Friday, June 26, 2009

Advisory Committee solicitation - Click here

To the Society Board Members:

Several years ago, the S. Hadley Historical Society board met with Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, Preservation Specialist for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Gregor gave us some good information about to protect items at the Old Firehouse Museum.

Gregor contacted me to ask for a volunteer from the South Hadley Historical Society to serve on an Advisory Committee for a “Connecting the Collections” grant.

I have included a link to a Microsoft WORD document, “Advisory Committee Roles and Responsibilities” that provides the relevant information.

Gregor told me that “We do have some limited funds for mileage reimbursement…People should just get in touch with me if they are interested.”

His contact information is below. Please contact Gregor if you have a question or if you are interested in serving. I will send this email to the Society Directors for whom I have an email address but if you know another Society member who might be interested, please forward this email to him or her.

Bob Judge
Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, M.A.L.S., C.A.
Preservation Specialist
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
98 North Washington Street, Suite 401
Boston, MA 02114-1933
(617) 725-1860 x 236, (800) 952-7403 x 236 (in-state)
Fax: (617) 725-0140

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Only four people knew Charlie Dietel got shot."

Only four people knew Charlie Dietel got shot. Known as "Doc,” Charlie was a popular druggist on Upper Main Street. He had survived horrible trench warfare in France as a medic under fire, and now there he was shot near the grape arbor in the backyard of the Dietel family home on Carew Street.

His attackers had prepared their trap days in advance, an old tool shed converted into a playhouse against the bole of a decapitated apple tree. A secret back bedroom was sealed off with a frayed paisley drapery.

Doc found a scribbled note on the front seat of his Essex coupe inviting him to visit the playhouse at high noon on the fatal day. Right on time and unsuspecting, Doc strolled down the side drive, proceeded across the expanse of lawn where he had as a boy weeded a European-style garden, and announced his arrival with three knocks on the weatherbeaten door.

"Come in!" rang out two excited voices. As Doc pulled open the door the drapery was yanked aside and "Sting! Sting! Sting! Sting!” Doc took four shots into the belly bulge between the bottom of his vest and his leather belt. He let out a scream of pain and fled up the drive and across the street where his wife, Jenny, was preparing his lunch.

It turned out his attackers were Doc's son, Bob, and his nephew, Bill Cary, both members of the juvenile "Rubber Guns Gang" who fought mock war games in the brushy glen behind A.P. Lane's home on Upper Bardwell St. Their weapons were homemade devices concocted from old clapboards and narrow bands of abandoned inner tubes.

Doc recovered nicely except for a bruise near his belly button, and no charges were pressed.

Bill Cary 6/21/09

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The inclined plane

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" so small a place, in South Hadley (at the Canal)"

Northern Spectator Wed. Sept. 10, 1832

Pub. Poultney, Vt. East Village
Horace Greeley from 1826-30 served his newspaper apprenticeship on this paper.

From the Hampshire Sentinel REVIVALS OF RELIGION
....We have recently heard of great awakenings at the west, the north and the south. Of the frequent and extensive revivals in different parts of New England, for the last two or three years, our readers are accurately informed.

Berkshire county, in a special manner, has been blessed by the abundant outpourings of the Holy Spirit. And now the spirit of inquiry appears to be spreading. and approaching nearer our own doors.

We last week had the pleasure of witnessing its cheering effects, in degree surpassing any thing of the kind we ever before saw in so small a place, in South Hadley (at the Canal).

A gentleman informed us that the work of reform commenced about two weeks since, under the labor of one or two young gentlemen, connected with the Wesleyan Academy, in Wilbraham.

A single individual became seriously impressed, while attending a prayer meeting, and soon entertained a hope of having passed from death unto life. One or two more cases immediately followed, which were succeeded by a general excitement, and resulted, as is believed, in the hopeful conversion of twenty four young persons, all employed in the Paper Manufactory of Messrs. Lathrop and Willard.

Such a time, it was stated, had never before occurred in the place. as was the 19th inst. when all labor was suspended, and nothing could be heard throughout the building, but the voices of these young converts, in singing or in prayer.

The work is not confined to this small circle. It is fast extending through the village and vicinity, particularly among the younger classes, and number is daily increasing of those who participate. more or less, in the general solemnity.

A powerful revival of religion is now likewise enjoyed in Ware - we have not been definitely informed as to it's extent or progress, but learn it is increasing.
6/20/09: Thanks to Jack Moss of South Hadley for the document above!

Main and Bridge Street

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Holyoke's Famous Rail Station

Although this story is about Holyoke, it will interest those in S. Hadley who remember using the Holyoke train station, as I do.

Click here for the story. You may have to scroll down and find "Holyoke's Famous Rail Station."

