Opinion

Jourgensen: Let the lights shine and the music play

I love this story an informed source told me about the speakers on top of the old Item building playing Christmas music on Thursday nights during the holiday season to promote shopping on Union Street. It’s fun to think of “Jingle Bells” echoing across Central Square while people hustle and bustle beneath the neon signs.

It’s become fashionable for the humbuggers among us to bemoan the gradual transformation of the year’s last two months into one mega-holiday season with Halloween candy and costume displays giving way in a matter of a day or two to Christmas ornament and decoration displays.

So what if people put up holiday decorations weeks before Thanksgiving? If the lights and Santa and all the other trappings make someone happy, put ’em up.

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The chord I hit when I wrote a week ago about Kelly’s Lynn Shoe Polish is still reverberating thanks to shared memories and factoids offered by Daniel White, Pat Lee, Dave Solimine and the esteemed Tom Costin, who recalled a spousal connection to the George J. Kelly company and who noted how the late Jim Spinney of Nahant, the firm’s owner, was a standout English High School hockey player.

The consensus is that Kelly’s was located on Sanderson Avenue, although White claims the firm had a Summer and Linden streets address complete with a water tower topped by a sign that read, “Kelly is King.”

“My father grew up on Linden Street and used to tell the story of how kids would climb the tower and when the cops would come to chase them away they would unscrew the light bulbs and pepper the cops.”

Leave it to East and West Lynners to rise and dispute the geographic location of a business.

White also inquired if anyone recalls taking the train on “the Saugus branch to Boston.” He said the route included a Western Avenue stop next to Scanlon Coal and “Raddin” station stop on Summer Street.

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It was great hearing from Gary Robinson, a downtown business staple whose legacy continues at Lewis of Lynn Signs. He recalled how his father, Harvey Robinson, at the age of 4 watched the Lynn tercentenary parade on July 1, 1929, that included thousands of local schoolchildren.

Robinson the Younger says he has a photograph of his father dressed up with his siblings for the occasion.

The parade and ton of other great snippets of Lynn lore are contained in “History Stories of Lynn” written by school children almost 90 years ago. The kids chronicled a cavalcade of great moments in the city’s history spanning ” …Norsemen coming to our shores (…) Indian life on Sagamore Hill (…) John Humphrey’s windmill… “

I look forward to delving into the book in future columns and sharing its details for no less a contributor than Jan LeColst who beseeched me to find out where copies of the tome might be found. Surely the School Department archives contain a copy or two and there must be a few tucked away in school libraries. Rest assured, Jan, we will dig deep into “History Stories” for a few gems from yesteryear.

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I always enjoy history’s ironies and contrasts. Lynn’s first library, according to an interesting account provided by Chief Librarian Theresa Hurley, was the First Social Library established in 1815. Modeled on one founded by Ben Franklin, it was owned and operated by shareholders and to borrow a book, you paid a share.

Flash forward to today and great efforts by a number of local institutions and individuals to gather books and donate them free to the city’s young residents just starting on a lifetime of literary enjoyment. Keep reading.

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