01945 Summer 2021

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INSIDE<br />

Setting sail X Parade time X Town counter<br />

Bank<br />

on it<br />

SUMMER <strong>2021</strong> X VOL. 4 ISSUE 2

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A publication of Essex Media Group<br />

Publisher<br />

Edward M. Grant<br />

Chief Executive Officer<br />

Michael H. Shanahan<br />

Directors<br />

Edward L. Cahill<br />

John M. Gilberg<br />

Edward M. Grant<br />

Gordon R. Hall<br />

Monica Connell Healey<br />

J. Patrick Norton<br />

Michael H. Shanahan<br />

Chief Financial Officer<br />

William J. Kraft<br />

Chief Operating Officer<br />

James N. Wilson<br />

Controller<br />

Susan Conti<br />

Editor<br />

Thor Jourgensen<br />

Contributing Editors<br />

Gayla Cawley<br />

Sophie Yarin<br />

Writers<br />

Mike Alongi<br />

Bill Brotherton<br />

Allysha Dunnigan<br />

Daniel Kane<br />

Steve Krause<br />

Tréa Lavery<br />

Sam Minton<br />

Photographers<br />

Spenser Hasak<br />

Julia Hopkins<br />

Advertising Sales<br />

Ernie Carpenter<br />

Ralph Mitchell<br />

Patricia Whalen<br />

Design<br />

Amanda Lunn<br />

Edwin Peralta Jr.<br />

INSIDE<br />

04 What's Up<br />

06 Preppy Stitch<br />

12 House Money<br />

14 Setting sail<br />

18 Bank on it<br />

23 Author Author<br />

24 Town counter<br />

26 A story told<br />

30 Parade time<br />

32 Cutting edge<br />

35 Past tense<br />

36 Step in time<br />

38 Hope class<br />


110 Munroe St.,<br />

Lynn, MA 01901<br />

781-593-7700 ext.1234<br />

Subscriptions:<br />

781-593-7700 ext. 1253<br />

01907themagazine.com<br />



An ode to the cheeseburger<br />

I would consider myself an expert in few things. Very few. In fact, other than clothes (I’m a Ralph Lauren<br />

Purple Label, Brioni and, on occasion, Kiton guy), my only other expertise might be cheeseburgers.<br />

I minor in cookies and peanut M&Ms and ice cream (man, I miss Coffey’s). But I major in pizza and<br />

Mexican and I’ve all but made it my life’s mission to find the ultimate cheeseburger.<br />

So God has been good to me. He led me to Marblehead — home of Marblehead House of Pizza and<br />

Howling Wolf and 5 Corners Kitchen. And home of me.<br />

I’m told all Houses of Pizza are essentially the same — Greek style, as opposed to Italian — but I think<br />

Marblehead House of Pizza is the best. And Wolf ’s steak chimichanga with refried beans is the greatest<br />

Mexican since Salma Hayek.<br />

Then there is the cheeseburger at 5 Corners. The best on planet Earth. Or so says me.<br />

My relationship with the cheeseburger had a rocky beginning. My mother was not exactly a cooking<br />

savant. The first time she made a cheeseburger for me it actually came out of the oven — don’t ask — on<br />

fire. Flames. I’m still sort of surprised she didn’t burn down the kitchen, if not the house. Her subsequent<br />

attempts were less memorable, but sufficient.<br />

Thus began my quest.<br />

Its earliest stages included a place on the Lynnway — called Burger Boy, maybe? — and my introduction<br />

to McDonald’s came compliments of my cousin Bill, whom I’d visit each summer in Manchester, N.H. He<br />

took me to one there, on Elm Street, and an obsession was born.<br />

I spend a fair amount of time in Manhattan (New York, not Kansas), and have sampled dozens and<br />

dozens — from low end, such as Big Nick’s Burger Joint on the West Side and Whitman’s on the Lower<br />

East, to high end, $40 burgers at Gramercy Tavern, Peter Luger, Minetta Tavern, Tribeca Grill, Union<br />

Square Cafe, and the like.<br />

Boston was always represented. Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons. Abe & Louie’s. Grill 23. Joe’s. jm<br />

Curley. I thought the best was at Bouchee on Newbury Street, but that’s no longer with us.<br />

Obviously, I’ve given this search my best effort. But my current favorite (I say current because I am fickle)<br />

is at 5 Corners.<br />

What does this have to do with this edition of <strong>01945</strong>? Well, nothing. But I thought you should know<br />

there is burger greatness in our midst.<br />

So what is in this edition of <strong>01945</strong>? I’m glad you asked.<br />

Danielle Rogers has a history of creating designs and artistic elements. Now she has taken to<br />

monogramming. The Preppy Stitch — has there ever been a more Marbleheady name? — is her latest<br />

venture. Allysha Dunnigan has the story.<br />

We've had drones on land and drones in the air. Now we have drones on the ocean. And that's thanks to<br />

SeaTrac of Marblehead, whose prototype drone vessel promises to do all the work at sea that many find<br />

unattractive. Steve Krause has the story.<br />

Last month, at the Marblehead town election, a familiar face kept tabs on the results in an old-fashioned<br />

way — via the whiteboard. Sam Minton profiles Carl Siegal.<br />

You're never too young to write. Cate Cole, 11, proved that earlier this year, winning an award for her<br />

one-page fiction piece on a lone wolf trying to escape a forest fire. Krause again has the story.<br />

And speaking of writing, do you think it's easy writing a book these days? Think again. Kate Anslinger<br />

has written four books in a mystery series — six overall — and publishes them herself. It involves a lot of<br />

time and money. Again, Krause has the story.<br />

Elsewhere, singer Melina Laganas, who just graduated from Marblehead High, will get to refine her skills<br />

this fall at Berklee School of Music in Boston — on full scholarship, no less. Bill Brotherton has the story.<br />

It may not be a well-known fact, but slavery was a part of Marblehead in the years leading up to the U.S.<br />

Civil War. Sam Minton again has the story.<br />

Since golf is near and dear to a lot of hearts in town, we have this one for you: Brad and Roger Tufts have<br />

played a lot of golf together over the years, but the brothers shared a first this June. It was their first time<br />

competing in the Mass Open. Mike Alongi has the story.<br />

And then there’s the cover story. The National Grand Bank is 190 years old and has always been stable,<br />

conventional, and predictable — exactly what one would want in a bank. Mike Shanahan profiles the bank<br />

president and offers an overview of the bank itself.<br />

Plenty to digest.<br />

COVER National Grand Bank CEO Jim Nye stands with the bank's 1951 Chevrolet 3100. PHOTO By Spenser Hasak<br />

02 | <strong>01945</strong>

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WHAT'S UP<br />

Mapping Marblehead<br />

What: Interactive maps and displays<br />

present the town's history in a way that can<br />

be enjoyed by all.<br />

Where: Old Town House, 1 Market Square<br />

When: Thursdays, 1-7 p.m; Fridays, 1-4 p.m.;<br />

Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sundays, 1-4<br />

p.m. through October.<br />

Wedded bliss<br />

What: Chandler Hovey, Castle Rock and<br />

Crocker Park can be booked for weddings.<br />

Where: Call the town Recreation and Parks<br />

office, 781-631-3350, to find out if desired<br />

date and location are available.<br />

When: Bookings may be made as far out as<br />

one year from today's date.<br />

Way to grow<br />

What: SPUR community roots is looking<br />

for community garden waterers.<br />

Where: St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 135<br />

Lafayette St.<br />

When: Go to spur.community/volunteer to<br />

check the community garden calendar for<br />

watering dates.<br />

Sustaining vision<br />

What: Sustainable Marblehead is a<br />

community organization working to reduce<br />

waste and pollution and achieve net-zero<br />

carbon emissions by 2040.<br />

Where: Visit sustainablemarblehead.org for<br />

activities and how to join.<br />

When: Sustainable's six working groups<br />

devoted to bicycling, clean energy, a healthy<br />

harbor and other goals meet regularly.<br />

Little theatre<br />

What: Marblehead Little Theatre offers<br />

music theater classes for kids 7-12.<br />

Where: Classes are held at the Theatre, 12<br />

School St. Visit mltlive.com for registration<br />

information.<br />

When: Six week-long sessions run through<br />

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06 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Danielle Rogers, owner of The Preppy Stitch, sits with her dog, Bo, in Poppy the Preppy Hitch, a 1969<br />

camper that she uses as a pop-up shop to show off her custom monogramming business.<br />


