Whitney Web Page - Southbridge Recollections

Bill Kroll Recalls Ames and the 1955 Flood

I just read the story about Ames and it brought back a lot of memories. The records were, indeed, on the first floor. 45s were $0.79, considerably cheaper than the $0.98 that they cost at Ed's Hi-Fi. You could stretch your limited record buying budget by shopping there. I didn't buy my first 45 there, but I did buy my first album, "String Along" by the Kingston Trio (in mono) there. I still have it and it still plays and sounds halfway decent. The toy dept. was downstairs. I remember Wilfred "Zero" Gauthier played Santa Claus every year. He was the janitor at West St. School and was well known around town and quite a character. He loved to play horseshoes in the summer at West St. Playground.  Finally, there was a popcorn machine right near the exit. My mom would always buy us a large bag of incredibly salty popcorn for $0.15.

The stuff on your site about the flood of '55 brought back some memories. We lived on West St. at that time, in the house next to the old fire station near the corner of West and Main Sts. The house itself is about 30 ft.above street level, so we didn't suffer any damage due to the flood. But I seemed to recall some photos taken by my uncle, Ray Jerominek. He was probably 25 or so at the time. I called my mom and, sure enough, she had them and sent them to me. Since we were only a few blocks from Big Pond dam and Globe Village, he caught a lot of the events in that part of town. He also has a lot of shots of Putnam, CT. Flood damage was great in Putnam, but I don't know his connection to the town, or if he just went there to photograph the damage. She also included a supplement from the Worcester Telegram with photos of damage to many towns, including S'bridge. There was a table with damage estimates. Southbridge suffered $25 mill in damage, second only to Putnam, if I remember correctly. The AO alone was hit with $10 mill in damages. Incredible sums in 1955.

Keep up the good work.

Bill Kroll
Sept 2002

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