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Once upon a time, socks didn’t stay up by themselves. They needed a little help. Some might remember being admonished as...

Once upon a time, socks didn’t stay up by themselves. They needed a little help.

Some might remember being admonished as a child to “pull up your socks.” In the days before socks were made with elastic around the tops, sock garters or sock suspenders, were the key to a neat appearance for young children.

They were especially important to men wearing fashionably long socks with their business suits. Sock garters ensured a smooth line. No baggy wrinkles about the ankles or unsightly skin showing when a man crossed his knees.

Simple garters, consisting of a strip of cloth or ribbon tightly tied around the leg at the top of the stocking with the stocking top or hem rolled over it, existed in the early 1600’s and probably before. The garter flashes, decorating the garters worn by the Scots Guards of the Foot Regiment of the British Army, date back to 1642. And before that, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, elaborately decorated cloth garters were worn by fashionable ladies (and men) to keep their stockings and hose properly smooth and in place. Native American Indians also used leg garters as part of their clothing accessories.

Sock garters with clips like the ones in our collection appeared in the late 1870s-early 1880s. The George Frost Company of Boston, MA referenced 1879 as when “well-dressed men have enjoyed the satisfaction afforded by the Boston garters.”

George and Almira Frost and their family moved to Roxbury, MA in the summer of 1850. The census lists George as a “dry goods merchant.” At that time, they had one daughter, Melissa. In 1856, daughter Adeline was born, followed by son, George A. Frost, in 1857. The 1880 census lists the family as living in Newton, MA. George was a “dealer in factory goods.” Son, George A was working in the family business.

The company first began selling “dry goods” and then “ladies furnishings.” It was located on Devonshire St. in Boston. In 1878, following a fire, the company rebuilt and began manufacturing the “Gentlemen’s Boston Garter.” It was a successful move. The company incorporated as the George Frost Company in 1891. By the early 1900’s facilities had expanded to multiple factories in Boston as well as mills in Connecticut and New Jersey.
“Boston Garter” and “Velvet Grip” Hose Supporters were trademarks of the George Frost Company.

The George Frost Company was just one of many sock garter manufacturing companies in the 1880s to 1920s. The George Frost Co., Pioneer Suspender Company, Crown Suspender Company, S.H.&M Co., A. Stein & Company, and Hickok were the leading companies in the U.S. Most of these companies had trademarked names for their garters. Brighton, Boston, Gordon and Paris were a few of the names.

Competition was fierce with newspaper ads across the country. In 1912, one of the George Frost Co. ad campaigns included trade cards of baseball players showing off their garters. Each card features a player “in the dugout, without pants, in the midst of getting dressed, proudly displaying his Boston-brand garters.” The collection of cards is still popular among sports memorabilia collectors. In 2013 a series of 5 cards, un-separated and in pristine condition sold for a winning bid of $177,750.

The sock garters in our collection are made by The Hickok Manufacturing Company of Rochester, NY. They have Bakelite grippers and clips. Leo Hendrik Arthur Baekeland invented Bakelite in 1907. Patented in 1909, Bakelite is recognized as the first synthetic plastic.

The Hickok Manufacturing Company was started in 1909 as a jewelry plating company by Stephen Rae Hickok. Within 11 years, it had grown to be a national company making men’s accessories including, belts, suspenders, tie clips, and sock garters. Raymond P. Hickok, son of the founder, is known for creating the Hickok Belt Award which was awarded to the best professional athlete from all sports. The trophy was award annually 1950 – 1976 and then begun again in 2012. The Hickok Company also developed a prototype of the car seat belt. The company closed in 1972.

Sock garters continued to be popular into the 1920’s. Then in 1929, Lastex, an elastic yarn with a core of latex wound with cotton, rayon, nylon or silk threads. It changed the sock industry. During the 1930s elasticized socks began to replace the need for sock garters.

