Published in the April 19, 2016 edition.


WAKEFIELD — We are family!

That seemed to be the emotion that was in the air on Saturday evening, April 16. A near capacity crowd had gathered in the Anderson Hall at the West Side Social Club (WSSC) in Wakefield. The occasion was the months-long planning for the Club’s 80th Anniversary Banquet. The guests began arriving just before 7 p.m. for a reception hour. Members, families and friends were greeted by the past presidents while two student photographers from the Wakefield Memorial High School Visual Arts classes recorded the event for us.

Event Chairman, Past President Carol Nicastro Hubbard (2007 and 2008) officially welcomed the group a little before 8. She noted that a core group of past presidents had “worked long and hard to make this a memorable event.”

Following an Invocation by Past President Marion Dennehy (1998), Carol then continued her opening remarks stating that, “The West Side Social Club, born in 1936, has become an organization rich in family and tradition today.” Carol concluded her remarks by introducing all of the past presidents in attendance, beginning with herself and others at the Head Table. Those included: Edward Muse (1983), Richard (Jake) Hubbard (1995), Michael Delory (2016) and Peter Hubbard (2015). Also at the head table was Peter’s wife Jaime.

The other past presidents were Robert Hubbard Sr. (1973 and 1974), Dennis Hogan (1975), J. Kenneth Muse (1977 and 1984), James Smith (1980), Marion Dennehy (1998), Richard Smith (1999), Mark Cashell (2001, 2002 and 2012), Stephen Ulwick (2004), James Phipps (2005 and ‘06), Gary Johnston (2009), Thomas Rawson (2010), Patricia Hubbard (2011) and David Ouellette (2013 and 2014). Carol again thanked them all for a job well done and dinner was served.

Past President and Life Member Ed Muse served as host for the formal program. This was scheduled to start at 9 p.m. By 9:30 p.m., the last tables served were just finishing their meals. Ed commented later that his plan was to play his cell phone ringtone (Oh Canada!) to gain the people’s attention. “But, things settled down when I got to the podium,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Ed also welcomed the guests and described some of his earlier experiences with the Club. “Tonight the WSSC celebrates its 80th birthday. In a few weeks I will be 76. I grew up with the Club.” Ed told the group that he learned a lot of history from his “mentor,” his uncle Peter Hubbard Sr. “I listened to him tell the story for over 25 years in the Membership Committee.”

He went on to describe some of the various events of his young life. The Father and Sons’ Nights, the Family Days and especially the Christmas Parties that he attended with his Dad. He also recalled the Winter Carnivals on the “frozen tundra” of Doyle’s Meadow. He also said that he was living in Greenwood in the early 1950s. He was surprised to be picked for the WSSC Pony League Baseball team. His uncle, of the same age, Ken Muse of Crystal Lake Park, was picked for the Greenwood team. (Go figure!!)

He was a 17-year-old private in the National Guard when he first decorated a tree out there on Memorial Day. He has continued to do that after 60 years. He looked forward to joining the club when he came of age in 1961 only to be disappointed because one still had to be from the “west side” of the tracks (and a little bit north of Crystal Lake ) to become a member. That took a bylaw change in 1972. He is now a third-generation member and very thankful for all of the honors bestowed upon him by the membership.

While introducing the chairman of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen, Ann Santos McGonigle, Ed noted that very early on, our members were actively seeking elective and appointed offices in Town. He cited one long time Club member, our ninth Past President Bill Lee, (1949 and 1950) and a Life Member who he referred to as “Mr. Wakefield” had served in numerous elected positions including selectman in town. Selectman Santos stated the she was excited and honored to be invited. She said that she was also from the other side of the tracks but can now walk to the Club. She presented the club a proclamation from the Board of Selectmen honoring the WSSC for 80 years of Community Service.

Noting the presence of Town Administrator Steve Maio in the room, Ed thanked Steve for always supporting the Club. Ed went on to talk about another long time member of the club, the late John McCarthy. John was, for many years, the Executive Secretary for the Board of Selectmen. “But John was much more that that,” Ed said.

As host, Muse related several short stories about the long history of the club. As he introduced the State Representatives, Donald Wong and Paul Brodeur, he told of being a chairman of the 1984 July Fourth Committee and walking the parade route with his “Uncle John,” Past President Ken Muse. His other “Uncle John,” the former Governor John A. Volpe, was walking near them. “I was introduced to a young man named Richard Tisei who was running for State Representative. Richard was elected and served our community for about 25 years as State Representative and later as State Senator.” Tisei was always a good friend of the WSSC.

