Greetings, and merry and happy wishes to you all! This edition of the weekly update is coming to you a little early in case I decide to sleep in a bit on Saturday.
Last week we saw some special Christmas gifts that made two little girls very happy. Celebrations and traditions are a large part of our holidays too. I am looking forward to a Christmas Eve service tonight where I attend church. It will be different this year, simplified, but not lacking in meaning. There will be no family gathering this year as that has fallen victim to the Covid crisis. I remember for many years going to family gatherings at my grandparent's house on Sheridan Street (I was a month old at my first visit!). Everyone brought something, Grandma Johnson always had Swedish meatballs roasting in the oven, and Grandpa Johnson, who was the head baker for Fernandes Supermarkets, supplied wonderful (and very well filled) Danish pastry fruit rings! We met at that small house on Christmas eve for years - the family got larger, but the house did not!
Below is an updated article that I wrote for the Easton Bulletin back in the 1990's. It takes a look at Christmas celebrations in Easton back in 1883, and I hope you will enjoy reading it.
Wishing you all blessings of the season,
Christmas of 1883 was widely celebrated in Easton. News of these celebrations were recorded in the Easton Journal newspaper. The paper reports on several gatherings that were held, and churches played a leading role in celebrations.
The Methodists celebrated the holiday with a cantata and a tree loaded with gifts for their Sunday school children. The festival took place on Christmas night in the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall. The stage was trimmed with pine boughs and evergreens. The cantata “Under the Palms” was performed under the direction of Mr. J. E. Shepardson. At 7:15 the curtain rose and some fifty children broke into radiant smiles. The singing lasted an hour. After the cantata ended, the children attacked the tree and became the happy recipients of gifts and sweets that they thoroughly enjoyed. By ten o’clock, the festival had ended and the children returned to their homes.
At Dear Old Harmony Hall in Furnace Village, another group of revelers gathered to celebrate Christmas. The hall was neatly trimmed with greenery. The happy and expectant faces of the little ones formed a pleasing picture to behold. The children sang carols and hymns for the audience, and a merry time was had by all who attended. Remembrances were exchanged, and the entertainment provided by the children was enjoyed by everyone.
The Unitarian Society held their festival on Christmas Eve in the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall. The spacious auditorium was well filled. “Mother Goose” was performed as a musical for the children, with Miss Hunt, the soprano of the choir, singing the lead and the Sunday school children playing various characters. Once this had ended, a tree filled with goods was presented to the children, who joyously reaped their harvest. Once the tree had been cleared away, the night belonged to those who enjoyed dancing, with music provided by Porter’s Brockton orchestra. A good time was enjoyed by all.
A private gathering was held at the residence of Mr. Jason Willis. He was joined
by several persons from out of town. Among those present were Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Waite, Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Sexton and family of Springfield, Mr. and Mrs. Buckland of Marlboro, and Miss Margaret Staples. As evening fell, a tree was presented on which was a gift for each person who attended. A fine night of friendship and merriment followed. Several other private gatherings were held around town, and even the almshouse had a tree for Christmas.
While these celebrations were taking place, Easton was being hit by a snow storm. Twenty-two inches of snow had already fallen by Christmas, and the thermometer readings were around 18 degrees below zero. James Rankin recorded a
low of 22 degrees below zero on the Sunday before Christmas. Sleigh rides were a
popular event, and John H. Daley was well known for his. Many a happy person spent a few minutes in his sled, enjoying the bumps and turns and the laughter that accompanied those rides.
Presents ranged from bicycles and pianos to personal items from local merchants. George G. Withington, who had a drug store on Center Street, advertised shaving mugs and brushes, wallets, pocket books and toiletries, match boxes and writing instruments for gift giving. He also supplied a line of Christmas cards priced from one cent to a dollar and a half. Pretty fringed cards were also available, as well as New Year’s and birthday cards.
Frank T. Meninno
Curator, Easton Historical Society and Museum
Hello everyone, and very happy December greetings to you! The heat is running here at the Museum as the temps struggle to get above 20 degrees. It looks like the snow we received the other day will be here for a while.
