Jourgensen: Dr. Doolittle would be proud

Essex Media Group Controller Susan Conti wears many hats and she added another one to her collection last Saturday when she was thrust into the role of appointed savior to fine feathered friends.

Conti and her family live off Parkland Avenue with woodland backing up to their property. A duck family lives on the Conti property and even enjoyed the family pool up until Saturday when nature showed its unforgiving face in the form of a hawk that swooped into the bushes where the duck family lived.

Sadly, mother duck did not survive the attack. But Conti rescued two ducklings and mobilized her husband and children to help care for them. The pair have yet to be officially named so consider this column a formal invitation for readers to select monikers for these two small stalwarts.

This seems to be Animal Week in Lynn and surrounding environs with last Saturday’s Police Department ceremony naming an ex-race horse “Lynn Strong” in honor of the department and, specifically, Trooper George L. Hanna Award for bravery recipients Officers John Bernard, Matthew Coppinger, Joshua Hilton, Michael McEachern and Josh Seaman.

The seven-year-old horse will join the U.S. Park Police Mounted Units patrolling National Park Service sites in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the nonprofit, The Horses (and) Heroes Foundation, Lynn Strong received a year’s worth of training in preparation for a new career.

Speaking of race horses, it’s hoping against hope to imagine Suffolk Downs scheduling new live racing dates after the end of this month. The track was built for horse racing, and racing and betting became an important facet of life in Revere, not to mention an income source and point of pride for generations of employees associated with the track.

The end of racing means the end of a romantic time when horses and their human attendants crisscrossed the country, stopping in one track after another.

Tracks were a great societal leveler with the rich and the hoping-to-get-rich all cheering on the horses. Turf writers waxed eloquent about nags and jockeys, and stablehands knew the real story about each horse from day to day.

If Suffolk has seen its last days, then it’s hard to define how a  mega-development at Suffolk Downs is going represent progress at the expenses of a bygone romantic era.


Thanks so much to Steve Roth and Arnold Koch Jr. for sharing moon landing history with me on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

It’s amazing to have lived through the 1960s and 1970s and to remember the “space race.”

During a time when information was limited to books, nightly television news, radio and newspapers, the moon launches and epic journeys across 250,000 miles of space and back were framed and orchestrated. It is no surprise a few crazies thought the moon landings were staged on some NASA back lot.

At a time when we were immersed in a war in Southeast Asia and another on America’s big city streets, the push to send people to the moon never faltered. Seemingly huge setbacks like John F. Kennedy’s death and the deaths of the first Apollo crew seemed to redouble the drive to achieve the goal of planting an American flag on the lunar soil.

The space program was like a tightrope walk without a net below the walker.

There was no way to rescue the astronauts if they got stuck on the moon. No one was even 100 percent sure what would happen when a spaceship landed on the moon.

The space program captured American attention even while seeming to be detached in many ways from American life in the 1960s and ’70s. The women’s movement and civil rights movement put African Americans and women on the front pages. But white men were the face of the space race.

Everything has changed in 50 years. But the enduring image of the moon missions for me is Apollo 8 with Frank Borman’s Christmas message from the command module and the first photo of the earth looking lonely but incredibly beautiful in the black infinity of space.

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