You never really think about how weird your hometown is until you sit down and try to list what makes it unique. I used to think that my tiny rural town of Lakeville, Massachusetts – population 10,602 – was as boring and mediocre as one would expect. As it turns out, we have quite a bit of a dramatic history – and reputation.
As one might expect, Lakeville is known for its lakes. In fact, about 20% of the town’s total land area is underwater. (Probably twice that when there’s a particularly brutal rainstorm!) Thanks to these extensive water sources, Lakeville is an ideal location for cranberry bogs. In fact, we and our neighboring town Middleboro host the headquarters of Ocean Spray, the company responsible for 70% of North American cranberry production.
Lakeville was originally settled in 1717 as Middleboro. During that time, the body of John Sassamon, advisor to the governor, was discovered under the ice of Assawompset Pond. His death and the following execution of three Native Americans was one of the sources of tension that led to the outbreak of King Philip’s War. In the late 18th century Deborah Sampson, famous for dressing as a man and fighting during the American Revolution, worked as an indentured servant for some time in Middleboro. It was not until 1853 when Lakeville finally split off because it was much larger than the surrounding towns. Despite this split, Lakeville’s residents are fairly dependent on Middleboro. Growing up, I spent much of my time in the neighboring town due to it being much more settled. I consider Middleboro just as much of a home as I do Lakeville.
Middleboro is the birthplace of Lavinia Warren, wife to General Tom Thumb. Only 2’8” and 3’4” respectively, they achieved a very successful circus career and became some of the most famous faces of their time. Lakeville is home to a park named Ted Williams Camp, once the site of a summer baseball camp run by none other than Ted Williams. In fact, he often used to go fishing in the many nearby ponds. Lakeville and Middleboro have actually made the Little League World Series a few times.
Perhaps my favorite part of all about Lakeville, though, is our… excessive October traditions. Many of you know of my obsession with Halloween, and I can say for certain that I am a product of my town. Everyone in town knows about the beloved Lakeville Haunted House. As someone who has been to a great many haunted houses, I have yet to experience one as well-done as this. The volunteers rehearse for months in advance. Entire buildings are constructed. It has to be at least a mile of constant haunted house – no intervals of only walking. People come from all around Massachusetts. In fact, I have encountered some people from out of state! There is no doubt that a lot of love and care is put into this experience each and every year. What else can be expected of a town with almost one cemetery per square mile? Middleboro may have taken the nickname: “Cranberry Capital of the World,” but Lakeville is hands down the “Halloween Capital of the World.”