Chester Films

 Remember home movies?

Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/River View Cemetery Fund, the Chester Historical Society and the Deep River Historical Society have taken decades-old (and never-seen-before) home movies of our towns from film to digital format.

Four of the Chester films were shown on March 24 to a standing-room-only crowd at the Chester Meetinghouse. They are now available to be seen through the links on this page. (Expect to see more films of Chester and Deep River in the fall.)

From the Centennial film, 1936.

From the Centennial film, 1936.

These included In and Around Chester, 1930s, a film made by Peter Calamari in the mid 1930s that shows businessmen of Chester as well as students at Chester High School and parishioners of St. Joseph’s Church leaving after Palm Sunday mass. You’ll see John Zanardi filling an oil truck, Silvio “Babe” Zanardi cheerfully shoveling coal, and Postmaster Jim Grote (see photo below). You’ll also see Hazel Watrous (Archambault), Arnold Watrous, Anthony “Squint” Bertelli, Anne Dacundo (Hesser) and Theresa Scarpini leaving school.

Jim Grote, Chester postmaster, in front of the post office, then at 1 Main Street. From the 1930s film

Jim Grote, Chester postmaster, in front of the post office, then at 1 Main Street. From the 1930s film

Peter Calamari also filmed the 1936 Chester Centennial Celebration – a remarkable parade with floats and bands followed by a townwide gathering on the Green and a tea party for the oldest residents of Chester. On one of the floats is a young Shirley Miceli.

Two other films were made Harry Archambault in the 1950s. One is Chester Home Day/Dr. Cash Day on the Meeting House green in 1956. Here you’ll see Evelyn Bennett, Mary Jane Watrous, Irma Lanzi, Danny Zanardi and Jake Feinstein among many hundreds more. Mr. Archambault also filmed At The Chester Fairgrounds, August 1956.

Thanks to Jon Claude Haines, of Sea Robin Tech based in Chester, we are able to share these films with you. If you spot people from Chester who are not identified on the films, please let us know who they are and where you saw them.

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