Northborough Historical Society

Northborough Historical Society Welcome to the Northborough Historical Society of Northborough, Massachusetts. Please visit our web site at http://www.northboroughhistoricalsociety.org!

Please visit our web site at http://www.northboroughhistoricalsociety.org. 52 Main Street Northborough, MA 01532 508.393.6298

Mission: We have been dedicated to preserving the history of Northborough for more than 100 years.

Operating as usual

Good morning friends, today we are happy to welcome you to 100 Main Street, the Rev Samuel S Ashley House 100 Main Stree...
10/17/2020

Good morning friends, today we are happy to welcome you to 100 Main Street, the Rev Samuel S Ashley House
100 Main Street was the home of the Reverend Samuel S. Ashley from 1878 to 1887. Reverend Ashley served as minister of the Evangelical Congregational Church (today it is Trinity Church) from July 16, 1851 until October 1, 1864, when he joined the United States Christian Commission amidst the turmoil of the Civil War. During his years away from Northborough, he established an orphanage and school in North Carolina where he also served as a member of the Constitutional Convention. He was also the first Superintendent of Public Instruction under Reconstruction. In 1871, he took the helm of Straight University in New Orleans, an institution for black students organized by the American Missionary Association. He resettled in Northborough after his work in the South, and worked as the town's postmaster from 1883 to 1886. He died at the age of 68. The residence has served as home to many families over the years, including Alice Hinds LaPorte, who worked at the Chapin Woolen Mill on Hudson Street in the late 1890s.

Once again we would like to thank Bill Flynn for sharing his story about growing up in Northborough!  We had so much pos...
10/15/2020

Once again we would like to thank Bill Flynn for sharing his story about growing up in Northborough! We had so much positive feedback.
We will be resuming our schedule of houses and hope you enjoy the ongoing tour!
Today we are stopping by 96 Main Street, the Capt Cyrus Gale House.
The house at 96 Main Street first appears on the 1855 atlas with the Honorable Captain Cyrus Gale as the owner, although by this time he had built the more impressive house at 64 Main Street. It is likely that this property was rented out as the Yeaw family is said to have lived there during the Civil War era. Several members of the Yeaw family, including Jesse, Welcome P.W. and Corporal Daniel Yeaw fought in the war. Cyrus Gale (1785-1880) was one of Northborough's leading citizens. Born in Westborough, he came from Boston to Northborough in 1813, where he had been engaged in trading. He acquired a 200-acre farm, which became one of the largest and most productive in town, and carried on a large number of other ventures, which included buying and selling interests in the textile and shoe industries. In 1854 he was a founder and first Secretary of the Northborough Bank. Active in town government, he served numerous terms as town clerk, selectman, and assessor, and in 1850 was elected to the Governor's Council. He was also one of the founders of the Northborough Library.

1930’s Texco Gas Station at 35 W. Main St and the 3- story Northboro Hotel that burned in 1926 are pictures from the for...
10/14/2020

1930’s Texco Gas Station at 35 W. Main St and the 3- story Northboro Hotel that burned in 1926 are pictures from the former NHS Historian, Bob Elles’s article ‘A Northborough Common’ on the NHS website. http://northboroughhistoricalsociety.org/historian.html

Today we have the final excerpt of Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 t...
10/10/2020

Today we have the final excerpt of Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 to 1950)” talks about local sports and Bill’s early work experience. If you missed the earlier excerpts, you could view the entire article by clicking on the link at the end of this excerpt.

Excerpt 10 (Final)

Palmer (Bill) Bigelow took me for my first airplane ride in his 1947 Taylorcraft. We took off and landed at Westboro Airport, where I took lessons later on from Bill Plumber. Plumber was an ardent fisherman and designer of lures that he sold from catalogs nationwide.
It was always a thrill when the fire whistle on top of the town hall blew 8 blasts. It was the signal for a brush fire, and my age group rushed to the fire station to get in on the action. The action was a red truck loaded with Indian Brand hand pumping backpack tanks. The first one to arrive with a driver’s license got the excruciating pleasure of driving the fire truck and leaning on the horn button to make the siren wail. All for the thrill of it and 60 cents an hour we ate smoke and ruined our clothes.
One of my classmates, Barbara Tobin Cole, lived at the Yellow Barn off Church Street. Our class of ‘49 was given the privilege of using that facility for dances and outings. We even had our own band, The Sentimentalists: Allie Schofield on sax, Dottie Lelandon piano, Bob Van Hagen on drums and Bernie Warren on guitar. Dick Beckstrom sang the theme song, “Sentimental Journey”, of course.
After high school there was another war on the horizon called Korean. My age group may have been eager to participate in that so-called “Police Action” by President Truman. We were the kids who envied older guys who were in WWII. We were the kids who knew all about warplanes and saw them buzz the town and fly high with white vapor trailing. We were the kids who staged mock battles with BB guns in a skirmish line behind Fairley’s Hardware. And we were the kids who wanted to go to war like the older guys did.
Korea accommodated our wish. I got in one year of college before joining the Air Force and returned to Northboro 4 years later. One of my first acts was to get a haircut from Al, the Barber, who had cut my red hairs before I left town for the service. His shop was located above Mayberry's store on Main Street and was a hang-out for us during high school days.

