70-Year-Old Golf Story is a Long, Long Tale  
Thursday, November 30, 2006


A chance meeting with Helen K. and Rene D. Daniels brought recollections recently, and a 70-year-old golf story was confirmed.

In the 1930s, when dance marathons became a national craze, the endurance concept was adapted to golf courses. Mr. Daniels and the late Joseph E. LaPlante, once the Webster town accountant, tied for honors on the Webster-Dudley course, managing 100 holes apiece, sometime during that decade. A year later, Mr. Daniels returned to golf against the record and broke the mark by 21 holes. Young and athletic, he added to his marathon total two subsequent times, chronicling 151 holes on the W-D links in year three and a fantastic 171 in year four.

Mr. Daniels placed the link marathons to both sides of 1935. Webster Times Editor Laurence J. Daly, one of the founders of the W-D course, traced the fourth nonstop event, Mr. Daniels recalled, adding, “He figured I walked 41 miles.”

His record tee to cup race kept him on the course about 12 hours, Mr. Daniels said. Incidentally, word is the Webster-Dudley part of the name of the local course will be amended to Dudley Hill.

The last downtown Webster retail store established during the 1930s, Biljac’s, slipped quietly out of town earlier this month.

Established as a dress shop in October 1937, the popular outlet was William Franklin’s lifelong vocation. “Buy Biljac’s and you buy the best,” was his advertising theme. Now about 90, Mr. Franklin retired many years ago. A buyer moved the business a couple of storefronts away, and featured bridal, bridesmaid, prom and occasion gowns.

“We are moving (to) Alexis Bridal, 652 Park Avenue, Worcester,” said the note on the locked front door. Now, the store is empty and another sign says, “Coming soon, Elaine’s Bridal.”

It was billed as a groundbreaking for the new Boys &Girls Club of Webster-Dudley, but it proved a whole lot more: It was show-and-tell about future of the 48-year-old youth organization.

Saturday’s post-Thanksgiving gathering was a revelation in itself. Participants wended along a lazy-S access, from Dudley’s Oxford Avenue to a rise behind the Dudley Little League complex, to an already-in-the-ground foundation for the new building.

The acreage, four buildings from the corner to Pine Street and a good number of long tosses from the existing Boys & Girls Club, was acquired and developed through the kindness of Arthur J. Remillard Jr., founder and first president of Commerce Insurance Co., and his successor, Gerald Fels, separate from their company. They also financed footings to the future club.

Club President John E. Lefebvre announced the gifts, avoiding a cash figure, but emphasizing: “What you see here today, they are responsible for.”

Then, Mr. Lefebvre allowed a few particulars, reporting the youth organization “will be going to the public for the third time in 48 years,” meaning a community or regional appeal. Cost of the new club might be harnessed to an endowment. Mr. Lefebvre used a $10 million figure, but without a time frame.

Mr. Fels came from his background as a Webster-Dudley resident, mentioning service to the community, and delight because “we’ve finally got this (the project) started.” Mr. Fels was accompanied by his wife, Marilyn Fels, who recently brought a $5,000 check from the couple to Webster’s Chester C. Corbin Public Library. Mr. Remillard was not at the groundbreaking.

Speakers included state Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, Webster Selectman Peter F. Slota, who said he was “a charter member of the club,” and Dudley Selectman Brian K. Germain, who said he “grew up in this boys club.”

Milton P. Perry, the first president of the club’s board of directors, said the groundbreaking was a first in the history of the youth club. Officers of the fledging organization converted an old German club known as D.L.K. for<
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Telegram & Gazette

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