Waterfront Farms 1944 – 2009

Richard Walsh
Richard F. Walsh, March 27 1924 - July 4, 2009
Waterfront Farms- From Littles Lane Newbury, MA
Waterfront Farms- From Littles Lane Newbury, MA

Waterfront Farms – Located at Newbury, Ma.  If you didn’t work here as a kid you knew someone who did.  Richard Walsh has been farming this land since about 1945.  Staring out growing vegetables, but ending with flowers.  Locate it

So where is Richard Walsh now?  This photo was taken in June of 2008 on a visit to his home.  Up until 2006  he has been planting his dahlia bulbs and picking them himself.  Richard is 84 years old. This just goes to show a little hard work never killed anybody!  Unfortunately at age 85 he past away on July 4, 2009.

Workers picked for Flowers for the Boston Flower Exchange,  Ronnie at Meadow Brook Farm, Tendercrop Farms, Marini Farm, etc… Remember Joe Marini at Marini Farm at Ipswich, Ma.

Richard Walsh & Shawn Gearin
Richard Walsh & Shawn Gearin

Anyone who has ever worked for Richard will remember these tools.  The wooden stick was for planting pumpkin seeds, the knife was used to cut flowers and of course the weeder.  These tools were from circa 1981 + – 15 yrs.Waterfront Farm Tools of the Trade

Richard… “Ahoy Kid…”

* Richard used to refer to say farmers work in clean dirt and mechanics work in dirty dirt.  It was only after fixing hydraulic hoses on his tractor that he got real dirty.

* On Fridays he’d take the workers out to lunch.  He’d drive everyone to the bank in Newbury to cash their checks.  He always paid for lunch no matter how many were invited.

* He would always say, “You have be be smarter than the machine…the machine is nothing but a  dumb piece of metal.”  This would be in reference to you stalling a tractor by letting the clutch out too fast or stalling the push lawnmower in 2 feet of grass.

* When you didn’t do as he asked he would say, “If you don’t want the job just tell me…Say Mr Walsh I do not want the job and you can leave.  The farm was hear long before you and it will be here long after.”  Richard expected near perfection in all his workers.


Richard traveled the world during the January – March months.  He has traveled to every continent, yes Antarctica and has visited the  Soviet Union before the Iron Curtain Fell.

He would say inside the barn during winter was one of the coldest places on earth.  I’d have to agree.

His choice of car was a white Cadillac in the 1960- 70’s .  He loved the car so much it became his farm car also (field bomber).  Later he traded up to driving RV motor homes that he drove around town and into Boston for flower deliveries.  Most workers will remember the white Caddy and RV’s.

The Workers

Working with kids can aggravate the heck out of you, especially when you rely on the work produced as your sole income.  You would know when Richard was mad.  If the anger was directed toward you it was the worst 15 minutes of your life.  If it wasn’t it was the best 15 minutes of entertainment a paycheck could buy.  Richard always expected it done his way, which usually was the right way.   He was fair and after all he was the boss.   After a day of work we took away with us a greater knowledge of farming and a sore back.  Although we never thought about that as kids,  as adults we can now appreciate the expectations he had for us.

On July 4, 2009 Richard passed away leaving only to memory 65 years of Waterfront Farm memories and stories.  If you have one to share please comment below.

We are looking for lost Waterfront Farm Alumni  – please contact me!

Bruce Nichols of Byfield, Ma

Tim Walsh (No relation) Newburyport, Ma High St

David Mowry of Newburyport, Ma Woodland St , Merrimac St

Louie McGinness of Newburyport, Ma

Ian Rice of Newburyport, Ma

Joe Roaf of Newbury, Ma

25 Responses to Waterfront Farms 1944 – 2009

  1. Great photos Shawn . Good to see he is still doing well after all this time . I came across some photos of the farm online . You should post some of the place if you have some .

    jfrost December 6, 2008 at 2:37 pm Reply
  2. Just thought I’d drop a note, as not sure how to contact the site directly, to pass the word that Dick has passed away

    B mckenna July 7, 2009 at 10:23 pm Reply
  3. Thanks for the note. Did you ever work at the farm? I started at age 11. I lied and told him I was 12 since at that time that was the minimum age he wanted. I must have worked 10-12 summers there through high school and college. I learned a lot, especially about hard work!

