Volume XXXVII NO. 3 JAN - FEB - MAR 2008
President's Report We have spent most of the time since the last newsletter preparing our exhibits on the Blizzard of'78, Stoughton's celebration of its 250th Anniversary in 1976, and our late, beloved former President and Archivist, Alice Petruzzo. On Sunday, February 10th we opened at 10:00am and had more than fifty people, including a number of members of Alice's family visit before the 2:00 meeting. Candi Cerri served as gracious host showing the extended Petruzzo family and others a.video of Alice giving a guided tour of the Society for its 100th Anniversary back in 1995.
At the meeting we heard blizzard stories from a number of people including Charles Large and Helen Hansen. Charlie gave us a great overview of how the Stoughton Fire Department called in all forty two men to duty at the beginning of the storm and used teams of snowmobiles and four wheel drive vehicles to accompany ambulances and fire engines on calls. Often patients were pulled in a toboggan from their house to the closest location which the ambulance could reach. On the second day of the Blizzard, the Convent at Immaculate Conception burned, a fire which was determined to be arson at the hands of neighborhood youths. Helen Hansen stayed late because two parents called from Boston and asked that their children be kept at school until they came to pick them up. Needless to say, the parents never made it, and Helen and an ever-growing group of adult refugees from all along Central Street, (140 people) ended up spending the night at the Chemung School. There was plenty of food and a man who had been an army cook kept the folks well-fed. The drifts completely buried Helen's office and car and it was several nights before she made it home.
Vincie Ramoska, who was driving a school bus that day, made it home with much less effort than it took Joe DeVito and Dwight MacKerron, but once home, she decided to visit her elderly mother, and almost didnot make it home the second time. Vincie has always been glad, though, that she visited, since her mother passed away later that night. Joe DeVito left Marshfield at ten and made it home by avoiding Route 24 and its interchanges. He and another driver bounced off each other at an intersection in Brockton, but merely waved at each other and kept on going. Dwight Mac Kerron left Newton between two and three, avoided Rte. 128, and after several hours made it as far as Cobb's Comer, where drivers ahead of him could not get through the light completely blocking the intersection. Some of those drivers undoubtedly spent the night at the Chemung School with Helen, but Dwight drove back to Canton Center, cut over to Pleasant Street, and eventually made it up to Highland Street well after dark.
Wayne Legge made it home after staying late to finish an experiment at Draper Brothers, but one of the workers that he insisted stay with him, ended up spending four days at the Morse Shoe Company. He said that he would never stay late for Wayne again. Howard Hansen informed us that he could not walk from his store-print shop to the house next door until boots were brought to him. We did not find out who delivered the boots.
Robert Martel emailed us an account of his Blizzard adventures and here is a brief excerpt: "After the storm cleared on Wednesday, the small store (Tomas Variety) across the street opened, and I was elected to go and get some small groceries. I forget what they were. Going out from the back door along the traditional path towards the driveway, I made my way to where the cars were parked. Something bumped my calf. Looking down I realized it was the top of the antenna of one of the cars! I made my way by, and slid down the 5 or 6-foot snow bank the plows had left. It was really surreal....Other items that I recall are from later in the week. Like my friend's van, that was all cleaned off and shoveled out, but was several inches below what was now the top of the 'road' surface! Of course there was Mike Dukakis in his sweater, and I got the week off, and the 9pm curfew, resulting in a snowball fight on Perry street as the three of us left the old Town Spa and dispersed to our respective homes."
Evelyn Callanan got a phone call that their variety store, which had been closed for several days, would be receiving deliveries of bread and milk. She called her daughter, who lived closer to the store to go open it up, the deliveries got made, and, of course, the extended Callanan and DeVito families were called and given first dibs on the bounty. Most people have fond memories of the neighborly cooperation which sprang to life after the storm. People were walking or skiing on the streets and roads and getting to talk to neighbors which they didn't even know that they had. Many people along the coast suffered terribly, but for most of us inland, it was a pleasant adventure.
Thank you's to Jeanne Devito, Evelyn Callanan, Joan Bryant, Maureen Gibbons, and Donna Hodges for their help with the refreshments, especially the cake which Jeanne brought honoring Hank and Gloria Herbowy on their 50th Anniversary. Also thanks to Vice President Brian Daley for his long day of service and to Howard Hansen, who read his moving tribute to Alice at the meeting and which you will find elsewhere in this Newsletter.