We have received a number of orders through the Museum Store, and they are being mailed as quickly as possible. As you know there have been delivery delays for a number of reasons, so we cannot guarantee that your order will arrive by Friday. For those who have chosen curbside pickup, I will be here at the Museum Monday through Thursday next week between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you need to arrange another time to pick up your order, please call or email to make arrangements. We are very grateful for your support during these trying times.
Our newly announced book, Easton In Stereo, is getting a lot of attention! Be sure to get your copy, it makes a terrific and unique gift!
Speaking of gifts, our Museum items today are two sets that were very special gifts for two young girls back in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Donated by Priscilla Almquist-Olsen just a few weeks ago, they are a reminder of those things we found popular during our own childhood.
First up is a Junior Miss Sewing Kit by Hasbro. Priscilla received this gift. It features a working sewing machine, patterns, doll figures, needles, thread, and all of the items needed to learn how to sew in a fun but skill-building way. I love the artwork on the box as much as I do the set!
A second gift is a Play-Time Glass Dish Set that was given to Priscilla's late sister Karin. Made by the Akro Agate Company, the set features miniatures of a teapot, sugar, creamer, and four cups with plates, just what every young hostess needs to set a table for a proper tea party! This set is made from glass, not plastic. Founded in 1911, the Akro Agate company first gained fame for its glass marbling process, which made their marbles very desirable. The company later produced other glass items such as ashtrays, depression glass dishes, and of course, this tea set.
Also received are sets that taught other skills such as house cleaning and pastry making. We found inside gift tags that were kept with the gifts.
I have fond memories of the gifts I received as a child. My great aunt and uncle John and Alda Zipeto always gave us silver dollars and a shoe shine kit - Uncle John Zipeto owned John's Shoe Repair in Campello, Brockton, for many years. And my grandmother Ada (Swanson) Johnson of Easton always gave each of her many grandchildren either a knit hat or socks, or perhaps gloves. But we always dug a little deeper in those packages to find a toy car or other exciting gift! She must have started her Christmas shopping in January to get all those gifts ready by Christmas.
Well, there are only 6 shopping days to go! I hope to be hearing from you. Stay safe, and stay well!
Greetings all! We are very pleased to announce a new publication!
Easton In Stereo is a book of more than 70 images taken from our collection of stereoscopic cards. Each stereoscopic card has two similar images, and when the card is viewed through a stereoscope, a 3-D image is produced! For this project, the better of the two photos from each card was chosen to be faithfully reproduced. The images date from the very late 1860's through the 1880's and cover a range of subjects. The cover and a sample page are attached for your viewing. The cost of the book is $12 each plus shipping when applicable. You can order from our website, www.eastonmahistoricalsociety.org under "Books" in the Museum Store. Curbside pickup is available in time for your holiday giving!
Oliver Ames High School seniors Emma Lawson and Emma Varella took this project on during the summer and fall, and thanks to their hard work, the book was completed. They chose the images, did photo editing, and created the book layout. They also contributed to the text. Many thanks to Hazel Varella and Ed Hands who helped bring this project to reality!
Greetings from frosty Easton! The cooler temps would make Frosty a happy snowman, except we did not get the snow that was forecast for us last weekend. No complaints from me!
In December 1866, Caleb Carr bought his monthly supply of groceries and other items. Thanks to an account book from the Ames Store, we know just what he purchased as well as what he paid for those items. Small account books, kept by stores (or personal books kept by someone to track household expenses) give us a window into the past. We can see what stores carried for their customers, and we can see what customers bought and how often they bought items. In this case, we have an account book from the 1860's that details what Caleb bought from the Ames Store each month. At the end of the month, the account would be settled, and a notation is made in the book to state just that. One would need to be a customer in good standing to continue to do business with that store.
Caleb Carr, Jr. (1797-1887) was the son of Caleb Carr, Sr. (1767-1839), and the grandson of Rev. Eseck Carr, who was the Baptist minister in Easton until the time of his death in 1794. Eseck, called to Easton from Warren, Rhode Island, may have been a grandson of Caleb Carr, who was governor of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation when he died in 1695. Caleb, Jr. worked as a shovel worker and lived in the Torrey House at 91 Main Street. He was known affectionately as "Uncle Caleb" to many in his later years. His sons John and Henry owned houses on Main Street, and other Carr's lived on Washington Street near the Stoughton Line.
