Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


November 1, 2012

Dalton column: Living in Andover 100 years ago


Another transcending issue was woman's suffrage, and although the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the vote wasn't passed until 1919, the Townsman noted that women in Sweden gained suffrage in 1912.

Although the electric light and telephones were becoming more common, most homes in Andover were still without them. The Merrimack Insurance Co., located in the bank building, advertised, "to prevent fires use brackets to keep curtains from gas flames and use globes over the flames as protection from fire.” Telephones were catching on a bit more quickly than electric lights, and the value of business telephones was advertised by New England Telephone and Telegraph Company: “Every Bell telephone is a long distance station."

Radios were nonexistent and the TV was decades away, although important news was spread by telegrams and telephones. Moving pictures (silent films with a live piano providing some sound) were beginning to get noticed, and one news story mentioned the ingenious methods used to provide "startling effects" in movies.

So what did people do for recreation? Whist, bowling, football, soccer, baseball, and Phillips Academy and Punchard sports were covered heavily in the Andover Townsman. Phillips Academy particularly received a lot of coverage, probably because the editor and publisher of the Townsman, John N. Cole, owned the Andover Press, which received work from PA, and he also owned the Andover Bookstore, from which Phillips Academy purchased its textbooks.

To bolster its football teams, large prep schools in those days competed to get the best high school athletes by giving them full scholarships to attend their school as post graduates. My uncle and namesake was one of those athletes. In 1911, Phillips Andover gave a post graduate scholarship to Eddie Mahan, one of the greatest football players in the country. The Andover-Exeter game that year had 8,500 people in attendance at Exeter Academy. Trains took many people from Andover to the game, and they weren't disappointed as Mahan ran all over the field and Andover won. However, upon returning to town many people lined Main Street to watch the celebration of Phillips boys march by, but they never did because the school told them not to parade down Main Street. This caused a great deal of consternation by townspeople, some of whom, including the above mentioned Mr. Rhodes, wrote letters to the Townsman. Eddie Mahan would become an All-American football player at Harvard for three years as well as being captain in his senior year. Harvard and other Ivy League Schools were national football powers.

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