If you were to ride by it today, the building shown in my featured postcard of the (old) City Hall, Central Falls, RI, would be very hard to recognize. Located at 26 Summit Street, this previous City Hall building has undergone “unsympathetic modifications and additions” since the picture taken as shown on the postcard.
After doing a street-view search, I compared the present day online picture to the one on the postcard. The only remaining feature, that I could notice, are the old-style posts located at the front entrance. The building shown next to it, in the postcard, seems no longer standing and in its place is a garage attached to this former City Hall.
At only one-square-mile, Central Falls, Rhode Island, is known for being the smallest and most densely populated City in the country and resides within the smallest state. In the early days of this City, extensive roots were planted from which their textile industry grew.
The Village of Central Falls was named in 1824 during a celebration being held at that time to dedicate a mill and a bridge. This village area is located along the Blackstone River which provided power for those early industries which included the first chocolate mill in the US. Central Falls saw great growth in the textile industry drawing immigrants from Ireland, Scotland and Canada.
Central Falls Village was governed as part of Smithfield until the town was divided in 1871, then the village became part of Lincoln. On March 18, 1895, the government of the City of Central Falls was finally organized.
My featured “One Postcard Saturdays” image is of what began as the Lincoln Town Hall, it was built in 1873 with expansion in 1890. The decision to locate Lincoln’s Town Hall on Summit Street in Central Falls was a reflection of the village’s civic and economic prominence. The town hall was built by Lincoln to house the offices of the newly founded town in 1873. Once Central Falls became established with its own government in 1895, the Summit Street building served as the Central Falls City Hall until 1928. During the years that followed, the building served as a city trade school and later as a furniture store.
According to a report filed by the RI Historical Preservation Commission, in 1978, the structure of this building has historical significance. The report explained, “it is a wooden structure, two-and-a-half-story, gable-end, with classical details including quoined corners (projected wood blocks defining the building corners), a modillion (ornate bracket) cornice and paired, pedimented windows over the entrance”.
After viewing such a drastic change as seen in the present day image of this building, online, and then comparing it to some of those structural details from the report above, I find myself realizing the significance of actually having this particular postcard image.
Postcard Sender, Message and Receiver
The postcard itself was postmarked in 1909, from Providence, RI and was sent to Miss Bertha James (Gra Gra), in Riverpoint, RI. It was written in pencil and is a little hard to read.
I have not been able to quite make out the name of the sender, but it looks like the first two letters are Ga.. The sender appears to likely be a boyfriend to Gra Gra, she would have been 18 yrs old at the time. I think it would have been another year, or so, later before she met Pop Pop.
The handwritten message on the postcard reads:
Dear Bertha, I found a few minutes during working hours to write you a few lines. Hope you are well and got home all right Sunday evening. Answer don’t forget. Yours with love, Ga…
This postcard was printed in Germany and was published by the A. C. Bosselman & Co., of New York, NY.
If you would like to learn more about the history of the Central Falls Village, you might read further by accessing the resources, I used, as listed below.
Until next time…
City of Central Falls; centralfallsri.gov; Accessed 15 January 2022.
Statewide Historical Preservation Report by the RI Historical Preservation Commission, January 1978; preservation.ri.gov; Accessed 15 January 2022.
Since today, December 7th, is the 80th Remembrance of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, I wanted to share this brief family connection.
My adoptive grandmother’s nephew, Richard Allen James (1921-1972), was serving in the Army at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, during the time of the attack.
My featured postcard is a Kodak Real Photo Postcard, with a listed number on the front S-643 and is titled “Hula Dancers – Hawaiian Islands”. The card was sent to my mom from Richard while he was stationed in Hawaii. I cannot make out the postmark but since it was addressed to Harris Avenue and not Fairview Avenue, I would date it most likely just after Christmas of 1941.
The handwritten message reads:
Dear Cousin Marian,
Just a few lines to let you know I’m all right and I hope you are the same. The reason I didn’t write sooner was because I’ve been pretty busy. I’m going to write your mother a few lines. Thanks a lot for the Xmas card.
P.F.C. Richard James
Richard Allen James was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His parents were Howard A. (1894-1963) and Mary (Dempsey) James. Howard was a brother to my adoptive grandmother Bertha L. James (also known in my blog as Gra Gra).
Mary Dempsey was second wife to Howard and according to the Family Bible they were married in January of 1924. Howard had first been married to Alfreda Tedford and they had one son together, Howard Tedford James (1917-1956).
The following children were born to Howard and Mary (Resource: Family Bible):
Richard Allen James (1921-1972)
John (1924-1964) Virginia (1926-1999) Margaret B. (1927-1930) Florence (1929-2008) Robert D. (1933-1996) Howard A. Jr. (1935-2005)
According to his WWII draft registration, Richard had blue eyes, was living in West Warwick and was unemployed at that time. Richard had enlisted in 1939 at the age of 18. His brother John had enlisted in the Navy at age 17.
In the Family Bible, the newspaper article (shown below) has been kept for many years.
In the above article it refers to an “Evening Bulletin” reporter. Apparently, this piece ran in both The Evening Bulletin which was the evening edition and The Providence Journal the morning edition (only the morning edition remains in the present day), both were generated from the same company.
The clipped article that I have in my possession was undated and upon an online search I was able to find the ProJo version with a slightly different title but the write up was the same. “Recognized for Bravery…” was the start of the title article that appeared in April of 1942 in The Providence Journal.
This article explains that Private 1st Class Richard Allen James was one of seven men to receive the commendation for bravery in action. In an effort to reach his post during the attack on that day December 7, 1941, he had to pass through heavy fire.
His mother, Aunt Mary, explained in the article that Richard had always been an active boy and enjoyed football and baseball.
