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02 | 01907

A publication of Essex Media Group


Edward M. Grant

Chief Executive Officer

Michael H. Shanahan


Edward L. Cahill

John M. Gilberg

Edward M. Grant

Gordon R. Hall

Monica Connell Healey

J. Patrick Norton

Michael H. Shanahan

Chief Financial Officer

William J. Kraft

Chief Operating Officer

James N. Wilson

Community Relations Director

Carolina Trujillo


Susan Conti


Thor Jourgensen

Contributing Editors

Gayla Cawley

Cheryl Charles

Contributing Writers

Mike Alongi

Elyse Carmosino

Gayla Cawley

Daniel Kane

Steve Krause

Guthrie Scrimgeour

Ann Marie Tobin


Spenser Hasak

Julia Hopkins


Sean Casey

Advertising Design

Sean Casey

Edwin Peralta Jr.

Advertising Sales

Ernie Carpenter

Ralph Mitchell

Eric Rondeau

Patricia Whalen


110 Munroe St.,

Lynn, MA 01901

781-593-7700 ext.1234


781-593-7700 ext. 1253



04 What's Up

06 Fun Facts

08 Note by note

12 House Money

14 Hard hitters

18 Write Stuff

A foodie's delight


20 Town slice

23 Bakery way

26 Hope's Anchor

28 History's house

30 Pastor Power


What is it about food anyway? We seem to pay an awful lot of attention to it. I know I do. Maybe it's

because one of the few things we have left as this pandemic careens toward its first anniversary is food.

We have three articles in this month's 01907 devoted to food -- two about the fun of it and one about

the seriousness of it.

We could call this first article "Hello, Newman's." In this case, it's Deb Newman, sister of Jessica, who

is part of the family that ran Newman's Bakery on Humphrey Street since 1966. The bakery is closed, but

Deb has opened "The Baker's Daughter," a meatless diner farther down the street, closer to Marblehead,

than the bakery was.

"I wanted people to see you could eat yummy food and it doesn't have to have meat in it," she says. So

far, the response has been very positive.

Gayla Cawley has the story.

Next we take a peek into an old town standby -- Cindy's Pizza and Subs, another Humphrey Street

eating establishment. Cindy's has been around for more than 40 years, and about the only thing that's

changed is that it's middle school kids now, and not high school students, who patronize it.

"It's been great living and working in town for this long," said Cindy's owner Nunzio Freddo. "You get

to see kids who you saw when they were little, now bringing in their own kids."

Guthrie Scrimgeour has the story.

Now for the serious. When the Anchor Food Pantry was ready to open last year, nobody had any idea

just how vital a place like that would be. But then COVID-19 pandemic swept through the North Shore,

bringing with it business closures and loss of jobs, and all of a sudden, the food bank became a necessity in

the town.

Elyse Carmosino has the story.

Elsewhere, Swampscott resident Carolina Velasquez is encouraging the community to "Adopt a

Grandparent," a national initiative she has joined that aims to bring joy to seniors during the COVID-19


Gayla Cawley has the story.

When town residents Eddie and Carley Alvarez opened the doors to Alvarez Family Boxing back in

late November, it was a culmination of a lifelong dream and a full year’s worth of hard work.

Mike Alongi has the story.

For Swampscott native Douglas Volk, getting his novel, "The Morpheus Conspiracy," from his mind

onto paper was a long process — 39 years long to be exact.

Daniel Kane has the story.

Is Swampscott home to the oldest wooden structure in North America?

The answer is complicated but comes down to this — unless and until the John Humphrey Memorial

House on Paradise Road undergoes a dendrochronology examination, nobody knows the answer.

Anne Marie Tobin has the story.

If you crossed the treacherous intersection of Humphrey Street, Atlantic Avenue and Puritan Road as

a child sometime in the past 40 years, you met Irma Rubin.

Guthrie Scrimgeour has the story.

Also, The Rev. Jeffrey MacDonald is bringing new perspective to Nahant Village Church. Elyse

Carmosino tells how; In the year since the pandemic shutdown, Edi Rovi and the Swampscott band have

had to undergo many adjustments and changers. Mike Alongi explains it; and among some of the town's

fun facts, learn the history of the Gen. Glover House on Salem Street.

The menu is pretty diverse in this issue. Grab yourself something to eat and dig in.


A pandemic can't keep

Swampscott High

senior Kiki de Melo

away from her music




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Pooch pass

What: If your dog is licensed with the

town and has a rabies certificate, you

can get a pooch pass to the dog park.

Where: Go to swampscottma.gov for

registration and five dollar payment


When: The park is located on town land

bordering Swampscott Cemetery off

Essex Street.

Time to vote

What: It's town election time with

eight town-wide office seats and

at least 18 Town Meeting seats in


Where: Visit swampscottma.gov or email

sduplin@swampscottma.gov for more


When: Tuesday, April 27. The last day to

register to vote is Wednesday, April 7.

Show your love

What: For the Love of Swampscott is

always looking for residents interested

in fostering love and enthusiasm for

our community.

Where: Visit fortheloveofswampscott.org

for more information.

When: To suggest activities

or volunteer, email


One with nature

What: The Swampscott Conservancy

is dedicated to helping support the

town in preserving open space and

conservation land.

Where: The group currently holds talks

and webinars on Zoom with organizations

including Salem Sound Watch.

When: For more information, email



What: The Swampscott Public Library

has a big selection of children's and

young adult books.

