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New Book Tells Bedford's History Through Postcards

Former Historical Society Presidents Alethea Yates wrote her new book using her postcard collection and a few borrowed from around town.

Chock full of images of town from the early part of the last century, and before, author Alethea “Lee” Yates hopes even longtime Bedford residents find something new in her new history book.

Yates, who is a former president and executive director of the Bedford Historical Society, recently published “Bedford” which is part of Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History Series.

During the research for the book, Yates discovered some interesting things about town, including the fact that the first commercial flight from the United States to Europe took off from Bedford on Oct. 24, 1945.

“At the time, Logan not big enough for big birds, so it left from Hanscom Field,” Yates said. “It took 18 hours and had many stops. For the next year and a half all the flights to Europe all left from Hanscom.”

She also found out more about a famous tale from Bedford’s past at Lexington Park. The park ran from 1902 to 1918 and straddled the Bedford-Lexington line, but most of it was in Bedford, Yates said.

Visitors could enjoy a zoo, have a picnic, play on the ball fields, and catch a Vaudeville act at the big outdoor theater.

Many have heard about the man who died after being attacked by a bear, but the details were murky. Yates found information from reports in the Boston Globe at the time,

“He climbed over the fence to get over to the bear cage and either dropped or threw bag of peanuts into cage,” Yates said. “He accidently bumped the bear on the nose and the bear swiped him. He didn’t die right away. He died in hospital.”

Yates wrote an introduction for each chapter of the book, but most of the information comes in the captions for the post cards.

She had about 100 postcards that she collected over the years, but when she applied to write the book she found she needed at least 180 postcards.

Yates scoured eBay every day and also contacted people in town who collect postcards, too.

Some of the newer postcards have been favorites of readers. She included images of the Blake Block, which was recently replaced by the Sheldon Block. Others include the Bedford Plaza Hotel on the Great Road and the recently demolished Travel Lodge.

“I’m finding people have a lot to say about things still around today,” Yates said. “(The Travel Lodge) was an ugly old motel, but I have heard lots of people saying, ‘I remember that place, I stayed there, I had wedding there, my mother worked there.’” 

The book can be purchased at the Bedford Historical Society, at Barnes & Noble in Burlington and on Amazon.com.

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