Center. On last week Wednesday evening a farewell party was arranged for Alfred Sutherland by his family. There were about thirty young people present, there being seven tables for whist. As a surprise to the recipient it was very much of a success, and the evening was much enjoyed with cards, sociability and refreshments, and will make one of the pleasant things to look back upon after going into training.
Cards have been received by Westford friends announcing the marriage of Lieut. Walter J. Sleeper to Miss Celeste Gavin, of Des Moines, Iowa. Lieut. Sleeper is an instructor at a training camp in Des Moines and is the son of the late Dr. and Mrs. Walter J. Sleeper, of Westford.
Lieut. Edwin Roby has recently completed his furlough with his home people in Westford. Sergt. Roby, a member of Battery F, 102nd Field Artillery, who had been overseas nearly a year, has been sent home as a military instructor and is stationed at Camp Jackson in South Carolina.
Honors were conferred on three of the local Boy Scouts at the meeting held in Lowell at St. Anne’s parish house on Thursday evening of last week. Forrest White received a medal for liberty loan campaign work and honors for a fine plate of assorted fruit. Scout Griffin received an honor for the largest pumpkin, and Gordon Seavey first honor for a plate of apples.
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Prescott Wright and son Whitney are at the Whitney homestead for the autumn season.
The third liberty loan flag with its three honor bars has been preserved in the J. V. Fletcher library collection, now that the fourth liberty loan campaign makes the third a matter of history.
The public safety committee has appointed the following as a committee on home service of civilian relief: Capt. Sherman H. Fletcher and Mrs. Adeline H. Buckshorn, Westford Center and vicinity; Wesley O. Hawkes and Mrs. Hammett D. Wright, Graniteville; John Edwards and Miss Grace Lawrence, Forge Village. The duties of this committee are the looking after of the welfare of the soldiers’ relatives and seeing that the soldiers’ allotments are paid. It should be clearly understood that the Red Cross organization is the only one recognized by the government for this work and all applications should be made through this committee, approved by the local Red Cross organization.
The serious influenza epidemic is giving the same grave concern to our community as elsewhere, and radical changes in plans being made. The academy and Frost school closed on Wednesday. Mrs. Whitney, principal of the latter, has gone to her home in Gloucester, sick. The annual agricultural fair, under the auspices of the Congregational church, which has been held in late September for nearly thirty years, has been postponed. The battalion drill of Company L, M. S. G., scheduled at Groton, has been cancelled, and the Sunday church services may not be held. At any rate no Sunday school sessions will be held.
C. Inglis Wetmore is very seriously ill with pneumonia, following an attack of influenza.
The household of Mr. and Mrs. Preston H. Skidmore have all been affected, including the maid, Miss Julia O’Neil, who is now very sick with pneumonia.
The fourth liberty loan will be in charge of the same very efficient committee who served on the third loan campaign in the spring, and is as follows: John C. Abbot, chairman, and he will be assisted by Edward M. Abbot, Harwood L. Wright, Alfred W. Hartford, Arthur E. Day, Warren H. Sherman, William R. Taylor and Edward T. Hanley. The quota for Westford is $200,000. Let every individual be thoughtfully and earnestly ready to do their part in this campaign.
Edmund Baker was in town this week, calling on friends, and reports himself much improved in health.
The relief work gatherings this week were much affected by the prevailing sickness.
Irving P. Wright, a former Westford Boy, has suffered a tubercular breakdown this summer, and is at present in a Maine sanitarium.
Mrs. Mary E. Calvert and Mrs. Maria Stone are among the elderly ones sick in our village.
The Grange meeting next week Thursday will be omitted, on account of the epidemic.
Birthday Party. One of the prettiest of children’s birthday parties was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Perley E. Wright Wednesday afternoon, in honor of their son Harold’s fifth birthday anniversary. The twenty little people enjoyed a happy afternoon with games and a birthday supper and the young host was the recipient of numerous pretty gifts. The supper table was a beautiful sight when the little people were gathered about it. The color scheme was yellow. Yellow streamers radiated from the chandelier and a centerpiece of yellow pumpkin, sunflowers and favors, with yellow runners to each plate occupied the center of the table. The favors for the girls were whistling dolls and cats who whistled for the boys. Various caps, baskets of candies and appropriately decorated napkins and plates were at each place. A handsome birthday cake, with five yellow candles, which were lighted by the young host, held the place of honor. The ice cream and frosted cakes were of the same cheerful color.
Those present were Elizabeth Carver, Huntington Wells, Inez Blaney, Roger Hildreth, Genevieve Blaney, Elizabeth Bosworth, Dorothy Heywood, Richard Hildreth, Edna Hamlin, Helen Greig, William Carver, Betty Prescott, Howard Anderson, Alice Heywood, Kenneth Wright, Elizabeth Wells and Richard Wells.