Where: Go to swampscottlibrary.org

Look for the Wowbrary window and

click on a book cover image to place a

book on hold for borrowing.

When: For more information, email


Target your message

to an affluent audience

Milling around

Madam Clerk

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VOL. 4, NO. 1

Contact us at:



6 | 01907



At one point the beaches of

Swampscott weren't always just a

nice place for the summer. They

actually served as a pound. Back

when farming was commonplace

in town and animals like cows and

horses would regularly venture off the

land, they were impounded (like a car

would be today) along the beaches,

where owners had to pay to bring

them back home.

The facts of



For the love of


The General Glover house

located on Salem Street in Vinnin

Square has been left unkempt

for some time. During the

Revolutionary War the property

belonged to a British Loyalist, but

was confiscated and given to war

hero General John Glover as a

retirement home. In more recent

years, the property eventually

became a restaurant before closing

in the 1990s. Last year, it was

issued a violation notice from the

town of Swampscott for being a

“blighted or unsafe structure.”



Another piece of history is the

Swampscott Cemetery. The town's

only cemetery for more than 160

years, it was established in 1852 as one

of the first acts of the new community.

The original section of the cemetery

is listed on the National Register of

Historic Places. Andrew's Chapel,

located in the center of the cemetery,

has been restored by the Andrew's

Chapel Committee.

Dory days

Many years ago, the Naumkeag

Native Americans fished the

waters along Swampscott's coast

and that tradition grew into

some famous salt cod businesses

throughout the years. The town

even inspired the name of a

traditional fishing boat called the

Swampscott Dory.

This Boston statue commemorates John Glover.


Wet walk

Among the remnants of the town's

fishing days is a set of stairs located

across from St. John's Episcopal

Church on Humphrey Street, which

is only recognizable during the day's

lowest tide.

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8 | 01907

And the band

played on

On March 17, 2020, just one week away

from its annual spring concert with the

jazz and percussion ensemble, Swampscott

High School band members were stunned

to learn that the school was ordered shut

down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was kind of surreal when it

happened at first,” said Edi Rovi, who is

in his sixth year as Swampscott’s band

director. “We actually were talking about

moving the concert up a week so we could

get it in with no worries, but there were

scheduling conflicts that got in the way so

that didn’t happen.”

In the year since, Rovi and the

Swampscott band have had to endure

a litany of changes, adjustments,

disappointments and learning.

The Swampscott High School band

is a typical high school marching band of

31 members, with woodwind, brass and

percussion instruments making up the group

— which Rovi calls “well-balanced” in terms

of the numbers of each instrument type.

There is also a separate jazz and percussion

ensemble, and the band collaborates often

with the Swampscott High chorus.

The band is normally busy for the entire

calendar year. Starting with band camp in

August, a normal year for the musicians

consists of performing at football games

in the fall, visiting the annual University


of Massachusetts Band Day in November,

holding concerts in December, March

and May, performing at the graduation

ceremony and performing at both the Lynn

and Nahant Memorial Day parades.

“Our schedule is usually pretty full for

the entire year,” said Rovi, who teaches

a host of music classes at Swampscott

High including introduction to drums,

introduction to guitar, history of rock,

music technology and many others. “It

was definitely a drastic change for us to go

from always preparing for a performance

to not having anything to look forward to.

But we’ve been able to make the best of it


Naturally, every performance over the

past 11 months has been canceled and the

Swampscott band hasn’t performed for a

live audience in over a year. But that doesn’t

mean they’re not meeting.

Band camp was canceled in August, but

students began meeting again after school

in late October. Rovi meets with his band

members weekly, and the band has adjusted

to not being able to all be in the same place

at once due to safety protocols.

“We started meeting virtually pretty

early on after things were shut down, but

we ran into the fact that performing via

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BAND, continued from page 8

Zoom was really tough due to the quality,”

he said. “Once we were able to start

meeting again after school, we’ve been able

to fit 24 kids at a time in the auditorium

and we have the rest watch via Zoom, and

then we rotate those groups so everyone

gets a little of both.

“It’s definitely been a stressful time

and lesson plans have had to be altered

dramatically,” Rovi added. “You’re just trying

to make each day enjoyable for everyone and

keep all the students engaged every day.”

Despite everything from meeting

together to getting feedback being altered

dramatically by the pandemic, Rovi has seen

great enthusiasm from every one of the band

members. And it looks like things are starting

to have potential for getting back to normal.

While the December concert was

canceled a few months ago, there are talks

about a smaller scale concert in March that

will hopefully be held in the auditorium.

The May concert will hopefully be held

outdoors, with two to three members of

each bandmate’s family allowed to attend.

Football has been approved to start in late

February and the band is in talks with the

principal and athletic director to perform

at games again — although there are

potential issues in terms of cold weather

affecting the instruments.

And as far as the Memorial Day

performances in Lynn and Nahant, Rovi

says that if the parades are happening then

the band will be there.

“We’ve met with the principal and

the consensus is that it would be best for

everyone if we could manage to make this

spring concert

happen and get

things started,”

said Rovi.

“We’d love to

do football

games and

we’re waiting

to hear about

that, and we’re

really hoping

that Memorial

Day will

happen as well.

We know that

a lot can change in a short period of time, so

we’re just staying hopeful.”

According to Rovi, one of the key

reasons that the band has been able to

continue on its path without a single

outbreak has been personal accountability.

