The road from Lynn to Florida is a lot shorter than it looks on a map. Just ask Mei Clark, who lives in Florida but didn’t need much coaxing to wax nostalgic about bygone Lynn cuisine, including Christie’s and Bennie’s. Mei fondly recalled the generous haddock sandwiches and strawberry shakes at Christie’s (I always liked the pistachio shakes) and the pizzas at Bennie’s as well as the Lido.
“I can taste the pizza and feel that famous oil dripping down my chin!” Clark wrote.
I love any and all references to veterans sent my way, so thanks to city Veterans Services Director Mike Sweeney for familiarizing me with Leo E.A. Gagne, who Sweeney identified as the first Lynn casualty in World War II and uncle of retired Lynn Police Officer Robert LeBlanc.
The great late Fred Goddard, in a thorough article marking the 25th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor surprise attack, recounted how Gagne was a 24-year-old private on Dec. 7, 1941, and stationed at Hickam Field at Pearl Harbor when the attack commenced.
Goddard wrote how “…one of the most widely-attended Masses in the history of the city was held for the fallen hero at (the former) St. Jean Baptiste Church.”
Gagne was buried in the American Cemetery at Hickam Field and the junction of Western Avenue and Franklin Street was named in his honor.
Typical of Goddard’s reporting, the anniversary recounting of the attack is packed with detail, including excerpts from an account of the attack compiled by Thomas J. Stockett who served on the destroyer USS Dale, and recollections by locals including Albert Woodworth, Albert W. Lalime, William T. White and John Trainor.
My much more modest reporting on Dec. 7 last week inspired an email from Mary Purifoy, who recalled how her father served on the USS Utah, the so-called “forgotten ship.” I appreciate her contribution and her father’s service.
Bob Costello from Blakeley Street generously shared his memories of the Lynn Convalescent Home on Tower Hill and the days of pickup football games in the late 1960s when “Poor Farm League” players from Veterans Village and other nearby neighborhoods played on the grass behind Tower Hill fire station while home residents sat outside and watched.
It’s a rule of thumb in the news business that some of the best stories people tell you are the ones they remember after a pre-scheduled interview. Attorney Wayne Budd talked last week about how the late George H.W. Bush named him U.S. attorney and associate attorney general. He called back to recollect the day he was invited to a White House photo opportunity.
“I got a message to report at 7:45 a.m. to the Oval Office. I get to the White House at 7:30 a.m. and as soon as I give my name they said, ‘You’re supposed to be here at 7:30.'”
Presidential aides hustled Budd through security and the late president was characteristically gracious about the mixup.
“He kind of laughed and said, ‘Don’t worry about that,'” Budd recalled.