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A Long-Ago Lynnfield Thanksgiving

Back in November of 1939, the former Lynnfield Village Press newspaper began its relatively short lifespan - inadvertently setting the stage for a light column 72 Thanksgivings later.

While putting together some Thanksgiving-related content this month, I thought it might be fun and interesting to see what local media was talking about during some long-ago holiday season.

At the , I found microfilm of the former Lynnfield Village Press, which made its debut on Nov. 23, 1939, and which does not seem to have lasted much beyond the World War II era. In what seemed like a fairly remarkable coincidence, this website, Lynnfield Patch, went online Nov. 23, 2010, 71 years later to the day.

So what was the town doing to prepare for Thanksgiving in 1939? Well, the paper noted that "A turkey whist party will be held in Chemical Hall next Monday evening," with the proceeds to benefit Our Lady of the Assumption Church, on Broadway. I have no idea what Chemical Hall was, nor do I know if OLA once had an address other than Grove Street.

Also, Lynnfield's Compass Club held a turkey dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 23, 1939. Rev. William T. Murphy, Jr. of the East Baptist Church in Lynn was the guest speaker.

Vintage "News" Items

Reading these old papers gives considerable insight into just how much the news business has changed over the years. Stuff used to get into newspapers that just seems out of place or delightfully hokey and maybe a bit wacky by today's standards. Consider this one:

"Mrs. Robert Ramsdell of Salem Street left last Tuesday for two weeks to visit with her daughter in Bergenfield, NJ. After celebrating Thanksgiving today in New Jersey, she will return home for the real Thanksgiving next Thursday."

Or, check out this entry:

"A lot of us would like to know what Frederick Doherty, popular manager of Kimball's Starlight Ballroom; Everett Webster, chair of the Board of Selectmen, and Ralph Wilkinson, who recently returned from a hunting trip to Maine, have done with all that dear (sic) meat."

My former newspaper, the Laconia (NH) Citizen, also went into operation around the early 1930s. I was told that around this same period in history, the Citizen actually had a paid correspondent who would meet the train downtown each day and speak to arriving passengers, putting together items not unlike the above ones.

A Note On Typos

As a writer, I hate using (sic) because it just feels arrogant or pompous, but it felt in this previous "dear meat" case that there was no real way around it. In general, this got me thinking about journalism and typos - mainly the idea that if you make a typo, several generations later somebody could be looking at it (although online articles can always be corrected). In fact, I spotted a few typos in this introductory issue of the paper, which made me wonder if that sort of thing helped contribute to its short existence.

Another typo noted that "Hollywood's newest potential star, Lena Turner" (instead of Lana Turner) was starring in "These Glamor Girls" with Lew Ayers, which could be seen at The Wakefield Theatre. Also playing was "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" with Basil Rathbone and "Night Worw" with Mary Boland and Charlie Ruggles. That last title actually turned out to be "Night Work" according to the theater listings elsewhere in the paper.

Religious Services And Volunteers

Several scheduled church services were listed in this paper, although it is not clear whether they were regular Sunday services or actual Thanksgiving ones. Either way, Reverend Ward Fellows presided over the services at the Centre Congregational Church in 1939, Rev. Laforest Hodgkins was at the Lynnfield Community Church, and Rev. Stewart Harbinson was at St. Paul's Chapel - which is today known as St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Also, Dr. Charles Bush and his volunteer committee from the Red Cross were expecting to wrap up their annual membership drive on Thanksgiving Day. Between Columbus Day 1939 and Thanksgiving of that year, the committee had planned to visit every household in Lynnfield for the drive.

Local Business Ads

Among local businesses, Kahn's General Store at 739 Main Street (right near Essex Street) was selling Bell's Seasoning for nine cents a box. "Malden" brand mincemeat was 10 cents, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce was 21 cents, and Diamond walnuts (new crop) were a quarter.

Goodwin's Clam Shoppe announced in the paper that it would be open from 1-6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, inviting customers to call LY 5-9283 to reserve their full course turkey dinners. Elmer W. Goodwin, the proprietor, was selling the dinners for $1.25 each.

