Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fountain Favoritism

Yesterday, Gossips printed the report from the twenty-ninth convention of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Columbia County and explored the widespread phenomenon of the WCTU fountain. One of the resolves of the local WCTU, when they met in October 1913, was to erect a drinking fountain in Hudson, so that men would not have to go into a saloon to quench their thirst. The WCTU ladies let no grass grow under their feet in achieving their goal. This headline appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for May 12, 1915:

The text that follows clarifies that this in not the DAR fountain but a different fountain to be erected by the WCTU.
The monthly meeting of the white ribboners was held at the home of Mrs. Herbert Avery, on Prospect street. After the usual opening exercises communications were read. One of the letters was from the Young Men's Christian association, giving the W. C. T. U. permission to use the piece of land between the association building and the store now occupied by A. R. Vosburgh for the purpose of erecting a drinking fountain. The association also was granted the privilege of connecting with the Y. M. C. A. water supply and sewerage pipes until such a time as the association shall desire to use the same for enlarging their building.
The fountain has been ordered, and will be forwarded as soon as the plumbing work is done and a foundation is prepared for the fountain which the women hope will soon be done.
In 1915, A. R. Vosburgh sold hats and caps at 437 Warren Street, just east of the YMCA building at 435 Warren Street. The fountain would have been located just left of the building, where the fence is in this 1905 photograph.

In her 1909 History of the City of Hudson, Anna Bradbury reminds us of why the YMCA and the WCTU would be allies and why Hudson was a perfect target for their mission:
A city which, from the proportion of saloons to the population has won the unenviable distinction of standing second on the list in the state, should sustain "The Christian Association" is self defience [sic]. Let the stranger who invariably comments on the number of saloons on our principal thoroughfare, be enabled to observe at least one public effort to provide a proper, and congenial place for our young men to congregate.
In 1915, there would also be a fountain where young men could quench their thirst without entering a saloon and being tempted to stay for stronger drink. 

But what happened to the fountain that the Daughters of the American Revolution had commissioned and given to the City of Hudson? This brief report, presumably from a Common Council meeting, discovered in the Hudson Evening Register for March 26, 1916, reveals that seven years after it had been unveiled in Washington Park and almost a year after the WCTU fountain was installed on Warren Street, the Hudson-Fulton fountain was still languishing in "limbo."
D.A.R. Drinking Fountain Soon to be Placed on Public Square.
A communication was received regarding the DAR fountain, and it was voted with satisfaction that this fountain will soon be removed from limbo and receive appropriate setting on Public Square.
But alas, more than a year later, it still hadn't happened. In June 1917, this item appeared in the Hudson Evening Register:
In the matter of placing the D. A. R. fountain in Public Square, as was agreed upon last year, but which work had been stopped on account of the illness of the superintendent, the Public Works commissioner feels that the money needed to do this work be raised in some way, he will be glad to have the work done and supervise the work.

Thanks to Paul Barrett for discovering these news items about the drinking fountains of Hudson and sharing them with Gossips.

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