Saturday, January 29, 2011



by Archie Mazmanian

I have a vague memory of being at Magazine Beach as an infant with my parents, vague in that the memory was stirred when my family moved from Somerville to Roxbury in the mid 1930s where I was about to start the second grade. My father would bring a daily newspaper home from work; I recall in the summer months during heat waves reading references to certain counts at Magazine Beach that would result in “no swimming” allowed. My mother told me of taking my brother and me to Magazine Beach.

My next memory of the Charles River was as a pre-teen when my best friend and I on a hike from Roxbury to the Museum of Fine Arts discovered the Muddy River, exploring it to the Charles River. We noticed the abundance of carp, large and small, mostly black but some golden that we were told resulted from goldfish flushed in toilets. We tried to catch carp with drop lines using bread balls as bait but with no success; and worms didn?t work either. (Many years later, as a father, I explored the Boston side of the Charles River with my children, noting the many golden carp in the River this side of the Muddy River dam, recalling to them my earlier adventures.)

My best friend and I became interested in fishing from reading magazines. We bought fishing rods with bait casting reels. We learned about opening day for freshwater fishing and the stocking of trout, including in the Charles River. According to a sports column in a Boston newspaper, a great spot for catching trout was the Charles River in Dover. We were amazed when we studied a map of the River as it wended its way upstream many miles to Dover through many communities that we knew nothing about.

We checked train schedules to Dover and planned our trip to catch trout on opening day. We got to a rail station in Dover early in the morning and asked for directions to get to the bridge in Dover that was the hot spot for trout. We started walking when a Post Office truck stopped and asked where we were going and gave us a ride to the bridge. We were excited as we prepared to wet our lines and catch us some trout.

This was the first time we had fished with rod and reel. In my anxiety, I neglected to properly seat my reel in the rod and with my first cast the reel slipped into the River. Fortunately, I had knotted the line to the reel so that I was able to retrieve it by pulling up the line, all of it. Opening day was cold. We were unsuccessful in even getting a bite. So after a couple of hours, we decided to head home. We walked back to the train station and learned that it would be several hours at least before a train was scheduled for a return trip. So we asked about how we might get back to Roxbury.

We were told of a bus route that would get us to Watertown Square, where there was a Boston Elevated trolley line that would get us home. When we arrived at Watertown Square, we noticed the Charles River, much wider than at the bridge in Dover. But we were hungry and took the A Line trolley at Watertown Square into Boston and with several transfers home to Roxbury, weary, hungry and rejected with our first efforts at opening day fishing. The Charles River was not very accommodating.

[Part II will include subsequent encounters with the Charles River at Watertown Square.]