During my online search I was able to find another article from The Providence Journal, edition of June 7, 1945. The article explained that Richard was one of eight Rhode Island soldiers who were returning from the Pacific Theater by way of San Francisco. They were being discharged from the Army under the point system and were the first group to be discharged.
In future blogs, I hope to explore other family-related service connections.
Last spring, I started reviewing some of my dad’s personal military items of record and some of the other documents that I have from the reunions his service group held for several years. My original intention was to compile a full outline of their reunions to publish in a blog at the end of May. Due to various circumstances at the time, I was not able to complete the project as intended.
So, this being Veterans Day, I wanted to give a bit of recognition to my dad and this group who served during the second world war. However, I have curbed my original plan. Instead of this blog showing a complete outline of the reunions, it will be more of a review of their service and include just a little information about their reunions. Mostly, because I have been considering putting together a more complete information into a book of some kind that will serve as a historical and memorable documentation. Whether I actually see that to fruition remains to be seen.
In a previous blog posting, I did highlight some of my dad’s service experience which you could connect to via the following link: My Dad: A Soldier of World War II. This current post may contain some repeat of his service highlights. Please note, that all of my source information listed here is being taken from papers or records that I hold in my personal possession. In addition to having my dad’s records and items he saved from the war, I have all the group correspondence and reunion meeting agenda’s that my parents had saved.
My Dad reported for duty on October 13, 1942, at 21 years of age. After serving overseas in the European Theatre, he returned back to the US on October 12, 1945. His military separation was official on October 20, 1945.
First, my dad was sent to Ft. Devens, in Massachusetts, for ten days, then on to Atlantic City for Technical Training School and boot camp. He stayed at one of the big hotels on the boardwalk. He spent twenty days at that location.
While my dad was in Atlantic City, he sent the postcard that I have shown as my featured image. I chose to highlight the handwritten message, back side of the card, but will show the front side image toward the end of this blog.
My dad sent the card on October 29, 1942, from Atlantic City to Mr. Paul A. Kenworthy; however, I am unclear if the card ever reached Paul or whether it was sent back to my dad when he was at mechanic school in Goldsboro, NC, which was the last entry on the address side. I do not know Paul’s story, but I am assuming perhaps my dad had met him at Camp Devens–I do know that Paul did not serve in the same service group with my dad.
Looking at my dad’s handwritten message you can see his location was Atlantic City for Technical School. His message to Paul reads: “Please excuse the time from the time you left until you receive this card. I have been very busy. I will write you more as soon as I get your address. Earl.”
My dad changed posts on November 11, 1942 to Seymour Johnson Field, in North Carolina. It had actually been an error because they had been put on the wrong train heading in the wrong direction. They were supposed to be sent to New York–maybe a blessing in disguise.
He started Airplane Mechanics school and served ten months in the US as an Airplane and Engine Mechanic prior to being sent overseas. He achieved the rank of Corporal.
My dad was assigned to the 461st Service Squadron.
SERVICE GROUP TIMELINE
The 461st Service Squadron was part of the 326th Service Group assigned to the 354th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force. They were activated from Hunter Field, in Savannah, Georgia, on March 6, 1943 and later the group was renamed the 461st Air Service Squadron.
The group remained at Hunter Field until May 22, 1943 and then followed the timeline, as listed below:
Venice, Florida – May 24 to August 2 Waycross, Georgia – August 3 to October 19 Camp Kilmer, New Jersey; October 21 to November 2 Queen Elizabeth, November 2 to November 9 Station 469 – Ramsbury, England – November 10 to November 19 Station 150 – Boxted, Essex, England – November 19 to ?
As you see in the timeline, they had sailed to Ramsbury, Wilshire, England on the Queen Elizabeth arriving on Nov. 10, 1943. They served in four areas of Europe (Central Europe, Normandy, Northern France, Germany) over the course of 23 months (in my dad’s case).
My dad inspected, maintained and repaired wooden aircraft parts on assemblies of the fighter planes, primarily the Fighting Mustang P-51.
Soon after my dad’s 461st Air Service Squadron arrived in England, they became the nucleus of Team “B” of the 326th Service Group. They were assigned for service to the 354th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force.
At the time of the Normandy Beach Invasion (France), also known as D-Day, the group was stationed in Kent, England. The Invasion covered five sections of the beach, taking place from June 6 to 25, in 1944 (not just one day). By the end of that month, my dad’s group had been moved to an air station in Cricqueville, France. During a speech made on the 50th anniversary of this Invasion (June 1994) it was said that the Normandy Invasion was the “Price of Freedom”. In this place, thousands of Allies gave their lives as represented by the lines of white crosses that remain there along the coastline.
By late August of 1944, celebration parades and 15 miles of Paris streets were lined with cheering people, marking their Liberation from German occupation, as can be seen from the postcard pictured above.
The regime would fall in Germany on May 7, 1945 which followed the advancement of Allied forces into that area.
On October 12th, 1945, my dad arrived back on US soil to Fort Monmouth, in New Jersey and headed for home on October 20th.
He went on to graduate from the New England Aircraft School where he obtained knowledge of engine construction, inspection, maintenance and repair. He graduated on September 12, 1947.
My dad received the following service medals: the European Theatre of Operations Service Medal, four bronze battle Stars, the Good Conduct Medal and the Medal of the Jubilee of Liberty, which was received posthumously.
The first Reunion of the 461st Air Service Squadron, 9th Air Force was held in 1980. The group’s members were scattered across the country. Each reunion that was held by the group included a business meeting, a memorials recognition, group visits to local sites, a banquet, and breakfast on the final morning.
My parents were not able to attend until the 4th Reunion which was held in 1984, from October 4-7, in Philadelphia, PA. The mailing list that was handed out at that 1984 meeting listed 82 members living and 18 known deceased.
