The Wellesley Department of Veterans’ Services is looking for volunteers to assist in placing U.S. flags on veterans’ graves at Woodlawn Cemetery on Monday, May 9t, starting at 3:30pm, weather permitting. (The rain date is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11 starting at 3:30pm.) If you are interested in helping or if you have any questions, please call the Wellesley Veterans’ Office at 781-489-7509.
Meet Herlda Senhouse. At 105 years of age, she is Wellesley’s oldest resident, and earlier this week she had possession of The Boston Cane to prove it.
On August 2, 1909, Mr. Edwin A. Grozier, Publisher of the Boston Post, a newspaper, forwarded to the Board of Selectmen in 700 towns (no cities included) in New England a gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lives (or moves from the town), and at his death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town. The cane would belong to the town and not the man who received it.
The canes were all made by J.F. Fradley and Co., a New York manufacturer, from ebony shipped in seven-foot lengths from the Congo in Africa. They were cut to cane lengths, seasoned for six months, turned on lathes to the right thickness, coated and polished. They had a 14-carat gold head two inches long, decorated by hand, and a ferruled tip. The head was engraved with the inscription, — Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of (name of town) — “To Be Transmitted”. The Board of Selectmen were to be the trustees of the cane and keep it always in the the hands of the oldest citizen. Apparently no Connecticut or Vermont towns were included (at one point it was thought that two towns in Vermont had canes, but this turned out to be a bit of a myth).
In 1924, Mr. Grozier died, and the Boston Post was taken over by his son, Richard, who failed to continue his father’s success and eventually died in a mental hospital. At one time the Boston Post was considered the nation’s leading standard-sized newspaper in circulation. Competition from other newspapers, radio and television contributed to the Post’s decline, and it went out of business in 1957.
The custom of the Boston Post Cane took hold in those towns lucky enough to have canes. As years went by some of the canes were lost, stolen, taken out of town and not returned to the Selectmen or destroyed by accident.
In 1930, after considerable controversy, eligibility for the cane was opened to women as well.
Mrs. Senhouse, who has called Wellesley home for 37 years and is a resident of Glen Grove, where the ceremony took place, was allowed to hold onto Wellesley’s Boston Cane for a minute or two before white-gloved Wellesley Historical Society representatives, familiar with tales of less-careful towns losing track of their cane, spirited it away for safekeeping. The 31st Wellesley recipient of the cane was instead gifted with a pin to commemorate the event, and was showered with roses, the camera clicks of the papparazi, and the attention of 30 well-wishers. Looking fabulous in a Persian blue pantsuit, pearls, freshly coiffed hair, and lipstick brightening up her features, there she sat in a wing-backed chair, receiving her admirers.
She cited wars and the current political climate as two of the most amazing things she’s lived through. “This is the most stupid campaign I’ve seen in my life,” she said. Her tips for living a long and healthy life: “Don’t get stressed out, and if you can’t fix it, forget it.”
The Woburn High School graduate and her late husband, William, never had children of their own during their 62-year marriage, however Mrs. Senhouse worked as a nanny, raising six children for three families during her career. Her spiritual life is taken care of by her church home at Myrtle Baptist Church in West Newton, and she takes care of her daily needs of this earth at Glen Grove.
“Herlda, I hope you life to be 120,” declared a well-wisher to unanimous agreement.
Hear, hear. The Boston Cane is historical, and well-crafted, and important and all, but the fewer times it changes hands, the better everyone likes it.
Wellesley High School Evolutions program students on May 11 will honor WHS alumni and staff military veterans with an unveiling and dedication of a commemorative art project.
The event, which is open to veterans and the general public, will take place at 6pm in the courtyard behind the cafeteria, and those planning to attend are encouraged to RSVP here. After the dedication, the project will be brought inside and ideally reside in a location where it might encourage quiet reflection.
Fifteen students will work on the physical project over two to three weeks, though they’ve put in lots of work already identifying over 600 names by cross-referencing lists of residents who served in the U.S. Armed Forces by using information from the Wellesley Historical Society’s collection of old WHS yearbooks. Because there are so many names, they won’t be individually recognized on the project, but names will be recorded in an online database that the public will be able to add names to on their own.
Identifying the veterans “has been an incredibly time-consuming task,” and students say that has contributed to the project feeling so meaningful, according to Emily Shapero, a WHS history teaching who is working with the students on the project (and kindly shared the accompanying photos with us). “There is definitely an emotional connection when they see the yearbook photos of the graduates who went on to serve,” she says.
