Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pride City Wide, We’ll Try, and The Scholarship City

More good news from the Flanagan Administration, Bob Correia’s personal seal is going the way of the buffalo.

Sorry Bob, the intentions of “Pride City Wide” may have been good ones but the results were anything but. It’s tough to take pride in almost anything that took place during your tenure as Mayor. On top of that the Fall River seal always seems to go through some occasional ridicule and having the city wide/citywide controversy was just plain embarrassing.

However, speaking of pride, there is plenty to be proud of in our official seal!

“We’ll Try”

I hate when people make fun of and mock Fall River’s official motto.

It was July 2, 1843. The day was hot with a strong wind blowing in from the southwest. Two boys playing with a small canon behind a large warehouse near the corner of Main and Borden fired it, igniting some nearby shavings. With the help of the wind the fire quickly took hold and spread from building to building. Sparks and cinders whipped by the blowing wind allowed the buildings not yet touched by the fire to burst into flames. The fire was so fierce it couldn’t be contained and it was only by the luck of the wind changing direction that the fire was finally brought under control.

When all was said and done the heart of Fall River was destroyed. 291 buildings lay in ruin. Fall River no longer had any public offices, or banks, or hotels. The post office and most of the grocery (think “general store”) were gone. Roughly 200 families were homeless many with nothing left to their name.

So in the aftermath of this devastating fire, the people of Fall River wondered could they rebuild. Could they come back from this? The task seemed hopeless but the citizens proclaimed “we’ll try”.

The thing is, the Fall River did rebuild and within a decade Fall River was bigger and better than ever. “We’ll Try” is something we should be proud of and something that should inspire us, by reminding us that we can achieve great things but only if we make the effort to achieve them.

“The Scholarship City”

I suppose it’s easy to knock Fall River’s nickname. After all we are a city with a struggling education system and where higher education is too often considered not an option. But the nickname is about more than just scholarships. The nickname is about vision and inspiration. It’s about dedication and selflessness. It’s believing in something and then working to make that belief a reality.

In 1957 Dr. Irving Fradkin ran for a position on the school committee. He ran on a platform that called for some sort of scholarship plan and he lost. Undeterred, Dr. Fradkin began wrestling support for his plan. He prodded patients, and local business. He solicited civic groups and just everyday people. He even wrote to former-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who responded by sending the requested dollar donation and this letter:

"I was interested to get your letter and to learn of the effort being made in your community to make your people more aware of the opportunities and advantages of a college education. I congratulate you and am happy to send you a dollar toward the effort."

In the first year he made enough to award 24 scholarships.

Fradkin’s idea of a community sponsored scholarship fund spread from town to town, by 1961 his vision had spread to “50 small towns in eleven states scattered from Rhode Island to Kansas and from Minnesota to Louisiana.”

Today, Fradkin’s vision is a national organization represented in over 3,600 communities. Scholarship America has distributed over 2 BILLION dollars in a quest to make higher education a reality for over 2 million students. Scholarship America started as the idea of one man, right here in Fall River, MA. Today, Dr. Fradkin is still working, often in Fall River, for the belief he first shared over 50 years ago. When I see the words “Scholarship City” on our official seal I think of Dr. Irving Fradkin and the legendary work he has done and the millions of lives he has touched. And I’m proud to know that it started here in Fall River, the Scholarship City.

Lefty's View: I'm glad to see Bob's alterations dumped, and never thought they should have been there in the first place. It's interesting to view the history of our motto and our nickname and to realize how closely they're related. "We'll try" wasn't an empty promise it was backed with resolve, passion, and faith. Over 100 years later Dr. Fradkin displayed that same sense of resolve. He worked tirelessly, never taking no for an answer to build an organization that made higher education obtainable to millions. 50 years ago he had no idea if he would be successful, but it was something he believed in and whether he realized it or not he embodied the spirit of "We'll Try". I think it's time we stop complaining about our motto and nickname and instead start trying to live up to what they represent.


Lazurusisus said...