The 5th Reunion was held in North Hollywood, Calif., in 1985; from October 17-20. The picture shown above is my dad in the dark shirt with his buddy Warren Morey. They went on a tour of the Queen Mary which you can see in the background. They went to a lot of places like Disneyland and Universal backlots, etc. After this reunion my mom wrote a letter to other wives with words of encouragement to attend the reunions. She spoke of how she never expected to see the state of California and that my parents had saved all year to be able to go. They came home with great memories, that no one can take away.
My parents continued to attend many of the annually held reunions of this service group, but I am not going to list them all at this time. So, I will continue with the 15th Reunion, with details below.
The 15th Reunion was held in Savannah, Georgia, back to where the group had been activated in 1943. The picture above shows the waterfront area in Savannah and the picture below shows the group going on a carriage ride. It was the last reunion my dad was able to attend and was held in 1995, from October 11-14 with 21 men present. They toured Fort Stewart and Hunter Field. My dad was having a lot of physical struggles at that time but was determined to go. My parents had gone down by train and they extended their visit from October 10 to 17. A few weeks after returning home my dad took a fall and was never quite able to walk more than a step or two again.
My dad died in March of 1997.
My parents were not able to attend the 16th Reunion due to my dad’s health. However, my mom continued to attend the next two gatherings held at New York and Florida.
The 17th Reunion was held at Bayside, New York from September 17-20, 1997 with 9 men and 16 women present. They determined this year that eligibility for membership be expanded beyond the original 461st members to immediate family, widows and friends of originals.
My mom’s last attendance was to the 18th Reunion held in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1998. It was hosted by one of the original members and his daughters.
I am uncertain if there were any other Reunions held after 1998, my mom’s health was failing at that point and no longer able to attend.
Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial
My parents took a trip to England in 1987 and during their visit they went to the Cambridge American Military Cemetery & Memorial, located in Coton, Cambridgeshire, England.
The following information was taken from a handout from the American Battle Monuments Commission.
The site was first established on December 7th, 1943 as a permanent American Military Cemetery and covers 30.5 acres and was donated by the University of Cambridge. The cemetery and memorial were completed in 1956.
In the cemetery are buried 3,811 Americans arranged in fan-shaped graves in quarter circles and the headstones are aligned like the spokes of a wheel.
There is a Wall of the Missing which is 472 feet long, built of Portland stone, a limestone quarried from the south coast of England. On the wall is recorded the names of 5,125 of our Missing. Along the wall are four statues: a Soldier, a Sailor, an Airman, and a Coast Guardsman.
There is also a memorial building, built of Portland stone, that is 85 feet long, 30 feet wide and 28 feet high. On the North side of the memorial are five pylons, each are inscribed with a date representing the five years from 1941 through 1945 in which the United States participated in the war.
The beautiful main doors of the memorial building are made of teakwood, and have bronze models of the military equipment and naval vessels.
Front Side of Dad’s Postcard
The pictured image on the front side of the postcard that my dad had mailed is of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, West Atlantic City. I believe it is a linen card and includes images of a St. Thomas More statue and the Wayside Shrine.
The postcard was published by the E. C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
While I was reorganizing and sorting through some of my postcards, recently, I came upon this one of interest titled “Camp On Top of the Uncanvonuc Mountain, Goffstown, NH”. I thought that it would be nice to share it as a One Postcard Saturdays feature.
This postcard was published by Blaisdell & Co., Goffstown, NH and it was sent to Aunt Etta (Henrietta James Hooper) in North Attleboro, Mass., from “Sister Sue”. It was postmarked from Goffstown, on Sept. 13, 1928. I believe the sender to be Etta’s sister-in-law Susan (Henrich) James wife of Etta’s brother George L.P. James.
The handwritten message reads: “Hello Sis, Up here in N.H. since Sat. Lovely up here, expect to go up this mountain before we go home. We are right on the edge of the lake about four miles from main road. Hope you are well. Lovingly, Sis Sue”
According to the Goffstown website (accessed 16 Oct 2021), the town was incorporated in 1761 and is named for Colonel John Goffe. He was an early settler, a soldier and a civic leader. Goffstown began as a farming community and is located in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire.
The village of Grasmere, located on the north bank of the Piscataquog River was the first area settled and was the seat of town government for more than 100 years. Due to the availability of water power, local industry developed around the falls on the Piscataquog River forming the village of Goffstown. There is quite a bit of history to be found of this town online if you wish to learn more and there are easily searchable websites with some valuable genealogy information if your ancestors lived in this area.
There are actually two mountains located in Goffstown, North and South Uncanoonuc Mountains (corrected spelling from what appeared on the face of the postcard). These mountains are located in the far southwestern section of the town. The following elevations listed for each mountain are according to the trails NH website (accessed 16 Oct 2021). The North Uncanoonuc Mountain has an elevation of 1316′ and the South Uncanoonuc Mountain has a 1296′ elevation. There are hiking trails in the area that can be researched online, if interested.
The pictured image on the postcard brings admiration of days gone by–horse and wagon days. Those two well-dressed men pictured must have faced some challenges as they camped on that mountain.
Until next time…
Note: If you would like to learn more about a certain surname that I have written about in previous blogs, such as Henrich, James or Hooper, you may go to my Home Page and there you will see various surname tabs. If you click on a specific tab, you will find some of the postings connected with that surname.
At the age of eighty-eight, my adoptive grandmother, Bertha L. Watts (Gra Gra) wrote a poem about her dear friend Helen L. (Sykes) Woolsey (1907-1998). I have mentioned in previous blog postings that Gra Gra was a poet. Her mind was sharp as a tack right up to the end. To be able to write such a poem at an advanced age shows how clear her mind was. However, she was legally blind well before that point; so, it meant that she would have had to dictate the poem to someone else and then someone typed it up for her.
