Opinion

Jourgensen: Stories retold never grow old

The incomparable Patty Flaherty gifted me with a treasure trove of Lynn history contained in a book titled, “History Stories of Lynn retold and illustrated by the pupils of grades IV, V and VI of the Lynn public schools.”

Those are the Roman numerals for 4th, 5th and 6th graders, and the work appears to have been assembled in 1931 under the steady guidance of esteemed Lynn educators named Helen J. Piper and Mabel A. French.

Printed by the Nichols Press, the story collection offers a glimpse into life in local schools almost 90 years ago, including Lynn’s tercentenary celebration commemorated with a July 1, 1929, procession involving thousands of local students.

The foreword to the collection relates how a copy of the student stories was presented to tercentenary guest of honor Lady Gwladys Townshend, mayor of King’s Lynn, England. Prior to its publication, the story collection was test-sampled in 1930 with students attending “the middle grades” in an effort to uncover mistakes or omitted information in the stories.

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Resident experts on the subject informed me how they walked in the 1950s from West Lynn to the former Lynn Trade on High Street at the base of the Highlands. They said only boys attended the school at the time and a junior high application process was required for admittance.

Speaking of informed sources, word has it one of the more exuberant personalities known to work out at the Lynn YMCA celebrates a landmark birthday this Sunday afternoon at Revolution Pie + Pint. Happy birthday and many more, TB1.

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It was great spending time with the one and only Semyon Fox inside his Marblehead cobbler’s shop on Atlantic Avenue. Tucked inside a funny little green building in the middle of town, the shop is a sight to behold and Semyon still resembles the youthful bodybuilder he once was back in Kiev. He has a dry, fatalistic sense of humor and a can of Kelly’s Lynn shoe polish manufactured by George J. Kelly, Inc. Anyone remember where Kelly’s plant was located?

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Another question — what is the oldest restaurant in Lynn and are there any bars left that were open pre-Prohibition? Speaking of bars, anyone remember the three-piece band that used to play at Wortman’s?

Thumbing through a 1971 R.L. Polk & Company street guide brings to life the hustle and bustle that must have defined Lewis Street five decades ago when it was lined with all kinds of shops and elegantly-named apartment buildings.

There was Harry’s Bike Shop, Monogram Shoppe embroidery, Ed’s Radio Service, Mel & Murray restaurant, the Lewistania apartments, City Fish market, Beachway Beauty Salon, Lewis Manor, the Copley apartments and, of course, Wortman’s to name a few.

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I like old houses and the stories that go with them and I would like to learn more about the big house on Greystone Park that used to have a two-story bow front porch stretching from one end of the house to the other. The story I heard is that an English actress owned the house and entertained lavishly on the porch with its ocean view.

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Long-time friend Harry Coppola reminded me how during elections in the distant past in Lynn, a crowd congregated outside the old Item building to view election returns jotted down on paper rolls hung in the newspaper’s big windows facing Exchange and Mount Vernon streets.

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Thanks to Larry Donahue for sharing another Nate Dulong memory: “I met Nate when I started driving a cab part time for Tom’s Taxi shortly after my discharge from the Army. He was a great guy and helped me learn the ropes when I broke in there.”

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