On display at the Historical Society are many items from Stoughton's Celebration of its 250th, Anniversary in 1976, including new commentary on the memorial quilt, the tree which was planted at Faxon Park, and scores of photographs on the parade, the plaques being placed on the old houses, the brass tablet on Bay Road, the Country Fair, the birthday party at the Historical Society, and the restoration of the Railroad Station. This exhibit, including two new full-sized scrapbooks discovered since the last meeting, will remain on display one more month. The Blizzard exhibit will be replaced by a Mary Baker Eddy exhibit for the meeting on March 9th
Visitors and Presentations- On Jan 23,1 gave a slideshow-lecture on Stoughton scenes and history for the Lions Club and hosted the High School History Club on the next afternoon, including two of our student volunteers, Jeff Fish and a new volunteer, Maria DeRosa. On the evening of Feb 21, we had an unexpected visit from twenty cub scouts and ten accompanying adults. Brian Daley held the fort until I could arrive with re-enforcements, while Jack, Joe, and Hank moved the metal storage cabinets to new locations in the boiler room.
Sign from Doty Tavern Purchased-Please Help - One of our large scrapbooks of the 250th contain a number of articles and photographs of the 1974 re-enactment of the creation of the Suffolk Resolves with mai dignitaries from Stoughton and Canton, including our own Ed Meserve, dressed in colonial garb. A few weeks ago, David Lambert notified me that the ancient sign for the Doty Tavern, birthplace of the Suffolk Resolves was to be auctioned off at Skinner's Auction House and eBay. Howard Hansen suggested that we notify Meditec who, in turn, notified Harvey Robbins of the Friends of Prowse Farm. Harvey, in a leap of faith attended the auction and was the high bidder for the sign at $24,000 plus a 20% buyers fee. The group is accepting tax deductible donations to help pay for retaining this historic treasure: please call Harvey Robbins a 978-256-6472 or mail to The Friends of Prowse Farm at 5 Blue Hill River Road, Canton, MA 02021. Please be generous help them keep this historical treasure in this area. They are willing to share this sign with local historical societies in a reasonable fashion, once provisions are made for preservation and security For more information on the History of Doty's Tavern and the Suffolk Resolves, a document which heavily influenced our Declaration of Independence, go to www.stoughtonhistory.com/dotytavern.htm While you are there, you may want to check out t Historical Society Newsletters from the past which David Lambert has put online. While at that site, you can also read about and see photographs of Stoughton's resort hotel in the early 20th Century, the Fair View Hotel
Archivist's Report -- Joe DeVito continues to put together scrapbooks of pictures of town organizations and events of past events and celebrations of the Town of Stoughton and the Historical Society. Brian Daley has gathered our documents on Mary Baker Eddy for the upcoming lecture and we have all pitched in to find documents, photographs, and scrapbooks for the Alice Petruzzo, Blizzard, and 250Ih exhibits. David Lambert helped us locate pictures on postcards of Drum Rock at Glen Echo and a photograph of a young Frank Albrecht in a canoe with Drum Rock in the background. We mailed copies of the above to Frank E. Albrecht, son of the young man pictured in the canoe, who many years ago gave the Society his father's medal, which was won at some competition at Glen Echo and bears an image of Drum Rock upon it. We will display this medal for "Stoughton Outdoors." The elder Albrecht, who may have begun dancing at Glen Echo married another dancer and the two made dancing their career. Maureen Gibbons and Donna Hodges are preparing to make scrapbooks on the Dry Pond neighborhood pictures from the Erastus Smith and Ernest Gilbert family collections, some of which were donated by Ed Ivaldi several years ago. Dwight Mac Kerron has been searching (after a contribution from a scholar from New Jersey) through early town records for references to Humphrey and Mary Mac/Me Lellan, who may have been an Ulster Irish brother and sister, who emigrated here between 1710 and 1730. Humphrey married Merci Redmen (whose younger sister Thankful may have been first white child born in the land of the Dorchester Purchase) and moved to Providence. Mary married a Mr White from Milton and moved to that town in 1738. What we have not yet found is when and under what circumstances they arrived in Old Stoughton. Our student volunteers, Jeff Fish and Maria DeRosa continue to enter the contents of our card catalogues into the Past Perfect Program on our computer. Our computer is reaching the limits of its memory and we will need a new one soon.