Bertha was born on September 12th, 1891 so I thought it would be a fitting tribute to display her poem on this day. My featured postcard was one given to Bertha for her birthday in 1908. The card was blank on the message side but I think it may be from her cousin Martin James as he commonly sent postcards with the glitter writing. The postcard is embossed and was copyrighted in 1907 by R. Sander, in N.Y.
I remember Helen very well. She was a kind and gentle soul and always seemed to have a calm demeanor. I have spent some time researching a little bit of her genealogy and had originally intended to incorporate that into this writing. But, I was able to find out some interesting things particularly about her father and have decided to break that information into one or more additional postings.
One of the church groups that both Helen and Bertha belonged to was the Congregational Church Club at Riverpoint Congregational Church, in West Warwick, RI. I have included a photo of that group taken between 1970-80, shown at the end of this blog following the poem. I possess two separate written histories of Riverpoint Cong’l Church. One of them was written by Wilton Hudson who was the editor for many years at the Pawtuxet Valley Times–his wife is also in the photo. There is information in that history that includes Helen and her mother, as they were both involved with the church at various points. I want to include some of that information in my future stories.
Here is the poem, shown below in image form taken from a scanning of the original sheets. I worked on typing the poem into the body of the blog but I was having issues with the technical end of things and I could not get it to present correctly in the form of a poem and I was getting too tired to figure it out. That said, I hope the words in the images are large enough to read or can be zoomed in to make large enough to read.
Below is the photo of the CC Club. Helen Woolsey is the second from the right, in blue.
The information I have on the reserve side of the above photo says that the lady on the far right is Elizabeth James. Aunt Elizabeth was sister-in-law to Bertha–wife of Uncle Lionel but she died in 1971 and I don’t think this photo is quite that old. And it is very difficult to tell in this picture if it is her for sure, I think it is possibly someone else but I am not sure. The reverse of the photo is stamped as developed in May 1980 but that was back in the day of film which was not always developed right after a picture was taken. Or, it could have been a copy made from a negative. That is why in the early part of the blog above I said the photo was some time between 1970-80.
This tribute piece has been a long time in the making — 21 years to be exact.
Today is the day!
My eldest brother, Mark Wm. Lindall, was eight years older than myself. Born in the fall of ’49, he was a born “talker”.
His life’s work depended on his gift of gab and his quality of diction. It was quite devastating when he needed surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on his tongue. It was a while before he was able to speak after the surgery and he had to go through speech therapy which helped a lot. In the meantime, he used to write out his messages on a large yellow tablet, I still have most of them. His life was cut way too short on August 12, 2000, at the age of 50, the chemo treatments were not successful in his case.
Like most siblings, during our growing years, his teasing could be relentless at times. Mark was always a kid at heart but with our age difference, we had more association with each other as adults than we did as children. There were a few exceptions, like animals and family vacations, to name a couple.
My brother was in 4-H Club and he raised rabbits and ducks as part of that. In addition, he raised pollywogs as they grew into bull frogs. At one time, I can remember there being 14 rabbits and 4 ducks. One of the ducks was a male Mallard, named Perry that was unable to live in the wild.
Even though the rabbits and ducks “belonged” to Mark, I was their keeper for as far back as I can remember. It was my responsibility to feed them, every day, and keep the cages clean. I wrote some background about the animals in previous blog pieces, I will list those links at the end of this piece. The picture on the left below is Gra Gra with Mark.
I found a few pictures from some of the real old family vacations. I had remembered, just barely, that we had visited Niagara Falls and I remember we saw some buffalo in that area.
We commonly went camping and it was an old Army tent in our younger years. I think the picture here below was taken in the Lake George area.
I can remember visiting the old Catskill Game Farm in New York state a few times over the years and I think that is the location of these below pictures with the animals. If not, they are from northern New England somewhere.
In the Summer of ’67, we took a two-week family vacation traveling throughout Pennsylvania. At that time, my dad was working at Leesona and he typically had the last week in July and first week in August off for vacation. He had bought a nice blue 1964 Olds ’88 station wagon, not long before the trip. He also bought a new, much larger, tent and storage container that would sit on the roof racks.
Along for the Pa. trip were my paternal grandparents, so that meant there were seven people total in that car for two weeks. I had to ride in the back-end, cushioned with plenty of “stuff” around me. At some point, I will do a story on this trip–as it is worthy–and I have Grammy’s journal notes from the trip, as well.
In preparing for writing this piece, strangely enough, I actually located a postcard that my brother Mark sent to Gra Gra while we were on the Pennsylvania trip. I have featured the back side of the postcard, this time, because it is the written message that is most important to this posting. The front side of the card shows a picture of IKE, the 34th President.
The postcard was distributed by L.E. Smith Wholesale Distributors, Gettysburg, Pa. and was a published “Plastichrome” by Colourpicture Publishers, Inc., Boston 30, Mass., U.S.A. It has typed: “Greetings from historic Gettysburg” Home of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
This card was postmarked, August 9,1967, from Wellsboro, Pa., while we were on that family vacation and at that time, Mark was 17 years old, going on 18.
The message is in my brother’s own handwriting and says:
Dear Indian Grandma, At the present time I am located in Wellsboro, PA. This evening I just walked into the local radio establishment and made friends “emediately”. They asked if I had a reservation, (not really) I said I skipped the reservation. –Mark
As you can tell from my brother’s message, he was not a very good speller. But, he was very much into radio. His experience began by reporting his high school sports on the local Country & Western station WYNG, in Warwick. Under the watchful eyes of Dave Stackhouse, my brother soaked in the technical side of radio, learning the engineering it took to actually make the broadcast happen.
It was not long before my brother and a close friend began a local station in Charlestown, operating during the summer months for a few years. Mark also worked, on Sundays, for a few years at WSUB, in Groton and later worked for them selling commercial spots.