Fashion comes and goes. In the late 1940s and1950s, the fashion of lean, slimly styled business suits required socks that fit the slim line. Sock garters were once more in the picture. Esquire magazine ran a series of articles and ads. The November 1, 1950 Esquire cautions men to “select accessories carefully, wear them correctly!” The article featured a collection of coordinated accessories in the “new Tottem checks” including “Braces and garters are Tottem too.”

If you think that sock garters are a thing of the past what with the more casual styles of today, think again. Many athletes use them including ice hockey and baseball players. Over 300 sock garter items are available online from Amazon.

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear your story or comment.

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Miscellany Mondays: Amy Gordon Taft Reservation, a story of industry, agriculture, and land protectionBelow the meadows ...

Miscellany Mondays: Amy Gordon Taft Reservation, a story of industry, agriculture, and land protection

Below the meadows of Holt Hill opposite Salem Street is a woodland dotted with knolls, rocky outcrops, and wetlands. In the Taft Reservation, evidence of human activity is abundant. The modern visitor is met frequently with stone walls, discarded metal, cart paths, and earthen dams. Consequently, the curious researcher is not surprised to learn of the property’s long history.

Each early Andover settler received a house lot near the town center (now old North Andover town center) as well as a larger tract elsewhere, as dictated by the laws at that time. Beneficial to the minister, it protected his “city of God in the wilderness” from attack by Native American residents.

The typical settler received between four and ten acres, but some amassed much larger estates. Simon Bradstreet, businessman, investor, and partner in the Massachusetts Bay Company, was Andover’s largest landowner. He and fellow Andover founder Nicholas Holt were the first Europeans to own what is now the reservation.

In 1673, Bradstreet gave much of his land to his son Dudley. He nor his father lived here but looked forward to a return on their investment. By this time, fear of hostility from Native Americans subsided and people moved further from the town center.

Robert Gray, a mariner, built a house near the intersection of Salem Street and Gray Road in 1679. It sat on five acres gifted to him by his father-in-law Nicholas Holt. Robert established the Gray Farm in 1699 when he purchased 100 adjacent acres from Dudley Bradstreet and Henry Holt Senior. The purchase likely included the northern part of the Taft Reservation near Vine Street.

The Gray Farm included Gibbet Plain, the site of public executions for Essex and Middlesex County. This is now part of Harold Parker State Forest and not the Taft Reservation.

The Taft Reservation, especially near the house at 232 Salem Street, has a long history of industrial use. Like other remote Andover homesteads, the family produced everything they needed to survive on-site. In 1715, Henry Gray, son of Robert, owned a scythe grinding mill and later a blacksmith shop and weaving house. Several outbuildings like a granary, cider mill, shoe shop, and grist mill served other necessary functions over the years.

On January 7, 1767, David Gray hanged himself “in his barn with a linen string” at the age of 50. The reason behind his suicide seemed unimportant to his contemporaries. Samuel Phillips, pastor of the South Church, instead used fear to discourage a recurrence. He published a sermon and denied Gray a burial in the South Church cemetery.

According to Phillips’ instruction, the family buried him at the corner of Salem Street and Jenkins Road, where “his name [would be] consigned to oblivion.” Furthermore, they put a stake through his heart to keep “his unhappy soul from wandering.” His great-granddaughter Alice Gray reinterred him in the South Church cemetery in the late 19th century.

Further into the woods, the visitor may spot the remnants of ponds used to power mills and hydrate livestock. The Gray and Holt families, who owned various parts of the present reservation, constructed earthen dams to impound tributaries of the Skug River.

It was David Gray II who built the current house in 1812, just north of and up the hill from the original Gray house of 1699. Like the first David Gray, he also had a sour relationship with the South Church. He was a Universalist and got himself excommunicated in 1820.

In the latter half of the 19th century, the farm abandoned some of its industrial operations in favor of agricultural uses. A notable exception was the blacksmith shop that made farm tools and nails. By 1900, the Gray Farm had two houses, two barns, a carriage house, and two shops.

