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Becky Blodgett: 00:00:01 I don't know how to exactly get ready.
Michael Kline:: Well, I think you've been preparing for this moment probably your whole life—not to put too much of a spin on it.
Becky Blodgett: Oh, right. Well, yeah.
Michael Kline: Are we rolling?
Carrie Kline: Oh, yes, this is being documented.
Michael Kline: This is Michael Kline:. We're in the—what do they call this?—the—
Carrie Kline: Development Office.
Michael Kline: Development Office of the Concord Free Public Library. And we are with the Blodgetts. And maybe you'd begin, if you would. Tell me your name. Say—I'll hold this, thank you—my name is—
Becky Blodgett: My name is Rebecca Blodgett. People—
Michael Kline: And your date of birth, please.
Becky Blodgett: My date of birth was April 16, 1933.
Michael Kline: And—?
Tim Blodgett: And I'm Timothy Blodgett, and I was born on August 13, 1929.
Michael Kline: Twenty—nine, huh? Both of you are amazing. I never would have guessed you'd been around as long as you have. That's great. So tell us a little bit about your early years and particularly about your path to Concord if you weren't born here.
Becky Blodgett: I was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. My parents, Helen and John Driscoll—I was the firstborn child for Helen and John Driscoll. My mother moved to Concord, Mass., when she was a year old from Watertown where she was born.
Tim Blodgett: Watertown, Mass.
Becky Blodgett: 00:01:46 Watertown, Mass. And she grew up at the Middlesex School where my grandfather, Charles Locke, was a teacher. And he taught Latin and coached the crew. So my ties with Concord began when I was quite young. I heard a great deal about Concord, and we traveled here to visit my grandparents. And so that's the beginning. I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and used to come east to go to Cape Cod in the summer where the extended family—there was an extended family vacation house in South Orleans. And every time we came, as I said, we did visit Concord. I also had two uncles who ran a store here for—well, an aunt and uncle and that uncle's twin brother.
Michael Kline: And their names?
Becky Blodgett: Their names were—just a minute—
Tim Blodgett: Bill and Andy Locke.
Becky Blodgett: Bill and Andy Locke—William and Andrew Locke—and Mary Locke whose father had started the Concord Country Store. And his name was Franklin Trumble. He lived in Weston I think. At any rate, we used to get Christmas presents from the Concord Country Store and—
Michael Kline: Like what did you get?
Becky Blodgett: Well, they had—I think they had the first preppy clothes. Shirts—plaid Viyella shirts, which were warm—is what I used to get from the Concord Country Store or cotton plaid shirts.
Tim Blodgett: Penny candy too.
Becky Blodgett: When we visited here, we always liked to go to the penny candy section of the Concord Country Store. (laughs) They had a notable section. I actually moved to Concord with my husband Timothy in 1968. We had been living in St. Paul. Tim worked for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune as a business editor, and he heard about a job at Harvard, the Harvard Business School. Excuse me—well, it was Harvard Business Review, which was sort of under the wing, I think, of the Harvard Business School.
Michael Kline: The journal—it was academic?
Becky Blodgett: The journal—it was a bimonthly journal. And so we packed up our station wagon and four lively children and drove east. Naturally I had set my sights on Concord. I like to be near family. And I had aunts and uncles here and cousins. When we arrived, we found that the prices in Concord were a little steep, so we—our first house was a rental in Acton, next door to Concord. We were there for—what?—two and a—
Tim Blodgett: Two and a half years.
Becky Blodgett: Two and a half years—
Tim Blodgett: We bought a house.
Becky Blodgett: 00:05:52 And then bought a house in the center of Concord on Hubbard Street, about two blocks from the library, which was one of the delights for us of living in Concord. And we've lived here ever since, raised four children here, and we've been affiliated with the First Parish Church, Unitarian Universalist Church in town. I spent some time as a minister of pastoral care at the First Parish. And it's been sort of an important institution in our lives. We've had—we've both had leadership positions there and have been involved in a number of other things in town.
Michael Kline: So your root system runs pretty deep, doesn't it?
Becky Blodgett: It does. It does run pretty deep. I also had a great aunt who lived here. Two of her children married into the Emerson family who had—were descended from Ralph Waldo Emerson. And so there were lots of connections with Concord it seems.
Michael Kline: And you, sir?
Tim Blodgett: Well, I was born also in St. Paul.
Michael Kline: And the year? Oh, you said—
Tim Blodgett: In 1929—and came east to college and then went into service during the Korean War and got out and went to graduate school at the University of Minnesota and met Becky. And we married and moved to western Mass. I was a reporter on the Union Paper there for two years and then back to Minnesota. And I was a reporter and editor on the Minneapolis Star and Tribune for eight years. And then in 1966, as Becky mentioned, we came east where I took a job as associate editor at the Harvard Business Review. And eventually, as she said, we landed in Concord, and we bought a house a short distance from here in 1968. And after some work on the house, we moved in, in February of 1969. And I continued at the Harvard Business Review until I left in the early ‘90s. And shortly after we moved here, a cousin of mine said, "You have antecedents here." And so she sent us some information, including a genealogy layout. And it turned out that among the ancestors was—were the founders of the town: Reverend Peter Bulkeley and Simon Willard and others.
Michael Kline: Those are your antecedents?
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, those are my antecedents—
Becky Blodgett: They were all there.
Tim Blodgett: But that was all accidental. And then a maiden cousin of mine who heard that we had moved, had sent us a silver porringer, which was made by a silversmith named Bartlett back in 1795 I think—
Becky Blodgett: Seventy—five—
Tim Blodgett: Ninety—five, because Lucy Bartlett was born in—
Becky Blodgett: 00:09:33 Oh, she was born in '75.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, she was born in '75 and married in '79. This porringer was made in town by Samuel Bartlett for Lucy Hubbard, my ancestor, when she was married. So our connections with Concord go back pretty far, although it was accidental really, on my part, that we moved here.
Becky Blodgett: Could I add something here?
Michael Kline: Sure. Go ahead.
Becky Blodgett: Tim did donate this porringer to the Concord Museum, and they were extremely interested in it and had been going to look in the market for a silver porringer made by Samuel—Samuel Bartlett?
Michael Kline: Was it—?
Becky Blodgett: Well, the silversmith.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, they didn't have anything that was made by him in the ten years he lived here and worked as a silversmith.
Becky Blodgett: They were quite thrilled to get it.
Tim Blodgett: They were happy to get it.
Becky Blodgett: And so it sits in the museum and sometimes is on display. And before that, we had it in our house. And then there seemed to be a number of robberies in town, daylight robberies. And silver was one of the things they were after. And we—we got scared the porringer might disappear. We put it in the bank for a while, and that—that wasn't really a very nice place to have it. And so we were delighted to donate—
Tim Blodgett: To give it to the museum.
Becky Blodgett: Donate it to the museum.
Michael Kline: You felt it would be secure there.
Becky Blodgett: Yes.
Tim Blodgett: Yes, they took good care of it.
Becky Blodgett: Yes. Tim has a very complete genealogical record of his family's family in Concord.
Michael Kline: But you hadn't sort of realized that until—?
