Before we begin, let’s get one thing out of the way. There is no king in Hopkinton. This is not a history or civics lesson. It’s a pronunciation tip: Hop-kin-ton.
“I think putting the ‘i-n-g’ in makes it linguistically easier to say,’’ said Hopkinton resident Cathy Buday. “It just takes more effort to say Hop-kin-ton.’’
Buday, who writes the “Tales of Yesteryear’’ column for The Hopkinton Independent biweekly newspaper, said the incorrect pronunciation doesn’t bother her as much as an incorrect spelling, which she sees occasionally.
But enough about that. Onto a real history lesson. When Buday started writing the column leading up to the town’s 300th anniversary in 2015, she knew little about the history. Today, her knowledge is quite appreciable.
Her favorite story? Possibly that of Nathaniel Smith.
“In the 1700s, there was a religious cult in East Hopkinton,’’ Buday said. “The head of the cult — he was kind of a self-appointed bishop — went by the name of Nathaniel ‘God’ Smith. They used to wear funny hats.’’ Nathaniel’s hat had a band declaring, “I am God.’’
The column has made her love the town even more than she did upon arriving in 1998.
“It was a big stretch for me because I’d been in the Philadelphia area for about 37 years,’’ Buday said. “It was quite a change because there were much more wide-open spaces here. The schools are smaller and the classroom sizes are smaller. It’s small enough to feel intimate and have a sense of neighborliness, but it’s also large enough and maybe well-heeled enough that you can support great schools and great services and nice playgrounds and fields. So it really has the best of big and small.’’
Some of her favorite things in town: The Spoon’s grilled cornbread; Water Fresh Farm, where you can get hydroponic tomatoes; Project Just Because, a nonprofit that helps residents in need; the downtown, which gets better all the time; Hopkinton Center for the Arts; the under-expansion library; and the senior center, where her mother goes a few days a week. “The bus driver from the senior center, George, comes and picks her up,’’ Buday said. “Every once in a while on the way home he’ll do a little detour and take the seniors out for coffee or an ice cream cone. It’s wonderful.’’
And, of course, what happens on Patriots Day: the Boston Marathon and all the activity around the starting line in the center of town. “A lot of runners come the day before the Marathon to get their pictures taken by the sign that says, ‘It all starts here,’ ’’ Buday said. “It’s funny, you can pick them out. Many of them, the way they’re built, it’s like looking at a human Maserati.’’
The distance from the center of town to the Boston Marathon finish line. Too obvious? How about this number: 30,000? That’s the number of runners this year. And the population of the town? About half that.
The price of a “regular’’ dog at Snappy Dogs, a hot dog stand that operates seasonally out of the parking lot at Weston Nurseries. The all-beef dogs are grilled to order, the rolls baked daily, and, to top it all off, they have condiments like Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce and pineapple relish.
The percentage of survey respondents who opted for the name Marathon Elementary for a new $44.7 million building that will replace Center School. The name seems fitting given the town and school slogan: “It all starts here.’’
A good stock of old houses gives the downtown and surrounding areas an undeniably charming New England feel.
The town that’s practically synonymous with running isn’t very walkable. Though the downtown has sidewalks aplenty, much of the rest of town does not. However, there is a five-year plan to change that.
You’ll find two state parks in town — Hopkinton State Park and Whitehall State Park — and several other recreational and open space areas. The town beach on Lake Maspenock and portions of the proposed 25-mile Upper Charles Trail are just a few.