The economic life of Andover has had many interesting twists and changes during the last seventy-five years. In my early years the majority of the middle-class or "blue collar" workers were employed in manufacturing. The American Woolen Company, of course, dominated the area in the 1920s with their Shawsheen mill in Andover, and their Wood, Ayer, and Washington mills in Lawrence. Most of the Andover mill workers were employed here in town, but a few rode the trolley cars every day to work in Lawrence.
In addition to the Shawsheen mill, Andover also was home to the Marland Mill, an M. T. Stevens-owned facility on Stevens Street; the Smith & Dove flax mill across the railroad tracks from the passenger station; and the Tyer Rubber Company on Railroad Street. The Bradlee Mill in Ballardvale was out of business by the time I came around. The Watson-Park Chemical Company in Lowell Junction came upon the scene in the 1920s.
It was pretty much the rule in the 1920s and 1930s that anyone who did not go on to college, or at least some further schooling after graduating from Punchard, would probably end up in one of the mills. As I look at the scholarship and financial assistance programs that are available to high school graduates today, I am truly amazed. Families lived from one payroll to the next. Most people just managed to pay for the necessities. There was very little of what is known today as discretionary funds. Few families owned one car, never mind two, three, or five. Public transportation was the only means of getting around for many families---the Eastern Mass trolley cars for access to Lawrence, either to work or to shop, and the Boston & Maine Railroad for travel to Boston or even to Haverhill.
Men who had any type of trade businesscarpenters, plumbers, electricians and the likeusually owned a horse and wagon. That is why most old homes in the center of town have an attached barn. The tradesmen would go to the job in the morning in a horse-drawn wagon with tools, lumber, and supplies. Unless they were working close to home, they took a lunch too and a feed-bag of grain for the horse. And don't forget the pail, because the horse had to have a drink of water after eating the oats.
I can recall very vividly that my father, a carpentering contractor, would rise at about 5:30 a.m., go out to the barn to feed the horse, come in to eat his own breakfast prepared by my mother, then harness the horse and head out to the job. It was a matter of great pride that, although the starting time was seven o'clock, "real men" were always hard at work sometime between 6:45 and 6:50 a.m. It was only the lazy slacker who waited until 7:00! And once work was begun, the true professional would never stop precisely when the noon whistle blew at the Tyer Rubber shop. Back again before the one o'clock whistle at the Marland Mill, they quit five or ten minutes after the four o'clock mill whistle.
All the tradesmen of that generation were the same, working with a strong sense of pride. They took pride in their work and in the fact that they always gave just a little bit more than was required of them. Most were real "tinkerers" or handymen; they could do a little bit of work that was not really in their domain. My father would replace some shingles or clapboards on the side of a house and then paint them. He made fence pickets for the fence around the Barnard Elms---the house at the head of High Street that faces Elm Square---and painted them. By the way, that fence had a special panel picket that Dad used to make by hand in his shop. I don't think that anyone ever had access to the pattern, and the design of that fence must have died with him. The fence, too, is now gone.
Tradesmen learned their trade as apprentices. My father worked for several years for Hardy & Cole before he was ever allowed out on a job alone. If he made a mistake, he would have to stay late and correct it on his own time. They had no union to run to with a grievance. And there was no such thing as "close" or "pretty near." Jobs had to be done right. We don't demand that today and, as a result, we quite often don't get it. We are afraid to demand excellence---perhaps because we are afraid it will be demanded of us in return. Or have we lost the will, because we don't have to feed the horse in the morning before we eat!
Set apart from the mill-workers and the tradesmen were Andover's "executive" class. In the 1920s the big economic stick was carried by the American Woolen Co. and its senior management personnel. Billy Wood made a lot of his group independently wealthy by the standards of those days. They were the men who, with their families, lived in the elegant "brick section" of Shawsheen, that is, the blocks of houses on the west side of North Main Street. I was quite friendly with many of their sons, who were my high school classmates---Bill Currier, Bob Graham, Red Bume, and several others.
The annual incomes of the fathers of those boys probably ranged anywhere from $15,000--$20,000 to as high as $35,000-$50,000. That is chickenfeed today, but in those days it was a lot of money. The average tradesman, like my father, worked for an hourly wage of about $1 per hour for about 44 to 48 hours per week. There being no such thing as time-and-a-half for overtime, that meant that at best my father, a skilled carpenter who had to spend years as an apprentice learning his trade, was never able to make more than $2,500 annually---usually somewhat less. The average mill-worker, at 70 to 80 cents per hour, was able to hope for somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 each year. This of course did not take into account strikes or slowdowns in work.
Police, fire, highway department workers, post office employees, and similar public sector workers had the great advantage of steady employment, so they were considered well offat about $25 to $27 per week---simply because of their job security. In the twenties and thirties the great mass of people were the working class. The precious few were the upper class.
Other than the mill executives, and there were a few others besides those affiliated with the American Woolen Co., the majority of the well-to-do were a few Boston investment bankers and stock brokers who lived in town and went to Boston every morning on either the 7:30 or the 8:07 train. They included the Ripleys, Carlton Kimball, David and William Shaw, Wally Johnson's father, and a few others. The gentleman farmer from River Road, Edwin Shattuck, could probably be classed with them as well.
Most of the people who "had money," as they used to be described, went to Sunday church services at either the Episcopal or the Old South churches. The Free Church and the Baptist Church in those days had to get along on the contributions of the working classes.
The West Parish congregation was made up for the most part of farmers and residents of the rural community. The farmers were not wealthy, but they worked hard long hours and almost always had enough to eat---they truly earned a living by the "sweat of their brows."
Perhaps I can give you a better picture of this if I refer you to St. Augustine's Church on a typical Sunday morning in the 1920s. There were three Masses on Sunday then---6:30, 8:30, and 10:30. The 6:30 mass catered to a few people like my father, who would be up early anyway---to water and feed the horse---and most of the domestics---the "greenhorns" as they were called. These were the young girls, often from Ireland, who did housework in the homes of the wealthy (who would not be about until later in the morning). The girls would be home from mass in time to get breakfast ready.
The 8:30 Mass, with regular attendance of about 750, was always crowded, standing room only across the back, two and three deep. The final 10:30 Mass served a few elderly people, and those among the younger element who had stayed out too late the night before.
In all, some 700 to 750 heads of families would enter the church on Sunday morning. Of that number perhaps five, at the most, would have as much as $10 in their pockets. It was not necessary to carry a wallet: there were no credit cards, relatively few had need for a driver's license, and no one carried any identification, because everyone in town knew everyone else.
Maurice Curran, reputed in those days to be the wealthiest man in New England, certainly had extra "change" in his pocket. He and his entire family were very "charity-minded." The Currans did much for many, but except for public gifts for church---new organ, new marble altars, and such---most of their good work was quiet and performed without fanfare. I well remember in later years when my mother was soliciting funds for the Bon Secours Hospital Auxiliary, that her first call every year would be to Miss Margaret Curran. Margaret would always take the call herself and my mother would always receive a check in the mail the following day. Margaret Curran was the sole survivor of her generation. Although she certainly was many years my senior, whenever I would meet her, be it at church (she attended daily mass for many years) or in the downtown stores, she always addressed me as "Mr. Doherty." We often stopped to chat, sometimes just about the weather, or perhaps I would chide her about oversleeping and missing mass that morning. We could certainly use a few more like her today.
