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Last Minute Gift Ideas

Hudson Historical Society

Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Holidays

FREE SHIPPING through December 31, 2016!

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Perfect for that person on your list who might be hard to shop for just the right gift!

Remembering Benson’s Wild Animal Farm by Bob Goldsack $17.99

Images of America Benson’s Wild Animal Farm by Bob Goldsack $21.99

Legendary Locals of Hudson, NH by Shawn and Laurie Jasper $21.99

Two book set, Webster’s History of Hudson, NH 1673-1913 and Town in Transition    1913-1977 $95.00.

Please send your order and shipping address along with a check made payable to  Hudson Historical Society P.O. Box 475 Hudson, NH 03051.

Thanks you!!

Tiny’s Garage Atwood Avenue

Tiny's Garage Atwood Avenue

Tiny’s Garage Atwood Avenue

         This week we again travel down Lowell Road with a right turn onto Atwood Avenue and a stop at number 7,  the site of Tiny’s Garage.  We remember the man called ‘Tiny’, his business, and the  family who worked with him.
          Chester ‘Tiny’ Sojka grew up  in Derby, CN and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps as a young man.  After Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the Army and served as a tank mechanic; being stationed in North Africa and Italy.  He met his wife Mary while on leave and they were married in December 1944.  After his discharge in 1945 he started a garage repairing and towing cars.  They settled in Nashua and later moved to Hudson and opened his business here.  Over time the business evolved to include salvaging and selling used car parts, especially those which were hard to find.  His business included the entire cycle:  towing wrecked cars, recycling automotive liquids (gas, oil, antifreeze), breaking down the wrecked vehicle for usable parts, maintaining an inventory of these parts, and selling them to other mechanics and ‘do it yourselfers’ as they repaired vehicles of the same or comparable model.  I’m sure many mechanics or DIYers remember going to or calling ‘Tiny’ to see if he had the needed part in stock.  I myself recall an ad for Tiny’s that said:  Please Drive Safely – We Don’t Need your Business.
        ‘Tiny’ and his brother John were noted for their inventory control prior to the computer age. Much of the inventory was well cataloged in their minds augmented by books that cross referenced replaceable parts.  All customers, professional or not received the same service and same price.  This became a highly competitive business.  A 2-way street with insurance companies was established:  biding for the wreckage in all parts of New England, salvaging usable parts and placing then in stock, then selling to insurance companies or their mechanics to get damaged autos back on the road.
      This was a family business.  He was helped by brother John; his wife Mary acted as the bookkeeper, and son Eric grew up with the business and took over from ‘Tiny’.  He had a passion for miniature Dachshunds. He rode his motorized scooter with pet Dachshund Holly on board  in the early 2000’s.  ‘Tiny’ passed in 2004 at the age of 87 leaving behind memories which defy his nickname.
           Information on Chester ‘Tiny’ Sojka and his business was previously published in The Hudson News November 12, 1969  and in the Nashua Telegraph at the time of his passing in November 2005.  The photo is from the collection of the Hudson Historical Society.

Mellen Farm Barretts Hill Road C 1960

Mellen Farmhouse C 1960

Mellen Farmhouse C 1960

Charlotte and Judah Mellen purchased the Bagley Farm in the spring of 1939.  This farm was located in Hudson Center on the left side of  Barretts Hill Road just a few hundred feet after turning  from Windham Road.  The nine plus room house, barn, out-buildings, and open fields were located  up the hill and overlooking Windham Road.  Our photos of the farm house and grazing herd of dairy cows were taken about 1960.  The Bagley Farm had been in the family since about 1900.
Initially the house had white clapboard siding and a one-pipe hot air heater, most likely powered by wood or coal.  Over time the clapboards were replaced with light green siding and the heater replaced with steam heat powered by oil.  The out-buildings included a small garage and on the hill above the garage a building used at first for the two dapple gray work horses and later to house the John Deere Farm equipment.  There was a large dairy barn for their herd of Holstein and Guernsey cows.  Hay was stored in the lofts.  At one end of the barn was an attached milk room; on the other end two silos.
At first the dapple greys were used for the farm work.  The land could not be worked fast enough with the horses so, when it became possible the John Deere equipment was purchased.  It was a worthwhile investment.  The fields were adequate for cutting and storing hay for the winter, except on a dry summer.  Then hay from Canada was purchased through Mr. Charbonneau who trucked large trailer loads from Canada.  There was not enough cleared acreage to also raise corn for silage.  As a result corn was purchased from a farmer on the Litchfield Road.   Their son Clayton would cut the corn, load it onto two platform trailers, and then haul it over the roads with the John Deere tractor.  The silos were filled each year.
Mellen Farm Pasture C1960

