Hopedale History
    December 15, 2006
    No. 74
    Anna’s Christmas

    The following items are for sale at the Bancroft Library during December:  Little Red Shop prints by Ray
    Andreotti, Commune to Company Town and Red Shop t-shirts. In addition, the Friends of Adin Ballou
    have note cards with pictures of Hopedale buildings, To Live Truer Life by Lynn Hughes (the children’s
    picture book of early Hopedale), Hopedale Reminiscences ,and more. There are other items on sale
    by the Library Board of Trustees, the Friends of the Library, and HHS Class of 2007.

    Help support the restoration of the Little Red Shop. Crystal Ball ad book order form.

    The Parklands in December – five pictures.

    Sacred Heart Church Thrift Shop   

    Bob Holmes’s memories of Hopedale years ago.

    State aid for Draper Complex???

    I received an email from a gentleman in Melbourne, Australia last week named Peter Metzke. He has a
    website on paper and textile mills, including information on Whitin Machine and some of the Lowell
    mills. Here it is.   

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                                                                 Anna’s Christmas

    Today’s story is an account of Christmas in early Hopedale. While no date is given, it seems to cover
    the 1850s to the 1870s. It was written by Anna Thwing Spaulding. Evidently she was the daughter of
    Susan Thwing Whitney and the niece of Anna Thwing Field, whose memories of the Hopedale
    Community can be found in Hopedale Reminiscences.

    Our family consisted of my father, mother and a sister and brother. We were living in a double house
    on Church Street [Milford] where there were only four houses then. From our house to the
    Congregational Church there were open fields.

    My Christmas began before daylight when three children strode quietly downstairs to see what was in
    their stockings fastened to the shelf in the sitting room. We soon heard, “I told you not to get up until
    light,” but like most parents they couldn’t be firm on Christmas Day and they soon joined us.

    You all know the excitement that followed. Those simple little gifts bought for each other and hidden
    away for weeks meant just as much then as the expensive gifts of today. I never had over a dollar with
    which to buy presents for all my relatives and friends. For Grandpa I always bought “The Old Farmer’s
    Almanac,” price ten cents.

    Christmas was always spent at Grandpa Thwing’s in Hopedale with the Field family.

    There was a sharp, steep hill there and our horse, “General,” took it like mad up to the side door. There
    stood Grandma, sweet and serene as always, while each child tried to outdo the other, calling “Merry
    Christmas.”

    Soon the Field family arrived – five of them, with more excitement and more gifts. During the forenoon
    we would see the village folk passing, carrying gifts to the old church. Some had clothes baskets full.
    These were to be exchanged when we had the tree service. After a turkey dinner of which twelve of us
    ate until we could eat no more, we all went to the church.

    There on the platform would be the biggest, tallest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen indoors, loaded with
    wonderful looking packages and the floor piled high with them. With eyes popping I had to sit through a
    service conducted by saintly Adin Ballou. His hair was too long for present style, and white as snow. I
    remember that he wore a cap on the street in winter and I also recall that he whistled through his teeth
    when he prayed, which I found fascinating.

    After the service those hundreds of presents were given out, and I would sit on the edge of the pew
    waiting to hear “Annie Whitney” called as my grandparents always took things to the church for us. After
    all these seventy years I can see William Draper (later the General), George Draper, Eben Draper,
    Frank Dutcher and Eben Bancroft (all young men) taking turns calling out the names.

    This took several hours. Then back to Grandpa’s for a delicious supper at which quince sauce was
    always served made of quince from the bushes there on the place.

    Grace Mayhew and I each have to this day one of the little sauce dishes. After the supper was cleared
    away, once more we trudged down to the church to see a play in which the Bancroft sisters and the
    young Draper brothers always starred. The outstanding thing in one of these plays was the shutting in
    a box of Lura Bancroft who was later Mrs. Charles Day. By the time the play was ended, a tired but very
    happy little girl was glad to be tucked under the old fur robe and driven back to Church Street, to be
    again tucked in. Milford Daily News

    PS
    New England Puritans took a rather dim view of celebrating Christmas, feeling that, for many, it had
    become an occasion for excessive and often drunken revelry. The Hopedale Community was among
    those who were breaking away from this line of thought, and believed that a tree and some gift giving
    was perfectly okay.. Edward Spann on Christmas in Hopedale, in Commune to Company Town.

    Recent deaths:

    Edillio Pagnini, 94, November 13, 2006.

    Patricia (Simoneau) Holt, 71, December 1, 2006.  Converse, Texas,.

    Hazel (Cobbett) Cook, 87, December 8, 2006.

    Susan (Markakis) Fitzgerald, 54, December 10, 2006, Blackstone. HHS, 1970.

                                                
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