Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Maynard News, 1917

One hundred years ago the local weekly newspapers, The Maynard News and the Maynard Enterprise, both served the towns of Maynard, Hudson, South Acton, Stow and Concord Junction (West Concord). Annual subscriptions cost $1.50. Advertisements for wicker baby buggies listed prices of $10 to $45. Automobiles started at $700.   

Although the 'Great War' [World War I], had started in July 1914, the United States did not enter until April 6, 1917. From an editorial: "War has been declared between the United States and Germany. On Friday, the House voted 373 to 50 in favor of war, thus authorizing the President, as Commander-in-Chief... it is probable that an army of at least 500,000 men will be raised immediately, and others will follow..."  By the war's end, 19 months later, close to five million men had entered the armed forces, and there had been 53,400 combat fatalities and 63,100 non-combat fatalities. The total represented one-tenth of one percent of the country's population. In contrast, The United Kingdom lost two percent, and France and Germany, more than three percent (not counting civilian deaths).

Stow and Maynard would have a combined total of 428 serving in the armed forces, with 13 fatalities. In Maynard, the American Legion Post, on Summer Street (its building sold in 2016 and converted to condominiums), was named after Frank DeMars, the first of eight Maynard residents to lose their lives. Bronze nameplates on posts in various locations about town honor those men. Maynard's Memorial Park - dedicated in 1925 - has a plaque listing all enrollees. Stow's War Memorial, in front of the Randall Library, also identifies those who served and those who died.

An item in the paper in August noted that Maynard resident Toivo Alto drowned while bathing at Vose Pond. He had immigrated from Finland to the U.S. ten years earlier, and worked at the mill. He, his wife, and children had gone to the pond, a popular bathing spot. Although he had been seen going under the surface, and was brought up to the surface in a little over a minute by other bathers, he could not be revived. The doctor ruled cause of death as heart failure and drowning.

Maynard High School baseball team, Spring 1917. The man in the suit was
Principal Horace F. Bates, graduate of Harvard and coach of the team. 
1917 was the first year for high school seniors to graduate from the new high school. That building is currently the east wing of ArtSpace, on Summer Street. The graduating class numbered only thirteen students. Maynard's population at the time was 7,000. Stow's was 1,100. Maynard's Annual Report recorded 111 deaths, 92 marriages and 236 births. There were 188 dog licenses issued, and taxes collected for 151 horses and 129 cattle. Cars and trucks were not yet tallied or taxed.

The Town of Maynard Annual Report adds a bit more detail to life at that time. The fire department was debating replacing the horse-drawn ladder wagon with a motor truck. It had been a quiet year, with only ten fire calls for the entire year. The police report for the year included 88 arrests for drunkenness, 44 for assault and battery, 6 for larceny and 3 for profanity. 

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