Al said, “Where you been Flynnie? I haven’t seen you around for a couple of months?”
Hello, Al…It’s been 4 years!

Al the Barber's remark made me realize there wouldn't be another era like the years of WWII. It was a time when Northboro and the whole country's focus were on one event. When victory came we all felt like heroes who had made it happen, so much unlike the Korean War, Vietnam or Iraq. WWII was the last war that could be justified in our generation, and there wasn't a better place than Northboro to live in through it all.

*They were happy days in so many, many ways in a Town I loved so well”

*From an Irish song, entitled...The Town I Loved So Well.

Bill Flynn……….Northborough High School, Class of 1949
https://northborohistory.home.blog/bill-flynn/

Excerpt 9 of Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 to 1950)” talks about l...
10/08/2020

Excerpt 9 of Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 to 1950)” talks about local sports and Bill’s early work experience. If you missed the earlier excerpts, you could view the entire article by clicking on the link at the end of this excerpt.

Excerpt 9

During High School I was very much into basketball. It was the sport of the town. We didn’t have a football program, although we had many pick-up games in Maynard’s Field, bordered by Summer Street. Residences for the elderly occupy that field now. Our teams of 1947, 1948 and 1949 did well, but we lost the big ones at the Clark Tournament in Worcester by a few points. We started the basketball season with playing pick-up games in Cole’s Barn on Bartlett Street in September, and by November we were ready for our first real practice in the high school gym. The sport was influenced by the antics of Bob Cousy at Holy Cross then, and we all were throwing passes and dribbling behind our back to emulate him. A semipro team was started by Sim Fouracre called The Flying Red Horses. They played in the Town Hall, except when a championship game demanded the high school gym. Perhaps, Cousy may have appeared once or twice in the Flying Red Horseman lineup under an assumed name. For $25 a game, he was well worth it.
Baseball consisted of the Legion team then. Games were held at what is now a greatly improved Memorial Field. There were some outstanding teams and players. One that should be mentioned is Junie (Ernest) Sawyer. He pitched for the Legion and went on to the minor leagues. His fastball and stuff would’ve got him to the Major Leagues if an arm problem hadn’t developed during his stellar, too short, minor league career. Junie Sawyer would be a certain inductee if ever the Northborough Historical Society were to inaugurate a Hall of Fame to honor the best town athletes of the century.
My mother, Marion Flynn, did most of the supporting in our family and did it well. She eventually became the Town Clerk and held that office for some time. During high school, I worked at Juniper Hill Golf Course when it was a nine-hole course. I recall that my early morning task was using a long bamboo pole to knock the dew off the greens before the sun would boil them. The third green on the old course was close to the Westboro State Hospital. Screams from the patients there came across Little Chauncey Lake through the morning fog. It was an eerie feeling to be alone with that banshee-like screaming coming from those poor souls, whose morning medication hadn’t kicked in. The third green was always polled of dew much quicker than the rest. Later it was bussing trays at The Grill, where the jukebox blared with the best music of our generation. Songs by Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and others were unforgettable like one of the songs said. Then it was work at Bigelow’s Nursery in the summer and sanding roads for the state in the winter months. The pay for those jobs never exceeded a dollar an hour, but it was enough to take a date to the movies and a buy a gallon of gas for 25 cents to get you there and back.
https://northborohistory.home.blog/bill-flynn/

We hope you have been enjoying these excerpts from Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massa...
10/03/2020

We hope you have been enjoying these excerpts from Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 to 1950).” If you missed the earlier excerpts, you could view the entire article by clicking on the link at the end of this excerpt.