The other part of my brother’s message on the postcard refers to Gra Gra as our “Indian Grandma”, something Mark was extremely proud of. He intertwined his life with the Native culture and traditions of the Narragansett Tribe.
He and I used to walk the mile in, along the gravel road, to attend the church on the grounds over the course of several summers.
Mark was a big believer in education. He attended and graduated from Rhode Island Junior College (now CCRI) back in the days when they only had the Providence Campus. He went by bus every day. Luckily, we lived on a bus line. He continued his education, earning a Bachelor degree from Roger Williams University, in Bristol. A few years later, he earned a Master’s of Education from URI.
He has helped many young people along the way, whether it be advising on their schooling options or working with groups like the Boy Scouts. My dad had been a scout leader for several years and Mark did a lot of work with the troop, as well.
My brother never married. I think his heart was completely broken once and he never quite filled that hole. He had a couple of girl friends later on but I remember he had a serious girl friend when I was still pretty young. I believe her name was Faith and I remember she came down to the cottage and went swimming with us at the beach. Her family was leaving for Panama, so she had no choice but to leave with them.
In his younger days, Mark used to walk for miles and he had a very distinctive walk, with wide swinging arms. I had a rather strange feeling, just recently, when I spotted a young man with almost an exact duplicate of my brother’s walk.
My brother loved to fish, mostly in fresh water. He also went ice fishing in the winter months.
If I could express anything from the lessons of the final months of my brother’s life it would be these two things:
First, keep up with your dental visits, I had not been aware before my brother’s illness that it is actually your dentist that will discover issues with your mouth, such as a tumor, and you want to catch any issues as soon as possible. My brother had not been to the dentist for a long time due to no insurance so when his tumor was discovered the cancer had already progressed too far.
Second, this one comes from my brother’s final days when he expressed such regret for not getting to visit the places on his so-called “bucket list”. Don’t put off seeing places or doing things you really want to do.
On a closing note: Over these past twenty-one years, since my brother Mark has been gone, I have done my best to experience a few adventures, both big and small.
A pleasant ring is brought to my ears whenever I hear the mention of Old Orchard Beach, located on the southern coast of Maine. An abundance of fond memories come forth in my mind–from vacation stopovers of childhood days to a penny-pinching camping trip with my own children.
This blog posting will be a short focus on the Hotel Velvet as displayed in my featured postcard with the addition of some background history on Old Orchard Beach (OOB).
The Hotel Velvet was destroyed in a fire on August 15th, 1907. According to the handwritten message on the postcard, this hotel was the largest of 77 buildings that were burned to the sand on that Thursday evening. “We saw the ruins still burning Fri. afternoon” said the message on the card.
The Hotel Velvet was originally known as Hotel Emerson. The hotel opened on July 1, 1899 and was located at the corner of East Grand Avenue and Old Orchard Street.
The hotel was owned by H. Hildreth, who was a candy maker known for making Molasses “velvet” kisses. The candy was wrapped in red and yellow paper and packaged into yellow boxes; the hotel had been painted yellow and red to match.
The area of Old Orchard Beach, is located at the mouth of the Saco and Goosefare rivers and this region was inhabited by some of the Abenaki tribe prior to the settlement of European occupants. Thomas Rogers officially settled this area in 1657.
The postcard was postmarked August 17, 1907. The card contains a handwritten message but is not addressed to anyone, nor is it signed. This card was published by The Hugh C. Leighton Co., Manufacturers, Portland, ME (1904-1909), U.S.A.; printed in Frankfort, Germany; card number 4854.
The Old Orchard Beach area has long been known as a tourist destination. The rail service began in 1842 running from Boston to Portland.
The well-known pier opened in July of 1898, it included a casino at the very end, a structure of 1825 feet, built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company. It was partially damaged by a storm in late fall of 1898. The Casino was rebuilt in 1899 but the entrance was destroyed during the same fire that destroyed the Hotel Velvet in 1907. Again, rebuilding repairs were made in 1908 but much was lost to the great storm of March 1909. Afterward, the casino was reduced down to 1000 feet in length
During the 1940s, this area was very popular with my parents. I think it was my mom’s very favorite place and she spoke fondly of it, very often, over the years. The Casino Ballroom, on that pier, was known to hold as many as 5,000 people. It hosted moving picture shows and live entertainment.
There have been several storms over the years to affect the Pier. The casino was razed in 1970 and the blizzard of 1978 destroyed the remaining portion of that pier.
The current-day pier re-opened in 1980, containing shops and restaurants. It is 500 feet in length over the ocean.
As mentioned above, my mom spoke often of the enjoyment she experienced at OOB during its “heyday”. If all goes well, I will have some new blog posts very soon beginning with an introductory posting that will include some pictures of my mom and her friends when they visited OOB during the mid-1940s. My dad was in the military at the time and I have one of those fold-out souvenir cards from OOB that my mom had addressed to my dad in the service.
My plan is to feature that fold-out card in a blog piece. That first story shall lead into a short series of postings focused on my dad’s military service group and some details about their reunions held during the 1980s and 1990s. To date, I have already put in a good deal of time working on that project but I am not sure when I will be completely ready to roll it all out.
In the meantime, I may try to churn out a couple of shorter writings, such as these “One Postcard Saturdays”.
Until next time…
gotravelmaine.com/history-of-old-orchard-beach-pier/; accessed 29 May 2021.
mainememory.net/artifact/51263 and 51278; accessed 29 May 2021.
metropostcard.com/publishers.html; accessed 03 July 2021.
Over a morning cup of tea–which I was only allowed during my weekend visits with my grandmother (Gra Gra)–the stories were learned of the “old” days when they had dishware give-aways at the movie theaters. She had quite the dish collection from these weekly movie shows, including many from the days of silent films.