Can't live in the past folks.."we'll try" sucks...there4's no two ways about it...it's not the 1800,s my friends...how about "We'll Build", or "we'll presevere", or "We'll Succeed"...don't those l;ift the human spirit than two words that sounde like Morey Amsterdam uttered them on the Dick VanDyke show?!

Lefty said...

I don't think embracing your history is living in the past.

People still quote Washington and Adams, Jefferson and Lincoln.

"We'll Try" may not warm your soul the way "we'll presevere" apparently does, but it's REAL. It's part of OUR history. What sucks is that people fail to understand the signifigance and meaning behind those words.

Lazurusisus said...

Yeah, well, if Jefferson and Lincoln and washington all said "We'll Try" we would never have been Fall River USA, we'd still be Fall River, American Terrotory, Great Britian...

Anonymous said...

Actually, by the time Lincoln was president, we were no longer a British colony...no matter what he said...apparently, a clerk's position in the DOR requires a somewhat shallow education.

Scout said...

Lefty, thank you for the background on "we'll try." The story is really interesting and very inspirational. (I'd forgotten the details.)

Candidly, I'm one of those who have been less than enthusiastic about "we'll try" in the past. (Without the background, it sounds defeatist.) But knowing the story makes me feel differently about it.

Given the parallels between today's challenges and those faced by the citizens of post-fire FR, maybe a campaign around the tagline would be useful on a lot of different levels (building both brand and civic pride.)

Life has never been easy in FR, and one thing its people have always had plenty of is grit. It's high time the people of FR took some credit for (and some sustenance from) that heritage.

Lazurusisus said...

Nice little story there...too bad you have to go in the "way back" time machine to hear it...this city, and it's people, eat up failure like they are french fries....it's too bad, because they have been kept stupid and downtrodden by their leaders for so long, u nless a fire is started under them AGAIN, they will stay there I'm afraid...I have been in this city for 30 years, and I have heard this same crap from people here for all that time...you are doomed to fail unless yopu change the mindset down here...maybe that's how you all deal with knowing you are the laughingstock of the entire state....and trust me when I tell you, those who laugh at "We'll Try", and they are legion, won't care about that bit of history you tell....it's a loser's motto spawned by a loser's mentality...and Hurricane, your envy is showing through..lol...you are about as capable and smart as my mouse pad...and less useful....trust me, I know all about your wonderful family...and folks...no one gives a rat's ass about the GREAT DURFEE BASKETBAKK TEAMS but you...revel in your failure folks...there are many more folks in this city who still care about it enough to want to move forward into the modern era...so enjoy "We'll Try", because quaint won't matter when the state takes over...which is comimg fast...maybe the Hurricane's disgusting breathing into the mic can be your "We'll Try" soundtrack...failure is just so great, isn't it mikey!

Anonymous said...

Yet another laborious diatribe by Fall River’s resident pontificator, LazUrAnAss. As usual, LazUrAnAss scribes an unfocused and rambling post filled with typos and run-on sentences. For someone with such a high opinion of himself, LazUrAnAss possesses writing skills that were made for the motto, “We’ll try.” Hell, hard as it is to believe, that motto overstates his efforts. LazUrAnAss is a living illustration of what is wrong with Fall River - all talk, no action. Thankfully for him, LazUrAnAss is always close to his most adoring fan, a mirror. But don’t fret, folks. Poor writing is what we have come to expect from the unskilled egomaniac known as LazUrAnAss. Thankfully, we don’t need to rely on him for solutions to our problems. No, LazUrAnAss is nothing more than an World War II air raid siren that’s so old it no longer works properly. A few people can still hear it, but for the most part, it just makes a few dogs howl. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Anonymous said...

Joe Camara for Mayor!

Anonymous said...

Camara for mayor? Why not the cookie monster? Why not Forrest Gump? Most of the time Joe Camara dosen't know if he scratch his watch or wind is ass. Scary stuff.

Lazurusisus said...

