|Civil War Monument to Celebrate Centennial|
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Ed Patenaude So I've Heard
The weather was ideal on July 4, 1907, when Webster’s Civil War Monument was dedicated, and plans have been announced for a centennial program this July 4. Another gift by the weather gods would be appreciated.
The monument was “long in coming,” the 1907 committee conceded, but it was worth the wait. Grand Army of the Republic veterans, organized as Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon Post 61, and E. P. Morton Camp, Sons of Veterans, chartered in 1903 to assist an aging GAR membership, agitated for the town memorial.
The monument, once described by Alfred S. Roe, a state commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, as “one of the most imposing compositions erected anywhere,” cost the town $16,000.
A former state attorney general, Herbert Parker, was the 1907 speaker, but “a few remarks” by Clara Barton brought a great ovation from the crowd, said to be one of the largest ever assembled in Webster. Miss Barton, of Oxford, was greeted as the soldiers’ friend, according to a post-dedication report.
The Post 61 charter was named in honor of Brig. Gen. Lyon, a native of Ashford, Conn., who had relatives here. He was killed at the battle of Wilson’s Creek, Mo., in 1861, the first Union general to lose his life in the war.
Finally, the town appropriated $1,000 for “sundry dedication expenses.” The monument committee spent $843.34, and $156.66 was returned to the town, according to a final accounting.
It was in 1938 or 1939, and probably the most exciting morning in Albert G. Chlapowski’s young life. His family lived in a long-gone house on Thompson Road, at what is now The Lic’s Restaurant.
The Barn, a dine-and-dance place, was across the road at what is now Webster Lake Automotive. Appropriately named, the dine-dance place was in a converted S. Slater & Sons Co. cattle barn.
Al was just a kid when he awoke one day to see The Barn on fire. It was fully involved, the road was filled with firetrucks, and onlookers milled about the lawn in front of his family’s residence. Signage on the restaurant, large letters on the front reaches, “Dine. Dance. The Barn,” disappeared as he watched.
The flames reached high into the sky, and the curious were at all of the approaches, but Albert didn’t get to watch very long. It was a weekday, and he was packed off to St. Joseph’s Elementary School, returning to find The Barn in ruins.
The barn was high, wide and long, Mr. Chlapowski remembers. There’s now a dead-end way to its back pasture. With debris out of the way, the site made a “great play area for neighborhood kids,” he said.
Mr. Chlapowski and his wife, Mary A. Chlapowski, were at breakfast in The Lic’s, approximately where he lived as a boy, when he remembered the long-ago morning. A banker, Mr. Chlapowski is affiliated with the Webster Credit Union.
Robert A. Martel of Shrewsbury took a break at McDonald’s of Webster one recent Saturday while his wife, Thelma Puls-Martel, was visiting relatives here. Our coffee klatch happened to be in session.
Mr. Martel, a Webster native and a 1949 graduate of Nichols College in Dudley, had “a little story.” He had worn his Nichols ring for the better part of 57 years, but lost it months ago. “I searched about the gym (he frequents) and other places, and figured it was gone forever,” he said.
The day before we crossed paths, Bob was in his Shrewsbury yard and happened to look down and spy part of a ring. “It was about a third buried in dirt,” he said. “I dug it out and cleaned it.” Then, he raised his left hand to display his Nichols ring. It looked shiny new.
If you remember when Bob and Thelma lived in town, he worked as a cost accountant and she was an assistant Webster town clerk.
The wildlife habitat from Lake Parkway in Webster south into Connecticut is getting compressed by new housing, and species seld
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