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Southbridge, Massachusetts

Southbridge Recollections

Southbridge was HORRIBLE! – by Stan Szydlik

Southbridgeg Horribles Parade - 1963 (Don Whitney Photos)

Is it my imagination or do I remember a time when there was an annual Horribles parade in Southbridge on the day before Halloween?  I think maybe that October 30th was known cabbage night (or something along those lines). I surmise that the ulterior motive for this event may have been to try to keep we little hooligans busy and away from trick or treating on the 30th and on the 31st.

All the town kids of trick or treat age would dress in Halloween costumes and then ghoulishly march down Main Street, onto Elm Street and to the Strand Theater.  And then the fun began!

For that one evening only, kids were treated to a “scary” movie and refreshments (AKA candy) for FREE!  And there were always two different films. The earlier movie was for younger kids and featured the likes of the Bowery Boys or Abbott & Costello. While the later flick offered more in the way of thrill and chills and was intended for the more adult (nearing the teen years) crowd.

I enjoyed all the fun of that evening when I was offered entry to the early movie to watch the goofy antics of Slip, Sach and the gang or Lou Costello being menaced by a bad guy dressed as a ghost. But I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to go to the late show (and maybe sit with a girl). A smattering of blood and gore and the possibility of a little romance: what more could a pre-teen boy ask for? Even though there was mostly the former and none of the latter, I always left the theater happy (and on a sugar high).

For me, this night made Halloween something extra special in Southbridge. It was the real fall classic (sorry Major League Baseball).

Thinking about it now, I couldn’t tell you whom sponsored and actually paid the tab so that I can have this great memory rattling around in the back of my brain. I guess a town group like the Elks, Lions or Rotary Club or maybe the Southbridge taxpayers themselves loosened up the purse strings.  Sad to say, but I doubt there are many communities that are able to provide a similar event today.

This remembrance comes from Southbridge in the 1950s. I guess it wasn’t jus my imagination. The town was horrible, at least once a year. I am lucky enough to have grown up there during that time.  Thanks for allowing me to share.


Stan Szydlik

Eastford Road School

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Southbridge High (1963)

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