A Tribute to Lords
by Richard DeSorgher.
Delivered during “Celebrate Lords” February 15, 2013
Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
Welcome to Medfield’s version of Cheers, a piece of Americana, where everyone truly does know your name and from the Kelly family they really are glad that you came. June, Nancy, Tom, and most especially Bill, thank you, thank you for being the outlet, thank you for being the location, thank you for being the thread that ties the fabric of that special material that makes what I call making Medfield, Medfield. For 274 years where you are right at this very moment has been the retail heart and soul of Medfield Center. (as I am only given 6 minutes to talk I’ll give the history of this corner another time) so (my favorite story)Fast forward to 1940 and meet Raymond Lord, a New York business man, who, passing through Medfield, noted the absence of any real retail stores. Being the business man that he was, he inquired about the town’s population which he saw was just over 4,000. “Business here would be a gold mine,” he thought. He opened ‘Lords 5 and 10 Cent Store’ at 485 Main Street, down the street, site of today’s Philip DePalma. He waited for the customers to pour in, and he waited and waited, until finally asking locals, “Where are all the people?” The population of Medfield State Hospital, which was counted on town census records, contained over 2,000 of those 4,000 residents; thus leaving Medfield itself with just 2,000 people. Half of those Mr. Lord thought would be customers, would never be able to shop at his store. A fact, if known by Ray Lord at the time, would have had him continue riding right through Medfield and no Lords would have ever opened. The rest is history and for almost 73 years that first tiny 5 and 10 Cent Store, that later moved to this current location in 1945, grew to become a major town institution.
Opening Day, March 29, 1940, Raymond Lord hired local youths to go about the town delivering “Opening Day” flyers. One was 17-year old Bill Kelly. Not only did Bill deliver more flyers than the other boys that day, by using his ingenuity and peddling on his bicycle, but his strong work ethic impressed the businessman, Ray Lord, who hired him on the spot. When Bill left and went into World War II the following year, Ray Lord promised him that he would have his job waiting for him when he returned. And true to his word it was. Bill Kelly would become the driving force behind Lords for the next 67 years.
Memories Home made ice cream, live baby chicks in the windows for Easter, turtles in a tub of water, pony rides for children, a live alligator in the front window. What was with all the animals. I have to tell the alligator story. Irene Gattoni who worked the fountain at Lords for 30 years and who was also my God Mother use to tell the story that she was petrified of the baby alligator that Bill had displayed in a cage in the front window. Sadly, one day the alligator died but Bill never told Irene. He put the now empty cage with its door open down in the basement and asked Irene to go down to the basement to get some supplies. Irene was not down there 10 seconds when she let out a scream and flew up the stairs, thinking the alligator was some how loose down there, much to the laughter of Bill.
Memories June Kelly staying up to all hours in the nights before Easter, actually making the Easter baskets that were sold at Lords.
Memories As a kid, walking around the toy aisle looking at the model airplanes and being followed by Bill’s mother, who also worked at the store– the CIA had nothing over her abilities to track and observe your every move. As teenagers– cherry cokes at the fountain, frappes where you actually got the mental container to go along with your full glass.
Memories Lords sold just about everything, was always open. Lords fountain became a social hangout of local lore. The locals had their own stools each morning for coffee. Here talk itself was a primary form of amusement. Town gossip would spread, political arguments would erupt, and town news would circulate.
Bill Kelly’s passion was Lords as he was putting in 75-100 hour work weeks. He sacrificed these hours and lived the American dream for his family. The long hours did not get Bill down. He always made the best of it; his personality, his smile, the way he made you feel welcome to the store, drew people to him. His upbeat ways were contagious to all he met. No one served the public more than Bill Kelly and no one, no one followed that tradition more than did Nancy and Tom.
That Andy of Mayberry feeling- the American Dream, the work ethic, proud patriotism with the flags and bunting, The fountain, the general store atmosphere, community service, friendship, the tonic sign, my personal favorite, the massive candy counter that had to be in cahoots with Dr, Heiligmann and Dr. Nickerson to increase their dental business on the cavity front, baseball cards, 5 cents with the hard pink gum inside, buying pack after pack of the cards, opening them in the store to see who you got and trading them on the spot with friends.
Memories the many, many workers who became what really was family to the Lords and to the Kellys- the one that stands out to me was Fred, never did know his last name, but couldn’t wait to say “hi Fred,” whenever I came into the store. He was always my go to guy.
Memories School supplies, posters for map projects, last minute rush to Lords when you needed additional Christmas bulbs or an extension cord. Whatever you needed… they always had it
Lords truly was a place where everyone did know your name and they really were glad that you came, especially if you were going to buy something. Lord’s, so much more than a store. You know, Looking at the crowd here and the amount of press and community talk that has taken place, I can not recall any other store in Medfield’s history having such an impact. All this can best be summarized by the words of the poet Yeats who wrote: “Count where a man’s glory most begins and ends and say my glory was that I had such friends.” To the Kellys…. you truly have been…. and you truly have,… such friends
All this will be hard to explain to those who move to Medfield in the future, they will never be able to under stand, but for those of us who experienced this piece of small town America, it will always be entrenched in our memory. Hopefully the sign will be able to remain for all time, as a reminder that, for once there was a spot, perhaps real, certainly in our memory, that causes us to think of when things were good, the Norman Rockwell images of what we imagine America was all about, the small town friendships and that is what makes this store so much more than a store, it is something inside us that we don’t want to let go. It is a huge part of that making Medfield, Medfield.
The people, the friendships, the trust………… Lords the physical building of brick and mortar will soon be gone, changed into other businesses, but Lords the feeling,… Lords the state of Mind, where everyone really did know your name and they really were glad you came — that slice of Americana that is in all of us, even if only stored in our memory, will never leave. That we have for all time.
Thank you June, Thank you Tom, Thank you Nancy!