Remembering Dorchester

From the pages of The Banner

25 years ago
Just after 1 p.m. Sunday, a dozen or so planes climbed into the slate-gray skies above Cambridge-Dorchester Airport for a 20-minute ride across the Chesapeake Bay to the remote island of Tangier. The pilots carried with them candy canes, holly, Santa Claus and 25 years of tradition.

Twenty-five years ago, Ed Nabb and his son, Ed Nabb Jr., who are both attorneys in Cambridge, conceived of the idea of the “Holly Run” as they plucked sprigs of the seasonal greenery from bushes on the family farm near Aireys.

As the younger Mr. Nabb tells it, on impulse his father decided to cut a couple extra bags for the churches on Tangier Island – a spit of land in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay that can only be reached by boat or plane. Holly is scarce on the island and the natives welcome the gesture.

Since that December day, the goodwill message has grown to include pilots from up and down the Eastern Seaboard. On some “runs,” 15 planes from New York to Virginia have landed on the narrow Runway 20 to spread the holiday spirit to the 700 or so inhabitants of the island.

“Let’s face it, it’s also a social thing,” said the elder Mr. Nabb. “The old boys get together, share stories.”

50 years ago
Two men and two women were arrested by Maryland State Police here yesterday in a series of gambling raids carried out in Baltimore City and 14 other Maryland counties in a crackdown on pinball machines.

Troopers also went into Jim’s Drive In Restaurant at 301 Dorchester Ave. and confiscated three pinball machines, but no arrests were made. At the Sportsman’s Bar, one pinball machine was confiscated.

100 years ago
The chairman of the state roads commission yesterday went to Annapolis to consult with Governor Harrington as to the appropriation to be recommended to the Legislature for highway maintenance the next two years.

The automobile license tax, the greater part of which is devoted to maintenance, has proved insufficient. There is now a deficit of about $200,000 and no way has been found to meet it.

When the present automobile tax was framed, it was supposed that it would produce enough money to keep the roads in proper condition, but it has failed to do so. The deficit has been more marked since motortrucks have come into general use. Some of them are so heavy that they have torn the macadam roads to pieces.

Reader Sharon Phillips brought by this photo of Poplar Street in Cambridge from 110 years ago.

Reader Sharon Phillips brought by this photo of Poplar Street in Cambridge from 110 years ago.

That there will be a new loan for road construction is doubtful, because of the present high State tax rate. But unless the roads are to be let go to pieces, there must be money for maintenance.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at

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