LIFE in Dedham Part 2

On May 1 and 2 1952, LIFE magazine came to Dedham to report on a play presented by Mrs. Elizabeth Gurley and her fifth grade class at the Avery School. According to the Transcript, photographer Robert Mottar took over 1000 photographs of the performance of “The Terror of New England,” a historical drama written by Mrs. Gurley’s husband Franklin.


The caption reads: Scuffling spectators, younger brothers of actors, roll on floor during dress rehearsal, which was attended by mothers who could not get to the show.

The play might be considered a little politically incorrect by today’s standards, and the article seems condescending; focusing on the mishaps and backstage antics of second grader Phillip Wisowaty, who was on “loan” for the production. Other students pictured in the article were: Billy McElhinny, Larry Bolestra, Eleanor Schoener, and the daughter of Mrs. Theodore Wiskont. One interesting fact mentioned is that some of the costumes were leftover from a movie that had been filmed in town. This undoubtedly refers to the Dedham Tercentenary movie filmed to commemorate the town’s 300th birthday in 1936.


The principal is Mr. James O’Connell
These fifth graders would now be close to 70 years old. Perhaps you know one or two if them and could ask them to give you their story of their brush with fame. Go to Google books to see the entire article.

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Explore posts in the same categories: History/Mystery

3 Comments on “LIFE in Dedham Part 2”

  1. KristenSweeney Says:

    My son used to attend the Avery – great article!

    I must show this to him, I think he’ll get a kick out of seeing the old photos of the Avery gym and especially the 2nd grader 😉

  2. Robert O'Connell Says:

    That is my great grandfather

  3. Chip Says:

    Larry Bolestra Was the janitor at the Dedham Quincy school when I went there in the 70’s. Billy McElhinny is related to my wife….small world.


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