Retired Andover Fire Chief Harold Hayes asked if I remembered the "Avenue of Flags." I remembered that Andover used to fly flags pretty much all over the downtown and Shawsheen for patriotic holidays, but I didn't specifically remember the term "Avenue of Flags."
Hayes said that, between 1965 and 1968, he and Walter Potvin, working as the fire-alarm crew of the fire department, installed all the hardware and flag poles on the telephone poles around downtown, including all the poles from Phillips Academy to the Lawrence line on Main Street plus going up some fair distance on Elm, Lowell, Haverhill, and Balmoral streets. They put the flags up for Memorial Day and Independence Day, then removed them after three days and properly stored them.
The numbered flags were the family burial flags of Andover military people who served in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Chief Hayes is retired, now lives in Florida and says he knows the tradition of putting up these flags continued through Town Manager Ken Mahony's days, but the flags became less numerous when another department took the job over from the fire department. "This might have been due the flags getting old or being returned to the owners," said Hayes.
I picked up some additional information on Jim Greeley, the owner of Greeley's Market. The telephone number of Greeley's Market was 1234. This was before dial phones in Andover when we spoke to operators. You'd pick up the phone and an operator would say, "number please"; you'd respond, "1234, please"; and the oper ator would say "thank you." Greeley's number became GReenleaf 5 1234 and now is 978-475-1234. I'm sure it won't be answered at the market, so please don't call it.
Phil Higgins, Earl Urban and Ed Gill were three of Greeley's delivery men in the early 1930s, and Mal Lynch delivered in the late '30s. Phil Higgins, who lived on Highland Road, later became a milkman, and his son Frankie was one of my best friends. I previously mentioned that Ted Boudreau delivered as well, long before becoming a teacher and coach. Robert Stefani said he delivered for the Rockport Market, the successor to Greeley's, in the 1950s, and he took over for Danny Murphy, who went to PA. Robert is most recently working to have a plaque placed in the Town Office Building describing the history of Punchard High School, which was housed in that building.
When Jim Greeley retired he said he was going to Warm Springs, Ga. to get the Office of Price Administration out of his system. The OPA controlled prices and rationed many commodities, including meat, during World War II and two years after it, until 1947. It was reinstated in the Korean War under another name, much to the agony of small businessmen. To keep the meat cutting private, during World War II Jim Greeley used moveable partitions to cut off the view of the butcher's room. An executive order by President Eisenhower in 1953 ended price controls.
Tom Garvey says that often his family would want meat from Greeley's and Tom would drop off the order on his way to St. Augustine's School. At the 11:30 dinner patrol, Tom would slip into the patrol that went toward Greeley's, hide in an alley to avoid the patrol leaders, run into Greeley's, get the meat, run up to his house on Chapman Avenue, eat dinner, and try to get back to school in time.
Back then, those of us close enough to school would get three meals from our mothers: breakfast, dinner, and supper. Dinner was a big meal, often a bigger meal than supper.
Greeley owned the Cordial Shop, a liquor store on Barnard Street, and he sold it to Joe McNally. Somehow, I ended up with a piece of that business for a short time and my partners and I closed the shop and sold the license. There was a giant refrigerator in the shape of a beer bottle in the store that would be worth a small fortune today, but I have no idea where it ended up.
Bill Dalton writes a weekly column for the Andover Townsman. His email address is BillDalton@AndoverTownie.com.