Black Tavern Tales  
Thursday, July 10, 2003
If you've got an extra $30, or $35 for delivery through the mails, you can buy some interesting reading and promote historical preservation by purchasing a reprint of "Black Tavern Tales" by Rev. Charles LeRoy Goodell.
Rev. Goodell divided tavern tales into three categories, historical, personal and social. Captain Hezekiah Healy, who built the Black Tavern at Dudley Center in 1803-04, was his maternal great-grandfather. Dr. Goodell lived at the inn as a child, raised his own family there, and summered at the tavern until he died in 1937.
The book was his contribution to Dudley's 200th Anniversary celebration in 1932. A limited edition in the first place, "Tales" has become a sought after collector's item in recent years. Now, The Black Tavern Historical Society of Dudley, the group that restored the tavern, has reprinted the book as a public service, and to raise funds for restoration of the Black Tavern Barn.
The reprint has a looseleaf forward by James L. Conrad Jr., historian, author, teacher, Nichols College trustee, and a life long Dudley resident.
In part, Dr. Conrad says: "Charles L. Goodell was no ordinary man and Black Tavern Tales is no ordinary book. He was a clergyman, the author of at least 17 books with religious themes, a lecturer on the Redpath and Chautauqua circuits, well known radio evangelist--"Shepard of the Air"--on NBC, friend, and neighbor of all. His career included pastorships in Acustnet, Providence, Boston, New York and Brooklyn. When in Brooklyn, he was the minister of the world's largest Methodist Church...Later he was secretary of the Commission on Evangelism of the Federated Council of Churches of Christ in America."
I've read "Black Tavern Tales" in recent days. The stories are mostly local, but "The Old Stone Schoolhouse" caught my fancy. The big boys in the school set on four teachers one semester, throwing one out an open door, another through an open window, and locking others in the cellar and in the attic. The school board solved the problem by hiring an old one-armed man named Ben Allard. "The big boys were early in their place and were looking the old man over when he reached up his sleeve and drew down a ruler of hickory not far from 2 feet long. He brought it down on upon the desk with a loud thump...and said 'Boys, I am ready.'"
When The Rev. Dr. Goodell died in 1937 in Manhattan, a "Radio Memorial," was held in the Marble Collegiate Reformed Church in New York City. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who subsequently won acclaim for his writing and his radio and television programs, gave the prayer and benediction.
I wandered from the Dudley Grange Strawberry Festival June 19 to buy a copy of "Tales" on a day that was full of hoopla about the latest "Harry Potter" book. I hope that everyone who bought a Potter book is as pleased with their purchase as I am with "Black Tavern Tales." People can get a copy of the reprint by contacting Margaret B. Pedersen, telephone 508-943-8391.
Catherine J. Constantine of Joshua Place, Dudley, has a 101 year old photograph of weave room workers at the one time S. Slater & Sons Co. North Village Mill in Webster.
Mrs. Constantine was going to get rid of the print, dated 1902, because the people are not identified. Then, a friend gave her some good advice: Retain the photograph because it links to another era, to a long gone industry, and photographic history is important.
I seconded the advisory when Mrs. Constantine sought my opinion. Incidently, she lived in my neighborhood when I was a kid, and remembered that Teddy Bergeron was my pal.
I remembered that Fritzie Schur was her brother.
You're apt to find old keepsakes when you poke around a homestead occupied by two and three generations in the same family, suggests Beverly M. Nowicki.
Husband Alfred L. Nowicki, the retired BHS custodian, has lived in their Webster home all of his life, and he's the youngest of eight siblings.
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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