Preppy Stitch<br />

makes its mark<br />

in Marblehead<br />


Danielle Rogers has a history<br />

of incorporating design and artistic<br />

elements into her everyday life. After<br />

spending time as an interior designer,<br />

painter and embroiderer, Rogers has now<br />

taken to monogramming.<br />

The Preppy Stitch is her small<br />

business, based out of her Marblehead<br />

home, where she monograms everything<br />

from blankets to napkins to pillows and<br />

even water bottles.<br />

Rogers graduated from Syracuse<br />

University with a degree in interior<br />

design, but eventually left the field to<br />

raise her two sons.<br />

She then started a business hand<br />

painting children's furniture, but said<br />

that shipping was too costly, so she<br />

decided to end that venture as well and<br />

focus on being a mom.<br />

Rogers has always loved monograms,<br />

and would often monogram things in<br />

her home as a hobby. She then decided<br />

to branch out and monogram for other<br />

people; stitching for her friends made<br />

her realize that she could make her art<br />

into a business.<br />

She now monograms for customers<br />

across the East Coast and, with a two<br />

week turnaround, said she has new<br />

products to be made every day.<br />

When the pandemic hit, Rogers<br />

thought her business wouldn't survive.<br />

She said she didn't think anyone would<br />

want to order monogrammed items<br />

during a time that was so crazy, stressful<br />

and unpredictable.<br />

With COVID-19 hitting the United<br />

States so quickly, Rogers noticed the<br />

lack of personal protective equipment<br />

at hospitals across the country. Since<br />

she has a basement full of cloth, yarn,<br />

sewing and embroidery essentials, Rogers<br />

decided to make masks.<br />

When she began making<br />

monogrammed masks, she had her<br />

busiest month ever. Last May, Rogers<br />

said, she was making dozens of masks<br />

per day and had never had that much<br />

business.<br />


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08 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

"It was crazy," Rogers said. "We were<br />

shipping out between 25 and 50 orders a<br />

day, mostly masks."<br />

Rogers has an assistant, who she said<br />

has been very helpful during this time.<br />

While Rogers monogrammed the masks,<br />

her assistant stitched the fabric together.<br />

The mask making has now slowed<br />

down, but Rogers said The Preppy Stitch<br />

is doing well.<br />

The Preppy Stitch offers over 40 stitch<br />

designs, fonts and numerous colors, but<br />

also does personalized designs as well.<br />

Rogers has her workshop in her<br />

basement where she has two large<br />

monogramming machines as well as<br />

a table for preparing, measuring and<br />

completing the work; she also has<br />

computers where she makes the designs.<br />

To make a monogram, Rogers will<br />

insert the letters and colors in the<br />

monogram onto a flash drive, which then<br />

goes into the monogram machine. Then<br />

the machine stitches the design onto the<br />

product.<br />

"I really love monograms," Rogers<br />

admits. "I always have."<br />

She also keeps inventory and<br />

coordinates shipping on the other side of<br />

her basement workspace.<br />

The majority of her orders are placed<br />

online at her website thepreppystitch.<br />

Colored thread spools line the wall of Danielle Rogers' basement studio.<br />

com. Customers can choose fonts and<br />

thread colors to put onto products in<br />

Rogers' inventory, or people can drop off<br />

their own products for her to monogram.<br />

During the pandemic, she had a<br />

contactless system where customers<br />

could leave the items they wanted<br />

monogrammed on her front porch, and<br />

she would ship them back when they<br />

were done.<br />

The turnaround for her work is<br />

around two weeks, depending on how<br />

busy she is.<br />

As her business grew, Rogers decided<br />

to add to her workshop with the purchase<br />

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of Poppy, the Preppy Hitch. During the<br />

pandemic, Rogers bought a trailer that<br />

she renovated to act as a second home for<br />

her business.<br />

Putting her interior design skills to use,<br />

Rogers redid the floors, walls, countertops,<br />

bathroom and seating areas — and, of<br />

course, added her monogrammed towels,<br />

blankets and placemats.<br />

She also repainted the trailer, to<br />

match her business' pink, blue and white<br />

colors.<br />

The trailer is parked in her driveway<br />

and is used for her pop-up appearances at<br />

markets and events. Rogers said she, and<br />

her mini labradoodle, Bo, like to work<br />

and design in the trailer sometimes to<br />

switch things up.<br />

"It's nice to have Poppy because if I<br />

want to do a pop-up here, I can do that<br />

and people won't need to come into the<br />

house," Rogers said. "I'm so excited to<br />

see what else I can do with this (Poppy).<br />

This just opens up a whole new world."<br />

Rogers was working from home even<br />

before the pandemic, and she said it's<br />

nice to have another place to go to work.<br />

In October, Rogers took Poppy on her<br />

first road trip, venturing out to Vermont<br />

for a pop-up show.<br />

Rogers said she is hoping to do more<br />

shows now that things are opening back<br />

up, and said that those she has already<br />

done have been both successful and fun.<br />

During the holiday season, Rogers<br />

had a few pop-ups in her driveway, where<br />

she opened Poppy up for people to see<br />

her work.<br />

She posts the pop-up dates on<br />

Instagram and sends updates via email,<br />

so customers know when to come by.<br />

"It's just different, so it's fun," Rogers<br />

said.<br />


10 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

As a small business owner during<br />

the pandemic, Rogers faced uncertainty<br />

and restrictions regarding her sales and<br />

products. Adjusting to the pandemic was<br />

tough, she said, but she credited a group<br />

of female entrepreneurs for helping her<br />

get through it.<br />

Five years ago, Rogers went to a<br />

conference in South Carolina called<br />

the Southern Sea, where she met other<br />

female business owners. This group met<br />

once a week via Zoom, and Rogers said<br />

she collaborated with the other women<br />

to incorporate her work into Southern<br />

magazines and articles, which resulted in<br />

a large consumer base in the South.<br />

Through Instagram, Pinterest,<br />

Facebook and email, Rogers connects<br />

with her customers in the South to keep<br />

them up to date with new and exclusive<br />

products, including her personalized<br />

napkin twillies.<br />

"My two little hashtag I always<br />

use are "#popitwithamonogram" and<br />

#elevatetheeveryday," Rogers said. "I<br />

think elevating the everyday really<br />

embodies so much of my personality and<br />

what I do."<br />

Rogers said she is hoping to continue<br />

to work with her friends in the South<br />

to grow her business and clientele, and<br />

wants to bring Poppy on a road trip<br />

there.<br />

"I love seeing how much my business<br />

has been growing and branching out,"<br />

Rogers said. "I have a lot of plans for The<br />

Preppy Stitch and am excited to see how<br />

it all plays out."<br />

Rogers encourages people to follow<br />

her on social media (@thepreppystitch)<br />

for updates and information about popups<br />

and products.<br />

Danielle Rogers uses her 1969 camper, Poppy<br />

the Preppy Hitch, as a mobile display of her<br />

monogramming skills.<br />

Danielle Rogers, owner of The Preppy Stitch, a custom monogramming business based in Marblehead,<br />

stands with her 1969 camper, which she purchased during the COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

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SUMMER <strong>2021</strong> | 13<br />

A peek inside<br />

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private beach, shared dock and<br />

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along with two 2-story barns suitable<br />

for renovation, office, or studio use.<br />

Barns have capacity to store six cars<br />

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14 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Marblehead Town Class sails on<br />