Ed Muse then pointed out that the Town now has two State Representatives who are looking out our interests. Muse suggested that, “I guess that one of them is for Greenwood and the other for the rest of you guys.” Both Representatives Wong and Brodeur congratulated the WSSC for reaching this milestone year. Each spoke of being fairly new on the job and have enjoyed meeting and interacting with the people of Wakefield, They also presented a resolution from the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Muse continued with the program by reminding the members and guests that the club came close to closing its doors in the 1940s during the World War II years. Many club members and many more of the townsmen were call into service. Some would not come back. The Official Club History gives one member most of the credit for holding the club together. That man was Herbert D. Anderson Sr. Herb served as the fifth president in 1943, ‘44 and ‘45. He then returned again as the eighth president in 1948. By 1948, the Club membership was about 250 men. They had formed a Building Association and had purchased several lots of land on Harrington Court and constructed its clubhouse.

He also noted that the room people were sitting in is named the Herbert D. Anderson Sr, Memorial Hall. It was dedicated in 1956. Ed then welcomed several members of the Anderson family. A daughter, Esther, and sons John and Charles and their families were present but Ed commented that there seemed to be an empty seat at the table. Someone was missing. Another son, Herb was not present.

Ed Muse continued, noting that in 1992 the Club had a membership of about 500 and still enjoying its status of a “men only organization.” In 1993, “Herbie let the girls in.” Patricia Hubbard was the first woman member and Marion Dennehy was the first woman president in 1998. “Herbie” is Herbert D. Anderson Jr. the 52nd president in 1993, 50 years after his father was first elected in 1943. Due to some health issues, Herb was unable to attend.

Continuing with the formal program, Ed Muse recalled the previous banquet held 10 years ago on a bitter cold evening in January 2007. As cold as it was outside, there was much warmth inside. Two of the oldest and most respected members — both Past Presidents and Life Members — were at the center of attention. One was the last remaining Charter Member, Edward A. Butler. The other was Peter E. Hubbard Sr. “This would be their last Reunion Banquet,” Ed noted. Both passed away within six months, as well as nine other past presidents since 2007. These men were: William Jefferson (2007), Roger Wingate (2008), Thomas Hubbard (2011), Roger Curran (2012), Richard Turner (2013), Alfred Razzaboni (2014), Daniel Curran (2014), Thomas Carroll (2015) and Alan Dingle also in 2015. This led up to the announcement of naming the next “Longest Serving Past resident” in the group. This honor went to Past President Edward J. Kupiec, the Club’s 17th president in 1958. Past President Tom Rawson presented a plaque while noting that, “Being 90 years old and logging in about 70 years of service takes its toll, Ed Kupiec had to opt out of the event at the last minute.”

Before making the next presentation, Ed remarked the club is getting older in both years of incorporation as well as the ages of its members. About 40 percent (170 out of 400+) age considered “old timers.” There are still members close to age 90 who have been members for 50-60 years. Most have not been to the club in several years. The club tries to reach out to these members with Lifetime Achievement Awards and with that Lifetime Waiver of Dues Payments. Saturday’s event was the right time to honor one such man. Past President Patty Hubbard presented this to Joseph Cilibrasi. Patty presented this award noting that, “Joe Cilibrasi has reached the ripe old age of 90 years and has given back to the club a lifetime of time effort, energy and true friendship,

Ed Muse then turned to (his cousin) Past President Jake Hubbard for the next presentation. Jake noted that, “50 years ago in 1965, my father was our president. Thirty years later I was president. 20 more years later, my son became was our president. In 50 years, from 1965 to 2015, 10 members of the Hubbard-Muse extended family have been president and five have been voted Life Memberships.” With that said, he introduced his son, Peter S. Hubbard the Club’s 71st president in 2015.

Peter Hubbard accepted the traditional gavel from his father and stated that, “It had been an honor serving as president.” He too had grown up with the Club. He was a proud fourth-generation member and an even more prouder third-generation president of the West Side Social Club. Peter then introduced Michael Delory, the Club’s 72nd President. Mike promised to be brief and he was. He thanked the guests who attended to help us celebrate the event. He thanked the membership for the opportunity to serve as president. He confessed that, “The West Side Social Club has always held a spot in my heart.”

Ed Muse concluded the evening’s program noting that one of the highlights of his year as president in 1983 was to have his son become a fourth-generation member. He hoped that he was not too heavy on the Hubbard-Muse Family. “This is a family-based club right now.” He listed some of the other families with multiple members: The Blooms, Booths, Browns, Curleys, Currans, Dennehys Dingles, Dorens, Lowrys, Phipps, Rawsons and Smiths.

Does anyone remember the first song that was played when the dancing began?

Yup, “We Are Family.”