Church Street in Whitinsville

     It is 1953. Let’s go for a walk. It is such a beautiful day.
     Here we are, walking in a southerly direction in front of “Shuke’s J. & S. Motors: cars and a mechanic’s garage owned by the Vandenakkers since 1926. Next is a large tenement and then a repair shop run by Mr. Lachapelle to fix washing machines, etc. The next house is where Sadie Pilibosian, my 8th Gr. Civics Teacher lives. Another 2-family house. We cross Johnson Avenue. Doesn’t Mumford Motors look busy today ? We are approaching John Grocki’s house and also the house of the Egsigian family. Gee, Papetti Motors doesn’t have too many Oldsmobiles left on its lot ! Let’s take a short break. Would you like to go candlepin bowling now in Saropian Lanes? Time for a drink at the Trading Post. What’s this little shop next ? Then a beautiful Victorian, 2-family side-by-side home. The Mooradians own the next building and a sewing business. Hard to believe, but St. Patrick’s Rectory is before the Church. Be careful of the traffic as we approach the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (the A&P market). Let’s go inside to say “hi” to Charlie Wells, manager and Henry A. Provost, meat department manager. I have to ask Mary LaPensee if I can date her daughter, Linda tonite. (I worked there in the meat department with Rene Letourneau, a relative and butcher from 1956-1958 when I was in Northbridge High School. It was a part-time job and John Koliss and I had fun some days. By the way, you could buy 3 lbs. of hamburg for a $1.00)
     Now we are approaching Western Auto and the Fiske Furniture Company. The next market is First National. Did we skip Sears, Roebuck and Company one building back ? (The catalog store) Time to go in and meet Walter Sharawara, the head pharmacist and owner of Buffum’s Drug, or Jerry Baszner. Do you need to buy any clothes now ? Let’s go inside McCllelans. Haven’t we passed a barber shop yet ? There’s the Shugrue residence now. Watch out for those coming out of Punjab’s. They had a hard day at The Shop. Ok now, let’s go check out the bowling alleys downstairs at Pythian Lanes……Or we can go to Dr. Noroian, the dentist in the Pythian Building. Want to plan a trip or learn how to dance ? Let’s find out from Agnes or Bob Spence.. There’s Blackstone Valley Travel…. Isn’t Baker’s Department store the nicest one in town now, and it’s been here now for 3 generations……
     Hey, look at the bus----it is going to Woonsocket ! Watch it ! Here comes “Bunkie” Hughes and his Taxi. I think he’s going to pick up “Hickey” Healey ! Can you see if Earl Burroughs, or Johnny Mack, George Blair, and Fred Woodcome- the other taxi owners are around ?
     I feel like getting an ice cream cone. Let’s see Bob Blouin. He gives you a lot for just $.10 at Flagg’s. Do you see all the cars parked at the meters on both sides of the street ? How about it- do you need any shoes ? We can talk to Jack Snyderman or his other Jewish partner, Leon Dickman. Time to go for a haircut. Oh, I just remembered, I have to mail this letter at the Whitinsville Post Office. While we are there, let’s greet our Postmaster, Sam Currie. I am a bit “bushed”. Let’s sit at the Common and get a drink of water at the “bubbler”. Well, now that we are rested let’s walk down to the square and look at all of the flowers around the WWII monument. Is that the right time at The Shop Clock ? Time to cross at the Town Hall. Do you think we can go to the Gym later on ? You know, the Whitinsville Savings Bank is one gorgeous building. I wonder if the Shop payroll is being protected by the sharpshooters inside the third floor of the Town Hall ? The Congregational Church, on our left, is the most magnificent one of the 12 Churches here in this village, without a doubt. And the Whitin Social Library is not too shabby either. Who lives in the Congo Church parsonage now ? Do you see the Carrick Insurance Agency now ? Well, at least we do not have to stop for gas at Ernie West’s station, but I want to pick up some bananas at the United Star Market, and I have to buy some aspirins at T.G. Flagg’s Pharmacy.
     Hey, they are having a sale at Mencow’s Clothing Store, or would you rather stop in at Garabedian’s ? Almost time for lunch. Let’s stop in for a hot bowl of soup at Sully’s Diner, shall we? This Roberts’ home is nice. Want to say hello to Archie and see if your shoes are fixed ? He’s up the alley. Watch out, sometimes the building shakes when he runs those belted machines ! There’s another barbershop, isn’t it called Chick’s ? I know where the Papazian family lives. Hey, let’s go in to F.W. Woolworth’s. Want to buy a nice watch at Benoit Jewelers ? Do you think Bert has a lot of boots to repair today ? Oops, we almost forgot to say hello to Damase Couture at Sparetime Lanes. Golly, Lynch’s Drug Store is really crowded today. Let’s go around the Mumford Block first,

(Mumford Council #365 K. of C. photo)

 then we can go in and see Don Connors at Sherlock’s to see if my paper route will be ready to go tomorrow. Look at all of that pipe tobacco and the “penny candy” we can pick from! Or would you like something from the soda fountain after I pick up the Evening Gazette? Did you just see old Sam outside chewing on his cigar? He’s got to have the smallest shoe cobbler shop around. One of my baseball coaches, “Doc” Couillard lives here at the corner. He doesn’t have far to go to St. Pat’s….are the O’Briens around ? Gees, another barber shop. Old man Barry is out there smoking his pipe. Please wave to him ! I recognize this Victorian home owned by Walter Sizer, but how about those other 3 houses out back ? That’s a hard driveway to get up in the Winter. Is Captain Lee’s busy today? I always get Fish ‘n Chips on Fridays. These apartment buildings are getting old and I see some old cars I will not ever buy……..Well, I guess our walk is over. I see Whitinsville Hospital. It’s hard to believe, but this walk took just one hour ! July 8, 2007

B

“I LIKE IKE”

 I like Ike….

his cheery smile and wide-opened grin

Help me to forget the mess I am in,

‘cause I like Ike.

I have no job,

 I have no car,

I can’t even get near a bar

‘cause I like Ike.

I wouldn’t believe in ‘52,

when the Unions said it was true;

The bankers, bosses, and big money men

Were all using Eisenhower to get their power again.

But I did not care about how it would go

So I let them chop away at the AFL-CIO ‘cause I like Ike.

There once was a time when my blood was hot

And I had two chickens in every pot.

Then I started yelling, “Time for a change!”

And now I’m eating grass off the Range, ‘cause I like Ike.

     Well, we all know that Dwight D. Eisenhower, our nation’s 34th President, served from 1953-1961. What I did not know at this time was that there was a large feeling among the Democrats in The Shop who thought that Ike did not do much for the working class. This poem, (remaining anonymous to this very day, I am still trying to find the author) was written by an employee of the Whitin Machine Works in 1953, circulated in The Shop, and a copy was given to me by my father. Needless to say, I wondered after I read it the first time, as I was only 13 years old then and not that familiar with President Eisenhower. I knew that he was a great military General, but that was about it. Later on, I found it among some things, read it again, and got a whole new perspective. Did you remember that postage stamps were only $.03 when he became President ?


 

Church Street Revitalization

    

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