Jesus, Herren, did you have to sober up your old man to write that for you?...BAHAHAHAHA...go dribble yourself away into your girlfriend's rancid playpen, and say hello to gramps while your down there.....and you Fall River Patriots keep on tryin'.....because that's all you can do...lmao, rofl...that should be worth a free mug...give it to the hurricane...he'll use it to hide the booze...it looks better than a paper bag!

Lefty said...


Did we miss nap time?

You really have to stop labeling everyone as Mike Herren. I've had some chats with Scout before and am pretty darn certain he's (or she) is not Mike Herren. I'm also pretty sure you missed the mark again with the Anon.

We simply don't agree on this. Your entitled to your opinion but I'm entitled to mine and I think you could be a little more accepting of that.

Lazurusisus said...

Lefty...you certainly have a right to your opinion...as I have to mine, as well as bad typing....but idiots (not you) always bring out the worst in me..teabaggers and morons abound in Fall River..I have NO Patience with stupid people....so whoever Scout is, maybe you shouldn't be so threatened by me...lol...and by the way, this City has a disgusting fetish of praising ex basketball players...like Herren, and Fiola...grow up folks....you city is crumbling around you...you'll be in receivership while youkiss Durfee basketball's ass...get over oty...MF'in Glory Days...lol....enjoy....

Faye Musselman said...

Lefty - With regard to "Scholarship City" did you know that Emma Borden established in her Will a scholarship fund for one boy and one girl each from BMC Durfee High to receive $500 from the "Andrew J. Borden Scholarship Fund"? Her cousin, Orrin Gardner of Swansea was set up to be one of the people determining who would get the scholarships. I've never researched this but it would be interesting to know to whom and for how long this scholarship was given out. Although there is no evidence to show Andrew was very charitable or involved in civic activities during his lifetime, there's a bit of sweet symmetry in knowing that his money, through his daughter's legacy, helped young men and women to further their education. :)

Scout said...

Hi Faye

That is indeed interesting! It would be fascinating to get some detail, as you point out. And it's great that one of the scholarships was earmarked for a girl, at a time when higher education for women was not particularly valued. I bet there are some great feminist narratives entwined in the Borden sisters' story and the role of women in the mills.

BTW: Lazarus, I'm not Mike Herren. I haven't actually lived in FR for a long time, which is why I don't comment on issues that are specific to the city, just on things that transcend geography, like branding strategies. (As a non-resident, I don't know enough about FR politics, etc. to comment with any authority.) I'm not sure why you objected to my last post; I was actually sort of agreeing with you. I think that, without the benefit of the origin story that Lefty provided, "We'll Try" seems weak to the outside world. Although there is something noble in trying, especially in the face of adversity.

As Faye, Lefty, and I have discussed before on this blog, there is power in celebrating FR's proud past. Maybe if residents knew about the city's once-great heritage, they'd believe that greatness is possible again.

Faye Musselman said...

Scout as Mike Herren. LOL. Two phunny.

Re the "Andrew J. Borden Scholarship" established in Emma Borden's Will: I need to correct a couple things. It was $300 a piece, not $500. And Orrin Gardner, unlike the other Gardner cousins, lived in Touisset, not Swansea. Here's the wording from Emma's Will. Her entire Will and the Codicil to it can be viewed on my blog.

"(a) To pay one of such equal shares to the Trustees of the Fall River High School Alumni Scholarships to be used and applied by said last mentioned trustees in the following manner: Such share shall be used to establish and to provide for “The Andrew J. Borden Scholarships” each scholarship to be of such amount not exceeding the sum of Three Hundred Dollars ($300) per annum as said trustees shall determine; and I direct that such scholarships shall be awarded and given annually by said trustees one-half in aggregate

amount thereof to such deserving male graduate or graduates and the other one-half thereof to such deserving female graduate or graduates of the High Schools of Fall River as they, in their discretion, shall select, such scholarship to be used to assist such graduates to secure advanced education. In the selection and appointment of such scholarships it is my desire (as printed on will) that preference shall be given to any graduate who may be named by Miss Julia A. Reed of said Fall River, or by said Orrin A. Gardner of said Touisset, during the lifetime of either of them."

Anonymous said...