That sounds like a pretty good deal. However, the Ship's Haven restaurant boasted a seven-course Thanksgiving dinner that year - $2 for adults and $1 for children under 12. Entree options were turkey, duck, steak or lobster, and a table of six or more would get a whole turkey brought to their table.

Carter's Market was another place where Lynnfielders could pick up "native" turkeys, ducks and chickens for Thanksgiving - and some sliced bacon to go with leftover turkey sandwiches could be had for just 25 cents a pound. Other such items could be found at Preston's Cash Market, which stood at 234 Lynnfield Street.

At George M. Roundy and Co., the Roundy's Special Coffee was 23 cents a pound, while a pound of Ritz butter crackers went for 22 cents.

At the Turnpike Bottle Shop, unspecified "holiday specials" were being advertised. This may be due to the fact that Prohibition had been repealed only six years previously at that point so it might have still been dicey to run more specific ads in local small town media offering deals on beer, wine and whiskey.

Finally, the Perley Burrill company was selling range oil (apparently used to run stoves) for 7.5 cents a gallon (cash and carry). However, that range oil wasn't necessarily a good investment - another ad from the Reading Municipal Light Department (which was apparently somewhat in the appliance business) highlighted a new Ardsley Electric Range, available for just $109.50.

Nikki November 25, 2011 at 01:36 PM
Love this article! I am surprised The Ship did not have venison on the menu, as I believe Ralph Wilkinson owed that restaurant. Compared to other items, cranberry sauce has not gone up much in all these years, as I bought mine for 99 cents last week.
Nikki November 25, 2011 at 01:36 PM
Sorry, should be "owned", not "owed".
William Laforme (Editor) November 25, 2011 at 01:42 PM
Thanks Nikki, this one was fun to research and I'll probably try to find something from a long-ago Christmas in town in a few weeks.
OLD TOWNIE November 26, 2011 at 11:34 AM
The original OLOA church, was on Route 1 next to Lynnfield Meat & Deli (now a real estate office). Chemical hall, was the second floor of a fire house that stood at Broadway & Salem Street (next door to Carters Market).
William Laforme (Editor) November 26, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Thank you for the added info - I think that the next use for that space will be as a parking area for the roast beef shop set to open in the space occupied by Mr. Santos Hair Design...
Nikki November 26, 2011 at 03:16 PM
"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot..."
Nikki November 26, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Such memories, Old Townie! I recall going to my brother's kindergarten pageant put on by Mr. and Mrs. Burke at Chemical Hall. And I remember accompanying my mother to the market next door, but thought it was called Durkin's Market.
OLD TOWNIE November 28, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Nikki, I also have many memories of fun events at Chemical Hall. Durgins Market was to the left of the fire house (next to the original Duggans Pharmacy), and Carters was to the right. Carters later became Natoli Hardware.
Nikki November 28, 2011 at 02:37 PM
You have a good memory, Old Townie! I do remember Natoli Hardware there, but do not recall Carter's. After he left that space, did Mr. Natoli move his store behind the Center stores or did he go directly to Post Office Sq? I think I remember him being in both spots. Duggan's Pharmacy was a wonderful old drugstore, and Mr. Duggan was a sweetheart! I had many a hot chocolate at the soda fountain counter there, and many a lime rickey at the soda fountain counter at the drugstore at Post Office Sq....was that called Edgewood Pharmacy??
OLD TOWNIE December 01, 2011 at 11:41 AM
Nikki, Natoli Hardware did move to Post Office Square. Nibur Hardware was located in the center. The Edgewood (Lynnfield telephone # prefix) Pharmacy was also at P.O. Square. In addition to Mr. Duggan, do you remember Avis Hayward the clerk at Duggans ?
Nikki December 02, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Oh, I remember Avis fondly! I liked her very much. And another dear lady was Mrs. Fletcher, who had a gift shop in P.O. Square. That was the place to go for Mother's Day gifts! And, speaking of kind ladies, we can't forget Mrs. Wiley at the branch library. Yes...Nibur's Hardware. Your mind is sharp as a tack! I just learned with regret that Karen's Bakery has closed. A wonderful aroma always greeted you when you'd walk through that door! And the shoe store that used to be there was the place to go every August before school started! It is fun taking a walk down memory lane with you, Old Townie!

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