The farm was primarily a dairy farm in the early 20th century. In 1932, Reverend Arthur Taft, a minister from Colorado and former student at the Andover Theological Seminary, purchased 232 Salem Street and the surrounding farm as a retirement home.

Arthur and wife Amy Gordon had three children including Rebekah Lockwood Taft who inherited parts of their father’s estate in 1967.

Rebekah lived in Colorado, but wished “to encourage children to love the beauties of nature.” She was a trustee of the Andover Village Improvement Society (AVIS) and worked with Harold Rafton to donate her land to the organization.

In 1972, 1974, 1977, and 1982, Taft made donations of various parcels totaling 34 acres. In her deed conveying the gift, she required the land be left “in its present natural, unspoilt, and unimproved state” and added that the land be named after her mother, Amy Gordon Taft.

In 1994, a donation from the developer of Coventry Lane added 13 acres. In 1997, AVIS bought another 18.5 acres from the Taft family. The family still owns the 1812 homestead and outbuildings. Active AVIS members like Dick Hoyer and Nat Smith created and maintained the reservation’s trail system.

At 65 acres, the reservation extends from Salem Street to Wildwood Road. Visitors can connect from the Ward Reservation or park on Vine Street. Trails circle former mill ponds and criss-cross stone walls. A large barn foundation is viewable near the Salem Street entrance.

Thanks to land conservation efforts, this history is available for all to enjoy. And thank you to volunteer Floyd Greenwood for researching and writing this Miscellany Monday story!

You can read this story and every Miscellany Mondays story on History Buzz:

#andoverhistoryandculture #andoverhistory #andoverma #fryevillagefridays #funfridaystories #historybuzz

An exciting transformation is taking place this weekend as public art comes to the heart of downtown Andover. Stop by th...

An exciting transformation is taking place this weekend as public art comes to the heart of downtown Andover. Stop by the Andover Center for History & Culture to watch the completion of "Rebirth & Renewal," a large-scale woven mural by Cazimi Collaborative. Thank you to project creators Emily O'Hara, Molly Foley, and Morgan VonPrelle Pecelli. We're happy to partner with you on this uplifting work of public art!

Frye Village Fridays: Hardy Brush (pt.4) Frank Hardy “All sorts of plays were attempted” The Barnstormers, amateur thesp...

Frye Village Fridays: Hardy Brush (pt.4) Frank Hardy “All sorts of plays were attempted” The Barnstormers, amateur thespians, and other diversions

Perhaps inspired by his mother, Mrs. Charles A. (Lizzie) Hardy who was a professional dramatic reader, Frank Herbert Hardy and his wife Edith were community theater thespians and members of The Barnstormers.

While there were countless church groups, schools and women's guilds sponsoring dramatic readings, concerts, lectures, films, singing, and even whistling, prior to the early 1900s, there has also been a long procession of established community theater companies.

The Andover Dramatic Club was active by 1911. To see the shows you had to become a member and pay a $2 fee. In October of that year, the Andover Dramatic Club decided to adopt the title of The Barnstormers for its official name. The Andover Townsman stated "its purpose is amusement and we feel that all residents of Andover should be a part of the organization."

The casting policy of The Barnstormers was "to ask its active members to play alternatively important parts and very smallest roles, in that way giving each one opportunity to express the best that is in him, in giving the managers the chance to learn in what line each member is most successful, so that in time they could appropriately cast every play."

The Barnstormers became so popular they eventually extended their performances and allowed tickets to be sold to the general public. In 1914 and 1915 they held benefits for the Belgium Relief Fund. During World War I they scaled back their performances because a number of their key members had joined the armed forces. They continued to perform until 1926. On the announcement of their decision to disband, the Townsman published their entire 15-year performance history.

Frank Hardy was president of The Barnstormers until 1926 when a key member of the group, Mr. Coggeshall, moved from Andover. At that point, the group disbanded after 15 seasons. They went, “out in a blaze of glory, solvent, with a balance of three cents in the treasury...”