On a hazy morning, a group of small,<br />

brightly-colored sailboats drift slowly<br />

from their moorings by the Marblehead<br />

causeway toward the end of the harbor.<br />

These boats, most crewed by just one<br />

or two sailors, may look inconsequential,<br />

but they make up Marblehead's oldest<br />

continuously-raced fleet. The Town Class,<br />

affectionately known as "Townies," are<br />

ready to race.<br />

On the porch of Corinthian Yacht<br />

Club, the race committee hangs an orange<br />

two-by-four from a railing, marking the<br />

starting line. Traditionally, a sailing race<br />

committee will be stationed on a boat to<br />

set the line, but Corinthian's is unique.<br />

"Coming back and looking at<br />

that is just beautiful," said sailor Peg<br />

MacMaster.<br />

The 16.5-foot, one-design Townies<br />

were first built in 1932 by Marcus Lowell<br />

of Amesbury, and arrived in Marblehead<br />

in 1936. They were designed to be<br />

accessible to an ordinary townsperson,<br />

hence the name. Marcus' son, Pert, later<br />

took over the business, establishing the<br />

Pert Lowell Company in Newbury, which<br />

Boats in the Town Class, affectionately named<br />

"Townies," race around Marblehead Harbor during<br />

the Monday morning regatta.<br />


his son-in-law, Ralph Johnson, runs today.<br />

To date, they have built over 2,000 of the<br />

boats in wood and fiberglass models.<br />

Marblehead Harbor is home to the<br />

world's largest fleet of Townies, currently<br />

numbering just over 40. Race committee<br />

member Bart Snow is to thank for that.<br />

Snow's parents purchased a Townie<br />

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in 1953 to provide him with an outdoor<br />

activity that wouldn't upset his hay fever.<br />

The next year, he started racing and, in<br />

1962, he won the first-ever National<br />

Town Class Regatta in Nahant.<br />

In the 1990s, after taking a few<br />

decades off to race other boats, Snow<br />

was approached by an old classmate to<br />

join the Town Class Twilight Series,<br />

which races in the harbor on Tuesday and<br />

Thursday nights throughout the summer.<br />

He was disappointed to find that, while<br />

he was used to seeing upwards of 60<br />

boats from his old racing days, just 11<br />

Townies were left to sail Marblehead<br />

Harbor.<br />

"We would go out racing and be<br />

lucky to get three or four on the start<br />

line," Snow said. "The whole problem<br />

was that all the boats got sold out of<br />

town, because it's a 20-year wait for a<br />

mooring."<br />

Snow decided to take things into his<br />

own hands. He got permission from the<br />

harbormaster to install a trawl along<br />

the causeway, which could hold 20<br />

boats. The space was formerly unused,<br />

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Andrea Dodge and Nick Cann sprint to second place against fellow Townie sailors.<br />

because at low tide the water is only<br />

two feet deep — a problem for bigger<br />

boats, but not for the Townies. Then, he<br />

set about purchasing every Town Class<br />

sailboat that became available, traveling<br />

to Kentucky, the Great Lakes, barns in<br />

New Hampshire, islands in Maine and<br />

anywhere else he could find them.<br />

Snow brings the boats to Pert Lowell<br />

Co. for renovations, then sells them at<br />

cost to local sailors. To date, he has sold<br />

24 of the boats, and has six more in<br />

varying stages of improvements.<br />

"It's not a business," he said. "It's just<br />

fun to get more out there."<br />

Snow keeps track of each Townie's<br />

history, too. The retired accountant keeps<br />

a spreadsheet with more than 1,300 rows,<br />

each corresponding to a different owner,<br />

showing who had each vessel during each<br />

year since it was built.<br />

Some of them have interesting<br />

histories. One light teal-colored boat,<br />

the "Christie B.," was once purchased<br />

by singer Billy Joel for his then-wife<br />

Christie Brinkley.<br />

As more boats pull up to the starting<br />

line to prepare for the Morning Series<br />

race, Snow looks out at them through<br />

binoculars and shouts out the sail<br />

numbers — 2047, 77, 2083 — to his<br />

wife, Tuula, who records them on a<br />

clipboard.<br />

"We know a lot of them by name,<br />

because we've been here a few years,"<br />

Tuula Snow said.<br />

Some of the sailors have been there a<br />

long time, too. David Cooke started racing<br />

when he was 13 on a Townie his parents<br />

bought in 1955, before he was born. In<br />

2006, he started again, racing with his<br />

mother, who passed the boat on to him<br />

after she died.<br />

Now, Cooke races with his childhood<br />

friend David Goldsmith on that same<br />

boat, the "Aufblitzen," German for<br />

"flash." It bears the number 3, because,<br />

Cooke said, his father always preferred<br />

short numbers.<br />

"I've found the Townie's a slow boat<br />

to race compared to a lot of other fleets<br />

I've been in," Goldsmith said. "On the<br />

other hand, the tactics — going to the<br />

right, going to the left, rounding the<br />

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marks — is a lot more challenging than<br />

a lot of other boats and the fleet race is a<br />

lot tighter."<br />

Cooke agreed, but said that<br />

Marblehead's community is up to the<br />

challenge.<br />

"It's become high-caliber now. A lot<br />

of good sailors come in," Cooke said. "It's<br />

exciting. You feel like you've accomplished<br />

something when you do win."<br />

Cooke's wife, Lynn, said that on top<br />

of that feeling of accomplishment when<br />

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her husband wins, she buys him a lobster<br />

dinner.<br />

Lynn Cooke prepares to keep time<br />

on a battery-powered clock mounted<br />

on a wooden plaque. As the frontrunner<br />

rounds each mark, she will read out<br />

the time for Tuula Snow to record. No<br />

other conversation will be allowed in the<br />

race committee booth, which ensures<br />

everyone stays focused on the task at<br />

hand.<br />

Out on the water, the same silence<br />

takes hold aboard each of the 13 Townies<br />

sailing in today's race. Sailors test the<br />

wind, milling around the harbor until<br />

they see a yellow flag fall on the yacht<br />

club porch and hear a horn that signals<br />

that it's time to line up.<br />

Three minutes later, another horn<br />

sounds as a blue flag falls, and the<br />

boats position themselves to have the<br />

straightest shot to the first marker. After<br />

another three minutes, a red flag signals<br />

the start of the race.<br />

"All clear," says race officer John Caslan<br />

over the radio, and the Townies are off.<br />

For each race, the committee chooses<br />

a course based on the direction and<br />

speed of the wind. Numbered buoys set<br />

permanently throughout the harbor serve<br />

as markers which the boats have to round<br />

once, twice or three times, depending<br />

on that day's course. Today, the course<br />

markers are two green cylindrical buoys<br />

known as "cans," numbered 21 and 22,<br />

and the racers must make their way<br />

through the course twice.<br />

The participants in the race range<br />

from seasoned pros to families with<br />

children carrying bubble machines,<br />

spreading glittering spheres behind them<br />

as they float through the waves.<br />

Alec MacMaster, Peg's husband and<br />

the fleet's safety patrol, says as he follows<br />

the Townies in a motor-powered yacht<br />

club boat; when the couple's son was<br />

younger, they would bring water balloons<br />

along to the events, coordinating fights<br />

with other sailors between races.<br />

MacMaster said the games are part<br />

of what makes the friendly competition<br />

so fun.<br />

"They're more about the joy of<br />

sailing," he said. "Victory is important,<br />

but it's not the most important thing."<br />

Race officer David Graham, another<br />

mainstay of the Marblehead Town Class<br />

community, said that this culture is part<br />

of why he loves the niche sport so much.<br />

"I love their enthusiasm," Graham<br />

said. "It's a labor of love."<br />

The frontrunner, boat number 2086,<br />

Boats in the Town Class race around Marblehead Harbor.<br />

rounds the first marker, with the rest of<br />

the fleet tightly packed behind it. Here<br />

at the beginning of the race, a sailor<br />

could reach out and touch her nearest<br />

competition. As they sail farther, the<br />

group spreads out more, with the fastest<br />

vessels separating from the pack and<br />

stragglers falling behind.<br />

As they turn past the second marker<br />

and head back to the starting line to<br />

begin the second lap, a message comes<br />

over the radio: The wind has changed,<br />

and along with it the course. Now, after<br />

the first marker, they will turn in the<br />

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opposite direction to buoy number 19, a<br />

red "nun" named for its pointed top.<br />

The sailors take the change in stride,<br />

changing tack to glide out of the harbor<br />

toward Marblehead Light.<br />

Finally, 45 minutes after they started,<br />

the first boat, number 2086, crosses the<br />

finish line. Seventeen minutes later, the<br />

last Townie completes the course.<br />

"Some people say that watching<br />

sailboat racing is like watching grass<br />

grow," said Graham. "I don't think of<br />

it that way. I think it's a thrill in slow<br />

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Tellers tend to their customers' banking needs at National Grand Bank in Marblehead.<br />


