Whitney Web Page -
Southbridge Recollections:


Recollections of JFK's visit to Southbridge

in 1958



JFK Visiting Southbridge on Sept 30, 1958
See how this site appears in Nov 2013


Recollections of JFK's visit to Southbridge, Seaver Rice, Her Dad's Bradley Meat Co (12 Crane St), and the Flood! - Susan Gascoigne Taylor
 

I just stumbled on this wonderful Southbridge, MA website. What a delight it has been rummaging through the many pages, stories, pictures, etc. The big surprised was to see ***me*** in the picture of
JFK talking on a downtown street corner in 1958!!!  Boy, I remember that event. A few friends and I were downtown when we saw a commotion on the opposite street corner - I think it was the NE corner of Main and Central? One of the girls thought it might be Senator Kennedy. We crossed the street to see him and Jackie. She was all in light blue wearing a cloth coat and a small blue pillbox hat looking tired and bored. He looked terribly young and very very thin- almost sickly looking. We stood there a moment or two listening an then had to hurry back to the high school.

The picture (above ) and on http://www.dickwhitney.net/RBWSouthbridgeFamousPeople.html shows me full face looking at him or the camera, right in front though slightly to his left. My forehead is broad and I have shoulder length hair. There's a man at my left with a full brim hat and behind us is the sign to Highways 93 and 20 - Charlton, Worcester & Boston. I'm sorry I can't remember a word he said; only the way he and Jackie looked. I believe I was with Judy Paige, Judy Fitts and Jana Foss. I think there were at least 2 other girls but can't remember for sure.

I was delighted also with the stories and articles of and about Seaver Rice. I knew him and his wife Gertrude quite well back in the 1940s and '50s. He was a good friend of my father's. My father, of Putnam, was a WWI vet also. He enlisted in OH while attending Ohio State. Gertrude Rice was the bookkeeper at Bradley's Meat Co. on Crane Street. I remember her about crippled with arthritis, I think Bradley's was founded and owned by my great uncle, Leland E. Bradley, and my father was the manager. Boy, the mention of Howard Boal brought back memories. My father played bridge with Mr. Boal about once a month all through the 1940s and probably earlier. I don't remember who the other men that played were - Seaver Rice may have been one of them??

The articles on Mr. Clifford Harvey were of interest too. Mrs. "Betty" Harvey and my mother were very good friends. They were in many clubs together and the families had known each other since the late 1930s.

A little of my family history in Southbridge: I was born in Southbridge and a 1960 graduate of Mary E. Wells High School. My parents were Ransom M. and Dorothy Whitehouse Gascoigne. They first lived on Elm St., moved to Garner St. c1939, and in c1948 moved to 291 South St. I attended 1st grade at Eastford Road School, and after we moved to South St. went to West Street School. As I said above, my father's uncle, Leland Bradley, was the founded and owned of Bradley Meat Co. on Crane St. - just below and opposite the "Flat Iron" building.  My father was the manager of Uncle Lee's Bradley Meat Co.in Southbridge. Dad also owned Bradley Provision Co. in Putnam, CT. Another of his uncles, Ransom Bradley, started the Bradley Provision Co. in Putnam, and my father bought that beefhouse from his Uncle Ransom's estate c1938. My father died in Aug 1953. A few years later, Uncle Lee closed the beefhouse in Southbridge and sold the property. Uncle Lee died in Aug 1956.  Uncle Lee and Aunt Belle Bradley's home was on Marcy St. - at the NE(?) corner of Marcy and Edwards - I think it is now a doctor or dentist office.

I have vivid memories of the 1955 Flood. I was at summer camp in the Berkshires when the hurricane hit. The next day, last day of camp, it was announced at breakfast that severe hurricane damage - specifically flooding - had occurred and many parents would not be able to get to the camp for a few days. There were about 30 of us that had to stay a few days longer. Finally my mother and brother were able to get through. By the time we got to Southbridge, via the Globe, the National Guard had set up a roadblock. No one could enter Southbridge without a pass. Mother didn't have one for they had left town before the passes were issued. We had to turn around and go to the Sturbridge Town Hall for a pass. It was after dark and my brother stood in line at the town hall for at least 2 hours. By the time we got home - pushing midnight - I was quite ill with a very very high fever. My mother was terrified it might be polio because she was told at my camp that one of campers had come down with it a couple of weeks earlier. My brother carried me into the house and laid me on the living room couch. Dr. Stewart Gibson, our family doctor was called. He came immediately putting me through a series of tests like neck turning, etc. He said he could not tell for certain what it was; however, it was not meningitis.  It took a few days for my fever to return to normal. Thank goodness I had no paralysis or signs of polio.

In 1959 my mother married Arthur Woolhouse, general manager of Southbridge Plastics. In 1961 my family moved south with Southbridge Plastics. Mother died in 2003 at the age of 91. How she would have enjoyed this site of yours! Here is her obituary telling of some of her Southbridge activities:

http://home.earthlink.net/~s.g.taylor/gascoigne/dwghartfordcur.html

I am located in Memphis, TN, metropolitan area - a misplaced or displaced Yankee! Thank you for all the work you have done on creating this Southbridge website.

Thank you for the memories!!

--- Susan Gascoigne Taylor

ps. Feel free to use any of the above on your website. No doubt I have '40s & '50s pics of Southbridge stored away in mother's stuff. Hopefully in the near future I'll have time to dig into them. If any
seem of interest, I'll let  you know about them. 

Read about JFK and his AO Executive Lenses (letter rec'd Nov 22, 1963) 

Click here for 1962 Don Whitney movie clip of the corner where JFK Gave his speech

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