Webster-Southbridge Game a Good Tradition  
Thursday, December 4, 2008

By Ed Patenaude

The 88th Thanksgiving morning football game between Bartlett High of Webster and Southbridge High School - originally Mary E. Wells High - was last Thursday at Memorial Athletic Field in Webster, and John B. Stanick was there. In fact, Mr. Stanick, 85, of Crystal Street, Webster, has undoubtedly witnessed more Southbridge-at-Webster classics than anyone else, and he may hold the record for visitor attendance at holiday tilts in Southbridge.

The skein started in 1937, when Mr. Stanick was about 14 and on the field for the 15th game in the series, spangled in Bartlett Green and White, playing tackle. He participated in four consecutive holiday games, through Thanksgiving 1940. His on-field record includes a couple of years as tackle for Nichols College in Dudley, when Hal Chalmers was the head football coach. "I played six years in all," says Mr. Stanick. "Nichols was a junior college when I went there."

He became Webster's No. 1 high school fan while he was in college, never missing a Bartlett home game on Thanksgiving except a couple while he was in the military during World War II. He's sure of that record, taking military time as a valid exemption.

The Southbridge side of the ledger might be just as impressive, but Mr. Stanick isn't making any claims. "I think maybe I missed a couple more there," he says with uncertainty. The 1945 contest in Southbridge might be a possibility because it was played on the Saturday after Thanksgiving that year. A torrential downpour delayed the game by two days, and it ended in a tie.

There's something about Bartlett and Southbridge football on Thanksgiving, says Mr. Stanick. "I enjoy it." The 33-0 shellacking administered last Thursday by Southbridge may have dampened John's ardor for the Thanksgiving game. "I didn't like that one," he said three days after the contest. Then, borrowing a longtime Red Sox line, he smiled and snapped off a rejoinder. "Wait until next year!"

Oscar N. Jacobson, 89, died Nov. 4, 2008, at a health care facility in Sterling - 66 years and almost 11 months after newspaper headlines said he was killed Dec. 7, 1941, in the Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Sailor Jacobson was on a short leave when the Japanese launched their surprise military strike all those years ago. His ship was disabled, but he returned to Pearl Harbor and fought with another gunnery crew.

The Navy had an emergency identification system and the Webster sailor, then about 22, filed a survivor form at his first opportunity, believing the information would reach his parents, Siguard and Mary Jacobson in Webster. Instead, he was declared killed. Things were so hectic that Mr. Jacobson was unaware of the mistake for some time, and his family grieved.

The 67th anniversary of the attack that plunged the United States into World War II, the date President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared "will live in infamy," will be this Sunday, Dec. 7. Mr. Jacobson remained in the Navy through the war, serving mostly in the Pacific theater, participated in the largest sea battle of the war, a three-day conflict that destroyed most of the Japanese navy, and he was in the armada that escorted the USS Missouri into Tokyo Bay for Japan's unconditional surrender Sept. 2, 1945.

Oscar Jacobson was the only serviceman of my acquaintance that fought at Pearl Harbor when Japan launched its attack, participated in one of the most decisive naval battles of the war, and observed, albeit from some distance, the official end of the war with Japan.

Mr. Jacobson related his service experiences some three or so years ago for Boy Scout Troop 173 of Webster, said grandnephew John Sullivan III, writing in Mr. Jacobson's memorial book. Troop 173 Scouts probably remember his story because it was one for the generations.

Mr. Jacobson was a quiet, unassuming sort of person who acknowledged but never dwelt on his military career. His blessings were grounded in a 63-year marriage to Florence (Piekarczyk) Jacobson. His funeral was Nov. 7.

Webster's first Palin for President sign showed up before Thanksgiving on the lawn of a Tanner Road residence. It's actually a revised McCain-Palin piece.

Silver tape covers almost everything but Ms. Palin's identity, and "2012" has been hand-lettered across the top. We're waiting for the drum roll.

Robert J. Decelles Sr., a cashier in the 10-or-fewer-items checkout at the Webster Price Chopper, has Santa Claus beard-growing down to a science, probably because he's done it so many times.

Robert puts his razor aside before Labor Day and has a full white beard by Thanksgiving. He'll appear in his official Santa Claus suit at the East Main Street market some time this weekend and next. The hours should be posted by now, and it might say something about bringing your own camera.

And, yes, Mr. Decelles really knows how to do Santa. I ran a register tape to $20.86 on a recent morning, placed $21 on the counter and got 15 cents in change.

Santa dug into one of his pockets and produced a penny. It was my first 2008 Christmas gift. If he follows his general practice, Mr. Decelles will be clean shaven before the calendar turns to 2009.
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Telegram & Gazette

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