Gra Gra was quite theatrical at heart. She directed Minstrel shows prior to the second World War. They ended those show productions because so many of the young men had to go off to war. A large trunk in the basement contained costume items which she would go through with me from time-to-time, reminiscing all the while of which costume belonged to which show. Although I no longer have the costumes, somewhere within all the old stuff that I do have are some posters from a few of those shows. My mom had appeared in some of those productions and I remember seeing her listed on the posters as a singer. When I eventually uncover those posters, again, they would be something nice to share within this blog.
Over the years, there have been three old theaters in the West Warwick area of Rhode Island, that I know of anyway. I am not certain which movie theater Gra Gra attended most often during that time she collected all the “free” dishware. Nor, do I know which theater held those minstrel shows she directed (at least until I find those posters again). However, the oldest theater in town was called Thornton’s and was located in the Riverpoint section of town. This theater opened in 1895 and was destroyed by fire in 1910. The original building was replaced by a new theater but then was demolished in 1968.
In the Arctic section of town, the Majestic Theatre opened in 1901. It replaced a previous theater which was destroyed by fire. The theater was part of the Majestic Building, which is pictured on the postcard shown below and I remember as a hardware store. The theater portion of the building closed in the late-1920s and the entire building was demolished in the late 1990s.
The third old theater in West Warwick was also in the Arctic section of town, it was called the Palace Theater and was located at 85 Washington Street. This 1000-seat theater opened in 1921 and had been demolished by the end of the 1980’s.
MOTION PICTURE CAMERA AND SILENT FILM
The motion picture camera was invented by Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931). He made a patent application in 1891 for what was called a Kinetograph and a Kinetoscope, a motion picture peephole viewer. He went on to adopt a projector developed by Thomas Armat and Charles Francis Jenkins and called it the Vitascope, which premiered on April 23, 1896.
Although the Silent film era is usually noted as occurring from 1910 to 1929, the first silent film was actually made in 1903 (with multiple-reel films appearing in the US as early as 1907). This first silent film was titled: The Great Train Robbery and was produced by Edwin Porter and published by the Edison Manufacturing Co.
By 1916, in the US, there were more than 21,000 movie theaters.
My featured postcard today is a real photo style card showing Silent film star, Mary Pickford. By 1914, Mary became “the world’s highest-paid actress” and was soon afterward referred to as “The Queen of the Movies”.
Mary Pickford, was named Gladys Louise Smith at birth. She was born in Toronto, Canada, on April 8, 1892 and died on May 29, 1979, in California. Gladys was the daughter of John Charles and Charlotte (Hennessey) Smith.
Her middle name was changed to Marie in 1896 by a Catholic priest when Gladys became sick with diphtheria. She had two siblings: a sister Charlotte Smith, also known as, Lottie Pickford and a brother John Charles Smith, Jr., also known as, Jack Pickford.
Their father, John Charles Smith died in 1898 of a cerebral hemorrhage.
In 1900, Gladys made her stage debut at the Princess Theatre, in Toronto.
It was in 1907 that theatrical producer David Belasco suggested Gladys change her name to Mary Pickford. The last name being inspired from her maternal grandfather’s name, John Pickford Hennessey. Her mother and siblings took the last name of Pickford, as well.
In 1909, Mary performed in her first film, Her First Biscuits. It was during this time that she met her future husband, actor Owen Moore (1911-1920). They married on January 7th, 1911 in a secret ceremony, in Jersey City, New Jersey.
In 1912, the Famous Players Company was started by Adolph Zukor and in 1913, Mary played the role of Julia in her first feature-length film, A Good Little Devil for this new company. The film was actually released in 1914.
Notice along the bottom section of the front side of the postcard shown above, (as well as on the postcard shown below) the words printed: “MARY PICKFORD Appearing Exclusively in Famous Players Film Co. Productions”. The Famous Players Company formed a merger, in July 1916, with Jesse L. Lasky’s Feature Play Company, becoming Famous Players-Lasky. So, that would lead me to assume that both of these postcards would date prior to 1916, most likely sometime between 1913 to 1916. Both postcards were “unused”–no postmarks and no writing.
The back side of my featured postcard (shown first above) has the publisher printed as Kraus Manufacturing Co. (1912-1930), New York, NY. The second card (shown just above) does not show a publisher on the back. Kraus was known to publish halftone lithographic view-cards and cards related to the theater.
Both postcards have some fine print on the front indicating that each photo had been taken by the Otto Sarony Co and each are numbered. My featured card is numbered 10 and the second card is numbered 20.
Otto Sarony (1850-1903) was a photographer during the timeframe of 1875 to 1903. Although his name appears on the postcards they were most likely taken by a different photographer. In 1902, Otto sold the right to his name to Theodore C. Marceau. Otto died in September of 1903 and afterward the Otto Sarony label issued photographs taken by other photographers. In 1906, the Marceau Studio merged with the Otto Sarony Studio.
In August 1916, Mary formed the Mary Pickford Film Corporation and produced only Pickford films.
On March 28, 1920 Mary married Douglas Fairbanks (1920-1936), in California. They were the first stars to get their hands and feet imprinted in cement at the Grauman’s Theater, in 1927, in Hollywood. They were among the founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Doug being the first elected president.
Mary’s mother Charlotte died on March 21, 1928 of breast cancer.
Mary’s first “talking picture” feature Coquette premiered on April 12, 1929, which would earn her an Academy Award for Best Actress the following year.
Her brother, Jack, died on January 3, 1933, at age 36, in Paris and her sister, Lottie, died on December 9, 1936, of a heart attack.
On June 24, 1937, Mary married Charles “Buddy” Rogers (1937-1979). They adopted a son in May of 1943, Ronald Charles Pickford Rogers and a daughter, Roxanne Pickford Rogers, in 1944.
Her autobiography Sunshine and Shadow was published in 1955.
