Troy's Take: Happy 100th To A Falmouth Legend

Troy ClarksonAmy Rader Photographer - Troy Clarkson

One hundred years. Think of what has happened in this community—in this commonwealth—and in this great nation in the past century. 

In 1914, our nation and President Wilson grappled with the aftermath and implications of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Duchess Sophie, the seminal event that plunged Europe into the July crisis and eventually the First World War. An up-and-coming Major Leaguer named George Herman Ruth Jr. made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, and Pope Benedict XV was installed in Rome as the Roman Catholic Church’s 258th pontiff. 

Yes, the world saw change and progress in 1914. The Federal Reserve Bank opened for business, President Wilson signed a proclamation creating Mother’s Day, and in Everett, Massachusetts, Falmouth legend George Moses was born. Today, a century later, those institutions still play an important role in our society, and George is still making Falmouthites smile and think. Few citizens in our 328 years have had the impact on the culture, the history, and the soul of this community as George Moses. 

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Thanks to the Falmouth Public Library’s archiving of the Enterprise, I also checked the local headlines from George’s birth era to give some local perspective on the year he joined us. Some familiar names popped up. In 1914, St. Barnabas held its election of officers, and E. Pierson Beebe (yes, he of Beebe Woods and Highfield Hall) was elected warden. The treasurer’s post went to J. Arthur Beebe, and Harry V.  Lawrence, whose name would be associated for decades with a nursery on Depot Avenue, was installed as clerk. Some candidates for local elected office also made their intentions known in our local paper of record, including Thomas B. Landers for highway surveyor. 

Although the Enterprise continues to be an invaluable source of local news, the 1914 editions also included a glance at some personal lives. One edition noted that “Mrs. T. Lawrence Swift is visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. D. E Makepeace, at her former home in Attleboro.” Another edition noted that “Miss Olive Hastings, a teacher in the village grammar school, spent the week-end in Newton.” Looking back on my relatively rambunctious young adulthood in Falmouth, it’s a good thing this practice was abandoned. 

Like George Moses, whose 100th birthday last month celebrated a lifetime of celebrating Falmouth, some things remain constant in our slice of history, our Falmouth. A prominent advertiser in the 1914 Enterprise was the Wood Lumber Company on Locust Street, a tradition proudly continued by Falmouth standouts Dana and Eileen Miskell. At the Annual Town Meeting, Article 6 sought to “see what method the town will adopt to suppress the keeping and sale of intoxicating liquors and to prevent gambling and malicious mischief, and make an appropriation therefor or take any other action thereto.”

With his long-standing column “Dry and On the Rocks” in the Enterprise, I think George ignored at least part of that edict of our local legislature. He made plenty of mischief, making us laugh in his observations of the local human condition, but never did so maliciously. As a kid, I remember opening the Enterprise right to the editorial page to catch his column. For decades before that, he offered thoughts in both the Enterprise and Cape Cod Times, and possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of our community and its history. George scribed for the Enterprise as a reporter starting in 1938. Think of that. He began writing for Falmouth and about Falmouth when FDR was early in his presidency. 

George’s legendary commitment to Falmouth, though, did not end with his written observations. He also served as town moderator for 20 years, ushering our legislative business through Falmouth’s burgeoning growth of the 1960s and ’70s, when our agrarian community saw much of the expansion that enabled today’s balanced and diverse local economy and culture. 

Like a Ronco commercial for that “must-have” gadget—wait—there’s more about George Moses and his commitment to community: he also served on the finance committee, wrote a couple of books about Falmouth, including the widely acclaimed “Ring Around the Punchbowl,” and even taught at Lawrence High School (the predecessor of FHS) for 15 years. 

Falmouth in 2014 is very different in many ways from the Falmouth of 1914, but some things remain constant. Wood Lumber is still on Locust Street. Thomas B. Landers is still a name associated with roads, and George Moses is still making people smile and think. Happy 100th birthday to a Falmouth legend.

(Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at votetroy99@aol.com and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.)

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