Largest Taxpayers. The following is a list of those who pay a tax of fifty dollars or over here this year:
|Abiel J. Abbot||$111.95|
|Mrs. Alice M. Abbot||337.90|
|John C. Abbot||285.65|
|S. C., L. B. and M. Atwood||53.73|
|Abbot Worsted Co.||10,721.83|
|A. J. Blaisdell||99.68|
|C. A. and F. R. Blodgett||112.15|
|Mrs. Adeline M. Buckshorn||58.28|
|Mrs. John Burbeck||74.17|
|Arthur H. Burnham||118.04|
|George H. Cadman||165.28|
|Mrs. Mary E. Calvert||66.65|
|Julian A. Cameron||52.33|
|Mrs. Lucy A. Cameron||179.80|
|Mrs. Meta J. Cameron||159.65|
|W. R. Carver||167.25|
|John H. Connell||57.90|
|Charles E. Couture||63.07|
|Arthur E. Day||53.93|
|George T. Day, heirs of||253.66|
|Quincy W. Day||63.61|
|Matthew F. Downs||79.34|
|Frank C. Drew||148.62|
|Mrs. Mary Downing||50.55|
|William C. Edwards||83.14|
|Mrs. Louisa Edwards||64.33|
|Ernest C. Emerson||71.37|
|Elbert H. Flagg||178.47|
|H. E. Fletcher & Co.||387.50|
|Fletcher, Lahey Co.||77.50|
|J. Herbert Fletcher||74.86|
|Mary E. Fletcher, heirs of||58.13|
|Herbert E. Fletcher||534.06|
|John M. Fletcher||81.83|
|Harry N. Fletcher||164.29|
|J. Willard Fletcher||68.67|
|Sherman H. Fletcher||109.02|
|H. E. & E. H. Gould||135.62|
|William M. Graves||73.61|
|David L. Greig||163.56|
|Harry M. Gumb||77.18|
|Graniteville Foundry Co.||158.10|
|Nathan Hamlin, heirs of||62.16|
|P. Henry Harrington||66.33|
|John A. Healy||59.05|
|John A. Healy & Son||175.74|
|Mrs. Elizabeth Healy||54.25|
|C. Willis Hildreth||122.40|
|Miss Ella F. Hildreth||433.61|
|Frank C. Hildreth||111.14|
|Herbert V. Hildreth||102.75|
|Calvin L. Howard||71.44|
|William J. Hunt||51.61|
|George O. Jackson||79.82|
|Mrs. Laura P. Jordan||57.35|
|Henry O. Keyes, heirs||98.59|
|George H. Kimball||155.48|
|James L. Kimball||129.10|
|Mrs. Olive Loveless||52.70|
|Fred L. McCoy||50.05|
|Mrs. Margaret McDonald||174.96|
|Mrs. George H. McGregor||51.15|
|Frank E. Miller||110.16|
|George W. Nesmith||57.65|
|Houghton G. Osgood||86.60|
|Lewis P. Palmer||161.65|
|Mrs. Augusta Prescott||53.48|
|Harry B. Prescott||50.05|
|Richard D. Prescott||92.29|
|John D. Psarais||73.54|
|Mrs. David Reid||57.35|
|Mrs. Rachael W. Reed||312.33|
|Mrs. Alma M. Richardson||70.15|
|E. W. Schofield||88.85|
|Allan C. Sargent||89.48|
|James M. Sargent||57.25|
|Sargent’s Sons Co.||465.39|
|Joseph E. Sargent||70.92|
|Homer M. Seavey||66.62|
|C. G. Sargent, trustees||1,360.05|
|Mrs. Rose Shugrue||66.19|
|John T. Simpson||86.65|
|Oscar R. Spalding||597.21|
|Splain & Nutting||62.78|
|Judson F. Sweetser||201.23|
|Samuel L. Taylor||50.38|
|William R. Taylor||52.77|
|Almon S. Vose||116.40|
|George A. Walker||125.48|
|Orien V. Wells||82.60|
|Westford Water Co.||174.65|
|V. C. Bruce Wetmore||99.36|
|Leonard W. Wheeler||76.27|
|George F. White||201.04|
|Mrs. M. Elizabeth Whitney, heirs||163.84|
|T. A. E. Wilson||91.50|
|Charles H. Wright||93.94|
|Frank C. Wright||101.42|
|Wright & Fletcher||51.15|
|H. L. Wright||56.15|
|H. D. Wright||110.35|
|John P. Wright||50.85|
|Perley E. Wright||93.77|
|Sydney B. Wright||73.48|
|Walter C. Wright||65.92|
|William E. Wright||51.78|
|Manuel J. Arvilla||$55.11|
|Mrs. Minnie A. Book||103.77|
|Brookside Worsted Mills||1,316.73|
|George A. Drew||253.06|
|Thomas H. Elliott||55.03|
|J. Henry Fletcher||298.23|
|Miss Martini Gage||426.33|
|George L. Lawson||62.00|
|Lowell Electric Co.||248.00|
|Lowell & Fitchburg St. Ry.||248.47|
|Mrs. Hulda Marshall||67.74|
|Mrs. Adeline Moffitt||62.78|
|George C. Moore||205.76|
|Charles W. Parker||218.56|
|Fred O. Stiles||162.85|
|Miss Ella T. Wright||73.55|
|Total number of poll taxes assessed—770||$1,540.00|
About Town. The Parfit family are to occupy the vacant half of the house on the farm recently purchased by Rev. L. H Buckshorn, near Banister’s corner, on the Lowell road. They are moving from Whidden’s corner, on the Groton road. Mr. Parfit is working in the ammunition department of justice in Lowell.