Fiercely independent<br />


Change comes slowly to<br />

National Grand Bank, the<br />

190-year-old Marblehead<br />

institution that is one of the few truly<br />

independent banks still on the North<br />

Shore. But you get a sense that is<br />

exactly how the bank — and its nearly<br />

225 shareholders — like things. Stable,<br />

conventional and predictable.<br />

Those characteristics have served the<br />

bank well since its founding in 1831<br />

as Grand Bank, a name that is less<br />

presumptuous than it might sound when<br />

you consider the source of its initial<br />

deposits. The bank began as a refuge for<br />

the hard-earned profits of Marblehead’s<br />

principal trade at the time — fishermen<br />

who farmed the sea in a place called<br />

the Grand Banks, an abundant fishing<br />

ground nearly 1,000 miles east of<br />

Marblehead, off Newfoundland. The<br />

“National” was added to the name when<br />

the bank got its federal charter in 1864.<br />

Fishing was a serious engine of the<br />

New England economy in the 1830s —<br />

so much so that Marblehead was one<br />

of the 60 largest cities in the United<br />

States at the time. The Grand Bank<br />

came to be because the local fleet wanted<br />

more control over their finances, a local<br />

institution which avoids speculation<br />

and would be there for them in good<br />

times and in bad. That philosophy hasn’t<br />

changed much in the intervening years.<br />

The bank takes pride in the fact that<br />

when you call its headquarters during<br />

working hours a real person answers every<br />

call. And you will not find the bank leading<br />

the charge on changes in technology,<br />

either. Sure, they have services like online<br />

banking and mobile deposits, but they don’t<br />

feel the need to be first in implementing<br />

innovation. The last “tweet” on their<br />

Twitter account was posted in 2014.<br />

“We prefer to let the big guys sort out<br />

the technology challenges and then we<br />

follow,” NGB president Jim Nye explains.<br />

“You don’t come to a bank our size with<br />

our culture expecting us to be on the<br />

The mantra that National Grand Bank CEO Jim Nye lives by.<br />

cutting edge of technology, and we’re<br />

comfortable with that. You come because<br />

you know us, we know you, and we can<br />

be trusted.”<br />

And while other banks are bent on<br />

growth through new branches, new<br />

products and acquisitions, that’s not<br />

NGB’s style, either. In fact, they lasted<br />

131 years in their first headquarters<br />

building on Hooper Street before they<br />

made a bold move in 1962 by buying the<br />

abandoned Boston & Maine Railroad<br />

station on Pleasant Street, where they<br />

built their current quarters in 1963. For<br />

all those years, the bank operated with a<br />

single banking office.<br />

“We’re centrally located in a small<br />

town — we think it’s helpful for our<br />

customers to have us all here in one<br />

place. If there is a question or a problem<br />

we can walk down the hall and come up<br />

with a solution,” said Nye. “Marblehead<br />

is our market. We don’t need growth for<br />

growth’s sake.”<br />

That said, the bank did open its first<br />

“branch” in 2002 when the new high<br />

school opened at Tent’s Corner. Inspired<br />

by a suggestion from longtime business<br />

education teacher Joan Stomatuk,<br />

the bank operates a limited service<br />

branch, operated by students under the<br />

supervision of the bank’s Matt Martin.<br />

But don’t expect to see any additional,<br />

traditional branches. As Nye pointed out,<br />

“Expansion is not on our agenda.”<br />

The agenda for the bank is managed<br />

by an unusually active Board of<br />

Directors. The group of six directors,<br />

plus Nye, meets every other Tuesday to<br />

personally review the details and approve<br />

most loans. Competitive institutions<br />

generally delegate that responsibility to<br />

management, but that’s not the practice<br />

at NGB. Like the bank, the board is<br />

very stable. Its last new member joined<br />

in 2014, and two current directors have<br />

served since the 1980s.<br />

“Our board knows our customers and<br />

knows our market, so they help us make<br />

better lending decisions,” explained Nye.<br />

“And if a customer gets into trouble, they

SUMMER <strong>2021</strong> | 19<br />

understand the situation already, so we’re<br />

able to make adjustments and help the<br />

customer through the problem.”<br />

Many banks have whole departments to<br />

deal with delinquent loans and foreclosures;<br />

that’s not the case for National Grand.<br />

In fact, they can count on one hand the<br />

number of formal foreclosures they have<br />

had in the past 30 years.<br />

“I think our last one was in 2012,”<br />

Nye recalled. “It was an unfortunate<br />

family situation where the elderly<br />

borrower passed away. We worked<br />

through the process (and) sold the home,<br />

and we were able to cover our loan and<br />

present the widow with the surplus.”<br />

Such credit quality isn’t an accident.<br />

With about $425 million in assets,<br />

the vast majority of their investments<br />

are in real estate loans: $281 million as<br />

of March <strong>2021</strong>. And nearly all of that<br />

($246 million) is in one to four family<br />

residential mortgages; in other words,<br />

loans to everyday people, not developers<br />

or speculators. The bank’s staff and<br />

directors know the neighborhoods,<br />

current real estate trends and credit<br />

worthiness of the customers firsthand.<br />

This familiarity adds a layer of safety to<br />

their investments.<br />

“We know when a family is having<br />

a hard time and we’ll work with them,”<br />

Nye pointed out. “But, on the other<br />

hand, it’s hard to live and work in this<br />

town and bump into our staff in everyday<br />

life knowing you’ve defaulted on a loan.<br />

People tend to return our phone calls and<br />

we work things out.”<br />

A small sign in Nye’s office speaks<br />

directly to the strategy that helps set<br />

them apart from so many other banks.<br />

The sign says, “It's Nice to be Important,<br />

but it's more Important to be Nice.”<br />

For most of the bank’s 50 employees,<br />

being nice goes beyond day-to-day duties<br />

in the office. Many of them actively<br />

serve in volunteer roles in Marblehead<br />

community organizations, and several hold<br />

seats on town boards, commissions and<br />

committees. All of this deepens their ties<br />

to the community. And the bank puts its<br />

money where its heart is. From sponsoring<br />

the annual Fourth of July Horribles Parade<br />

to encouraging reading by promising kids<br />

$10 if they read five books this summer, the<br />

bank supports dozens of causes in town,<br />

including promoting local businesses.<br />

When the staff came across a<br />

1951 Chevrolet 3100 panel van in<br />

Marblehead’s red-and-black colors,<br />

they purchased it, cleaned it up and put<br />

it on the road in town to promote the<br />

bank and local businesses. The truck,<br />

with its vintage ‘50s lettering displaying<br />

the bank’s phone number NE1-6000<br />

(NE1 stood for the NEptune exchange,<br />

predating 631), goes on tour to promote<br />

local businesses during the month of<br />

December. And local business owners<br />

appreciate their support.<br />

“They were there for us when we<br />

needed them and, frankly, we wouldn’t<br />

be here without them,” explained Trish<br />

Brogna, owner of Tony’s Pizza, which<br />

suffered a devastating fire in 2003.<br />

“The community would be lost without<br />

them. They go above and beyond to help<br />

customers and you can’t ask for anything<br />

more than that.”<br />

But does all of this George Baileystyle<br />

banking really work, financially, in<br />

the long run? Apparently, yes; it works<br />

quite well. The bank has been named<br />

one of the top 200 community banks in<br />

the United States by American Banker<br />

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20 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Nye's is a Wonderful Life<br />

