Coming Home to Hudson: Home Day, 1906
By James Caccamo
Ex Libris, May-June 1980
One December 13, 1906, they came home. Over 500 visitors, most of them former Hudson residents, returned to Hudson in what was the first “Home Day” celebration.
The whole idea started with a group of twenty men, who called themselves “The Big Twenty,” who planned a reunion among themselves. “The Big Twenty” had originally been formed of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans who got together on an election bet when Grover Cleveland ran against James G. Blaine for President of the U.S. They had such a good time together, that they decided to get together regularly. While planning their little reunion in 1906, one of them came up with the idea that what was needed was a reunion of all Hudson, and plans were quickly made for the first Home Day. Surprisingly, the whole affair was organized in only three weeks! The organization must have been effective, though, because the response was phenomenal, and it triggered similar Home Days in Later years.
As reported in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 14, 1906: “Hearty greetings echoed everywhere through the two extra coaches [train] that were required to carry the middle aged and gray headed boys and girls of old Hudson back home yesterday morning. At noon there were more reunions when a fresh detachment arrived to be decorated with badges by the reception committee and regaled with accounts of the chicken pie and baked meats, the jams and jellies and butters, the pickles, sauces, and salads, spread in prodigal array in the various churches in the two. After dinner came speeches in the park, where grass and the drooping elms showed green as in summer in spite of Thursday’s snowfall, and the flags and ‘welcome’ banners were thicker even than on Main Street.”
Home Day meant more than just a get-together among the old residents of Hudson, or the return of Hudson’s former residents. Much of the day was spent honoring Hudson’s founders, as well as the founders of Western Reserve College. The day was thus one not only of returning home, but also of remembering what Hudson once was.
The reader must keep in mind that Hudson of 1906 was not the thriving college town of the 1870’s nor was it the busy residential community we see today. The College was gone, its buildings standing empty and partially vandalized. Main Street had had a major fire fourteen years before [see Ex Libris, April 1980 (Vol. II, No.4)], and had recently experienced a bank failure. The population had dwindled to under 1,000.
Hudson’s future would be brighter soon, for James W. Ellsworth would propose his revitalization plan for Hudson in the near future. The importance of Home Day, 1906, though, is it enabled Hudson to bask in the pride of its earlier, grander days, brought back those that loved it but had left, and most importantly, laid a foundation for the changes and plans that were to come soon.