'Mattapoisett's Finest' honored at new exhibit

By Georgia Sparling | Jun 29, 2014
Photo by: Georgia Sparling Past and present members of the Mattapoisett Police Department gather at the Mattapoisett Historical Society Muesum. From left: Kent Davis, Ed Pina, Chief Mary Lyons, Capt. Anthony Days, Ken Pacheco and former Chief James Moran.

Mattapoisett — Retired and active officers of the Police and Fire Departments took a trip down memory lane as the Mattapoisett Historical Society unveiled its summer exhibit Thursday evening at an open house.

Mattapoisett’s Finest: Fire and Police” highlights 157 years of the two departments’ service to the town through memorabilia, uniforms, newspaper articles and photos.

In addition, to the artifacts already in the museum’s collection, many items are on loan from the departments and individuals. Curator Elizabeth Hutchison also interviewed current and past officers to get a picture of the police and firefighters’ contributions to the town.

For many retired officers, the exhibit brought back events they hadn’t thought of in a long time.

Ken Pacheco recalled a shootout on Randall Road in 1974 with four armed robbery suspects that left one dead.

“When you’re young and your adrenaline is up, you can do anything,” said Pacheco, who served for 30 years. “[The suspect] aimed a gun at us. Everybody shot. It was close quarters.”

Kent Davis, a detective who served from 1978 to 1992, was involved in a number of drug busts in his day. The most memorable were a couple of boats filled with cocaine that entered Mattapoisett Harbor.

Although he’s now retired and lives in Florida, Davis said he wouldn’t divulge the source who told him about the drugs that started in Florida and made a stop in Virginia before making it to town.

“I never did and I never will give up how I got that information,” he said.

Those stories may be the ones civilians most remember, but Davis said that isn’t what sticks out from his time serving the town.

“It may not be the exciting things, but back then we used to do more hours off the books to do the job than what we got paid for,” said Davis. “We did a lot of surveillance that the town couldn’t afford to pay for, so we just did it.”

Ed Pina, who served Marion eight years and Mattapoisett for 25, recalled a more lighthearted occurrence from his time on the force.

While searching for a suspect in a house, he scanned a closet and discovered the hiding fugitive.

“I saw some ankles. I know shoes don’t come with ankles,” said Pina.

On the Fire Department side, Lt. Justin Dubois said he was impressed with all the history Hutchison dug up.

“I think she did an awesome job with it on both sides. It’s nice to have something like that in the town – showing the history that most people never knew.”

As his department's de facto historian, Dubois has collected hundreds of photos to preserve them for his department. He contributed pictures and information from his research for the exhibit.

Dubois said he discovered new things in the process. For example, Crescent Beach once had a female fire chief.

“It was a person we’d never heard of,” said Dubois, who plans to do further research on the mystery woman. “We’re running out of people that know these things. It’s good that we can get people together in ways like this.”

For Hutchinson, the exhibit is already doing what it was intended to: touching a chord with residents.

“When you do an exhibit, you want to do something that’s significant to the town and also fun to go and see,” she said.

The exhibit officially opens on Wednesday, July 2. The Mattapoisett Historical Society museum will be open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m in July and August.

The entrance fee is $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 6 to 16. For more information, call 508-758-2844 or visit mattapoisetthistoricalsociety.org.

Ken Pacheco looks at articles that reported cases he worked on as a police officer. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
People used fire boxes for years to alert the Fire and Police Departments. When activated, an electrical signal went to the police department where a ticker tape printed out the location of the box. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
Romeo Bedard and Mattapoisett's first Police Chief Alden Kinney at Town Wharf. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
A view of the Police Department side of the exhibit, including Chief James Moran standing in front of his uniform. "It still fits," said Moran. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
A group shot of the mustachioed Fire Department from back when facial hair was allowed on the job. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
A newspaper clipping from a shootout in 1974 that resulted in one armed robber dead. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
Thank you letters written to Fire Chief Calvin Perkins in the 1920s. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
Breathing apparatus from the 1960s. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
An emergency sheet and an old fashioned fire department helmet are among the many items on display from the police and fire departments. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
Several patches from the Fire Department are on display at the exhibit. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
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