Now that open season is on the usual complaint goes forth that game is scarce. Correct; and a continuance of open season shooting and game is scarce will read game is no more. What is needed is a closed season for five years. We might as well attempt rescuing a drowning person by tying a stone around his neck as attempt to preserve game, let alone multiplication, while maintaining a wide-open shooting season. The one is as sane as the other is sensible.
At the last meeting of the Grange something not on the program got a move into the orders of the day when John P. Wright, past master, was presented with a pair of gold cuff links as a sort of farewell link to Westford Grange before leaving town for Cambridge. Frank C. Wright, past master, made the linking speech. John has built an interesting familiarity in Grange, town, church, library, school and a whole lot of wholesome sidewalk individuality as refreshing to meet as an oasis in the great Sahara desert. Ready to listen and ready of speech, as well ready of punch with a decided uppercut thrust of home cultivated wit always on the firing line.
All the friends of Dr. [Fred E.] Varney, the beloved physician of North Chelmsford, will be interested to know that he has received a cable from his son John, who went to Russia as a Y.M.C.A. secretary. Young Varney, who had a fine position with a law firm in New York city, volunteered for the Y.M.C.A. work. He sailed last fall. The political situation in Russia has gone from bad to worse. Dr. Varney had not heard from his son since last February, and of course he was anxious, but he bravely concealed his anxiety. His friends rejoice with him that the suspense is over, for last week he received the cable saying that his son was now in Stockholm, Sweden. Along with other workers Young Varney had been driven out of Russia and had made their escape for their lives in Sweden.
Hoover has not put the ban on turtle soup. The other day we saw a man at Brookside with a bag in which were four turtles, one of which weighted fourteen pounds. He was boarding the electric for Lowell and spoke most highly of turtle soup. He had caught these turtles at Brookside. One man, who knows much of that section of the town, said he had seen a turtle weighing fifty pounds on the bank of the Stony Brook, not far from the station. We should call that “a whale of a turtle.”
West Chelmsford had a real community affair last Saturday evening and had a good time together in honor of Sergt. Randall Quessy, who had returned from a year’s service with Battery I in France. The affair was held in Historical hall. Two brothers, Sergt. Quessy and Corp. [George R.] Quessy, had the good fortune to be together for a year in France. Now Sergt. Quessy is here and has been sent to one of the camps as instructor. L. J. Ellinwood presided at the meeting and called upon Sergt. Quessy for a bit of his experiences. He gave an impromptu talk which thoroughly pleased his friends. It cheered the relatives of boys “over there” to receive his messages about them. There was splendid music by home talent. Mr. Ellinwood, in his factious way, then said he was going to call upon the handsomest man near him to make a speech. This proved to be I. A. Snow, who presented Sergt. Quessy with a gold Masonic signet ring.
The apple crop seems to have climbed to the hilltop, which seems to be overtaxed, which is the same illness which the owner accuses of being overloaded. There are long intervals without apples, for the department of agriculture reports only 54 percent of a crop in this country, and New England is below the average with Maine 37 percent, New Hampshire 45, Vermont 35, Massachusetts 60, Rhode Island 57, Connecticut 45.
For raising large, tempting, business looking squashes, Frank C. Drew has the Stony Brook valley farmers all in the “also ran” column.
The next meeting of Middlesex North Pomona Grange will be held on Friday, October 4, at Odd Fellows’ hall, Bridge street, Lowell. An interesting program is expected.
Graniteville. Mrs. Albert H. Choate, of Lowell, with Mrs. Lawrence Colby, of Methuen, have been recent guests of Mrs. Clara Gray.