In 1956, the Mary Pickford Charitable Trust began and was later renamed the Mary Pickford Foundation.
Her films are housed at the Library of Congress, she hoped they would be of interest for future generations. In January of 1979, Mary placed her memorabilia collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library to establish “The Mary Pickford Collection”, allowing for use by students and scholars.
Mary Pickford passed away on May 29, 1979 after having suffered a stroke.
During my research, I did find where there have been several years of an event called the “Annual Mary Pickford Celebration of Silent Film” with some years in collaboration with other entertainment-related organizations. Due to all the restrictions of this past year, I don’t think that it took place this time around. The event may be something to watch for in the future if that is of your interest.
If you would like to learn more about Mary or the Mary Pickford Foundation, see their website at: marypickford.org
Britannica; History of Film; britannica.com/art/history-of-the-motion-picture/The-silent-years-1910-27; Accessed 21 March 2021.
Cinema Treasures; cinematreasures.org/theaters/united-states/rhode-island/west-warwick; Accessed 21 March 2021.
Library of Congress; Film, Video; Barnes, J. D. , Cast, et al. The Great Train Robbery. prod by Porter, Edwin S. Uction, Camera United States: Edison Manufacturing Co, 1903. Video; loc.gov/item/00694220/; Accessed 20 March 2021.
Library of Congress. Life of Thomas Alva Edison; Biography; Articles and Essays; loc.gov/collections/edison-company-motion-pictures-and-sound-recordings/articles-and-essays/biography/life-of-thomas-alva-edison/; Accessed 21 March 2021.
Mary Pickford Foundation; marypickford.org/mary-pickford-chronology/; Accessed 19 and 20 March 2021.
The MetroPostcard; Metropostcard.com/publishersk.html; Accessed 20 March 2021.
Photography & The American Stage; broadway.cas.sc.edu/content/otto-sarony; Accessed 20 March 2021.
As this new year begins, I feel a large dimension of hope for both myself and our community at-large. It is my sincere hope that better times are in store for us all, that these current pandemic days will soon be in the rearview mirror.
Early on in this unfolding new year, I have a good deal of hope for making progress in my family research, especially in determining ties to my mother’s biological family. In addition, I hope to further my research on my paternal side, adding to my genealogical tree.
As for my blog writings, I hope to complete posts more often than I have in the past. The content focus of each writing may vary and probably will not go in a sequential order; however, I will put links to previous posts that are related in nature, as needed.
There are many stories I have yet to tell. There are so many things I have yet to learn.
Last time, I spoke of Grammy Alice (link posted below) and her travel journals. My plan is to cover some of these travel stories in upcoming posts. Also, I need to complete further research on her family tree and would like to share some of that on this blog.
If I should be so fortunate as to make a definite determination on my mother’s biological parents and family, I will be sharing that, as well.
There are many stories still harboring in the ancestral tree of my adoptive grandmother (Gra Gra). Recently, I read a statement from someone online that indicated the importance of telling the family stories on behalf of those like Gra Gra that have no blood offspring. After many years of research, I have uncovered a few untold stories and some of the passed-down stories I have yet to prove.
For today’s posting, I have chosen two different New Year greeting postcards. I believe both were given or sent to Aunt Etta (Henrietta James Hooper). The sender’s of these cards are not members of her family, but after a little research I have been able to correctly identify them and provide a limited amount of their family background.
My featured postcard is repeated below, it contains a verse on the front as follows:
Happy New Year.
This year, next year, every year
I wish you all of life’s good cheer.
This postcard was published by the Owen Card Publishing Co. (1915-1927), of Elmira, NY. They published greeting and holiday postcards. On the front of the card is series number 534B.
The card is signed as sent by Mr. and Mrs. Orestes T. Doe. There is no postmark on the card.
In 1897, Orestes T. Doe, of Franklin, Mass., was named as Trial Justice for Norfolk County. Born in Parsonfield, Maine, Orestes died on January 5th, 1930 at the age of 65. He had presided on the District Court level for 31 years. At the time of death, his residence was listed as 29 School St., in Franklin. He had been a graduate of Boston Law School and belonged to fraternities including the Masons and Odd Fellows. At one time he had served as a town clerk.
Orestes T. Doe was married to Mabel P. Dow and they had three sons: Kenneth, Robert and D.B. Doe.
Their son, Kenneth married Lila Winchester, of Rutland, Vermont, on August 12th, 1930. Lila was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Horace Winchester. Lila had a sister named Ada. Kenneth died at age 81, on March 20, 1983, in Portland, Maine. At that time he was living at Gooserocks Beach, Kennebunkport but was listed as formerly living in Franklin, Mass. Kenneth and Lila had one daughter and two grandchildren.
With my limited research time spent, the only additional information I uncovered regarding the other sons of Orestes and Mabel were that they had all been residents of Franklin at one time and were all lawyers.
The second New Year greeting postcard for this blog posting is shown below. It has a verse on the front as follows:
I wish you all good fortune,
Which twelve long months may give;
With loyal friends to cheer you,–
And a long, long life to live!
A Happy New Year
This postcard was published by Stecher Litho Co. (1887-1936), it has a series number 1605A. It was postmarked December 29, 1916, from Milford, Mass. The card was sent to Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Hooper (Aunt Etta and her husband) and the sender was Mrs. L. L. Milliken.
After a little research, I have uncovered the sender as Mrs. Lloyd L. Milliken. Her maiden name was Mary Evelyn Cahoon and she married Lloyd on April 14th, 1904, in Taunton, Mass. She was the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George P. Cahoon. Her father was the former superintendent of the Taunton Wire Nail Co.
Mary Milliken was prominent in social circles and had been a stenographer and had an office in the Crocker Building. Lloyd Milliken, at the time of marriage, was in charge of the Hartshorn Farm, on Dean Street, in Taunton.