The Currans were what I would call a "class" family. You may say that that was easy because they could afford to be generous. But how many have money and opt to keep it for themselves or waste it on personal pleasures while their fellow citizens go hungry! One of the Curran daughters married Daniel J. Murphy, a very capable Lawrence lawyer. He served during the 1920s as town counsel for Andover, the position until recently held by Al Daniels. After the "bank holiday" of March 1933, Maurice Curran put $1,000,000 into the almost defunct Arlington Trust Company in Lawrence and handed the keys to the bank to Murphy. The story of that bank, presided over in turn by Murphy and his son and grandson, is a success story of the first magnitude. The bank grew and prospered until it became, at the time it was sold to the Hartford, the sixth largest commercial banking organization in the state.
The Murphys made the Arlington a success because they made it a personal bank. They knew their customers and they treated them on a personal basis. When the out-of-state banking interests started to erode that"personal commitment," Daniel III decided to resign and, along with some of his best, brightest, and committed female colleagues, opened Northmark Bank in North Andover. When you walk into that bank today, you feel that you are entering the home of friends. Jane Walsh, the president, and Alexis Korbey, the chief operating officer, along with Dan, make a truly fine "corporate office." I am pleased to call them friends. Perhaps, before this book is finished, they may see fit to open a branch in downtown Andover.
But, to get back now to the economic makeup of that Sunday congregation at St. Augustine's: Dr. Jerry Daly, father of my classmates Billy and Josephine, and Eleanor, who married my college classmate Phil Doyle, could probably have pulled a ten or even a twenty out of his pocket anytime. Jim Greeley, who owned the market, was another. Perhaps Joe Burns the lawyer and father of my classmate John, could always find extra money, although it must have cost him a lot to feed and clothe all his children. His brother Billy, owner of the Burns Co. clothing store and a lot of the business section of town, could also certainly meet any giving challenge. But those men were about all.
The average Sunday collection in those days would be a little over $100. The monthly collection, taken on the third Sunday for the support of the parochial school, would usually hit about $300. (No tuition was charged for the school when I was there; in fact, I don't think that tuition entered the picture until well into the 1950s.)
Some things had been a little more expensive in the 1920s than they were in the 1930s, because of the Great Depression. However, to demonstrate with some figures, I did some research several years ago to show the difference in costs and wages in 1937---my first year in the insurance business---compared with the present, vis-a-vis the relative costs of auto insurance in the same period.
My memory, which is still good I hope, tells me that in 1937 a first class postage stamp cost 2 cents, the Evening-Tribune also 2 cents, a loaf of bread 8 cents, a pound of ground beef about 13 cents. For the best available private room at the Lawrence General Hospital, a patient paid $7 per day, and for a new 1938 Ford superdeluxe four-door sedan, $840. I drove one, and full-coverage auto insurance on that car, in Andover, was about $68 a year. On the other side, the police officers and firefighters worked six days a week for about $24 starting pay. School teachers, with a four-year college degree, received about $1,500 a year.
The same goods and services, respectively, cost today 29 cents, 35 cents, about $1, and about $2 more or less. The Ford LTD must be about $15,000; and I have no idea of the cost of the hospital room but it is undoubtedly exorbitant. Today's car is much improved with computerization, but it will also fold up much quicker in a crash; and the level of medical care is much improved. The Massachusetts auto insurance policy form and coverage is vastly improved, having adopted most of the enhancements found in the National Standard policy.
The postage stamp still represents the finest and most efficient postal service in the world. The newspaper is supposed to be more efficient, although I still don't understand why they have to have an 8:00 or 8:30 deadline for an 11:00 press time. As I recall, we used to call in late items at 1:30 p.m. and the paper was still on the street at 2:10!
In the 1920s life seemed simple and quiet in this town. There were no flag-burnings, almost no housebreaks, and drugs as we know of them today were unheard of. A few unfortunate town characters would occasionally come home from Lawrence on the last trolley Saturday night, and if unable to navigate, would be put in the lockup at the police station, in protective custody, until they slept off their "jag."
We survived the collapse of the Shawsheen Village boom and the sale of the Smith & Dove mills to the Ludlow Manufacturing Company. In a sense, we could face the stock market crash of October 1929, because we had been conditioned to severe setbacks in the economic life of the community. In fact, in the first few months of the Depression, there was relatively little impact on the town as a whole. Some of the wealthy and near wealthy who had invested heavily in the stock market had to scurry around and come up with enough reserves to avert a total wipe-out. As I look back now, I realize that some of my schoolmates in high school probably would have been attending classes at one of the academies had not the "crash" occurred.
The national economic disaster had little direct effect on me. My family was not wealthy. My father worked all his life for a day's pay, and we never had any false delusions of grandeur in our house. We had all the necessities of lifefood, clothing, and shelter---but if I wanted to get to the Saturday afternoon movie, I had better be alert and save the nickel returns on the milk or tonic bottles from Bob Franz's store at the foot of Harding Street.
I never owned a bicycle, ice skates or roller skates, or skis; but I never felt deprived, because most of my friends were in the same situation. Our summer baseball games were usually played with well-taped balls and cracked bats. In the winter, there were always two or three sleds around the house and, when the weather cooperated, we would coast after school and on Saturdays on the hills around the neighborhood. There were almost no autos to interfere with our fun and the baker, eggman, and others were careful to guide their horses out of our way.
Well, as the Depression set in and 1930 moved into 1931, things did get tight. As I look back now, I recall that my father would order a half-ton of coal instead of a ton. Of course, things were always more difficult in winter, and by 1932 the welfare lines were forming. The churches were helping more families. Bread lines were forming in the cities. We were hearing and reading about real suffering and deprivation throughout the country.
Herbert Hoover, who had beaten Al Smith in a bitter struggle for the presidency in 1928, was nearing the end of his first term. He was beset on all sides by troubles, and it appeared that Franklin D. Roosevelt, the aggressive governor of New York, was going to get the nomination of the Democratic convention in Chicago.
FDR, as he was known far and wide, won the nomination and later the presidency. He stepped into office on March 4, 1933, and immediately closed all banks until they could satisfy regulators that they were capable of reopening on a sound basis. The first, I repeat, the first nationally chartered bank in the United States authorized to reopen after the "bank holiday" was the Andover National Bank. Brother Bill always liked to tell the story about being in the newsroom at the Tribune when the bell on the old teletype machine sounded and the teletyped message came through about "our hometown bank."
The Stevens family of North Andover were the principle stockholders of the bank, and I presume that the reopening was a matter of great family pride. They would not let the Stevens family name and reputation be tarnished. Oh, how we could use some of those people today!
The federal government set about immediately to prime the pump and get the economy moving again. Roosevelt, in his inaugural speech, told a weary, fearful, nation that the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself." He took to the radio---no television for a few years yet---and with his "fireside chats" guided the country back onto its feet. He preached the four freedoms---made famous in artistic works by Norman Rockwell---freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, and freedom from want.
By degrees we came out of the Depression.
We set up bread lines for free food down in the rear of the Town Hall---where the Senior Drop-in Center is now located. I used to pass the line of unfortunates as I went in to the police station to discuss playground business with my good friend George Dane, the chief.