Private Anthony Pivirotto, who joined the colors on September 18, is now in the mechanical detachment at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt.
Another pleasing letter has been received from Private William F. Buckingham, Company M, 116th Engineers, A.E.F. He is the same old “Bucky” and reports that he is feeling fine, but experiences considerable difficulty in mastering the French language. As he so aptly puts it, “I’ll learn that old lingo yet if my arm only holds out.” He, as well as the other boys, wants to be remembered to all their friends and would be pleased to have them write a few lines to them.
G. P. LeDuc has been a victim of the grippe for the past few days.
Lester McLenna has been seriously ill with the grippe.
There have been numerous cases of the grippe here and as a result the work at the Abbot Worsted mills has been greatly curtailed owing to the shortage of help. The public schools were also closed on Tuesday for the remainder of the week. Health regulations in relation to the cause and prevention of the grippe have also been read in the schools and churches and every precaution is being taken to avoid the disease as much as possible.
Killing frosts have visited here during the past few nights and much of the garden truck has suffered as a result.
Many from here will visit the Groton fair on the last two days of this week.
A daughter [Mary Lilley Lillian Gagnon, per her birth certificate] was born to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gagnon on Wednesday [Sept. 24, 1918].
A very interesting letter has been received here from Private Frank H. Sullivan, of Westford, who with Private Brule of this village, are with Battery D, 305th Field Artillery in France. Both young men have been seeing considerable action since going overseas, but are well and enjoying excellent health.
The Abbot Worsted Company are making arrangements to install a motion picture machine in one of the local halls and as soon as the grippe epidemic has lost its hold, it is intended to present new and up-to-date “movies” here on two nights each week.
Interesting Letter. Somewhere on the Big Pond. Sometime in August.
Dear Father and Mother—How I would love to tell you all the interesting things that I have seen and heard the last few days, but I must forbear. The colonel gave us a talk on censorship the other evening. He admitted there wasn’t much left to write about except the weather and an occasional joke. I think it is safe to state that I left a certain port in America on a certain boat on a certain date over a certain ocean, bound for a certain port in a certain allied country.
We have had a grand “bon voyage” so far and we have been out several days. The ocean has been as calm as the proverbial mill pond, and apparently free from those obnoxious little submarines. I haven’t missed a single meal, and feel as if I were at a seashore resort all the time. I have found good use of my sweater and occasionally the overcoat. The temperature on shipboard is a trifle different from that of the dog days in Massachusetts. The other evening, as I walked the promenade deck before retiring, I was a bit ashamed to be so bundled up when the sailors were out in their thin cotton shirts—sleeveless at that. I could only say, “I don’t see how they do it! I don’t see how they do it! Burr.”
There are lots of Y.M.C.A. men on board. We mess and quarter with the officers, which is quite a privilege. I never dreamed that a sea voyage could be so comfortable. We seem to have a real deluxe service. I hope this having our boots shined every morning, coffee brought to our cabin, hot salt baths prepared, afternoon tea served, and generous meals of Thanksgiving viands even to the nuts and English plum pudding will not spoil us for the meagre living we shall meet over yonder. I am enclosing a couple of photos we had taken of our bunch the other day. You will notice that we all have “our babies” with us as per order. To the guard house for one who doesn’t wear his life preserver all the time, and the same for one who even lights a match on deck after dark. The captain says a lighted match can be seen three miles at sea. We have lights in the lounge and smoking room and cabins, but the port holes are all closed and screened. We all feel the seriousness of our mission and obey strictly all orders. After a man has been under military discipline for awhile he becomes a law-abiding citizen.
These days—more than ten in number—have passed quickly and delightfully. We have daily programs of physical culture, French classes, boat drills, devotional exercises and various entertainments. In the evening we have occasional lectures. Last night a lieutenant gave a talk and demonstration of the bayonet charge. It looked mighty savage to me. I hope I don’t have to come to that. But this war must necessarily be a bit savage. One night the colonel talked on military courtesy and customs, and one night a British surgeon gave an interesting talk on things to see in England—in case we happen to go there. I like to hear a real Englishman talk; I envy his precision of diction and his innate courtesy.
There are also on board lots of troops—the exact number and regiment I withhold. We “Y” men have had an unusual opportunity to serve them in many capacities. But we haven’t given as much cheer and inspiration as we in turn have received from them. I have spent practically all my available time in chatting with them, and what interesting life stories I have gathered up. I never realized before what a democratic melting pot the army is. I have met among the soldiers, bank clerks, ministers, illiterates, Minnesota Swedes, Montana miners, college graduates, Kentucky farmers, city laborers and “all sorts and condition of men.” It is a pleasure to do all we can for them. We have distributed books, magazines, games, writing paper, testaments, answered millions of questions, drawn up wills, taught simple French expressions, explained the French and English money and arranged entertainments. The soldiers are good manly chaps, never disrespectful, always courteous, and very grateful for whatever service we can render them. One night, after I had entertained a group of them with a phonograph and informal chatting, one big, husky chap from Nebraska saw my identification tag and as I said good night to them he exclaimed, “Well, old man, if ever I see you in distress or wounded over in France, I sure will put you on my shoulder and carry you to a place of safety,” and you can bet he’d do it, too. Were my life in peril I would sooner be with him than any sanctimonious “holier than thou” individual.