“We told everyone from the beginning,

we all have to take this seriously if we want to

remain healthy and start getting things back

to normal,” said Rovi. “They all understand

the responsibility they have and they have

continued to take the proper precautions, and

it’s kept everyone safe this whole time.”

Rovi has also learned a lot about

himself over the course of the year, both

personally and


“The biggest

things I’ve

learned about

are patience and

flexibility,” said

Rovi. “Patience

has been tough

because there

have been so

many new

things to learn

and it can be

frustrating at

times. Even though we’ve had 100 percent

attendance almost every day this year, you still

have to learn to be flexible as kids are dealing

with so many different things in their lives. It’s

truly been a learning experience for everyone.”

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family never

gave up the


Brandon Martinez, 9, of Salem trains at Alvarez

Family Boxing.


SPRING 2021 | 15

Carley, Misty, 3, and Eddie Alvarez, of Swampscott,

look out from their boxing ring in Salem.


When town residents

Eddie and Carley

Alvarez opened the

doors to Alvarez Family

Boxing back in late November, it was a

culmination of a lifelong dream and a full

year’s worth of hard work. And if you ask

them, it was all worth it.

“It’s been a lot of work, but I always

tell people that it took 25 years to get

to this point and we wouldn’t change it

for anything,” said Eddie. “This whole

experience over the past year-plus has

really centered us and made us realize the

importance of your little 'pod' and the

health of those around you.”

“When we made the decision to move

forward, we said that nothing would stand

in our way,” said Carley. “We already had

money saved and we’ve always wanted

this, so there was no looking back once we

decided to go for it.”

But opening their dream business

didn’t come without some pandemic-sized


On the day the Alvarezes were handed

the keys to their new space back in

March 2020, there were rumblings of the

COVID-19 shutdown. One week later, the

entire country shut down for the foreseeable


“It all came down to one question for

me, and that was, ‘would you let a hurricane

stop your dream?’” Eddie said. “We just said

to ourselves that we had to find a way. We

gutted the whole place and worked on it

every day.”

“We had so many people step up to help

us, and we honestly couldn’t have done all of


this without their help,” said Carley. “There

were months where we only had enough to

pay rent, but people still came through to

help us keep pushing forward.”

The Alvarez family, made up of Eddie,

Carley and their three-year old daughter

Misty, moved to Swampscott from

Somerville a little over two years ago. Eddie

and Carley have both been involved in the

fitness industry for more than a decade,

with Eddie working as a boxing trainer and

Carley as a health coach. They had always

wanted to own a gym of their own, but fulltime

jobs and a young family made it feel

like the dream was always just out of reach.

But after the move to Swampscott,

Eddie and Carley decided that the time was


Alvarez Family Boxing, which is located

at 17 Canal St. in Salem, is a smaller space

where the focus is on training in a safe,

family-friendly environment. The small

size makes you feel like you’re training in a

private facility, but the variety of workout

programs and equipment means that there’s

something for everyone.

“There’s something about the feeling of

being in a private gym that motivates you to

work harder, and that’s something that we

strive for,” Eddie said. “It’s an ‘Instagramfriendly’

space and that’s a draw for some

people, but the majority of our clients have

been families with kids. The kids can get

a workout while the parents do their own

thing and vice versa, which is really great.”

One of the biggest draws for Alvarez

Family Boxing is the fact that they don’t use

the typical membership approach that many

other gyms do. Instead of locking customers

in for months or even a year at a time,

Alvarez Family Boxing offers weeks-long

memberships with much more flexibility.

“We’ve both worked at big gyms

and seen what it’s like to try and cancel

memberships and how people get locked

into long-term memberships,” said Carley,

who has previously worked as a fitness

director. “We understand that, especially in

these times, people sometimes need more

flexibility in their lives. That’s what we try to


When the Alvarezes started building

out their space and the gym began to take

form, people walking by on the street began

to take notice. Eddie says that they basically

didn’t need to do any marketing for the

gym because so many people had heard

about it through word-of-mouth. That only

intensified once they opened the doors, as

the “Instagram-friendly” setup of the space

acted as a marketing tool in itself.

“People just walk in off the street to see

what’s going on, and everyone we’ve met is

glad to see that a healthy place where people

can feel comfortable is close by,” Carley said.

And the reception from the community

has been remarkable, as Alvarez Family

Boxing is currently booked to near capacity

for the next two months.

“The reception has been amazing and

off the charts,” Eddie said. “I don’t think we

realized the kind of market that a place like

ours would have, and the support from the

community has been unreal.”

“It’s more than we ever expected,”

Carley said of the reception. “We feel so

ALVAREZ, page 16

16 | 01907

ALVAREZ, continued from page 15

lucky to have all these people that believe in what we’re doing

and support us.”

As far as the future is concerned, the Alvarezes want to

continue to invest in their business so that they can give the best

possible experience to anyone who walks through the door.

“There’s no reason why regular, everyday people can’t have

the same access to fitness that the elite athletes do,” Carley said.

“We want to continue to build and expand training for women

and young girls as well, but we really just want to be a great

family place where everyone can come to get their workout


Alvarez Family Boxing is currently still open by appointment

only, with one-on-one and family boxing sessions available.

Misty Alvarez, 3, of

Swampscott plays with a

children's punching bag

at Alvarez Family Boxing

in Salem.


Eddie Alvarez of Swampscott, owner of Alvarez Family Boxing in Salem, trains with

Chelsea Martinez, 14, of Salem.

