Wolcott Historical Society News - October 2015
By Florence Goodman
This month I will revisit the establishment of the Wolcott Historical Society and the history of its major fundraiser; the Annual Dessert Card Party. The Society began holding its annual dessert card party in 1960.
This November marks the 55th anniversary of the Wolcott Historical Society's Annual Dessert Card Party. It will also mark the beginning of some much-needed changes to this event. Times have changed so it is only fitting to revamp this major fundraising event. It now has a new name, "Pizza, Pies, Games and Cards." We will open at 6:00 p.m. since we are adding pizza to our menu. The price has changed too, but for a $10 donation for adults and $5 for children (under 12 free) you get a great deal. This includes pizza, a variety of pies, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks, water and apple cider! Our raffle table will now consist of theme baskets, but we will still have some door prizes and a special prize raffle.
After 55 years, we thought it was time to put the penny auction to rest; most people don't even know what it is, so there will no longer be a penny auction. We hope you will make this event a family fun night where you can enjoy good food and play cards or your favorite board game. It is also a wonderful time to socialize with friends and family and just have fun!!
Originally the card parties were held at Frisbie School in the cafeteria, but that was prior to the new addition and renovations that were made to that building. During that time we held the card parties at Alcott Middle School. When the new cafeteria at Frisbie was completed, we held the Card Party there for several years, but the new tables were not comfortable for adults so we moved over to the Senior Center in 2002 and have been there ever since.
As I perused the old newspaper articles from the early card party years, I was amazed at the number of people in attendance. In 1965 the event brought in 225 people from Thomaston, Watertown, New Haven, Bristol, Hartford, Cheshire and Waterbury. It also stated that past First Selectman Robert A. Wakelee and First Selectman Edward J. Bagley, Jr. were present and they were awarded boxes of cigars won by their wives. During those early years the penny auction was something that everyone enjoyed; Mrs. Louis Archambault, Sr. and her family ran it. The tradition continued through the years with her daughters, Amelia Upton and Flora Ayers and their families running it. I am sorry to see this fifty-five year tradition end, but hopefully all will welcome these new changes. So mark your calendars for November 6th at 6:00 P.M. for Pizza, Pies, Games and Cards!!
The origin of the Historical Society dates back to the late 1950s. It was April 23, 1958 when fifteen historically minded Wolcott citizens met at the Town Hall to discuss forming of a historical society in Wolcott. Mr. John Washburne served as the chairman of the meeting and suggested the following residents as committee members: Rose Wakelee Badger, Eva Tyrrell, Isabelle Way, Mr. Clifford Herbst, and Mrs. Margaret Hall. Upon request by Eva Tyrrell it was agreed that her daughter, Mrs. William Dumschatt, would be appointed in her place because as Wolcott correspondent for the Waterbury newspaper Mrs. Tyrrell did not have the time to serve on the committee. Town Clerk, Minnie Bergin, motioned that these people be appointed as an acting committee and it was so voted. John Washburne was chosen as acting president and Mrs. Hall as acting secretary. The group met several times each month to work out the details of incorporation, by-laws, membership, fundraising, and transferring ownership of the stone schoolhouse museum from the Mattatuck Historical Society to our Society. These early members of the Society worked tirelessly to keep our local history alive for future generations of our town.
On September 30, 1958 a public meeting of the Society was held at Frisbie School auditorium. A proposed constitution and by-laws were read and approved and the original committee voted to incorporate. The incorporation papers were recorded in the Town Clerk'ss office on April 29, 1959. The next task at hand was to work with the Mattatuck Historical Society of Waterbury on the proper documentation necessary to deed ownership of the stone schoolhouse on Nichols Road over to the Wolcott Historical Society. In 1934 the school was purchased by Miss Emily Morris and given to the Mattatuck Historical Society of Waterbury. Miss Morris wanted the school to be a memorial to her mother Eugenia Laura Tuttle Morris, and to her maternal grandfather Lucius Tuttle who had taught in the school in 1829. The Waterbury Society had hoped to restore the schoolhouse, but vandals made that impossible and changes were made to allow for living quarters for a caretaker. The schoolhouse was given to the Mattatuck Historical Society because there was no Historical Society in Wolcott at the time. It took awhile, but on July 3, 1962 the stone school became the property of the Wolcott Historical Society. We continue to maintain the building and add to our Wolcott artifacts located inside. The annual "Card Party" has served as a very important fundraiser for that purpose. We hope you will come out and support our new version, "Pizza, Pies, Games and Cards" on November 6th starting at 6:00 P.M.
(Information for this article was taken from an article from the Waterbury Republican-American article dated 11/8/65 and early Historical Society minutes)
Dick and Jean Homewood and Deb DuBois in 2000 at Card Party at Alcott Middle School.
Card Party, 1963 Frisbie School, Eleanor Herbst and her daughter.
Card Party, 1963 Frisbie School, Eva Tyrrell on right, at Penny Auction table.
Flora Archambault Ayers selling raffle tickets.
Alex and Julie Nole, Marie Gleason at the 2000 Card Party at Alcott Middle School cafeteria.
School nurse, Rose Klitcka, left at table, at 1963 Card Party at Frisbie School.
Charter members of the Wolcott Historical Society on April 27, 1958, are from left to right: Mrs. Douglas Way, Maurice Goodson, town treasurer, Clifford Herbst, Mrs. Maurice Goodson, John Dumschatt, Mrs. Grace Webber, Mrs. Alfred Blanchard, Mrs. Eva M. Tyrrell, Mrs. Betty Coe, Mrs. Rae Brennan, Mrs. Mildred Frisbie, Mrs. Minnie Bergen, town clerk, Mrs. Margaret Hall, Mrs. Ruth Archambault, John Brouker, second selectman, John Washburne, Mr. and Mrs. Claude V. Badger and Robert S. Wakelee, first selectman.
To view past installments of the Wolcott Historical Society News, click here.