Tim Blodgett: 00:11:35 No, I hadn't—I had—my parents were not interested in genealogy. Well, my mother was. But this is descended from my father, and he had no interest in it. So it was this cousin on my father's side who let us know that we had—that I had—antecedents in Concord after we moved here.
Becky Blodgett: That's putting it mildly really, because it's a list of all of the—all of the important people who settled this town. Anyway—
Tim Blodgett: It happened that way.
Michael Kline: So what did that mean to you to find that out after you'd gotten here? What did that do to your relationship with the town?
Tim Blodgett: Well, it didn't really matter, except that it's nice to know that I have roots here going way back. The minister—I should—this little anecdote—the late minister of our church, First Parish, found out about this, and there's a portrait of Reverend Peter Bulkeley in the church and—
Becky Blodgett: He was the first minister in the church.
Tim Blodgett: The first minister, yeah, in 1635, and—well, they were co—ministers then, but the other one left. Anyway, so he'd be talking to somebody and wanting to move on and finish the conversation. And he more than once spotted me and said, "Oh, here's Tim Blodgett. He's descended from Peter Bulkeley whose picture is right there." So Dana Greeley would get rid of the—of the person he was talking to, and I would be—
Michael Kline: Stuck.
Tim Blodgett: Stuck, yeah, right. (all laughing) So that was one—
Michael Kline: You became the link to the exit—
Tim Blodgett: One way I'd be recognized.
Becky Blodgett: What does one say after that? (laughs)
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. Yeah.
Michael Kline: So this job of yours with the—
Tim Blodgett: The Harvard Business Review?
Michael Kline: The Harvard Business Review must have been very consuming. Did you have energy to put into the community?
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. Well, most of the work was editing work of other people, which is really creative because often the material wasn't very good. It wasn't well presented or well organized. And so I enjoyed the editing very much. And I wrote quite a few articles, too, over the twenty—five years that I was there. And, you know, it was very rewarding work. The office politics were not rewarding, but—those were a drag—but I enjoyed the work itself very much. And I still edit my children's work.
Becky Blodgett: 00:14:19 One thing that was nice about Concord was that there was a train a block and a half from our house, a commuter train. And we only had one car for many years. And we could pop right onto the train and—
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, five—minute walk and I was on the train. I'd read a book and get off in North Cambridge and walk to the office, about a mile or so from there. So that was a good way to commute, avoid all the traffic—car traffic.
Michael Kline: Yeah. And do your work in the train.
Tim Blodgett: No, I didn't do any work on the train. I avoided that unless there was something that just had to be done before I got to the office. But that was—we were bimonthly and deadlines were—were not like newspaper deadlines. They weren't sitting on your shoulder.
Becky Blodgett: You read books on the train.
Tim Blodgett: I read many, many books on the train, yeah. I purposely avoided playing cards with other passengers, with friends, and reading the newspapers. I read books.
Michael Kline: What were your perceptions of Concord when you came here as a resident, and how have those changed over the years?
Tim Blodgett: Well, Concord was a much quieter place then, in 19—
Michael Kline: Sixty—eight?
Tim Blodgett: Sixty—eight when we bought the house—smaller and quieter and pretty much of a patrician place. Now it's filled with younger people who—and there's a lot more wealth in the town. There was a fair amount of inherited wealth when we moved here but not much—not much new—nouveau riche—kind of wealth. And the town has become a lot busier, a lot more going on. It was pretty quiet when we moved here. There was a little—on the main street—there was a little supermarket. And there was—let's see—what else was there?—oh, there was a Woolworth's right around the corner too.
Becky Blodgett: There was a much greater variety of stores in a way, because now we have a lot of boutiques—boutique clothing stores—
TB. Yeah, upscale stuff.
Becky Blodgett: But we had a store where you could buy linens downtown.
Tim Blodgett: 00:16:48 And there was a paint shop too.
Becky Blodgett: An art—
Tim Blodgett: Paint Pot, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: The Paint Pot had art supplies, and there was a five and ten where you could buy goldfish and (laughs) take them home in a little—
Michael Kline: All within walking distance.
Becky Blodgett: All within walking distance for us. That was wonderful.
Tim Blodgett: Oh, yeah, yeah. That was one great thing about where we lived is you could walk easily to downtown in just a few minutes.
Becky Blodgett: Now, I'd say it's limited—what you can buy downtown is very limited compared with then. There was of course a bookstore, as there still is. And we're extremely interested in seeing the bookstore survive. Tim buys a lot of books from them and helps the cause. (laughs) I think Concord was a small town, a sort of self—sufficient town in a way. I mean by that that it wasn't—it did not seem to be at all a bedroom town, a suburb, a commuter town, though there were people commuting of course then.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, like me.
Becky Blodgett: Today it seems much more—it seems—I think it is probably considered a suburb of Boston. And that's—so I think it's a faster—paced place, more high power—I think there—it's more high powered or something. It's hard to put words to it, but it's more sophisticated in a worldly way. I mean—
Michael Kline: You're doing great. Just keep up—
Becky Blodgett: I don't have facts to back this up, but it's my perception that—
Michael Kline: Yeah, yeah, your perception.
Becky Blodgett: And that it's a very desirable place for people who are CEOs of companies or—and it's a place where people like to escape, I think, notice or—prominent—somebody—people with prominent jobs—there are some here who like to sort of hide out in Concord. So—
Tim Blodgett: I think there's a good deal less economic diversity than there used to be.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah.
Michael Kline: More wealth but less—?
Tim Blodgett: 00:19:44 Policemen and firemen—
Becky Blodgett: More wealth.
Tim Blodgett: Policemen and firemen used to be able to afford to live here, but they can't now, for instance.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah, I think that's definitely true.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. And actually there is a fund in town run by the Selectmen actually—or overseen by the Selectmen—where people like us can contribute to a fund which would help out people with their taxes who can't—who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to live here. I don't know how much the fund amounts to, but we give to it every year.
Becky Blodgett: I think it's much more—
Tim Blodgett: It's too bad that that is necessary.
Becky Blodgett: The high price of housing probably makes Concord more exclusive than it used to be.
Tim Blodgett: Sure. Oh, yeah.
Michael Kline: Were you aware of that happening, or did you wake up one day and just find it was real different, or what? How do you describe that?
Becky Blodgett: I don't think you wake up one day. I think it's a gradual process, and something makes you think about it—about the changes.
Tim Blodgett: You hear about the prices of houses that have been sold, and that's certainly a clue.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah.
Tim Blodgett: And our house was—went for about ten times more when we sold it as when we bought it. Of course we did add a good deal to it. Well, not ten times, but—
Michael Kline: Well, it wouldn't surprise me.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. Yeah, it was more than ten times actually.
Becky Blodgett: It was more than ten times. Yeah.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, it was more than ten times. And so it's—it's too bad, but that's the way that some towns like ours go. And it's become a very desirable place to live. The school system—public school system—is good.
Becky Blodgett: It has a very good reputation, the high school does, though they're plenty of people here who send children to private schools. My own—my family members—my aunts—my mother, my aunts and uncles went to Middlesex and Concord Academy. I think there was no tuition for the girls to go to Concord Academy because my grandfather taught at Middlesex, and I think there was a reciprocal waiving of tuition for the teachers in probably both schools. And so they were able to have the benefit of the—you know, a pretty good education without being wealthy at all—I mean, without having the money to pay for private school. It is kind of interesting.
