Peg Sweeney, the Larches, and the Boston Celtics

    Peg Sweeney's work ethic, high level of energy, organization skills, and efficiency were qualities that
    equipped her to have one of the most important jobs at Draper Corporation in the 1950's, but it was
    her qualities of warmth and sensitivity that made her such an effective leader. She was director of food
    services for the Larches, the executive mansion of the company, and for the Draper factory, which
    employed two thousand plus workers, back in the days when the Hopedale company was the largest
    manufacturer of automatic cotton looms in the world. With the scope and flexibility of her talents and
    personality, Peg was comfortable working with wealthy executives, as well as workers and customers
    in the foundry at the pushcart food wagon.

    October 16, 1957 was a special evening in Hopedale . The Boston Celtics had come to town. An intra-
    squad exhibition basketball game was held at the Draper Gym. Five hundred fans enjoyed the
    passing wizardry  of Bob Cousy, the shooting of Tommy Heinson, and the rebounding of Jim Luscatoff.
    After the game, members of the team were guests for a luncheon at the Larches. It was a very
    entertaining evening !

    The honor of hosting the Celtics came about in an interesting way. The owner of the Celtics was
    Walter Brown, a resident of Hopkinton, who had a summer home in North Falmouth at New Silver
    Beach. His summer neighbors included Dr. John and Florence Cicchetti and Gerard and Peg
    Sweeney. It was Dr. Cicchetti who made arrangements with Brown to bring his team to Hopedale. It
    served as a pre-season promotional  appearance for his players, and it gave Hopedale residents an
    exciting opportunity to visit their two year old gym.

    The post game luncheon at the Larches was hosted by Draper executives. After a time of social
    mingling, the players and their wives began to be seated. It was at this time that the director of food
    operations was momentarily startled. One of the players was missing !! Without saying a word that
    might be a cause for alarm, she quietly went looking for him. Within a few minutes, she found him
    outside near the entrance. She spoke to him softly and assured him that he was most welcome. She
    took him by the hand and escorted him to the doorway and then discretely walked him to his seat. No
    one else was aware that the shy twenty-three year old rookie would have preferred to be on a
    gymnasium floor rather than being surrounded by the well-meaning, adoring executives. The
    remainder of the evening went very well.

    It was Peg Sweeney's kindness and sensitivity that averted a potentially awkward situation.  Draper
    Corporation was very fortunate to have such a multi-talented high-level employee. She retired from her
    job at some time before her son Jay was born in 1958. As for the player, like Peg, he also excelled at
    his job. Before joining the Celtics, he led his college basketball team to a national title and led the U.S.
    Olympic team to a gold medal. As a professional, he led the Celtics to eleven NBA championships in
    thirteen years. His statue is being unveiled today (11-1-2013) at Boston's City Hall Plaza. Peg had  
    escorted to his seat Bill Russell, the greatest basketball player who ever lived.

    (Information for this article was obtained from the Milford Daily News, Oct. 17, 1957 and from Peg, my
    friend and neighbor, after mentioning to her a few years ago, that I was in attendance at the game that
    night. Peg passed away earlier this year.)

    Richard Grady
    October 22, 2013

            A Tribute to Gerard and Peg Sweeney        The Boston Celtics at the Draper Gym         Mendon Menu  

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Bill Russell at the unveiling ceremony.