Norris Reservation a Delightful Escape for 11-year-old boys back in the '50s
posted at 5/27/2012 10:46 PM EDT
An old man named Coffin ran one of the two Norwell Center variety stores along with his wife. They moved from the block behind the South Scituate Savings Bank over to a new concrete block single story building next to Nelly Sparrell's house, separated from her land by a drive leading down the hill to a building where school buses were to be stored. Mr. Coffin took a long walk several times a week over the trail that led from the locked Norris land gate down the path over the mill pond dam and sort of southeast towards the North River. Following him was great fun for the Norwell Detectives, a two-boy team including the high school principal's son, Billy. Over the months Mr. Coffin became less of fun and other delights, such as the old hilltop cabin just above where the path turned down to the river bank drew attention. Over time, the cabin served as a clubhouse for a couple of different groups of boys that played along the river bank. At one point, three 20-foot long pine floorboards were muscled out of the cabin, pantingly carried down to the marsh, tied together with some old rope and launched as rafts big enough to carry half a dozen kids. One time we floated them down to the rapids just downstream beyond the big bend at the Gemelli's boathouse, below the Henderson's place way up the hill. Would have gone further, but we got scared we would lose the boards, so we rode them ashore on the incoming tide. They were still there months later. During the winter, some neighborhood kids from the Center went skating on the mill pond in the Norris land, but a couple of times the ice was pretty weak and somebody fell in. Nobody ever got badly hurt except for the cold. Been back there once or twice in my adulthood, and am sure glad the Norris family gave it to the state instead of selling it for development. Memories are made of this.