Remembering Dorchester April 25, 2018

dorchester banner/sylvia b. windsor The Daily Banner’s Elsie McNamara, sits in her rocking chair on a float in the Tercentenary Parade in Cambridge celebrating 1669-1969. Famous for writing The Rocking Chair column (not the rocking horse column as incorrectly stated in last week’s Remembering) Elsie worked at The Banner for 50 years before retiring as the newspaper’s Managing Editor. In addition to her daily column she also covered fires, accidents, criminal news and anything exciting. Her rocking chair was a fixture in the office and readers were always giving her replica rocking chairs from all over the United States.

dorchester banner/sylvia b. windsor
The Daily Banner’s Elsie McNamara, sits in her rocking chair on a float in the Tercentenary Parade in Cambridge celebrating 1669-1969. Famous for writing The Rocking Chair column (not the rocking horse column as incorrectly stated in last week’s Remembering) Elsie worked at The Banner for 50 years before retiring as the newspaper’s Managing Editor. In addition to her daily column she also covered fires, accidents, criminal news and anything exciting. Her rocking chair was a fixture in the office and readers were always giving her replica rocking chairs from all over the United States.

From the pages of The Banner

50 years ago

The Cambridge community is “really trying to solve its problems,” a representative of the United States Chamber of Commerce told members and guests of the Cambridge-Dorchester Chamber of Commerce at its 22nd annual dinner in the American Legion home last night.

Richard L. Breault told his audience: “In many ways, this community can serve as an example to other communities, large and small, facing tragic disturbances, frustrations and violence. You did not turn your backs on your problems when they erupted into national headlines.

Instead, you renewed your resolve to build this community and move it forward.”

The speaker went on to say, “It is heartening to read about what you are doing to improve the economy, job opportunities, schools, housing, race relations and other basic features.”

He listed among the progressive steps taken: a drop in unemployment, action on low-rent housing needs, special programs for the poor, water pollution reduction and “constructive proposals for modernizing the public schools of Dorchester County.”

Turning to race relations, he said the local community “can be proud of efforts made to bridge the gap of understanding among citizens with white skins and black skins.”

Mr. Breault said he found it significant that the Dorchester Industrial Development Corporation summarized a recent report saying, “Today in Cambridge and Dorchester County, problems in race, relations and efforts to improve the cultural atmosphere will take precedence over the drive to attract new industry … much of the community’s problem now deals with intangible things that cannot be resolved by physical buildings and machines.”

100 years ago

Americans may have to learn throwing all over again – baseball pitching and long throws from center field are not adapted to bomb-tossing – but they still are teaching the French poilu how to catch, it was revealed interestingly in a letter received today from William L. Stidger, a Y.M.C.A worker at the front in France.

The French soldier catches with both hands, Mr. Stidger declares, while the Americans, with generations of baseball, just pick them out of the air with either hand.

The fielding ability of the two nationalities was demonstrated for observation in a 10-mile drive to the front-line trenches during which the Y.M.C.A. distributed a big motor truckload of oranges from California. As the “Y” workers passed soldiers, pitched the golden fruit to them, two oranges to a man.

The first recipients were French soldiers, an ammunition train, the men mounted or on wagons. Most of them missed the oranges, although the poilus dismounted without loss of time to pick them up.

Then the truck whirled through a village filled with Americans, and the fun began. Mr. Stidger said, “The American lad could catch them with his eyes shut or on horseback, as many an American officer did that day.”

One American officer, seeing this catching bee, said, “An American boy can catch anything, for about half of our company caught the mumps, and the other half caught the measles.”

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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