Even though National Grand<br />

Bank’s President Jim Nye<br />

doesn’t look like Jimmy Stewart<br />

when you sit with him in his<br />

office, you can’t help but think<br />

back to Frank Capra’s classic<br />

movie about a friendly local<br />

banker who’s right in the center<br />

of things in that small town.<br />

A larger-than-life cardboard<br />

check memorializing the bank’s<br />

commitment to Marblehead<br />

High seniors stands in the<br />

corner next to pennants from a<br />

dozen schools where scholarship<br />

winners will matriculate this<br />

fall. The walls and bookcases are<br />

adorned with trophies, plaques<br />

and testimonial pictures. And<br />

the door to his office is so rarely<br />

closed that it’s a wonder he even<br />

has one in the first place.<br />

“I tell people ‘If you see my<br />

door closed, I must be getting<br />

grilled by our auditors’, otherwise<br />

it’s always open,” joked<br />

Nye.<br />

During a short visit with him<br />

to discuss the bank’s history,<br />

about a half dozen people took<br />

advantage of the open door —<br />

some to say “hi," a couple to say<br />

“thanks for taking care of that,”<br />

and a few asking him for a favor.<br />

He knew everyone by name.<br />

“One of the big advantages<br />

we have working in a town like<br />

Marblehead is that, after a while,<br />

you can get to know everyone,<br />

or at least know someone who<br />

knows them,” Nye noted.<br />

When he says “after a while”,<br />

he’s being modest. Nye, a legitimate<br />

Header who was born at<br />

Mary Alley Hospital, has spent<br />

virtually all his life in Marblehead,<br />

and it makes him seem<br />

like someone out of Central<br />

Casting for his role as the head<br />

of the town’s oldest and largest<br />

bank.<br />

Nye’s parents hailed from Toledo,<br />

Ohio, and visited Marblehead<br />

on their honeymoon back<br />

in the 1950s. They loved the<br />

town so much that they ended<br />

up moving there and raising<br />

four children. Jim, who played<br />

football, swam and ran track for<br />

the Magicians, graduated from<br />

the high school in 1979. His<br />

first brush with business in town<br />

was a schoolboy lawn-mowing<br />

business he and his brother<br />

started, called “Just Kuts.”<br />

After studying engineering<br />

at Maine Maritime Academy<br />

he transferred to Bentley University<br />

to hone his business<br />

skills and ended up working for<br />

Chase Manhattan in mortgage<br />

banking. Difficult times in the<br />

banking industry and a young<br />

family caused him to switch<br />

gears and take a job selling baby<br />

formula for a large company —<br />

until a chance meeting with a<br />

friend changed all that.<br />

“I was attending a wake for<br />

Brad Sheridan when I bumped<br />

into Elliot Rothwell, who was<br />

running National Grand’s<br />

mortgage department at the<br />

time,” Nye recalls. “Why don’t<br />

you come back to banking?”<br />

Rothwell asked, and the rest, as<br />

they say, is history. Nye joined<br />

Marblehead is the 57th<br />

largest city in the U.S.<br />

First lighthouse built<br />

on Marblehead Neck<br />

First railway station<br />

opens at the future<br />

site of NGB<br />

65 Marblehead men<br />

and boys lost in squall<br />

off Grand Banks<br />

Marblehead organizes<br />

first police force<br />

Great Marblehead<br />

fire destroys much<br />

of downtown<br />

Town<br />

Train service<br />

Marblehead<br />

1831 1835 1839<br />

1846 1853 1864 1877<br />

1880-1950<br />

1959<br />

Grand Bank established<br />

March 17<br />

Major Joseph W. Green<br />

1st GB president<br />

GB helps finance<br />

replacement fishing fleet<br />

Bank gets national<br />

charter - changes name<br />

to add “National” NGB helps finance<br />

rebuilding<br />

National Grand

National Grand Bank president Jim Nye has an open-door policy for his office and welcomes<br />

customers and visitors to pop in for questions or just to say "Hi".<br />

National Grand’s mortgage<br />

department and ultimately took<br />

over the group from Rothwell<br />

when he retired.<br />

“When Barry Weed decided<br />

to retire in 2008, I asked the<br />

directors if I could be considered<br />

for the president’s job. They<br />

hired a national search firm and<br />

they were a bit surprised, but,<br />

when the process was done, I<br />

was thrilled to become the 13th<br />

president of National Grand<br />

Bank,” Nye says.<br />

“The only reason we are here<br />

is to help this community,” he<br />

adds.<br />

And he practices what he<br />

preaches, encouraging many of<br />

the bank’s management team to<br />

take active volunteer roles in the<br />

community. Nye is currently a<br />

member of the Board of Selectmen<br />

in Marblehead, and was<br />

the top vote getter in a recent<br />

election where 15 people vied<br />

for the five seats on the board.<br />

It’s no wonder, based on feedback<br />

from his peers.<br />

“I can only speak in superlatives<br />

about Jim Nye,” said Jackie<br />

Belf-Becker, who has served<br />

with Jim as selectperson since<br />

2005 and currently chairs the<br />

board. “He is a terrific colleague<br />

on the board, and, more importantly,<br />

he is one of the most decent,<br />

kindest and caring people I<br />

know. He is a great asset to the<br />

Town of Marblehead.”<br />

Ever humble, Jim deflects the<br />

attention and praise.<br />

“I’m a lucky guy because I’m<br />

able to work in a town that I<br />

love. Marblehead is the greatest<br />

town in America,” he says with<br />

a twinkle in his eye.<br />

And he means it. X<br />

to<br />

ends<br />

“New” post office opens<br />

on Smith Street<br />

Town opens<br />

new high school<br />

Wall Street<br />

financial crisis<br />

1962 1963 1976 1977 2000 2002 2008 <strong>2021</strong><br />

First shares of NGB sold<br />

to public at $40<br />

NGB moves into new headquarters<br />

on Pleasent Street<br />

NGB share price<br />

increases to $75<br />

Barry Weed becomes<br />

12th president<br />

Jim Nye becomes<br />

13th president<br />

NGB opens its first branch<br />

at Marblehead High School<br />

NGB stock<br />

trades at $7,500<br />

Original headquarters on Hooper Street.<br />

circa 1864

22 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

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upon its financial performance.<br />

Shares of National Grand were sold<br />

to investors in 1962 at $40 per share.<br />

Shares are closely held by about 225<br />

shareholders, most descendants of early<br />

investors. The bank has not sold any<br />

shares to investors since the 1980s, and<br />

regularly buys back shares offered to<br />

it by existing shareholders, so it is not<br />

as though they are readily available<br />

— but the most recent purchase price<br />

was $7,500 per share. To put that into<br />

context, an investment of $1,000 in 1962<br />

would be worth approximately $187,500<br />

at current values.<br />

But shares, like the bank, are not for<br />

sale. The bank may well be worth more<br />

than that if it were to entertain acquisition<br />

by many of the larger banks in the area<br />

or a national bank seeking a foothold in<br />

Marblehead. But that is highly unlikely to<br />

happen, according to Nye.<br />

“We are fiercely independent,” he<br />

noted. “We have no desire to change<br />

what has been working so well for us for<br />

so many years.”<br />

You get the sense that people in<br />

Marblehead like it that way. X<br />

Trivia<br />

The current location of National Grand Bank in<br />

Marblehead was previously a train depot.<br />

X When the B&M Railroad<br />

decided to close their Marblehead<br />

spur and terminal,<br />

it left a hole in downtown<br />

Marblehead. National<br />

Grand purchased the property<br />

and built a new headquarters<br />

in 1963 — later<br />

expanding in 1983 — creating<br />

a landscaped front yard where a block of stores once stood. They<br />

sold their 132-year home on Hooper Street for $40,000 in 1963.<br />

X The bank’s largest depositor — some $20 million — is the Town<br />

of Marblehead. The bank competes with other, larger banks for<br />

deposits, but convenience and service play a big role. The bank has<br />

about $365 million in deposits.<br />

X The first great Marblehead fire in 1877 nearly destroyed the<br />

bank’s Hooper Street headquarters. The fire destroyed 72 buildings,<br />

costing 1,900 their shoe-industry jobs. The fire consumed the<br />

building right next to the bank’s headquarters. The replacement<br />

building was separated on purpose — thus the current courtyard<br />

between the Hooper Street building and the current home of<br />

Mahri Jewlers.<br />

X The bank’s investment management business (which involves a<br />

partnership with Eastern Bank) grew out of a request from a customer<br />

during the Blizzard of ’78. The bank didn’t offer investment<br />

products, but then-president Randy Goodwin walked a customer<br />

down the street in the snow to Naumkeag Trust and a partnership<br />

was born. Eastern acquired Naumkeag in 1988.

