“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go…”
Today, not only did I learn that the lyric is actually “to grandfather’s house we go” but also that the house in the song stands in Medford, Massachusetts, just an 18-minute walk away from Aisha’s apartment. WHAT. We discovered this completely by accident when Aisha was looking up the Medford Public Library on Google Maps, and I happened to notice a landmark on the map called the “Over the River Poem House.” What is a poem house? Intrigued I looked it up and had my mind blown when I came upon this Wikipedia article claiming that the house (also known as “Grandfather’s House” or the Paul Curtis House) was the inspiration for Lydia Maria Child’s famous poem “Over the River and through the Wood.” The “river” is the Mystic River, and the “wood” is now Medford neighborhoods.
Naturally I got so excited, we had to go see it. It was a good excuse for a walk on a warm spring day, and we got to explore some streets of Medford that Aisha and I have never seen before. South Street is pretty with brick sidewalks and runs along the Mystic River. Grandfather’s House definitely stands out as looking very grand, as it has white columns in the front. There’s a plaque on the front lawn explaining the historical significance of the house. I’m not sure if anyone lives there now, but I took a photo of the house anyway, because – come on! – it’s the house that’s over the river and through the woods!
Fittingly, once we saw the house, we crossed over the river and walked along the Mystic River Path, passing by a sweet community garden, a mural half-shell stage (which I later learned is called Condon Shell) and a Free Little Library.