Opinion

Jourgensen: The greatest are soon gone

The women veteran’s ceremony, held in the foyer of Lynn City Hall in 2012, payed special attention to veterans, from left, Stella Nall, Navy World War II, Lorrie Landry, Army, Korea, and Marie Muzzioli, Navy, Word War II. (Owen O'Rourke)

How many World War II veterans do you know? When is the last time you talked to them?

I know one. Barbara Folk is a great painter who lives in Vermont with her daughter and who spent part of the war as a member of the WAVES — Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service — a branch of the Navy.

She shouldered the job of serving her country with the same optimistic spirit and energy she brought to every other chapter of her life. She even laughs when she describes how the Navy summarily terminated the WAVES’ service at the end of the war and sent them home with $100.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated Gulfport, Miss., Barbara, her buddy Sally Manning (who was married to the late Bill Manning, a nephew of former Lynn Mayor Frederick Manning) and other veterans relocated to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C.

With its concrete towers and dark hallways, the home was a far cry from the sun-drenched lawn and palm trees in Gulfport. But Barbara and Sally embraced the veterans they met in Washington and refused to look over their shoulder at tragedy and loss and only looked forward to new challenges and adventures.

It’s rare to hear a World War II veteran talk about their service and their experiences. But the passage of time compels the rest of us to talk to veterans and gather as much information as we can about their lives and wartime experiences or else we put ourselves in danger of ignoring history and its lessons.

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I came across a file labeled “Lynn Curfew” in the Daily Item morgue (that’s newspaper talk for library), and I was surprised to learn curfews enjoyed several incarnations, including a 1974 ban on congregating after 10 p.m., and a prolonged curfew battle in the mid-1990s.

The City Council-approved curfew with its fines ranging from $5 to $25 outraged local youth, including one vagrant who scoffed at the ban and promised: “I’ll just go somewhere else and raise hell.”

Drug dealing and shootings on Albany Street in 1991 prompted councilors to adopt a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on the street. The approval came a year after Ward 4 Councilor Richard Colucci proposed a curfew for the neighborhood bound by Mason, Essex and Chestnut streets. That idea triggered questions for city attorneys and the Albany Street curfew stalled out.

Curfews made a reappearance in 1994, this time in sustained debate over a proposed strict ban on businesses opening after 1 a.m. Merchants howled in protest over the proposal. But councilors and then-Mayor Patrick J. McManus came down hard in favor of the idea with the late McManus stating: “There is no reason, period, for youths under 15 to be out on the streets after midnight.”

D-Day for the curfew came on July 28, 1994, and The Item reports police response to the curfew indicated Lynn teens took its seriously and kept off the streets. The state Supreme Judicial Court dealt the Lynn curfew and similar ones in other Massachusetts communities a hard blow in 2009 when the court declared Lowell’s curfew to be unconstitutional and unjust in its efforts to impede freedom of movement. Lynn’s curfew still remains on the books.

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Thank you Bruce Wiley for correcting me on the former bowling alley at Spector Drug. I wrote that the alley was in the drug store’s basement but Wiley said it was next to the drug store with an entrance on Chestnut Street.

“I used to bowl there for 15 cents and Zarex label per string,” said Wiley.

Also thanks to the great John Pace, who cited four former Lynn basement bowling alleys: Casino on Summer Street; the one underneath the West Lynn post office; the one at the former Oxford Club, and the 20th Century on Andrew Street.

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