Community Get Togethers
West Boylston was incorporated in January 1808. The town’s first century concluded with the destruction of the town’s financial and industrial center. Still, the town witnessed huge celebrations for its centennial.
The first occurred on January 30, 1908, exactly one hundred years since the town’s official incorporation. The ceremony took place at town hall and included songs, addresses, and a reading of the act of incorporation.
The second event was larger and a lot more fun. It took place on July 16, 1908. The day started at 6 A.M. and went into the night with a variety of events and concerts. There was a ball game, a horse coach decorating competition, and an egg race (but only for women over 18 for some reason). In comparison to the conservative ceremony of January, the July celebration was a field day devoted to fun and games.
A few pages of the Program of the July 1908 event is below, and a commemorative medal with the town seal is above.
Many people consider baseball to be America’s pastime, a sport which has united people nationwide. Massachusetts has particular pride in its baseball team—Fenway Park is the oldest ballpark in the U.S., and even non-fans of baseball surely stayed up to watch the Red Sox break the curse in 2004. The sport’s history stretches back centuries. Below are some images from the constitution and by-laws of the “Beaman Base Ball Club of West Boylston.” We aren’t sure of the date of the club’s formation, but we can guess that this constitution was written during or after the 1860s, since that’s when the sport’s popularity exploded and semipro teams began to spring up around the nation.
West Boylston residents clearly loved the game and established their own club to play the game. The club was only opened to men. Article 2 of the by-laws indicates the process by which an ideal candidate could gain club membership:
“Any gentleman over fifteen years of age, possessing a good moral character, may become a member by being proposed by a member, and receiving a majority of the votes at any regular meeting.”
Really, all the club looked for was a guy who wanted to have a good time playing baseball and who wasn’t rude or a criminal. We only have these formal documents, so we aren’t sure what drama occurred during the membership application process or if the club decided to bend the rules to allow women onto the team.
Below is the full booklet containing the club’s constitution, by-laws, and the “Rules and Regulations of the Game of Base Ball” determined in 1858. Take a look! See what America's pastime looked like over one hundred years ago.
Here's another fun program from a long-past night of Literary Entertainment, February 9, 1886. The High School students once again put on entertainment for family and friends with a variety of songs, skits, speeches, and essays, followed by a whimsical farce in the second act. Also pictured is Thomas Hall, West Boylston's former town hall and the venue for the night's events.
I, personally, would have loved to be present for Arthur & Willis Flagg's harmonica duet at the end of the first act, and I'm sure the farce "More Blunders Than One" would have been hilarious. It's time to bring back this tradition.
Another program from West Boylston's past: Grand Entertainment at Sawyer Hall, April 22, 1889! For this event, the High School Alumni association put on entertainment to raise funds for their reunion. What's more: they've invited a class from the Worcester Y.M.C.A., led by Prof. L.C. Havener, to show off their skills.
The night starts with a drama, "Too Much of a Good Thing!" A quick Google search for this play yielded no relevant results, so let us know if you've heard of this mysterious play. Then comes Act II along with the night's main attraction: a performance from Professor Havener's Y.M.C.A. class. The students show off their skills in the high kick, dumbbell training, parallel bars, and other exciting activities. Professor Havener showed off his skills at Fancy Indian Club Swinging, a training exercise used by Pehlwani wrestlers in India and surrounding countries in which a person, unsurprisingly, swings two massive clubs around. The exercise helps strengthen the arms, making it a good way to train for the Pehlwani wrestlers.
These old programs are not usually exciting, but they provide a glimpse into life in pre-reservoir West Boylston and the activities of the town. They give us a look into the popular plays and theatrical performances at the time, such as "Too Much of a Good Thing!" And, of course, people always enjoy watching well-trained athletes display their abilities. There are more old programs to upload, so check back soon!