Greetings from beautiful Easton! Hot summer weather will be our visitor for most of the week, and it seems July is heralding her imminent arrival. Surely cookouts and beach days are being planned!
Ninety-one years ago this week the Ames Shovel and Tool Company began the process of selling many of their company dwellings. Earlier this week, Art Barrett dropped off a sale brochure for that event. Dated for June 19, 1931, and produced by Samuel T. Freeman & Co. of Boston, the brochure offers a number of descriptions and photos of many of the houses that were destined to be auctioned off. A total of 41 properties "In a Very Attractive Village" were being offered for sale to the highest bidder. The realtor set up a local office next door to the former North Easton Post Office building on Main Street for people to inquire at. Terms of the sale were 10% down, and the balance due in 30 days.
Why would the Ames Shovel and Tool Company, after more than one-hundred years of offering housing to workers, suddenly exit from the housing business? At the time this was being offered, the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. Just about that time, the company had undertaken a major expenditure, reworking the plant in North Easton, adding several buildings, extensions, and remodeling the former oxen stable on the corner of Main and Oliver Streets to become the company office. Perhaps this was a way for the company to recoup some of the investment made just around the time of the depression? While that may have figured into the company's strategy to survive the financial crisis, there seems to be another reason: the automobile made us a nation of commuters!
Inside the sale brochure, this is plainly spelled out as the reason for selling some of the worker housing. The following statements say it all.
"WHEN THE AMES SHOVEL CAME TO NORTH EASTON - There was no North Easton. Also, there were no stone roads; no railways; no trolleys; no Automobiles. A village in which the employees could be housed was a necessity. There was no other place for them to live."
"TODAY - The beautiful village of North Easton has grown up and within a radius of 15 miles there are perhaps 25 or 30 other Villages, Towns, and Cities - all connected by hard roads kept passable every day of the year. To live in one place and work in another is common practice. Many of the occupants of the Company's dwellings are employed elsewhere. Many of the Company's employees live elsewhere. Many are anxious to own their own homes."
Keep in mind that the first shovels made in North Easton were produced in 1803. It was a very different place than it had become by the 1930's. It looks like the advantages of commuting to work finally outweighed the need to live near your work, as the auto and choices of public transportation made that all possible. The American way of work and life was changing!
The inside of the brochure lists a map of the lots being sold, a few other house photos, descriptions of the property, and other miscellaneous information. Perhaps your home might have been one of them. If you have any interest in seeing more of the brochure, I will be happy to include that in next week's update. I always look forward to hearing from you!
So, until next week, stay cool, stay well, and enjoy the summer weather!
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Anne Wooster Drury