So I've Heard  
Thursday, November 3, 2011

There's an important codicil to our recent take on America's great social experiment, Prohibition, and how it affected life in our corner of New England.

The 12-year ban on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages was devastating in itself, but Webster compounded matters by issuing all of the liquor licenses that it could, looking only to revenues, forgetting the cost of sanity.

While Southbridge was the first Southern Worcester County town to issue post-Prohibition liquor licenses — granting permits on the night that repeal became a national declaration — Webster wasn't far behind, working the numbers. The town established fees of up to $1,000 (big bucks in the 1930s) per year for a license, set Dec. 8, 1933, as the first deadline for applications, and awarded permits on Monday, Dec. 11, 1933.

Successful applicants were:

Hotels — The City Hotel, Maanexit Hotel and the Joslin House Hotel. All had food and liquor.

Restaurants — Wilfred Bergeron, The Frontenac; Morris Rosener, Rosener's Café; William Gion, Step-in Café; Harry J. Dauer, same name; and Martin J. Starosta, Starosta's Café.

Package Store — Stanislaus Jarosz.

Club Licenses — Z.P.R.K. Club, Polish American Citizens Club, St. Anthony's Slovak Sokol, Webster Turnverin Society, Franco-American Club. Lakeside Rod & Gun Club, Liberty Club. and the Forest Club, a full-fledged nightclub.

Beer & Wine — Abraham Trotsky, Frank Kasieski, John Parker, Ralph Bastolla, Timothy Canty and Albert Tomaszek.

Druggists — Laurence J. Dugan, Alfred W. Brandes, Joseph Henault and Clement Berthiaume.

Town Treasurer James P. Bergin, employed part time and a banker by profession, declared the sudden revenue surge a “bonanza” for the town. He said revenue from the first series of permits totaled $14,300. “The money comes at a very opportune time,” Mr. Bergin declared. Real estate revenues were slow even though The Great Depression had yet to peak.

We hear a great deal in Webster these days about downtown redevelopment, and how things such as antique-style streetlights might stimulate commercial growth.

The irony here is that all of the hotel licenses, six of the restaurant permits, most of the druggist licenses, and the first package store were to the lower part of Main Street, and to the Dudley side of the railroad tracks. Police established a Lower Main beat to maintain order. This was the first draw against license receipts, the salary of an extra police officer.

Reports suggest that the new streetlights to downtown redevelopment aren't too different from the lamps that were installed shortly after Prohibition ended.

Ironically, the Lakeside Rod & Gun Club, located on Sutton Road at the Oxford line, was the only post-Prohibition bar near a body of water.

Point Breeze, Webster Lake Hotel, The Dugout, Snug Harbor and Birch Island, all on the lake, were licensed to sell alcohol early on, though probably under seasonal permits.

The Liberty Club, Lakeside Rod & Gun, Z.P.R.K. and the Polish American Citizens Club are probably the only liquor places operating today under their original names at or near their original locations.
Most of the others still exist, but with different identities and at locations away from the downtown.
Now, there's fodder for redevelopment!

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Most of the area's banking places, all of the big-time service businesses, some of the smaller ones and others trying to slice expenses are touting the benefits of Internet cash services.

They'll probably wear the public down eventually, but for all of their gentle appeals, a good share of the population hereabouts isn't that convinced, based on experience with my Oct. 13 column. It didn't make the publication deadline, but was available on the Internet.

That's the thud!

A lot of our readers want things in black on white and on newsprint for different and sundry reasons, including that everyone doesn't have a computer.

The big thing that week was the purchase of the three Vito Block buildings by Randall V. and Donna F. Becker, husband and wife, for $500,000 as a gift to the town of Webster for the future site of a new police station.

The three buildings, all vacant, are across from Town Hall, and in the intersection to Lake Street. Shankar and Asha Garg, husband and wife, of Worcester, were the sellers, getting out from under condemned space.

The objective was to point out that the Beckers (he's a key executive with Mapfre Insurance Co., formerly Commerce), have shown remarkable generosity, considering they are relatively young and have college-age children.

This puts them ahead of Webster taxpayers, yet to receive their first override commitment for the project; and everyone's magnificent friends, Gerald and Marilyn Fels, who will absorb a good part of the construction costs.

This is the kind of stuff that belongs on paper — even if it's electronically produced.

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The “good morning” came from a side to the produce section in the Webster Price Chopper Supermarket.

An Air Force cap, with white block letters on blue, came forward, bringing dialogue with John Mrazik, the retired teacher-coach and athletic director at Bartlett High School in Webster.

John J. and his wife, Suzanne E., are the parents of a nice family, including Air Force Maj. Jeff J. Mrazik, currently on special assignment with the Royal Air Force in England.

“It's an ongoing program,” Mr. Mrazik said. A U.S. major and a same-ranked British Royal Air Force officer serve in each other's stead. A 1989 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Maj. Mrazik has been with the exchange service about 18 months, according to his father.

Incidentally, John Mrazik, chairman of Bartlett's Athletics Hall of Fame Committee, is lining up nominations for next year's induction ceremonies. The lapse from graduation to athletic honors is a minimum of seven years.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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