When not up on deck the soldiers are quartered down in the hold of the ship—what in peace times is called steerage. With such crowds of them quartered in each section and with the port holes sealed up it is a bit dingy and stuffy, but they never complain—they realize that these are war times and that they are out for the glory and honor of Uncle Sam. They sleep in canvas hammocks let down at night over their mess tables. Their troubles are all packed up in their old kit bag. One night a fellow in his hammock said to me, "Mr. Y-man, will you do something for me?” “Certainly, what is it?” With a laconic gesture at his pal’s feet, for the hammocks are snug together, he retorted, “Get me a gas mask; I am gassed every night.” The soldiers have a humor all their own.
The second night I was strolling through one of the five[?] sections. Suddenly I heard an exclamation, “Hello, there, Prof. John Adams Taylor.” That familiar salutation gave me a thrill; I knew what it meant. Sure enough, there was Corp. Lundberg, one of my university students. Two pals were never more tickled to see each other. Had he been a girl—and I a girl—I should have hugged him right then and there. He told me he thought there was another university boy on board somewhere. I vowed I would not rest until I had found him. About ten o’clock that Sunday night, way down in the aft section, I came across him. He has a Master’s degree from our university, and was drafted just before handing out high school diplomas. While the other soldiers were snoring and rough-stuffing, he was sitting up in a corner under a dingy light reading a book on American democracy which he had obtained from a “Y” man. I felt impelled to put my arms around him and say “God bless you, valiant son of the Dakota prairies.”
The next day we got permission to bring these boys up to my stateroom. I got a few eats from the canteen and we had a university reunion. The university yell never sounded better to me. I have of course seen these boys every day and rendered what service I could. I have rounded up fifteen from North Dakota and got them introduced around. One was a county treasurer, and one a cowboy from the Bad Lands. He could entertain the boys with yarns of cow punching and round-ups. His profanity was the most eloquent I have heard on shipboard, and that is saying something. I have been in the home towns of most of the Dakota soldiers and hence we could talk “home” a bit.
I noticed that one of the boys was much worried and upset over something. I initiated his brother into Phi Betta Kappa last June, and his wife, whose picture he showed me, was one of our university girls. I have now learned the reason of his anxiety. Before leaving the American port he received a telegram stating that his wife was ill. No wonder he is anxious. Another boy received the news of the death of his father the day we sailed. The “Y” tries to be of special help to these fellows. They certainly have made good use of our books, games and writing paper. One of the captains said he would give anything if he could go out and chat informally with his men the way we do, but you can see that from a standpoint of military discipline that would be impossible.
Two things we surely miss on shipboard. One is the daily newspaper. It is a funny feeling to be shut off from civilization for a fortnight. We haven’t heard one inkling of news from America. I felt like throwing overboard the chap who perpetrated the joke of shouting one day, “New York morning papers!” Each one of us would give several shillings right now for an American news sheet. Can you guess the other thing we miss? You have heard many times what the soldiers miss—American women. A married man at my table declares he never spent twenty-four hours in his life away from the sound of a woman’s voice.
One night I had been playing the phonograph to a group of soldiers. I happened to put on “Abide with me,” sung by Elsie Baker, One fellow up in his hammock shouted out, “Oh, my God, that sure am an American gal singing. It sounds good to me.”
Next Sunday I shall probably worship in the famous Westminster Abbey. But I maintain our Sunday service on shipboard yesterday was as impressive in its way as anything I shall witness there. I am not given to sentiment, but really it gives one a thrill to attend a simple service out on the open deck, under the open sky, on a ship sailing several knots an hour. The soldiers came out in their Sunday clothes—blue overalls and jumpers—for this is their ship uniform. There is no doubt about God being in our midst, surrounded as we were by dangers which I will not describe. I have heard “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God save the king” sung before, but never, I think, with greater inward emotion. I can’t describe it—you must take such a trip as this in order to experience it. And I now know the meaning of Byron’s “Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean.” The majesty and mystery of the sea is a daily inspiration. Tonight we give an entertainment and I am booked to read. I intended to hide by candle, but somebody lifted up the bushel. We charge a shilling and give the proceeds to the orphans of British seamen—a most worthy cause.