Michael Kline: 00:22:43 So culturally was it an artistic place to live would you say?
Becky Blodgett: Artistic.
Michael Kline: Community arts, artists, traditions of art—
Tim Blodgett: Much more so now.
Becky Blodgett: Much more so now than it was then. It didn't stand out as being a place where the arts were flourishing particularly, but there was a tradition of some good music here. There was a summer school—the Surette School of Music—that was started by a Harvard professor of music—in the Music Department at Harvard—to train young people to be—to teach music to elementary school—aged children and middle school—aged children. There hadn't been music in the school I think. My mother was musical. My grandfather was musical. He had a beautiful singing voice. And mother took piano lessons, and then she spent one summer at the Surette School.
Michael Kline: Teaching?
Becky Blodgett: No, as a student. And then later on, she taught music in a lower school—in an elementary school.
Michael Kline: So what year or what decade would that have been that your mother—?
Becky Blodgett: Well, it would have been in the—she was born in 1910—so it would have been in the 1920s that this happened. The library has a collection of music I think from the school or—yeah. They developed a series of graded songs—songbooks, which I have a copy of from kindergarten, first through third grade, and then—and then one larger book of sort of general folk songs and what not. I don't know how wide the influence of this was, but I know my mother took it with her to St. Paul. And I never really—
Michael Kline: Did she teach you those songs?
Becky Blodgett: Yes, because she played them on the piano, and I sang—we sang them.
Michael Kline: You'd sit around in the evening—
Becky Blodgett: She sang them to us. Well, yes. She sang them to us when we were growing up. These are kindergarten songs. There was a lot of fun—the songbooks are—were really based on folk songs I think, English folk songs particularly—and were a lot of fun. And I used them with my own children—played the songs.
Michael Kline: 00:25:50 In the Unitarian church, there was a strong tradition of singing also, was there not?
Becky Blodgett: Yes. Yes. My grandfather sang in the choir, and he was a soloist I think at—well, maybe at not just the Unitarian—it was then just Unitarian. Now it's Unitarian Universalist. And he would be a soloist at the Episcopal Church sometimes. And he would also travel around in Massachusetts doing solo work. And he also sang with the Handel—Haydn Society. He was right in on the beginning of the formation of that group.
Tim Blodgett: In Boston.
Becky Blodgett: It's a choral group in Boston, which still goes.
Michael Kline: He must have been a terrific singer.
Becky Blodgett: He had a very beautiful bass—baritone solo voice, yeah.
Tim Blodgett: I just thought of one little anecdote, which to a certain extent indicates the differences between Concord then and Concord now in terms of sophistication, of simplicity perhaps. A dentist in town named John Boynton who was our dentist for a while helped form the Concord Orchestra, which is an amateur group which still operates. And the violin section used to prepare rehearsals at various people's houses, including John's, and then they'd go back in the kitchen and have cocoa or coffee or whatever. So he played in the Concord Orchestra for several years and then stopped. And then later on, he decided to resume his violin playing. So he applied to the Concord Orchestra and found out that you just couldn't join. You had to audition. In the meantime, they had gotten a director who was very professional—still is director of the orchestra. And he found out that he just couldn't audition because he wasn't good enough. And so he was rather bitter about that, he told me, because he thought that an orchestra should be open to everybody. But it was a sign of the, not professionalism, but advanced demands for good music that somebody like John Boynton was cast aside.
Michael Kline: Capricious and arbitrary standards, he probably—
Tim Blodgett: Capricious and arbitrary standards perhaps, but it's a very good amateur group. We have season tickets to it.
Becky Blodgett: We've supported that group since we moved—
Tim Blodgett: We've supported it for many years, yeah. So that's one indication of how simple and gentle things were at one point, but they've changed along with Concord since.
Michael Kline: That's a good example.
Becky Blodgett: 00:29:08 We have a portrait—I have a portrait of my mother hanging in our house. She used to go down the road from where they lived at Middlesex School, and there was an artist named—oh, I forget—Alice—
Tim Blodgett: Alice Sohier.
Becky Blodgett: Alice Sohier.
Michael Kline: Spell that.
Becky Blodgett: S—O—H—I—E—R. And she was one of the people who helped to begin the Concord Art Association in the 1920s sometime. And she would—I think she practiced on my mother. There were several portraits, which we've been lucky enough to—well, one was found by an aunt of mine, and the other one had been given to mother. And she was quite—quite talented. She had studied at the Museum School in Boston. And it's a very fun—it's a fun portrait. So we hadn't paid much attention to the Art Association until about—
Tim Blodgett: Ten or fifteen years ago, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: Fifteen or so years ago, when someone approached us. They were trying to—they were raising money to enhance the space and create some new spaces inside. And we did donate—make a substantial donation to that because it felt like a wonderful old building that we wanted to see restored. But it made me think about the connection between the portrait I had and one of the founders of the Art Association and my mother who—I think she was just—she had a very attractive face, and she made a good model. And I think she just—she was only sixteen when she sat for this portrait. So there are a lot of ways in which we feel very deeply connected with Concord, which happened before we came here. It's been kind of a surprise in a way to discover these things.
Michael Kline: All the connections to—
Becky Blodgett: Yes. The roots.
Michael Kline: Interesting.
Becky Blodgett: So it wasn't like moving to a strange place and starting all over. There was family history already here for us. And there still are people living here who have that kind of history with the place but not as many as there used to be, I think. I think that's part of the change that's happened. And the Art Association is flourishing and is much—much more active in terms of teaching and having exhibits. And I think it was a very small place, limited—
Tim Blodgett: Small scale.
Becky Blodgett: Small scale place in the beginning. And it's grown to be quite a sophisticated place that is one of the jewels I think in the community now.
Michael Kline: 00:33:01 What does their public program look like, their outreach or—?
Becky Blodgett: They have a lot of classes.
Tim Blodgett: I've taken some. They have films—art films. And they have excursions. We've been to St. Louis with the Art Association on a trip they took. They've taken many other.s
Becky Blodgett: They occasionally sponsor trips.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. And they have a high school awards program and invite submissions from high school kids. One of our granddaughters had something—a photograph—in that.
Becky Blodgett: Well, they were chosen. They were selected from—
Tim Blodgett: By the art teachers?
Becky Blodgett: I'm not sure how they were selected, maybe by the art teachers.
Tim Blodgett: Okay. Well, anyway, they provide a venue for—
Michael Kline: For high school art.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: Yes. I think it's going on right now, toward the end of the school year. And, yeah, we had a granddaughter—we weren't really aware of it until our granddaughter had two photographs that she'd taken after a photography class she had. And they were chosen to hang in the Art Association.
Tim Blodgett: Um—hm. Yeah. So it's an institution well worth supporting and very lively now. It's really going strong.
