| Hopedale's Centennial Year
A Time to Remember, A Time for Hope
An Address by Representative Richard T. Moore
Hopedale Union Evangelical Church Men's
Brotherhood Communion Breakfast
March 22, 1986
It seems like only yesterday...
... When Harold Hill and his Worcester Brass Band held concerts on Wednesday nights, and you could get a steamed hot dog for a quarter and popcorn from a Legionaire for a dime, and at a few minutes before 10 p.m. the band would strike up the National Anthem.
...When you could go to the town hall second floor auditorium to see the Blue Raiders basketball team, a high school play, or the Men's Brotherhood minstrel show, and buy homemade fudge in the auditorium at all of these.
...When senior classes at Hopedale High held paper drives to earn money for that April trip to our nation's capital, and excitedly planned for their outdoor graduation on the majestic front steps of the Community House.
...When there were Saturday afternoon movies for the kids at the Community House; and when that same shop bell that called their fathers to work at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Draper Corporation, reminded the kids to be home and off the streets by 9 p.m.
...Or when Memorial Day parades seemed to include half of Hopedale while the rest of the town came out to watch; or when most of the town's fathers and sons went to that big green wooden stadium at Draper Field to watch the best baseball outside of the pros in the old Blackstone Valley League.
...Yes...it seems like only yesterday...
We all share memories of events, of buildings, of neighbors and loved ones so much a part of Hopedale and its special character, And in this, our town's centennial year, events are planned to help us recall our heritage, and we can all remember...
Of course, there's no one in this audience who was part of that hope filled company of thirty-two men and women who moved into the old Jones place in the Dale in 1841 to establish "Fraternal Community, No. 1." None of us ever knew Reverend Adin Ballou, that man of commanding presence, great intellectual ability, and a character above reproach, who the author of that classic, War and Peace, Count Leo Tolstoy called "The best writer that America has produced."
None of us ever knew those founders of the new town of Hopedale, led by George Draper and including my own great-uncle, Samuel Andrew, who, as constable, posted the warrant for that first town meeting. And it's not likely that anyone here knew such luminaries as William F. Draper, Civil War general, congressman, and ambassador to Italy or his brother, Eben S. Draper, governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
But there were many we did know. After all, it seemed in Hopedale that you knew everybody and they knew you. Maybe it was Sam Kellogg or Tom Malloy or Chet Sanborn - You'd get to know them pretty fast if you were the mischievous type. Or maybe a Lucy Day, or Robert Bramhall, or Annie Slaney or Sewall Drisko, or Coach Carl Miner. Perhaps it was a Reverend Tegarden or Simpson or a Father Connellan or Pitroff.
And we all were the better for having been touched by one or more of these people who genuinely cared about us and our town.
Then, of course, there were our own families, and our friends and neighbors who helped to guide and shape our character, and it certainly wasn't their fault if we didn't achieve perfection. Lord knows, they tried and they sure hoped we would.
It doesn't seem like there were many Hopedale families touched by divorce or living on welfare, or involved with drugs or alcohol or gambling. Your father usually was the one who went to work - mostly to Draper's, and your mother managed the home and raised the children. It all seemed so much simpler then.
Thornton Wilder's message however, in "Our Town" is there's no going back. Even as idyllic as we viewed our growing up years in Hopedale, we cannot repeat them. And Wilder went even further suggesting that the past is not always as good as it seems because we tend to lay aside our own mistakes and pettiness.
His narrator explained rather starkly what it was to be alive. "To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion or another. Now you know - that's the happy existence you wanted to go back to," Wilder said, looking back at those "good old days."
Nevertheless, as we, in this centennial year, face Hopedale's next century we cannot help but wonder if those who gather in the year 2086 to celebrate Hopedale's bicentennial, will look back with the same pleasurable recollections that we have of the first one hundred years, or will that new century be remembered as Wilder suggests of moving in a "cloud of ignorance," of "trampling the feelings of those about you," or of "being at the mercy of one self-centered passion or another."
As we look forward to the future of this community, are we filled with the same exuberant hope for "The Dale" that Reverend Ballou's social experimenters had nearly a century and a half ago, or with the same independent spirit and resolve of George Draper and his fellow petitioners for a new town exhibited when they convinced Governor George Robinson and the Massachusetts legislature to slice off the best piece of Milford?
Certainly, we can point to countless factors which would lead us to pessimistic conclusions.
...The rise of an attitude of me first
...The lack of interest in serving in town offices or even voting
...The disillusionment of so many in the basic institutions of society such as our schools, our churches, our corporations, our representative government
...The decline of the family unit as we have known it
...The increase in drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide among our young people
...The relative economic decline of America as we compete with other nations in a global market
...Our seeming inability to settle differences, to achieve peace, to put an end to terrorism, or the arms' race with its terrible economic consequences as our government and other nations turn the Biblical Isaiah on his head and beat plowshares into swords.
As we look around our community, our region, our nation and our world, we see so many discouraging signs of moral decline, social disorder, and economic crisis, and we constantly lament any change in our lives.
But if we think back in our lives and if we study the history of Hopedale as a community, we will find that the town and its residents have progressed through change and that progress has, for the most part, been positive. In fact, our forebears learned well the lesson that times of change are also times of greatest opportunity.
It was, indeed, a contemporary of Adin Ballou and the Drapers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who once said, "If there is any period one would desire to be born in, it is the age of revolution, when the old and the new stand side by side and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and by hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era. This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it."
We must strive to strengthen and restore our sense of community by giving greater credence, reliance, even reverence to those traditional values that made both our town and our nation great.
Reverend Ballou and his flock who established the Hopedale Community and each ethnic group that came to Hopedale brought with them a rich cultural heritage and strong family ties which should once again serve as the foundation of our sense of community and of our town's collective integrity. Rather than be blended into a bland "melting pot" society that has no tradition, no values, no principle.
Before we can reform our community and reclaim the values of our heritage, we must reform ourselves; and the first step is to restore the importance and integrity of the family unit. That can be done by promoting respect for our roots - our community traditions and local pride - not in a narrow, parochial or provincial sense, but in a way that evokes pride in one's heritage while having respect for different customs, traditions and geographic origins. For while our "roots" may originate from different sources, they are all tied to certain fundamental values - values that must be at the center of our thoughts and our deeds.
A respect for one another, an interest in town affairs, a cooperative spirit, a helping hand, and enthusiasm for sports and politics and social events - qualities that at once make Hopedale so special and so American.
The future of Hopedale and of America does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike. Nor does it belong to those who are timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it belongs to those who can blend vision, reason, and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises that are so much a part of the historic tradition of Hopedale and of America.
Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping of impulse of America, and a special quality of the people of Hopedale, that neither fate nor nature, nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands matched to faith, reason and principle, which will determine our destiny.
Dick Moore is now (2006) a state senator for the district that includes Hopedale. At one time he was a Hopedale selectman and the president of the Hopedale Community Historical Society.
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