I am now getting used to the English money. I couldn’t tell whether the first tip I gave was a penny or a dollar. Presently I shall have to get accustomed to French money. How I did hate to part with all my hard-earned American dollars. The English are thought not to indulge in extravagant humor, but it seems a bit facetious to me to pick up a paper note and call it “a pound.” What would a real pound weigh?
My two room-mates, one a business man from Buffalo, and one a movie exhibitor from Atlantic City, are both bachelors like myself. We already call ourselves by our first names. We have a commodious cabin and are very comfortable. Except for the danger anxiety we don’t care how long the trip lasts. As I sit here in my cabin, I can hardly realize that I am on a moving ship. I have not read a book on ship. I have learned more human nature and got more firsthand knowledge about soldiers and their ways than I could ever get from books. I know I am going to enjoy my work with the American forces. The soldiers may be a trifle rough on the exterior, but they have big hearts and an innate sense of manliness. I am glad to consecrate all my time, energy and whatever ability I may possess to serving them.
Please let me know when this arrives and whether it is badly censored. I want to do the right thing. I have an idea that I shall soon be walking in the streets of a country that grandfather used to love. Interesting things are going on about us, but I must conform to the military phrase, “Hold fast.” Lovingly,
John Adams Taylor
News Items. Two high school teachers were sick with the influenza on Monday, and the pupils allowed to return home. In the other schools there were many out on account of sickness.
Miss Hamilton, the district nurse, who took such good care of Amos Saunders when he was sick with the influenza, is now down with that disease herself.
The regular meeting of Acoma Rebekah lodge was held on Tuesday evening, although the observance of the 67th anniversary was indefinitely postponed on account of the prevailing epidemic and so many being ill.
The Special Aid meetings are to be postponed until the present epidemic has decreased enough to make it safe and sane to convene and those sick are better.
Private Charles Woodward, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Woodward of Berlin, passed away at Camp Devens September 26 of the Spanish influenza. He was born in Pepperell about 23 years ago on the Tucker farm and when quite young his parents settled in Berlin from where he enlisted in July. Wallace, his older brother, is now in service in France. His mother was Miss Carrie Patch, step-daughter of Mrs. Sarah Patch, of Nashua road.
Death. Origen Dudley Kimball, son of Mr. and Mrs. Willis E. Kimball, of River street, passed away last week Saturday afternoon at the naval hospital, Newport, R.I. He was taken ill the previous Friday with Spanish influenza and his chum, Douglas Deware, was taken ill at the same time. They were taken in the same ambulance to the hospital and in the hospital lay on their cots side by side. Tuesday, when the crisis came, Kimball was taken into the dangerous ward and his parents notified. His mother arrived at the hospital a few hours before he died and she knew that everything that could be done for him was done, as the case developed into pneumonia.
Origen Kimball was born on May 5, 1897, and enlisted in the navy in April, 1918, and was called in May. He held the position of gunner’s mate, Company H. The body was taken on Saturday to Lund’s undertaking rooms in Nashua, N.H….
Groton Fair. The State Board of Agriculture contends that an out-door agricultural fair does not conflict with the board of health’s proclamation.
Hazel Grove Park, the scene of Groton’s two days’ fair, has been a place of hustling activity, the past week. Tents have sprung up like magic, fakirs booths on the big midway are all erected, many race horses are being given their preliminary tuning up on the newly renovated track, and all preparations are completed for the biggest fair of a decade. A regrettable incident is the board of health order prohibiting the dance in the town hall Friday evening.
News Items. Private C. E. Fuller died Thursday at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Reynolds, where he was taken sick while on a week-end pass from the camp. The remains were shipped to the home of the deceased in Westbrook, Me.
During these times when every effort is being made to prevent the spread of the epidemic of Spanish influenza, mention of the good work done at the Hostess House at the camp and the Federation House in Ayer in providing accommodations for the relatives of sick soldiers should be made. Both houses are open twenty-four hours a day. The Hostess House has cared for between 75 and 100 women nightly during the week. Both houses have set up army cots. Someone is on duty night and day in both places, who keep in touch with the base hospital. Automobiles are always ready in case of emergency to take relatives to the hospital to see their loved ones. Nothing but words of praise have been heard from those cared for by the kindly efforts of those in charge of these two houses.
There are a great many cases of the prevailing Spanish influenza in town, which keeps the doctors very busy. Several deaths have occurred.
A petition is in circulation this week to have the federal authorities take over the management of the town of Ayer during the period of the war. The petition originated with some business men who have come here since Camp Devens was established and who find a great decrease in their business since the local board of health quarantined the town against the camp in order to check the spread of the influenza in town. It may be said that practically all the people in town heartily approve of the action of the board of health, which is doing its plain duty and pays little attention to the small coterie of men who would for purely financial reasons, place the lives and health of the people in danger.
