Oxford to Honor Bartlett, World-famous Tenor  
Thursday, April 12, 2012

A fear that time might obscure the career of Oxford native Michael Bartlett, a world-famous dramatic tenor through the years after World War II, is about to ease, thanks to state Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge.

Mr. Bartlett was ¡§very much¡¨ into musical circles, according to the ¡§Oxford History Memory Book,¡¨ provided for this column by Jean D. O'Reilly, chairman of the Oxford Historical Commission. The memory book was compiled by the late Janice R. Moore, once secretary to the Oxford Board of Selectmen.

Christened Edwin A., Mr. Bartlett became Michael because Hollywood publicists thought the change would give him a stronger-sounding name. He was noted for operatic and musical comedy roles on Broadway and in the movies, according to the Memory Book.

Mr. Bartlett served in the Marine Corps during World War II. After his discharge, he made a national concert tour to benefit the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

He died in 1978, some 34 years ago. An appeal to Mr. Moore resulted in a special legislative act that reads, in part: ¡§The department of Transportation shall erect and maintain suitable markers along the section of state highway route 12, between the intersections of Clara Barton Road and Maple Avenue signifying the birthplace home of Michael Bartlett (1901-1978), the internationally renowned tenor, star of Broadway, films, radio, opera, theatre and concert stage.¡¨

For a guess, the Michael Bartlett road markers will be dedicated about the time that Dudley remembers Anthony B. DiDonato, the longest-serving selectman in town history, who died last year. The DiDonato markers will be on West Main Street, near Town Hall, where Mr. DiDonato last served as a selectman, and on Dudley Hill Road, where he lived. While dedications can be at any time, installing road markers in Oxford and Dudley would be easier for the state transportation department.

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It was the night between St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day, and Webster's Andrew A. Pryga remembered observances of his youth.

In those years, there was time for a bit of St. Pat's Day green for the kids at St. Louis School, and a blast of red for their counterparts at St. Joseph's School, Andy recalled. This seems to continue, but more as form, as an all-generations thing, he opined.

¡§I saw that nice green tie you had on yesterday,¡¨ Andy said, laughing. ¡§I hope you have a nice red one for tomorrow.¡¨ Well, I complied, but Andy missed evening coffee.

¡§I was at Burger King talking with Jerry Canty,¡¨ he said a night later.

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Dominic DiMare of Dudley had a couple of framed story layouts in his vehicle the other day.
In a way, they were a summary of his deli and kitchen management days hereabouts. Longtime friends with the late Paul Kouri, Mr. DiMare, ¡§Rocky¡¨ to some of his Worcester friends, arrived in Webster about 20 years ago, taking over the Pickle Deli on Main Street. Gerald ¡§Tate¡¨ Dion had established the delicatessen some years earlier.

As it happened, both parties to the transaction were friends with Mr. Kouri, and the sale-purchase agreement was a favor to both sides in the deal.

One of the story reports was of Mr. DiMare's acquisition of the downtown sandwich shop. It ran a relatively short span in Mr. DiMare's business career.

The other layout Dominic had was a full-page layout of patrons who gathered to celebrate his management of the kitchen at Waterfront Mary's on Webster Lake.

¡§We were a happy group,¡¨ Mr. DiMare said, shrugging his shoulders to dismiss impact of the association. ¡§Mary was Mary,¡¨ he said, letting things go at that.

His friend Paul Kouri returned to his corner and introduced Dominic to another pursuit: rental housing. This has apparently worked well enough so that now Mr. DiMare takes his coffee in other shops, and remembers when he was ¡§in the business.¡¨

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Most of the people in our neighborhood have a new voting address. Actually, it reads like the one the postal service uses to deliver bills, tax statements, junk mail, a rare letter or an occasional card that says ¡§you're getting older.¡¨

At the same time, nothing has changed, except that voting rights have moved across the Webster Town Hall auditorium, from precinct 3 to 1 in our case. All five of the town's voting precincts have been squeezed into the municipal complex for some years now.

This might be all right, but the shifting about, continuing with the annual town election next month, says things are truly getting tight.

Federal and/or state regulations require that voting precincts be somewhat balanced. As people move their households into or about town, the equalizer falls out of place and adjustments become necessary. Municipalities comply with the occupancy rules sometimes by moving voters into precincts in which they do not live.

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Notes & Comments:

--Nichols College, established in 1815 as Nichols Academy and developed as a junior college in 1931, is about to add to its significance. This will happen when a new Student Union Building, nearing completion at the corner of Dudley Center and Healy Road, is dedicated.

--The Webster Lions Club spent a good chunk of money years ago to install a bulletin board on the green at Webster Town Hall. The idea was to eliminate the signboards that town groups were staking about the precincts to town government. It's been pretty successful, but sponsors who want more than a few lines of exposure are shaking Town Hall aesthetics once again.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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