Times Past: 25, 50 and 75 years ago

Published: 2/13/2020 10:00:53 PM
Modified: 2/13/2020 10:00:42 PM

Downtown Athol was a virtual ghost town with street lights and lights in all downtown buildings darkened by a power outage at Massachusetts Electric Company’s Chestnut Hill substation. The only lights in the downtown area came from automobile headlights, the few pedestrians with flashlights or the flickering lighting from the emergency generator at the downtown fire station.

Four months of extensive research and planning by the teen task force may all be for naught, following a 2-2 split decision by Athol Selectmen on a motion to accept the task force’s recommendations. The decision came after lengthy discussion in which positive ideas for the youth in town were suggested, and several negative points were brought out.

The Boards of Health Tobacco Control Alliance recently completed three educational enforcements in Athol. Seventeen merchants of tobacco were targeted in all three enforcements. The average non-compliance rate for Athol is approximately 50 percent. Only three stores of 17 monitored did not sell to the minor on any of the attempts. All others checked sold tobacco products to the youth at least one or more times during the compliance survey despite Mass. State Laws that prohibit sales to minors.

Cub Scouts of Pack 40, sponsored by St. Mary’s Church in Orange, recently visited the Children’s Museum in Boston. They rode the T from Alewife to South Station and had a tour of the MBTA Control Center.

Further ramifications of Education Reform Act and recent directives of the Department of Education mandating 990 hours of core studies in the school year will bring radical changes to the Mahar Regional High School schedule in September. The addition of 31 more minutes in the school day could mean an earlier starting time, a later dismissal time and the elimination of the homeroom period that begins each morning.

Phillipston Selectmen dashed school officials final hopes of continuing to use the Town Hall to conduct gym classes when they reaffirmed their decision to halt the school’s use of the building.


Flood control officials took emergency measures to alleviate flooding in the Shore Drive area caused by ice jams on Millers River near the end of Union Street. Flood gates at Birch Hill Dam in South Royalston were lowered a foot in an attempt to cut the flow.

The 14th annual father and son banquet of Western District, Monadnock Council Boy Scouts was held in Liberty Hall. General Chairman Robert Gray estimated attendance at more than 380, the largest ever.

Ground breaking for the YMCA building expansion is anticipated when weather breaks in the early spring with the proposed building ready for use in the fall, according to Douglas R. Starrett, president and building committee chairman. A total of $564,000 has been pledged on the expansion drive’s $600,000 goal. All land has been acquired.

A colorful 50-minute film entitled, “A Wildlife Adventure,” featuring many scenes from the picturesque Quabbin Reservoir area, will be presented by the Athol Boosters Association. The patiently and artistically filmed story of the wildlife of New England was created by the well-known team of Carl Scott and Jack Swedberg, who have spent thousands of hours hunting in the field and woods with their 16mm movie cameras since 1952.

Boy Scout Timothy A. Kelley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Austin Kelley of Orange, received the Ad Altare Dei Award from Rev. Alfred Graves, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Orange. It is the first time in 13 years an Orange scout has earned the award, symbolic of religious achievement. The award was presented at a mass attended by 30 Boy and Cub Scouts in observance of Scout Sunday.

Four Southern governors say they will meet with their congressional delegations “so that we may advise them of the gravity of our public school situation and seek a unified course of action to obtain relief from the chaotic situation now facing our schools.” The governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi met for three hours at the International Trade Center to discuss strategy in light of recent school integration orders.


Ensign Raymond F. Starrett, U.S. Navy, of Athol, has been promoted to lieutenant, according to word received here by his wife, Mrs. Eunice Starrett. Lt. Starrett is stationed somewhere in the South Pacific aboard a repair ship.

Second Lt. Gordon D. Briggs, of Athol, a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber pilot, has been awarded the Air Medal after completing five missions. On these missions, Lt. Briggs dive-bombed and strafed German tanks, trucks, trains and strong points in front of the American doughboys of the First and Third Armies. He is a member of the “Hell Hawk” group which destroyed or damaged 337 Nazi vehicles on the first two days of the German December offensive.

Pfc. Stanley C. Watkevich and Pfc. Addison M. Warren, both of Athol, are members of the 81st “Wildcat” Infantry Division and have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge for exemplary conduct and skill in action against the enemy. The Wildcat Division recently invaded the southern islands of the Japanese-held Palau group.

An Air Medal and citation has been awarded to Sgt. Joseph D. Gagnon, of Athol, USAAF serial gunner on a heavy bomber, following completion of several missions over enemy occupied territory in Europe.

Capt. Morris E. Katz, of Athol, U.S. Army Medical Corps, has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement on Aug. 2, 1944, in connection with military operations against the enemy in France.

Corp. Kenneth W. Blackmer, of Athol, jeep driver with the 25th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron Mechanized, has been cited for meritorious achievement in combat and awarded the Bronze Star.

Property at the corner of East River and South Main streets in Orange has been purchased by the Leavitt Machine Co. from Carlon M. Stowell. The property, formerly known as the Malvina Bingham place, includes a parcel of land and a business block. It adjoins the tract on which the Leavitt Machine Co. plant is located.

The Orange Board of Selectmen favorably voted on the request of Chester Carbone of Athol that a lease on the Orange Theatre be granted him at a weekly rental of $62.50 for a five-year period.

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