Holman Birthday celebration on tap July 17

Courtesy photo A unique blend of a very young Holman Stadium and how it looks today shows how the historic structure has grown over the decades.

Assuming you’ve been paying attention, the little box with a “17” in it on the July page of your calendar – electronic or old-fashioned paper – must already be marked with a combination of words like “Holman” and “stadium” and “birthday.”

But if you haven’t been paying attention, and that “17” space is still empty, here’s a friendly suggestion: Fill it with something that shouts “go to Holman Stadium and wish it a happy 80th birthday!”

It’s a gala celebration months in the making, and once you see what is in store throughout the morning, afternoon and evening of Tuesday, July 17, you won’t want to make any other plans.

Anchored by this year’s all-star game of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England (that’s the league our Nashua Silver Knights play in), the schedule features a full 12 hours of events that range from live bands and so-called “roving” entertainers to a brief dedication ceremony and the all-star game itself, which will be preceded by a home-run derby and capped by a cool fireworks show.

So fireworks fans take note: That will be two stadium fireworks shows within two weeks – the first, of course, being the annual Fourth of July extravaganza.

The Telegraph of course devoted plenty of space to stories and photos of the previous day's grand dedication of Holman Stadium.

Although there’s no admission charge, tickets are required in order to track attendance figures. See the accompanying information box for more details and how to get tickets.

So since early May, when I last devoted this space to the Holman family and the landmark that bears their names, some additional information has surfaced in the form of a folder – the old fashioned kind that sits in a file drawer, not on a computer desktop.

Contained within are notes and copies of stories and columns researched mostly by former Telegraph colleague J.D. Enright, one of our sportswriters who covered the late 1990s brouhaha that erupted over a proposal to end football games at Holman.

Among the most interesting of the folder’s contents are three large, folded-over pages that appear to be copies of a legal document of some kind.

That it begins with “I, Charles Francis Holman, of Nashua, County of Hillsborough, state of New Hampshire, make this my last will and testament … “ confirms that it’s the will of the man who bequeathed to the city funds to build “a suitable field house … with lockers and shower baths for the use of athletic teams … to be known and marked … as ‘the Holman Field House in memory of my parents, Charles and Mary S. Holman … .'”

Telegraph file photo Nashua native Greg Landry, who went on to star at quarterback for the NFL Detroit Lions, honed his skills while quarterbacking Nashua High teams in Holman Stadium in the early 1960s.

We’ll explore Charles F. Holman’s will in greater detail as part of more upcoming coverage of the July 17 birthday party.

What we learn from one of the stories Enright penned some 20 years ago that Charles F. Holman, “Frank” to the many who knew him, inherited a sizable chunk of change from his parents, well-known business and social figures who lived at 222 Main St. until their deaths.

The elder Holman built his fortune in the confectionery business, starting off small then growing into one of downtown Nashua’s most successful businesses.

He rebounded even after fire destroyed the business in 1874, coming back bigger and better and selling “cocoanut cakes, chocolate cream drops, fancy cream goods” – and “choice Havana cigars,” according to a Telegraph ad published in 1888.

The young Holman, apparently, never married; he lived with his parents, caring for his father until his 1906 death, then his mother until she died in 1933 at age 95.

The upcoming dedication of Holman Stadium dominated Telegraph headlines in mid-September 1937. Everyone who was anyone was likely there for the day-long event.

Their son died just a year later in 1934.

Meanwhile, Enright, in one of his columns, called for divided Nashuans to find common ground in their respective positions on the proposal to build a so-called “rectangular” field, or fields, for football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, so crews can concentrate on keeping Holman the gem of a diamond (no pun intended) it is today.

Now, having the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we know how it all came out: Stellos Stadium was built, and Holman, likely because it was allowed to flourish as a baseball stadium, became home to a series of minor league teams, including the present-day Nashua Silver Knights – the biggest draw yet.

Dean Shalhoup’s column appears Sundays in The Telegraph. He can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or@Telegraph_DeanS.

If you go

File photo Holman Stadium was barely two years old when members of the 1939 Nashua High School baseball team played its home games there.

Nashua is preparing to celebrate Historic Holman Stadium’s first 80 years serving generations of local families and athletes.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 17, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

WHERE: Holman Stadium, 67 Amherst St., Nashua

HOW MUCH: Free admission, but tickets are required; available now at the Nashua Silver Knights stadium box office between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and up to game time on game days, or call the office at 718-8883

MORE INFORMATION: Go to www.nashuasilver

The Telegraph's sports section for Wednesday, Sept. 22, 1937 announced the next day's dedication of Holman Stadium, which was expected to draw a "large public turnout." And it did.

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