Attached for you is a sample of two pages from this account book that detail purchases he made in November and December, 1866. He seems to be especially fond of crackers and cheese, and mackerel (probably dried). Among his shopping list one can find cheese, butter, apples, raisins, tea, and bread, all staples you would expect to find when shopping. But the Ames Store also carried a wide variety of "sundries" to meet other needs. Caleb also purchased gingham and flannel fabric, paper, a knife, oil, turpentine, and varnish.
The Ames Store was located on Shovel Shop property, nearly across from the current Ames Free Library, in an area now used for parking. Having a store on site with a wide selection of items to meet everyday needs was a convenient way to serve shovel workers and anyone else who desired to shop at the store. Some family accounts were continued for more than 100 years! It should be noted that although this was a "company store" there was no mandate for workers to use it. They could shop anywhere they chose for food or other items.
Stay well, and remember there are only 12 days left until Christmas! Make your shopping a little easier and check out our online store!
Attached are flyers full of specials to make your holiday shopping easy! Check out these offers specially selected with you in mind.
Remember, you can order through our web store at www.eastonmahistoricalsociety.org. You can choose to have your order mailed, or you can choose pickup instead.
The Museum is open for visitors and shoppers Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Saturday mornings. Social distancing restrictions apply, and masks are required. You may also shop by appointment. Simply call or email to set one up. Curbside delivery is also available for those who want the convenience of not having to get out of your car.
Cash, check, or debit/credit cards are all welcomed.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Hello from a very stormy Easton! A nor'easter may be dampening the ground today, but it didn't dampen our holiday spirit. We just finished up the pandemic version of the Easton Garden Club's Annual Greens Sale, which was a success even with the rain and the Covid restrictions. How nice it was to have visitors! I am looking forward to next year though, and a hopeful return to a busy schedule.
This is one of those days to curl up by the fireplace or woodstove and read a good book, which I might be doing shortly, if I do not settle into a long winter's nap instead. Today's artifact is, in fact, a book. I found this at a book sale many years ago and had it at home. Now it has a permanent residence at the Museum. The book is called the "Massachusetts Register" and was printed in 1815. The small book, not much larger than your hand, contains a wealth of information that includes an almanac, and list after list of "Who's Who" in Massachusetts. The pages inside list, by county, Civil, Judicial, Ecclesiastical, and Military institutions as well as charitable, agricultural, and literary organizations. A list of Post Offices and Postmasters round out the collection of information. Since the book is set up by county, when county governments were still a strong part of state government, it is easy to find Easton under Bristol County. Of course I looked at neighboring counties as well (Norfolk, Plymouth,) and then the other Massachusetts counties such as Kennebec, Penobscot, and Aroostook. Wait, those are not Massachusetts counties! Well, they were in 1815 when this little book was published. Maine was a District of Massachusetts until 1820, when statehood was granted following Massachusetts' lack of protection of the Maine area during the War of 1812. The book therefore covers not only the Massachusetts we know today, but the Massachusetts that once was.
Stay well, stay safe, and until next week,
Greetings one and all! As we begin the holiday shopping season, we put together some specials to help you out while also supporting the Society and Museum. See the attached flyer for details! Another sale will be announced next week, and all of the sales are good for the entire month of December while supplies last.
You can order several ways:
In person - we are open most days and Saturdays for in person shopping, following restrictions due to Covid. Since we have a small space, the number of people inside is restricted to six at a time. Masks and social distancing are required. Feel free to drop by if you prefer or call for an appointment!
Curbside pickup - place your order ahead of time and we'll have it ready for pickup at your convenience. Pre-pay with credit / debit, or cash or check are accepted at pickup.
Order online by using our web store. We can ship orders, or you can order online and choose pickup to save on mailing costs.
Order by phone by calling us to place your order. We can process your payment by credit / debit card.
And please call us for more information or special requests!
Curator: Frank Meninno