Published in the April 6, 2016 edition

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR John Volpe (center) at the West Side Social Club with members (from left) Pidge Curley, Gene Mooney, Ted Vitisee, Volpe, Ernie Covenny, Larry Coakley, Billy Lynch and "Skin" Sullivan.

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR John Volpe (center) at the West Side Social Club with members (from left) Pidge Curley, Gene Mooney, Ted Vitisee, Volpe, Ernie Covenny, Larry Coakley, Billy Lynch and “Skin” Sullivan.


WAKEFIELD — The 19 young men who used to gather each night in the middle of the Great Depression to shoot the breeze around the potbelly stove in Mac’s Grocery Store on Albion Street had no idea what they were setting in motion.
But on Saturday, April 16, 2016, the West Side Social Club will celebrate its 80th anniversary as a bonafide Wakefield institution.
Not wanting to impose any longer on Mac’s owner Tom Magee, the 19 charter members built their first meeting house on Doyle’s Field on the south side of Albion Street in 1936. The structure measured only 12 x 18 feet, but the newly named West Side Social Club had its first official headquarters.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, the club has provided needy families with Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets, conducted war bond drives during World War II, dedicated trees around the Moulton Field to soldiers killed in war and established the town’s first blood donor drive.
But the WSSC remains best known for running the town’s July Fourth program since 1936. In the ensuing years, Fourth of July activities have filled the entire day, from children’s programs in the morning to fireworks at night. The WSSC even ran the annual parade until 1990, when the Wakefield Independence Day Committee took over that part of the celebration.
The club’s big 80th Anniversary Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, 2016 in the Anderson Hall at the West Side Social Club. The gala celebration begins with a cocktail hour at 7 p.m. followed by dinner at 8 p.m. At 9 p.m., Past President Ed Muse will serve as host and emcee of a program to celebrate the history of the club and honor some longtime members, including a few who are over 90 years old and have 60 years of active membership.
The program will also feature a few words from fourth generation member and the club’s first third-generation president, Peter S. Hubbard, who served in 2015, as well as current club President Michael Delory.
According to Muse, several televisions will show film of the club’s history on continuous loops and there will be time for photo ops.
“I will tell the West Side Story as I recall it from our beginning with 19 charter members in 1936 to our current membership of over 400 members, while introducing guest speakers,” Muse says. “In our 80 years we have elected 72 men and women as president. Today we have about 20 active past presidents. Many of these presidents continue to serve as officers, directors and on some of our major committees. About one-third of them are named Hubbard or Muse but that’s another story.”
For Muse, the event will carry extra special meaning.
“The WSSC is in my blood,” Muse says. “I am now 76 years old. I grew up with the Club. My father and grandfather were members. I attended many father and sons’ nights and Christmas parties. My dad played on the Club softball team in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. I knew a lot of these old members. When I became of age, even though I was born on the ‘west side’ of town, I was living in Greenwood. I then moved away from Wakefield. In 1972, or so, there was a bylaw change that allowed sons of members to join the Club regardless of residency.
“The rest is history,” Muse says. “I became a third-generation member. I am a past president (1983); a Life Member; and even an Irishman of the Year. I have held just about every elective office – some of them multiple times in my 40-plus years of membership. In 1983, my son was elected into Membership as a fourth-generation member. Membership in the WSSC has been a family tradition among many of our current members. Father’s and sons; mothers and daughters; husbands and wives; and brothers and sisters all enjoy the social aspects of the Club.”
Muse hopes that many of those WSSC members with similar memories will join the festivities on April 16. Local town officials as well as state dignitaries are also being invited.
Tickets for the West Side Social Club’s gala 80th anniversary celebration are now on sale for $40 per person at the club’s 4 Harrington Court headquarters. Call the club at 781-245-9759 for more information.