Images of Past Shine Bright in Local History Slide  
Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ed Patenaude So I’ve Heard

John J. Mrazik, Carla Manzi and James J. Manzi, authors of “Webster,” an “Images of America” pictorial, are taking their show on the road.

They’ve experienced a flow of long-ago photographs since the book was published last year. Some of the prints have been added to the archives of, edited by Ms. Manzi, but growth has given the trio enough photo material for a slide show.

Their first presentation was Sept. 12 in the Webster-Dudley Historical Society’s Little Red Schoolhouse Museum on School Street in Webster. Fewer than a dozen people attended, maybe because a road-construction project all but isolated the museum. The sidewalk was wide open, an exposed manhole decked with a traffic cone blocked the vehicular approach and on-street parking was restricted. It was one of those you-can-see-it-but-you-can’t-get-there situations.

The Mrazik-Manzi-Manzi collection has grown to the extent that programs can be keyed to a particular group. Their next appearance will be Oct. 19 at the Black Tavern Historical Society’s Black Tavern on Dudley Hill. “We’ll have some Dudley pictures to keep those folks interested,” Ms. Manzi said.

Staying with historical programs, Robert R. Ducharme of Dudley, Civil War historian and re-enactor, will offer a program about Webster’s Slater Guards at the next Webster-Dudley Historical Society meeting Oct. 3. The guards, organized by Webster High School Principal Amos Bartlett about the time the Civil War started, included a number of Slater Co. workers, probably accounting for the name.

Arthur J. Remillard Jr. of Sutton, founder and recently retired as president and chairman of the board of the Webster-based Commerce Insurance Group, has developed outlines for retirement travel.

While life pursuits have taken him to a good part of the world, Mr. Remillard’s objective now is rather low-key: He hopes to play a round of golf in every U.S. state.

The order to this is pending, but Mr. Remillard is in no great rush. He might play more that one course in some states. Friends and family are encouraging the one-state-at-a-time pursuit. Shirley B. Becker has compiled a list of championship courses, and Arthur’s youngest daughter, Danielle, and a granddaughter traced a national map with space for data on courses and dates.

Mr. Remillard plans to rate all of the layouts he tours. This may be subjective, but it will add a dimension to his national links objective. There’s a notation for Massachusetts already. It reads: “Pleasant Valley, Excellent.” Robert J. Anders backed and framed the multicolored map.

The strands to this column sometimes have a long life, mainly because some readers hold commentaries for on-the-street meetings, and then only when recall comes to them.

For example, Robert J. Decelles Sr. was on Main Street Sept. 19, primary voting day. He hearkened to the series of Webster business lists developed several years ago by cousins Walter Biadasz and the late A. Lee Dudek.

“They had Hade’s store on East Main Street,” Mr. Decelles recalled. “Before Hade’s, it was Decelles. My uncle Anthony Decelles started there with a bakery and it became a mom and pop grocery.”

Turning to something a bit more recent, the segment about the region’s first gasoline station, Mr. Decelles said he once bought gas for 15.9 cents a gallon.

“It was during a gas war between stations in Oxford, probably around 1965,” he said. His description of the bargain place suggests the former Flagg’s Garage at the north end of Oxford’s Main Street.

“Killdeer Island: An Early History” by Bernard F. Duesel has been around Webster for the better part of 20 years, but there seems to be a renewed interest of late in his recollections and his efforts are finally being appreciated.

“It was called an island because in the spring wate
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Telegram & Gazette

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