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Well worth the wait


For Swampscott native Douglas

Volk, getting his novel, "The Morpheus

Conspiracy," from his mind onto paper was

a long process — 39 years long to be exact.

Throughout those four decades, Volk

wrote whenever he could, all while raising

a family and becoming the chief executive

officer of his Volk Packaging Corporation

in Biddeford, Maine.

"I would take whatever time I had, an

hour here or an hour there, to write," Volk

said. "Sometimes it was during lunchtime

or when the kids were asleep, whenever I

could find time. It just took over.

"When the idea for the story first came

to me, I didn’t know why," Volk added. "I

had never done anything creative. But I

was very focused. I tried to get the creative

out and it was exciting. I had this story in

my head for 10 years. It was all written in

my head. It was something I had to do. If I

didn’t, I felt like I’d be mad at myself."

Flash forward to last year and Volk

had not only completed "The Morpheus

Conspiracy," but its two sequels, "The

Surgeon’s Curse" and "Destiny Returns,"

all three a big hit with readers and critics.

Together they tell the story of the Morpheus

Curse, a paranormal curse that gives a

Vietnam veteran the power to invade other

people’s nightmares with deadly results.

The idea for the horror/thriller trilogy

itself had deep roots in Volk's own

experiences that include growing up in

Swampscott. Volk played on the Big Blue's

golf team and still remembers attending

football games in the freezing cold. Years

later as a young adult he would serve in the

Vietnam War himself.

Volk remembers the time all too well.

From watching Walter Cronkite report on the

war to listening to President Richard Nixon's

false promises of peace at his inauguration,

which Volk himself attended, in 1969.

"There were thousands of protesters

and students," Volk said. "Nixon made

a commitment to ending the war but he

didn’t do that. That struck me and hit hard

for me, I was very upset about the whole

thing. I could’ve stayed home but joined a

reserve unit. It was a growing experience

for me. I wouldn’t want to do it again but it

left a mark on me."

The tragedies of the war kickstart the

entire "Morpheus Trilogy." "The Morpheus

Conspiracy" begins with a Vietnam veteran

named David Collier returning home to

Swampscott, mocked and ridiculed like many

soldiers were at the time, but also carrying

a curse that allows him to invade people's

nightmares, often killing his victims.

The curse itself is actually the curse of

war, Volk says, and it has heavy inspiration

from the post-traumatic stress disorder

that has plagued many veterans. Volk also

spent time in a sleep study lab at Duke

University in order to make his nightmarefueled

story as realistic as possible.

"One of the symptoms of PTSD is

recurring nightmares," Volk said. "They

lose sleep because of it. That gave me

the idea. It was very interesting to study

sleep. This was before the internet. It

was a real challenge. I spent time in the

sleep laboratory and this was before

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and

Accounting Act) so I was able to watch the

doctors monitoring their patients (and) saw

that firsthand."

All that work helped the trilogy — now

available to read on Amazon and Kindle

— become a great success since the first

novel was published in 2018. The response

has been better than Volk himself ever

imagined during all those years of creation.

"It's all really exciting," Volk said.

"I never imagined it would be here from where it was. The whole process, I miss it

in a way. Netflix is looking at the stories right now and a film producer from

Scottsdale has talked about them, but I don't know what will happen with any of

that. Fun things are going on right now wherever it goes."

– Douglas Volk

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Nunzio Freddo, owner of Cindy's Pizza & Subs in

Swampscott, tosses dough as he prepares the first

pizzas of the day.


SPRING 2021 | 21


For more than 40 years, Cindy's Pizza & Subs has been the local

hangout spot for middle school kids, and even during the pandemic,

that hasn't changed.

"It's been great living and working in town for this long," said

Cindy's owner Nunzio Freddo. "You get to see kids who you saw

when they were little, now bringing in their own kids."

"The parents always knew that if they were hanging out at

Cindy's then they were safe," said Freddo. "They would always come

in and ask if the kids were giving me any trouble."

Freddo said that they rarely ever do.

"It's important to lay down the rules," he said.

The rules are simple — be respectful to the guests and pick up

after yourself.

"We say, 'your mom doesn't work here,'" Freddo said.

Even in COVID times, Cindy's status as the spot for local kids

has remained, with business staying strong.

"We were lucky we weren't hit that bad," said Freddo. "In the

beginning it was a little slow, but it picked up as the year went along.

It gets better and better every month."

The toughest part of the pandemic for him has been wearing a

mask all day.

"Especially when you're standing in front of a hot oven," he


Freddo has laid out a new set of rules for his young customers —

stay socially distant and wear a mask.

He thinks that the restaurant's ability to survive during the

pandemic comes from the quality of its products.

Freddo's father had a saying: It doesn't matter where you are — if

you have a good product, people will always find you.

"We've pretty much stuck with that," Freddo said.

The menu has stayed nearly the same over the past 40 years,

which features specialty pizzas, subs, salads, and fried foods.

Freddo has been working at Cindy's since he was in sixth

grade, which was more than 40 years ago when his dad bought the


On Sunday mornings, he and his family would wake up before

the crack of dawn and commute from Somerville to open the

restaurant — which at that point was also a convenience store — at

4:45 a.m. The first thing he did was assemble the Sunday papers,

section by section.

"Back then we sold 300 Sunday papers, so it took a while," said

Freddo. "That was our Sunday morning. It was tough, but as a family

we all just did what we had to do. Growing up in a strict Italian

home, whatever your dad

PIZZA, page 22

22 | 01907

PIZZA, continued from page 21

said, that went."