Donations: a scrapbook of the Blizzard of '78 from John Carle, two Vermoski landscapes from Laurie Wolfe; a picture of the Congregational Church formerly on Washington Street (near the current Getty Station) from Judith and Carl Dahlgreen - Jack Sidebottom
Curator's Report - We have brought out artifacts for the current displays including commemorative coins, plates, medals, and the shovel used to plant a tree at Faxon Park for the 250lh, We located the Drum Rock medal mentioned above and will display it for "Stoughton Outdoors. Donations: Snowshoes from Rick and Linda Woodward; a chunk of oak wood from the USS Constitution from Dwight MacKerron; the US Navy WWII uniform with combat ribbons of Electrician's Mate Third Class Clyde Holmes, who was on Tinian's Island in 1945 and assisted in the refueling of the Enola Gay during its mission to drop the atom bomb; one pair miniature shoe lasts, both from Ethel Holmes Hank Herbowy
Clothing Curators We have placed on display two items: one a Stoughton Grenadiers outfit, which was worn in the BiCentennial Parade of 1976.. The outfits were authentically custom sewn with some of the cloth ordered from England. Also on display: a women's colonial dress, a lovely blue and yellow cotton print, which was made by Dorothy Woodward for the Bi-Centennial Country Fair in 1976. We are preparing a woman's riding outfit to display for "Stoughton Outdoors." Donations: items of antique clothing from Karl and Judith Dahlgreen. Emily Guertin, Ruth McDonald, and Joan O'Hare
Calendar of Upcoming Events
March 9 at our meeting at 2 pm, we will hear a presentation of the life of Mary Baker Eddy delivered by Jane Carlson, curator of the Mary Baker Eddy House in Stoughton. We will also have an exhibit of related photographs and documents from our archives
April 16 (evening program) The Stoughton Historical Society will co-sponsor a lecture by Dr. Robert Thorson on the history, construction, and preservation of New England's stone walls. Dr Thorson teaches at the University of Connecticut and is the author of Stone by Stone: The Magnificent History in New England's Stone Walls, Our co-sponsors will be The Moose Hill Audubon Sanctuary, The Trustees of Reservations, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Each co-sponsor will provide additional materials for display and representatives will be on hand. Admission is open to all, and there will be no entry fee, but space is limited; please preregister at
email@example.com Doors will be open at 6:30 PM with the lecture at 7:00 PM Place: The Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, Canton, MA www.ttor.org
Directions: Traveling in either direction on Route 128 (I-93/Route 1) south of Boston, take exit 2A and follow Route 138 south towards Stoughton. Immediately after crossing bridge (if exiting from Route 128 north) or coming off exit ramp (if exiting from Route 128 south), turn into first driveway on the right (it comes up fast!). Follow signs to the parking area.
(If the number signing up should exceed seventy five, the location will be changed to the Stoughton Public Library, which has a larger seating capacity. If you have pre-registered, you will be informed of the change. If you have no email, leave message at 781 344 5456)
April 20 The Society will open at 10:00 am to display an exhibit on "Stoughton Outdoors" to begin the celebration of Earth Week in Stoughton. The exhibit will feature artifacts, photographs, documents, and maps of significant outdoor locations and organizations including Ames Pond, The Bird Street Conservation Area, Glen Echo Pond, ceremonial tree-plantings, area farms, and the town's hunting and fishing organizations over the years. See pictures of current wildlife from the cameras of local hikers and hunters, including nighttime stills of fishers and big bucks. Learn what the bounty was for "black birds" and "wild catts" in the Stoughton of the early 1700's. Why was the current Cedar Street the only north-south road in that area on the early maps? Where did Indians grow their crops? Why were the swamps divided into smaller lots and distributed equally among abutters? Who was Stoughton's first "white" farmer? What local man attended Harvard, won a botanists fellowship at Harvard, worked for the US Dept of Agriculture, and returned each summer to study the plants in his home town? Hint: He wrote The Flora of Stoughton, Mass, which was published in 1929 and on sale for 5.00 at the Historical Society. Who was the last local resident to see a mountain lion in our town? The monthly meeting of the Historical Society will take place at 2pm and will feature a slide presentation and lecture which will answer the previous questions and describe how Stoughton's topography, geology, and waterways have contributed to the town's commerce, recreation, and agriculture. If you have items you would like to add to our displays, call 781 344 5456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Check future local newspapers for the program of events for the rest of Stoughton's Earth Week.
