Today I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Charlotte Lindgren, an Ipswich native, and who also loves Ipswich history. Her great grandparents Marianna and Maynard Whittier owned a “commodious house” at the junction of Essex Road and County Road (also known as “Parting Paths“). The old house and farm were long ago replaced by the Whittier Motel. Her parents owned the former foreman’s house at the old Upland Farm on Fellows Road, which is where she grew up.
The source of this story is from Charlotte’s book, “The Life and Lineage of Hilmer H. and Grace W. Lindgren.” She went to Shatswell School on Green St, graduated from Ipswich High School, and twice a year she comes back to Ipswich for a visit, along with her friend from Dorset, England, where Charlotte and her late husband often summered. We met at the Ipswich Inn, and talked for over two hours. I left with three bags filled with books about Ipswich that she brought with her to pass on to me. For an historian, it was like Christmas had come early!
After Charlotte graduated from Boston University, she began taking graduate courses in addition to her full-time day work in the dean’s office. Every day she boarded the Boston and Maine (B&M) Railroad at the Ipswich Depot, commuting to Boston and back.
On February 28, 1956, she was unfortunate to be in two horrible train crashes in the same morning, but luckily survived them both unscathed. New England was in the grips of a ravaging A Nor’easter that day, with gale-force winds and heavy snow.
The “Buddliner” she was traveling in had stopped at Swampscott. An express train, operating too fast for conditions, overran a red signal and hit the one she was in at full speed, crushing the parked train and tearing off the top of a car.
Thirteen people were killed instantly, but Charlotte told me that because she was lying on the seat asleep, the engine went right over her but she was not injured. She somehow made her way off the wreck, and got on a train from Marblehead. It wrecked 71 minutes later in Revere, when it too was slammed from behind by an express train. Charlotte Lindgren somehow escaped injury in both crashes. She graduated and in 1960 accepted employment as Professor of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College, where she continued until her retirement in 1989, In 1978 she married Donald James Winslow, professor at Boston University He died in 2010 at the age of 98. Now in her 90s,Charlotte Lindgren is Professor Emerita at Emerson College and still going strong.
Thanks, Charlotte for sharing your stories with me today. Your treasured Ipswich books are in good hands.