After the first year of operation,

the family moved into a house in

Swampscott a few blocks away from the

restaurant. He was grateful he could walk

to work. He attended Swampscott Public

Schools and met his wife, who also grew

up in town.

"It was a small community and you

knew everyone," he said. "And working

here, everyone knew you. You couldn't do

Nunzio Freddo, owner of Cindy's Pizza & Subs in Swampscott, puts an Italian cold cuts pizza out for



anything wrong because if you did, they

would tell your dad."

He said he misses the sense of

community that used to come with town

events, which has been lost due to the


"Like anything else though, they're

going to come back," he said. "We just

have to be patient."

Now, Freddo arrives in the restaurant

a little later, at around 7 a.m.

The first thing he does is prepare for

the day, making the sauce and tossing the

dough, an old family recipe. His mother

Anna, who is 77, still comes in to help

prep in the morning.

Then comes the lunch rush, a brief

lull, and the dinner rush. They finally

close up shop at 9 p.m.

It has been a little less active in the

winter months, he said.

During the summer, even in the

pandemic, there is no lull. The restaurant

stays busy all day.

When the weather gets better, Cindy's

plans to set up outdoor seating, and once

again bring the neighborhood kids in

for the classic pizzas, subs and fries they

have been eating for the last 40 years.

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SPRING 2021 | 23

Chip off the old bakery


Deb Newman stands in her new

restaurant, The Baker's Daughter

Diner, on Humphrey Street in



For many in Swampscott, the

Newman name immediately

conjures up images of a

longtime staple in the

community, Newman's Bakery, which

closed its doors this past September.

At the time of its closing, siblings

Bernard and Jessica Newman were

operating the bakery, but it was their

parents, Joe and Bertha Newman, who

started the family business in 1966.

Seeking retirement, Bernard and

Jessica decided it was finally time to close

the long-running bakery last year, but

another sibling, Deb Newman has been

working to keep the family legacy alive.

Two months after Newman's Bakery

closed, Deb Newman opened up a food

establishment of her own, aptly named

The Baker's Daughter Diner. Her sister,

Jessica, is even involved, working in

customer service at the front counter.

However, while Newman learned the

trade from growing up, and also working,

in her parents' bakery, which they bought

when she was only 10 years old, she is

quick to differentiate between the two


"My place is not Newman's Bakery,

the second," she said. "It's different."

Along with operating in an entirely

different location on Humphrey Street,

Deb runs a diner rather than a bakery,

and one that also has a much different

type of menu.

The Baker's Daughter, located at 646

Humphrey St. in Humphrey Plaza, is a

meatless diner, borne out of Newman's

desire to provide great-tasting vegetarian

food, unlike the bland options the selfprofessed

finicky eater has had to deal

with in the past.

"The reason I wanted to open up a

meatless diner and bakery was because

I'm a big animal advocate," said

Newman. "I wanted people to see you

could eat yummy food and it doesn't

have to have meat in it. I have to say the

response has been great, even from meat


BAKERY, page 24

24 | 01907

BAKERY, continued from page 23

Although Newman, 65, said she has

always been an animal advocate, she

did not decide to become a vegetarian

until her time in law school, when she

began to read about animal law and the

brutality of factory farming.

"I decided, why am I even eating

meat?" she said. "I thought to myself, if

I really had my consciousness raised, I

would have been a vegetarian long ago.

I do aspire to become a vegan. That's

something I hope to do also."

On the diner's website, Newman

describes her meatless dishes as "comfort

food you'll crave. No more blah. No

lowered expectations. Just yummy stuff

made from scratch — appetizers through

dessert," the website said.

For a diner that operates from 7

a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, aside from

Monday when it's closed, and from 7

a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends, what that

boils down to is a lot of egg dishes,

including a variety of omelettes and

breakfast sandwiches, Newman said.

"People love the bread pudding that I

make," she said. "There's a lot of savory

things too. The menu is quite extensive

actually for a meatless place so I think

The Baker's Daughter Diner owner Deb Newman plans to offer an extensive menu.

people are surprised at all of the options

there without meat and it tastes good."

Deb has also kept a bit of Newman's

Bakery alive in Baker's Daughter, noting

that she couldn't help herself from

making baked goods, some of which are


made from recipes that would be familiar

to longtime Newman's customers.

"I have a whole case of baked goods,"

she said. "Some of them are recipes from

my father, so people are happy about that."

While Newman said the response


SPRING 2021 | 25

from the community has been great so

far, she is unsure if her business will

survive given the hardship brought on by

the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baker's Daughter was only open for

four months before she had to shut it

down entirely in late December, as it

became too cold for people to sit outside

Humphrey Street has a new meatless restaurant owned by a familiar face.

and eat. Even when the diner was open,

Newman was not able to open up the

actual indoor dining area. Patrons either

ate outside or got takeout, she said.

"I thought it would make more sense

financially just to pay my rent rather

than hope that people come in," said

Newman. "Wintertime is typically less


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busy for all food businesses, plus I think

with the pandemic, people are staying in

more and cooking for themselves more.

Until it warms up a bit, I think I'll just

stay closed."

At the time of publication, Newman

was hoping to reopen in early March,

but had some doubts about the future of

Baker's Daughter. However, unlike others

at her age who have opted for retirement,

Newman, who is also active on town

boards and committees and with her

animal advocacy, plans to keep working,

even if it means starting something new.