The trials and tribulations<br />

of a do-it-yourself author<br />

SUMMER <strong>2021</strong> | 23<br />


The next time you decide you want to be<br />

the next Stephen King, consider what that<br />

involves.<br />

"It's not easy," says Kate Anslinger, who<br />

has carved out a niche as a writer of supernatural<br />

mysteries, these days with the continuing<br />

"Grace McKenna" series.<br />

Grace, she says, is a detective who lives in a<br />

little north-of-Boston suburb that might — to<br />

some people — bear resemblance to Marblehead.<br />

Her deal is that she can ferret out clues<br />

to major crimes by looking into the eyes of<br />

criminals.<br />

But unless you're John Irving or J.K. Rowling,<br />

your book will not be the top priority at<br />

Simon and Schuster or any other major publishing<br />

company. It's more likely you'll have to<br />

publish it yourself. And, as Anslinger says, that<br />

may run into spending some money — but in<br />

the long run it can be advantageous too.<br />

"I had a small publisher for my first couple<br />

of books," she said, "but I didn't think it<br />

worked all that well. So I went with self-publishing.<br />

For me, it's better."<br />

And that's for a number of reasons. First, if<br />

you're under contract with even a small publisher,<br />

you're limited in what you can write.<br />

"This way, I have control over what I write<br />

and when I write," she said.<br />

And Anslinger loves to write. She's always<br />

loved to write. Even in her "real job," which<br />

involves ghost-writing for different people.<br />

"I love to write so much," she says. "When<br />

I lived in Boston, I started writing one hour a<br />

day. That turned into 'Saving Jason' (her first of<br />

six books she has written)."<br />

That book was somewhat autobiographical.<br />

Anslinger is a U.S. Air Force veteran and her<br />

first husband was a U.S. Marine. Between the<br />

two of them, they saw plenty of instances of<br />

post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore, she<br />

has a deep knowledge of the condition.<br />

"Jason, in my book, is a veteran who was<br />

married to the Marines," she said. "He came<br />

back from the war with PTSD. The story is<br />

loosely based (on my experiences)."<br />

From there, she went to "Underwater<br />

Secrets," which spans two generations, and is<br />

based on a lake in New Hampshire where she<br />

grew up.<br />

"I had to do a lot of research on that," she<br />

Kate Anslinger is a Marblehead-based freelance writer and author of the Grace McKenna mystery novel series.<br />


said. "It's about a woman who finds secrets of<br />

her mother's past life in the underwater parts<br />

of the lake."<br />

Then came her move toward self-publishing,<br />

and with it, the birth of Detective Grace<br />

McKenna, a sleuth who has the often-unenviable<br />

gift of being able to read into the eyes of<br />

criminals.<br />

"She can see flashes of crimes they have<br />

committed," Anslinger said. "And she struggles<br />

with the images."<br />

McKenna solves crimes in all of the books.<br />

None of the settings are the same, but they all<br />

take part in fictional communities based on<br />

cities and towns in either metropolitan Boston<br />

or New Hampshire. Eras also vary.<br />

The first of her "McKenna" books was<br />

"The Gift," followed by "Buried Secrets,"<br />

"Never Tell," and her latest, "Family Photos."<br />

"I have a team of about 20 early readers<br />

who I hire to catch inconsistencies, and to<br />

proofread," she said. "One thing you learn<br />

quickly is that you can't have an ego." X

24 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

A patented talent<br />


Carl Siegel tallies votes for the Board of Selectmen on June 22.<br />

If you make your way to Abbot Hall<br />

to vote in a local election, there's a<br />

good chance that you have seen one<br />

of Carl Siegel's many inventions.<br />

Siegel has called Marblehead home for<br />

a little while now. He ventured to the city<br />

from Buffalo, N.Y. in 1960 in order to take<br />

a job with General Electric in Lynn after<br />

graduating from college. Now retired, he<br />

has kept busy by doing carpentry work.<br />

Beyond carpentry and engineering,<br />

Siegel actually lays claim to quite a popular<br />

invention that football fans will be familiar<br />

with. If you look at the officiating crew in<br />

NFL games, a piece of their equipment<br />

was created by Siegel: the self-proclaimed<br />

"bean bag" that you can see officials sporting<br />

around the waist.<br />

Officiating crews use the bean bags to<br />

mark various spots on the field, including<br />

the spot of a fumble or where a punt had<br />

been caught. While it might be called a<br />

bean bag, there actually aren't any beans in<br />

the equipment; it's filled with gravel from<br />

fish tanks.<br />

Unfortunately, the Marblehead resident<br />

ran into some problems. He couldn't get<br />

the bag to stay on his waist. So Siegel decided<br />

to make one with gravel on each end<br />

and a space to put over a belt. This allowed<br />

for the weight to keep them from falling.<br />

After personally testing the invention,<br />

Siegel put out an ad in a referee magazine<br />

and was able to sell a few bean bags to<br />

NFL officials.<br />

"So what I did then is, I got a hold of<br />

the official and I sent 120 of them down to<br />

the NFL free of charge," said Siegel, "and<br />

that's how I got in the NFL."<br />

Siegel has continued to make the bean<br />


bags. He actually has made them for the<br />

NFL's biggest game of the season.<br />

"I make a bean bag for the crew that<br />

worked the Super Bowl," he said. "On one<br />

side it has the Super Bowl number and on<br />

the other side it has their (the official's)<br />

position and number so it's personalized."<br />

Having something that is used by the<br />

football league to this day is something<br />

that the Marblehead resident is really<br />

proud of.<br />

"I watch (the games) and I look for<br />

them," said Siegel. "They're in some of the<br />

colleges, and I have my local organization<br />

where they buy them from me. It's a fun<br />

thing."<br />

While it has seen success, Siegel never<br />

patented his invention — so he never made<br />

any money off of the idea.<br />

"(The NFL) copied the design, but I<br />

made them long enough ago that, even if<br />

I had a patent, it would have run out," he<br />

explained. "I do it more for fun. I don't<br />

make any money, really."<br />

Another one of Siegel's inventions has<br />

more of a local impact: He has had a part<br />

in Marblehead's local elections for more<br />

than 30 years, and he created the boards<br />

upon which votes are tallied to this day.<br />

"The previous town clerk, Betty Brown,<br />

they just had a piece of board up there<br />

and they (would) write on it," Siegel said.<br />

"I talked to Betty and I said 'I'll make a<br />

couple of boards for election results.' So I<br />

made those two boards, and since I have<br />

made them I have been posting the votes<br />

on it. I missed one year, but other than that<br />

I've been doing it for more than 30 years."

SUMMER <strong>2021</strong> | 25<br />

Carl Siegel is an Abbot Hall fixture during town<br />

elections.<br />

Carl has been tallying votes during town elections more than 30 years.<br />

As for Siegel's election participation,<br />

he said he is just happy to be able to play<br />

a part in his community. In the past, he<br />

had helped set up and take down voting<br />

machines for local elections.<br />

Living in a small town has its advantages<br />

and being able to get to know everyone<br />

is what has kept Siegel in Marblehead.<br />

"When my children were young, I<br />

worked and coached in Little League, and<br />

we had our own youth football program,<br />

and you get to meet a lot of people that<br />

way," he said. "Now I'm in Rotary (club),<br />

so you get to know people. That's the best<br />

part of a small community." X<br />

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26 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Lauren McCormack, Marblehead Museum executive director, shows a historical photograph of the grave of Agnes, a slave in the 1700's who is buried in Old<br />

Burial Hill with the family that owned her.<br />


Museum unearths town's slavery history<br />


It might come as a surprise to some,<br />

but slavery was alive and well in<br />

Marblehead in the days before the<br />

Civil War.<br />

When it comes to the historical<br />

American practice of slaveholding, a lot of<br />

the focus seems to go toward the southern<br />

United States — but the northern United<br />

States is not without guilt. Lauren McCormack,<br />

executive director of the Marblehead<br />

Museum, noted that it wasn't uncommon for<br />

upper-class families in town to hold slaves.<br />

While the environs were not similar to the<br />

plantations of the South, the upper class<br />

could typically have a few enslaved people in<br />

the household.<br />

"I don't think it would have been seen as<br />

unusual or strange to find enslaved people in<br />

Marblehead — which is true for all of New<br />

England," said McCormack. "That's a story<br />

that we're finally starting to tell correctly: that<br />

slavery was not absent from New England<br />

and certainly was not absent in Marblehead."<br />

The first ship that brought slaves to<br />

Massachusetts colony was built right in Marblehead.<br />

Built in 1636, the "Desire" is viewed<br />

as the first ship to traffick enslaved people of<br />

color into and out of Massachusetts Bay, and<br />

was just the third ship built in the colony.<br />

As the Marblehead Museum director,<br />

McCormack was able to recount specific<br />

disputes between the Native Americans and<br />

the colonists in various parts of New England<br />

around the time. There was one "skirmish" in<br />

Connecticut that colonists won, which led<br />

to Native American boys and women being<br />

put onto the ship and sent to the Caribbean,<br />

destined to become slaves. When the<br />

"Desire" returned, the ship brought with it<br />

the first slaves of African descent to Massachusetts.<br />

McCormack said that it has been hard to<br />

pinpoint the amount of enslaved people who<br />

lived in Marblehead at any given time.<br />

"It was not an unusual thing; the records<br />

are a little spotty," she explained. "It's a hard<br />

history to get at because the documentary<br />

sources are not always present to really find<br />

the exact numbers or anything more than<br />

a name of somebody, unfortunately. We are<br />

working on a database that will capture what<br />


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28 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Lauren McCormack, the executive director of the Marblehead Museum, stands in front of the newly-acquired building next to the Jeremiah Lee Mansion which<br />