    Shawn G Mod July 8, 2009 at 6:23 pm Reply
  4. Pingback: NBPTMA.com – History Your Way Newburyport Ma Circa 1950-1990 » Richard F. Walsh 1924 – 2009

  5. Richard will be missed and remembered by all that knew him . A great boss and farmer . I learned a lot working there , and have many fond memories of the place . I too remember getting yelled at on those “occasions” when you decided to do things “your way” . Even got sent home a few times . You learned the best thing to say was nothing , and took the punishment of “weeding” or mowing the grass . Which indeed was a punishment because you made all your money doing “piece work”
    I Started at the farm when I was 12yrs old also and worked there off and on till in my mid twenties . Don’t know how many times I got some nasty cuts from those razor knives cutting veggies . Used to cut veggies in the morning and when you got better Richard would let you pick flowers in the afternoon ( which is where you made all your money ) He would always have you write down your “daily totals” on a little pice of cardboard . He always managed to keep us busy spring through mid-December . I can honestly say the barn truly was the coldest place in the winter .
    Or , when Richard thought you were “man enough” , he’d take you to set up portable horse stalls at various equestrian events throughout New England . Was truly some hard work for a kid , and often would get home late after a long drive back home .
    A funny memory was when Richard would have one of his “barbeques” . He’d make us burgers and hotdogs and corn on the cob from one of the local farmstands he traded with . He was the only guy I know that could eat corn on the cob and finish with corn kernals on his glasses and in his hair . We’d all get a chuckle .

    Hopefully more that worked there will find this site and add their memories of Waterfront Farm.
    “Ahoy Kid” it’s time to go …

    jfrost July 9, 2009 at 10:58 am Reply
  6. No I never had the pleasure of working on the farm, grew up on the south shore. Uncle Dick was my grandfathers brother.
    I can relate to the Walsh work ethic and how it was best to say nothing on those “ocassions”. (My grandfather was and father still is a lot like him in that respect)
    He was a good man, I only wish I’d gotten to know him better when I (and he) was younger.

    B mckenna July 9, 2009 at 6:08 pm Reply
  7. Who was your grandfather? I know Richard had 2 brothers Leo and C??? I can’t think of his name at the moment, but he also worked a bit at the farm. I’m going up to the memorial at the farm, but do you know where he is buried?

    Shawn G Mod July 9, 2009 at 10:16 pm Reply
  8. Shawn , I can meet you for the memorial . Let me know !

    jfrost July 10, 2009 at 8:51 am Reply
  9. My first job was at Waterfront farms. I can still see that endless row of spinach and remember being handed a Newbury horse show ticket for each basket that weighed in. The tickets would be turned in at the end of the work day and we were paid, I think it was 25 cents per bushel basket picked. Dick leased or had some working agreement with the then owners of the historic “Little’s Farm” at the time. Working for the owners was an old Russian man whom we knew as “Jacob”. By coincidence, he had years earlier, boarded at my Russian grandparents house on Charles St. in Newburyport. My brother and I were always greeted with a friendly smile by Jacob whenever our paths would cross at the farm. I’ll remember Richard Walsh as I would remember the farm itself, as a “constant”. Some-how always there and until recent years, unchanged. I believe most of us who toiled at the farm summer after summer, learned more than we realized at the time. Not just just the fine art of farming, but the true value of an honest day’s work. It was nice to have your own money in your pocket and be able to buy your own school clothes or those “coveted” Frye boots. As many of us had, I endured his wrath on more than one occasion. But we learned from our mistakes and some of us went on to become what Dick referred to as “Star Workers”. You had “earned ” his trust to do your best with limited or no supervision running a harvester or one of the ancient Mccormack cultivator tractors. My older brother was promoted the “field boss” one summer. My friend Bill and I got “fired” by him at least a dozen times. Mostly for throwing beets and dirt clods at him as he stood on the back of the rack truck barking orders at everyone. One day we were fired and re-hired three or four times by him. As we dropped our baskets and knives and started walking off the beet or spinach field after my brother screamed that we were “OUT OF HERE”, he’d scream just as vehemently that we were to “GET BACK TO WORK”… Quite amusing actually… We worked the horse-shows too, all over. I will miss those days on the farm and I will miss “Mr. Walsh”.

