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.

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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.

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.

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.

Church Celebrates 390th Birthday

The First Congregationalist Church of Osprey is preparing to mark its 390th year of operation with a major celebration. The second-oldest congregation in Massachusetts, the church was established in 1626 with the founding of Osprey by Separatist colonists from Plymouth. The First Congregationalist Church has occupied the same address for all of its 390 years, and the same building since 1901.

Minister John L. Peters, speaking before a cluster of reporters, expressed his joy in “celebrating such a momentous anniversary.” Congregationalist ministers from around the nation will gather for the occasion, and local researchers will compose essays that center on the long history of the Church and its congregation. “The history of the First Congregationalist and the history of Osprey City are deeply intertwined, back to the earliest days of this country,” explained Bill Gordon, local librarian and volunteer at the Osprey Historical Society.

At the celebration, Minister Peters will be accepting donations for a commissioned mural of the founding of the church, including a depiction of the church’s first leader, Minister James Wright. Though mention of Minister Wright disappears around 1630, baptism records indicate that Wright was head of the congregation at its establishment. “What we lack right now, apart from the funds,” commented Minister Peters, “is a clear description of what Minister Wright looked like.” Archivists will be trawling through the records at the Historical Society, but anyone with any documents that might help in the process are asked to contact Minister Peters at the First Congregationalist Church of Osprey.

Scrimshaw Club Opens Its Doors

Citing decreasing membership numbers and increased operating costs, the lauded Scrimshaw Club announced yesterday that it will be opening its doors to the general public starting next month. The Scrimshaw Club, opened in 1850, has historically been the establishment of choice for Osprey’s elite.

“Of course, this does not mean that we will push out our remaining members,” explained Reginald Hawthorne II, president of the Scrimshaw Club. “In fact, most days will be for members only. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will be for the general public.” A strict dress code of slacks, button-down shirts, and dress shoes will be enforced.

Members met the news with mixed reaction. Some members understood the need for change. “Look, I understand that the Club needs to increase income,” commented member Samuel Wood. “These days, clubs like this are sort of anachronistic – they have to do what they can to survive. If that means allowing the public to come in and enjoy what the Scrimshaw Club has to offer, so be it.” Other members were reportedly offended at the idea of opening the club to “the plebes,” in the words of one member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The Scrimshaw Club is where we go to get away from these people. I personally don’t have any interest in rubbing shoulders with a bunch of vodka-and-Red-Bull swilling, fist-pumping bros.”

Wealthy whaling ship owners founded the Scrimshaw Club in the mid-1800s in order to have a place to relax and discuss business in private. With fine, dark woods, luxurious leather seats, and many fine examples of scrimshaw art, the Scrimshaw Club exudes class and sophistication. It is one of the few remaining active gentlemen’s clubs of the 19th century, and the only one in Osprey City.