopping on Route 3 in what I did not know then but do now was Lincoln. Climbing up a tower to see the Indian Head that is formed in the rock when you stand in the right position very much like the famous Old Man just a few miles north who appears on the NH license plates. We had lunch in what must have been then and is now the Indian Head Lodge. We made this journey every summer from 1938 to 1942 and as I recall always stopped to pay tribute to the Indian head. So you see I am no stranger to this area. When the war started rationing came into being and there was no longer gasoline to make the trip. In addition the summer vacation was cancelled as my father worked in the Fore River Ship Yard and they were going full swing working 12 hours a day 7 days a week replacing the ships lost at Pearl Harbour and replenishing the navies fleet.

My family was invited to the launching of every ship build in that shipyard firm 1941 to 1945 and there were many.We went to them all, Capital ships all. Battleships, Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers and in the nearby, built for the war effort, Hingham shipyard that was building one Destroyer Escort a week by the end of the war. In addition in Germantown the small boatbuilder there built Torpedo Boats and landing craft.

I remember in the beginning in 1942 the area was surrounded by antiaircraft guns and giant searchlights lit up the night. Planes flew over and they practiced catching them in the lights that shown miles into the sky. We knew that Germany had a substantial navy and the whole costal area was blacked out with no lights allowed to show to prevent German submarines from seeing the outlines of ships passing by at sea. This is the time the Intercostal Waterway that figured so much in our later lives when we traveled this protected route on Vasa II and Vasa III was built. The entire Boston Harbour was enclosed with giant antisubmarine nets that had to be opened and closed for ships to pass. A process that took hours, America was new to this war and had no idea of our enemies capabilities so every precaution was taken to assure we were not attacked. There was no more important target on the entire east Coast than Fore River. In late 1942 and american submarine had snuck into Tokyo Harbor and sunk a Japanese warship as it was launched catching it just as it hit the water. A major coup that came at a critical time and provided a major boost to a navy that had lost so many ships. If we could do they could do it so every precaution was taken to assure it would never happen. The Forts on the Islands of Boston harbor were filled with giant cannon placed underground for security. Years after the war we played in these giant caves long after the guns had been removed but I remember being amazed that the guns were all connected by lighted tunnels where big trucks could travel so ammunition could be stored and could be moved to the guns protected from attack. My good friends the Gills lived on Paddocks Island one of the major Forts in the area. It is there in Paddocks waters every summer for a few years long after the war that Birgitta and I with my father fished when we visited him in Hull. Spending hours in the hot sun catching a few fish with Birgitta, totally content, in the stern catching crabs and reading the piles of Swedish magazines her mother had sent so they would be there when we arrived. But that’s another story….

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