Excerpt 8

We took the Worcester Street Railway Bus to Marlboro for movies. There were two theaters in competition, Marlboro Theater and The Modern. I preferred the Modern because for the 11 cents admission, we got a free comic book with the feature and Tarzan was serialized there. Free movies every Friday night at Westboro State Hospital lured us to a seat in the balcony above the patients below us. We walked or rode bikes for 4 miles to get there. Our radios gave us the likes of “Jack Armstrong…The All-American Boy” on weekdays and “The Shadow” on Sunday afternoon. Strange how we would watch the radio during programs that presented only audio. Maybe we were getting ready for the visual event to follow.
Television came to our town for the first time in 1946 when a set was placed in Stone’s appliance store window next to the Red & White on Main Street. We watched the Red Sox win a pennant and lose another World Series from that small black-and-white screen. Northboro’s own, Mike Duffy, gained his 15 minutes of fame by appearing on that first TV set. Mike jumped the wall at Fenway Park and was chased across the outfield by police while the town folks watched live and in black and white. Mike’s run would have looked better on radio.
Our local entertainment consisted of Minstrel Shows on the Town Hall stage. The six End Men (three per side) were in black face and they acted as straight men for a Mr. Interlocuter, the master of ceremonies. The end men each had symbols and they would emphasize any point made by Mr. Interlocutor by shaking and then banging them on their knee. Local acts were key. It was Enio Cipriano, a son of the Murphy’s Dew Drop Inn owner, who with the mellow sounds of his saxophone captured first place in the talent show each year. Minstrel shows with black-faced end men justifiably left with the civil rights movement.
The war in Europe ended with hardly any celebration in town because the Japanese were still at it. With victory in the Pacific, it was a different story. On VJ DAY a huge bonfire was built at the intersection of Church and Main streets. I can remember helping to stack boxes, tires, railroad ties and the like about 30 feet high. Liz Walker of Walker’s Market piled on top all the combustibles she’d saved in anticipation of this day, and I think it was Sim Fouracre who torched it. I hitchhiked to Worcester. It was bedlam there. Front and Main streets were in full celebration.
It was the end of an era and the start of a new one. The boys returned to Northboro as heroes. They celebrated life for a while subsidized by the 52/20 CLUB ($20 a week for 52 weeks). Some went back to jobs they had before and others took advantage of The G.I. Bill to attend college. Songs of the time blasted out from their radios... “Hubba, Hubba, Hubba and a hello Jack, hey I just got back.... What ever happened to the Japanese?”
https://northborohistory.home.blog/bill-flynn/

Now we have our 7th excerpt of Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 to 19...
10/01/2020

Now we have our 7th excerpt of Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 to 1950).” If you missed the earlier excerpts, you could view the entire article by clicking on the link at the end of this excerpt.

Excerpt 7

There were scrap drives when we scoured the town for metal and rubber to melt down for tanks and planes. We knew Hitler and Tojo were evil. We knew “that a slip of the lip could sink a ship.” The songs like “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer” and “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” inspired us. There were blackouts. We knew the pilot of a German bomber could spot a light bulb at 50 miles. Black curtains covered the windows of our house and pails with sand in them were available on each floor to counter incendiary bombs. Air raid wardens patrolled the streets to make sure not a light was visible. Truck and even tank convoys rolled by on Main Street and we all waved to the soldiers. Planes flew over continually with some high enough to paint white vapor trails in the sky.
On occasion a fighter pilot from Northboro would buzz the town and thrill us all… I remember one of the Green boys flying a Navy fighter low over the high school. We had a plane crash up on West Main Street. He went straight in, auguring a hole 6 feet deep. Pieces of that plane were kept by many as souvenirs. Sadly, the pilot did not get out.
Airplanes…. The Civilian Defense Agency set up a viewing and Listening Post on a hill above Solomon Pond, close by the home of Ernest Sawyer. It consisted of a tree hut and a shack below. The purpose was to report all aircraft flying over Northboro by type, altitude and direction of flight. The reports were phoned into a control center where aircraft movements in northeastern United States were plotted on a large map. The post was manned in 8-hour shifts, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day by volunteers. I was one of them. What a thrill for a 13-year-old to pick up the direct line phone and say, “single engine fighter type aircraft believed to be a P-47 flying west at approximately 8,000 feet.” And best of all to get a “Roger” and a “Thank you” after.
The Aqueduct ran from the Wachusett reservoir to Boston. It’s a source of water for the city of Boston that passes over Hudson Street and the Assabet River on granite arches, near to Allen Street. The Aqueduct was heavily guarded during the war because of an enemy espionage threat. We kids didn’t conform to the threat and we thought the Aqueduct was part of our open ranging area. The guards thought differently and would chase us away from there constantly.
It seemed to me that we could still buy most anything in the ice cream / candy line. Potato chips in bulk were still available at Peinze’s. For some wartime reason, walnuts on the sundaes at Shattuck’s Drugstore were replaced by peanuts. I never did find out what walnuts were doing for the war effort, but I now prefer peanuts with the chocolate syrup on my ice cream instead of that other once-scarce wartime nut. My mother made one pass at serving us that French delicacy, horse meat. She failed in convincing us it was a replacement for beef.
https://northborohistory.home.blog/bill-flynn/

Our 6th excerpt of Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 to 1950)” takes u...
09/26/2020

Our 6th excerpt of Bill Flynn’s article “A Town And A Time To Remember, Northboro, Massachusetts (1937 to 1950)” takes us to his memories of WWII. If you missed the earlier excerpts, you could view the entire article by clicking on the link at the end of this excerpt.

