Chance Leads to Lively Encounter  
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Ed Patenaude So I’ve Heard
Thursday, November 15, 2007

There are times when a mutual friend is the lead to a new acquaintance.

We arrived to a short wait at Lic’s Restaurant in Webster on a recent Sunday, just seconds ahead of Paul L. and Barbara C. Lamontagne of Dudley. Paul guessed my identity. I knew he was an educator, but I didn’t place him in Sutton, where he had taught Latin for many years, but in Thompson, where he filled out his career. We wound up at nearby tables, keeping dialogue alive. Florence (Morse) Shaw of Webster, once the librarian at Sutton High School and later at Shepherd Hill Regional High in Dudley, was our link to discussion. Paul said nice things about Florence, and I concurred.

Once aware of my T&G background, Mr. Lamontagne identified Thomas Mattson, one of the Worcester daily’s Blackstone Valley staffers at one time, as one of his friends. Tom has been with the Blackstone Valley News Tribune for some time, according to Paul. We might have found other ties, but our dinners arrived. Good fare, friendly discussion, and a nice couple made for a great midday encounter.

Last I knew, officers of the Boys & Girls Club of Webster-Dudley hadn’t researched the history of their existing facility. With a new building in the offing, the old building will probably be sold.

As sometimes happens, I was looking for something else in 1896 microfiche at Chester C. Corbin Library in Webster last Friday when I ran across a piece about the German Leiderkrans Society. They held a masked ball in their “pretty and commodious new hall in Jericho,” said the story. New can be a pretty loose term, but the story makes the original German Leiderkrans Society Hall in the Dudley village at least 111 years old.

Local historian Esther E. (Snyder) Stocklin might be able to add a line or two to our find. Esther lived in the Leiderkrans building as a young woman. Her parents, Frank and Anna Snyder, were caretakers of it at one time.

There was a time when school superintendency unions were fairly common in rural areas, even in Webster and Dudley, The late George A. Sellig was the last Webster-Dudley superintendent, serving about 30 years. The educational arrangement included a contract system, with Dudley students attending Webster’s Bartlett High School on a tuition basis. This ended in 1968. This explains where friend Joseph L. Paglione was coming from one day last week.

Memory brought Joe Pag back to 1945 and Bartlett High School basketball. The Green-and-White team came within one victory of a state championship invitation to the old Boston Garden, says Mr. Paglione, a lifelong Dudley resident. Recall flowered after Joe found a photograph of the 1944-45 quintet: Walter Jarzabski and Vasil Condos were the forwards, Francis “Hank” Begreen played center, and Mr. Paglione and Robert Christman were the guards.

“It was a Bartlett team, but four of our starters were from Dudley,” Mr. Paglione said. “Bobby Christman was the only guy from Webster. The rest of us were from the 1942 team at Dudley Junior High School.” Both towns produced some good players, Mr. Paglione continued, “It just happened that our team had mostly Dudley starters in 1945.”

The team finished 18-3, he said. Pomfret Academy and Worcester Trade beat the Webster quintet in the regular season, and Gardner High won the invitation to Boston Garden on the strength of a playoff victory against BHS, said Mr. Paglione.

Bartlett and the former St. Louis High School had a “tremendous rivalry going,” according to Joe Pag. “Those games were really something,” he remembered. “They won the Central Massachusetts Catholic League championship that year (1945), but we beat them pretty convincingly twice. I don’t think they lost to anyone else.”

Francis “Hank” Begreen, center on the Bartlett hoop team, was an all-around athlete, according to Mr. Paglione.

“I do
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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