The ERA, a "make work" program for the able-bodied, was succeeded by the PWA. This program sponsored construction of roads, sidewalks, parks, and similar projects. It was under the PWA that such projects as the Memorial Auditorium and the junior high school were built. The C.C.C. and its part in developing the Harold Parker Forest I have already discussed in some detail.
The welfare portion of the New Deal programs was administered locally. Prior to the adoption of the town manager charter here in town, the selectmen appeared on the election ballot three times. They served as selectmen; they were also elected as the board of assessors, and their third role was as a board of public welfare.
Dr. Jerry Daly was a member of the board and served as chairman of the board of public welfare. As such, he controlled the distribution of food and the assignment of work---three days a week for $15. He was fair but firm, and there was no fraud or mismanagement of the program in Andover. Eventually he was defeated along about 1936 or 1937 by Roy Hardy, who served for twelve to fifteen years after.
I think that you can appreciate that during these years, with some people on welfare and others working perhaps only three days a week in the mills, home mortgages were certain to fall behind. It reached the point, early on, where many homeowners were lucky to be able to pay the interest only on their mortgage, and not pay anything toward amortizing the principle. The banks, Andover Savings and Andover National, went along with this idea, possibly because they had no choice.
Both banks were controlled by the same group of men (heaven forbid that any female would ever be admitted to board membership!). Burton Flagg was president of the Andover Savings and a director of the Andover National. A member of the Stevens family also served on both boards. The headmaster or treasurer of the board of trustees at Phillips Academy would likely be found on both boards. Wallace Brimer, treasurer of Tyer Rubber, was on both boards, and so it went. There were no laws in those days prohibiting interlocking directorates, and the practice was very common in banking circles.
A study of the makeup of those boards in those days will show that not only were there no women, there were no Catholics and no Jews. It was a very tight, private group. In one sense I cannot fault that; the executives took in their friends. They all traveled in different circles, and they tended to trust their friends and to distrust---or to be unwilling to take a risk with---those whom they did not know well. This obviously still happens in some areas today.
As in any loose-knit group like this combine of men who worked and played in a closed atmosphere, there had to be a "leader." This is where our old friend, Burton S. Flagg, came into the picture. A tall, lean, Vermont Yankee, he came to town around the turn of the century. He served for several years as an assistant to Joe Smart, the president and chief operating officer of the Merrimack and Cambridge Mutual Fire Insurance Companies, a very important part of the community.
In those early days the "dwelling house mutuals," as the small New England mutual fire insurance companies were called, used to underwrite the business in their own immediate area, without ever moving very far from home. There were, when I started in business, about twenty-six of these companies. When contact with the outside world of commerce arrived, it was necessary to write on a wider scale and to use other companies to share some of the risk. After all, a serious fire in a single block could seriously imperil the surplus of a single small insurance company. In order to handle the business of other companies, and with the advent of other types of insurance, it was necessary to set up an independent agency. Thus was born Smart & Flagg; the companies and the agency occupied the entire second floor of the Andover National Bank building at 21 Main Street.
My earliest recollection of that building was its center entrance, with the National Bank on one side and the Andover Savings Bank on the other side. Along in the mid-1920s---you can check the cornerstone on the current Andover Savings Bank building to verify the date---the Savings Bank moved to its own building, at the corner of Chestnut Street. At 21 Main, the insurance companies and Smart & Flagg occupied the entire second floor over Andover National, and St. Matthew's Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, had their temple on the third floor.
Joe Smart died before my memory started to record the events. My father and my Uncle Martin both knew him and always spoke very well of him. With his death the mantle of authority and responsibility for the insurance operation fell to the shoulders of Mr. Flagg. In physics class years ago I learned that "nature abhors a vacuum," and that phenomenon applies in many areas. Apparently Burton Flagg was not bashful and not averse to stepping into the spot left vacant by the too early death of his mentor. The younger "Telemachus" was due to rise to heights never, I am sure, dreamed of by his "Mentor": president of two insurance companies, soon to become president of the Savings Bank, director of the National Bank, treasurer of the board of trustees of Abbott Academy, director of the Andover Press Ltd., as well as many other honorary positions that now escape me.
Personally, I had only one direct contact with the man and that occurred when I was substituting for Bill once as a newspaper reporter. Bill must have been getting a few days of vacation at Hampton Beach. Whenever he was sick, or needed a short break, I filled in for him. It must have been about 1940. Lucy Shaw, widow of David Shaw of 85 Main Street and a long-time friend of my family, died. I got the word at my 1:30 p.m. call to Everett Lundgren, Donnie's father; he told me I should see Mr. Flagg the following morning to get the obituary. Mr. Flagg, it was explained, was the executor of the wills of both Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, and he wanted time to put the story together. This sort of amused me for two reasons: first, I had known Mrs. Shaw as well as her two surviving sisters and her only niece. I could write the story better than he could---I felt. Secondly, the elderly woman had been bedridden, requiring nursing care around the clock, for about five years. Flagg had certainly had plenty of time over the last several years to write the notice and leave it on file with the funeral director or the newspaper. Nevertheless, I went up to the second floor of the bank building the next morning, as requested, and after several curious looks from employees who wondered what I was doing being ushered into the private office of the "Great White Father," I was invited by my host to sit down.
Mr. Flagg pulled a sheet of paper out of one of the pigeonholes in his huge rolltop desk, and suggested that I read it---to be sure I understood it, I guess. Well, after discovering the first error in the first line, I think I was more interested in what he was doing than in the contents of the flowery obituary. Here was the biggest name in town, well connected with national association contacts and all that stuff, sitting at his desk, letter opener in hand, slitting used envelopes on three sides, and flattening them out so they could be used as note pads.
As I recall, Mrs. Shaw's obituary was written out in longhand on the inside of one such recycled envelope. Well, when I recovered from that culture shock I asked: "Mr. Flagg, when did Mrs. Shaw move?" Perplexed, he asked what I meant by that question. With my best mannered and courteous way, I responded: "Well, you list her as living at 89 Main Street, and I am quite sure that she was living at 85 Main Street. I have been there many times with my aunts and uncles." That sent him right to the phone book, the street list, and a few more corroborating documents---and fortunately for me, I won the only skirmish I ever had with Burton S. Flagg. That, of course, was not unusual. He never held a public office. I never even saw him at a town meeting. He never was quoted in the press, and so it was that to the vast majority of citizens who were born, lived, and died in Andover in the first half of the twentieth century, he was never blamed for anything, nor was he ever credited with anything. And yet, not even Billy Wood, with all the power of the American Woolen Company in the palm of his hand, ever, in his most powerful days, impacted the business and political community as effectively and thoroughly as did Mr. Burton Flagg. He was the fortunate victim of circumstances, finding himself in the right place at the right time.
Bill and I, because of our news-reporting obligation to be aware of the town boards and their workings, probably had a better vantage point from which to observe town politics than did most others. Like most small New England towns in the early years of this century Andover was burdened with a religious bigotry that seemed to permeate the entire society. It showed its ugly head in most walks of life. The well-entrenched Yankee Congregationalists of earlier generations seemed to resent the so-called "newer generations."
Oddly enough, we see the same phenomenon today among those of us whose forebears came here from Europe in the last century and gave us a chance to get an education, good jobs, and a comfortable way of life. Today we, as a body from diverse ethnic backgrounds, have a tendency to resent the fact that Afro-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are moving in on us.
