This article appeared in the Brockton Enterprise Newspaper and is reprinted with permission.  The article appeared in 1949 although an exact date cannot be determined.


by Joe Reilly

A TICKET POPPED OUT as I opened the envelope. Unique ducat it was. In fragile blue, a reproduction of the front of the Brockton YM and YWHA community centre backgrounded announcement of the "38th Annual Ball". And it was an Annie Oakley.

With the ticket, a sweet note from Roland Tuck, grand panjandrum of the ball committee, inviting the BL and me to join in the festivities scheduled for Monday evening next. Roland doesn’t know how much that gesture pleased me.

He isn’t aware that as cub reporter 35 years ago I "sweat it" with the young fry of that day as they strove mightily for a place in the sun for their YM and YWHA then just aborning.

FAR CRY were the headquarters of that era from the monumental structure on Legion Parkway. Couple of drab little rooms upstairs over the then Howard & Caldwell store where the Kennedy building now stands echoed YM-YWHA laughter, tears, anxieties and heart-aches.

Courage had its abode there; the will to win through the hard way. Building of their own was a far-off and shining goal. Youngsters had to carry the ball. Few, if any, of the seniors had hit the jack-pot.

The budding building fund had to be inched along. Sizeable sources of revenue were the annual ball and dancing parties thrown by the girls.

ASSIGNED TO COVER Y affairs for the old Brockton Times, the bravery and industry of the lads and lassies got under my skin.

I magnified their triumphs, minimized their set-backs in news stories. To hear my typewriter sing you’d have thought a centre for Eire-born was in the works.

Many of the boys I knew well – Manny Rubin, Sam and Manuel Kovner, Louis Rautenberg, Abe Rusacow, Jake Oppenheim, Harry Swartz, Joe Warshauer.

Gals I came to know were Rebecca Hurwitz, Lena Falk, Rebecca Shapiro, Bessie Barger, Jennie Stone, Frances Rusacow and Mary Stein.

FLAMING was the torch I carried for Lena Falk, pretty and sweet as I have known. Nor did Lean dislike me, if I say so, who shouldn’t. But her father was a cantor, at Agudas Achim. No daughter of his was going to be involved with any Hibernian.

CAME AN EVENING when the gals were tossing a dancing party in Massasoit Hall; boodle for the slowly mounting building fund.

The Weather Man went on a rampage. Result, hardly anyone showed up; the party was a flop. Lena, committee chairman, was in tears.

Back in the Times office I conjured and put on paper a yarn on the doomed party that would have made envious Mrs. Astor and her horse. The décor, beautiful gowns, etc. I imagined it salved the wounds the gals had suffered.

At least those budding YM-YW’s in other cities would be impressed.

With a chuckle I recall the ball of 1914, or maybe it was 1915. By that time the annual affair had taken on a real stature. Not only did our local boys and girls turn out en masse, but there were visitors of distinction.

The party was swank, even that early in the game. I was on hand with pencil and pad to report the goings-on.

PREPOSTEROUS as it may seem now, there was a furor over whether or not the proprieties were violated by dancing a variant of the fox-trot dubbed the "horse-trot". It had been outlawed at a couple of annual balls staged that year.

FLOOR MARSHAL of the Y ball was Morris Urist. He and his aides decided there would be no "horse-trotting". Insurgents who defied the edict – and there were many – were tapped on the shoulder.

Morris put the bee on me while I was dancing with Rifka Hurwitz, the Pavlowa of the fox and horse-trots.

"Don’t pay any attention to him", was Rifka’s rebellious reaction. We trotted off under shelter of Canton Hall’s balcony in the hope of hiding us fancy stepping from floor marshal and henchmen.

FOR A MOMENT we were the spirit of the dance. Then Morris was at my shoulder again.

"Morris," I said, "If you annoy Rifka and me any more the story of this ball will appear as an item on one of the newspaper’s back pages – without your picture."

His reaction, "Well, keep out of sight as much as you can." Rifka musical laughter bounced off his broad shoulders.

NOW AN ESTABLISHED highlight of the local social season, next Monday’s 38th ball will be fun and frolic in beautiful gowns, white ties and tails.

My wish is that today’s young fry and older newcomers who take the community centre for granted pause sometime during the evening to say, "Thank you" to men and women – who were youngsters 38 years ago.