May 1, 2005
May Day was evidently a big day in the Hopedale Community. I wish we had more on how it was
celebrated, but at this time, about all I've seen is the following from Adin Ballou. If I get a chance one
of these years, I'll see if I can find more in the Practical Christian.
A long account of one of the first of these [May Day celebrations], held May 1, 1848, was given in a
letter from the then widely-known reformer, Henry C. Wright, who was present, to his friend and fellow-
laborer in the cause of humanity, Philip P. Carpenter of Warrenton, England, and published in the
Practical Christian of May 13. After detailing and commenting upon what he sees and hears and
feels, the writer near the close says: ‘It is pleasant to witness and enjoy the scene. Children and
parents are here sympathizing together in their amusements. How much more rational, useful, and
Christian these than others in which men and women often indulge with the justification of the
orthodox world. I believe this is as innocent as any meeting and far more improving and Christianizing
than those in which a pro-war, pro-slavery, brutalizing religion is instilled into men’s minds and hearts.
Scenes like those of this occasion make us all better men and women.” Adin Ballou, The History of
the Hopedale Community, p. 181.
When I was at the Park Street School a few decades ago, May Day was still being celebrated with a
May pole dance at the park. If any of you have memories of that, and send them to me, I’ll add them to
the files for the museum. We’re hoping that before another year is gone, the renovation job at the Little
Red Shop will be completed and we’d like to be adding stories, pictures and artifacts so that it will be
a town museum and not just a Draper museum. I’ve been saving materials in file folders for the past
couple of years on any Hopedale topic I come across information on, including individuals, families,
organizations, churches, businesses, streets, neighborhoods, schools, activities, events, etc. If you
have anything you can contribute to this, including your own memories and/or stories about your
family, I’ll be happy to add it to the files.
In 1934, The Milford Daily News printed a story of Thomas Gaffney’s memories of Hopedale and
Drapers which went back to the 1870s.
Here and There With the Employees of the Draper Corporation
A Column Dealing With Their Activities
On Nov. 7,  Thomas H. Gaffney will complete a half century of continuous employment with the
Draper company. While he is not the oldest employee in years of service, only a very few have a
record equal to his. Mr. Gaffney enjoys good health and appears much younger than his shop record
would indicate. He is looking forward to many more years of pleasant relations with his shop friends.
Mr. Gaffney started working in the Screw department about the time the late Charles F. Roper invented
the first automatic screw machine. Following the introduction of this machine the screw business
boomed for several years. He remained in this department for 38 years and then transferred to the
Pattern Safe department where he is now located. Only six men were employed in the screw
business at the start but this number was increased to several hundred within a few years.
When Mr. Gaffney was a boy he passed the home of Adin Ballou every day on his way to school. Mr.
Ballou greeted the school boys and often gave them apples. Mr. Gaffney recalls distinctly the time that
the Ballou house was moved to its present location on Dutcher street. The house is now occupied by
Alfred Howarth of the Foundry.
Thomas Gaffney was one of the six charter members off Hose 2, which was formed about 40 years
ago. These hose houses located in different sections of the town made up the only fire protection.
When a fire occurred at night it was necessary to arouse the late John French in order to secure his
horse to haul the hose wagon.
When Almon Thwing, brother-in-law of George Draper, lived at the corner of Hopedale and Hope
streets he had a large clock on the front of his barn. It was the only clock of its size in town and
everybody referred to it as the Town Clock. It was built and maintained by Mr. Thwing with a great deal
of pride. The house in which Mr. Thwing lived is now located on Union Street. (This final sentence led
me to take a look on Union Street for the house. It seems that the house is the most likely one in
Hopedale that could be considered an Underground Railroad house.) Click here for more on this.
Mr. Gaffney’s father, Michael F. Gaffney, was employed in Worcester. He worked nights and came to
Hopedale on week-ends. After finishing work on Saturday night he would take a train to Northbridge
and then walk to his home here.
Mr. Gaffney says the Old Red shop, which now stands on the south end of Hopedale pond, opposite
the Freedom Street side of the shop, is the original Sheet Metal department. It was then located near
where the screw shop now stands. Later it was moved to the east side of Freedom street [???], south
of the dam, where it was still used for the sheet metal work. It was moved from there to its present
location. [When this article was written in 1934, it was north of Freedom Street and west of the pond,
near Progress Street.]
Mr. Gaffney’s memory of what happened in Hopedale goes back vividly for 60 years. He can recall the
many changes in both the plant and the layout of the town. From conversations which he had as a boy
with his parents and also his grandparents he knows considerable about the history which covers the
doings of the Hopedale community and the days before Hopedale was set apart from Milford. One
thing which is seldom mentioned is the old Eight-rod road. This was an old stage coach route from
Worcester to Providence which went through this section. It is now grown up to woods but in many
places a stone wall which lined either side of the road is still standing. The boundary line between
Hopedale and Mendon follows this old road, Mr. Gaffney says. The Milford Daily News.
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