Opinion

Jourgensen: Meandering down Memory Lane

I always enjoy walking into the city Public Works office on Commercial Street extension and reading a sample of former Mayor Pasquale Caggiano’s campaign literature enshrined on the office wall. To read about him is to discover how Caggiano was a fiery and blunt politician whose death in April 1972 after serving only 102 days as mayor triggered an outpouring of grief in the city.

Caggiano was a testament to political perseverance, running for office 13 times and winning four elections. He never shied away from launching head-on assaults on opponents and other perceived enemies. The era of political powerhouses and brawlers he lived in has largely faded into history.

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A resident expert described to me how shoppers strolled out of the former First National store on Broadway and waited for their groceries to roll out in boxes on a conveyor belt to be loaded into their cars. Were there other stores in the city or around the area offering similar loading services? Don’t ask me.

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Memorial Day is almost here with its bittersweet mixture of pomp and ceremony and memories of men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country, almost always at a young age.

Ceremonies, parades and gatherings taking place on Monday deserve to be honored by everyone, young as well as old, taking at least an hour out of their day to pause and remember why freedom is not free and honor those who serve and pay the price to ensure the rest of us enjoy freedom.

There was a time when people “made a day” out of Memorial Day and brought picnic spreads and blankets to cemeteries where they planted flowers and unofficially launched summer with an equal measure of remembrance and relaxation.

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There’s a corner store on Boston Street still sporting the old Coke signs that look like gigantic bottle caps. Is it Dee’s Corner? Don’t ask…

Speaking of glimpses into the past, people were quick to offer estimates on the number of former movie theaters in Lynn and the theater names. John Pace said there were seven theaters: Theatre Comique, the Capital, Uptown, Auditorium, Olympia, Warner, Paramount, plus the E.M. Loew’s Open Air Theater off the Lynnway.

Pat Lee was kind enough to offer a similar list and expand on it adding the Auditorium (“later Colony”) on Andrew Street on the city parking lot site. The Dreamland was opposite the Auditorium. The Paramount held the distinction, Lee said, of being the largest theater north of Boston. Lee added the Waldorf, once on Summer Street, to the list.

Was the Warner previously known as the Strand and was the Dreamland also called “The Garlic?” Don’t ask me but it’s sure a fun history tidbit.

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Resident experts advising this column’s author remembered with affection a couple of notable local characters including Theresa the Balloon Lady and Rosie who, I’m told, sold ice cream at softball games.

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It’s easy to complain about the smell of onions and algae on the Lynnway and Lynn Shore Drive, especially when olfactory memories of Boyd’s Potato Chips and Nissan’s Bakery waft back into mind.

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