ORIGINS OF OLD HOME DAY
Researched and written by Al Peckham
At the annual town meeting 85 years ago, on Februaary 1, 1909, Article 15, “To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of one hundred dollars for Old Home Week and to appoint an Old Home Week Committee to act thereon.” The article failed to pass.
But in 1912 the first old home celebration was held for one day on July 31, 1912, according to Ruth Wilkins Hollis’ record, “It was a beautiful summer day, with the Town Flag flying on the Common and the Soldiers’ Monument in the Square decorated with flags and flowers.”
That was 82 years ago. The next year a Carlisle Old Home Day Association was formed. Held annually until 1915, the fifth event was held four years later after World War I on September 1, 1919, including a reception for Carlisle soldiers and sailor returning from war service. The parade that day included most of the twenty World War I veterans and a few Civil War veterans.
The enthusiasm for the Old Home Day event heightened in the mid-1970s, largely because of the bicentennial, It has continued consistently during these past two decades.
It is not clear how many such days were celebrated between 1919 and 1975; there were none for several years. But on Labor Day, September 3, 1934, Old Home Day was held by the Carlisle Old Home Day Association, which had its beginnings in 1913. This was in the depths of the Great Depression.
The next event is said to have been held on Labor Day, September 2, 1946, and was a welcome home event for World War II veterans, to whom Certificates of Appreciation were given.
Lewis French is now researching his father’s diaries to see if there is a record of the printing of Old Home Day programs. His father, Edmund L. French printed the programs through all these years until his death in 1982.
After another lapse, Mrs. Edna Sleeper, now of Rivercrest at Concord, revived the customs with a local committee in 1967 as a Fourth of July happening.
In 1974, the late Andrew L. Brown chaired the event. An honored guest that year was Alfred M. Worden of the Apollo 15 flight, a friend and guest of Dave and Florence Reed.
The present Old Home Day Association was incorporated in 1975. Waldo D. Wilson was honored in that year for his service as town accountant for 45 years and fire chiief for 50 years. It is believed that this event was held consistently since that year. During most of these past years, an outstanding citizen of the year has been honored, and in recent years, a Conservationist Award has become traditional.