In the early days, I understand although I personally never saw them, it was not unusual for help-wanted signs in store windows to carry the accompanying notation NINA-No Irish Need Apply. The first wave of English-speaking, Roman Catholic immigrants to invade these shores were, of course, the Irish. The animosity that had existed between the English and the Irish back home seemed to carry right over into the New World, and by the time I was growing up in Andover, most of the big cities throughout the East had already been "taken over" politically by the Irish---from their sheer force of numbers. The Irish were producing large families, and the Yankees were having their one or two children. Does that sound familiar today?
Today the Irish, Italians, French, and others are very careful to "plan" for one or two offspring---thanks to the Pill, or whatever---while the newer arrivals are producing large families. I fear that the next fifty years will see history repeat itself, with different peoples playing old familiar roles.
Thirty to forty years ago Sheila and I were happy with the five that God gave us. It was a bit of a struggle at times, but nobody ever missed a meal. The joy, the love, and attention that we have received from each of them is worth many times over any struggle or inconvenience that we might have experienced. Next to the gift of "faith" there is no greater gift from God than the gift of children. Accept them, embrace them, cherish them, and the dividends that they will pay you are countless.
My father was not one to back off or accept a snub without speaking his mind. So it was no surprise to me that one day when he was paying an insurance bill up on the second floor of the bank building---at the "insurance offices"---he was giving one of the employees a bit of an argument about something, and, spotting Burton Flagg at a distance he raised his voice and with a sweep of the arm to take in all the office area he asked: "And how come you never hire any Catholic girls around here?" The story, as I heard it on more than one occasion, was that Flagg disappeared into his office followed by a "deafening" silence.
Will Doherty didn't care. He had made his point. They knew that their discrimination was known and that perhaps they should hire some "tokens." As it turned out, the next girl hired at the insurance office was, I think, one of the Barrett girls from Chestnut Street-Katherine's sister. My father didn't care who was hired; he didn't have any family member to push. He was happy to be able to help out his old Knights of Columbus brother, Pat Barrett.
As recently as the late 1940s a saleslady for a local shopkeeper, Sam Glazerman, got to talking in the shop one day and in the heat of the discussion she blurted out: "I'd rather my son married a Nigger rather than an Irish Catholic." I'm sure that she was not fostering the advancement of the blacks. However, her remarks were duly noted and passed on to me by the Irish Catholic bookkeeper from South Lawrence.
In those early days before World War II, there were only three of four Jewish families in town so they were not considered a threat. The four or five black families were "tolerated." But the Irish were an ever present worry because they were many in numbers and they would not lie down---at least some of us. As soon as the Jews started to move into town, they were shut out of the best neighborhoods. Fred Cheever, the developer of Johnson Acres, would not sell a house or house lot to a Jew; and Shirley Barnard, although they fought each other tooth and nail in business, still honored Fred's strict rule against any Jews in the "Acres."
Somehow or other George Dane moved up the ladder in the police department and was appointed chief when Frank Smith grew too old to function. There really wasn't anyone else who could do the job, so George won it. When he collapsed and died one Saturday, it was hurriedly decided that Ray Hickey, the senior sergeant in age and longevity, should serve as acting chief until a civil service exam could be arranged.
Well, it didn't take more than forty-eight hours for the boys in control to decide that that would never do because it would be several months before an exam and resulting list, could be available. On Monday night, it was announced at the selectmen's meeting that the two sergeants, Hickey and Dave Nicoll, should serve as chief on alternate months.
Now I am sure that my good friend and fellow classmate and football teammate never had anything to do with that maneuver. Dave was a professional, and smart. He easily led the civil service list when it came out, and served as Andover police chief, with honor and distinction, for over 30 years.
That is the way things happened. The recipients never really knew why they won and the losers never knew why they lost. Through his position as a newspaper reporter, and later together as insurance brokers, Bill and I had an opportunity to study the inner workings of Andover's "Vault."
As I have said so many times, "Nature abhors a vacuum," and business and politics follow nature very closely. I presume that before the World War I era, the economy and politics of the town were governed and controlled from the banks. After all, the entity that controls credit controls the minds and hearts and wills of the populace. The American Woolen Co. and William M. Wood had such a strong impact on the town and its economy for about ten years that the nice orderly control was askew for a while, but after the death of Wood, the "Vault" took over.
If you study the history of mankind you will find that most people are followers, few are leaders. Most will rally around anyone whom they perceive as a leader. For whatever their reasons, the businessmen in Andover, from all facets of the economy, quickly identified their leader: Burton S. Flagg. Now you have heard me mention his name many times in the pages of this book, but I tell you, truly, no single individual enjoyed the position of control, respect and allegiance of the men who were in high places in town for as long a period of time as Burton Flagg experienced. He was, as Bill so often described him, "the driver of the eighthorse circus wagon." All the reins were entwined in his fingers, and he was able to control each horse and make each one respond to his bidding.
When Bill ran successfully for the school committee, some of the intrigue that brought young teachers in to Andover from out of town and even out of state became quite a puzzle to him. But when we got into the insurance business and started to look up the hometowns of some of these teachers, we found an interesting similarity of names in some of the agencies and local fire insurance companies.
You see, the school board had a rule that no one could be hired unless and until they had two years of teaching experience. That sounded good and to a purist it might sound good now, but what it did was shut out of the running all the young Andover girls and force them out of town to teach or into some other occupation. On the other hand, it left the doors open to friends and relatives of business acquaintances from the outside. It took a few years to break that system up, but it was not easy.
We always felt that the most amazing part of this whole story was that even the people who administered and enforced the policy, the school board members and most of those who were brought into the school system, never really understood how or why it worked. Ken Sherman came into town in the 1930s from Abington to take over as principal of the new junior high school. Ken later succeeded Henry Sanborn as superintendent in 1940. He and Bill were good friends, and one day they were discussing our theory of just how the system worked. Bill asked him, "Who succeeded you in Abington?" Ken responded that some young fellow from within the system had stepped up. "Did he have any connection with anyone at the Abington Mutual?" (one of the member companies of the New England association).
"Oh yes," replied Sherman, "he was related to the family that ran the insurance company and the local bank."
"Case dismissed," said Bill. "You were a fortunate victim of the system."
I still remember the names of some of those young teachers that we were able to trace to family names of officers of some of those insurance companies: Adams, Bruce, Brown, Porter, and some others. There were never any McCarthys or Greenbergs.
Bill found out that Henry Sanborn got his prospects for Andover teaching position from one single teacher employment agency in Boston. They always had just what he wanted and needed. As long as these girls registered with that agency, it all seemed legitimate. Bill felt that even Henry Sanborn, to the end, was not fully aware of the program. If you could trace only one or two of these to names and localities, then you could argue that it was coincidence. When we began to see a trend, it really defied reason to consider it as accidental.
That is the way it was in the good old days---or were they so good? In no way do I wish to infer that any of these fortunate young ladies were anything but capable teachers. As far as I know they were all well equipped for their work. My complaint stems from the fact that local girls, children of local taxpayers, and products of the local school system, had to go out of town and scrounge around for a position, instead of being able to live at home---as most young single men and women did in those days---and help with the family budget through Depression days.
When Bill died, one "girl" came over to me at the funeral home and whispered: "No one will ever know how much Bill did for the local girls who were looking for jobs in the Andover school system." She knew, because she was one of the girls. I'm sure that many of them will go, or have gone, to their graves without ever knowing the intrigue and the fighting that kept them out and later brought them back in.