Barnstormers membership list was a who’s-who of early 20th century Andover: Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hardy, Mr. and Mrs. H Winthrop Peirce, Mr. and Mrs. Addison LeBoutillier, Miss Mary Byers Smith, Nathan C. Hamblin, Percival Dove...the list goes on.

The initial performance, before the society even had a name was “For One Night Only,” managed by Mrs. Peirce and staged in the November Club's clubhouse at 6 Locke Street. The success of that evening went far ahead of the expectations of the management. Not only was the little hall crowded, with standing room at a premium, but many subscribers were unable to even get inside the door.

After that The Barnstormers moved performances to the Town hall (20 Main Street), but even with the additional room, "many was the afternoon spent in the lower Town hall with a book or knitting so that one might secure a good place in line and be sure of a desirable seat!"

“Mouse Trap,” George Bernard Shaw’s “You Never can Tell,” and “The School for Scandal,” were presented along with a few original works written by society members. One memorable amateur title was “Not Enough Mustard.”

Hardy’s wife Edith Hardy was considered to be one of Andover’s best actresses, "Who can forget Mrs. Frank she played the leading part in “Mrs. Alexander’s Progress? It is incredible that nearly fifteen years since she was hear to exclaim, “Eliza Smith, you fool!”

Frank Hardy himself was no slouch, "Of Mr. Hardy’s work, too much cannot be said in his praise. Those who have worked under him invariably award him the palm as the most efficient coach, patient, tireless, bringing out the very best in the materials with which he had to work." Hardy acted in productions as well including For One Night Only, The Violin Maker of Cremona, Time Is Money, The Man of Destiny, The Big Idea, and The Dover Road.

After The Barnstormers disbanded, Mrs. Frank Hardy continued her community theater work through the Dramatic Department of the November Club, where she served on the play-selection committee. Between 1936 and 1939, the next generation of amateur Andover thespians performed as The Adventurers, and the tradition continues to today.

You can read this story on our History Buzz, newsletter, including a 1909 silent movie of "The Violin Maker of Cremona," starring Mary Pickford. It's thought to be her first film performance.

The last article in the series on Frank Hardy and Hardy Brush is available only on History Buzz. Click here to read Gail Ralston’s next installment of the story, where she reveals how membership in the Masons influenced Selectmen decisions. That’s too good to pass up!

#andoverhistoryandculture #andoverhistory #andoverma #fryevillagefridays #funfridaystories #historybuzz


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Hello Andover Historical Society, do you know where is/was this located at?
Is today’s Central St walk still on? If so, where do we meet?
I have my Nana's high-school yearbook class of 1939. Punchard Highshool now known as Andover Highschool in Andover MA. I also have The Andover Townsman newspaper clipping dated May 1964 of their 25th high school reunion. I hate to throw it away. It could be someone's precious memories. I will mail to you if anyone wants it. Maybe you have a family member that was in the class of 1939. Let me know, I will donate it and mail to you.
I have a question about the proper way to cite the Abby Locke diaries in my dissertation. What I have as a place holder is: Abby Locke Diary owned by Andover Center for History & Culture, Andover, MA. Please advise. Thanks!!
Feedback: the new name does not quite work. "Andover Historical Society" implies the history of Andover. The new title suggests something more general and does not suggest Andover history. Having a center for history and culture would be a laudable goal, but the idea is that it should be Andover history. Maybe Center for Andover History and Culture would work better.
HERITAGE FILMS THEATER is a traveling local history film/discussion series of hour long programs offered free of charge. Go to the Facebook site. [email protected]
Wondering if any residential restoration company would be interested in some original outdoor window shutters from a home built in 1895.
Walk in the footsteps of your ancestors with a family tree and personal travel itinerary.
Tattered Torn Bibles and Historic Books CAN be Repaired Preserving all your underlining, highlighting and notes New covers; Leather, Naugahyde, Bookcloth, original cover http://www. bookman-jim. biz If you would like a poster, just send your street address to: [email protected] BookMan-Jim. Biz 920.265.5966