Becky Blodgett: We feel it's really important to support all these institutions in Concord, even if we don't use them that much or have that much—that's one thing that—
Tim Blodgett: That we've done.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah, I'm glad we've been able to do. The orchestra—what else?—the Art Association—
Tim Blodgett: Well, the—
Becky Blodgett: The church of course, the library—Tim has donated in his mother's name—well, his mother did move nearby in her final years and was a tremendous reader. And he donated to help with the renovation of the West Concord Library and also here the children's room. I think there's a plaque up.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, it has our name on it. Yeah, and also there are lots of other—a multitude of organizations in this town, volunteer, like there's an organization that has a building called the Scout House, and they have square dances and other activities there. And we contributed to—when the floor—part of the floor was about to collapse, we contributed to the renovation of that. And then the Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord has its own structure where the Concord Orchestra plays, and they put on amateur plays.
Michael Kline: 00:36:00 Where is that?
Tim Blodgett: That's over on Walden Street. And we support that with a donation every year. And we've done other things to help out.
Becky Blodgett: We've supported the Concord Chorus. I've sung in the Concord Chorus a couple of times over the years for a period of time.
Michael Kline: What did you sing with them? What kind of music?
Becky Blodgett: Large works. I sang Brahms Requiem with them once.
Tim Blodgett: Brahms German Requiem, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: And they're still going. They're still performing a couple of times a year. They usually do a very nice Christmas performance in the Episcopal Church. And we've—you know, I'm really—it really feels very good to be able to support the local things. We do give money to places beyond the town, but we—
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. The town runs really on volunteer work, like this library, to a large extent, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: And we contribute to things like the campaign for the library, just because we—it's so—it's really important to us to see this place to thrive and continue on into the future. So we're kind of committed to Concord in that way.
Tim Blodgett: Indeed.
Michael Kline: As an idea as much as—
Becky Blodgett: Yeah.
Michael Kline: As a cluster of creativity or whatever.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah. Yeah. There's a lot to do with the arts here. The Concord Players—we go to the Concord Players. If you judge some of these things by other standards, maybe they're not—you know, Broadway.
Tim Blodgett: 00:38:11 One reason why Concord's become a desirable place to live and its increased real estate values that led to a boutique—filled center and so on is that Concord has a sense of community, I think, that a lot of towns around here lack. And so people want to hang on to that. I know the Concord Museum has been revitalized recently, and I think partly by newer people who come into town who have money and are willing to support it and get involved in their activities. And the museum now is a very bright place. It's got a lot going on, whereas when we moved here, it was pretty small and rather dull I think.
Becky Blodgett: Um—hm.
Tim Blodgett: Well, while Concord has changed partly because newer, younger people have moved in with a lot of money, it's also had its benefits I think—the infusion of interest, which has helped the arts particularly.
Becky Blodgett: Um—hm. People do move here for the schools.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Michael Kline: And the schools have active arts in the schools?
Becky Blodgett: No. I would say they're classified as good schools in the ratings of schools outside of Boston. And so Concord—people have moved here because the schools were good in general, not necessarily because of the arts, but it's sort of a different—so there've been a lot of changes really. I mean, you don't often stop to think about that, but since we moved here, there've been a lot.
Michael Kline: Can you give us some more brushstrokes about the Locke Country Store? You've mentioned penny candy and nice clothes and—
Becky Blodgett: Sports clothes. They did sports clothes.
Michael Kline: Who designed those?
Tim Blodgett: They would contract with—
Michael Kline: They would contract it.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, right.
Becky Blodgett: They did. I'm not—
Tim Blodgett: And your aunt would go down to New York and various places—
Becky Blodgett: On buying trips.
Tim Blodgett: On buying trips.
Becky Blodgett: They were—
Tim Blodgett: 00:40:51 They made bow ties. You can't get a bow tie anymore. I still wear bow ties. But they had neat bow ties—slender bow ties in those days, which were kind of a relic of old Ivy League I guess.
Becky Blodgett: They didn't—it was really oriented towards sports clothes. As I say, shirts and pants and button—down shirts they used to have. I mean, it's changed now, but when button—down shirts were in—preppy—that was one of the preppy things with the button—down. They had sweaters. They always had nice wool sweaters from—
Tim Blodgett: The Shetland Isles—
Becky Blodgett: Yeah, probably from the British Isles. They didn't have—I don't think they carried outerwear particularly—or did they?
Tim Blodgett: I don't think so, no.
Becky Blodgett: I don't remember that they did. It wasn't a large store, but they had children's things and men's, women's. The penny candy—every child in town knew the penny candy.
Tim Blodgett: Yes.
Becky Blodgett: There was a woman who presided—who made sure that the children did it right.
Tim Blodgett: Behaved. Mrs. Nichols.
Becky Blodgett: Mrs. Nichols. And our children still talk about how they rode their bikes down there to the penny candy store and spent their money and how Mrs. Nichols would make them hold the bag. And she'd put things in. They weren't supposed to grab. And they still joke about it. It's one of their memories of Concord.
Tim Blodgett: And growing up here.
Carrie Kline: Is that spelled like the coin or C—H—O—L?
Tim Blodgett: N—I—C—H—O—L—S, I think.
Becky Blodgett: Yes. And she was a fixture there. It was right inside the front door, the penny candy. And they had wonderful boxes that you could buy for your family full of penny candy. And anyone who knew the Country Store would remember that.
Tim Blodgett: They had a mail order business. They had a very engaging catalog with well—known cartoonists doing some drawings. And so they sent that around. So they had a decent mail order business as well as retail here.
Michael Kline: Sounds pretty imaginative for the time.
Tim Blodgett: 00:43:44 It was, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: It was.
Michael Kline: Was that your aunt?
Tim Blodgett: Becky's uncle, Bill Locke, did a very good job in managing it.
Becky Blodgett: Well, he ran it, but it was begun by my aunt's father, Phillip Trumble.
Tim Blodgett: It wasn't Phillip Trumble, was it?
Becky Blodgett: No. Phillip was another—Trumble.
Tim Blodgett: I can't remember his first name but anyway.
Becky Blodgett: I didn't know him. But it was his idea, and they kept it going the same way with the sports clothes generally speaking. And they may have had winter jackets and things of that sort too. I don't remember. Shoes. They may have had shoes.
Tim Blodgett: I don't think so.
Becky Blodgett: Because we didn't live here then.
Michael Kline: Was the store operational when you came to live in '68?
Becky Blodgett: Yes.
Tim Blodgett: Oh, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: Still operational.
Michael Kline: And until what year did they—?
Tim Blodgett: Well—the ‘80s, was it?—when Bill died and Mary—I don't remember. It must have been about the ‘80s.
Becky Blodgett: I'd say it was probably around the 1980s, and then it—now it's a—
Tim Blodgett: A notions store?
Becky Blodgett: Furniture store, a place you'd go to look for things for your home.
Tim Blodgett: Next to the Colonial Inn.
Becky Blodgett: 00:45:22 Yeah. I also—there was a store next to the Country Store, which was—the clothing store—what was the name of that? It was a women's clothing store. They had a lot of nice things. They had dressy things. What was its name?
Tim Blodgett: I don't remember.
Becky Blodgett: I have to search my memory. Someone would remember. And I still have clothing that I bought there. I wish they were still here as a matter of fact. Oh, it was the Yarn Shop. It was called the Yarn Shop, wasn't it?
Tim Blodgett: That's right. I guess so.
Becky Blodgett: Or the Wool Shop.
Tim Blodgett: Wool Shop. Wool Shop.
