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

    (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     

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Bill Russell at the unveiling ceremony.

Peg and Gerard Sweeney in the middle.