Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Our Town" Hudson

In 1940, United Artists released a film adaptation of Thornton Wilder's play Our Town. On the day the film was to be shown at the Community Theatre in Hudson, this article appeared in the Hudson Daily Star, proclaiming Hudson to be one of thousands of "Our Towns" scattered through the nation. Thanks to a Gossips reader for bringing this to our attention.

From the Hudson Daily Star for July 13, 1940.

Hudson is typical of the thousands of "Our Towns" scattered across these United States and because of its antiquity it is numbered among the early "Our Towns."

The showing of the screen version of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize play "Our Town" at the Community Theatre here today is a reminder that communities such as Hudson have ever been and will continue to be the spiritual, social and material background of America.

"Our Town"--has always been a busy trading place--one that early attracted national attention. From an issue of the New York Journal published in 1786 we quote--"The increase in population and business importance of the city has been unparalleled. It contains several fine wharves, a covered rope-walk, spermacetiworks, one hundred and fifty dwelling houses, shops, barns and one of the best distilleries in America, and fifteen hundred souls; and upwards of twelve hundred sleighs loaded with grains of various kinds, boards, shingles, staves, hoops, ironware, stone for building, firewood and sundry articles of provisions for the market, entered the city daily for several days together in the month of January this year."

And, remarks Captain Ellis in his history, "This account makes no mention of the twenty-five seagoing vessels then hailing from Hudson, or the ship yards from which had been turned out at least one ship (the "Hudson," three hundred tons, Captain Robert Folger) then ready for sea while others were on the stocks in process of construction."

In this, "Our Town" of today, the people maintain the honorable traditions of the past and, guided by the energetic spirit of the Proprietors, strive to keep "Our Town" in the pattern of commerce, culture and spiritual grace which they planned and achieved. In the 155 years from 1785 to 1940 "Our Town" has travelled a long way in population, industry, education and many other activities.

"Our Town" now has a population of about 12,000, covers some three square miles, ranging from sea level to 300 feet above. The automobile and modern means of communication have extended the influence and service of "Our Town" over a wide area of the rural countryside. More than ever before it is the focal point of Columbia County of which it is the county seat. 

"Our Town" has a core of manufacturing plants, employing approximately 2,000 people, engaged in producing cement, in two of the largest plants in their line, machinery, tools and presses, woolen knit goods, an internationally known brand of ginger ale, matches, dresses, ladies handbags, paper boxes, canned mushrooms, strip fly paper. All of which give a payroll of about $2,500,000.

The shopping district of "Our Town" serves a trading population of nearly 50,000 consumers.

The early days of "Our Town" emphasized schools and educational advantages and the modern town has six public schools and one parochial school. "Our Town's" new half million dollar Montgomery C. Smith High School in a magnificent setting with its fine Chancellor Livingston Athletic Field is undoubtedly the finest of any city of our size in this state.

"Our Town" boasts of six acres of well kept parks. Four banks serve its financial needs. Two daily newspapers, whose roots go deep into the past, have wide circulation. Modern theatres bring the best obtainable movie entertainment to "Our Town."

Its fine motorized volunteer fire department is without peer in the State. It has an energetic Chamber of Commerce working for the best interests of the community.

"Our Town's" Hospital, its Home for the Aged, its Orphanage, its churches, fraternal and social groups, all bespeak a friendly and neighborly community.

We who call ourselves Hudsonians and dwell within its confines, surrounded and blest as we are by the scenic beauty, created by the hand of the Almighty, are indeed privileged to call it "Our Town."

1 comment:

  1. This statement seems interesting mainly as a window on how upright Hudsonians *wanted* to see themselves (or to have the rest of the world see them). It of course neglects mention of any sort of challenges or dark underbellies in Hudson...

    For example, Atlas Cement had been closed for most of the previous 10 years due to the Great Depression, which had boosted the City's population substantially as people moved into more urbanized areas during hard times. Meanwhile, prostitution was the industry for which Hudson was best known. The Hospital and Home for the Aged are celebrated, but the presence of the Training School (girls' reformatory) is erased. Of course, this is typical of newspaper/Chamber of Commerce civic boosterism even (or especially) today.