Latest Ramblings

Happy Father’s Day!

June 19th, 2016 | Comments Off on Happy Father’s Day!


Gideon T. Miles and Rags

When family lore becomes reality. Sort of.

In celebration of Father’s Day this year, I am going back a generation to my grandfather, my mother’s father, Gideon Thomson Miles, in the photo above with his dog “Rags.”

Most people in Holyoke with the Miles surname are cousins of mine. (There was only one Miles family to which I have never been able to find a connection: William B. Miles, a studio photographer.) So if your surname is Miles and you are from Holyoke, you may well be my cousin — feel free to write and ask, I can let you know.

Unfortunately I never met my grandfather — he died of a heart attack before my parents were even married — though my mother made sure to tell us plenty of stories about him. A Scottish immigrant, he worked for paper mills. One of the components involved in paper making was the use of fiber from rags. Rag collectors would work the streets gathering cast offs that in turn would be sold to the mills for paper making purposes. Have a look here for more paper making information.  I haven’t examined paper labeling for a long time, but I can certainly remember rag percentages cited in the content description.

One story we heard many times over was about the family dog, Rags. We heard stories about how smart the dog was and how he had bonded with my grandfather — Rags was, first and foremost, my grandfather’s dog — daily seeing him off to work and greeting him on his return.

Grandfather had found the puppy in a bin of rags at the paper mill, waiting to be processed. Rescuing the dog, Grandfather gave him the sensible name “Rags.” My brother and I loved hearing Rags stories though we had never met him. We have a few photos of my grandfather with this same dog which my mother identified as Rags.

A few months ago, I was searching archival newspapers for something unrelated to my grandfather when I encountered a 1935 article about a dog show in Holyoke. Certainly a dog show these days is quite different from 1935. The article, which I’ve transcribed in full, follows this post. After all, we love to see familiar Holyoke names among those who entered their dogs in the show. The big surprise is that my grandfather is mentioned as having entered his dog — which is pretty interesting because my mother always told us the dog was a mixed breed.  I always associate dog shows with purebreds.  I love reading the article and seeing the elaborate and interesting  names of the many dogs entered, and then reading my grandfather’s name and his dog “Rags.” In the article Rags is entered as a Cairn terrier (a Scottish breed) but the Rags in the photos we have looks nothing like a Cairn terrier.

In reading a couple of other short articles about this show, referred to specifically as a “Puppy Show,” Neil J. Moriarty, treasurer of the Holyoke Kennel Club, speaks of the show as one for amateurs and professionals. So I am assuming that accepting Rags as a Cairn terrier was a nod to an amateur — or just a healthy suspension of disbelief.

In any case, my grandfather clearly loved his dog Rags and I can’t help but love that about him. So Happy Father’s Day, Grandfather!


Kennel Club Show Draws Large Crowd

June 19th, 2016 | Comments Off on Kennel Club Show Draws Large Crowd

More Than 100 Entries in Puppy Exhibition at Masonic Temple — Warrior, King War Two of Winners

Holyoke, Feb. 23 1935 — The puppy show held by the Holyoke Kennel Club, at the Masonic Temple, tonight proved to be one of the most successful yet held by the organization, with more than 100 entries, and an attendance of excess of 500.

In the children’s class, judged by Harry Bush of Westfield, Kingsland Mullen, showing the chow dog, King Wan, won a silver cup offered to boys, and Priscilla Casey, nine, of this city, won a similar cup for her beagle dog, Warrior. Both prizes were donated by Robert Newcomb of Holyoke.

Judged by Harry Bush of Westfield: Irish setters, first prize, Curran’s Shamus, male, owned by Francis M. Cullen of Holyoke; Tamara, female, same owner; English setters, first RocKohler, male, R. O. C. Kohler of South Hadley; second. Sueck, male, Morris Maurice Carlstrom of Springfield; Rex, male, William A. O’Connor of Holyoke; first, Larry Discount Hadleigh, male, Col. G. A. Taylor of Hadley; first, Ace, male, Herbert Stewart of Indian Orchard; Cocker spaniels, first Bavarost Freckles,  male, Mrs. Duel of Holyoke; Sureblock, King, male, T. C. Lewis of Springfield; second Brownie, male, E. F. Williams of Springfield.