"I like to have something to do,"

she said. "I know it sounds ridiculous. I

wanted to have a meatless diner. I had

been thinking about it for a few years.

I guess I just thought it would be fun.

With everything that's happened with

the pandemic, it may not last which is

unfortunate, but I'll find something else

to do. I need to be doing something.

"I don't understand how people retire at

my age and just sit around and do nothing.

I'm very healthy and feel quite youthful

and also my parents both lived into their

90s and I probably will too. What am I

going to do all day? Watch TV?"

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When a small group of Swampscott

community members decided in 2019 to

open a food bank, they had no idea how

soon or how desperately their services

would be needed.

Just days before the new pantry was

set to open its doors in March 2020, the

COVID-19 pandemic swept through

the North Shore, shutting down nearly

every aspect of everyday life and bringing

with it a wave of job losses that caused

communities everywhere to fear the worst.

“Friday, March 13 was our last day in

school,” said teacher Laura Spathanas, a

former member of the Swampscott Select

Board and one of a group of individuals

who helped found what’s now known as

the Anchor Food Pantry. “That Monday,

March 16, we were up and running.

“We opened our Facebook page and

started getting funds, then we went to the

store and bought enough food at that point

to make 40 bags of groceries.”

Currently located at the Swampscott

Senior Center inside Swampscott High

School, the food bank is actually an

iteration of the town’s Interfaith Food

Pantry, which was originally run by a group

of four to six local churches.

For nearly two decades, the involved

parishes rotated duties, providing monthly

food donations to approximately 30 to 35

seniors and families.

Then in the late summer of 2019,

Spathanas and several others received some


“Those churches reached out to a couple of

community members, one of them being an

employee at the Swampscott Senior Center, to

say they couldn’t really sustain what they were

doing but wanting to know if we had any ideas

for how we could continue doing what they

were doing in a different way,” Spathanas said.

“That’s when I got involved.”

Senior Center representative Gina Bush

reached out to For the Love of Swampscott

president Diane O’Brien for help, and

O’Brien went on to recruit Spathanas.

Unaware of what lay in store, the group

quickly went to work.

“The three of us met continually with

the churches after that to answer (the

question) ‘how can we help these

families and even make it bigger? How

can we make it a whole community

pantry?’ We talked for several months

and eventually came up with the

concept for the Anchor Food Pantry,”

Spathanas said.

After researching Swampscott’s

specific food needs, the three women

created the pantry’s mission statement

and found a temporary location in a

central part of town.

A board of directors was then

appointed, and the pantry finally held

its first board meeting in February


Then the pandemic hit.

“At the time we thought, ‘oh this

is a two-week shutdown. We’ll do

what we can (to get food to families),’”

Spathanas said. “Then things kept

rapidly changing and we had to just

keep plugging along.”

Even before the pandemic, food

insecurity had been a growing issue in


According to the Massachusetts

Department of Elementary and

Secondary Education, 16 percent of

Swampscott students identified as

economically challenged during the

2019-2020 school year — an alarming

uptick compared to just 4 percent in

2004 and 8 percent in 2009.

Spathanas also noted that, according

to data included in the Swampscott

2025 Master Plan — which was

adopted in 2016 — approximately one

quarter of Swampscott households

qualify as low-income and earn less

than 80 percent of the Area Median

Income, making them eligible for

housing assistance through most state

and federal programs.

The need is just as pressing in the

community’s senior households, with

Spathanas adding that according to a

survey conducted by the Swampscott

for All Ages (SfAA) Needs Assessment

Report in October 2019, 22 percent of

respondents aged 65 and older reported

a median area income of less than

$25,000 per year.

For many involved in the pantry,

those numbers aren’t surprising.

“When we did the research, the

number of students coming from

families below the poverty level was

higher than what I think people expect

for Swampscott,” Spathanas said. “But

the teachers said, ‘we know. We’re

TOP: Laura Spathanas helped found Anchor Food

Pantry, located in the Senior Center.

MIDDLE: Anchor Food Pantry board member Kayla

LeClerc helps feed 50 households every month.

BOTTOM: From left, Kayla LeClerc, Susan Cripps, and

Laura Spanthanas said hunger in Swampscott is a



SPRING 2021 | 27

leaving food in their lockers. We’re making

sure we have snacks in our drawer. We’re

making sure they have food throughout the

day and over the weekend.’"

“People say, ‘why do you have to do this in

Swampscott?’ It’s because this is the reality.”

Since last spring, however, the Anchor

Food Pantry has managed to help mitigate

some community need by providing services

to an average of 50 households each month.

The frequency of each family’s visits is

based primarily on individual needs, with

some coming every week, some every other

week, and some once a month.

Spathanas added that although the

pantry is currently focusing on keeping up

with demand, the board eventually hopes to

expand its services by providing families with

the necessary tools to get back on their feet.

“It’s definitely been a reactionary time,

trying to get families what they need, but

eventually we want to try to provide other

things,” she said. “As amazing as it’s been

opening this pantry, we want them to, at

some point, no longer need to come.”

The Anchor Food Pantry is open on

Monday mornings and Wednesday evenings.

Those interested in providing monetary

donations can make checks out to Anchor

Food Pantry at 43 Berkshire St., Swampscott.

Due to an upcoming change in location,

the pantry is not currently accepting

food or item donations unless otherwise

specified on the Anchor Food Pantry

Facebook page or website.

