March 1, 2009
Hopedale History
No. 127

Hopedale in February  

A slideshow of
G&U Railroad pictures on YouTube, accompanied by a one-man band rendition of Turkey in the Straw. Does entertainment get any better than this?

If you read John Cembruch’s memories of growing up in Hopedale, posted a few months ago, you might like to take a look at
The Rest of the Story, in which he covers gambling, scuba diving, car racing, starting a tank truck repair business, and much more.

Things have been moving along at the Red Shop lately. If you take a look at
Hopedale in February, you’ll see a couple of recent accomplishments. Our Saturday work parties have resulted in a lot of progress. There are a few items that we need and jobs we need done, and I thought this might be a good place to put in a request. We have some Hopedale video on tapes and we’d like to get them converted to DVD to have available to show at the shop. Also, we could use help from someone with model making experience to do some repairs on two model looms. If you’re willing and able to help on either of these projects, let me know and we can talk further about them.

Hopedale Youth Baseball site.  

Mark Twain will be speaking at the Bancroft library on Wednesday, March 4 at 7 PM. If this is the same Mark Twain that I saw last summer, I’d say it would be worth your time to drop in and hear what he has to say.

Here’s a question sent by Kathi Wright. If you can help, send your answer, and/or recipe to me, and I’ll pass it along to her.     
Buster has a strong memory of whoopie pies sold at the old drugstore when he was a kid, probably in the '30's.  Do you or anyone remember them, and what was so special or different about them?  Better yet, would anyone have the recipe? I've tried other recipes, but nothing comes close (to his memory, at least!).


It seems that the timing for a celebration could hardly have been worse. In 1980, Rockwell closed the Draper plant in Hopedale. The town’s centennial was only six years away. However, an enthusiastic committee went to work, donations arrived, volunteers showed up, and when the time arrived, a Milford News editorial was able to say…

Hopedale Is Glowing Again

A funny thing happened on the way to the Hopedale Centennial. The town, once a favorite child of a benevolent family, became with the passing of Draper generosity, a family in itself, and as their earlier benefactors had done in the past, the town now takes care of its own, and they do it without even being asked.

Less than a decade ago Hopedale faced disaster. Rockwell International, who bought the Draper business, had closed the Hopedale plant in 1980 and moved its business elsewhere. (See Milford News article –
It’s all Over – Last Worker Leaves.)

The people of the town were faced with the loss of a large part of their tax revenue. They faced the possible forced regionalization of their school system, and a ponderous town government with an excess of positions that had fit Draper’s needs, but not necessarily the needs of the town, was costing money. They had a huge building that had for years been the physical, if not the metaphysical, center of the town. It stood empty.

It is now 1986, and Hopedale has pulled itself out of the vacuum left by the absence of the Draper family, its business, and its paternalistic support, and the town is now on its way upward again. How the group of young men and women who took the precarious reins spurred this recovery in such a relatively short time is a genuinely unique application of cool-headedness and business sense, but just why it was possible for them to accomplish the recovery became clear during the outset of Hopedale’s 100th birthday.

The Hopedale Birthday committee needed $17,000 to cover expenses for the town celebration. They knew at the outset it would be hard work if it was to be done in the same fund-raising manner as others it their situation had had to do. They thought of bake sales, and door-to-door collections. They began to compile lists of area businesses and planned how they would go about canvassing them, and the committee members said that they were more than a little frightened at the amount of their goal.

They didn’t have to be. Businesses, some run by Hopedale residents, some who were just doing business in Hopedale, were the first to come to the committee. According to the committee members many of these people weren’t even asked. “They came in, asked to see the expense sheet, picked an expensive item, and wrote a check,” says Kathy Friend, and her co-committee member Shirley Mei adds, “The big businesses really came though for the town when it was needed.”

Not one private citizen was contacted, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t give. Hundreds dropped in at Town Hall to find out who they could see to make contributions.
According to the committee members, the elderly of the town especially impressed them. They didn’t give the $3,500 contribution (the largest single contribution) or even the $1,000 or $500 donations, but the budgets of a retired person who is on a fixed income as opposed to the incomes of large businesses, make their $10 and $15 gifts comparable at least.

The little children, to whom Drapers is of the dame genre as Vietnam and the Beatles – ancient history – were happy and even excited to give to their town. The Blue Birds held a bottle drive and donated the money to the centennial. They hadn’t been asked, and they wanted nothing in return. They were even surprised when they were asked if they would march in the parade.

The older children of the fifth and sixth grades showed their support. When asked at school one morning if there were any who could give up some of their time to clean up the park, they volunteered. Forty-two of them signed up in one day. Teenagers, a much-maligned group of young adults, gave money and their time to the celebration. They also gave without having been asked. Some even volunteered to put on costumes and march in the parade. Young couples new to town stopped in to drop off checks.

There have been a lot of town celebrations in this area in the past, and each town in its turn has risen to its own occasion. It is Hopedale’s willingness to give without asking for anything in return that has shown its colors. To have raised what was needed so quickly and in such a unanimous, across-the-board fashion, from developers to Blue Birds, from town officials to retirees, and from 90-year olds to six-year olds, shows one of the lessons that Hopedale has learned on its trip from 1886 to 1986.

In times of need, arguments and differences of opinion are put aside, and in these times Hopedale takes care of its own.
Milford Daily News, April 10, 1986.

Article on the separation from Milford.


Recent deaths:

Keith B. Moore, 76, January 9, 2009, Falls Church, Virginia, HHS 1951.

Kenneth M. Lovejoy, 27, February 21, 2009, Grafton.