VOL. 6, NO. 1
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02 | 01907
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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
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
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
senior Kiki de Melo
away from her music
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300 Salem Street, Swampscott, MA 01907
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4 | 01907
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
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
email@example.com 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
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
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
Little big reader
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
BY DANIEL KANE
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
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
This Boston statue commemorates John Glover.
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
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8 | 01907
And the band
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
BY MIKE ALONGI
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
BAND, page 10
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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
happen and get
“We’d love to
to hear about
that, and we’re
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
are patience and
has been tough
have been so
things to learn
and it can be
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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SPRING 2021 | 13
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gave up the
Brandon Martinez, 9, of Salem trains at Alvarez
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
SPRING 2021 | 15
Carley, Misty, 3, and Eddie Alvarez, of Swampscott,
look out from their boxing ring in Salem.
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
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
“We had so many people step up to help
us, and we honestly couldn’t have done all of
BY MIKE ALONGI
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
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
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
BY DANIEL KANE
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
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.
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
SPRING 2021 | 21
BY GUTHRIE SCRIMGEOUR
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
"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
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
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
BY GAYLA CAWLEY
Deb Newman stands in her new
restaurant, The Baker's Daughter
Diner, on Humphrey Street in
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
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
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
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
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
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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
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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26 | 01907
BY ELYSE CARMOSINO
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,”
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
PHOTOS: JULIA HOPKINS
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.
PHOTOS: JULIA HOPKINS
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28 | 01907
The house where history lives
BY ANNE MARIE TOBIN
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
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
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.
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
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
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
BY ELYSE CARMOSINO
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
“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
“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
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
“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
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“It’s considered a specialized
ministery to do interim work,” he
said. “It’s a matter of shepherding a
VILLAGE CHURCH, page 32
The Rev. Jeffrey MacDonald ministered
in Newbury and New Hampshire before
coming to Nahant.
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
Look your best
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“You never get a second
chance to make a
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.
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
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
MacDonald will remain with
Nahant Village Church through at
least April 30. Until then, he looks
forward to continuing his work with a
“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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