Times Past: 25, 50 and 70 years ago this week

Published: 6/3/2020 9:57:53 AM
Modified: 6/3/2020 9:57:45 AM

Inclement weather expected on Monday afternoon failed to delay Memorial Day activities in Athol.

Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci and Executive Office of Communities and Development Secretary Mary Padula, presented a check for $375,590 to Will Briggs, chairman of the Athol Board of Selectmen, on behalf of the town. The funds will be for use in creating a downtown partnership, assisting the Millers River CDC incubator project in several expansion areas, providing loan funding for micro businesses through the CDC, supporting technical assistance for business, loan fund administration and general administration of the grant.

Herb expert Nancy Gerry recently visited Sally Stone’s 6th grade classroom at Riverbend School to explain the importance herbs had in Early American life. The students’ interest in herbs was sparked by their reading of Elizabeth Speare’s novel, “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.” Mrs. Gerry explained how early colonists utilized herbs for culinary, medicinal and household uses.

For the third year, Athol High School senior parents, and members of Citizens for Safe and Sober Athol and Royalston have joined with community members to organize and supervise a drug and alcohol-free after-the-prom, all night party at the YMCA.

Dorothy Dodge has been making teddy bears and selling them, with the proceeds going to Camp Wiyaka for financial aid to those in need.

Memorial Day observances were spread over Sunday and Monday in Orange.

Georgette Jennings of Orange has been named Pioneer Junior Club Woman of the Year. She has been a member of the club for the past two years. She has organized and chaired club events such as Chinese auction, bake sale, blankets for vets, donations to the Athol-Orange Family Inn, an Easter egg hunt, donations to the Athol Hospital Pediatric wing, the Tiny Tim Christmas card program and is currently organizing the operation Smile International program.

A team of Mahar Regional Scholl students, sponsored by the Mahar Fish ‘N Game Club, received a plaque for being the Rookie Team of the Year and finished second in the Massachusetts State Envirothon held recently at Great Book Farm State Park in Carlisle. Mahar was nosed out by Pittsfield High School, which will represent Massachusetts at the National Envirothon in Idaho in August.


Memorial Day exercises in Athol were confined to the town hall by rain but in Orange, the traditional parade, with a cadence set by Robert Ellison’s Mahar Regional High School Band took place under overcast skies. With homage to dead veterans their objective, paraders, many in rain gear, gathered at Orange Town Hall and the raindrops ceased as the parade formed.

Youngsters from the Jack and Jill Kindergarten recently visited the Athol Police Station where they were conducted on a guided tour by Patrolman Joseph Torchia. They viewed finger printing apparatus, the two-way mirror, cells, radios, riot guns, flare guns and pistols.

Residents of towns along the Millers River will decide in June whether to form a Millers River Watershed Council as a corporation or private committee. An estimated 70 persons attended the third formative meeting in Memorial Hall. The program featured a movie, “Ecology of Millers River,” filmed by Roger Gutkopf, Robert Forand, Robert Goulet and Thomas Krustapentus, high school students. The film portrays river pollutants along the river and one of its Athol tributaries, Mill Brook.

A $258,000 brick addition to Dexter Park School received unanimous approval from Orange special town meeting voters. Plans call for construction of the 10-room structure to be completed by September 1971. Little discussion surrounded the vote to build the addition. William M. Schmick, chairman of the school facilities committee, said many alternatives for solving the space problem had been considered by his committee and the addition seemed the most reasonable choice.

Army Staff Sgt. Roy L. Felton, 21, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy A. Felton of Warwick has been awarded two Army Commendation Medals and four Bronze Stars for heroism in connection with military operations against hostile forces. The sergeant, presently at home on a 30-day leave, will return to Vietnam in mid-June.

Two prisoners at the state correctional institute in Warwick were returned to maximum security at Walpole after being apprehended three miles from the minimum-security forestry camp from which they walked away from the previous night. Warwick police apprehended Helio Conde, 24, of Arlington, and Clarence H. Gomes, 23, of Worcester, following a tip from a resident. Daniel O’Brien, supervisor at the Warwick camp, said both men would have been paroled in several months, but now the pair could receive one to 10 years for escape and have forfeited all good time on their present sentences.


A clear, cool morning greeted Athol for its annual Memorial Day observance, and there were good turnouts for the day’s programs.

S/Sgt. William Haskell, 27, of Athol, has been liberated from German prison camp Stalag Luft 1, according to a cablegram from the Red Cross received by his wife.

Second Lt. Harland S. Thompson, 23, of Athol, co-pilot of a Flying Fortress who was shot down over Germany last Aug. 25, is on his way home, according to a V-mail letter received by his parents.

Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Blaser of Athol have received a letter from their son, Pfc. George S. Blaser, telling them he was in France awaiting transportation home. He had been a prisoner of the Germans for eight and one-half months.

Mr. and Mrs. Dominick L. Guilmette of Athol, have received the Bronze Star Medal which was awarded their son, 1st Sgt. Joseph A. (Bob) Guilmette “for meritorious service in connection with military operations against the enemy in Eastern France, Luxembourg and Germany.” He is now serving with Gen. Patton’s Third Army in Germany.

There was an excellent turnout of townspeople, of the patriotic orders and veterans organizations, the State Guard, and all branches of the Scouts for the Memorial Day exercises in Orange.

The Orange Kiwanis Jay-Cee Circus closed after three days showing to capacity crowds. More than 5,000 paid adult admissions and 3,450 free tickets were given to area children. The Kiwanis Club realized $1,092 as its share of the proceeds. This money will be used for its service activities, particularly for work among underprivileged children.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gale of Tully have received a letter from their son, Flight Officer Conrad Gale, telling them he is in France awaiting transportation home. This is the first letter his family has received from him since he was taken prisoner last December.

Lt. Alfred E. Wiley, pilot with the 491 Bombardment group with the Eighth Air Forces writes his mother, Mrs. Laura Wiley Marble of Orange, that “I received a medal the other day, the citation read for ‘courage, coolness, and skill’, but don’t believe it, my knees were knocking.” He writes further that he has found where his brother Pvt. Louis Wiley, who died of wounds Sept. 4, 1944, is buried in Brittany and expects to visit his grave before long.

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