Another South Hadley Falls anecdote

From: Bill Cary
Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009
To: John Zebryk
Subject: Another South Hadley Falls anecdote

Hi John,

Our School-Carew reflections brought back the time Victor Bacis and I made a major trade in true Yankee fashion:

To put it in context, view it as an episode in the Depression when little things meant a lot and lives were home-centered. Stamp collecting had taken hold among some of us, and fathers, like Jackie McCabe's, were brought closer to their sons around the kitchen table by keeping albums up-to-date. There were dreams of riches. Stamps would keep increasing in value forever. Hence, they were sound investments. Those were the days of baseball on the radio. Connie Mack's Athletics and Joe McCarthy's Yankees were riding high. The Red Sox were grateful for third place.

Vic Bacis and I must have been around twelve at the time. One summer morning he came over to the house and sat on the porch with me as we scanned my baseball card collection.

Baseball cards were a lower form of collecting. Cards came with bubble gum. If your luck was running sour, you got duplicates. However, duplicates did represent trading material.

I doubt whether Vic knew I had started a stamp collection. But when he saw I had duplicate baseball cards he let it drop out that he had discovered a ragbag full of stamps in their attic on School Street. Would I be interested in a trade? Cards for stamps. My heart pounded as I struggled to keep my cool. Wow! A bag of stamps (unseen) for perhaps twenty extra baseball cards? "It's a deal!" I almost shouted. Vic went home for the bag and we swapped. But I saved looking at my possible bonanza until after Vic left.

It turned out that at least ninety-percent of Vic's stamps were all the same, the red 2-cent basic postage showing George Washington in profile. Together they were almost worthless. I was heartbroken.

However, after I culled out the red Washingtons I did have enough little gems from back in the late eighteen hundreds to convince me that I had got the best of the trade. I mounted them all carefully and calculated their value from the Scott's catalog. No. Not a bad swap at all.

It turned out that my mounting stamps with small glued hinges became a multi-thousand dollar business for the P.P. Kellogg Div. of the U.S. Envelope Co. in Springfield where my father was manager. Cellophane had been created, and dad had to discover ways of converting it into various forms of containers. When he saw how stamp hinges ruined my stamps dad "invented" a cellophane-tube type of mount into which single stamps or blocks of four could be placed for harmless mounting. These "Crystal Mounts" as dad called them sold by the thousands to collectors all over the world. You could say that they were invented on Carew Street after my trade with Vic Bacis.

Eventually I sold my stamps. Any thoughts of making money on them were sheer fantasy. What I actually got for them was almost a joke compared to their values listed in the catalogs.

But I'll bet you that Vic's twenty old baseball cards from the early Thirties must be worth thousands today.

You won, Vic, wherever you are!

- Bill Cary

"High Tech For a Historic City..."

This story was written by Brendan Ciecko. Although the story is about Holyoke, it will interest anyone with an interest in South Hadley history.

Click here for the story

From Bill Cary

From: Bill Cary
Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009
To: Bob Judge
Subject: checking-in

Hi Bob,

...A surprise reward from my book has been contacts from John Zebryk and Mike Nardi who came along about seven years behind me. Both have shared personal memoirs that give me glimpses of the world I had missed while in college and the service.

John Zebryk grew up among the marvelous collection of Slavs on School Street many of whom were boyhood friends of mine. John's mother must have been a superstar. She was the oldest of thirteen children. Her mother died when she was quite young. So his mother had to carry the load of the brood she inherited.

This is the tidbit I want to share: One night when I was about ten a wicked fire consumed a house in the mid-section of School Street on the river side. We were awakened by the firebell and through my bedroom window I was able to see terrifying flames snarling at the night sky.

I asked John if he remembered the fire and he said he just about did since he was only three. But the family joke for years was that his father slept through that fire.

Now there was a deep sleeper!

As you know, John has retired to Sebastian, Florida.
Best wishes!

Bill Cary
Your periodic comments about growing up in S. Hadley, like the ones above, are valuable. They supplement your book well, honing in on particular good individuals like John and Mike, creating more context for that interesting story.

Please keep the recollections coming!

- Bob

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Amherst: The real Athens of America

Although this story is about Amherst, it will interest many of us in next-door S. Hadley.

Click here for the story

Holyoke and South Hadley Falls Ice Company

Click here to see a 19th century stock certificate

Thank you to Society member John Scibak for this donation to the Society.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Question about the river and shad

Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 12:23 PM
Subject: [Info] Shad

I am researching transportation improvements in the early days of the republic such as canals and turnpikes, and one aspect I am looking into is shad. I have acquired a great deal of information about the impact of improvements on shad in the Connecticut River, but I am writing to ask if you have or know where I can view original documents like journals, letters or diaries that describe the fishing scene at various spots in the valley, particularly South Hadley. I have been in touch with a couple of historians familiar with South Hadley, but they were not aware of any such items. A fisherman, for example, might have recorded his luck after a day on the river, a traveler might have observed the fishing activity, a lucky angler might have boasted in print about a prize catch, or a resident of one of the towns might have set down memories of when the fishermen came to the river for the shad run and the residents fed them, watched their horses or even put them up overnight. Do you have anything that might help, or do you know where I might find such materials?
Thank you.
Bob Conrad