Becky Blodgett: That was it. The Wool Shop. And they sold yarns, patterns for knitting, and then women's clothes. That was it. And actually one of my cousins is married to a woman who started it. But she's not related to me really. There always seem to be connections like that with people in Concord. So now—well, now that shop—it had an upstairs, and I don't know who lived upstairs or whether people did live upstairs or what went on upstairs. But it is now a B&B. It's the—
Tim Blodgett: North Bridge—
Becky Blodgett: North Bridge Inn. And it's run by a young cousin of mine.
Michael Kline: An Emerson?
Becky Blodgett: No. No, she was a Locke cousin, through the Locke family. Yeah, her mother—her father has just died, George Senkler. He ran a lumbar store—
Tim Blodgett: Concord Lumbar Company.
Becky Blodgett: Concord Lumbar. And I guess his father—in—law owned it, and then he took it over and ran that for many, many years. And this is one of his daughters who now runs the North Bridge Inn, which is a B&B or—yeah, a B&B.
Carrie Kline: And it's above the Wool Shop or above the Country Store?
Becky Blodgett: It's next door to the Country Store, and it's above what was the Wool Shop.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. The Country Store was—
Becky Blodgett: And it's right down the street from the Colonial Inn.
Tim Blodgett: The Country Store isn't called the Country Store anymore, is it?
Becky Blodgett: 00:48:23 No. It's got another name now. So the more I remember, the more I see there are family members of some sort—extended family members everywhere in Concord. I know my grandmother was president of the Concord League of Women Voters at one time.
Carrie Kline: What did she do in that capacity? Any idea?
Becky Blodgett: No, I don't know. I know she was—as president she ran meetings I suppose and—
Tim Blodgett: Encouraged people to vote, as the League still does.
Carrie Kline: I wonder what the issues of the day would have been.
Becky Blodgett: Yes, I wonder. I don't really know.
Tim Blodgett: Well, women's suffrage, but I think that predated the League of Women Voters.
Becky Blodgett: Well, that—they moved here—well, they moved here in 1911, my grandparents did. So they would have been here during women's suffrage.
Tim Blodgett: That's right.
Becky Blodgett: And my grandmother lived in this large brick house that belonged to the Middlesex School. And they had six children, lived in the two lower floors, which were arranged like a house—a regular house of pretty good size. But there was another floor above, which housed young boys who went to the school.
Tim Blodgett: Boarders.
Becky Blodgett: It was a boarding school. It probably was a day school then too, which it is today also, boarding and day. Now of course, it's coed. And my mother and father were married in the chapel at Middlesex, very lovely chapel out there. And one of my aunts met her husband at my mother and father's wedding. They were also married there. But I think my grandmother—as I say, had six children and also was housemother to the young boys. I think it was eighth grade through high school.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, which was an onerous job as well as raising a family, so she sent her three daughters out to St. Paul—
Becky Blodgett: Well—
Tim Blodgett: Not all at once but—
Becky Blodgett: One by one.
Tim Blodgett: One by one—and they all married St. Paul boys—met and married St. Paul boys, including Becky's father.
Becky Blodgett: 00:51:24 Yeah, my great—grandparents had moved out to St. Paul in the 1880s, and so they would send—she would—this family would send a daughter out to spend the winter and go to school. They were all about sixteen or seventeen or so. And they all—three met their husbands—yeah, in St. Paul, which is how I happened to grow up there.
Michael Kline: Interesting. The diaspora—how they would settle on one distant place and lots of people go there.
Becky Blodgett: It is. It is.
Tim Blodgett: Um—hm.
Michael Kline: Interesting.
Becky Blodgett: I think Concord has always felt like home to me. From the day we moved here, I never felt—it took a long while to make friends of course with a lot of people, but there was something about being here that always felt right. And I think I would have been unhappy moving to a place like Lincoln or—
Michael Kline: God forbid, Lexington.
Becky Blodgett: Or some of the other—Lexington.
Tim Blodgett: Lexington.
Becky Blodgett: We started—when we were looking for a house in Concord, the aunt who helped run the Country Store—I said one day, "Well, we're looking in Concord, and we thought we'd look in Lexington too." "No, no," she said, "you don't want to go to Lexington." So that was— (laughs)
Tim Blodgett: So we went to Acton.
Becky Blodgett: We got that—well, we got that message.
Michael Kline: Well, you'll have to direct us a little bit at this point. What have we failed to ask you? What did you really come here to talk about? I guess that's the question.
Carrie Kline: You're doing great.
Becky Blodgett: Well, we were asked.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Michael Kline: No, you're doing terrific. I just don't want to—
Carrie Kline: We don't want to miss any of your—maybe it's the neighborhood or—?
Michael Kline: 00:53:35 I don't want to eclipse any important stories or details.
Becky Blodgett: You once served on the town committee. We haven't done much with the town in terms of serving on committees or boards. But we've done a—
Tim Blodgett: I served on the committee that organized the Bicentennial in 1975.
Becky Blodgett: It was a big celebration.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. Big celebration.
Becky Blodgett: The president of the United States who was—
Tim Blodgett: I think it was Gerald Ford then.
Becky Blodgett: Gerald Ford came and spoke. That turned the town upside down actually.
Tim Blodgett: At the Old North Bridge.
Becky Blodgett: And a huge celebration for the Bicentennial.
Michael Kline: You had the impetus there of the Park Service too—
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. The Park Service—
Michael Kline: Had they gotten fairly well rolling on what they wanted to do?
Tim Blodgett: Well, they helped organize it and did the crowd—the crowd control. Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: There was a campout I remember.
Tim Blodgett: The campout, yeah. This was hippie era, and there was a campout by the Old North Bridge.
Michael Kline: Oh my goodness.
Becky Blodgett: All night.
Tim Blodgett: A lot of people came in with their guitars and marijuana and so on and were having a good time.
Becky Blodgett: Well, there was a certain amount of anxiety.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. I think the Park Service probably kept things quiet there. Our son who was then—let's see, he was born—he was twelve then.
Becky Blodgett: He was about twelve.
Tim Blodgett: 00:55:09 Twelve. And he and a friend went over to see what was going on at this campout. And they got tired, and they didn't want to go home. So they went by—I guess it was the Salvation Army container where people would put clothes, donating to the Salvation Army. So Jeff and—
Becky Blodgett: Clay, his friend.
Tim Blodgett: Clay McGrath climbed in there and slept there several hours and then went back to the celebration in the early morning, didn't even come back for breakfast I think. Anyway, so that was—
Michael Kline: Did that elicit some concern from the parents?
Tim Blodgett: Well, yeah, we wondered where—
Becky Blodgett: A little, but we had given permission.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: We thought, well—
Tim Blodgett: We didn't expect—
Becky Blodgett: It's safe enough out there. There are all kinds of people patrolling and—
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Michael Kline: You might be more hesitant now than to—
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. Right. We might. Anyway, so that was a big deal for Concord to have the President come in by helicopter. And there's a picture with our minister who greeted him and did a prayer right by the—with the President—by the Old North Bridge.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah.
Carrie Kline: Were there any issues to resolve in the committee? How do you present this big piece of history or—?
Michael Kline: Yeah, what was that like—?
Tim Blodgett: I was involved in the publications part of it. I wasn't in the head committee.
