THE WHITIN HOME GARDEN CLUB
Originally, it was said that this was one of the ways that the
Whitin Machine Works enabled its employees to live better on the
wages that they earned. This popular club was initially formed in
the summer of 1917 as the result of the food shortage during World
War I. It soon became very popular after the war ended, due in fact
to depressed times and the lack of plentiful work. As a rewarding
occupation, the Home Garden Club’s membership also grew in size.
There were times that as many as a third of The Shop’s families who
lived in Company housing enjoyed the Club. That is considerable,
when one realizes that the Whitins built about a thousand units for
their workers. The original cost of raising a vegetable garden was
only a dollar a year for membership dues, plus the price of the
seeds, which the Company purchased separately.
In the Garden Club’s years of existence there were 3 presidents:
Harley Keeler, first to be President; Dana Heald, who was also later
Treasurer, and the late Angus Parker, who served the longest tenure
of the three. The National Garden Institute, a prominent educational
organization, credited with promoting the Victory Garden Program to
22 million victory gardens in 1943, had informed the Whitin Home
Garden Club that theirs was one of the largest of its kind in our
nation! The culminating event of the gardener’s year was the
excitement and pride of participating in an exhibition in early
autumn, by entering results of home-grown vegetables, flowers, and
even canned goods. A Harvest Supper as well as entertainment was
provided after the annual show, which greatly interested even the
children who attended. A rating list of those best gardeners who
attained a score of 75 points or more was also published.
(This writer’s father had a garden plot for several years near the
Sidney Mason home off Chestnut St., now the site of the Whitinsville
Christian Retirement Society. As a youngster, I was often taken
there, many times most unwillingly, in order to "weed the garden".
How I hated it, and much preferred to play baseball on a warm summer
day! The rear of the tennis courts beyond the Gym was a place that I
got to dread. In spite of my stubbornness however, my Dad always had
a good and bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables for our family,
friends, and neighbors.)
REFERENCES: 1- Thomas Navin: The Machine Works Since 1831; Published by Russell and Russell: New York. Copyright 1950,pp.361-362;Chapter XVI. 2-The Whitin Spindle, Volume 1 #8: Sept. 1948, page 13.
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