Looking back one hundred years, to July 30, 1903, when Shirley celebrated her 150th birthday with a series of Homecoming events, let's see how similar this is to what is planned for the rest of this year.
The day began at 9:30 a.m. with a baseball game in Davis Field between the men of the IOOF (Independent Order of Oddfellows) and the A.O.U.W. Does anyone know what those letters stood for ? Does anyone know where Davis Field was ? The winning team was to receive a box of cigars. Would anyone like to set up a similar game for this Fall ?
At 11:30 there was a band concert by the Lunenburg Brass Band on the old training field in Shirley Center. Similar to what we did in 2003, a stand had been erected for the speakers and it had been decorated with the national colors.
At noon there was a "Basket Party" on the Common. An old photo shows the procession of folks over to the picnic grounds. There were women in long sleeved dresses with high collars and big hats and men in suits and stiff white collars and ties. Respectable young girls wore dresses at least four inches below the knee. It's hard to imagine wearing all that in July. Although everyone needed to bring their own picnic, coffee would be provided to those who brought their own cups. Whether it's soft drinks, coffee, or anniversary beer, the 250th committee will graciously provide cups for those who are thirsty at their events.
Shirley folks who had moved away registered with Committee and listed their current residences. The oldest Shirley native to attend the festivities was 92 year old Louis Barber. The 250th Committee hopes many former Shirley residents will attend the Anniversary Weekend this October.
At 1:30 the Old Home Week "exercises" were held on the training field, beginning with an address by Melvin W. Longley, ex-representative to the Massachusetts Legislature and President of the Shirley Old Home Week Association. Then Honorable George J. Burns of Ayer gave an historical address. Congressman Charles Q. Tirrell of Natick and Honorable A.S. Pinkerton of Worcester were among the other politicians who gave speeches. The Old Home Week Committee had invited the great-great grandson of Governor William Shirley to speak, but he was unable to come due to illness. Perhaps the 250th Committee should try to get more of our current politicians to take part in our festivities, or perhaps not. The afternoon program also included some music and an original poem by Percy MacKaye.
At 3:00 the games began under the direction of Andrew Lynch with the judges being Frances Merriam, Charles Wolff, and Arthur Cummings. The 100 yard dash was won by Harry Collyer for a prize of $3. The egg race for women was won by Miss Doris Contois. Her prize was 5 lbs. of candy. Roy Hatch won the potato race and Eugene Sleeper won the pole vault for $3 each. These events sound like those we've had at the Hoe Down in recent years, but with much better prizes.
In 1903 there was a horse race with first place going to the horse ridden by Michael Keating and second place to Philip Hoquard with their prizes being 6 and 4 bushels of oats, respectively. The 250th Parade Committee is not sponsoring a horse race, but could use volunteers to ride horses or bring horses that can pull wagons.
The Old Home Week celebration closed with a reception and dance in the Town Hall. The 250th Committee had their Anniversary Ball last April. Pictures from this event will be in future publications of the 250th Committee.
Our 21st Century Committee meets every
Thursday to improve plans for upcoming events. They could use more
volunteers to help plan, and also to help set up, work at, and clean up
for each event. If you would be willing to help out, please call
Kevin Johnston at the 250th hotline at 978-425-2600, ext. 216.