When reflecting on why she felt called on

to assist with the pantry, Spathanas — who

referred to the outpouring of community

support for the pantry over the last year as

“amazing” — recalled the help she received

from family during her own difficult times.

“Growing up I never needed to visit a

food pantry, but when I was young and out

of college and starting a job, I went every

weekend to my mother’s food pantry. I went

through her cabinets. I did my laundry there.

If I didn’t have her, I would have struggled,”

she said. “Right now, this particular year has

been really hard on so many people, so we try

to make it like that — like a family.”

Laura Spathanas, president of Anchor Food Pantry, unloads donations brought by Jeff Gunther of

Swampscott from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynnfood drive.


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28 | 01907

The house where history lives


Is Swampscott home to the oldest

wooden structure in North America?

The answer is complicated but comes

down to this — unless and until the John

Humphrey Memorial House on Paradise

Road undergoes a dendrochronology

examination, nobody knows the answer.

What is known is that the home was

built shortly after Sir John Humphrey

arrived in America in 1634 with his

wife, Lady Susan, and their children

from Dorchester, England. Landing in

Salem Harbor, the ship was loaded with

ammunition, heifers and the bricks, oak

beams and other products believed to have

been used to build the home.

A wealthy barrister and member of the

Massachusetts Bay Company, Humphrey

was the first deputy governor of the

Massachusetts Bay Colony, serving under

Gov. John Winthrop. Humphrey had

received a land grant from King Charles I

containing 1,500 acres in Swampscott.

"The only way to determine the true

age of a structure is dendrochronology,"

said Swampscott Historical Society (SHS)

President Molly Conner. "Without that, we

cannot know for sure. We know that it was

built by the earliest colonists who settled

here, so it is a First Period house. It's a socalled

memorial house because we can't say

for sure if it dates back to 1637, but we do

think it was built by John Humphrey as he

brought framing and brick from England.

Until we have information that can only

be obtained through dendrochronology, we

don't know if this is one of the oldest, or

the oldest wood-framed houses in North


Dendrochronology is a scientific

process in which core samples of wood

collected from the structure are analyzed

to determine the age of the wood, thereby

narrowing down the date the structure

was likely constructed. The process is more

commonly used to determine the age of

trees through the examination of tree rings.

Conner said there are only two

businesses left in the eastern United States

in the dendrochronology business, one of

which has a vast reservoir of wood samples

from England with timbers dating back to

the 17th century.

Conner said an English historian found

that the house has many features that are

very similar to the Fairbanks Home in

Dedham, which was built between 1637

and 1641. Fairbanks Home is considered

the oldest house of timber-frame

construction in North America as verified

by dendrochronology.

Conner said the Humphrey family lived

in the house for only a few years before

Humphrey went off to the Caribbean and the

home was sold to Lady Deborah Moody in


"She was one of the first women

landowners in the New World," Conner


For the past 100 years, the house has

served as the home of the society, which

purchased the home in 1921 with the help

of public donations.

The home was originally located on

what is now Elmwood Road. The structure

was moved in 1891 to its current location

on Paradise Road to make room for a

development designed by famed architect

Frederick Law Olmstead. The original

chimney, measuring 14 feet by 16 feet was

left behind.

There have been 11 owners of the home, the

current one being the Swampscott Historical

Society which purchased the home 100 years

ago with the help of public donations.

"If you drive around town you will notice

their names in street names and beach

names," Conner said. "Burrill Street (John

Burrill, Sr. and Honorable Eberneser Burrill),

Mudge Street (Hon. E. Redington Mudge)

and King's Beach was named after the third

owner, Daniel King," Conner said.

The home has many fascinating features

The Sir John Humphrey Memorial House

on Paradise Road in Swampscott is

thought to be one of the oldest

wood-timber buildings in North America.


SPRING 2021 | 29

and interesting details including original

floorboards, a secret passageway and

hand-decorated beams and paneling.

The home contains an archive of

memorabilia and historic photographs,

documents and artifacts collected that

document and preserve Swampscott's


The first floor contains a parlor

furnished with donated items from the

Victorian period. In the kitchen, the

pantry area was the original fireplace,

with a small narrow passage to the main

chimney of the house. The framing

and handrail of the main staircase are

believed to date to the mid-17th century.

The kitchen stairs and the upper

rail hall have wide boards called "king's

boards" because the Massachusetts

Colony was required to keep all wide

timber for the king's fleet. The ceiling

beams are original white oak with

wooden pegs.

The second floor has a museum

room that displays a collection of

artifacts and items donated to the SHS

over the years. Many of the beams

across the ceiling were decorated by

Native Americans in the early 1700s,

said Conner. A panel has been removed

from the wall to expose handmade

bricks and mortar mixed with seaweed.

The third floor has a child's room

and storage area, both with wide

floorboards and original white oak

beams. The set includes a settee, chair,

rocking chair and table. All are handcaned

with seats woven from rush with

geometric designs that give a threedimensional


Swampscott Public Library Assistant

Director Susan Conner (no relation) said the

house is a "really key element in Swampscott

history, which after becoming the home of

the Swampscott Historical Society, has had

a long and interesting existence."

Before the pandemic hit last year,

Humphrey House opened its doors

to the public every year on the Fourth

of July and also hosted society events

in September. The society's annual

members' spring garden party was also

held there. Prior to the pandemic, the

annual (and popular) third-grade field

trip was held at Humphrey House.