Alice M. Petruzzo
May 18, 1929 - January 2, 2008
THERE WERE LOTS OF FLOWERS on her final resting place in Dry Pond Cemetery. For an early January day, with snow upon the ground, the bright yellow roses seemed to glow. The mourners were invited to take a flower. The yellow roses went quickly. Then I spotted another yellow flower. It was a pompom chrysanthemum that stood alone, glowing like the ball of sun in the noontime sky. That one said to me "Alice." For nearly a month, that flower shining in the kitchen window reminded me of how cheerful Alice was every time 1 saw her over the past thirty years.
I first met Alice while working with the Bicentennial/250th Anniversary Committee in 1975. The big dual celebration of the Nation's and the Town's birthdays attracted nearly a hundred volunteers. One day while working in the Historical Society archives, nearly twenty years later Alice spotted tacked on the archives door, a poster for the 1976 Country Fair commenting: "That was the greatest time we've ever had." The fervor of the celebration put the town on a history "high." Although interest in local history waned after the party was over on December 22, 1976; it was not over for Alice Petruzzo.
The 250th celebration laid the groundwork for several projects to preserve the Town's historic past. There were the Old Houses project; the continuance of the Grenadiers as an honor guard unit; care for the old burial grounds at Pearl Street and Dry Pond; creating historic districts and entering buildings on the National Register of Historic Places; keeping the Historical Commission informed of preservation grants; and tine biggest task, restoring the Stoughton Railroad Station to its Victorian grandeur in time for its centennial in 1988. To Alice these projects were like seeds that needed watering.
In 1977, Earl McMann, co-chair with George Giddings, of the Bicentennial/250th celebrations presented his report to the Annual Town Meeting stating that the celebration was over and it was proper to dissolve the Committee. He noted that there was grant money available for the Railroad Station Restoration project. Concerned about the loss of that grant money, should the 250th Committee dissolve, a motion was made to establish the Railroad Station Restoration Committee to complete that project. Alice Petruzzo was a member of the Restoration Committee. When George Giddings removed from Stoughton, she inherited the Chairman's seat on the Committee.
Learning from former Historical Society President Carl Smith's experience in getting the Railroad Station on the National Register of Historic Places, Alice became persistent in dealing with the town and state officials, the MBTA and anyone else who could help finish this project. She teamed with Anne Petterson and Dorothy Woodward to pursue fund-raising events, grants, donations, strong backs and professional services. In October 1988 Alice led the gala centennial celebration of the opening of the Stoughton Railroad Station.
As if the Railroad Station project was not enough to keep Alice busy, the Historical Society faced a dilemma when Frank Drummey resigned for health reasons. Shortly before the Railroad Station celebration, Alice paid a Sunday morning visit to the Historical Society where Past Presidents Bill McDonald and this writer greeted Mrs. Petruzzo coming up the stairs with a bundle of papers in her hand and wearing her ever present smile. I don't know exactly how we posed the question, but it was "polished" with the suggestion that since she was able to lead the Railroad Station Committee, she wasmore than qualified and deserved the honor of being President of the Historical Society. Of course we'd help, for neither Bill, Ed Meserve nor I wanted the office again. After some thought, she accepted the new challenge.
During her Presidency, Alice Petruzzo continued some the "This Decade in Stoughton History" series of member participation programs; initialed the clothing collection rehabilitation program; established a formal cataloging system for the growing collection; and was honored as Grand Marshal of the Fourth of July parade.
