INTRODUCTION by Don Gosselin
I have always enjoyed living in Northbridge, Massachusetts. Ever since I was a tiny lad, I was influenced by the former employees of the Whitin Machine Works and the Rockdale Mill. Several of my relatives and many of my neighbors who lived in the Rockdale Village of Northbridge lived there and worked in the Paul Whitin Mill. And it was a simple, yet glorious time.
The mill workers made low wages but they were satisfied. I can remember that upon the return of WWII many of the Servicemen had purchased the metal cars with pedals for their children that they thought they would never see again. I had one when I was about 6 years old, and had so much fun. ( Try to buy one today and see how much it costs!) Life on Ash street in Rockdale back in the 1940’s was good. I was the oldest of five children and my Dad was working as a Textile Machine Parts Inspector in “The Shop”, or the Whitin Machine Works as the world would come to know it. Later on at the age of 9, I and my family, moved to the Village of Whitinsville and occupied a Shop Tenement on West street. My Dad had said we needed more room and he wanted to be closer to his workplace.
Later on, we moved to 2 other locations on Church street as our family grew. My father from then on, until he retired, would always walk to work. He put in 44 years in “The Shop”. While he was there, he enjoyed the Home Garden Club and singing as a tenor in the all-male Whitin Glee Club. Just try to get about 70 men together today for a singing group! As good fortune would come my way in the 1980’s, we purchased a large colonial home that was built by the former owners of the Kupfer Bothers Mill, a coated paper manufacturing company. This mill has been completely renovated and is now owned by James Knott, Sr. and is called the Riverdale Mills Corporation. It manufactures coated wire products.
Our home was constructed at the “turn of the Century” and has a lot of history associated with it, but I shall not elaborate further about it. We enjoy living in the Riverdale Village of Northbridge and we intend to remain here. The Whitins, their Legacy, some History of the Town of Northbridge, and the Whitin Machine Works, which has been inseparable from Whitinsville, will be the main topics of my narration. I will try to instill into you, my dear readers, what it has been to be a part of “The Shop Family” and what I have learned about the Whitin Machine Works and other mills they constructed during the great American Industrial Revolution. I am thrilled to be alive during a great time of development taking place now in the entire Blackstone Valley. And how times have changed! I hope you enjoy all of the Articles and “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey said many times. It is a labor of love for me.
June 25, 2007
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