Judged by E. R. Carrier of Westfield: Beagles, first, Buddie, male, R. E. Sattler of Holyoke; Jolly Fine Laddie, male, Thomas Cusack of Westfield; Patsy, female, Joseph Patton of Russell; Second, Peggy. female, E. D. Clark of Holyoke; Warrior, male, Nonotuck Kennels of Holyoke; third, Barney, male, Franklin A. Pariseau of Fairview.

Judged by Mrs. Michael F. O’Connor of South Hadley: Collie, first, Lewis’s Wonderful Boy, male, T. E. Lewis of Springfield; German shepard, first, V. D. Falkenberg, Paul Gregengeist of Northampton; first, Katavroyvin, female.

Terry Driscoll, male, 1st, owned by John Driscoll of Holyoke, Dobermann-Pinschers, 1st Prize winners: Katavroyvin, female woned by Roy Martin of Springfield; Hitler, male, owned by P. Mahoney of Holyoke; Boris, male, owned by L.P. Griffin of West Springfield; same class, 2d prize winner, Hasso, male, owned by Mrs. Leora Johnson of West Springfield.

Judged by Mitchell

Judged by James Mitchell of Willimansett: Pekingese, 1st prize winners, Cathmah, male, owned by L. H. Smith of Springfield; Ming Toy, female, owned by Miss V. Ckara Blake of Sprigfield. Pomeranian, 1st prize winners: Little Gem, female, owned by Miss A. S. Graves of Springfield; Wolfie, male, owned by Mrs. L. M. Burgess of Wilbraham; Tumoli Honey Girl, female, owned by Mrs, L. M. Burgess of Wilbraham; same class, 2d prize, Black Beauty, owned by Mrs. J. Green of Springfield; same class, 3d prize, Bunty, owned by Mrs. Knightly, of Holyoke.

Judged by John P. Sullivan of Springfield: White Haired Foz Terriers, 1st prize winners, Salty, female, owned by Mrs. Wilder of South Amherst; White Dial, male, owned by Dr. and Mrs. Roy Peck of Springfield; Pal Lone Eagle, male, owned by Teddy Day of Holyoke; Lois Heartbuster, female, owned by Mrs. F. C. Dow of Northampton; Irish Terrier, Red Hugh, 1st prize, owned by Owen McGettrick of Springfield; Cairn Terrier, female, Rags, owned by Gideon Miles of Holyoke; English Bull Terrier, female, English Tim the Second, owned by John Bowler of Holyoke.

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Visiting Nurse Association

November 14th, 2014 | Comments Off on Visiting Nurse Association

01 Nov 1936

Nurses on Duty at Holyoke

Nurses on Duty at Holyoke
Left to right, Misses Catherine Spooner and Elizabeth Cauley from the Holyoke Hospital and Misses Irene Charpentier and Lillian Kennedy from the Providence Hospital.

Nurses On Duty at Holyoke

Holyoke, October 31 — A new group of student nurses from the Holyoke and Providence hospitals are not at work for the Holyoke Visiting Nurse Association. This arrangement benefits the association which can use to advantage the assistance of the student nurses; and also the student nrses are given experience of value in district nursing work as part of their training.

