Book signing to be held Saturday, Oct. 17 at Art & Frame Emporium
By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Some people are just born to do all kinds of work and to help others. They choose careers that serve the public and even when they retire, they continue on that same path. A man who exemplifies this is Phil Kittredge, 68, of Westborough.
A passion for history and serving others
Kittredge was a young man when he started repairing and selling old toys, later opening an antique toy and train shop. That business, Noreast-Antiques is now on eBay. For 42 years he worked for the Westborough Fire Department, retiring as fire captain in 2013. Volunteering has always been a part of his life, too. For the past six years he been co-president, with his wife, Donna, of the Westborough Food Pantry. And now Kittredge is a professional writer with the launching of his first book, “Westborough” by Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Old roads and antiques are just one aspect of history Kittredge delves into. His interest in local history grew and made him a sought-after historian on his hometown. It all began in high school.
“I met Don Lowe, who wrote a local history column. I was fascinated by the images and the stories behind the images,” said Kittredge. “I collected postcards of Westborough and hunted down images, maps and anything to do with the town. I have traveled to hundreds of antique shops, paper and ephemera shows and bookstores in search of images and memorabilia.”
“Images of America: Westborough”
Then in 2018 he worked with Katherine Anderson, author of “Westborough State Hospital.” Acadia Publishing, publisher of that book, gave him the go-ahead to write a history of Westborough. The writing process had its challenges for this first-time author, but he had help from his wife, Donna; Kristina Allen, author of earlier book on Westborough history, “On the Beaton Path” (Westborough Historical Society, 1984), and editors at Arcadia.
Other difficulties arose in making sure the facts were facts and identifying what was speculation and legend.
“Not everything published and printed in the past was correct,” explained Kittredge.
“Researching how Westborough evolved from a farming community to a manufacturing center was fascinating,” he said. “Clocks, straw hats, boots, shoes, bicycles and more were produced here. Thousands of men and women were employed in the factories downtown.”
Many of the original glass images he found buried in barns and basements, “covered in pigeon poop!” he laughed. Painstakingly cleaning and restoring them, he brings Westborough’s past to vivid life. Indeed, even though the book, with its over 200 images, is a chronicle of Westborough, it is one any fan of local history would enjoy reading.
Giving back at Westborough Food Pantry
As volunteer co-president of the Westborough Food Pantry he notes it is “rewarding to make someone’s day just a bit better,” said Kittredge.
“There are three great parts about working at the pantry: a team of about 75 dedicated volunteers, the clients, and the support of the town and community. I cannot say enough about the support we receive from the Board of Selectmen, the town manager, the community, including industry and local businesses,” he said.
Kittredge will be doing a book signing in front of the Art & Frame Emporium, 18 Lyman St., (Westborough Shopping Center), Saturday, Oct. 17 from 1-3 p.m. (All safety protocols will be in place.) Ed Turner, the shop’s owner, said that patrons will have the opportunity to purchase prints from Kittredge’s collection at a discounted price that day. Additionally, if a patron has a specific image in mind (such as an historic house) Turner can check in the archives to see if there is an image available.
(Photos below, courtesy Phil Kittredge)