Arthur Briggs Church
Our Post was one of the earlier posts chartered first in 1919 only a year after the fighting in the Great War ended. The Grand Army of the Republic, the northern veteran’s organization of the Civil War was still active at that time. The G.A.R Hall was located in the building on Center Street where the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club is now located. Their hall was already the home of the local Camp of the Spanish-American War Vets and the young veterans of the new war were invited to meet at the G.A.R also.
The Post met at this hall for ten or fifteen years. It was during this time that Post 143 sponsored the first Boy Scout troop in Pembroke, which was called Troop 1. Later when the Brockton Scout Council was established all the various towns Troop 1s’ had to be renumbered; the Pembroke troop changed it number to 43 in honor of their sponsor.
In the 1930’s the members decided they needed a home of their own. At this time Sunday picnics on our ponds were very popular. The Post purchased a cottage on Little Sandy Pond for $600.00. For many years, members and their families gathered at the post home enjoying what all those Boston summer people flocked to, the sun, shade and crystal clear waters of Pembroke’s ponds.
With the depressed times and then the increased demand for the labor on the “home front” during the new conflict that we now call the Second World War; the cottage that the Post called home, fell into disrepair and was used less. They sold hall and moved back to the G.A.R. Hall.
After WWII when the boys of “The Greatest Generation", the term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw for them, came home to Pembroke they revitalized Post 143 and looked around for a Post Home again.
In August of 1949, the Post purchased the Old Bryantville Fire House which is the large white building across the street from the current Bryantville Fire Station. They paid $1200.00 for the two story building and the adjacent field. The deed has an interesting notation that a narrow strip of land along School street had been previously sold to the Brockton and Plymouth Street Railway Company for a trolley turnout.
POST 143 THE NEXT 40 YEARS
When the post purchased the Old Bryantville Fire House in 1949, they removed the large garage door used by the fire truck and installed the front windows and entry door. The Post renovated the building to meet their needs. The upstairs hall had a cathedral ceiling, a bar and could easily seat eighty. The first floor had a large multipurpose room; the Post’s meeting room, Ladies Auxiliary room with adjacent restroom and kitchen. In the basement was a large open space, another kitchen and men’s restroom. This hall is the large white building across the street from the current Bryantville Fire Station and our present Post Home and is now occupied by K.E.E.P. Company.
For more than twenty years the post was very active with many WWI and WWII veterans taking part in the activities. Among the able Commanders three went on to serve as District 10 Commanders, Daniel Preble, George Berry and Roland Judge.
In 1971 the Post celebrated the season with their Annual New Year’s Eve Party. Tickets were $3.00 and included noisemakers, balloons and a buffet at midnight. A four-piece band provided music. A newspaper article noted that the General Chairman was Lawney Crudup supported by a committee including Post Commander Howard Driscoll, Daniel Preble, William Whiteley and Edward Birchmore. For several years starting in 1971 the Post ran a carnival in July at the Town Forest on Mattakeesett Street. The highlight of 1971 was the testimonial banquet given for District Commander George Berry. It was held at St. Thecla’s Church hall. Present were most of the Legion Department Officers, Pembroke Town Official led by Selectmen John Ahearn and our State Representative Robert Gillette.
The Post took part in many of the Legion programs in which we still participate including Boys State, local parades, Memorial Day school assemblies and the district raffle. Additionally they were active in the Oratorical Contest and the Arbor Day programs. They regularly held Saturday Night Suppers with a full house and music for dancing. The primary support of the Post came from weekly bingos and a fifty/fifty raffle. The bingos drew a large attendance that required the use of all three floors for the players.
Prosperity at the Post seemed to slip away by the late 1970s. Several of the Post’s inspired World War II leaders died including George Barry, Howard Driscoll and George Richardson. During the 1980’s activity slumped and meetings were held less often. The Post membership fell to under thirty. The few remaining active members continued to carry on the goals of the American Legion. Leaders in this period were Commander David Hatch and Adjutant Roland Judge. During these lean years the Post depended heavily on their Ladies Auxiliary who raised money to maintain the Legion Hall and support its activities by rummage sales and Christmas bazaars.
In 1981 a men’s fraternal lodge, the Improved Order of Red Men approached the Post about using their hall for meetings. The two groups struck a deal. The Red Men would get the hall rent-free for their weekly meetings in exchange for painting the hall and keeping up the repairs and maintenance. A number of their members agreed to join the Legion. Dick Nickerson was elected Commander and the Post resumed monthly meetings. They conducted a drive to bring back a number of the Legion members who had become inactive. Post attendance soon increased to around a dozen; Past Commanders Everett Reed and Ed Stafford and our last two World War I comrades William Whiteley and Bill Lavalley once again became active. With the hall fixed up it again became a center of community activity. Together the Post and the Red Men sponsored Boy Scout Troop 43 and a large Scout Explorer Post; we hosted the Girls Softball team meetings and other youth programs.
The 1990’s brought changes to the post again. Our World War I veterans and many of those that served the country in World War II passed from the seen. We were now a Vietnam Era post but found ourselves cash poor with an aging building we could not maintain. We sold our home and moved to the Town Hall. We invested the money from the sale of the hall.
Our membership started to increase and without the elephant on our back we had money to donate to local youth and Legion activities. Two more of our members advanced to District 10 Commander Paul Brosseau and David Smith. During this period the Post grew to over 100 members and took part in many more activities and program.
In 2011 we had an opportunely to move to a new post home. Along with a Lions Club and two Boy Scout Troops we renovated an old town owned schoolhouse that we named the Bryantville Meeting House. Coincidentally our new home is across the street from our old Legion Hall.
In our new beautiful home we are again in transition. Our last active World War II member and longtime chaplain George Bent passed away in March 2018, our Vietnam Era vets are getting older and we are slowly becoming a post-Vietnam Era Post.
With over 100 members and ample finances we patriciate in and donate to many local and Legion programs including: giving three scholarships, sponsoring Boy Scout and Cub Scout Units, Boys State, Girls State, State Trooper program, assisting with Eagle Scout and the Scouting NYLT program. We sponsor a Legion Baseball Team. We entertain groups from the Brockton VA Hospital at our hall for St. Patricks’ Day, Summer Cookouts and Halloween Parties and many other programs. In 2018 we elected for the first time a woman as Post Commander Renee Kernan.