Some of the Boston newspapers are up to their old tricks again. Articles in regard to the circulation of the petition appeared in Thursday’s editions under large headlines which are positively amusing. One paper says that the problems arising since the camp was established are too great for the town of Ayer to handle. Hence the petition for federal control. Verily, “It is to laugh.”
One day during the past week an unknown Polish woman came to the camp to see her husband who was sick with the Spanish influenza. With her was her small child. She was not allowed to see her husband because of his serious condition. She went from the hospital to the Red Cross headquarters at the camp and although unable to speak but very little English she made her condition known to those in charge, who in turn directed her to the federal health board office in the town hall building. The woman, evidently thinking that she was to be imprisoned, jumped through a window with her child and ran away. Later she was found and returned to her home in Boston.
All the public schools in town were closed Wednesday. This action was taken by the school board as a safeguard against the spread of the Spanish influenza.
In accordance with the instruction from the board of health there will be no service at St. Andrew’s church this coming Sunday.
Those willing to volunteer their services with automobiles to carry out doctors and nurses for sick calls for half a day at a time will please report to Charles H. Hardy, chairman of the public safety committee, Central avenue, who will make all the arrangements. The influenza epidemic and other sickness has caused a severe strain upon the doctors and nurses in this vicinity, and those who volunteer their services in this time of trouble to aid these overworked individuals will be a great benefit to the sick ones.
Owing to the epidemic of influenza the opening meeting of the Woman’s club has been postponed. Announcement and date of the first meeting will be made later.
Mrs. Sophie Cyr died Saturday at her home on Park street after a brief illness of double pneumonia. Mrs. Cyr was twenty-eight year of age and was a native of Presque Isle, Me. When her husband, Private Cyr, came to Camp Devens, she accompanied him and has made her home here until the time of her death. Her husband is now serving with the army in France. Mrs. Cyr leaves, besides her husband, her parents, six brothers and a sister. She also leaves two children by a former marriage. The remains were taken to her native town on Wednesday, where funeral services were held at the Church of the Nativity. The interment was in Presque Isle.
The Eastern Star meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening was postponed on account of the epidemic.
The Vicarage, Ayer, Mass.
September 25, 1918.
The Board of Health, Ayer, Mass.
Dear Sirs: Last week a request was sent out by you asking that the churches of Ayer suspend their services for a time as a measure of protection against the serious epidemic of influenza. If by suspending the usual observance we can “heal on the Sabbath” we have good authority for doing so. And with this in mind the four Protestant churches of Ayer held no services on Sunday last. But in so doing a very real sacrifice was made. We are several companies of people who maintain that the most important fact in life is God and the most important duty His worship. In the face of considerable odds we are trying to sustain that weekly recognition of God called Sunday. Church-going is not the only way of observing Sunday, but it is the most obvious and general way. For all practical purposes what you requested was that we suspend the observance of Sunday.
In spite of these difficulties I believe that church people generally would be willing to forego church services in the interests of the public health when absolutely necessary if they could be sure of certain things. The communication sent to us was a request not an order. The various branches of the church were left free to choose their own course of action. Under these circumstances a congregation of Christian Scientists would, I presume, oppose the measure on principle, on the ground that a quarantine does not represent the proper method of attacking disease. The Church of Rome, with an admirable emphasis on the importance of worship, would not in all probability acceded to such a request. And as a result the branches of the church which do comply are placed in the position of caring less for religion than some others. Churches should not be asked to give up their services unless the request has the force of law, binding on all alike. If the Board of Health has the power to close churches it should close all at once or none. If it has not the power it should seek it in the interest of the Public Health.
The second condition that the churches have a right to demand is that all other possible centers of contagion should be closed when the churches are closed. It is not fair to ask a comparatively few people to refrain from gathering around the altar when they are freely permitted to gather around the soda fountain. In any emergency you would naturally close all places of amusement, recreation, and mere refreshment, as being least of essential and most crowded. After that, if necessary, schools and churches as being non-essential for the mere existence of the community.
This letter is not intended as a criticism of your action of last week. Rather it attempts to be a statement of the church’s case. We ask that our services be suspended only in very serious situations. We ask that any request for closing should have the force of law binding on all branches of the church alike. We ask that when the churches are closed other centers of contagion not essential to the life of the community be closed.
With this statement of our case I await your instructions for the coming Sunday.
Vicar of St. Andrew’s church
W.C.C.S. On Thursday afternoon the director of the Red Cross at the camp, after consulting with the Public Health Service and the town Board of Health, arranged with the War Camp Community committee, which is managing the Soldiers’ club on West street, to use the building as an emergency hospital to care for the wives and relatives of soldiers who are suffering with influenza in Ayer.
