Whitney Web Page -
Southbridge Recollections:

by  Al Thompkins

  Dear Dick...every once in a while I leap to the Southbridge web pages, read a few stories and bring back memories and a lot of smiles.  As a reference, I am a 1961 graduate of Mary E.  Wells High School (last graduating class before SHS).  I grew up at 38 Chapin Street and my father (who early on worked at the AO) had a photography studio on Main Street (Tompkins Portrait Studio), second floor over the building opposite Chapin Street.

 I enjoyed Ellen Zepp's article about Christmas in the 1950's.  I especially remember (and I had to dig deep) Mr.. Florsheim's back room with the birds.  During the mid to late 50's I was a  paperboy for the Southbridge Evening News (Route #21).  The first half of the delivery route was the downtown businesses and one of the deliveries was to Mr. Florsheim.  When I had the  inclination or when the birds were especially noisy, I remember going back to see them.  One of my customers was a watch and clock repair shop on the left hand side of Hamilton Street almost adjacent to the corner church.  Many times I would watch in fasination as he assembled a customer's watch.  One day I took a watch gear from an old broken watch at home and put it in my pocket.    While I was watching him that day and while he was distracted by the phone or a customer, I tossed in my watch gear to his pile to workings.  We both had a great laugh when he, puzzled at first, realized what I must have done.

 I also enjoyed Jan Whitney's remembrances as the "Story Lady at WESO".  When I decided I was too old to be a paper boy, I took the job at WESO sweeping the floors and emptying the wastebaskets.  This was when the station was on the second (or third) floor on the corner of Elm and Main Streets.  I later did some engineering for the station recording some commercials and a "Rosary Hour" during Lent.  I became close to Ken Duquette (Spell?) who was the station engineer and rock and roll disc jockey.  When the studio moved to upper main street, over the A&P supermarket, I helped him wire the station and the studio main console.  I didn't know what I was doing but I followed directions well.

 About the AO Rockwell paintings:  When I was the General Manager of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce (1976-1980), I remember meeting at the AO with its President, in his office.  He was fairly new to his job.  Although the ownership was Warner Lambert, it still carried the AO name.  If I remember right, the purpose of the meeting was to talk about the AO's sponsorship of the PGA Tour stop at Pleasant Valley Country Club.  I also remember that he said the AO would be the "named sponsor" if the PGA made the event a "designated tournament", meaning that all pros HAD to play it unless they had a medical waiver.  I also remember that the AO picked up a sponsorship of golf pro Gill Morgan because he was an optometrist.  He also won that year with Jack Nicklaus coming in a close second.  The Worcester Chamber was the co-sponsor (with the club's owner) and part of my chamber of commerce duties was to be Assistant Tournament Director.  Anyway, during that meeting, the AO President told us that while they were tearing down a wall in his office to renovate it, they discovered 6 (six) Norman Rockwell original paintings.  He had one leaning against a newly painted wall prior to being hung.  I don't remember which one.

Again, great Southbridge pages, I enjoy visiting now and again.  I don't mind you sharing my email address.

                                                                     Al (Alvin) Tompkins  e-mail:       altompkins-60@charter.net

More Southbridge Recollections

AO Recollections

Southbridge Page