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The dead speak at weekend cemetery walk

Local history, arts community honor past as fundraiser

Rip Pellaton gives the role of Chester Dresser a bit of a swagger. Hes best known for using $80,000 of his own money to construct the building that bore his name at the corner of Central and Main in 1872. It burned in the 1960s and is now the Savers Bank parking lot. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
September 13, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — The dead rose and walked around for a couple of hours Saturday, Sept. 10.

There were no trumpets, horsemen, or drooling zombies eating brains — just local history being dramatized in the second Oak Ridge Cemetery Walk fundraiser for Gateway Players, the Historical Society and the Art Center.

One of them literally touched the lives of many people now living in town, since she brought them into the world. Dr. Adah Eccleston, portrayed by Joni Metras, was the first female doctor at Harrington Hospital, serving from the hospital's opening day in 1931 until she retired.

"My father's family had 10 children, and she delivered nine of them," said tour guide Diane Servant. One uncle was born prematurely, and Eccleston saved him by "warming up the stove and putting him in a shoebox," she said.

"I may have been the very first person you saw," Metras, in character as Eccleston, said when groups stopped at her gravesite. " I attended thousands of births until I retired in 1972."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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