First published March 8, 1984:
Westfield's Business Men's Association was a lively group about 70 years ago (in 1984). Two hundred and fifty invitations were sent out for the seventh annual banquet which was held at Motor Inn Feb. 26, 1915. One hundred and sixty-seven men attended the affair.
The first floor of the Welch Block at the corner of Main and Portage Streets was opened as an up-to-date restaurant by Dr. C.E. Welch in 1911. A prize was offered to the person submitting the best name for the new dining room. About 100 names were suggested and from that list, Motor Inn was chosen, and an appropriate name it was, as touring by auto was fast becoming the "in" thing.
Courtesy Patterson Library
The Welch Block, when the first floor was Motor Inn, is pictured with some early automobiles parked near the hitching posts.
Let's get back to the Business Men's Banquet. By a special arrangement of small tables all 167 who attended the dinner were comfortably seated in the pleasant dining room. The invocation was given by Rev. Merrill and then Beckman's Orchestra struck up a popular tune and the banquet was under way. A seven course dinner was handled smoothly by Manager Reese.
When the ice cream and coffee had disappeared and the cigars were glowing pleasantly, Toastmaster Rich took the floor. Fred Richardson was president of the Business Men's Association and two weeks after the banquet was elected president of the village on the Republican ticket.
The first speaker was John W. Van Allen of Buffalo, a really big business man, president of Courier Co. and a personal friend of Prof. Pattison. He made concise statements as to the present day need to conserve our resources, to shorten and reduce credits, to be prepared for anything that might develop in the business world. In closing he related several good stories.
Rev. Merrill chose the topic, "Non-Taxable Assets." Among these assets he mentioned reputation, and the ability to smile.
After the songs and speeches were brought to a close, the men adjourned to the Welch Assembly Hall on the third floor of the Welch Block where about 200 ladies had already gathered as guests of the Association for the second half of the evening's entertainment, a minstrel show put on by about 15 young men, the entire production being local talent. The jokes were good, the remarks funny but not unkind and the solos were excellent. E.W. Skinner appeared in an immaculate dress suit. Dr. Mudge and A. Lee Short were end men and W.B. Okie got off a number of local hits which convulsed the audience. Encores were called for from Deacon Barker, A.L. Dewar, L.F. Masterson and W.O. Strong.
It was an evening long to be remembered by Westfield people.
That same summer, The Westfield Business Men's Association sponsored the first annual Automobile Tour. The day was perfect, the roads good, the scenery wonderful, and everyone had a good time.
At 8 a.m. on the morning of that fine July day, 30 automobiles lined up on Main Street to have their picture taken. A.P. Jeffery was the official pilot and he headed his Westcott 40 across the viaduct while others scrambled into line behind him. He alone had the secrets of the route to be followed.
The procession reached North East without incident and after a brief stop headed south for Findley Lake. Six or eight cars arrived there behind the pilot. Most of the cars were thirsty after the hill climb. Sherman and Mayville came next, then Jamestown via the west side of Chautauqua Lake.
In Jamestown the group received a hearty and friendly welcome. Lunch in that city was followed by one minute talks. Then the caravan proceeded over unfamiliar roads. The pilot picked the narrowest part of the narrowest road to have his first puncture; later punctures and blow-outs occurred any old place. The trail let to Fredonia and then home to good old Westfield. Some of the motorists who took the tour were Ed Skinner, H.L. Kent, Charles Hanks, A.S. Fitch, J.F. Welch, V.A. Kent, H.L. Munson, P.E. Bethke, R.M. Hyde, P.R. Welch, A.S. Tennant, J.A. Riley and Harold Morgenstern.
The Business Men's Association was surely an enthusiastic group back in 1915.