Hope Pond beach renamed for lifelong community organizer

Hope Pond beach renamed for lifelong community organizer

Lillian Schofield Salisbury gave swim instruction to the people of Hope beginning in 1945 at the Hope Pond Beach, now named the Lil Salisbury Beach after the June 7 dedication. (Breeze photos by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SCITUATE – Lifelong Hope community organizer Lillian Schofield Salisbury was not easy to keep in the dark about the June 7 Hope Pond beach dedication in her name.

Last Thursday, family and friends gathered outside of the entrance to the beach, sharing memories of years spent at the Hope Pond Recreation Area, at 37 Ryefield Road, with Salisbury. Concocting a tale about renovations on the beachfront was enough to draw Salisbury to the recreation area, but as time passed, she started suspecting that something was not as it seemed.

Approaching Salisbury, Mary Morse, secretary of Hope Associates conservation group, said when she thought about the 50-plus years Salisbury contributed to the community through swimming lessons and community organization, she was motivated to dedicate a place in the town for her.

“I thought maybe we should name something for Lillian for all she’s done,” Morse said. “I thought, let’s name the beach for Lillian.”

Against the fence separating the beach from the grassy field, a marble marker renaming the beach “Lil Salisbury Beach” glistened from the last few rays of low-hanging sun as they reflected off the water. As Morse spoke to the crowd of approximately 20 people, Salisbury realized the deception. Holding back tears, she held her hand to her mouth and managed to squeak out, “You tricked me.”

Upon seeing the plaque, she let out a sigh and laughed. David Ellingwood, director of the Hope Associates and president of Hope Historical Society, spoke about the many years Salisbury spent at the pond.

“This recognition is long overdue and long deserved,” he said. “I’m probably a product of you, you had a great influence on my life, as well as you did hundreds of other kids.”

Salisbury’s work at the Hope Pond began in 1945, he said, running the Hope Pond Water Safety Program, giving swimming instructions and safety programs in Scituate until 1973 when she took a hiatus.

Salisbury said that she was encouraged to teach swimming by a high school teacher after she won a swimming race when she was 18 years old.

“We put a notice up in the post office and we came down here and people started to come,” she said. “Then we added beginners, intermediates, we drew a big crowd. At one point we were teaching over 200 people.”

Salisbury returned from 1988 to 1993 to restore the water safety program, but never stopped attending programs and events. Ellingwood ran through the programs Salisbury helped with over the years: a water show on the Hope Pond, the hot dog roast, town-wide scavenger hunts, hayrides and much more.

Salisbury served for the Hope Associates for as long as she can recall, helping the nonprofit to preserve, conserve and maintain land and water quality on the northern branch of the Pawtuxet River.

She also served on the Hope Community Services, the recreational section of the Hope Associates, where she organized and participated in events in the barn at the Hope Pond.

Her family history of postal workers goes back 100 years to 1918 when her grandfather was appointed postmaster in Fiskeville, then her mother in 1942, and Salisbury taking over in 1970. She still lives in the old post office on Main Street in Fiskeville.

The moment the surprise was unveiled, Mary Morse shares with Lillian Schofield Salisbury the reason she was brought to the Hope Pond Beach. Salisbury said she had wondered why her calendar did not have an event Thursday night, and said she was happily surprised.