By ROD LEE
John H. “Jack” Crawford, who was instrumental in the recent relocation of the Massachusetts State Police Museum and Learning Center to the former Whitinsville Bank Building, cannot say with certainty how long the operation will be housed there.
“We’re on a two-year lease but our goal is to go back to Grafton, I think. We’ll see,” Mr. Crawford said on December 10th, while waiting for Ed Locke of Norman Rockwell painting fame to make an appearance.
Meanwhile, those responsible for setting up the exhibits on the first floor of the well-preserved structure at Memorial Square are grateful to Vincent Osterman of Osterman Propane for providing them with the space they need to display a varied assortment of Massachusetts State Police memorabilia. Clothing, collectibles and a town of Northbridge 250th anniversary commemorative coin are available for purchase at the museum.
The museum is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and is already drawing encouraging patronage (admission costs just five dollars and children get in free).
This was especially the case on the second Saturday in November, when troopers from around the state joined members of the public in welcoming Mr. Locke for pictures and autographs. He was eight years old in 1958 when asked to pose with a trooper—the late Richard Clemens—for Mr. Rockwell’s “The Runaway,” which became a Saturday Evening Post cover.
State Police Col. Christopher Mason was among those who showed up for the proceedings.
The Massachusetts State Police began as a state constabulary in 1865 to enforce liquor laws that went largely ignored by the populace and local authorities. The need for a statewide law-enforcement agency grew due to an increase in crimes that crossed the jurisdictional boundaries of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.
A focus on child labor laws and the advent of the automobile brought changes to the force. This included the formation of a uniformed State Patrol in 1921.
Today the Massachusetts State Police is a full-service law-enforcement agency consisting of over two thousand personnel including patrol, investigative, administrative and tactical resources.
With the Learning Center component now up and running as an educational link, the museum is an asset to the town of Northbridge and the Whitinsville historic district.
Understandably, many area residents are hoping it stays that way.
Go to mspmlc.org for more information.