February 15, 2006
    Hopedale History
    No. 54
    The Ice-Watch

    Recently the Highway Commissioners, on the recommendation of the Historical Commission,
    decided that it will require that new roads be named for prominent citizens or veterans killed in action.
    The name selected for the next one will be Kellogg, for Sam Kellogg, who was police chief, fire chief,
    and highway superintendent (all at the same time) for many years, until his retirement in 1943.

    Congratulations to Lekia Cowen who joined the ranks of only six other Hopedale High School
    basketball player to score 1,000 points. The truly amazing thing is that Lekia is only a sophomore.
    She started playing with the varsity team when she was in the eighth grade.

    We had lots of open water on Hopedale Pond this February, although the weather over the last few
    days has ended that. It seemed like a good time to look forward to spring with the following story.

                                                        The “Ice-Watch” Has Ended

    HOPEDALE – This year has been an unusual one in many respects in this little town. The year 1980
    marks many changes and it also marks the first year since 1911 that no records have been kept by
    employees of the now phased-out Rockwell plant and its predecessor, Draper Corporation, on the
    date that the ice has disappeared from Hopedale Pond.

           This year, Hopedale Pond itself almost appears to be making note of the cessation of such
    record keeping. Although it is an inanimate object, the Pond has been anything but cooperative in the
    ice department. The covering has come and gone all winter and it has offered little or no ice skating.

           Through the past years, the statistics on the departure date of the ice have been kept by Draper
    employees including Pat Dillon, George Bacon, George Young, Howard Fitch, Norman Taylor and Roy
    Rehbein.

           Some of the statistics reveal that the earliest date that no ice could be seen from the Draper plant
    at 3:30 PM was March 14, both 1921 and 1953. In 1979, the pond was free of ice on March 21, while in
    the year of the great blizzard, 1978, the ice cleared the pond on April 12. The report which was
    compiled over the years revealed that 1955 was almost the warmest year with the ice departing on
    March 15. Sayings about New England weather prove true by the report which notes that the next year,
    1956, was tied for the coldest year recorded.

           The report, which was diligently kept, shows that the pond was clear of ice in the month of March
    for 47 of the 68 years that the records were kept. Ice left the pond in the month of April for a total of 21
    years.

           Roy Rehbein, a long-time employee of the loom manufacturing firm was the last person to mark
    the report, and he noted the date of March 21, 1979 as the date the ice had left the pond on his last
    occasion to record the information. To this he added, “This will likely be the last report from Draper –
    the end of an era.”

           Little things like the date upon which ice left the pond were an indication of how the employees
    felt about the plant, the looms they made and the town in which they lived. The observation took only a
    minute or two, but it was recorded religiously by the record keepers. Rebhein was obviously correct in
    his prophecy. “The end of an era” has arrived. Milford Daily News, February 12, 1980.

                
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