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Bob Johnson Named “Plains Man of the Year”

He says that he doesn't deserve or want the honor, but nonetheless, Robert Johnson – secretary of the Plains Association for more than two decades – was named the 2012 "Man of the Year" at the 31st Annual Plains Association Reunion dinner held on September 16 at the Italian American Veterans Post. A retired AT&T supervisor, most people in town know Johnson as the ticket-taker at the American Legion Junior Baseball games for the past 35 years.

"He's the secretary. He does more than anyone else," Association President Louis Bertonazzi said after Johnson was selected out of the dinner audience for his honor.

The Plains Association members celebrate their life growing up in the area of Milford below the former railroad tracks – now the Upper Charles River Trail – on the streets along Main St. and East Main St. (Route 16) out to its intersection with Medway Road (Route 109), that was primarily settled by Italian-Americans from the 1890s through World War II.

Before Johnson's selection was announced, Bertonazzi led attendees through their traditional Mass, breakfast at the Italian Vets, and rededication of the Plains Monument on East Main St. There, association member Joseph DiAntonio reminisced about life in the Plains. "The Plains was a self-contained neighborhood. We had everything here," he said. "No matter what we needed, it was here for us to enjoy."

DiAntonio listed the various schools; local markets; milkmen; granite companies; gambling joints, bars and speakeasies; gas stations; shoe repair shops; doctors and dentists; drug stores; barber shops; ponds for ice skating and fishing; "ledge holes" at quarries for swimming; playgrounds and ball fields; hills for sledding; local musicians; bakeries; social clubs; meat wagons; laundries; undertakers; hot dog and hamburger stands; and, coil and oil companies that were in the area.

During the annual dinner, DiAntonio also provided his usual round of jokes, and Selectmen Chairman Brian Murray – the featured speaker – reminisced about various audience members.


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