UNION STATION

Title

UNION STATION

Contributor

ANNETTE RAFFERTY

Description

I was born in Worcester in 1930 and grew up in what I call the Golden Age of the city, when downtown was bustling, trolley cars were running and people were downtown every day. My first memory of Union Station is from 1938, when my family and I traveled to the New York World’s Fair. You could go in and get newspapers and a cup of coffee and maybe a donut for your ride, and the big hall that’s now empty was filled with rows and rows of benches for people to wait. My favorite of all memories was being there in 1947 the night the Holy Cross basketball team, and my favorite person, Bob Cousy, returned from winning the very first collegiate championship for a New England college. There was no place to sit, no place to stand; you were just part of a huge crowd welcoming this team back from Madison Square Garden. I yearn for the days when Union Station will be filled again, with more trains going in and out and people traveling all over the country.

Oral History

Annette Rafferty Interviewed by Gabriella Grilla

My name is Annette Rafferty and I was born in Worcester in 1930 and grew up in what I call the Golden Age of the city of Worcester, when downtown was bustling and when trolley cars were running and people were downtown every day and Union Station was the place to be and the place to go to to get anywhere that you wanted to get. I have many memories at being at Union Station and I’m going to start with the very first one that I thought about, just came to me this morning, my family and I traveled out of Union Station in 1938 to the New York World’s Fair that was held in New York and we landed in Penn Station and then took a cab to the hotel where we were staying. It was my first time, I was eight years old, my first time inside Union Station as we departed and I was really overwhelmed by the crowds that were there, the little stores that they had where you could get souvenirs. You could go in and get newspapers and paper bags and a cup of coffee and maybe a donut for your ride wherever you were going, and the big hall that’s now empty, was filled with rows and rows of benches for people to wait, either to receive company that were coming or to wait or their train. Then announcement was displayed on a big big board over the doors that would lead outside to the tracks and it was like going into a whole new world. I asked my dad why we were going by train and he said “well, it’s easier than traveling with a car.” We were lucky enough to have a car but I never wanted to travel any other place after being at Union Station and getting on that train than to be on a train. Some years later, when I was fourteen, we went to Union Station to go to Boston, and in fact it was a train out of Union Station that took me to my very first play that I saw at the old Wilbur Theater it was called Harvey and Frank Fay was the actor in it. We departed and returned to Union Station and no matter what time of day or evening you came, it was packed with people. There were always little crowds. The next time I went into Union Station was when the Holy Cross basketball team won the very first collegiate championship in New England among New England colleges! It was the 1946-47 season and the top players were people like George Kaftan and Joe Mullane and Andy Laska and Frank Oftring, all names that are so connected to Worcester. And, of course, Bob Cousy, who was my favorite of all favorite basketball players. The night they returned, having beat Oklahoma, they came into Union Station to a crowd that I had never seen before. There was no place to sit, no place to stand, you were just part of a huge crowd welcoming this team back from Madison Square Garden. In fact, the next day they had a parade in Worcester to celebrate this win for Holy Cross College. The very first college in New England to win the NCAA tournament. My next very interesting experience at Union Station was very early in the morning four years later when I was a freshman in college. I was at a very strict girls catholic college and I got permission to go to a Holy Cross dance but the only caveat was that I had to be back on campus the next day at 8:30 for class. So I went down to Union Station at four o’clock in the morning from my grandmothers house, got a ride down and I got there at 4:15, and even by 4:30 the place was filling up again. Men were having their shoes polished there were stands on either side and young men would come and polish shoes and we ran up the stairs and took what they called the traditional milk train back to Springfield. Meaning it stopped at every single small town along the way to pick up these big gallon jugs of milk to take to market up at Springfield. So I have very very happy memories of Worcester and of Union Station. But my favorite of all memories was being there the night with the Holy Cross team, and my favorite person Bob Cousy, came back into Union Station as champions. I yearn for the days when Union Station will be filled again and will have more trains going in and out and people will park their cars and take a bus or a taxi to Union Station and travel all over the country out of the famous Union Station.

Files

New Union Station (1983.75.jpg
Looking down on the waiting room (WoMag - July 1911.jpg
Union_Station,_Worcester,_Mass._No._87-2.jpg
unionstationplate.jpg
IMG_2582.JPG

Reference

UNION STATION

Cite As

“UNION STATION ,” Worcester in 50, accessed November 17, 2018, http://worcesterin50.com/items/show/14.

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