The World’s Worst Game of Telephone (508 #309)

posted by Mike on September 7th, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about baseball sloganeering, why the pope should not resign, and our favorite moments from this week’s episode of “Worcester, Massachusetts.”

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Flemish Bond (508 #308 w/ Brian Goslow)

posted by Mike on September 7th, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about Holden Man, the “perfect game,” the “poorly-attended game,” and the Worcester Red Sox with Worcester baseball historian Brian Goslow.

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The Worcester Klan Meeting & Riot of 1924

posted by Mike on August 27th, 2018

KLANSMEN BEATEN IN STREETS, CARS STONED, WOMEN INJURED

Thus read the front page of the Worcester Telegram, October 19, 1924.

There was a KKK in Worcester, and a weird one. It’s worth explaining how the Worcester Klan ended up being a half-Swedish organization that directed its hatred towards Irish and Italians, not blacks.

The first version of the KKK or “First Klan,” was a racist terrorist group formed in the wake of the Civil War. It died out in the 1880s. Then, in 1915, the smash pro-Klan film “Birth of a Nation” inspired a rebirth of the movement, the “Second Klan.” It really took off in 1920 when it adopted aspects of multilevel marketing, with some Klan recruiters getting rich and Klansmen buying lots of crap from the national organization like helmets and even robes—DIY Klan gear was frowned upon.

The KKK had a whole menu of hatred to choose from, whether anti-Mormon, anti-semitic, anti-black, anti-immigrant, or anti-Catholic. Worcester Klansmen were especially interested in these last two. A boom in immigration from Catholic areas like Ireland and Italy was putting pressure on the labor market. (Immigrants were a huge part of Worcester in the 20s, when only 70% of the population was native-born.) Klan membership was a way to push back. (The Worcester Klan was a little more upscale than you might think, consisting of many fewer “unskilled and menial workers” and many more “semi-skilled and skilled” workers than Worcester overall. And it was vastly more white collar than Worcester’s immigrant population.) While most Klan groups were hostile to immigrants in general, the Worcester Klan had great success recruiting among first- and second-generation Swedish immigrants. The Swedes were among the more established immigrant groups in the city, and the Klan saw Nordic peoples as being a lot better than those dirty mongrels from Southern or Eastern Europe, and on that basis an alliance was built. Worcester was comparatively very Swedish, percentage-wise the second-most Swedish city in the US (behind Minneapolis). In Kevin Hickey’s 1981 paper “The Immigrant Klan,” he estimates there were 4000 Klan members in greater Worcester in 1924, and that half were Swedish (whereas 10% of Worcesterites were Swedes). George N. Jeppson, a high-ranking executive (he would eventually be president) at the Norton Company, one of the city’s largest employers, was a big Swedish booster and had been recruiting Swedish employees for decades. So it came to be that 30% of Worcester-area Klansmen were Norton-employed Swedes, and 60% of Worcester-area Klansmen worked at Norton. The Worcester Klan even went rogue and changed one of the questions on the official KKK membership form from “Were your parents born in the United States of America?” to “Are you a Nordic American?” (Questions like “Are you a Gentile or Jew?”, “Are you of the white race or a colored race?”, and “Do you believe in White Supremacy?” remained unchanged.)

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Wu-Sox (508 #307)

posted by Mike on August 18th, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, Mike and Brendan talk about the logic of SimCity, “Holden Man Gets 5 Years for Worcester Sandwich Shop Robberies,” the lack of master thieves, the NM couple who left behind a $100 million stolen painting, the Isabella Stewart Gardner heist, how home ownership influences political behavior [PDF], how the demolition of Notre Dame des Canadiens is the Altamont of Worcester Catholicism, “Assumption College President Cesareo to Oversee Allegations of Sexual Misconduct at Seminary,” does the Worcester Catholic church have the cultural relevance of an Applebee’s? (to use Steve Siddle’s expression), the generations-long work of dealing with clergy sex abuse, the Wu-Sox, Worcester’s Greatest Needs (circa 1901), do we have more dignity attached to the mayor’s office?, do we have higher and more virile citizenship?

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The Truth About Worcester (OFFICIAL) (508 #306)

posted by Mike on August 13th, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we discuss a non-renaissance framing for city events in 2018, MassLive on Worcide, volunteer fixers, Father John Madden on panhandling, YIMBY dynamics, and the sad truth about happiness scales.

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National Sword (508 #305 w/Geri DiNardo)

posted by Mike on August 12th, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk with Geri DiNardo about helping found Worcester’s Mustard Seed Catholic Worker community and soup kitchen, Ofo bikes, the wisdom of not framing 2018 Worcester as a “Renaissance,” recycling (Worcester, Australia [PDF]), how Boston increases Worcester housing costs, and the future of handicapped transit.

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Gentrification (508 #304 w/Tyler Brown and Nori Needle)

posted by Mike on July 21st, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk with documentarians Tyler Brown and Nori Needle about “Uncommonwealth: Permit To Build” and gentrification in Worcester.

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Uncommonwealth: Permit To Build from Future Focus Media Co-op on Vimeo.

It’s a Germ! It’s a Worm! (508 #303 w/Olivia W-B)

posted by Mike on July 14th, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about leaving Worcester, the recently-demolished Worcide, the long-demolished Davis Tower, the continuing (!) Catholic sex abuse scandal, Peach Rockets, gypsy moths, and state-of-the-art litter surveillance with Olivia W-B.

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KLANSMEN BEATEN IN STREET (508 #302 w/Kayti Burt)

posted by Mike on June 30th, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about next season’s Worcester storylines and the Klan Meeting & Riot of 1924 with Kayti Burt.

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Bruce ‘n’ Bill (508 #301 w/Bruce Russell and Bill Shaner)

posted by Mike on June 30th, 2018

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about suicide and remaking Main Street with Bruce “Snow Ghost” Russell and Worcester Magazine writer Bill Shaner.

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