Carrie Kline: There's a lot to publicizing this, though. I mean, what to say and how I guess.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. We put together a brochure and so on.
Becky Blodgett: 00:56:55 Yeah, a booklet.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, a booklet.
Michael Kline: But you're an accomplished editor and writer yourself.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, that's why I was on the committee (laughs)—that committee, yeah. We've been—I've been a lot more active in the church than I have in town affairs.
Carrie Kline: We'd like to hear about that.
Becky Blodgett: I was going to say, the church has been something that both of us have been involved in since the beginning. We—moving here—I have a mixed background religiously. My father was Presbyterian. My mother was Unitarian. And I'm also connected with some very early Unitarians who were prominent in Boston through my mother's side of the family. And all the eastern stuff is through my mother's side of the family.
Michael Kline: Eastern stuff?
Becky Blodgett: Well, all the eastern relatives in Concord and then the eastern Unitarian ministers—
Tim Blodgett: And Cape Cod.
Becky Blodgett: And where we summered in Cape Cod. And that was all my mother's side of the family—through my mother's side of the family. But I was christened in the Unitarian Church—they don't call it christening anymore—as was Tim. We had both been christened in the same church in St. Paul. And we were married there. I actually went to Sunday school in the Presbyterian Church, but we sort of together chose the Unitarian route. And when we came here, we went pretty quickly down to the church and wanted—we looked—it was important for us to find a place where we could connect our whole family, as a family, and connect with other families. So we became churchgoers. And the church itself has always been kind of an important building in town, one of the most important buildings. It housed—it has a history—it housed Harvard—was it Harvard?
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, Harvard during the Revolutionary War.
Becky Blodgett: During the Revolutionary War.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, for a while.
Becky Blodgett: Harvard moved out there—out in—
Michael Kline: Harvard University?
Becky Blodgett: Yeah.
Tim Blodgett: 00:59:38 Yeah. It was college then.
Becky Blodgett: And used the church—the college—
Tim Blodgett: Harvard College.
Becky Blodgett: And it was established in 1635. So it's a really—really one of the oldest—
Tim Blodgett: It was founded—some of the founders of the town were people connected with the—help found the Unitarian Church. And for many years, all the town meetings and town business was held in the church. The church and the government were synonymous.
Becky Blodgett: Until about 1880—1850.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah—1820.
Becky Blodgett: Fifty?
Tim Blodgett: Well—
Becky Blodgett: Well, sometime in the eighteen hundreds, the town and the church split, but they were one thing with two different programs, so to speak, church and town government.
Michael Kline: Wasn't that a role usually taken on by the congregational churches in New England?
Becky Blodgett: Well, this is a congregational church. Congregational means—really refers to the kind of polity; that is, the kind of governance of the church. It's got—in a way, it has a small c. The congregational churches were originally—ours was one of the early Puritan—I guess you'd call it—the Puritan churches with a congregational polity.
Tim Blodgett: That is, they didn't have bishops who would appoint ministers. The congregation itself appointed the minister—
Becky Blodgett: Would choose ministers, fire ministers—
Michael Kline: So it was a local governance—
Becky Blodgett: It was local governance—
Michael Kline: Rather than a hierarchical governance.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: It was not hierarchical. One of the reasons that some people came to this country was to escape the hierarchical Church of England. And there was a—well, it was a lot of history here, but basically it grew out of a movement to get away from that. And it was brought to this country with the earliest settlers on the east coast. Plymouth, for instance, had that sort of church—Plymouth was—the original settlers in Plymouth were separatists. And they were sort of a group onto themselves. The the people that came here settled up and down the coast.
Tim Blodgett: 01:02:30 Starting from Boston.
Becky Blodgett: The Massachusetts coast and then spread out. There was another group of course that went to the south, but those who came to Massachusetts established these congregational churches. Now, it's called a parish, which is actually—comes from England. The churches there in England, their parish I think was the main boundary line between—separation line—and towns would exist within the parish. And it was true here too for a while. It's changed, but anyway Concord was an early church. Peter Bulkeley was a very renowned minister. In 1825 a group split off from the church, here and in all the other churches in the eastern part of Massachusetts. There was a split. By this time, there were people who no longer believed in the trinity, but one God was espoused. The idea that—
Tim Blodgett: A unity.
Becky Blodgett: One God—so there was a unity here rather than a trinity. There was a group of people in 1825 who wanted to retain the trinity as the focus—theological focus—and they asked permission to leave the church and went across the brook and founded what is now the First Congregational Church of Concord. It's a Trinitarian congregational church of Concord. And among them was Thoreau's family—Henry David—
Tim Blodgett: Thoreau's mother.
Becky Blodgett: Thoreau's mother and sister were in that group. And it was a small group, and they went—so this happened in all of the churches. There was a split. Some of the old churches with the older buildings—of course our building has burned and been rebuilt a couple of times—but the older buildings, some of them became Unitarian and some of them became Trinitarian churches specifically.
Tim Blodgett: Congregational—
Becky Blodgett: Now, at the very top of our steeple, there's a three—pronged—trident?
Tim Blodgett: Trite—trident.
Becky Blodgett: Trident—
Michael Kline: Like a big fork or spear—
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: There are three—at the very tip top of our—
Tim Blodgett: Like Neptune's.
Becky Blodgett: 01:05:49 Our steeple. And that's the only symbol left of the Trinitarian beliefs, which were there originally. So that was 1825. So for two hundred—well, not quite two hundred years—
Tim Blodgett: And then the Congregationalists some time ago merged with the Dutch Reform Church to form what was—it slipping my mind right now.
Becky Blodgett: Well, the United Church of Christ—
Tim Blodgett: United Church of Christ.
Becky Blodgett: The United Church of Christ are called the Congregationalists with a big C. But the governance is the same, more or less.
Carrie Kline: So interesting. And it makes me wonder too about contemporary issues. It sounds like it's a very vibrant church. What issues have you struggled with and dealt with in modern days?
Becky Blodgett: Okay. It's one of the largest Unitarian Universalist churches in the country. There are about—how many?
Tim Blodgett: Seven hundred and—
Becky Blodgett: No, no. The large churches—the largest churches in our denomination—
Tim Blodgett: I don't know.
Becky Blodgett: But it's one of the very largest ones, which is surprising because of the small town—the relatively small town that it is in. It's had very powerful ministers through the years. And—was Ralph?—Ralph Waldo was never a minister here—
Tim Blodgett: No. No. He stayed away mostly.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah, and he criticized—at one point, Ralph Waldo Emerson criticized the minister at this church. There's a famous sermon—
Tim Blodgett: It was a minister named Barzilai Frost, and Emerson came to hear him a couple of times and thought he was so boring that he stayed away thereafter. And he urged the standing committee to get rid of him.
Michael Kline: His budding transcendentalism that he was espousing had no link with these other things?
Tim Blodgett: No. No. No.
Michael Kline: That was clear outside the structure—
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. I don't know if other people you've talked to have talked about the founding of the town. Have they?
Carrie Kline: Some have—
Michael Kline: 01:08:09 Well, we've heard them say that they couldn't make it through the first winter. They had to go back to Boston.