Inspiration for the project came from students taking part in an interdisciplinary unit on “War and Hope,” and visiting monuments throughout greater Boston. Students visited Armenian Heritage Park, the Crispus Attucks Memorial, the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, the Irish Famine Memorial and the Holocaust Memorial, among others.
RELATED: Wellesley war memorial momuments
Following the talk on Paul Revere, the Historical Society will wrap up their lecture series on May 19 before taking a break for the summer with The History of the Quabbin Reservoir, 7pm, in the Wellesley Library’s Wakelin Room.
In case you didn’t have a chance to close read all 20 of our posts over the last week, we’ve curated the best and most informative to keep you current. Here’s what happened in town when you blinked:
Wonder Woman readies for Marathon
Wellesley’s own seriously legit runner and uber-fundraiser Carol Chaoui got some love in a nice segment on CBS Boston news. The mother of four, and her husband Amin, is prepping for this year’s Boston Marathon and raising funds for Dana-Farber cancer institute, while battling stage four breast and thyroid cancers.
The CBS film crews showed up at her home to catch Carol and dozens of friends as they ran through the streets of Wellesley for a regular trot designed to help locals get off their couches and run 5K road races. I joined right in that day as over 30 of us mugged for the camera crews and created a scene as we bopped along, laughing and chit-chatting. I’m a non-runner, but that didn’t matter, all were welcome. Anyway, I knew that the real fun would be the post-run refreshments back at Carol’s, a place as colorful as her personality and her clothes, a home decorated with a flair and vibrating with an air that makes it feel like a slice of Cambridge tucked away here in Wellesley.
If you’re as inspired as I am by Chaoui, click here to help her raise $65,000 in funds for metastatic breast cancer research through Dana-Farber.
Wellesley’s Mr. Revenue
Another Wellesley resident who got some attention was Mike Heffernan, who was appointed as the state’s new commissioner of revenue. You may remember that Heffernan ran for State Treasurer back in 2014 but lost his bid for that office. One of our Facebook commenters said about Heffernan, “He does my lawn. Just kidding. I know he’s the other one.”
Greineder home razed
Next, a part of Wellesley’s dark past was razed. 56 Cleveland Rd., the house where convicted wife killer Dirk Greineder and his family once lived, was torn down. The house where the former allergist and his family lived was, as are many split-level homes in town, knocked down to make way for a new home. The 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 1,867 sq. ft. house sold for a little over $800K in September, after last being purchased in 2002 for $655K, according to Zillow.
Historic home in jeopardy
In other real estate news, a house with ties to Booker T. Washington may be headed for the wrecking ball. From the Townsman: “The home, which according to commission historian Joshua Dorin once housed a school for boys that counted African American icon Booker T. Washington’s son among its students, could be marked for demolition with no legal barriers standing in the new owner’s way.”
Around the college scene, Wellesley College’s Clapp library was called out by architectural blog Mid-Century Mundane as a building that “lack(s) elegance but continues to serve students’ needs ably.” Faint praise, indeed.
Dropping the Interim at Fiske
Also in education news, there’s a new Fiske School principal. Rachel McGregor, who has served as the interim principal at Fiske Elementary School in Wellesley for the current school year, has been appointed as permanent principal now. She was selected from a pool of 53 applicants.
Au Revoir to Wellesley shop
In local business news, Your French Gift, the shop at 269 Washington St. in Wellesley that opened in 2013, is closing its brick-and-mortar location but will continue operating online. Signs hanging in the windows advertise space being available via Conviser Property Group. Au revoir to one of Swellesley’s earliest advertisers. We wish you the best.
Also in local business news, a new nail salon will be moving into the former LittleBits Toys shop space at 304 Washington St. Wellesley has about a dozen nail salons/spas, which might be gaining in numbers on banks, as one of our Facebook page commenters noted.
Bird’s eye view
You absolutely have got to check out Wellesley College’s Ravencam. Pauline and Henry have returned to their nest for the third year in a row. Pauline has laid a clutch of five eggs, and she and Henry are busy making everything perfect for their soon-to-be-hatched family.
Babson College founder Roger Babson honored one of his ancestors, the martyr Rev. John Rogers, with this memorial on the college campus across from the Coleman Map Building. Rev. Rogers was burned at the stake on this date, Feb. 4, back in 1555 for what else, religious reasons. A bust in his memory has also been erected in England.