"We've always had trouble finding

volunteers to stay open, so we are

limited," said Conner. "But we have had

private group events at times and also the

school tours, which we hope maybe will

resume this spring. When you tour the

house, you definitely step back in time."

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30 | 01907

Faith has a new voice in town


The Rev. Jeffrey MacDonald

is bringing new perspective

to Nahant Village Church.

As the congregation’s

interim pastor and consultant,

MacDonald, who began his tenure in

January, has experienced a somewhat

unusual career trajectory.

The Marblehead native spent his first

few years after graduating from Brown

University as a news reporter, completing

an internship at The Salem News before

eventually moving on to a bigger

newspaper gig in North Carolina.

After spending a total of four years

working full-time in the industry — a

foray he described as a “great experience”

— MacDonald said he wanted to explore

different avenues, ultimately deciding to

pursue a new role in the church.

He went on to enroll in Yale Divinity

School, although at the time, he was

unsure of what exactly his next steps

would be.

“Reporters are interested in truth,

and so are people who study the Bible

and ask the big questions about life. It

was sort of the next stage of my truthseeking,

I think,” he said of his divinity

school experience. “It sort of crystalized

for me while I was there that I could

continue to do journalism and I could be

ordained and serve the church.

“I could do both. I could write about

the truth with a lowercase ‘t’ and the

truth with a capital ‘t’ depending on

which day of the week it is.”

Since then, MacDonald has split his

time between journalism and the church,

managing to find fulfillment in both.

“It’s evolved over time, what I do. It’s

been an interesting journey,” he said as

he recalled his first post-divinity school

journalism appointment on Plum Island

in Newburyport.

“I was getting assignments from

editors I had never met or spoken to who

were emailing me while I was there,”

SPRING 2021 | 31

he said. “It was kind of a novelty at the

time, getting assignments from people

you didn’t talk to. I was just out there

on Plum Island, which felt like the

end of the world, carving out my own

news bureau and serving at a great little


“I was like, 'wow, this is a pretty cool

life I’ve made for myself.' It was very

meaningful work on both sides.”

Since being ordained in 2000,

MacDonald has had ample

opportunity to cover both religion

and hard news, and his unusual

career path has provided him a

front row seat to some of the most

historic breaking news events of the

21st century.

He’s reported on the 9/11

terrorist attacks and the Sandy

Hook Elementary School shooting,

and as a freelance writer for USA

Today, he reported on the Whitey

Bulger trial in 2013, and the

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial in 2015.

Rather than shying away from

part-time reporters, MacDonald

said news outlets often see value

in hiring writers with diverse

professional backgrounds.

“They recognize that having

someone with pastoral training

doesn’t hurt on certain stories,” he

said. “It can help bring a certain ear

and certain sensibility to certain

types of stories, including those

that involve tragedy.”

He added that the skills he

employs as a journalist also play a

strong role in how he conducts his


“It affects the way I do ministry,

too. Different pastors have different

styles, and I think a lot of my style

involves asking questions. Asking

questions of the scriptures and

questions of the parishioners that

help bring out what’s there inside,”

he said. “There’s so much richness

in the Bible and there’s so much

richness in our congregations. The

stories people have to tell and the

wisdom they have to share doesn’t

always reach the surface unless it’s

drawn out through questions. I

feel like I’m using tools from my

journalism toolbox frequently in


MacDonald most recently

served at First Parish Church in

Newbury from 2013 until this past

October, when he left to become

an interim pastor at a United Church of

Christ in Kensington, N.H.

Then late last year, he learned from

his area minister that Nahant was also

looking for an interim pastor after saying

goodbye to former full-time pastor, the

Rev. Megan Snell last year.

After completing a series of

interviews to determine whether it

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would be a good fit, the church made the

decision to hire MacDonald for a fourmonth

contract with the option to extend

as needed.

“It’s considered a specialized

ministery to do interim work,” he

said. “It’s a matter of shepherding a


The Rev. Jeffrey MacDonald ministered

in Newbury and New Hampshire before

coming to Nahant.


Look your best

online and in person

“You never get a second

chance to make a

first impression.”

32 | 01907

VILLAGE CHURCH, continued from page 31

congregation from their prior pastor to

the new one.”

Inspired by his experience of

balancing two careers, MacDonald also

Rev. Jeffery MacDonald will remain

Nahant Village Church pastor through at

least April 30.


published his latest book, “Part Time

is Plenty: Thriving without Full-Time

Clergy,” in 2020.

His book explores the changing face

of traditional worship by recounting

his experience working with nearly two

dozen churches across the United States

that function without a full-time staff.

Approximately 43 percent of mainline

Protestant churches currently have no

full-time clergy, and that number

continues to grow, according to


“I wanted to learn from churches

that have done really well with clergy

who are not full-time and in the office

all week designing programs. That’s

the type of church that I’ve always

served and I know anecdotally that

some churches have done extremely

well with it,” MacDonald said. “I

wanted to learn more about what’s

happening in the churches that are

growing and thriving, doing impactful

mission, even when they don’t have

full-time staff.”

MacDonald will remain with

Nahant Village Church through at

least April 30. Until then, he looks

forward to continuing his work with a

new congregation.

“I love to see people in

congregations grow together, flourish

together,” he said. “The process (of

looking for a replacement) helps a

church reconnect with its roots and

its mission. Churches evolve, and

you really want to crystalize what

people are passionately perceiving is

their mission and their calling at this


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