In the 1920s, when Bill started to cover the town as the reporter for the Eagle-Tribune, there were no "open meeting laws." Every meeting of the selectmen, board of public works, and school committee were the equivalent of "executive sessions." If you wanted to talk to the selectmen about some matter---as we did about the town insurance one time---you would be invited to the town hall at 7:30 and left to sit out in the corridor until about 9:45, when they got good and ready to admit you for a few minutes.
The press was never allowed into the meetings. The same rules applied to the other boards, too. The press would be told whatever it was agreed should be made public. This is not, mind you, an attack on any one public official. This was the way the town government worked between annual town meetings.
There is the story, not generally known today, some sixty-five years later, that Alexander Rogers, the grandfather of the present publisher of the Tribune, Irving Jr., was fed up with the lack of news from Andover Town Hall, so he sent "Red" Dyer---Bill's predecessor---over to the weekly meeting of the board of public works with orders to get in, observe, and report the goings on. Red rapped on the closed door, and the knock was answered by Chuck Gilliard, the assistant superintendent, under Frank Cole. Red said he wanted to attend the meeting as an observer and was having a little difference of opinion with Chuck. Some members of the board got concerned and asked Dyer what he wanted. That gave Red his chance; he stepped in and said he was representing the press and demanded admission. One of the board members, Barnett "Barney" Rogers, was adamantly opposed.
"Mr. Rogers," Dyer said, "your son sent me over."
"Well, you go back and tell my son to run his newspaper, and let us run the board of public works." End of conversation. When the publisher passed Dyer in the newsroom the next morning, he asked Red how he had made out.
Red recounted the events of the night before, including the advice from father to son. Alec Rogers merely chuckled and walked into his office.
That was the way that the public business was conducted in Andover---and, I suppose, in many other small towns in the first quarter of this century. I cannot help but smile now when someone in town ties up a meeting of the board of selectmen over the question of whether or not a special meeting has been properly posted in a timely manner. I really laugh out loud at those who stand up in righteous indignation when the state legislature operates late into the night. They merely learned it from their Republican predecessors of long ago.
In my youth Massachusetts was a very conservative, one-party state: Republican. When Bill wrote in my name on the ballot for a position on the Democratic town committee in 1938, the party registration in this town was about three and one-half to one, Republican over Democrat. Although they would never change their party designation on the voting list, many who had profited by the Roosevelt New Deal were---in the secrecy of the polling booth---already voting Democratic.
When I was elected to the town committee, I joined Mike Burke, the funeral director, and Jimmy Darby, older brother of Katherine Merrill and Mary Connor, wife of my lifelong friend, Joe. When election time came along, we were expected to run an ad in the Tribune endorsing the entire Democratic slate. Jimmy would come into the office and collect $5 from me to cover one-third of the cost of the ad.
The Republican town committee of those days included several of the more prominent men in the town---Fred Cheever, Harry Sellars, Roy Hardy, Jim Mosher, John Stark---and anyone else that they cared to reach out and pull in. It is interesting to note that there were no women on the party committees in those days. Except on the school committee and as library trustees, women did not really get involved in politics until alter World War II.
Almost all of the state constitutional officers were Republican; the county commissioners were Republican; Fred Butler, Andover's town moderator in the 1930s was a commissioner. Our state senator was Republican, but in the 1920s and until redistricting in the 1930s, Andover was linked with Ward 6 in South Lawrence as a double district for state representative.
Tom Lane, a young lawyer, and Arthur Ganley, both Democrats, were elected for several terms by the heavy Ward 6 vote. Ganley was succeeded by Jim "Cabbage" Donley. (I never knew where the nickname "Cabbage" came from. There were many explanations, and some of the ones that originated in Andover were not very complimentary!) Our senatorial district included North Andover and Haverhill; I don't recall any of our early twentieth-century senators. Alter World War II Andover did get some local representation in the senate from John Adams and later Phil Allen.
When the House of Representatives was redistricted in the 1930s, we were thrown into a triple district that included North Andover, Ward 1 in Lawrence, and most of Methuen. J. Everett Collins from town (of the Collins Center fame) served that district for several years, along with Frank Giles and Bill Longworth from Methuen. Collins retired after five terms and was succeeded by Attorney and later Judge Arthur Williams. Arthur also served as town moderator in the early 1970s.
In those early days the city of Boston and some of the larger cities Lawrence were heavily Democratic strongholds, but practically every town and several of the cities---such as Springfield and Pittsfield---were very much Republican. The unrest of the Depression days gave us Democratic governors, Jim Curley and Charley Hurley, but the legislature remained in Republican control, and it was not until my old friend from college days, Tip O'Neill, was elected Speaker of the U.S. House that things started to turn around. Tip moved to the Congress in 1952 when Jack Kennedy ran for the U.S. Senate.
From that point, about 1949, the tide went out for the Republican Old Guard, as the new war vets began to assert themselves. It has been a very interesting half-century for me, sitting on the sidelines as I have, to see the gradual change that has taken place.
Until Paul Tsongas defeated Paul Cronin for the 5th District U.S. Congressional seat in the 1970s, Andover had always been represented by Republicans. First it was John Jacob Rogers, who died in office in the 1920s and was succeeded by his widow, Edith Nourse Rogers. She was succeeded by her administrative assistant, Brad Morse, and he by Andover resident Paul Cronin.
All of these people, I am certain, served the interests of this town and its citizens well. There were times, as in the case of the state and federal approval of the junior high and auditorium projects, when we had to run around elected officials and use outside help, but they were doing the bidding of those in the town who had their ear.
It used to be said that Andover had a larger ratio of "reserved" auto registration plates---that is, having numbers under 100,000---than any other community in Massachusetts. That could have been because Frank Goodwin and Rudolph King, the early registrars, took care of their friends, or it could simply be that a larger proportion of more Andover citizens were able to afford autos before the rest of the state. My Uncle Martin had two cars in the early 1920s with consecutive five figured plates, 30507 and 30508. He sold one and turned in 30507. I still have 30508, on my wife Sheila's car; it has ridden with the family since about 1923.
Back in those days a reserved plate was a status symbol. Today it merely costs more money. For many years Bill would take a batch of renewal registrations in to the registry office in Boston before the October 15 deadline. That was in the days when all registrations and insurance expired on December 31 at midnight. We really worked in the insurance agencies during the month of December, getting out all the renewals and new accounts, picking up heavy piles of plates at the registry office on South Broadway, bringing them back to the office, and often delivering the last set of plates at about 8:00 on New Year's Eve, somewhere in Ballardvale, Methuen, or North Andover. Life is so much easier now.
In 1963 I was approached by Ed Moss, a local boy, who had become the chief aide to Ted Kennedy. Ed, or "Boots" as he was known to his friends around town in those days, had obtained a position with the Federal Civil Defense department for his longtime friend Ray LaRosa. Ray had been a lieutenant in the Andover Fire Department and he was also the chairman of the Democratic town committee. As a federal employee, under the provisions of the Hatch Act, Ray had to resign his position on the town committee.
Moss wanted someone whom he knew he could depend on to head the committee in his home town---no time or place for embarrassment. I was known to Moss and his wife, the former Katherine O'Riordan. Kay had been one of my favorite people when I was a playground supervisor, a friendly, upbeat girl who was always ready and willing to help, a joy to have around the playground.
I hadn't wanted to say no to my friend Ed Moss. The main meeting room at the library was taken, so we were shunted off to a small, low-studded side room. About twenty-seven members of the committee were present. Jim St. Germain, the political science professor from Merrimack College, was the vice-chairman, and so was in charge. LaRosa had already resigned. As I looked around the room, I counted about nine votes including my own, so I made up my mind that I was not going to make it.
On the way in I had mentioned to Jack Lussier that I might be nominated and all he said was, "Don't worry." After the usual wrangling about procedure---common to every Democratic party gathering at every level---the nominations began.
There were some snide remarks and some unpleasant undertones between members who I was sure would not vote for me anyway, so I let it all go. The nominations were closed, one or two nominees withdrew. I was still quite disinterested, because my nine friendly faces were hardly going to prevail. The ballots were cast, and the results announced by the chairman. I received nineteen votes out of twenty-seven present. I was stunned. To this day I cannot figure out where the other ten votes came from. Let me restate that. I am sure that the Kennedy office must have twisted some arms, but what I don't know is whose arms they were. Suffice it to say that to this day I have never bet against the Kennedy organization's ability to deliver.
One year later, I had a talk one day with Moss on Main Street in front of my office. He was on his way to Washington to meet Ted, to fly up with him to the state convention in Springfield on Friday night. On Friday night, in the convention hall, a portable radio picked up the flash that the Kennedy plane had crashed on the approach to Barnes Airport in Northhampton. Ed Moss sacrificed his own life by shielding Kennedy on impact. He and the pilot died, and Kennedy spent months in a Boston hospital. To this day, I believe, he has to wear a heavy metal back brace for support.
Moss was survived by his wife, Kay, and three young daughters, two of whom were classmates of Sheila and Joanne. Ed was smart, capable, and dedicated to Kennedy. I have always felt that had he lived, he would have guided Ted all the way to the White House. He would have been the strong arm that would never have allowed some of the "sidetracks" to happen. It always seemed to me that Ted Kennedy suffered a critical loss in that plane crash. Jack had his brother Bobby, Bobby had some of the "Palace Guard" left over from Jack's day, but Ted lost his on the approach to Barnes Airport in the spring of 1964.
I have told you about the Depression days of the 1930s. Along about 1938 the rumblings in Europe were getting louder. Hitler wanted more control of Central Europe and the British and French seemed unable to contain him. On Labor Day weekend in 1939, he invaded Poland and all hell broke loose. England and France came to the defense of Poland and declared war. By June of 1940 Germany had overrun Belgium, the low countries, France, and was preparing to invade England. Italy had joined Germany, and Russia was in on the deal for a while.
On September 16, 1940, we had the first "peacetime" military draft in the history of the United States. All males between the ages of twenty-one and thirty had to register, in the Town Hall. We were, assigned numbers, and when the President and others drew numbers out of the famous "goldfish bowls" in Washington on October 16, we all knew where we stood.
The draft started soon after, the enlistment being for one year. That designation was changed to "for the duration" after Pearl Harbor. I think that Eddie McCabe was the first man actually drafted from Andover. I have no idea what ever happened to Eddie. He had lived with his mother on Barnard Street. In the first year only a few men were drafted, usually one or two at a time. Our local draft board covered Andover, North Andover, and Boxford. Clinton Stevens was the clerk---not a desirable position---and Henry Hopper, the business manager at Phillips Academy, was the chairman of the draft board.
Once Pearl Harbor was attacked, and Roosevelt made his speech to the joint legislatures at noon the next day---referring to the attack as a "day that will go down in infamy"---the Congress declared war, and things really started to happen. By the first week in January 1942, the draft board was sending about sixty-five to seventy men every two or three weeks. I went out on April 7, 1942, two days after Easter. I was separated at Fort Devens on January 31, 1946, on a Thursday, and was at work in the insurance office the next morning at 9:00 a.m.
I cannot tell you too much of what went on at home in those days, except that I understand that there were lines to buy almost everything: meat, butter, silk stockings, gasoline, and tires. There were ration stamps for food and for gasoline. In one of my old wallets stashed in a desk drawer I ran across two or three ration stamps for gasoline that I must have picked up while on furlough.
Andover utilized air raid wardens---my father was one---and there was also a home guard unit, made up of those who were too old, deferred, or already separated for disabilities. Supplies were short, as all resources were directed toward the war effort and the four or more million men and women in the armed forces. There were no new automobiles built for civilian use for about four years, and anyone who needed a new tire had to beg at the ration board office. There were blackouts and curfews and, all in all, it was not very pleasant to be a civilian during those years.
But, at long last, Victory in Europe---VE Day-came in the spring of 1945; Japan surrendered in August-VJ Day---and the lights went on again all over the world. We all soon came home to try to pick up where we had left off. In some ways it seemed like such a waste in time and effort. Some never came home; some came back to spend their days institutionalized; some carried scars to their graves; and some never were able to cope. These last were the real casualties---young fellows who could not adjust to normal life, could not forget the horrors they had lived through and ended up broken in spirit. Such, apparently, is the price of freedom.
Many Andover boys decided not to return to town to live after the war. They married and settled down in all parts of the country, coming back only for high school class reunions, or occasionally to visit or bury relatives. That closeness of community and family ties that were the hallmark of every small New England town had been broken, perhaps forever. Those of us who returned, settled down, and have retained the traditions of the community feel that something very precious was lost on account of that break. Perhaps it would have happened anyway, as travel and communication have brought the world closer, but I still feel that the phenomenon was a product of the war.
Slowly but surely as we returned to town and to work in 1946, the face of Andover began to change. Western Electric Co. had moved into the former Monomac Mill in South Lawrence, and in a few years built a giant modern plant in North Andover. With that came an influx of skilled engineers and technicians who preferred to live in either of the Andovers. This meant that much of the farm lands had to be divided and subdivided for new housing. The construction industry boomed, the banks grew, and the additional population meant more business for everyone.
Within another few years Raytheon took over the Shawsheen Woolen Mill, which had been abandoned when the American Woolen Co. folded. Avco moved into the former Wood Mill in Lawrence. All of these brought in new blood and fresh ideas to each community. Several Western Electric employees took a strong interest in Andover town affairs: Harold King left his stamp on the planning board, Charley DiBelle served on the industrial commission, and Henry Wolfson became president of the local taxpayers association. Ed Sullivan, husband of Jeanne, served on the board of selectmen. All of these people, with the exception of Sullivan, who died a few years after he finished his stint in office, came into town, got involved for a few years, and left. They were either transferred to other plants or retired and moved away. None stayed long enough to become a real part of the community.
All these men were well educated, articulate, and very persuasive powers on their feet. They made their points and swayed the town. I might say here that there were those in the community who were glad to see them come, glad to see some of them go, and there were even a few who wished that they had not come at all. As for myself, I have had mixed feelings. I always felt that someone who wishes to change the face of a community, or introduce new ideas, should stay around, either to enjoy or suffer the consequences of their propositions. In any event, Andover was here long before any of us arrived, and I am sure it will survive every last one of us.
It is interesting to note here that many, in fact, most of these men were convinced that Andover's government needed a complete overhaul. With rare exception, they were sure that our selectmen/board of public works/individually elected public servants system was inefficient, outdated, and overdue for replacement. At the very least, they held, we should shift to a strong town manager charter, and consolidate all the authority of power---outside of the school department---in the hands of one person, responsible to the board of selectmen. It appeared that they would grant us our town meeting---at least for the time being. However, many felt that town meetings were too cumbersome and archaic, and should be supplanted by a representative form of town government down the road. Their argument, as I recall, was that the business of government had become too complex to be left in the hands of a few part-time amateurs. What we needed was one full-time professional who would be all things to all people. That sounded good on the face of it and a lot of people were swayed.
Now at that time there were other trends and happenings occurring in the community. I have mentioned before that the Burton Flagg/Andover Banks empire was beginning to show some slight cracks as we moved into the 1950s. The Andover National Bank had always been a small town bank, catering to the needs of the small town. It serviced the accounts of the town, which were growing bigger in deposits and balances each year; the insurance companies, the academies, Tyer Rubber, the Marland Mills, and the bulk of the downtown businesses.
The American Woolen Co. had used Boston and New York banks, and an organization like Western Electric would use either the Arlington Trust or the Bay State National in Lawrence for its payroll accounts because the vast majority of the labor force came from Lawrence. Let me change that slightly: the Arlington would not make out in that competition because it was the Irish Catholic bank in Lawrence. The "old boy" Masonic handshake was the all-powerful force at the upper levels in Lawrence banking. You can't fault that, I suppose, because they dealt with the people whom they knew. We found a similar situation in the real estate business when our office tried to acquire some of the transfer business. Those who were transferred up here from Kearney, New Jersey, admitted to me in many cases that they had been "advised" where to go before they relocated. It was frustrating at the time but as I look back on it all now, I smile, shrug, and say to myself, "If only the Knights of Columbus had controlled A.T.& T. in those days!"
Well, what brings me to a recitation of all of this is the other factor that entered the arena at that time. In the early 1950s, Howell Stillman, my next door neighbor on Juniper Road (and better neighbors than Howell and Mary Stillman no one ever had) as president of the Bay State National Bank in Lawrence---now part of Fleet Norstar---had built a branch in Andover on Main Street. It was a very nice building with adequate parking in the rear, and a solid bank with a solid reputation, but it was unable to attract any of the four or five big deposit accounts in the town.
Howell had served as chairman of the town finance committee during the 1930s, but had drifted off the scene during the 1940s. Now in the 1950s, it was not possible to get any of the insurance company account with Flagg still at the helm. Nor could Howell get the Phillips Academy account, because its treasurer sat on all of Flagg's boards. Wallace Brimmer, the treasurer at Tyer Rubber, was on the board at Andover National, and the Stevens mills were sewed up because the Stevens family owned most of the Andover National stock.
There was really only one account that the Bay State could hope to obtain to make the branch pay its way: some of the town of Andover deposits. Toward that end, Howell worked hard and allied himself with those reformers who wanted change in the town government. It took them about four years, but on the second ballot try, the new charter was adopted and at the next annual election, five new selectmen, committed to the reform, were elected. And the old guard---Sid White, Stafford Lindsay, and Dr. Bill Emmons---were turned out.
It was quite a change. Bill and I sat on the sidelines and watched in some amusement. Up to that time we were not big favorites at Town Hall, although Stafford Lindsay was a personal friend with whom I had worked on several projects and Sid White was an old buddy who like me frequented Ford's Coffee Shop for breakfast and lunch.
Gene Bernardin, who died about two years ago after a long and difficult illness, was the first chairman of the "new" board, and immediately he pushed through an order for the appointment of an insurance advisory committee. We had discussed the town insurance among ourselves many times, but the old board would never let anyone even mention town insurance. All the active agencies in town, except Bernardin, were represented on that advisory committee, and I was elected chairman. Eventually we got the insurance program up to date and after a few years, working with a succession of managers, arrived at a formal process whereby all interested local agents are now able to make formal presentations which are evaluated for the town by a consultant. The town then buys the best presentation of coverages commensurate with cost.
Well, Tom Duff, from Claremont, New Hampshire, was Andover's first town manager. One day not long after he came on board, he admitted to me that some of the town funds were now on deposit at Bay State. The most amusing part of the whole scenario was that I had opposed the charter change. I saw through the power fight between the banks, although our agency business went through the Arlington Trust at the time. I was not too sold on the concept that you could go to one person for answers to all your questions and solutions to all your problems.
However, the first day the new manager was due in town, I came out of 8:00 Mass at St. Augustine's a step ahead of a stranger, who, after a good morning greeting, introduced himself to me as Tom Duff, the new town manager." He was walking, so I gave him a ride uptown, and we went into Ford's, where I introduced him to all the gang. After all, if Tom and Stella and Lillian Desrocher, who was working there at the time (now at Lantern Brunch), didn't approve, we would have to ship him out immediately. Tom Duff and I became good friends. As a matter of fact, a funny thing happened that first August after he came to town.
We were moving our family on a Saturday to spend a few weeks at Rye Beach. On Route 95 I passed Tom and his family laden down with baggage, so I stopped and he stopped and we talked about where we were going; I think he was going downeast to York for a week. Back in Andover later that week, I received a call at the office from Ruth Hitchings, the manager's secretary (Ruth died last year). Some emergency had arisen, and no one in the Town Hall knew how to get in touch with Tom.. I was the only one in town, it seemed, who knew where to reach the manager. The fact was, Tom had left his address and phone number right on his desk, but someone had covered it over with a pile of papers.
Tom Duff was an easy-going fellow, friendly and well liked by the man on the street. He was a good choice as the first manager for Andover because he was not overbearing and arrogant. He worked well with all the department heads and made the transition to the new charter an easy road for all the town employees who had to make necessary adjustments. He moved along for the first two or three years and walked the tightrope with his board of selectmen.
However, along about 1963 a controversial issue came up that split the political and business communities down the middle. Urban Renewal was suggested for the center of town. Again, the banks were in the middle of the conflict. Wally Haselton at the old Andover National Bank and several of the town's businessmen were on one side, and again, Howell Stiliman and the Bay State Bank were opposed. I don't recall whether there were any sound policy reasons for the Bay State to be opposed, or whether it was just a case of opposition to the other competition. The local housing authority would have been the conduit for the federal funds---potentially a few million dollars---and the Andover National was their depository at that time.
Our office favored the program because of what it would do for the municipal budget. As I recall---and I could check with Ernie Hall, the executive director of the authority at the time, or Dave McDonald, who served on the board---for an expenditure of about $600,000 in actual outlay, the town would have had new town offices, new fire and police stations, and all new water, sewer, and storm drains in the central business district. In addition, several old frame buildings would have been replaced and parking provided, all in accordance with a master plan. However, fear was planted in the minds of many of the small shop operators. They complained that they would suddenly have to pay exorbitant rents---not realizing that they were already paying high rent for the inferior facilities they occupied. They felt sorry for Hyman Krinsky (Morris's father) who would have to give up his junk yard on Park Street. The barber in the Musgrove Building was afraid he could not afford to stay in town; this from someone who was already paying one of the highest pers-quare-foot costs in Andover.
The Andover Board of Trade, which was about to become an affiliate of the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, held a dinner meeting at the Shawsheen Manor and took a poll of its members. As I recall, with thirty-one businesses present and voting, the vote was fifteen in favor of the program and sixteen against. The matter was on the town warrant at the annual meeting and was decisively defeated.
Within a few years the town, indeed, spent more than $600,000 on the public safety building on North Main Street; within the last few years we have spent about $2,000,000 on restoring the Town Hall; we have spent millions on the conversion of the Punchard High School building to town offices; and God help us when we have to replace our water, sewer, storm drains, road and sidewalk surfaces in the central business district. As the saying goes: "We ain't seen nothing yet."
Well, Tom Duff went against his best political instincts and spoke in favor of Urban Renewal. He felt, like some but not enough of us, that the financial gain for the town was something that we could not afford to lose. That decision cost him his job when his five-year term was over. He broke with the power structure that had brought him in, and that was his undoing.
I still hear from Tom occasionally. He is now located in Vermont, and whenever he passes through town, he usually stops by the office to say hello. He was succeeded by Dick Bowen, a man with an altogether different personality and temperament. Dick was, and is, smart---in fact, in many ways he perhaps was the sharpest of all the managers we have had---but his overbearing manner made him less appreciated. Dick was the only one of all our town managers with whom I had trouble working; and yet, to this day, I like him and respect him.
Dick was followed in order by Maynard Austin, Jared Clark, Ken Mahony, and our present administrator "Buzz" Stapcynski. Maynard Austin was a fine administrator, but unspectacular in the sense that he did not come up with the glitter that would make the selectmen get excited, and he was dismissed in due time. Jared Clark, a fine gentleman and good administrator, really was not at the helm long enough to make many enemies. He resigned after two or three years and went into sales, although he, like Dick Bowen, is still living in town. Jared is active in the Andover Endowment for the Arts and sat on the board that operated the Collins Center.
Ken Mahony succeeded Jared Clark, served about eight years, and resigned to reenter the private sector while this book was being written. Ken has really left his stamp on the community. During his tenure, the Old Town Hall was restored, the high school on Barfiet Street has been converted to the new town offices, the library doubled in size, the expanded water treatment plant was readied to go on line. To me perhaps Ken Mahony's most important contribution was the establishment of a Tree Farm on land adjacent to Spring Grove Cemetery. As you drive along the older neighborhoods, those of you who grew up in Andover must feel a touch of sadness as you note the lack of shade trees lining our streets. I think of the beautiful elm, maple, and chestnut trees that shaded the streets that bear their names. Hurricanes, road salt, disease, and the hot-topping of the areas between the gutter and the sidewalk have all contributed to the demise of the shade trees.
Apparently Ken felt as I have long felt, and it was his intention that when the trees down on the "farm" grow to the proper size, they should be transplanted to provide the shade along our streets. In years to come I hope that this project that Ken started will be cultivated by his successors and not be forgotten and abandoned.
In June of 1990 the selectmen brought in Buzz Stapcynski from neighboring Wilmington to be our sixth town manager. He will be faced with the monumental task of keeping the fiscal ship of state afloat. Between the constraints of Proposition 2 1/2 and the drying up of state aid---due to the Reagan years in Washington during which about one billion dollars annually in block grants to this state were shut off---the town faces the problem of maintaining a school system and a town governmental facility that is already about three million dollars short of where it should be.
Buzz has been blessed with a fine assistant in the budget and finance department. Tony Torrisi has been on the job for almost ten years and has been a great help to all departments of the town. He works well with the finance committee---appointed by me---and we, as a community, are fortunate to have him in our corner.
The one sad point about the manager form of town government is that just about the time when a manager knows his way around town without a map and can greet the librarians by their first names, he either gets a better offer from some other town or he runs afoul of a majority of the board of selectmen. We are now working with our sixth manager, although I am sure that the town would have been well run over all thirty years by any one of them---even Dick Bowen, despite our clashes.
There is, I believe, one other problem with the system. We have what is known as a "strong manager charter," so-called because it gives the manager very broad power and authority. In theory as in fact, there is only so much authority below the level of the town meeting, so whatever is placed in the office of the manager has to come from the office of the board of selectmen. Effectively, a strong manager charter arguably leaves the board of selectmen with only two real bases of authority (beyond the statutory responsibility for approving, after the fact, pole locations and street opening permits): hiring and firing the manager. I realize that this is over-simplification, but the fact is that almost all problems and complaints that come to the board are passed on to the manager for investigation and, usually, eventual resolution.
There is no doubt room for argument on both sides of that issue, but some of us remember when the members of the board of selectmen were truly the "Town Fathers." They hired, fired, and settled all disputes---and had to account for their actions. There was no one else to blame. On the other side of the coin, we have a professional manager, hired to run the business of government, with the advice and consent of a board of directors.
As finite beings, living in a finite world, we cannot hope for the perfect solution. In the last analysis, our government, whatever the form, will be as good as the people whom we entrust to administer it. In my lifetime, thank God, Andover has been served by a long line of dedicated public officials. I have disagreed many times with the decisions that some of them have made, but---and I have said this before---I have never had occasion to question their motives or integrity. In these days of public unrest, apathy, and general disenchantment with the public officials at all levels of government, I get annoyed with those few among us who constantly harass and hassle our elected and appointed officials. Instead of fighting them, why not try working with them for a spell!
Some who worked in the system with pride have been the town office staff. Over the years, from the 1930s on, the town has been blessed with many very dedicated employees in the town offices. Among my earliest recollections were Bill Cheever, the tax collector, and his assistant, Laura Juhlman; Thaxter Eaton, the town treasurer, who was succeeded by Anna Greeley, an attorney, and daughter of the owner of Greeley's Market. In those years Edith Sellars was the secretary to the board of selectmen, the town clerk, George Winslow, and also to the board of assessors, who were the selectmen.
Ahnetta Anderson Wrigley, Punchard class of 1927 and a good basketball player, served in the clerk's office with Winslow and Irving Piper and right into Eldon Salter's recent regime. Irving Piper introduced the concept of the votomatic machines for the computerized system of counting ballots. It was enhanced by Eldon Salter.
Olga Palenski came into the clerk's office several years ago and retired at about the end of 1989. Our present clerk, Randy Hanson, has been in office for almost two years. Her first assistant, Sandy Cassano, has just moved to the manager's office to succeed Barbara Gaunt, who has retired.
When the town went to a full-time assessor, they hired Bernie McGane. He was succeeded by Bill Russell, who served for many years and has only recently retired.
The board of public works office was for decades a male bastion until May Shorten (Bell) moved in. May retired several years ago and still walks---runs---her dog around the town every day.
Betty Nadeau was the board of health nurse for several years and she was succeeded by Mary Hamilton, who has just retired. Mary's friend, Barbara Botsch, has just retired from the accounting department. Barbara's mother, Dorothy Hill Coombs, was a member of the P.H.S. class of 1925---with brother Bill.
Ruth Hitchings served as secretary to Frank Markey, the veterans service officer after World War II; she moved over to the selectmen's office and worked with several of the new managers. Before she retired, Barbara Gaunt moved in to help her and then assumed the post.
Mike Muise is still in the treasurer's office, and I think that he is probably the senior town hall employee, in point of service. If I have missed someone I am sure I will hear about it! I have known them all, am proud to call them friends, and never had an unpleasant confrontation with any one of them. All these men and women have served the town well and we are lucky to have them on our team.