McNally Celebrates 80 years, Kennedy Memories  
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Let’s key today to a couple of significant events in the life of John J. McNally Jr., recently returned to Webster.

Nov. 8, 1960 — The day U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy, D-Mass., was elected president of the United States, or 50 years ago next Monday. After campaigning for Mr. Kennedy through most of the state primaries and to the Democratic convention, Mr. McNally was at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port on election night that year, monitoring the national returns that gave Kennedy a narrow victory over Republican Vice President Richard Nixon. It was an epic election. Mr. McNally would go on to serve as a White House assistant to President Kennedy.

Oct. 23, 2010 — Just days ago, John J. McNally Jr., promoted a week earlier to Knight Commander in the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, received the blessings of his home parish, St. Joseph Basilica in Webster, conferred by the Very Rev. Anthony Czarnecki, rector of the basilica. To cap things off, Jack McNally’s family held a dinner to celebrate his 80th birthday. The date was actually Oct. 24, but the knot to the highest Papal Honors Conferred by the Catholic Church upon laity made the joint celebration special.

In a way, Mr. McNally’s 80th birthday says he was one of the youngest aides in the Kennedy entourage at Hyannis Port five decades ago, meaning he’s among the likely handful of survivors who remember the campaign, the victory and the Kennedy White House. Some publications have already published historical reports of the 50th anniversary, some with interviews, such as USA Today.

That’s when John McNally, speaking as a friend, said he had already accepted four speaking engagements to relate his recollections of an election that installed the nation’s youngest president and the nation’s first Roman Catholic as president of the United States.

In his own way, John J. McNally has remained faithful to President Kennedy’s memory, as evidenced by 50 years of adherance to JFK’s life principles; and to his religious convictions, as evidenced by Rev. Czarnecki’s blessings before his family, friends and his home congregation just days ago.

A new restaurant on Route 16 in Mendon, at the site of the former Lowell Dairy, has a Webster connection.

Mendon’s Hackenson family runs the place, says its websites. Brothers Tom and Bob Hackenson formed the family weld decades ago, says Bartlett High Shool Principal Michael F. Hackenson. Tom remained in Mendon, and Bob, his father, came to Webster around 1950 to run a Thompson Road marina.

That’s why Mendon has a new restaurant, and Webster got a great educator-oriented family. I inquired about the Mendon restaurant on meeting Principal Hackenson at Webster’s town meeting a couple of weeks ago.

He hasn’t dined there yet, but knows about the new eatery and its family trace to Uncle Tom. I’ve been there but couldn’t remember the name. Mr. Hackenson had a similar problem.

Joanne Minarik, seated in a back row to the high school auditorium, site for the town meeting, and within an earshot of dialogue, came to our rescue. “Willowbrook,” she offered. Her brother, retired Webster Police Chief Paul Minarik, sat nearby but simply smiled.

Credit R. Lucille Gilbert of Webster for the tip about the Mendon-Webster Hackenson’s.

Former Selectman Robert J. Miller held a postcard in hand one day last week. The message called for the election of Joseph F. “Butch” Wladyslawski to the Webster Board of Selectmen. “Remember that one?” questioned Mr. Miller.

The election piece is probably 35 years old, dating to Mr. Wladyslawski’s first election as a town selectman. A big, good-natured guy, “Butch” served on the town’s top board for probably seven years until 1980, when he died suddenly while at work for the Webster Highway Department, still serving as board chairman.

He was known for calling the shots as he saw them, and letting the chips fall where they may. Mr. Miller, a likely candidate for selectman next May, didn’t offer any reason for recirculating the old Wladyslawski message, but reason says it might have been introduced at last month’s town meeting if proposed charter changes hadn’t been discarded en masse.

One of the charter proposals called for an elective service clamp on people working for the town. Butch was a town worker and a very good selectman, providing current-day citizens with reason to reject nonsensical service prohibitions. And, by the way, incumbent Selectman Jeffrey P. Duggan, a DPW Highway Division worker, seems to be developing something of the Wladyslawski formula.

“Red bridge, black bridge,” Thomas W. Gorski said on a recent morning, framing reference to Esther E. Stocklin’s Oct. 21 outline here about train and trolley service through the 1920s.

Mrs. Stocklin, certainly an expert on early trolley ways through this area, remembered that trolley and train bridges served Beacon Park when it was a Webster Lake entertainment venue.

Mr. Gorski, who grew up on nearby Lake Street, says kids of his generation identified the train and trolley lines by bridge colors. The black bridge carried trains through the lakefront development, and a red bridge from Thompson Road served trolleys entering the performing center.

“Trains stopped in the park, and trolleys stopped at the (adjacent to the town Water Department) pumping station,” he recalled.

So now we have the local train-trolley story in color.
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

Copyright© OldeWebster 2001
send comments/suggestions to: