Grandparents proud of Rhodes scholar  
Thursday, December 22, 2011

WEBSTER ¡X Elizabeth Butterworth of Auburn ¡§is a really nice girl,¡¨ and her Webster grandparents, Rita and Joseph Lada, ¡§are really proud of her.¡¨ So said Grandma Rita on a recent afternoon.

Ms. Butterworth, a senior at Princeton University, was among the New England students named Rhodes scholars on Nov. 20. The international post-graduate award is for two or three years of all-expenses paid study at Oxford University in England.

Her mother, nee Joan Lada, is the middle of Rita and Joe's three daughters, including another Elizabeth, an astronomer. There's also a son, Charles Lada, a noted astronomer. The Rhodes is an extremely prestigious award.


Webster Town Administrator John F. MacAuliffe has purchased a house on Pontiac Avenue in town, as he reported when we crossed paths recently downtown.

Mr. MacAuliffe seems to read stability into his acquisition, given the sometimes transient nature of his profession. One thing seems certain: He's earned the support of town selectmen.

Whatever, tenure in the administrative office is something to encourage. There was talk of a long-term contract for Mr. MacAuliffe when he was a finalist for a similar position in a prestigious North Shore community. Contract aside, he's become a Webster taxpayer, and that's good.


Some of the people who carried bags of groceries into St. Louis Church on Thanksgiving morning, sharing their gratitude with the Webster-Dudley Food Share program, subsequently got together for coffee at Honey Dew Donuts.

Emily (Kokocinski) Dugas was with the group, but turned a bit of talk to a World War II facility ¡X the airplane observation building at Memorial Athletic Field. She placed the question in my court.

Charting movements through a comprehensive tracking system, fixing flights against municipal grids, was important early in the war because there was no alternative to trained observers.

Sky scans took on a rather sophisticated line, identifying aircraft and when and where they were.

Flights in this area built from entries taken from a little square building on the near corner to the athletic field, the Top of the Hill in Dudley, as the Jesse Downey farm was known; and the original YMCA building on Main Street in Southbridge, to mention a few locations. All kinds of flight patterns were monitored along both coasts of the country, and in other critical national defense regions.

Our probe, suggested by Irene P. Konkel and spurred by people who actually volunteered as ¡§spotters,¡¨ ran over several weeks and brought talks about restoring the Webster station for history's sake.

This was the genesis to Ms. Dugas' query. The report at the time was that a fund had been established to finance rehabilitation of Webster's original observation station. ¡§What happened?¡¨ wondered Emily. If the fund effort was made, it got by me, but information will probably surface now.

World War II was in full flower when the airplane observation program was suddenly mothballed. The defense industry had come up with something new: ¡§Radar.¡¨


Ellis F. Bateman of Dudley sat in a Webster coffee shop, a big Styrofoam cup of coffee in hand. It was maybe a $2 one, and it reminded him of his high school days and his first part-time job, working for Arthur Chabot.

¡§I'd get in to work and ¡¥Chubby,'¡¨ the Chabot he mostly worked for, ¡§would hand me 35 cents,¡¨ says Mr. Bateman. The family, with Gilbert Chabot as the patriarch, ran several businesses. ¡§Cappy,¡¨ as Mr. Bateman became known as a teen, worked at a gasoline station on Main Street at the Dudley line.
The 35 cents would buy a couple of coffees, some Lorna Doone cookies, and enough ¡§to get something for yourself,¡¨ as per Mr. Chabot's instructions, shopping at Cohen's Snack Bar for price. Besides, it was just across the street.

After his father, the late Raymond L. ¡§Bill¡¨ Bateman, the Chabots became business models for Mr. Bateman. His father founded Bateman Electrical in the early 1930s, established a reputation for price and service, and ultimately provided his son with a business to grow with.

The original electrical shop remains on Dudley Hill while B&B Trading, and Bateman Electric Supplies are both in downtown Webster.

The Chabots ran a cash-and-carry market, gasoline stations and an automobile agency, and held a number of properties. They managed things closely, avoided credit, were always neat (given the nature of gasoline sales), took advantage of volume purchases and passed savings on to customers.
He has a different type of business, and in a different time, but Mr. Bateman knows how to make use of the Chabot model.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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