April 1, 2005
Will Rockwell Forget?
Lilliputian wedding??? What was that all about? A few days ago Paul Curran gave me some
negatives of pictures taken by Milford News photographers fifty years ago or more. Four of them were
in an envelope labeled “Lilliputian Wedding – Hope Com House – June 1949.” The pictures of a
wedding party of more than two dozen were taken on the Community House steps. I did an Internet
search and evidently the term was first used in connection with the 1863 wedding of Tom Thumb.
Okay… but why Hopedale in 1949? I think there’s a good chance that one or more of you can answer
that. Let me know, if you can, and I’ll pass the answer on next time.
I wrote the paragraph above about a week ago. Yesterday, while at the library, I happened to run
across some information on the wedding. I’ll send it along next time, but I’m still interested in seeing
if any of you remember it or have any information about it.
As golf season approaches, I thought it would be a good time to send this article from the Milford
News. Unfortunately, the clipping I have doesn’t have a date.
An Old-Time Draper Worker Speaks Out
Will Rockwell Forget The Pride, The History?
(Editor’s Note: The following was written by a long-service employee of Draper Corporation, now a
division of Rockwell International. It is a subtle message of hope and even a prayer… that Rockwell
will realize that Draper isn’t just a piece of property, but a piece of history to a community that could
lose a great deal should the Hopedale plant be abandoned. The writer has asked that his identity not
be made known.)
I remember…the summer of ’52 when 12 ordinary men, employed by Draper Corporation as
machinists, foremen, assemblers, engineers, and tradesmen, conceived and nurtured an impossible
dream…to build a golf course.
I remember…Archie Pickard, the Draper personnel manager’s doubting laugh and his comments
about the many company sponsored failures – the ski hill, then dark and dilapidated; the ballpark,
where not even the echoes of the Blackstone Valley League remained; and the others…
I remember…the petitions signed by 191 men and women, affirming that: They, if assistance from the
Draper Corporation was forthcoming, would be willing to donate their time and services, in order to
keep initial construction costs at a minimum…
I remember…the look of disbelief on Archie’s face as he counted the names. And I remember some
of those names – Chippy Fitzgerald, Charles Lowe, Millard Gaskill, Tony Allegrezza, Jim Stringfellow,
Ed Condon, Hamilton Thayer and even Archie Picard.
I remember…the letter that Mr. Picard sent to the Board of Directors of Draper Corp., which, in part
said, “the day when golf was considered a rich old man’s sport has all but passed into oblivion. More
and more young people, from all walks of life, have joined the ranks of golf enthusiasts.
“Prominent business concerns throughout the country are realizing the growing importance of golf as
the leading recreational choice of a large segment of the working population.
“With these testimonials of success from leading manufacturers in mind, Draper Corp. golfers felt that
the establishment of a company sponsored golf course would meet with hearty endorsement from the
townspeople of Hopedale, Milford and the surrounding communities.”
I remember…Mr. Claude Snyder, corporate official, giving the company’s answer, in effect – We will
permit you to use the company’s Howard Farm property, but we cannot, at this time, sponsor your
I remember…the 175 men and women who chipped in 20 dollars each, the first year, for seed,
fertilizer and tools.
I remember the 150 men, women and children working night after night, until well after dark, week
after week, from March until November.
I remember…the Simmons family, Earl, Howard and Earl, Jr., John and Jean Stare, the Varney
brothers with their big shiny red trucks and bulldozers, John and George Bushnell, Almond Draper,
Jack Mintoft and so many others, quite a few now gone and just fading memories.
I remember…the heartaches and disappointments, the fellowship and good cheer. The foundry and
main office working side by side, dedicated to a seemingly impossible purpose. There were leaders
on that project, not bosses! A foundry worker one night, a main office clerk the next.
I remember…the bad times; the drought of ’54 which followed the planting of 5600 evergreen trees
and I indeed remember the hurricane and flood of August 1955.
I remember the laughter…when Chuck Lowe’s beautiful brand new, two thousand dollar bulldozer
slowly settled out of sight into the mud on the 1st fairway.
And the day Johnny Izzo mowed the hornet’s nests where 20 fleet-footed men were cutting grass on
And the day 30 or 40 more learned that smoke could be hazardous to your health, especially if it was
from burning poison oak or ivy.
And the day Charlie Burnham, Draper’s chief engineer, demonstrated to us the correct and precise
method of drilling holes in the steel girders spanning the Mill River, while standing on one leg – what
I remember finally…the day the course opened – the day the 164 member Draper Golf League played
here for the first time – after two and one half years of aches and pain, sweat and strain, frustration
I remember…the PRIDE!!
It’s not just a piece of their land, it’s a piece of their history.
I hope ROCKWELL doesn’t forget.
Best wishes to Dave Harris for a quick and complete recovery. Dave had a stroke a few weeks ago.
Harold Taft celebrated his 100th birthday last week. Harold has been living at Draper Place for a few
years and as recently as last fall could frequently be seen traveling all over town in his electric chair.
At a party to celebrate my father’s 95th birthday last March, it was announced that the Hopedale
Housing Authority had voted to name the center at the Griffin-Dennett Apartments for him, in honor of
his 43 years as a member of the board. At the March meeting a couple of weeks ago, the plaque with
his name was placed on the wall and it’s now officially the Edward Malloy Recreation Center.
My latest addition to the website is Lilla Bancroft Pratt’s story of the life of her father, Joseph Bancroft.
It’s at http://www.hope1842.com/bancroftjoseph.html
Since some of you who receive this are well beyond the range of the Milford News (and others have
given up on it), I thought I might pass along an obituary now and then that you might have missed.
John Hutchinson, 89, of Falmouth died on March 16, after a long illness. John had been vice
president of manufacturing and a director of Drapers. In 1972 he became president of Fellows Corp.
in Springfield, Vermont. He retired in 1978. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Eleanor, his sons,
John Hutchinson of North Falmouth and Dr. Thomas Hutchinson of Falmouth, and five grandchildren.
Also – Palm Harbor, Florida – R. Dexter Whiting, 80, of Palm Harbor, died Saturday, March 5. He was
the husband of the late Helen Whiting. He leaves a son, Steven T. Whiting of Sunderland, a daughter,
Pamela D. of San Antonio, Texas, and a sister, Dorothy Tredeau of Milford.
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