My research found that there was a historic house located at 68 Dean St., in Taunton, originally built in 1798 for Abiezar Dean. In 1905, the house was purchased by George Hartshorn. It was placed on the US National Register of Historic Places in 1984, known as the Dean-Hartshorn House. In the current day, the home exists as a senior nursing facility.
So, my curiosity is somewhat cured to have learned a little bit about the senders of each of these two postcards. It also speaks to genealogy clues that might be found on old postal items such as postcards or letters.
My paternal grandmother, Alice (Holden) Lindall “Grammy” was born on this day, December 28th, in 1901. She died on December 6th, 1985–just shy of her 84th birthday. She was married to James B. Lindall (1898-1972), also known as “Grampy”.
The picture of Grammy below was taken in 1975.
Below is a picture of Jim and Alice in 1919.
As I remember it, Grammy was never very idle. In the evenings, while sitting in her chair, her hands were always in motion with knitting or crocheting. She made all kinds of things with yarn: afghans by making squares and then lacing them together; covers for throw pillows, slipper socks, baby booties and blankets. One time she made me a beautiful purple poncho shawl, as seen in the (slightly blurry) picture below, my dad standing in back of me–I still have that shawl.
Grammy was also quite the seamstress, she made most all of her own clothes. She also took in mending, I remember people dropping off and picking up items she would repair or hem. Back in the early days, I can remember her using a vintage treadle sewing machine for quite some time before upgrading to a newer cabinet electric model. Also, I remember the day she sold it–must have been bittersweet for her.
When I was young, I can remember Grammy working full time which was not very common for women at that time. She worked for Leviton Mfg. in Warwick and retired in 1962. She was active in the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and I can remember she worked at the polls on Election Day.
When Christmas came around, we looked forward to Grammy’s individual homemade pork pies on Christmas Eve and her traditional plum pudding after dinner on Christmas (and usually on Thanksgiving, too). The plum pudding was made the year before and left to age for a year, served warm with “hard” sauce which was usually made by Auntie (sister to T. Wm. Watts). There was a recurring family joke for many years after Auntie fumbled with the brandy bottle one year, adding a bit too much to the sauce she made that time–she never lived that one down and it made for yearly laughs.
Every year on Christmas, Grammy would make an array of homemade candy, fudge, individual fruit cakes and cookies, everyone would get their own little parcel of goodies. Other times of year she would make special things like daffodil or angel food cake. So much work goes into things like that and how I miss them so.
Our Christmas gifts from Grammy and Grampy were always wrapped in the thin-style curling ribbon around both sides, usually soft-sided, no boxes. She would typically give each one a new sweatshirt or other items of need. I always had a red sweatshirt because I like wearing red coats–still do. My dad’s was usually the gray sweatshirt.
My family was big on fishing and the sweatshirts came in handy down by the water. During these fishing outings, I can remember that Grammy usually had her portable transistor radio tuned in to the Boston Red Sox game, she was a huge fan.
There was always a special candy dish upstairs at my grandparents with nice hard candies. My middle brother and I used to go back and forth with each other trying to figure out who was going to be the one to ask if we could have a piece of that candy. It seems that we always had to muster up the courage to ask–not sure why.
My grandparents had a dog named Lindy, shown below, I still remember her pretty well. She was a puppy of our dog Domino, the first dog that I remember in my family.
When traveling, Grammy liked to keep a journal as a record memory of the trip. Recently, I have found several of them. My plan would be to focus on some of these travel adventures in future writings. In addition, Grammy loved to take photos so I have a ton of them. She was very good about labeling the backs so most are easy to identify. The picture below is of my grandparents, taken in 1964, in New Hampshire.
Grammy was a daughter of John Holden (1865-1942) and Elizabeth (Wilde) Holden (1864-1938), shown in the photo below. Both of her parents were born in England. Alice had several siblings. Since I wanted to limit my focus today to this birthday introduction to Grammy Alice, I will explore more of her family tree in future writings.
John and Elizabeth Holden are buried in the Apponaug section of Warwick, RI. They were living in the Pontiac section prior to death. A partial photo of their headstone is shown here below.
Grammy grew up in Providence and at some point moved to Warwick where she remained the rest of her days, in various sections of the city. She and my grandfather never owned a home of their own. Although I am unsure of the exact timeframe, my grandparents and my dad lived in the Oakland Beach section of Warwick; it would have been during the 1920s and 1930s, prior to the 1938 Hurricane. Over the years, I have found items related to my dad’s school days that indicate he was living in Oakland Beach during part of his school years, at least. They moved from there to the Pontiac section.
My featured postcard image, which is also shown below, is of the King’s Daughters Cottage, in Oakland Beach, RI; also known as the Emily L. Chace Memorial Home. This postcard was from about 1910 and was published by the B.Y. & Co., made in Germany. I chose this image because of the Oakland Beach tie in. After a brief search, I was not able to find anything of substance to share regarding this house. Since I did not want to focus too much time and attention on that today, it is possible that I may find something of interest to share in the future; if so, I will make reference back to this postcard at that time.
After the end of World War II, my grandparents moved to the Greenwood section of Warwick, to a second floor apartment. My parents moved in to the first floor apartment soon after they married. So, I grew up with my grandparents living upstairs until I was in about 6th grade when they moved into the brand new senior housing (at that time) West Shore Terrace, over on West Shore Road–they were among the first residents.
Grammy was very active at the Terrace and became president for a while of their association. After Grampy died in 1972, she was able to travel more. She became a coordinator for many senior trips which I believe also earned her a free spot if she could recruit enough to fill the bus or plane. One of her trips was to Hawaii and the picture below was taken on that trip.
In the near future, my hope is to explore some of her trip journals here in my blog posts and also to explore more of her family tree.
In the meantime, I am sending out this birthday remembrance with a few memories. She is greatly missed.