Opinion

Jourgensen: Looking back and wondering

Thanks to Neil Rossman for providing a great glimpse into life along Fisherman’s Beach more than 50 years ago. After graduating Swampscott High School, Rossman, an attorney and son of a Brickyarder, spent part of the summer of 1964 with a camera in his hands snapping photos along the beach. His lens captured black and white images of handmade wood lobster traps and fishermen sorting out catches piled into big blunt-prowed boats. His candid photos document a hardy lifestyle not diminished by time.

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I always enjoy talking to Ernie Landry down on Bennett Street. He sizes up life with a sense of humor and Landry’s work yard is full of interesting contraptions and old equipment like the military truck bearing his father’s name. Landry’s is located in the former water and sewer work building that once had big industrial-style windows. Its turret-like third floor houses equipment for the building’s heavy elevator.

Landry’s anchors Bennett Street with its oddball assortment of body shops and businesses making money on products ranging from wiping cloths and towels to high-grade tuna. Although it ends abruptly at the River Works, Bennett Street is divided just before the school administration building (former River Works union hall complete with bar) by the infamous “can opener” bridge. The rusty iron structure spans the street and lurks like a predator ready to tear the tops of unsuspecting tractor trailers.

The day may come when a bike trail crosses the bridge and heads down to the waterfront. For now, high pressure natural gas lines traverse the bridge.

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Congregacion Evangelica Luz y Vida worshipped for years near the corner of Bennett and Commercial streets before congregation members set their sights on the daunting task of renovating the rundown church and former temple on South Common Street.

Their efforts are bearing fruit thanks to skilled tradespeople in the congregation who devote time outside work hours to point the mammoth building’s brick walls and steeple towers. They have converted the former chapel — a sizeable building in its own right — into a worship space and are gradually tackling the main church renovation.

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The saga of the big stone and brick house on Kensington Park off Nahant Street continues with John Gotimer Jr. recalling how his father, John Sr., and uncle Larry once owned the building. The pair had heard the enduring story of how the big residence is supposedly haunted.

John Sr. elaborated on the home’s history with details about how 19th century congressman John B. Alley sold it. In or about 1905 the house was shifted 90 degrees to face in a new direction and moved down a slight hill from Nahant Street to Kensington using oxen and cannon balls. The Gotimers sold the building in 1983. John Sr. discounted but didn’t outright debunk the haunting story with its details of a gruesome incineration and ghosts appearing bedside in the middle of the night.

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Speaking of strange local buildings, anyone ever heard of the “tunnel” church once located on South Common Street? It was supposedly one of the first worship houses in Lynn. The 1891 map in the city collector’s office shows the church’s possible location without providing details. It also lists the “Friends Meeting House” on Silsbee Street where the cemetery behind Central Congregational Church and Bethel AME is now located.

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