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eBay Tuesday: James M. Reardon Homecoming

New London Elks Lodge welcomes police officer in 1958 reception

The Jumping Frog in Hartford continues to be have a wealth of items available on eBay, and this week's pick gives something of a who's who of prominent New London citizens in the mid-20th century.

This program is for a reception on Nov. 29, 1958 at the Elks Lodge #360. Although the purpose isn't entirely clear, the front of the program suggests that the meeting includes a homecoming for James M. Reardon. The schedule of events is reminiscent of the current events at the Elks Lodge: a reception, socializing, dinner, regular club business, and entertainment to follow.

Reardon was a district deputy with the Elks at the time of the event, but he was the lodge's exalted ruler from 1942 to 1943. He was a local police officer, assigned to the Groton barracks of the Connecticut State Police in 1935. He was on the verge of a major change in his life when he attended this Elks event; in 1959, he became the police chief in Manchester. He also served as the president of the Connecticut Chiefs of Police in 1973, and died in 1996 at the age of 84.

The images on the front of the program recognize a number of other prominent Elks as well: Richard P. Freeman, Daniel M. Cronin, Henry L. McGuire, and Thomas F. Dorsey, Jr. Freeman was long dead by the time of the program. A New London native who served in the Spanish-American War and returned to become a practicing attorney, he served in the House of Representatives from 1915 to 1933 before dying in 1944 at the age of 75.

Cronin probably wasn't around to enjoy these ceremonies, either. Born in 1879, he began serving as a prosecutor in the New London courts in 1903. McGuire apparently kept a low profile, though he was the city clerk and was the brother of Frank L. McGuire, an attorney who also served as city clerk as well as law director. Frank was even considered as a possible Senate candidate or nominee for the Supreme Court.

Thomas F. Dorsey, Jr., was probably not as well known as his father. According to the Louis Sheaffer Eugene O'Neill Collection at Connecticut College, the senior Dorsey was an attorney and realtor whom O'Neill chose as "the model for the off-stage McGuire in Long Day’s Journey into Night."

The archive also describes Dorsey as a "realtor of dubious reputation" who brokered about 25 deals with O'Neill's father, James, and either made or celebrated the deals with the man in the Crocker House bar. The younger Dorsey's profile in A Modern History of New London, Connecticut notes that he was involved in real estate and insurance transaction and served with a stateside construction division during World War I.

The program is eight pages long and measures six inches by nine inches. The asking price is $8.93, with free shipping. The auction ends at about 6:16 p.m. on Wednesday.

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