Mellen Farm Pasture C 1960

The main produce was milk from the 30 dairy cows.  The farm also had ever bearing raspberries which Charlotte trucked to Nashua and sold to various markets. The Mellen family farm operated until 1965 when Judah retired.  By December of that year the 155 acres was sold to Edward and  Lois Roy and the Mellen family moved into a house on nearby Frenette Drive in Hudson.
Son Clayton was about 10 years old when his folks purchased the farm.  He helped with the farm work as a teen and  attended Hudson and Nashua Schools.  He later worked for a Milwaukee, Wisconsin company.  He moved to Wisconsin, married, and raised his family there.  He passed in 1997.  There were also two daughters, Ruth and Esther.  They both attended Hudson schools, later married and moved from Hudson.  Ruth and her family lived in Amherst, NH whereas Esther lived in Springfield, VA.  Judah passed in 1988 at the age of 87 while he and his wife were living at Frenette Drive.  In addition to helping Judah with the farm operations, Charlotte taught elementary school in Merrimack for 14 years, retiring in 1978.   She passed in 1999 at the age of 95 while living in Amherst.
You may ask what became of the 155 acres?  By April 1966 plans were before the town Planning Board for Greeley Park Subdivision by RoyCraft Homes, Inc.  After development this subdivision gave rise to Daniel Webster Drive off of Greeley Street.  Later, by 1984 another subdivision plan was submitted; this for Barretts Hill Estates, This development gave rise to Lois Drive, Roy Street, and some of the development near Rangers Drive.
information and photos of The Mellen Farm were written by Charlotte about 1985.  They are a part of the Historical Society collection.

H. E. Smith and Sons Farm Stand C1980


H.E. Smith and Sons Farm Stand C1980

With this week’s photo of The H.E. Smith Farm Stand on Kimball Hill Road we get to visit with another Smith Family in Hudson.  By 1924 Elmer Frank and Ethel May (Connell) Smith and their young family of 2 sons  (Henry Elmer and Robert Connell) and 2 daughters (Elizabeth Ella and Gloria Lillian) settled on a 300 acre parcel of land on what was then known as Pelham Road, now Kimball Hill Road.  The location of the Smith parcel is at and near  the intersection with Gibson Road and near the town line with Pelham.
Recently married Henry Elmer and Mary (Kayros) Smith began their dairy farm on a portion of his father’s land in 1933.  At that time there were about 70 farms of various sizes in Hudson.  Henry and Mary established their home around the corner of this farm stand on Gibson Road.  Their they raised a family of 3 boys (Dustin, Tom, and Tim) and 1 girl (Nancy).  The family continued with the dairy farm with all members helping out where they could.  In 1963 they gave up dairy farming and switched to plants and vegetables and opened the farm stand  as  means to marketing their produce.  This established a tradition which Henry’s  son Tom has stayed with and has continued to the present with his own son, Dylan.  Management of the farm and farm stand was passed from Henry to Tom in 1977.
Gloria and Elizabeth, sisters of Henry remained in Hudson after they married.  Gloria  continued to live on the family homestead and married Leslie Binks.  Leslie was an animal trainer for Benson’s Wild Animal Farm; Gloria became became a prominent business woman and leader in Hudson.  Her sister, Elizabeth married Richard  Albee and they settled on Greeley Street; living there for many years and then moved to Alaska.
   After raising their family Henry and Mary divided their home into 2 living quarters.  Tom, his wife Tina, and their family lived there along side his parents.  Henry passed in 1991 at 80 years of age; Mary passed in 2004 at the age of 94.  Both remained on and helped with the work of the farm as long as they could.  Today operating the farm remains a family affair:  Tom, his wife Tina, their son Dylan, and a sister-in-law Charli.  Tom’s daughters and his brother, Tim, helps with the operation from time to time.
The Smith Farm specializes in home grown vegetables and plants.  It is estimated that over 90% of the products they sell were grown or started on their own farm.  This year the  stand will remain open through the holiday season specializing in holiday trees, wreaths, and kissing balls.  The kissing balls are made by the Smith family; trees and wreaths are brought in from a reliable grower.
By February of next year work will begin in the various greenhouses starting a wide variety of veggies and flowers for both their own gardens and to sell in the farm stand as starter plants.  When I talked with Tommy he said…”we’ll be here next year!!”
      The Smith family has been farming on Kimball Hill Road since 1933.  First Henry and Mary with help from their growing family.  The oldest, a daughter Nancy, married and moved to Illinois and raised a family there.  Dustin, the oldest brother, remained in the neighborhood and a close brother and friend with Tom, but opted for a different career path.  He and his wife, Susan, began a computer business called ‘ComputerSmith’ in the 1980’s.  Dustin lived nearby,just a quarter of a mile from brother Tom in the original Smith family homestead.  Younger brother, Tim, lives in Hudson and helps with the work of the farm from time to time.  The third generation, Dylan, works along with his father Tom.
The photo of the Henry E. Smith Farm Stand C 1980 is from the photo collection of the Hudson Historical Society.


