Davis Street's Webster A.C.  
Thursday, December 26, 2002

So I've Heard Column

It's larger than a quarter, made of some kind of alloy, and Edmond Kosakowski found it while rummaging through the attic in his Fiskdale residence. Heads says: "Good for 10 cent drink." Tails reads: "Webster A.C., 16 Davis St., Webster, Ma., B. L. Patenaude, Manager."
Mr. Kosakowski, a great source for Southbridge area history, forwarded the drink-chip to me as a reminder of a long-gone Webster bar. The Davis Street building, last the Webster Lodge of Eagles, was destroyed in a fire Jan. 24, 1984. Five persons perished in the blaze. It had a bar, a restaurant--The Wishing Well--and lodging rooms when the late Bernard L. Patenaude was the proprietor.
Mr. Patenaude sold the Davis Street business in the early 1950s and moved to Pomfret, Ct., where he ran a package store. One of his sons, David I. Patenaude, is now Pomfret's First Selectman.
Our paths used to mesh quite often when Donald E. Bemis managed the Aubuchon store on Webster's Main Street and the T/G had an office in an adjoining storefront, but we seldom see one another in retirement.
So it was nice to meet Mr. Bemis and his wife, Arline E. Bemis, on a recent afternoon. He referred to an item carried here months ago, when postcard collector Adam A. Ozaniak inquired about the whereabouts of Rock Bottom, Ma. It turned out to be a village in Stowe.
Mr. Bemis' great-grandmother lived in the village, and she gave him a Rock Bottom souvenir when he was just a boy. "It's a big folding key for the front door to a Methodist Church that burned down." Mr. Bemis also had a Boy Scout knife stamped "R.B.C.," meaning the church. "That's been gone a long time." He's taken good care of the key, though. "If I ever get over there, I'll probably give it to their Historical Society."
"I go to the walking track every day," Joseph Z. Zdrok said when we exchanged holiday greetings just before Christmas. Mr. Zdrok, once chairman of the Webster Board of Health, said the facility is a belly breaker.
The walking oval, located near Memorial Beach, is "the best thing the town ever done," suggests Mr. Zdrok. Park crews keep it plowed, its illuminated, and there's even a comfort station, he said. "It has become quite a gathering place"
Last August, well before the first snap to the Southern Worcester County high school football season, WESO Sportscaster Matt Morway offered a prediction during a coffee shop conversation.
Northbridge will be the number one team in the south county, he said, figuring they might roll to an undefeated season. The Rams went 11 and 0 in regular play, and beat Wahconah Regional of Dalton, 34-6, in a Super Bowl game. Mr. Morway, of Oxford, gets a high five for clairvoyance.
I first met Quinebaug's Jim Mack when he worked as a linotype operator at the Windham County Observer in Putnam, long before the demise of the weekly.
Always interested in local history, Mr. Mack had a "grave" report when we met recently in a Webster eatery. "We went out to take pictures at the 'Squire' White burial place," he said, mentioning a grave off an old cart path near Quinebaug.
Aaron (Squire) White, who had a Quinebaug connection, was a Providence lawyer and secretary of a political party that opposed Rhode Island's colonial charter around 1842. Thomas Wilson Dorr was the founder of the party. Confrontations followed and "Squire" White unwittingly became involved in what history chronicled as "Dorr's Insurrection."
Although found culpable, he was pardoned and returned to Quinebaug, where he lived out his life, according to Mr. Mack. The burial place recently photographed was of his own choosing. The picture will be published in the Quinebaug segment of a book about Thompson's villages.
Work was done with his blessing, but Herman F. Becker, founder of Sterling Real Estate Co., won't recognize his Webster
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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