The History of the Crystal Community Club (1945-2014)

The founding of the Crystal Community Club had its origin during the summer of 1945. The club was originated by a group of gentlemen headed by Sam Benedetto, Angelo Roberto, and Peter Puglisi. It became apparent to the group, along with many returning veterans, that a void existed in the community. It was felt that an organization, with suitable quarters to congregate, was needed for the promotion of both social and community welfare. Preliminary decisions took place in the back of Cieri's Automotive store.

Consequently on the evening of August 22, 1945, a meeting was held at the home of Sam Benedetto, 86 Water Street, Wakefield. The group a/k/a The Founders, was comprised of the following: Sam Benedetto, Angelo Roberto, Peter Puglisi, John H. Morgan, Louis Nutile, A. Charles Confalone, John W. Moccia, Jr., Pasquale Volpe, Nicholas Mauriello, Peter Croce, and Charles Zarella.

This group met again on August 29, 1945 where plans were formulated for the new organization. The bylaws were drawn up and arrangements were made to procure the basement of the Italian Chapel of the St. Florence Church from the Holy Mary del Carmine Society located on Water Street. There were two meetings at the chapel where the founders named the club, read the new bylaws, held nominations of officers and received its first donation—$10 by John "Cy" Morgan.

Enthusiasm was high, and to cultivate continued growth it was deemed necessary to rent larger quarters. It was an unoccupied store at 54 Water Street that could be rented for $50 per month from Tony Penta that was chosen for the club's quarters for the next few years. The next meeting was held at the new quarters and the club's first officers were installed. They were: Louis Nutile, president; Peter Puglisi, vice-president; John W. Moccia, Jr., treasurer; A. Charles Confalone, secretary; and John H. Morgan, press correspondent.

The club immediately started many community activities such as a more suitable lighting system for Water Street and the construction of the new Nasella playground on Water Street. The CCC expended almost $2000 for the erection of a fine stone entrance, complete with trees and a flag pole. The wall was completed on November 11, 1950 and was looked upon by the members with great pride.

On December 5, 1949, a committee was set up to locate land to build a suitable facility for continued growth. After a thorough investigation of available sites, the property at 77 Preston Street was purchased from Bill Curley, Sr., for $1,000 and the deed recorded at the Registry of Deeds on January 18, 1950. A building committee was formed, and in November of 1950 ground was broken on the new pro- posed 40' x 80' building. A mortgage of $7,000 was necessary; however, this was only sufficient to complete the rear quarters of the building which extends a length of 20'. The rear section was com- pleted on March 1, 1951. The completion of the forward section of 60' was yet to be done due to a lack of funds, so the club decided to sell bonds to the membership to raise $10,000 and the building was completed.

Groundbreaking

The club's membership grew to over 300 and they were enjoying the rewards of their efforts when an untimely fire on December 1, 1953 caused an estimated $10,000 worth of damage. The membership was heartbroken. The only consolation was that the building was insured, and a settlement with the insurance company for $9,526 was recovered. With this settlement and with a loan for $3,000, along with other cash reserves, the building committee would resume their work in March 1954. The new building would be extended an additional 20' over the original size, so it would give even greater comfort for the ever-expanding membership. Membership in 1955 would grow to over 400.

In December 1959, a bulkhead exit from the basement of the club was built at a cost of $600. In 1960, a new addition to add a new lounge and kitchen facilities was constructed at a cost of $35,000.

In January 1963 the Crystal Community Club, along with other club organizations, became subject to non-alcohol-sales due to legal license authority, only to be changed after two years by the town voters to issue club liquor licenses. This was one of the most crucial periods in the club's 18-year existence. The club managed to succeed financially through the efforts of then-President Ralph "Brud" DeCecca, PP Augie Cardivelli, PP Andrew Palumbo, Bob Nutile, Jack Del Rossi, Anthony Cucurullo, Roy Fazio, and many other members who volunteered their time with youth activity dances on Friday nights, while also maintaining the club quarters.

In December 1969, a sum of $6,000 was appropriated to enlarge the hall by means of taking down the wall separating the grill room and the hall. This was done by installing a steel beam and a sliding bi-fold door. The hall was then redecorated with new paneling and air conditioning, and the ceiling was lowered, all accomplished through the efforts of members who volunteered their services.

In November 1974, the club dedicated the newly-decorated social room in memory of the late John J. Raffael, Jr., twice past president. The room was a project that was begun by John before his untimely death.

In 1975 the original basement floor was lowered two feet to match the floor of the 1960 addition An outside entrance to the rear of the building was also added: total cost $6,000. In 1977 the entire basement took on a new look with a new lounge and game room along with cooking facilities at a cost of $22,000.

Since our 35th Anniversary party in April 1981, the club has seen many other improvements and face lifts. In 1982 a group of members lead by P.P. John Lucey ran an auction which raised $10,000. The money was used to renovate our main kitchen In 1993, the Raffael room was enhanced with a new central heating and air conditioning system. The walls were redone and a much brighter, modern, and friendly room resulted.

But not since the groundbreaking in November of 1950 has the club seen a major construction project which was undertaken during the winter of 1994-95 by the membership. Our "Founders Room" has now become our primary grill room complete with new furniture, central heat and air conditioning, and kitchen facilities. It is handicap accessible from our rear entrance. The cost of the project was nearly $60,000.

The club has had many other interesting events happen over the years. There were carnivals in the '50s, sports nights which included such celebrities as Dom DiMaggio, Lenny Merullo, Jack Burns, Eddie Pelligrini, Harry Agganis, John Pesky, Jack Onslow, Sal Bartolo, Tony DeMarco, Jim Piersall, Boston Bruin Terry O'Reilly, New England Patriot Steve Grogan, as well as many others. The Children's Annual Christmas Party, first held in 1946, has grown larger and larger over the years with over 500 children at the 1954 event.

In 1973 and 1974, the club won first prize in the West Side Social Club's 4th of July Parade float competition, and in 1975 was awarded 2nd prize.

Over the past 70 years the CCC has been a leader in helping the community with donations to many worthy organizations. Contributions to the U.S.O., American Red Cross and the Blood Bank, Salvation Army, March of Dimes, cancer Funds, YMCA, Wakefield Lions Club, Citizens Scholarship Foundation, and Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to the needy are just a few. Today, after almost 70 years, the membership carries on our founders' dreams, ideas, and dedication to making the Crystal Community Club the very best it can be.

Crystal Community Club Founders