John H Dudley Recreation Area - Sutton MA


The John H Dudley Recreation Area is a portion of the Sutton State Forest system, in Sutton Massachusetts. This area is located to the east of Purgatory Road, just north of Purgatory Chasm. This area is not "marked" in any way (besides a plaque) and there are no trails here, This is simply a section of the wild forest.

Here is the plaque which is connected to a rock face on the east side of Purgatory Road. It is located south of the pond on Purgatory Road, but north of the Chasm itself.

John H Dudley Recreation Area

The plaque says:

John H. Dudley Memorial Forest

This recreation area is dedicated to the outdoor life of the American boy and is given by his parents in memory of S/Sgt. John Holbrook Dudley Aerial Gunner US Army Air Force born March 8, 1920 Killed in action Sicily May 10, 1943

Here are notes from Cassandra, a relative of John's:

Aunt Flora Dudley, John's mother, did not have any other children. John was killed over Sicily and they never found his body. He was a tailgunner. His army buddies called him Red because he had red hair. They lived in the old house on Buttonwood Ave that burned down in 2008. That house was built in 1750. Aunt Flora lived to be 105. She was my great great aunt and she mourned for the rest of her life over her son's death. My sister has pictures of John as a child and all the letters he wrote home before he was killed.

The whole time I was enjoying this area I *NEVER* saw this plaque. I was only told about it by another person and asked to find it. Yes, it's on Purgatory Road. But it's on a spot that you can't walk along because there is no shoulder. It's a blind curve so it would be dangerous to walk along here. There's no picnic area anywhere near this, nor any trails. The plaque is up fairly high on the rock face. So you'd have to be driving along quite slowly, and staring high at the rock face, to see it. And there's a tree partially covering it as well.

If they were going to make a plaque, they should have put it in the picnic area which is a short while north of this part of the road.

Here's a look both ways from across the street from the rock, to show why this isn't a good walking area.

John H Dudley Recreation Area

John H Dudley Recreation Area

John H Dudley Recreation Area

My boyfriend had to drop me off here, and drive and turn around to come get me again, so I could safely take these photos.

John H Dudley Recreation Area

John H Dudley Recreation Area

John H Dudley Recreation Area

I imagine in the 1940s that good girls didn't go outside into forests. Boys went out into forests, girls stayed home and learned to sew and cook. Still, I wish it had been dedicated to all children. I feel strongly that girls should enjoy forests and nature.

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