Hudson Shopping Center


Hudson Shopping Center C1977

By the mid 1960’s business at the Hudson Shopping Center and their main store, The Hudson Super Market, was expanding and the Provencal Family would soon be expanding yet another time.  In early 1968 the State of New Hampshire was searching for a site in Hudson for a State Liquor Store and this shopping center was soon selected as the site.  By July of that year the ground breaking ceremony was held.  Construction of a multi-unit building was started immediately and completed in November.  By the first week in December what was slated as the most modern self service facility operated by the state was opened at the corner of Birch Street and Lowell Road and part of the  Hudson Shopping Center.  Our first photo shows the building  as it appeared In 1977.    At that time  the building was the site of  Gio’s Pizza on the Birch Street side with Giovanni’s Blue Whale Restaurant, Gosselin’s Pharmacy, and the NH State Liquor Store facing Lowell Road.

TBones Plaza 2006

Today this is knows as T-Bones Plaza.  T-Bones moved into Hudson in 1991 and soon became a popular place for lunch and/or dinner.  In 2006, when our second photo was taken, this was the location of T-Bones as well as Postal Center, Supercuts, Subway, a dance academy, tanning spa, and a dry cleaners.  Both photos are from the Historical Society Collection.


Hudson Super Duper Market


Hudson Super Duper C 1970

As early as the mid 1950’s the ‘go-to’ grocery store for many Hudson residents, especially those living on or near Lowell Road, was the Hudson Super Market owned and operated by Robert “Bob” and Doris Provencal.   Hudson was a fast growing town and business expanded so that by September 1970 the Provencal family held the grand opening of The Hudson Super Duper as shown in this week’s first photo.   This event included onsite broadcasting of a local radio station, door prize of 18 inch portable TV, and special sale prices from all departments within the store.
The story of The Hudson Super Market, The  Super Duper, and later The Piggly Wiggly, is also the story of Bob and Doris Provencal and their family.  It began  as early as 1936.  Bob, then 16, lived with his family a short distance from what would later become the Super Duper. Bob needed extra money to buy a car.  He had the idea of making bleach water and selling it for .20 a gallon to neighbors and friends.  His efforts were profitable enough so he could purchase his first car.  At 18 he took over his father’s filling station in Hudson as a mechanic.  Again he was successful and needed to hire extra people.
After our country became involved with World War II, Bob wanted to enlist in the Army.  His classification made him not eligible.  Wanting to do something to help, he closed the gas station and went to work at Fort Devens where he ran a dynamometer and tested White Engines.  By 1945 he met and married Doris Ledoux, also of Hudson.  Soon thereafter he resigned from Fort Devens and re-opened the gas station, hoping to settle in Hudson; but there was a lack of housing in town so they settled in Nashua while making plans for and building an apartment building in Hudson.  The rent they received would help pay the mortgage plus they would have a place to live in Hudson.  As things were looking bright for the young couple, they were saddened by the loss of their first born son at the age of 10 days.
For her own health Doris knew she should keep busy.  She suggested they put an extension onto their house so she could open a small store.  This they did, and Doris ran the store where she met people while Bob ran the business of his own across the street.They added a grill and soda fountain and the endeavor became an immediate success.  When not busy in the station he would help Doris in the store.  One could say ‘the rest is history’.
The Hudson Super Market was opened in October 1952.  Business grew and the store was expanded.  A  few years later the family realized the existing store could not accommodate the growing demands.  On September 2, 1970 the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hudson Super Duper took place.   That same year Bob Provencal was named Grocer of the Year by The NH Grocers Association.  Doris and Bob had a family of 2 sons (Greg and Donald) and 1 daughter (Charlene).  The family grew up with the grocery business; and by 1970 Charlene was studying floral arrangement in Boston.  She would later open her own Charlene’s Flower Shoppe nearby on Lowell Road.  Donald was managing the frozen food department in the family store; and Greg was studying business in a local college.
By 1972 the Provencal family aligned their Super Duper Market with the Piggly Wiggly enterprise.  This Super Market, along with Shop and Wash, and Richard Coiffures were located on Lowell Road, a major part of The Super Duper Shopping Center in Hudson.
 By 1977 The Nashua Trust Company,  which held the mortgage,  foreclosed on the The Piggly Wiggly building.   Two business remained there as tenants:  Richard Coiffures and the Shop and Wash Laundromat and Dry Cleaners.  In 1979 Nashua Trust announced its  plans to build a new banking facility on this location and the two remaining tenants had to vacate.  By 1980 construction was completed and The Nashua Trust moved from its location at 1 Derry Street to open its Hudson Community Banking Center at 71 Lowell Road.  Since that time due to bank mergers and closures  the Nashua Trust became The First NH Bank and later Citizens Bank. Our second photo shows this site in 2006 – home to Brooks Pharmacy, Citizens Bank, and Hudson Chamber of Commerce.  

