Aspinall Wholesale Closes

After over 160 years in business, Aspinall Wholesale of Osprey City is finally closing its doors this Friday. Owner Stephen Aspinall cited decreasing profitability due to rising fuel costs and easier access to goods produced by overseas competitors. The company was a longtime pillar of the community, sponsoring everything from art fairs to academic scholarships to Little League baseball teams. According to Aspinall, the company’s remaining 150 employees will receive lavish compensation packages and job placement services.

Founded in 1852 by Gregory Aspinall, an immigrant merchant from Lancashire, England, Aspinall Wholesale rose to prominence as the chief supplier of goods to most of Osprey City’s retailers. The company originally specialized in providing whaling industry products, such as ivory, baleen, and spermaceti to stores along the East Coast. As whaling declined in the United States, Aspinall Wholesale shifted its focus towards consumer goods, and by the early 1900s it was one of the foremost wholesale companies in New England. Aspinall Wholesale counted among its clients Goodman & Sons Clothiers, Kramer & Kramer, and MarcoMart.

Aspinall Wholesale has occupied the same red-brick warehouse in the Dockyard section of Osprey City since its founding. Members of the city’s Department of Cultural Activity have expressed interest in preserving the building as a historical landmark and converting it into a community arts center.

Explosion Rocks Downtown Osprey

The warehouse district was a scene of absolute chaos yesterday, as the headquarters of Granger Transport erupted into a fireball. At least thirty individuals were injured, and another ten killed in the building’s collapse. Multiple fire stations and police precincts reported to the site, followed shortly by representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. Details of the explosion, including the cause, have yet to be released, but witnesses near the explosion mentioned a strong odor “like sulfur, or a fireworks show.”

Among those killed was Heather Granger, president of Granger Transport and mother of two. Mrs. Granger was well known in the philanthropic circles of Osprey City and devoted much of her free time to the fine arts and music education. Granger Transport is a subsidiary of Wood Industries, and Wood Industries board member Samuel Wood was reported injured in the explosion. Wood is resting comfortably at Darius Medical, but neither he nor any representative of Wood Industries could be reached for comment.

Osprey City Police turned the investigation of the explosion over to the ATF, Agent Jim Korski leading. Speaking to reporters on scene, Korski commented that “any explosion, especially of this magnitude, warrants our presence,” and that his team has the full cooperation of OCPD in the matter. Korski warned the general population “to stay away from the area for their own safety and to facilitate investigation. Trespassers will be immediately detained and charged with interfering with an active crime scene.”

The Courier-Gazette will report as more information becomes available.

From the OCG Archives – Part 1

Many of our readers should be aware that the Osprey Courier-Gazette emerged out of the 1850 merger of the Osprey City Courier and the Osprey Daily Gazette. Since then, it has been the paper of note in Osprey City and the Osprey Bay area. We are fortunate that both this paper and its predecessors kept comprehensive archives, so that the history of our city and nation would not be lost.

It has been a dream of this paper to make those archives available to the public online, at no charge. Thanks to a generous donation from the Wood Foundation, that dream is quickly becoming a reality. Over the past year, our archivists at the Osprey Courier-Gazette have been busy digitizing past issues. In honor of this project, we will be presenting select issues from our archives for special presentation here on our website.

Our first entry in this series is also one of our earliest. Until 1780, the Osprey City Courier was called the Osprey Weekly Courier. It was the first newspaper in Osprey City, and was founded in 1730 by Benjamin McGrath, a printer operating out of his shop on Taylor Street. This particular issue reports on many of the happenings in Osprey in July of 1775, but also contains reports from across the colonies regarding the Battle of Bunker Hill in Charlestown (June 17, 1775). The second page contains advertisements and notifications from many residents of Osprey and the surrounding area. Residents might be surprised by what they find for sale in the area at that time, and a lucky few might see names they recognize as members of their own family!

We hope you enjoy this series, and we sincerely thank the Wood Foundation for making this possible.

 Osprey Weekly Courier – July 3, 1775

Prominent City Leader Found Dead

Osprey City is in shock as word spreads of the death of one of its most influential and favorite sons, Harold Wood. Wood, 68, was CEO of Wood Industries, one of the region’s largest employers and one of the few remaining shipyards in New England. The industrialist was found in his penthouse apartment early this morning.

Police arriving on the scene closed the area off and investigated the apartment extensively. “Given the circumstances in which we found Mr. Wood, we are currently treating the death as suspicious,” commented Lt. Phil Harding of the Osprey City Police Department. “We have one of our best men tasked to the investigation. As soon as we have something we can share, we will release it in the appropriate manner, after due consultation with the deceased’s next of kin.” The apartment remains closed to the public while the investigation is ongoing.

Shortly after Mr. Wood’s death was announced, his son, Adam Wood, spoke to the press. “We are deeply saddened by my father’s death. He was a true son of Osprey, and loved this city with all his heart,” remarked Adam Wood. “More importantly, he was a loving father and doting grandfather, which is how I think he would prefer to be remembered. We ask for privacy in this time of mourning.” Details regarding Harold Wood’s burial have yet to be made public, and his body is still in the custody of the county medical examiner.

Harold Wood took over Wood Industries from his father, Conrad, who saw the company through the Second World War until his death in 1978. Stockholders were unsure of Harold’s ability to take leadership seriously, citing his past as an anti-Vietnam War protester and arrest at the Columbia University protests in 1968. At 32, Harold was one of the youngest CEOs in America, but his acumen far surpassed his experience, and he was able to navigate the family company through the turbulent 1980s by embracing the nascent high-tech sector and incorporating it into Wood Industries shipbuilding practices. He also built a reputation for philanthropy, often donating large portions of his salary to schools, museums, and multiple charitable foundations, including his own Harold Wood Foundation for Veterans of the Vietnam War. Upon its founding in 1980, Wood said that “[his] father called in favors to keep me out of the draft – favors I never asked for and regret to this day. I worked to bring our soldiers home, and now this foundation will work to provide the care those soldiers need and deserve.” The foundation, since renamed the Wood Foundation for Veterans, now helps veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Harold Wood leaves behind a son, Adam, three grandchildren, and an enormous legacy.