Excerpt 6

The war started December 7, 1941. President Roosevelt made his famous speech over the radio on that Sunday evening. He told us the “day would live in infamy.” He said, “The only thing we had to fear was fear itself.” All of Northboro was glued to their radios and they put their trust in this man. He had already got the attention of the town’s people by implementing programs such as the WPA and the CCC to ease our depression distress.
Rationing started immediately. It was ironic in a way because the depression had already impinged a form of rationing on all of us. Due to the lack of cash, the amount of food we were able to buy was in most cases less than that allowed by the ration stamps. Young men rushed to enlist. In a year there were few between the age of 17 and 25 left in town. After that the draft reached up to snare those as old as 35.
I was 10 years old at the beginning the war, but war year memories are vivid. Life went on in our little town. The economy improved with the advent of factories in Worcester gearing up for war goods production. Fluffernutter sandwiches (peanut butter spread under marshmallow fluff) replaced lard sandwiches sprinkled with sugar. As kids, we did about the same things we’d done before Pearl Harbor, except the fighting overseas influenced our play. Mock battles raged. I remember one in the center of town when we actually fired Red Ryder BB guns from a skirmish line in back of Fairley’s Hardware Store on South Street at the “enemy” in a tree hut in Fogarty’s backyard. We had not reached affluence yet, so two guns were shared by the six of us. No one lost an eye.
The influence of the war was strong as we young lads headed into puberty. We hung around the Grange Hall on School Street Saturday nights. Square dances were held there and we watched the girls dance, seldom doing much of it ourselves. The caller begged for “one more couple” to fill the set. It was rare that we would relieve his anxiety. One song of the times by the Andrews Sisters hit the nail on the head. “They’re either too young or too old,....too gray or too grassy green...What’s good is in the Army... the rest will never harm me.” It was the theme song for the women left behind and we lived up to it every Saturday at the Grange Hall. We were young and grassy green, so we harmlessly watched while the older women took a break from “Sitting Under the Apple Tree” waiting for their Johnnies to come marching home.
We could identify at least 50 types of fighter and bomber aircraft – friend and foe. Our heroes were the servicemen. When they came home on leave we were there to ask a myriad of questions. The reality of war being more than a game hit us when reports of the towns killed, missing and wounded started coming in. I delivered Special Delivery letters for the post office and some of them were the “we regret to inform you” kind.
https://northborohistory.home.blog/bill-flynn/

Address

52 Main Street, Northborough, Ma
Northborough, MA
01532

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Northborough Historical Society posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Northborough Historical Society:

Category

Nearby museums

Comments

I'm curious about a building at 10 Main St. in Northborough and what it's history might be. Curiously enough, from the perspective of your cover photo, you'd be standing in front of it. I have a Facebook group themed on Route 20 and how it goes from coast to coast. "Route 20 - America's Road" is a collection of comments and photos from all across America. I'd rather share photos of history instead of photos of signs. Thanks for any help.
As a "follow up" to the hunt and video posted below, I returned to the Bennett home to present the "finds". I spent another hour out in a recently harrowed field and found a coin that was dropped by someone in (or working for) the Samuel Camwell family. This coin matches up perfectly with the mid 1700's home. I will add it to Ken's growing collection. :-)
I thought that I might share my passion with the group... Ken and Debbie Bennett allowed me to metal detect on their property recently and I've left them with a fairly diverse collection of relics... 18th, 19th and 20th century items of all shapes and sizes. I'm recently retired and found something that I can enjoy mentally and physically. My real love is sharing my passion, and my "finds", with the homeowners. After cleaning, preserving, labeling and displaying, I present the finished "treasure" to whomever was kind enough to let me onto their property. I'm sure all of you are familiar with the 1735 "Samuel Gamwell" house on Howard St... well here's a taste of what's just below the surface. If you know of an old property and have any interest in what's hidden in your dirt, I would be delighted to do the same for you. PM (message me). https://youtu.be/yxdwXEOacmQ
GREAT job creating this page...Love it. Thank You...