Tim Blodgett: Oh. Well, in the early sixteen hundreds of course Boston was very alarmed because of Indian raids in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and so on. There'd been quite a long history of that, King Phillip's war and so on, and so they decided to found some towns ringing Boston in order to protect Boston from Indian raids. And Concord was the first one of them. And the general court, that is the legislature, granted I can't remember how many square miles to anybody who would want to come out here and settle. And a group did that, led by Peter Bulkeley, the minister who was my ancestor, and another minister and other people who were founders of the town. And then Woburn, northeast of here, was the second town created by fiat by the legislature. I want to add something to what—I don't think you mentioned it—but in mid—life Becky went to Harvard Divinity School and became a minister. And she graduated in '89 and was ordained in '93. So she became a—
Michael Kline: Wow.
Becky Blodgett: I was ordained here, had a service of ordination. That was pretty special, something I never dreamed would happen. I worked as a chaplain at Mass General Hospital for a while and in nursing homes in Boston, did ministry with the elderly to some extent, and I was coming in at a time when the Unitarian Universalists were—had been talking about forming a second category of ministry called community ministry. And I was one of the first ones. It was a little tentative and didn't have much stature, and so it's developed further now and is a little more accepted.
Michael Kline: Structured—
Becky Blodgett: Structured.
Tim Blodgett: Tell them what community ministry is.
Becky Blodgett: A community minister is a person who goes out from the church and does work within the community. And my understanding of it is that—because you're a part of this church that somehow you can bring back to the church something of the outside community. For instance, when people came to Concord—well, I'm getting ahead, but at any rate—but I was asked to come to be an assistant to the minister here in—1985.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, about that.
Becky Blodgett: When did Dana die—Dana Greeley die?
Tim Blodgett: But you were ordained in '93.
Becky Blodgett: I was ordained in '91. Okay, it was about 1995.
Tim Blodgett: 01:11:33 Yeah. Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: In about 1995, I was asked to come by the minister whose assistant had suddenly resigned in September. And it's already a big church and definitely needed two ministers. So he asked if I'd come, and I didn't preach, which was fine with me. I participated in all of the worship services, did prayers and readings, and I did the pastoral work of the church and sort of formed the first pastoral ministry there. Pastoral ministry is of course caring for those who are perhaps members of the community who are experiencing an illness or who have had a grief—have had a person in their family who died. And it meant—it also meant presiding at weddings and—presiding at weddings and memorial services was one thing that I did in that capacity—and visiting people who were in nursing homes or long—term care facilities or the hospital. And I trained some a group of volunteers to be friendly visitors. There had been a group there, but we sort of reactivated it. And eventually they hired a full—time senior—associate minister. And they kept me on as a very part—time pastoral minister. There wasn't much money in the budget, but that was something I hadn't expected to do after I was ordained. I expected to go somewhere else. But there weren't jobs for pastoral ministry. You had to sort of—
Tim Blodgett: Well, you did work in hospitals and nursing homes some.
Becky Blodgett: But I did a lot of volunteer work in long—term care—with long—term care—and facilities. So now I'm not involved. I'm retired from that and have been for a while and try to stay out of the way. (laughs) So I think Tim and I have headed up about every important committee in the church there is. We've done—
Michael Kline: What are some of others—?
Becky Blodgett: The standing committee—it's an old term—are the church leaders.
Tim Blodgett: And governing board.
Becky Blodgett: Governing board. It used to be six, and now it's twelve.
Tim Blodgett: Eleven.
Becky Blodgett: Eleven. The minister—the minister who's chosen relates to the standing committee. And the standing committee really oversees the governance of the church. And this is what made it unique in its founding. The minister of course has full control of the pulpit—I say control (laughs)—and what happens in the worship services—and does a lot more too—and advises the standing committee. They work together. And then there are a lot of committees for fundraising and—
Tim Blodgett: So we've both been chairs of the standing committee and different—
Becky Blodgett: We've both been chairs of that standing committee.
Tim Blodgett: We've been heads of search committees.
Becky Blodgett: 01:15:45 Board—it's another name for board.
Tim Blodgett: And various other nominating committees.
Becky Blodgett: We've done fundraising.
Tim Blodgett: Fundraising—kind of ran fundraising a couple of times way back.
Becky Blodgett: So it's been—I mean, I think if you count all of the people in the church who are identified in any way with the church, there have been a thousand—at least a thousand. That included children and families, which is a large church for this area. And it's the largest church in Concord. And it's been a very influential church. We have a very strong record of—
Tim Blodgett: Promoting social justice.
Becky Blodgett: Social justice work.
Carrie Kline: Can you talk about that?
Becky Blodgett: Well, let's see.
Tim Blodgett: Well, we have a sister church in Hungary, and we've been very active in supporting that. It's a poor church, and we've been over there a lot in various groups. I was one of the first people to go over back in the early ‘90s I guess. And we support them and send people over like the choir and other people—organizational—
Becky Blodgett: And now people are hitched up with students, and we pay a certain fee for them to be able to go to the high school because it costs them money.
Michael Kline: So you have student exchange?
Becky Blodgett: We have student exchange.
Michael Kline: That's good—
Becky Blodgett: Yes, it's a very organized program now. It's grown.
Tim Blodgett: Right. And groups from the church have gone down after Katrina. They went down and did some rebuilding.
Becky Blodgett: Youth groups have gone out to work.
Tim Blodgett: And 15 percent of our budget goes toward social justice work.
Becky Blodgett: Social responsibility is the word I would like to—social responsibility really. Some of it's sort of justice work. Others is more relief kind of work.
Tim Blodgett: 01:18:09 That's right. Relief, yeah, and help.
Becky Blodgett: People more or less bring something in, and then the group would adopt a certain program. Some of them are temporary. Some of them are long running. We have an open table at our church, which doesn't exactly come under the aegis of the committee, but it's the kind of—it's a part of what we are as a church, opening our doors every Thursday night to a community dinner.
Tim Blodgett: To people who are not well off, and they provide food for them.
Becky Blodgett: It's not run by the church—
Carrie Kline: Ready.
Becky Blodgett: The open table is a town—really a town—
Tim Blodgett: Well, it's an area function.
Becky Blodgett: An area function.
Tim Blodgett: They go to other towns other nights of the week. And on Thursday nights, our church is host to a group of—a couple hundred?—we'd say come in and get supplies, get food, and have a meal.
Becky Blodgett: I don't know—it's maybe—a lot. It's not run by the church, but it is supported because we allow the facility and the kitchen. They take over the kitchen. They have their own storage area.
Tim Blodgett: And we have the best kitchen in town of any church.
Becky Blodgett: We have a very fine kitchen.
Michael Kline: Sought after.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. Right.
Becky Blodgett: Yes. Yes.
Tim Blodgett: Probably the most complete kitchen and largest and not the best I suppose but anyway a very good kitchen.
Becky Blodgett: Our ministers have been active in events beyond the realm of the church. For instance, when there was—the events in Selma, Alabama, which were just commemorated—one of the ministers of the church was there and an organizer of a group of ministers who went down.
Michael Kline: Cool, yeah.
Tim Blodgett: And a Unitarian minister was killed, not from our church—
Becky Blodgett: No—was actually killed in that—in the Selma march.
Tim Blodgett: But one of the Unitarian ministers—yeah, at Selma.
