Opinion

Jourgensen: Seen, heard and remembered

I love this story Bob and Tim Ferrari told about the guy who used to walk up from Myrtle Street to a shack by the reservoir off Walnut Street. He warned kids off from swimming or fishing before adding, “If you head just around the bend, you’ll find a couple of great fishing spots.”

Speaking of West Lynn, thanks to Walter Day for stopping by with a great framed tribute to Lynn’s own Walter Brennan. A little local research reveals the actor lived on Childs Street until 1906 when he moved at the age of 12 to Franklin Avenue in Swampscott with his family.

He worked in banking in Boston before becoming an actor and served in World War I with the 101st Field Artillery, a unit steeped in history with a strong Lynn connection.

Day’s great tribute included a framed poster with a Brennan biography and trading cards. Someone told me Brennan’s sister was a common West Lynn sight and easy to spot sitting in front of a chicken coop on Blossom Street wearing a black hat.

***

It’s always worth ranging far afield in search of curiosities and history. Driving down Summer Street, I spotted hutches in the backyard of a house near Westway and a bright red tractor parked in a front yard reminding me of the one my mother’s father used on his farm in Fort Morgan, Colo. His grandchildren piled into the tractor’s front bucket and he lifted it up a few times before sending us off to chase sheep around their pens and climb the two old boxcars that somehow made their way to the farm.  

***

“Give me a C. Give me an L. Give me…” Richard Field, born and raised in Lynn, says he was one of Classical High School’s last male cheerleaders. A Class of 1947 member, Field cheered for three years at football games and played basketball. At 89, he can still bellow out a cheer, no megaphone needed.

“I liked getting in the games for free, and we traveled a lot,” he recalled. He joined the Army in 1948, was stationed in Germany, and got out of the service in 1950. “By the time I got back to Lynn, the cheerleaders were gone,” he said.

***

There’s always something new to discover when I study the 1891 map in the collector’s office in City Hall. The long-gone Convalescent House atop Tower Hill was called the Almshouse and the Beltline Street Railway cut through Lynn. The Western Avenue bus depot was previously called the Lynn and Boston car stables and the map identified a “West Lynn Station” at Alley and Commercial streets.

Speaking of maps, one of the amazing finds in the Peabody Institute Library, managed with enthusiasm and professionalism by Director Melissa Robinson, is the great collection of North Shore maps displayed, including a wall-mounted, multicolor map of Peabody and surroundings.

***

Thanks a ton to historical tidbits contributed by resident experts David Solimine Sr. and Edward M. Landry, who recalled a blacksmith shop behind the former Arena Cafe. “As a boy growing up on Fuller Street I visited it quite often, as well as the Lynn Cycle Shop that abutted it.” Landry said a horseshoe embedded in the sidewalk near the Arena let people know the blacksmith was nearby.

Solimine sings the praises of Rocco and Maria Capano’s great garden off Alley Street with its fruit trees, including figs. If you want to feel great about Lynn, support ongoing contributions by artists, including the great Ray Gilbert who is showing at the Salem Arts Association, 211 Bridge St., Salem, through Aug. 26, as well as the incomparable Barry Ridlon and multi-talented Rocco Capano.

More Stories In Opinion