Left to right, Misses Catherine Spooner and Elizabeth Cauley from the Holyoke Hospital and Misses Irene Charpentier and Lillian Kennedy from the Providence Hospital.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

Holyoke Snippets — 14 May 1901

November 14th, 2014 | Comments Off on Holyoke Snippets — 14 May 1901

14 May 1901


Julia Coffey made her fifth appearance before the police court yesterday morning for drunkenness and was given a three-months’ sentence, while Patrick O’Connell of Bridge Street was given a month’s sentence for the same offense. State Agent Morton was in the court, and on his recommendation the cases of the two boys, who stole pig iron, Peter Farrell and John L. Rae, were disposed of, Farrell being sentenced to three months in jail and Rae’s case continued two months. James Long, a boy who stole lead pipe, had his case continued until today. Peter Pilman, a vegetable peddler, cried aloud his wares in the alleys, against the ordinances, and paid $3 for so doing. Henry Daginals was sent to jail for six months for non-support. He had a family of seven children, which he failed to provide for. One “drunk” was fined $11, one $8, one continued and one placed upon probation.

The Walsh Boiler Works shipped yesterday 24 carloads of steel filter tanks, one of the largest orders ever filled in New England. These were constructed for the Norwood Engineering Company of Florence, and were sent by special train to the Oxford Paper Company at Rumford Falls, Maine. Each tank was 18 feet long, and they were loaded three for every two cars, being 38 in all.

The park commissioners met yesterday afternoon in special session and voted to have the park keepers this year wear dark blue uniforms with silver buttons. Some details of routine were arranged respecting the park superintendent and the park keepers.

Daniel Sullivan, 22, died yesterday morning at his home at 93 Front Street, after a short illness. He had been employed by the Baker Vawter company as a bookbinder. He leaves two brothers and five sisters, all of Holyoke.

Lawyer A. L. Green went to Boston Sunday night to resume the trial of the municipal lighting case. The water power company is now putting in its rebuttal, and it is hoped that this will be finished in a week or so.

The funeral of Reinhardt Beyer was held yesterday afternoon at Ryan’s undertaking rooms. There were several floral offerings. The bearers were Turners and the burial was in the Forestdale Cemetery.

W. J. Lamontaigne has sold his poolroom on High Street to G. W. Crosier of this city. The place will be managed by George M. Palmer.

The closing reception for the season of W. V. McCarthy’s dancing classes will be held this evening at Wakelin Hall.

Adapted from The Springfield Daily Republican.







Francis Dane Douglass

November 12th, 2014 | Comments Off on Francis Dane Douglass

Seventh Principal of Holyoke High School

Francis Dane Douglass

Francis Dane Douglass, Seventh Principal of Holyoke High School

Francis Dane Douglass, son of Henry and Delia A. (Potter) Douglass, was born in Plainfield, Connecticut, August 2, 1838. His preparatory education was obtained in Greenwich, Rhode Island. He entered Brown University in 1860 and was graduated in 1863, with the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy. After graduation, Mr. Douglass taught in the Connecticut Literary Institute, now the Suf- field School, in Suffield, Connecticut. He was principal of the Holyoke High School from 1864-1865. It is interesting to note that it was during Mr. Douglass’ term as principal that the first class consisting of six young ladies was graduated from the high school. Leaving Holyoke, he became connected with the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company as Superintendent of Agencies. Mr. Douglass died in Hartford, March 26, 1883.


Suggested Holyoke Books

Mountain Park -- The Holyoke destination we all loved.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, Postcard History by Donna Albino. Many Holyoke women have attended Mount Holyoke. Author also maintains an amazing MHC website based upon her personal collection.

Holyoke - Chicopee, A Perspective

Holyoke-Chicopee: A Perspective, by Ella Merkel DiCarlo. DiCarlo, a former Transcript columnist offers a fascinating compilation of her essays. Published in 1982, this out-of-print book is worth looking for in the aftermarket.


Holyoke, by Craig Della Penna. The first Holyoke book in the Arcadia series, published in 1997.

Belle Skinner Collection

Belle Skinner Collection, by Ruth Isabel Skinner. Published in 1933, this book is long out of print but copies are still available in the aftermarket.

Mitch Epstein: Family Business

Mitch Epstein: Family Business Published in 2003, available in the aftermarket. Epstein's furniture.