To the editor:
At its November meeting the Massasoit Historical Association voted to renew the tradition of “lighting” the Maxwell House during the holiday season.The custom it had discontinued a number of years ago is being brought back in memory of the late past -president Ray Medley.
The association felt it was a most appropriate tribute of president Medley who spearheaded a movement to put candles with clear bulbs in Warren windows back in the 1970s. When it began, members of the association embraced the project and switched to clear bulbs to set an example for the community. A small group of association members undertook the lighting not only of The Maxwell House but also the George Hail Free Library, the Town Hall, the United Methodist Church, the Masonic Temple, and the Baker Street Fire Barn but it was Ray who organized the activity.
A Nov. 16, 1977 article in the Warren Times read “Christmas candles flicker to life again.” The article told how in the 1920s residents of Warren, particularly in the Washington, Broad and Lyndon Street areas, had the custom of putting real candles in their windows on Christmas Eve. It was reported that people from as far away as New Bedford, Taunton and Pawtucket came to view the illumination. By 1927 electric candles began to appear and were replacing the real candles.
In 1977, when the article appeared, window candles with clear bulbs were the exception as most of the people who were putting candles in their windows were using colored bulbs. The association researched clear bulbs available at the time and cautioned that there were two types of clear bulbs available and for those wishing to renew the custom and bulbs of 120 volts would be the appropriate choice. Massasoit compiled a list of merchants who carried appropriate bulbs and candles at moderate prices and even offered contact phone numbers for people who wanted more information on the custom.
Thirty-five years have passed and technological advances makes lighting the Maxwell House far easier than in 1977. Gone are the days of screwing a bulb only to have it glow extra brightly for a second and then burn out, of numerous custom-made extension cords plugged together and then into timers that failed to function. This year the Maxwell House will be lit with battery operated candles with built in timers that won’t fail to click on and with LED bulbs that won’t burn out as soon as plugged in. The members responsible, some still the same people as in 1977, would not wish to go back to the way things were for all the window candles with clear bulbs in the town of Warren.
Massasoit Historical Association