will become an immersive museum bringing to life the history of slavery in Marblehead. The building was the former slave quarters for the mansion.<br />

we do know and make that available to the<br />

public."<br />

She added that the database should be<br />

ready to be launched by 2022.<br />

There is also the story of Agnes, a slave<br />

in 18th-century Marblehead who had<br />

appeared to be buried with the family that<br />

owned her in Old Burial Hill. McCormack<br />

revealed that they had found that, while<br />

Agnes' headstone is at the top of the hill,<br />

Samuel and Elizabeth Russell are buried<br />

closer to the bottom of the hill.<br />

As far as McCormack knows, Agnes<br />

is the only slave to be buried in the<br />

cemetery. This was rather unusual for the<br />

time, as historians have noted that slaves<br />

were usually buried in unmarked locations<br />

outside the town burial plot. McCormack<br />

also noted that Agnes had a rather elaborate<br />

headstone.<br />

In an interview with the Marblehead<br />

Racial Justice Team, Pastor James Bixby<br />

indicated that documents from Essex Probate<br />

Court showed that Agnes was a female<br />

servant, meaning that she was there to serve<br />

the women of the house.<br />

Agnes' headstone was stolen in the<br />

1970s, but thanks to efforts from the Marblehead<br />

Racial Justice Team, the headstone<br />

will be replaced. The group raised more than<br />

$7,000 and, according to Bixby — who<br />

helped organize the fundraiser — the new<br />

stone is in the middle of being carved.<br />

Local historian Louis Meyi has noted<br />

that during the 1600s and 1700s, many<br />

Marblehead residents owned slaves. The<br />

system was firmly in place until 1780 when<br />

the Massachusetts court system ruled that<br />

slavery wasn't compatible with the newly-adopted<br />

state Constitution.<br />

Meyi and the members of the MRJT are<br />

hoping to be able to increase awareness when<br />

it comes to the town's history of slavery.<br />

McCormack said that it's difficult to<br />

figure out one sole reason why slavery isn't<br />

talked about as much in this region, but<br />

believes that the issue "goes way back."<br />

"There was the sense of the 'good versus<br />

the bad' or the 'North versus the South,' and<br />

I think that was perpetuated, the idea that<br />

there was no slavery here. You also hear 'oh<br />

but slavery was nicer here' (as if) somehow<br />

people were treated more nicely in the North<br />

than they were in the South but there were<br />

still enslaved people," she said. "You can't get<br />

around that. But I think, for many reasons,<br />

we weren't taught that in schools. I don't<br />

know if it wasn't seen as important enough, I<br />

certainly wasn't taught a lot about New England<br />

slavery in school or slavery (in general)<br />

in school."<br />

Now McCormack believes that, as we<br />

learn more, the tide is shifting and will<br />

continue to do so.<br />

"I think that as historians we're definitely<br />

a part of that (shift)," she said. "We

want to be telling the full story and not just<br />

the Eurocentric story, and to recognize the<br />

humanity of people. It just helps explain a lot<br />

of what is going on today."<br />

For McCormack, it is extremely important<br />

for residents of Marblehead to be aware<br />

and knowledgeable of the town's history<br />

when it comes to slavery.<br />

"If you want to study the history of any<br />

town, (including) Marblehead, then you<br />

have to study all of it; sometimes people<br />

will say 'well we don't want to be negative,'<br />

but to me, I don't see it as being negative<br />

to talk about these things that happen," she<br />

said. "What we're trying to do is recognize<br />

everybody that contributed in some way,<br />

shape or form to the town — and certainly<br />

people of color did that. Certainly, whether<br />

they were enslaved or not, they were a part of<br />

the community. They informed the history of<br />

the community, and if we ignore that or we<br />

choose not to focus on that then we're missing<br />

out on a part of the past that's informing<br />

the present." X<br />

Lauren McCormack said Agnes, a slave in 18th-century Marblehead, is buried at the top of Old Burial Hill.<br />

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30 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Horribles Parade<br />


William Tracy, also known as "Uncle Sid," leads the parade at the Marblehead Horribles Parade.<br />

A patriotically-attired Max Urena throws candy to the crowd.<br />

Owen Williams, 6, dressed as a firefighter complete<br />

with engine for the Horribles Parade on July 4.

SUMMER <strong>2021</strong> | 31<br />

Revelers decked out in red, white, and blue take to the street for the Marblehead<br />

Horribles Parade on July 4.<br />

Revelers decked out in red, white, and blue take to the street for<br />

the Marblehead Horribles Parade.<br />

Will White, 3, and Connor Ridge, 7, showed off their patriotic spirit during a July 4 fire engine ride.

32 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

She put a cutting edge on a new idea<br />


Drones have come to land and<br />

drones have come to air. Now<br />

they're going to sea, too.<br />

That's the idea behind SeaTrac, which bills<br />

itself as the next wave of uncrewed surface<br />

vehicles. Alessandra Bianchi, who labels<br />

herself the "Communications Queen Bee<br />

of SeaTrac," explains that "people would like<br />

autonomous boats for jobs in the water that<br />

are dirty, dull, dangerous or expensive."<br />

Bianchi says there are plenty of uses for<br />

drone boats that don't threaten any existing<br />

maritime occupations. SeaTrac, headquartered<br />

on Hoods Lane in Marblehead, is the<br />

brainchild of two longtime entrepreneurs,<br />

Buddy Duncan and James "Jigger" Herman.<br />

They met in the hallway of the MIT naval<br />

architecture department, and discovered they<br />

both had entrepreneurial sides to them.<br />

"They have been collaborating ever since<br />

— and very successfully," said Bianchi, who, as<br />

well as being the communications director, is<br />

married to Herman. With a journalism background,<br />

Bianchi used to cover startups for Inc.<br />

Magazine. Now, she's actively working for one.<br />

"The karma of the universe has come to<br />

make me humble and appreciative of how<br />

challenging it is to make something out of<br />

nothing." she says.<br />

Duncan and Herman's first company was<br />

Cutting Edge Inc., a forerunner of computer-controlled<br />

fabric cutting machines. That<br />

ended up as high as No. 86 on Inc's list of<br />

fastest growing companies in North America.<br />

HomeLogic, the second startup by the<br />

two, specialized in home automation almost<br />

a decade before the term "smart home" came<br />

into being.<br />

Duncan was passing time in a Chinese<br />

hotel room one day, overseeing manufacturing<br />

of HomeLogic components when he saw,<br />

on YouTube, videos of autonomous surface<br />

vessels. He thought he could do better, and<br />

when he and Herman could get together, they<br />

got to work.<br />

They spent the next two years designing<br />

and building a red prototype boat. Their second<br />

model, this one yellow, has more speed (5<br />

knots), solar panel power (750 watts), battery<br />

capacity (6.75 kilowatt hours), motor power,<br />

payload capacity (70 kilograms), easier launch<br />

and recovery, and a lower price point by half<br />

than alternative autonomous vessels.<br />

"Their mantra is to make products that<br />

are simple, reliable, and cost-effective," said<br />

Bianchi. "That's their playbook. They have<br />

learned how to solve problems for demanding<br />

customers."<br />

Bianchi said the company approaches<br />

customers in the military, scientific and commercial<br />

fields — commercial meaning offshore<br />

wind, oil and gas.<br />

"All these stakeholders are interested in<br />

collecting real-time data in the water, whether<br />

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34 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Alessandra Bianchi demonstrates a state-of-the-art drone boat.<br />


