Lic's Closing is the Loss of Local Gem  
Thursday, August 25, 2011
With a multimillion-dollar commitment to help build new public safety facilities in Webster — a fire station on Thompson Road and a police station on Main Street — Marilyn T. and Gerald Fels will be issuing assistance checks for the next couple of decades or longer.

Whether this balances against their ongoing philanthropies is a Fels prerogative, and municipal thanks come with their long-term commitment. It seems, however, that their home area will continue to benefit, given their latest family foundation gift, $100,000 to help build a new Webster dog pound.

This says a lot about Marilyn and Jerry. Their munificence helps everyone, even man's best friends

The Lic's Restaurant on Thompson Road in Webster closed earlier this month, a victim of hard times

The businesses that the late J. Wilfred “Junior” Pelletier and his wife, Irene (Mason) Pelletier, founded years ago ran its course, starting with an ice cream stand, a sandwich shop, and finally a full-service restaurant, gaining customer loyalty through quality, price, service and most generally a kind word, couldn't cope with the current business downturn.

The founders and their home-grown associates, and others, adhered to a customer-first philosophy. The suspicion here is they sacrificed themselves rather than lower standards or dramatically increase prices.

Saturday breakfast at The Lic's was our start to most weekends, and the staff was always congenial. Their future seems clouded, but wherever they and the others turn, this is to wish them well. A Lic's line on their résumés might shine as a great recommendation.

Finally, let me remember a man called by his maker a long time ago. Gerald Stackpole of Oxford and Thompson was at a tough stage in life, a widower. He was a daily visitor at The Lic's. He once told me: “You know, we're lucky to have this place.”

Unfortunately, a lot of us are about to learn this the hard way.

Spending some time in Dudley Selectman Anthony B. DiDonato's company is always enlightening, as we rediscovered last Tuesday.

The longest-serving selectman in Dudley's history, Tony remembered three-person boards, elected annually, as was the case when he was first named. Going from one-year to three-year offices and from three- to five-member boards took quite a few years, making some interesting telling. Tony was central to the three-year elections, sponsoring the same town meeting article three times. The proposal went from “no way” to a mixed vote to “why not.” Tony took a short hiatus but returned to the board when the membership was increased by a pair.

The longtime homebuilder recalled that his friends came up with a campaign slogan at this juncture, “Bring Back Tony.” His personal one- and three-year service combinations total 45 years at this point.

Tony's early recollections included daily treks to Liggett's in downtown Webster: “Coffee with cream and sugar was 10 cents, and a black coffee was seven cents,” he said, smiling. Evelyn Neulieb was the fountain manager.

I'm kind of looking forward to reports about Nichols College athletic outings during the 12 months to come. The Fisher Institute at the Dudley Hill College will hold a program at the school tomorrow evening (Aug. 26) “open to Nichols athletic teams only.” Derek Felton, said to engage his audiences with passion and attitude, will be the speaker.

Talking about Dudley Hill, have you noticed the nice shade of yellow applied to the barn annex at the Black Tavern?

Bob Ducharme tells us history dictated the choice. When the Thursday work crew scraped loose paint off the annex, they found layers of white and gray underneath, with a base of yellow. Ed Bazinet and George Martin did the painting.

Mark N. Woulas says he has lived in Webster 14 years, but plans to someday get back to Auburn. “That's where I was born, where I grew up, my grounds.”

We struck up a conversation in the Webster Honey Dew shop on a recent evening. Mark dropped some names and spoke of inspirational writings. “It's what comes to me,” Mr. Woulas explained, offering a glimpse into a book with 30 examples of his work. Several might be described as original prayers, and a couple have been published.

He carries cards of the first thing “I ever wrote,” an eight-line prayer. His favorite piece reads: “A Dedication to Vincent Van Gogh.” Says Mark, “I'm not saying it's the one that critics like the best, I'm saying it's the one I like best.”

His mother, Rita (Pizzetti) Woulas, lives now in Southbridge. He counts Webster's Pizzetti family as relatives. “A lot of cousins.”
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