Further developments in this story can be found here.

Early Osprey Map Found

It appears that attics hold more than just old dresses and your brother’s baseball card collection. This past weekend, Bill Cupp uncovered Osprey City history cleaning out his mother’s attic on Elwood Lane. Tucked away between old deeds and stacked paintings, Cupp found a map of the Osprey area dated 1630. The lucky discoverer quickly contacted experts at Osprey University, who took possession of the document and tested it for authenticity. Today, the archival documents department of the university announced that the map indeed dated back to the early 17th century.

“We are astounded by the condition of the document,” commented Amanda Lee, archivist at Osprey University. “The ink is in surprising condition, with little evidence of oxidization. Whoever owned this map originally took special care of it.” University archivists have decided to store the map in a climate-controlled space while they acquire an appropriate display case. The archive was, however, able to provide a high-quality scan for public use.

Issue1Map

Prof. Ian Hannigan, an expert in colonial American history, said that the map provided valuable insight into what Osprey City, or what was then called the “Town of Osprey,” looked like at its founding. “The town is depicted as generally surrounded by forests, which gels with what we have read in early written accounts of the area,” explained Prof. Hannigan. “The map also helps us date some of the place names in the Osprey area, such as Brittany Cove and Lake Powcotowet.” Certain farms outlying the town were also named in the map, and provide clues to the names of other parts of modern-day Osprey City. For example, Henry St. is named after the Henry farm, located just north of the colonial village. The map also shows that the First Congregationalist Church of Osprey occupies the same space as the original church built by Pilgrim settlers.

“What remains a mystery, however,” commented Hannigan, “is why the cartographer marked certain locations on the map that aren’t particularly important, such as the homes of E. and D. Woode and W. Thatcher.” Hannigan hypothesized that the individuals might have sponsored the cartographer, or one of them might have been the map-maker themselves. “Unfortunately, without a name to ascribe the work to, I’m afraid we will never know who created this map.” Once safely in a display case, the map will be displayed to the public at the Osprey University library, the centerpiece of an exhibit on Pilgrim Osprey City.

City Archive Holds Fundraiser for Museum

The Osprey City Archive held a fundraising gala last week for its museum project. The Archive, a private enterprise, collects documents and artifacts related to the growth and development of Osprey City and is affiliated with the Osprey Museum of the American Revolution (OMAR). “While OMAR is focused on a relatively short, but vital, period in the city’s history,” commented Peter Haversham, director of the Archive, “the Museum of Osprey City will offer a more comprehensive view across centuries, as well as a vision of the future, thanks to generous donations from Wood Industries and LaFrance Robotics.” The Archive hopes to raise $4.6 million by mid-November, and based on the turnout at the gala, it looks on track to reach that goal.

Though the gala attracted some of Osprey City’s most wealthy and powerful, including members of the Wood and Smithson families, the Archive is calling on all residents of the city to donate to the museum fund. Haversham stated, “this is not merely a history of Osprey’s well-off, but a history of all of us; our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers – stretching back to the very earliest years of European settlement on Cape Cod.” The Archive is also accepting family artifacts and documents for use in the Museum’s exhibits. In return for donations, the Archive offers exclusive prints of some of its most valuable artwork, opportunities to have exhibits named after donors, small gifts from the Archive, and copies of Archive publications.

Planned exhibits include a reproduction 17th-century Separatist (or Pilgrim) home based on archaeological evidence on the proposed site for the Museum, shipbuilding material from a Revolutionary War-era shipyard, and naval arms and uniforms from the Civil War. “Much of Osprey’s legacy is tied to the sea,” explained Haversham. “Fishing, whaling, naval combat, shipping – the growth and prosperity of Osprey City has largely stemmed from our access to the wider world via the ocean.” According to the Archive’s prospectus, the Museum and a few select exhibits will open in mid-March. Those interested in donating can do so via the Archive’s website here.

Local Writer, Artist, Head to Boston

This weekend, local comic book writer Paul Axel and artist Renee Majkut will be traveling north to the Boston Comic Con to advertise their newest work, Rotten Roots, a history of Osprey City, from its colonial beginnings to the present day. The work is the pair’s first collaboration, and is the first comic book ever written about Cape Cod’s largest city.

Rotten Roots is the culmination of nearly a year of intense research and writing, not to mention the effort Renee’s put into the stunning artwork,” commented Axel. “While most might balk at a historical comic book, believe me – we’ve distilled Osprey’s 400-year history into a gripping story that might surprise even lifelong residents.” Axel went on to say that although all of the artwork is far from finished, the creators will distribute a never-before-seen preview of their first issue, and will have exclusive artwork available for purchase.

Axel also lauded Majkut’s work on the project. “Renee is doing everything by hand; the pencils, the inks, and the colors. In an age when most sequential art is done on computers, that makes her work unique. The results are indescribably amazing.” Majkut, a watercolor artist by practice, took on the Rotten Roots project after reading the script. They connected through The Four-Color Realm, a local comic book shop. “More than my poor attempt at writing, I think most people will be drawn to Renee’s artwork – that’s going to be the real selling point,” explained Axel.

The Boston Comic Con is the largest comic book and popular culture convention in New England, and will be held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, Massachusetts, from August 8 through 10. Tickets are available at www.bostoncomicon.com.