Becky Blodgett: We have movie films and educational things. We are a welcoming church, which means we welcome people of all—persuasions, shall we say.
Tim Blodgett: And those who are not persuaded too.
Becky Blodgett: By that—gay, lesbian, transgender people.
Michael Kline: How did your congregation deal with adopting that position?
Becky Blodgett: Well, it was a—it came down from the central Unitarian headquarters. And it was—we had educational programs about it. I don't think it was a big—it wasn't an issue.
Tim Blodgett: We eased into it actually. Our current minister is gay.
Becky Blodgett: And we can say that because it was very public.
Michael Kline: So openly—?
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: And the vote to call him was—how many?—five hundred or so—
Tim Blodgett: Ninety—nine percent—
Becky Blodgett: Yea, and one nay. And it was because of his—
Tim Blodgett: Of his orientation, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: Orientation.
Carrie Kline: So there's an educational program to bring people along and raise awareness?
Becky Blodgett: Yes. This was some years ago now.
Tim Blodgett: It was—it came very easily because members of our church are liberal and accepting anyway. I don't really remember any big organized campaign.
Becky Blodgett: It hadn't—it was talked about more openly just recently when we hired a gay minister.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: And it really was out there in the open.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. It really wasn't an issue.
Becky Blodgett: I think that was the first time it had been so openly discussed. But some years ago, we became a—there's a name for it—
Tim Blodgett: Welcoming—
Becky Blodgett: A welcoming congregation. And the whole church didn't vote on it. I think a smaller group did. But it was with the blessing of the congregation.
Michael Kline: So you didn't lose a lot of members over that issue?
Becky Blodgett: No.
Tim Blodgett: No, not at all.
Becky Blodgett: I think the only time I'm aware of members being lost was really just before we came, and it was over the Vietnam War, because the minister at the time gave many sermons about the evils of the Vietnam War. And some members got up and went to Carlisle—walked out and went to Carlisle at the time, the Unitarian Church.
Tim Blodgett: Including some big financial supports of the church. Of course the church was very small then, about—what?—maybe two hundred or two hundred and fifty members.
Becky Blodgett: Two fifty—yeah—three hundred.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, in the late ‘60s.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah, so that was the last thing I can remember. The most difficult times we've had are in transitions after a minister leaves. Every church has transitions. We've just had a huge one. And it's very difficult. But we had help from our—from the headquarters. I mean, we're a decentralized church, but we do have a headquarters, and they provide services for us.
Tim Blodgett: Headquarters in Boston.
Becky Blodgett: In Boston—the Unitarian Universalist Association. We merged in the 1960s too with the Universalist Church, which was a very small, dwindling church. And there were some buildings that were owned by the—built by the Universalists—some of our churches, church buildings. And they voted—the denomination voted—they voted to merge. And that's how we became Unitarian Universalists. That's kind of a mouthful.
Tim Blodgett: Big mouthful, yeah.
Michael Kline: Are you UU as people?
Becky Blodgett: UU. That's what they say, UU.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, UU, right.
Carrie Kline: Did that bring a change?
Tim Blodgett: Well, the Unitarians were much larger in number than the Universalists, and some of the amiability and love that the Universalists preached got lost I think. Unitarians tend to be intellectual.
Becky Blodgett: More intellectual.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, and so it's become—become often an organization of units that are intellectual that are usually humanist who don't preach any presence of God, for instance, and Jesus as a secondary figure—
Becky Blodgett: But they're there under our umbrella.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah. Yeah. It's a big umbrella.
Carrie Kline: This is the Unitarians you're talking about?
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, Unitarian Universalist Association—
Becky Blodgett: Well, Unitarian Universalist—
Tim Blodgett: The Universalists were a dwindling—as Becky says, a dwindling group, mostly in small towns and upstate New York—
Becky Blodgett: Yeah. It was a very rural church.
Tim Blodgett: Very rural and a very simple, direct approach to theology and preaching: God is love really. And many Unitarian organizations, especially outside of New England, are strictly humanists, and often the church services are very intellectual and rather dry, in my opinion, and without much love expressed.
Michael Kline: You could get into a lot of ethics, though, without necessarily talking about love.
Tim Blodgett: That's right. Yeah. Um—hm.
Becky Blodgett: Yes. Yes.
Tim Blodgett: They become ethical considerations, which is terrific. I mean, we're—we have—
Michael Kline: It's important.
Tim Blodgett: Yeah, it's important.
Carrie Kline: But you add love, and it's not so dry?
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: Love has always been there, but—
Tim Blodgett: And there's a growing humanist group in our church now, run by a very energetic fellow who has really—
Becky Blodgett: It's run by several energetic fellows now. Yeah.
Tim Blodgett: Well, okay. All right. Several energetic fellows. Are they all fellows?
Becky Blodgett: Yes. They are. They're all guys.
Tim Blodgett: I can't think of any females.
Becky Blodgett: They're all men.
Michael Kline: Females got better sense maybe.
Tim Blodgett: I'm sure there are some.
Becky Blodgett: But there are—this is to say that a Unitarian—large Unitarian church like ours—is not a homogeneous group theologically necessarily.
Michael Kline: Necessarily, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: It used to be, when we first came—now, when we first came—it was very clearly a—well, you could talk about the Christian Unitarians. There is a group, Christian Unitarians, which is still around. King's Chapel in Boston was Christian Unitarian. A couple of churches outside Boston were really Christian Unitarian and may still be today. Our church never was. It was more middle of the road. I mean, we were all Christian churches until a certain point—
Tim Blodgett: Yeah.
Becky Blodgett: But then began to change in the eighteen hundreds and the nineteen hundreds and evolved. Now it's a umbrella of beliefs and—
Tim Blodgett: Well, there's no creed to subscribe to.
Becky Blodgett: Yeah, there's no—
Tim Blodgett: So you can—
Becky Blodgett: It's open—ended.
Tim Blodgett: You can easily come in but easily drop out. And some young families join because they want their children to have a religious education. And then after they finish high school, they haven't had much interest in the church anyway, so they just drop out.
Becky Blodgett: In some ways, we're probably sort of a melting pot theologically, which is an interesting thing about it. And this is a very big church and draws from the surrounding community, even though there are Unitarian groups—
Tim Blodgett: In other towns.
Becky Blodgett: People do—some people do come from away.
Tim Blodgett: Um—hm.
Becky Blodgett: And the church has been a center for people to meet in Concord from the early days.
Michael Kline: Fascinating.
Carrie Kline: This has been great. And you two clearly have so much more you could be saying. No, I mean, that's good. Don't make the talky faces.
Becky Blodgett: But you don't know that—know what you know in a way. And somebody says, "I want to interview you," it's like, "Uh—"
Carrie Kline: You think you have nothing to say and you have so much.
Becky Blodgett: Well, about what? (laughs)
Tim Blodgett: Set us going and it's hard to stop us.
Becky Blodgett: So that's an interesting—
Carrie Kline: This might be a good windup spot for today, do you think?
Michael Kline: I think so, yeah.
Becky Blodgett: Yes.
Tim Blodgett: Okay.
Carrie Kline: I am fascinated. Thank you.
Tim Blodgett: Have you been interviewing a lot of people in Concord?
Michael Kline: We've been doing this—
(end of audio)