Opinion

Jourgensen: Pausing to remember

I loved hearing from Lynnfield veteran Bill Vigagliano this week. He called to suggest Union Hospital’s reuse as a home and care facility for veterans. But he also took time to talk about serving during the Korean War in First Corps headquarters. In the understated manner of most veterans, Vigagliano described Korea as “a little chilly” and recalled how the best shelter was a Quonset hut outfitted with cots. He sorted mail and said receiving a letter or package was extremely important to everyone in the service, from people doing the fighting to everyone shouldering the logistical load involved in putting an army in the field.

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Speaking of veterans, I enjoy pausing inside Lynn City Hall’s foyer, with its high ceiling, marble walls and brass stair railings and vent grates. The foyer’s scale and simplicity invite contemplation and an investment in the few minutes it takes to read the three inscriptions engraved in the foyer walls.

The main one above the stairs leading up to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium reads, “This building is dedicated to those who served in all wars of our country.”

Those last five words remind readers how City Hall was built with the end of World War II still fresh in the mind of the city’s residents, including many who lost friends, coworkers and loved ones in the war. Fittingly enough, the former City Hall was built with the Civil War still fresh in the minds of residents. One corner of the foyer is occupied by a display case containing the stained cornerstone ceremoniously laid in 1865 for the former City Hall by then-Mayor Peter M. Neal. The stone informs readers that Mayor Roland G. Usher presided over the building’s dedication two years later.

The other inscriptions on the foyer’s walls are taken from texts that have probably been consigned to library back shelves. One is “The American Creed” and the other is the preamble to the UNESCO constitution.

Organized two months after World War II ended, UNESCO is dedicated to education, science and culture. It is easy to imagine the optimism founders invested in a new organization dedicated to humanity’s higher callings even as people around the world rebuilt their lives on the ashes of war. You get a sense of that optimism standing in the foyer.

Oh yeah — the big brown counter set up on one side of the foyer was left behind by the crew of “Joy.” The movie features several Lynn scenes including the airline ticket scene shot in the foyer.

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It’s fascinating how much you can see driving down any street in Lynn. A summer ride down River Street took me by an old camping trailer with Art Deco fins and past the little bicycle shop with kid’s bikes parked in a row and weathered signs tacked to its front. Lynn doesn’t have a bookstore but it’s fun knowing it has a full-time bike store on Western Avenue, plus a part-time one in West Lynn. A resident living near the corner of Bates and River streets hung out a colorful line of laundry hearkening back to when everyone hung out laundry to dry and anyone who had laundry hanging on a line in their yard turned it into a game of keep away with kids dodging in and out of the sheets.

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I’ll miss my Aunt Betty; she never ran low on smiles and she always sweetened them up with a wink.

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I love the photo John O’Brien sent me showing him sitting behind a drum set with fellow members of the Plane Jaynes, a decidedly novice-looking band that nevertheless won the February 1968 tournament of the bands at the Jewish Community Center. Bandmates included Ivan Boudreau, Glen Legere, Brian Corcoran, Steve LeBrun, and Bob Russo. Awesome — keep ’em coming.

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