by Hugh Herbert
I have two vivid memories of Pat when we were spending the worst year of our lives up to that time. I refer to the unhappy year (for most of us) when we left our old friends and neighborhood in Oxford, Massachusetts because Dad had to change his job.
We lived in a rented house on School Street in Central Village, then a small mill town. Most of the kids in school were tough French Canadians who did not take warmly to us new comers.
The nearest Catholic church was in Moosup, about two miles away and the road took us past the mill houses in which all the French Canadian kids lived. We had to walk to church on Saturday mornings for “instructions” and often returned after lunch for the 10 cent matinee at the Moosup theater. We were occasionally set upon by the mill kids until we decided to go in “numbers”, us three boys and Pat. When we went like this, we were seldom bothered.
At this time, Pat was 13 years old, I was nine. She assigned all of us a task as we walked back and forth to Moosup, collect discarded “Old Gold” cigarette pack wrappers. She wanted to enter some kind of contest (whose prize escapes me now) and to submit a number of the wrappers or “a reasonable facsimile”. So, we spent all of our time walking with downcast eyes seeking out the wrappers. I don’t remember her ever winning anything, but I can still see her hunched over at the dining room table methodically copying the wrappers with an extraordinary detail. She would have made a good counterfeiter had she continued with this.
My other memory is of Pat starting the “Herbert Herald” that same year. She took one of those long pads of yellow unlined paper which was very cheaply made. You could actually see small chips of wood in it! She used a big fat No. 2 pencil and with a ruler, struck a horizontal line across the sheet about two inches from the top. The rest of the sheet she divided into three vertical columns.
She carefully drew “HERBERT HERALD” across the top with the date and then started to tediously print out family news in the columns. It took her hours to do one sheet. The content was all about the family, our school activities, friends (only a few) and local news of interest. I cannot recall her total output, but it was several copies which she sent to various relatives.
Three houses up the street from us were an older couple, the Cutlers. Mrs. Cutler took an interest in Pat and used to lend her books from her own collection. Mr. Cutler also took an interest in Pat but with a bit of difference. He was a real lecher and while there was never anything of an overt nature, Pat told me years later that even as a young teen, she felt uncomfortable around him altho at the time she didn’t realize why.
Anyhow, Mr. Cutler gave Pat an old used Royal typewriter and she soon put it to good use to draw up a more modern version of the Herbert Herald.
I cannot remember how long she published those early editions. I do recall that she once told me that she still had a copy of the first batch that she did.
Whatever, when she rekindled the Herald in 1988, it became a wonderful part of the Herbert family lore, keeping track of the various family weddings, births, events, etc. It really was a great tool for all of us to keep in touch with each other and be aware of what was going on in our clan.