With Dot Woodward, Anne Petterson and Bill McDonald, Alice updated the 1976 historic homes inventory. The inventory is necessary for designating historic districts and "National Register" recognition. Many of us vision historic districts as tree-lined roads neatly landscaped, and freshly painted white and pale blue Colonial and Federal houses. On the day they were delivering the inventory to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, accompanied by Dot Woodward, Alice stopped at the Historian's less than pristine printing shop. Alice had a twinkle in her eyes and a restrained smile as though she was "up to something." Proud to have completed the task, they were soliciting a courtesy approval. Casually glancing over the stack of forms and the pictures, they waited to see my reaction to the last entry. Surprise, it was my father's store and the print shop. I didn't know if she was serious and replied: "I hope you're not giving me an excuse not to fix-up this place."
As the housing inventory project was concluding, Alice and Dot showed me a brochure they received from the Mass. Historical Commission about burial grounds preservation. They had remembered when Dan and Jessie Lee Farber from the Gravestone Society were speakers at the Society. The Farbers brought to my attention that there was no inventory of Stoughton's oldest burial ground, Pearl Street Cemetery. Like the historic houses inventory, a cemetery inventory is also required to receive preservation grants. They knew I was game, and before long there was an article in the 1988 Annual Town Meeting Warrant to fund repairs and take preservation measures for the town-owned burial grounds. For the next two years, with clipboards in hand, three or four members would be spotted wandering in between slate tombstones in the Pearl Street Cemetery. On a sad note, shortly after the project began, Alice's friend Dorothy Woodward died, but that did not deter Alice from taking this project to completion.
The most important success in Alice's term was her diligence in completing all the paperwork and making political connections, including calling The White House, to grant the Lucius Clapp Memorial recognition on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Historical Society Presidents don't retire from office; they just get swallowed into the collection.
Recognizing thai the office of Curator-Historian was acceptable when the Historical Society collection consisted of a few file cabinets in the "Historical Room" of the former public library. Since the Society became the only tenant of the entire old library and the continuing interest in local history from the 1970s, the collection expanded to fill the entire basement and was as organized as a supermarket shopping cart.
The ability for one person to research inquiries, write letters, catalog and "curate" on a part-time basis was now impossible. Looking at nearly three or four years of full-time efforts by three persons, Alice took the "bulls in the basement by the horns" and proposed the change in the by-laws which created three offices: Historian, Curator and Archivists. She, with Bill McDonald, then developed the new cataloging system. Alice took the job of Archivist seriously. Nearly every piece of paper, book, document, photo or ephemera in the collection bore her fingerprints and a catalog number. While some of us had reservations about the McDonald-Petruzzo system, anyone, especially the High School American Studies pupils, doing research in local history, now had some logical way to find a specific artifact.
We must also give credit to Alice for bringing in volunteers to repair and restore garments, create typewritten catalog cards and sorting the photo collection.
When her husband, Albie died on Christmas day 1995, Alice briefly reduced her time with the Society. But she managed to come back and guide others in care of the archives or talk to visitors and the students. After moving from her home on West Street, Alice lived in a Brockton retirement community and was frequently visited by Past President Candy Cerri.
On April 24, 2004, Alice addressed the Re-enactment / Rededication of the Lucius Clapp Memorial. After the ceremonies, she got her wish to address a crowd from the Pleasant Street balcony, as she envisioned the town dignitaries of the early 1900s reviewed the fourth of July parades passing along Pleasant Street. This was her last visit to the Lucius Clapp Memorial.
Her resting place in Dry Pond Cemetery is appropriately across from the Colonial homes along historic Bay Road, where once lived Deborah Sampson, America's first woman soldier. The "Spirit of '76" will always be with Alice.
-Howard Hansen, February 10, 2008
Welcome to New Members: William Harmon and Charles Large. If you are a new member and have NOT been mentioned in the Newsletter, please let us know To this date (2/28) we have received dues payments for 2008 from the following families or individuals: Bowman, Callanan, Camara, Gerri, Cobb, Crimmins, Daley, DeVito, Foss, Harmon, Hodges, Kelley, Kelliher, King, Klim, Labbe, Large, Leonard, MacKerron/Bryant, Martin, McDonald(s), Peduto, Petterson, Sievers. We welcome new member Charles Large and appreciate the lifetime membership from Millie Foss. If your name is not on the list,
Please detach and pay your Membership Dues for for Jan-Dec 2008 to Stoughton
Historical Society, PO Box 542, Stoughton, MA 02072
Single $15 - Family $25 - Contributing $50 - Lifetime $200 - Benefactor $1000
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