Times Past: St. Peter’s Church, Petersham

  • St Peter's Church The St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Petersham, often referred to as the “Summer Chapel” was constructed in 1914. The 25 foot high, 35-foot wide, and 50-foot long wood building was constructed with wood shingles, asbestos room, and 18 stained glass windows. —Submitted photo

Published: 2/5/2019 10:46:14 AM

Times Past 020619


Athol Police and Woods Ambulance responded to the Millers River Bridge on Bridge Street for a report of a child whose tongue was frozen to a steel girder on the bridge. The 11-year-old girl was unstuck by two unidentified passersby who reportedly “blew on either side of her tongue” to thaw it from the steel girder. She was reportedly stuck for about five minutes.

Under sunny skies and temperatures flirting with the 40s, the excitement of motorcycle ice racing on Saturday and car ice racing on Sunday lured crowds of an estimated 1,000 each day to the snowbanks around Silver Lake. The events, sponsored by the Athol Lions Club, seemed to break the mid-winter cabin fever spell that has had many a New Englander cursing the snow gods.

With more than 100 members in attendance, the Franco-American Naturalization Club on South Street celebrated its 75th year in existence and received a special citation from the statehouse.

The Orange Water Department has been out in icy temperatures fixing leaky pipes as well as thawing frozen pipes that are buried within the frost line.

Students at Petersham Center School recently demonstrated to their parents new skills learned in the Discovery Program. Several areas of interest — hot air ballooning, bread making, garden interests, cartooning, primitive musical instruments, writing secret codes, and writing words and music to a school song were part of the program.

A skating rink, basketball and tennis courts, a vista of the Quabbin Reservoir — these are some of the recreational activities that became available to the townspeople of New Salem recently, and so far it has not cost them a dime. Through a grant geared for recreational activities and the work of a local committee, volunteers and the highway department, the town has added these attractions to an area of about four and half acres slated for recreation at the rear of the fire station.

Kathy Dean and Steve Gagnon of Wendell have more than 10 years of experience in rock and ice climbing, mostly on Route 2 and in the White Mountains. The pair can often be seen climbing the ice-covered rocks along Route 2 between Orange and Athol. They have taken anywhere from half day climbing trips to overnight expeditions, camping out on the mountains.


Robert S. Horrigan won election as town clerk in a four-way contest and State Rep. H. Thomas Colo was reelected to a fourth three-year term as selectman in Athol town elections.

Tami Tawanka Junior High Camp Fire Girls have earned credit for their National Needlework Guild pins by making wash cloth bibs for the pediatrics ward at Memorial Hospital. Material was furnished by the hospital. After presenting the bibs to the linen room at the hospital, the group was taken on a tour of the facility.

Army Private First Class William G. LeClair, 20, husband of Mrs. Janice A. LeClair of Athol, was killed in action in South Vietnam. He was the fourth serviceman from Athol, the eighth from the Mt. Grace Region to die in the Vietnam war. He was married on June 15, 1968 to Miss Robichaud in the Church of Our Lady Immaculate, Athol. Two weeks later he was drafted.

The Snow Milk and Ice Cream Co. property at 1521 Main St., Athol, near the uptown common, is being demolished. The building is one of the town’s oldest structures. The company is owned by Robert Tombs of Greenfield. It was reported that an Athol business intends to relocate there.

The Orange Chamber of Commerce plans to sponsor projects including ways to improve recreational opportunity and facilities in Orange; an advertising clinic for merchants; a seminar with industrialists to determine a method of approaching community problems and the part industry can play in solving them. Officials said a major goal will be to activate recreational facilities such as tennis courts and skating rinks.

Sale of the Millers River Grange property at 188 East River St., Orange, to the Orange Housing Authority was completed. It is expected building will start in the spring.

Youth night at Petersham Grange was the largest and most active meeting in many months with young people filling every chair plus extras. The program, written and directed by Mrs. Ruth Bassingthwaite, featured an old time Grange meeting and a modern counterpart.


The school children of Athol have contributed $90 to the Athol Health Seal Committee for their work in the prevention of Tuberculosis. The amount has been raised by the sale of pencils and pins furnished by the association, and this work was in charge of Miss Grace MacKenzie, school nurse.

The 15th Company, 29th Infantry, Mass. St. Gd (formerly Pequoig Guards) “Athol’s Own Company” was presented for Federal inspection by Captain Gregory, U.S. Army, at the Orange Armory. The Athol company has been working hard on a diversified program. Captain Gregory said that the Athol State Guard Company rates “well above average.”

So great has been the demand for tickets for the War Bond Premiere at the York Theatre, that all seats have been sold out and the Capitol Theatre will be opened to take care of the overflow. Tickets for the War Bond show, “The Cross of Lorraine” were given free to each purchaser of a War Bond. Approximately 1,500 theatre tickets were issued and The York seats a little under 1,200 persons. “The Cross of Lorraine,” deals with French soldiers in a Nazi internment camp.

The President’s Birthday Ball held in Memorial Hall attracted approximately 1,000 dancers and spectators. One factor prevented the ball from being as enjoyable as in former years — the absence of young men now serving their country, scattered in stations all over the world. Unescorted girls, however, either took in the ball as spectators or danced with one another.

Back with his unit after a three-day adventure behind Japanese lines, Marine Pfc. Charles W. Bullis, 18, of Orange, told of sleeping in swamps and dodging the Japanese after becoming separated from a patrol hunting for a wounded Marine.

Two Erving boys, Charles Richards and Jack Taylor, both 13 years of age, aren’t letting their tender years hinder them from doing their part in helping win the war. They are making the rounds in their small community in a sled drawn by two young steers and gathering paper for salvage purposes. So far they have collected about 1,000 pounds of paper on the sled.


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