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Trophy goes from garage to Historical Society

Piece of BHS/BUHS Alumni Association history preserved

BRATTLEBORO—For nearly two decades, it was sitting in Merrill Yeaw’s garage in West Chesterfield, N.H.

Now, it has a place of honor at the Brattleboro Historical Society.

The Henry B. Allen Trophy Cup was awarded annually at the BHS/BUHS Alumni Parade to the class that built the best overall float. But when the Brattleboro Union High School Class of 1960 won the trophy at the 100th annual parade in 2006, it turned out that they would be the last class to win it.

Yeaw said that “The Golden Oldies” was the theme for that parade, and his class decided that their float would be a replica of the former A&W Root Beer drive-in restaurant on Putney Road.

“The A&W’s are all gone now, except for the one up in Waterbury,” he said. “We went up there to get the dimensions and measurements right.”

The float was a hit, and they won the Allen Trophy. However, it was the last time a class would win it.

The alumni parade was discontinued, and the Class of 1960 ended up keeping the Allen trophy.

That’s how it landed in Merrill Yeaw’s garage, tucked away and temporarily forgotten.

“It got boxed up with the class banners and other awards,” said Yeaw, a member of the Class of 1960.

But, last year, Yeaw and some of his classmates decided the Allen trophy deserved a better fate.

“A bunch of us went out to breakfast last spring and we talked about it,” he said. “We all agreed the trophy would be better off at the Historical Society than in my garage.”

So, after checking in with BHS/BUHS Alumni Association president Sue Strong, they decided to donate the Allen Trophy to the Historical Society.

Changing times

The BHS/BUHS Alumni Association has been struggling with a lack of interest and a lack of money for the past decade.

When members voted in 2006 to make the 100th parade the last one, only about one in 10 BHS/BUHS alumni were dues-paying members and there simply wasn’t enough money to continue having a annual parade down Main Street each June.

The association pared back its activities to a golf tournament at the Brattleboro Country Club and smaller, more informal gatherings around the BUHS graduation in June.

Last year, the Alumni Association decided it would no longer sponsor events during the graduation weekend.

“Times have changed and the connection of most of our recent graduates to their high school is just not as strong as ours was and still is,” wrote Strong last year on buhs-alumni.com. “The loss of the parade and the ability to send an annual newsletter certainly have contributed to the situation we now find ourselves in. Attendance is down, money is in short supply and our ability to continue diminished. It truly is time to ‘throw in the towel.’”

However, the association will continue the six scholarships that it awards to BUHS graduates each year.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #241 (Wednesday, February 12, 2014). This story appeared on page A1.

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