Wellesley town offices, libraries and schools, and the RDF are closed on Monday, Jan. 18, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
You can start your day at the World of Wellesley’s MLK Annual Community Breakfast Celebration, which takes place at Wellesley College’s Alumnae Hall at 8:30-10am. Keynote address will be by Dr. Yves Solomon-Fernandez, interim president of MassBay Community College. The Wellesley High Step Team will perform as well. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students, and may be purchased at the door. RSVP to [email protected]
Another way you can celebrate MLK’s birthday is by attending an event at Schofield Elementary School on Monday from 11:30am to 1:30pm that will feature interactive activities, plus pizza, and crafts. RSVP To: [email protected]
Also, something to follow up on after the holiday:
*Babson’s annual Martin Luther King Legacy Day takes place on Feb. 17 and features a keynote address by Michele Norris, an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. She is currently a host and special correspondent for NPR. Previously, Norris served as co-host of NPR’s newsmagazine All Things Considered, public radio’s longest-running national program, with Robert Siegel and Melissa Block. Norris began hosting the program in December, 2002 and stepped away from her All Things Considered duties during the 2012 presidential campaign. While on sabbatical, Norris spent a time traveling the country and developing two successful initiatives: The Race Card Projectand NPR’s Backseat Book Club. Her new role will allow her to continue this work while producing in-depth segments for all NPR programs.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Keynote address followed by cocktail reception
The Wellesley Historical Society’s free drop-in Winter Wednesdays program continues this Wednesday, Jan. 13, at the Wellesley Community Center at 219 Washington St., from 1-3pm. No pre-registration required.
The program description:
Write with Carrie Denton: Read diary entries of a Wellesley girl in the 1880s and learn what life was like for children growing up in Wellesley during the town’s early days.
During Winter Wednesdays, children investigate and learn about history through fun, hands-on activities and games. For more information, please email Erica Dumont at [email protected] or call (781) 235-6690.
Here’s some welcome news regarding the recently vacated Wellesley Hills railroad station building: The Swellesley Report has learned that European coffeehouse Caffe Nero will be opening there as soon as this spring and it plans to do so with respect for the historically significant building.
Wellesley residents expressed concern for what might become of the building when previous occupants A Z Fine Arts and Jaylin Cleaners cleared out late last year, and interest has been sparked again in recent days because of workers seen doing their thing inside the building.
With this in mind, the Wellesley Historical Commission last month reached out to the owner of the property to ensure there was awareness of the historic nature of the building and to offer any assistance in supporting 21st century use of it while retaining its historical character, said Commission Chair Tad Heuer. The owner was in fact aware and it appears the outside of the building will likely not be changed much by Caffe Nero, Heuer adds.
“This is one of those buildings that is architecturally unique not just for Wellesley but for the wider sense of that era and community,” Heuer says.
Indeed, the history of the building is not lost on Caffe Nero, according to Jay Gentile, USA director for the London-based company, which got its start in 1997. “We are thrilled and privileged to work in such a great building designed by H. H. Richardson and one that has been a part of Wellesley for so long. We will do our best to treat this building with the respect it deserves.”
Hundreds of Caffe Nero shops are located around the world, and the company started opening shops in Greater Boston in 2014. “Caffe Nero is a European Coffee House and Master Roaster that specializes in Italian inspired offerings,” Gentile says. “We are obsessive in the creation of excellent espresso. We roast all our coffee in our European Roastery where our Master Roaster personally tastes every batch we produce. We bake pastries, cookies and make fresh salads and sandwiches every morning in our kitchen. We also bring in quality baked goods every day from local artisan bakeries like Treats on Washington and fresh bread from Nashoba Brook Bakery. All of our dairy is locally sourced from High Lawn Dairy in Lee, Mass.”
Why add Wellesley to the list of Caffe Nero locations?
“Wellesley would be very typical of our suburban locations in Europe. We find that communities that are well traveled and well educated have an appreciation for a true European Coffee House experience,” Gentile says.
Caffe Nero is in the early stages of working with the town to get the business up and running, and the hope is that it could open this spring.
When we heard that the New York Public Library had released 180,000 high resolution digital images into the public domain our first thought was: Any Wellesley pics in there?
Sure enough, there are, mainly of Wellesley College, with a smattering of good old Hunnewell stuff. They even shared some shaky GIFS (moving images).
GIF of Hunnewell gardens estimated from 1870-95 made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator
Here’s a sampling of more images, and feel free to poke around in the database yourself if you’re interested in finding something in particular. If you think you’re seeing double with some of these, that’s because some of the images are presented in stereoscopic format.