Citizen’s Plaza 2006

Both photos are from the Historical Society Collection.  Much of the history of the Provencal family appeared in  February 24, 1971 edition of The Hudson News.

The Captain Joseph Blodgett House C1899


Captain Joseph Blodgett House C1899

The Captain Joseph Blodgett Homestead was located on Lowell Road across from the intersection with the Pelham Road.  This Joseph Blodgett was born in 1785 and  married Sarah Spalding sometime prior to 1813.  He likely built this house prior to or soon after their marriage.  After raising a family of 2 boys (Spalding Joseph and Austin)  and 2 girls (Sarah Louisa and Martha), Joseph and Sarah continued to live here until they passed; she in 1865, he in 1866.  His military rank of Captain was likely received with the local militia.
Captain Joseph was the 4th generation of Blodgetts from this town to have the name Joseph.  His father Joseph, born 1760, served in the Battle of Bennington in 1777.  Being a lad of 17 he did not receive credit for his service at either the local or national level until 2007, some 229 years later.  His service has since been registered at the national level in 2006 by Ruth (Baldwin) Williams, a descendant of his from Oak Forest, IL, when she applied for membership to the Daughters of The american Revolution (DAR).  You see, young Joseph served with his father and the records credited the father for the service of his son.   His grave site in Blodgett Cemetery received a Revolutionary Soldier marker at a Memorial Day ceremony in 2007.  Mrs. Williams coordinated this event with the Blodgett Cemetery Trustees, The Hudson Historical Society, and the American Legion of Hudson.

Captain Joseph’s grandfather Joseph was born in 1718;  his great grandfather Joseph in 1689 in Chelmsford,MA.  This first Joseph and his wife Dorothy Perham moved to Hudson, then a part of Dunstable, MA, and built a garrision house.  The site of this garrison and the birthplace of their son Joseph (born 1718)  is identified by an historic marker on Hampshire Drive off Lowell Road and a short distance behind Fairview Healthcare.
Back to Captain Blodgett and his wife Sarah.  Of their children, their youngest son, Austin  and their youngest daughter  Martha, are significant to this story.  Martha was born in 1825 and married Royal Burns Buxton of Nashua.  This couple remained in the Nashua/Hudson area and became the ancestral parents  to the Paul and Hazel (Reynolds)  Buxton family.  Austin remained on the homestead as a farmer with his parents.  He married Susan Davis and they raised a family of two sons (Elmer H born 1852 and Austin J born 1861) and a daughter Vinnie (born 1859).  Elmer married Hannah Clyde in 1876.  They lived on Central Street in Hudson until their last few years when they moved the Hunt Community in Nashua,   Elmer was a carpenter, musician, and an outdoors man.
Vinnie and Austin J. remained on the homestead and did not marry.  She passed in 1911 while hospitalized after complications from a fall.  Austin J. passed in 1946 at age 85. Vinnie was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church (now the Community Church) of Hudson.  She was knows as a kind neighbor and friend to all in trouble.  Austin J. remained on the homestead until the mid 1930’s when he retired and moved to Nashua.
The photo of the Joseph Blodgett home shown here is from the Historical Society Collection.  It was taken by a Mr. Howe of Ashfield, MA in 1899.  The woman in the photo is Vinnie Blodgett, at about 40 years of age. The property remained in the family from Austin to his son Austin J.  The house was torn down about 1934.  The records of the early church of Nottingham, MA as kept by Rev. Nathaniel Merrill were found in this house at about that time.  A handwritten copy has been given to the Hudson Historical Society and the originals placed with the New Hampshire Historical Society.  In 1935, through the efforts of historian Dr. H.O. Smith the vital records were published by the New England Historic and Genealogical Society.  The site of this home is now part of the Fox Hollow Condominium Community.