    p. j. nichypor July 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm Reply
  10. Well said P.J. ! Sounds like you worked there before my time . Do you remember Brian Janvrin that worked there ? He was there before me also . His youngest brother got me the job there . Perhaps we may see you at the Memorial next Sunday …
    I forget the name of the guy that was forman when I started work there . Steve was his name I think . Gosh I hated that guy … If your bushel didn’t “weigh in” , he’d throw it back at you … Taught me lesson though ! Made me learn to do it the “bosses” way !

    jfrost July 10, 2009 at 1:21 pm Reply
  11. My grandfather was Andrew (Andy) Walsh. I think he was going to be cremated, last I knew .

    B mckenna July 10, 2009 at 1:50 pm Reply
  12. Sounds good John! – I’ll follow up with you on FB.

    Shawn G Mod July 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm Reply
  13. I never worked on the farm but was lucky enough to meet Richard and visit those beautiful fields of flowers. What a beautiful place to work and he seemed to love it very much.
    Every time I drive by that little lane that leads to the farm or walk by the Boston flower vendors on my way to work, I think of him-especially if I see Dahlias.

    A Stackhouse Randall July 14, 2009 at 9:23 pm Reply
  14. Great seeing everyone today at the memorial service and hearing all the old stories and memories of Richard and the farm .

    jfrost July 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm Reply
  15. Pingback: NBPTMA.com – History Your Way Newburyport Ma Circa 1950-1990 » Richard F. Walsh 1924 – 2009

  16. This was my first job … spinach, beet greens, parsley (richard had a lateral lisp and as such a special way to say parsley), and straw flowers … we were paid by the pound. That taught us to be productive! There were some mean boys who practiced using the green-handled spinach knives to throw them at frogs and pin them to the ground… I worked with a great guy named Fred Chase, who died in Viet Nam, and I wept when I saw his name on the Wall in Washington DC … it was a bicycle ride to get there from our place in joppa, but like PJ said above, of course I also bought a pair of coveted Frye boots … at a “hippie” place on ?Inn St … Siddarthur? with the money I earned cutting spinach.

    Bob January 10, 2010 at 9:41 pm Reply
  17. [img]https://nbptma.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/IMG_1744_W-1.JPG[/img]
    Here’s how Richards old barn looked last fall ( 2010 ) It is in some disrepair , but according to the caretaker ( Bethany ) it is slated to be fixed and turned into some sort of farm museum .

    jfrost March 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm Reply
  18. I remember the last time it was painted in it’s entirety by a crew of Mexicans. They painted it in a day. They were fast. That was over 20 yrs ago.

    Shawn G - Moderator March 11, 2011 at 1:09 am Reply
  19. The old barn is looking much better now after a new roof and coat of paint ! Any luck locating any of the “Alumni” ? 😀

    jfrost October 8, 2011 at 10:00 am Reply
  20. Also a link to some photos of the farm . If you have any you would like to share please fell free to add them ( new or old )

    jfrost October 8, 2011 at 10:05 am Reply
  21. [img]http://www.flickr.com/groups/1793198@N21/[/img]

    jfrost October 8, 2011 at 10:06 am Reply
  22. I worked at Wwl

    DSouther March 22, 2012 at 10:41 am Reply
  23. I worked at Walshs. picking spinach. when I was in 5th grade. I had to get a work permit. I thought I was the cats ass .then it was. off to Sweeney farm on hale st haying. then I was making real money lol. that was hard work.still to this day I hay with Jerry but now I just drive the tractors in my spare time I enjoy being out in the fields getting sun.getting old and 2 back surg.prevents me from doing hard labor any more I miss it. driving the tractors. is ok.

    DSouther March 22, 2012 at 10:53 am Reply
  24. I hold the record for the number of bushels of spinach cut at Dick Walsh’s farm in one day.
    One hundred and twenty seven (127) bushels.
    When Dick died we spread his ashes over the fields where the spinach used to grow.

    Joe Mannix July 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm Reply

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