The work of the public health nurse has revealed the need of such an institution. Householders in Ayer who have furnished rooms to transient guests have in many cases found themselves utterly unable to provide adequate care for their guests when they have been suddenly stricken with the malady and only a well equipped and centrally located building could meet the emergency.
The initial equipment will be about fifteen beds which will be ready by this Friday noon. This can be added to as need arises. A staff of three trained nurses will be in charge together with such medical attention as is required.
The committee, of which Dr. Endicott Peabody is chairman, George H. Brown, vice chairman, and Rev. Angus Dun, secretary, is deserving of the highest praise for their willingness to adapt their equipment to this need.
R. K. Atkinson, director of the War Camp Community Service, in speaking of the matter said, “The task of War Camp Community Service was outlined by Secretary Baker as surrounding the camps with hospitality. In the present emergency the interpretation of this ideal seemed to suggest the action taken by our soldiers’ club committee. We are fortunate that the need comes at a time when our plant is being very little used by the soldiers.”
District Court. Last Saturday morning Stephen Bilida was in court charged with stealing $140 from Maxine Danichovitz, both parties being from Westford. The story seemed to be that Maxine had got “stewed” and given his money to Stephen to take care of and Stephen had not given it back. The court found sufficient evidence to hold the defendant in $500 bail for the grand jury.
Fatal Accident. Sergt. George A. Daley received injuries in being struck by an automobile, drive by Ralph P. Willoughby, at 6:45 Tuesday evening, which resulted in his death at the base hospital two hours later.
The unfortunate accident happened on Park street, at the intersection of the road leading to the remount depot. From the facts gathered by Officer Wall, who investigated the accident, it appears that the sergeant was coming from the remount depot to Park street on his motorcycle. Upon reaching Park street he attempted to cross it in order to get on the right side of the road, going toward Groton. The automobile, a heavy Packard car, coming toward Ayer, from Groton, struck the motorcycle, throwing the soldier to the ground. Help was at once summoned and the injured man was rushed to the camp hospital, where an examination showed but little hope of recovery. He died soon afterward.
The sad accident was evidently not caused by carelessness or overspeeding, as many of them are, as all the facts go to show that young Willoughby and the sergeant were proceeding carefully when the collision occurred.
Just before the collision an automobile, in which the body of a dead soldier was being taken to Greenville, N.H., from the camp, in care of an undertaker from that place, and two others, neither of whose names were learned, came up Park street, going north. It is thought that Willoughby became confused as to which way to turn to avoid an accident when the collision occurred. An officer at the camp, who appeared at the scene of the accident, said that he could see no criminal action on Willoughby’s part, the collision being one of those unfortunate occurrences which are likely to take place at any time under similar conditions as those which prevailed at the time of the accident. Willoughby was held for examination and later was released.
To the citizens of Ayer: In view of the fact that considerable feeling among local officials seems to have been created by the proposal of a number of citizens to petition the war office at Washington to take over the sanitary or even the full control of the affairs of the town of Ayer, I wish to state here that though no such petition has as yet been signed or circulated, it is true that such proposal is before us, and there is no doubt that a strong sentiment among the loyal and unprejudiced citizens exists here in favor of such action upon the part of the war department at Washington.
I may add that the statement to our boys at Camp Devens relating to the late act of a member of our board of health and published with the view of correcting a wrong impression which the soldiers have received in their treatment by the town of Ayer, is the only document circulated up to date and is endorsed by able and right thinking men of our town.
E. D. Clark, One of the endorsers of the statement to the boys at Camp Devens.
About Town. Twenty-four horses are to be sold by the government at the auxiliary remount depot on October 7.
There are but few soldiers seen in Shirley because of the quarantine of the men in khaki at Camp Devens.
Automobile Accident. Another sad automobile accident on Lactart road stains the pages of our annals. A new twin-six Packard car, returning from Camp Devens on Monday afternoon, about 5:45 o’clock, was passed near the frog pond by a Fiat racer, which hit and drove it to the roadside, where it collided with two or three trees, jumped the wall and landed on its side in the meadow, fatally injuring Mrs. Ada B. Luther, of South Attleboro, who had been to Camp Devens to see her son, reported as seriously ill, and found him dead. She was taken in another car to Ayer and died at the base hospital that night from internal injuries. Dr. Christie was called and responded promptly, but Mrs. Luther had been carried to Ayer before his arrival.
The racer, never stopping, sped on its course and was soon lost sight of. Further particulars have not been ascertained, but the evidence points to overspeeding as the probable cause of the disaster.