Hi, I was reading about Shirley Industrial on your site and thought I
could add a bit more.
My dad was music supervisor for the Hudson public schools for over
twenty years retiring in 1970. His part time job after school in
Hudson and on weekends was teaching music and instruments to the
boys at Shirley Industrial and directing the choir.
Dad would get the school bus kept down by the shop and go pick up
all of the boys at each of the cottages (except for cottage
#9) and bring them up to the main building where they'd practice
instruments and/or choir in the music room. Once a month on Sundays and
on Christmas eve many people would come up to the auditorium (before
the chapel was built) and attend mass.
Christmas eve was a very special night for the choir.Everyone of
the kids would show up in crisp white shirts buttoned to the collar,
their khakis and neatly combed hair. They'd go down to the music room
to warm up then they'd sing all through mass.Everyone had to be on
their very best behavior or they'd be sent back to their cottage. After
mass all of the boys would receive a box from Cardinal Cushing that
contained candy, a comb and small treats. John Hastings my dad's friend
,would give my brothers and I one also as a treat.
I also remember in the summer going to the farm once a week for
produce. It was a beautiful farm. The boys were always very polite and
friendly and they worked hard. Everyone who worked with them
treated them with a lot of respect. Dad said that the kids had tough
times and needed to be shown that some people thought they were good
and had potential. His philosophy was that they could learn another way
than what they were shown in their home enviroment perhaps
and that it could make a difference in their lives. He felt that every
kid deserved a chance.
The kids were taught respect for others and for themselves
at Shirley. It was a very comfortable enviroment. As a
child I never remember it feeling threatening. I knew the boys had
done bad things to get there, but everyone was trying to help them so
they'd get home and do better. I just couldn't imagine all of these
kids not living in their own homes and not having parents with them.
That as a kid disturbed me greatly. When dad would occasionaly
call later at night and say there was a "runner" and he'd be home late,
I'd imagine that one of the kids was trying to get home.
The cottage that was most noticable to my brothers and
I was cottage #9 at the top of the hill to the left of the main
building. It had high fences around it and the boys went to the main
building through a tunnel. We knew those boys were not allowed the same
privileges as the boys in the other cottages. I used to think it was so
sad to have to be locked up. Dad never said much about cottage
#9 except that those boys had troubles he'd say.
I remember John Hasting's house at the bottom of the hill down the
road. I'd love to see that house again. We had a lot of happy times
visiting there. It was so lovely. The entire setting of Shirley
was as I look back on it very much a campus type setting in a beautiful
It is incredible to me now to think back and realize what the state did
for the boys at Shirley Industrial and in turn at Lyman school in
Westboro (my nana worked there as a cook) . As a child we spent time
looking in so to speak on a very different world than the one we lived
in, but appreciated what was being done for those kids to help them. My
dad and my grandmother really taught US how we should respect all
people through their example in how they treated the boys at Shirley
and at Lyman.