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Life in Holliston in 1926

by Bobby Blair
December 7, 2018

There aren't too many alive today to remember life as it was in Holliston in 1926. The population in town prior to the Great Depression of the 1930's stood 2,750 residents. Less than a decade earlier the town had sent its men off to WWI in the "War to End All Wars." Prohibition was in effect and the lack of alcohol across the country decreased by 50% those suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. While liquor may have been banished it apparently didn't stop some from drinking as Police Chief Lewis T. Holbrook arrested 11 for drunkenness and 7 for driving under the influence of liquor. Holbrook also reported 15 dogs being shot and $1,120.00 worth of goods being stolen in town.

Many homes in town still had not converted to the electric world in 1926 but rather owned something called the icebox shown above. The Rossini Bros. Icehouse in East Holliston would supply the ice cut from Houghton's Pond during the winter. Customers simply placed a placard in their window on delivery day listing how many chunks of ice they needed. The ice began at .15 cents a chunk.

The Board of Health in 1926 listed communicable diseases rarely heard of a century later. The town had 14 cases of Scarlet Fever, 38 Mumps, and 36 cases of Whooping Cough. The School Nurse reported 52 children in need of dentistry, 11 with malnutrition and 72 kids with poor posture. The graduating class of 1926 listed 30 students, among them notable athlete Raymond Tondorf. 504 students were enrolled in the school system in 1926 with a school budget of $44,200.17. The superintendent took home $1,426.64 and the school committee had expenses of $8.59.

The town's Overseers of the Poor reported in 1926 that "two major changes have been made. During the summer the milk route was given up. At the same time certain necessary alterations were made in the inmates' quarters. The Poor Farm as it was called is pictured above and still stands in East Holliston to this day. Other big doing at the farm included the purchase of an electric washing machine.

Article 4 of the Town Meeting Warrant of 1926 requested that voters approve the sum of $20,000 for the rebuilding of the Wilder School on Baker Street which had been destroyed by fire. Voters approved the request. The two room schoolhouse is now a private residence.

 

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Comments (2)

why were 15 dogs shot?

- rosemary rowan | 12/9/18 11:22 AM

Such fun to see accounts of the "old days" in Holliston which undoubtedly includes me since I remember a good deal of it. As you mention, my parents had the old ice box at our Winthrop St. home. I remember the card in the front window letting Mr. Rossini know that we needed a block of ice. He knew just how much to chip away on the block before he brought it in. I can see him now struggling to climb the stairs to the second floor of our house with what they said was a 100lb. block of ice straddled across his back; the ice resting on a rubber cape. His arms raised over his shoulders, he held the ice in place with a large clamp . Just a kid myself, I always felt so sorry for him and wondered how he was going to make it up the narrow flight of stairs. But, as always, he did. As I recall, We knew him as old Joe Rossini.

- Shirley M. (Hamlet) Chipman | 12/7/18 11:09 AM

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