Manchester Friendship Tree Dedication 1965

Front row, left to right, Mrs. Gustav A. Knoerr, Mrs. Benjamin L. Bullock, charter members of the Manchester Woman’s Club and Mrs. William H. Coolidge, Jr. of Wenham. Standing, left to right: Miss Martha Mollison, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Benjamin J. Stasiak, Miss Patricia Cappello, Woman’s Club President Mrs. John V. Meigs and Master William H. Coolidge III of Wenham. Photo courtesy of the Manchester Historical Museum.

This article ran in the Manchester Cricket on November 19, 1965

On Thursday morning, November 11 at 11 o’clock, the sun shone down on the Manchester Town Common and the Norway Spruce which had been planted two days previously by professional nurseryman to remain a “permanent” Christmas tree. 

This tree is called the Friendship Tree because it is inspired by the Manchester Woman’s Club and made possible by voluntary contributions from various civic organizations and individual Manchesterites, both past and present. 

It replaces the permanent Christmas tree contributed by Joseph Waszak in 1957 “because of the kindness shown to him by the towns people.”  This evergreen tree was transported from Mr. Waszak’s yard on Summer Street in November 1957 to the Town Common through the courtesy of the Manchester Lions Club, as a public service.  

Some of the roots of this tree had been growing into a ledge, and despite the loving care given through the years, it did not adapt to its new surroundings, and was slowly dying when replaced by the Friendship Tree.

Thursday morning there were 150 Manchesterites, men, women and children, as well as visitors from out of town, gathered for the dedication, which was opened by Archie Cool, chaplain, Amaral-Bailey Post No. 113, American Legion, who asked all assembled in observance of Veterans Day to join him in a moment of silence for our honored dead.

Mrs. John V. Meigs, president of the Manchester Woman’s Club then spoke: “On behalf of the Manchester Woman’s Club it gives me the greatest pleasure to dedicate our Friendship Tree. When our plan for this tree was conceived, we had no idea how firmly it would take root, or how far it would branch out. People in all walks of life, young and old, and from far and near, have helped us plant this living memorial. It is with great pride and a very warm glow that I offer you this beautiful tree.  May it be an everlasting symbol of friendship!”

With a gold shovel whose handle was decorated with a pink [the club color] bow, the Misses Patricia Capello and Martha Mollison, Manchester High School honor girls and associate members of the Manchester Woman’s Club, each deposited a shovel full of earth under the tree, followed by Master William H. Coolidge III, of Wenham, while the guests of honor Mrs. Benjamin L. Bullock and Mrs. Gustav A. Knoerr, charter members of Manchester Woman’s Club and Mrs. William H. Coolidge, Jr., of Wenham, looked on.

Mr. Stasiak put in a shovel full of earth under the tree and handed the gold shovel to Miss Debbie LeHaye, 11-year-old daughter of Mrs. Richard Villa of Bennet Street, bidding her place a shovel full of earth under the tree, too.  Debbie was given the honor because she had been greatly interested in the tree, attended the Manchester Children’s Halloween party as “the Friendship Tree,” and won a prize for her original costume.  

The Friendship Tree Committee, Mrs. Robert W. Emmons, Jr., chairman, Mrs. Charles J. Mitchell, treasurer, and Mrs. Roger F. Greenslet, past president of the Manchester Woman’s Club, with the help of knowledgeable treemen, looked everywhere for just the right tree, a Norway Spruce.  Oddly enough, none could be found in any of the nurseries contacted.  Unaware of this, but reading about the Friendship Tree in the newspapers, the William H. Coolidge family, in memory of the late William H Coolidge, Jr., formerly of Summer Street, Manchester, offered any one of the Norway spruce trees planted years ago as a hobby by Mr. Coolidge.  The Coolidge family moved to Wenham in 1942, and the tree now on the Common was planted there 17 years ago and was unanimously selected by the tree men and the committee members. At the dedication ceremony the committee was happy to be able to include the tree lover’s grandson, Master William H. Coolidge III.

The Friendship Tree will be given a year’s care by professional treatment while adjusting to its new location. When questioned, Edgar F. Adams, Manchester tree warden, said that all possible sites on the Common had been investigated and the site chosen was deemed to be the best for many reasons.  The tree is framed by two flowering crab apple trees, and the white Congregational Church makes a perfect background, giving it an excellent view from all sides, and particularly as one approaches the Town Common from School Street.

The members of the Friendship Tree Committee again state that a list of the names of all donors, and the names of all those who made contributions in his memory, will be placed in the Town Hall for posterity to read.

Reprint, The Manchester Cricket, November 19, 1965