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water-column parameters, such as nutrient<br />

makeup of what's actually in the water," said<br />

Bianchi.<br />

Also, she said, cameras and sensors can be<br />

strapped to these boats to survey what lies on<br />

the ocean floor.<br />

"You have to know what the topography<br />

looks like, for example, if you want to put an<br />

offshore wind tower on the ocean floor," she<br />

said.<br />

Drones have become part of life in other<br />

areas, she says, from Roomba vacuum cleaners<br />

to aircraft.<br />

"Now," she said, "they’ve come to the sea.<br />

And the ocean covers 71 percent of the planet.<br />

It's like the Wild West of blue technology. "<br />

Bianchi says SeaTrac's way of measuring<br />

the amount of harmful red tide material in the<br />

water is much more accurate.<br />

"That's really a big deal," she said. "That<br />

much algae in the water can close beaches to<br />

tourists."<br />

Another potential benefit might be listening<br />

to sharks, she said.<br />

"I don't think they make sounds," she said,<br />

"but they have some predictable behaviors.<br />

There's a 'shark whisperer' on the Cape<br />

now who has tagged some of them. He is<br />

studying migratory shark behaviors. He says<br />

he can learn a lot by the precise behavior he<br />

could capture, in theory, on the boat. If you<br />

can dream it up, it might be feasible with an<br />

uncrewed surface vehicle."<br />

There are practical advantages to this too.<br />

Uncrewed boats don't require overtime.<br />

"Our boat will work overtime for as long<br />

as you want," she said. "It doesn't require food.<br />

Just sunshine. There's smart technology inside<br />

of it, it can plot a course and it can change<br />

course on the fly. It can 'mow the lawn,' or do<br />

tight patterns back and forth. Maybe a person<br />

might be seasick doing that, but not our boat."<br />

The only real human requirement is the<br />

"man in the loop."<br />

"Somebody will want to be watching what<br />

the boat is doing and where it's going," she<br />

said. "We can do it for the customer, or they<br />

can. You can be at your desk sipping a cup of<br />

coffee as your drone is doing what you would<br />

have been doing.<br />

"If you learn some new piece of information<br />

that makes you want to change your<br />

course, it can be done with the click of a<br />

mouse. On good days, I feel like I'm in a James<br />

Bond movie. On challenging days, I wish I'd<br />

taken more math courses."

Screen printed textiles are on display at the Marblehead Handprints exhibit at Marblehead Museum, celebrating the town's vibrant history.<br />

Time traveling<br />


Marblehead<br />

was incorporated in 1649<br />

The town was settled by Europeans<br />

in 1629 as part of Salem<br />

and that was the case until 1649<br />

when Marblehead broke off as<br />

its own town. Some say that<br />

Marblehead separated because<br />

its residents were less religious<br />

than those in Salem.<br />

Old Town House<br />

was built in 1727<br />

The Old Town House was used<br />

as a meetingplace for the town<br />

until they moved to Abbot Hall.<br />

For a century and a half, this was<br />

where elections were held and<br />

where town meetings would be<br />

held. Frederick Douglass once<br />

spoke at the Old Town House.<br />

The Spirit of '76<br />

was painted in 1876<br />

This painting is something<br />

that a lot of people think of<br />

when they think about Marblehead.<br />

According to a local<br />

historian, someone who knew<br />

the artist wanted to bring the<br />

painting to Marblehead and it<br />

was installed in Abbot Hall.<br />

Marblehead Pottery<br />

was first made in 1908<br />

Marblehead Pottery was<br />

founded by Dr. Herbert Hall,<br />

who holds the distinction of<br />

being known as the father of<br />

occupational therapy. He used<br />

trades and crafts to help patients<br />

adjust to life while living with<br />

various physical ailments. The<br />

pottery business took off, and is<br />

still collected today.<br />

J.O.J. Frost dies in 1928<br />

Frost didn't start painting<br />

until his 70s after the death of<br />

his wife, and it is believed that<br />

he painted over 100 pieces. Frost<br />

considered himself a historian;<br />

he often painted memories or<br />

stories told to him by his elders.<br />

Marblehead Handprints<br />

were first made in 1970<br />

Kathy Walters and Molly<br />

Haley founded the screenprinting<br />

business in Molly's home<br />

where they screen printed various<br />

fabrics for a variety of projects<br />

and purposes. The former<br />

business was most well-known<br />

for its bags. At one point,<br />

Handprints even had a window<br />

display in Saks Fifth Avenue in<br />


36 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Star-bound singer<br />


It was the afternoon of April 2 when Marblehead<br />

High graduate Melina Laganas<br />

grabbed that day’s mail and spotted the<br />

envelope from Berklee College of Music. She<br />

opened it with a bit of hesitation and slowly<br />

unfolded the letter.<br />

“Congratulations. You have been accepted…”<br />

She started to cry. Better yet, the prestigious<br />

Boston school had awarded her a full-tuition,<br />

four-year Berklee City Music College<br />

Scholarship, a highly competitive merit- and<br />

need-based award.<br />

“I had to read the letter over and over and<br />

over. I was crying. I was so happy,” she said.<br />

She ran to share the great news with her<br />

parents.<br />

“I thought she was pranking me,” recalled her<br />

dad, William, a Swampscott native, with a<br />

laugh. “It was the day after April Fools.” The<br />

estimated tuition for four years at Berklee is<br />

$190,032.<br />

Berklee, in fact, has already been a great<br />

fit for Melina. She received a Berklee City<br />

Music High School Academy 5-week<br />

summer intensive scholarship three years<br />

in a row and recently received the Unsung<br />

Hero award for Berklee’s pre-college summer<br />

ensemble program.<br />

“It was good to see that the work I put in was<br />

noticed,” said Melina, relaxing on a bench at<br />

Chandler Hovey Park. “It was so great to be<br />

with kids who shared the same interests and<br />

passions as me.”<br />

The college provided her and other students<br />

with a piano, mic and electronic digital<br />

instrument.<br />

The Laganas home on Pleasant Street has always<br />

been filled with music. Her dad, a 1984<br />

Swampscott High grad and owner/caterer of<br />

Eastern Harvest Foods, would blast his classic<br />

rock albums (Kinks, Stones). Her mom, Enid,<br />

prefered the pop hits of Shakira, Gwen Stefani<br />

and Christina Aguilera.<br />

Melina’s tastes are a bit more eclectic. She<br />

gushes about Jacob Collier, Jill Scott, Erykah<br />

Badu, Dinosaur Jr. and Charlie Puth — who<br />

graduated from Berklee with a degree in music<br />

production and engineering, the very program<br />

Melina plans to major in.<br />

Daughter and dad have attended many concerts<br />

together, mostly at Lynn Auditorium<br />

when Wiliam, who grew up on Shelton Road<br />

in Swampscott, prepared and served meals

to the performers, which included Billy<br />

Idol, Toto and Air Supply.<br />

Her younger siblings, Aristotle, 15, and Oleana,<br />

12, enjoy music but not to the passion level<br />

of Melina.<br />

It was clear from the start that Melina had<br />

a special talent as a singer. She was the first<br />

recipient of the Lynn YMCA’s Rising Star<br />

title. At age 14, she fronted a band of young<br />

musicians from School of Rock/Lynn that<br />

performed a set of Rolling Stones songs in<br />

Central Square as part of the Downtown<br />

Lynn Cultural District’s 10th annual Clock<br />

to the Rock 5K road race/celebration.<br />

At Berklee’s summer program that first year,<br />

she was the youngest — by three years — of<br />

the 138 kids who participated.<br />

“After my audition there I knew immediately<br />

I wanted a career in music and I wanted to<br />

go there," she said. "Berklee was the only<br />

college I applied to. That probably wasn’t<br />

very smart, but it was where I wanted to go.”<br />

She will live on campus this fall.<br />

“I’m actually really shy. I used to dread going<br />

on stage. No more. Now I’m excited.”<br />

After school nearly every weekday since her<br />

freshman year, Melina took the MBTA bus<br />

from Marblehead and the Blue Line train<br />

from Wonderland to Berklee in Boston’s<br />

Back Bay. She’d finally arrive home at about<br />

10 p.m. Most nights she’d start her Marblehead<br />

High homework at 11, get a few hours<br />

of sleep, and then do it again the next day.<br />

For the past year-plus, Berklee’s lessons were<br />

taught online via Zoom.<br />

“It was isolating," Melina said. "It messes<br />

with your head not to be in the same room<br />

with professors and fellow students.”<br />

She credits Berklee professors, including<br />

David Alexis and Tia Fuller — pop diva<br />

Beyonce’s saxophonist of choice — for<br />

helping to fan the flames of her musical<br />

passion. Singer-songwriter Livingston<br />

Taylor, a professor of voice, has also aided<br />

her development.<br />

“I’d like to make music that means something<br />

to me and that matters. I’d like to make<br />

a connection with people who understand<br />

me and feel like they know me by what I<br />

write,” she said. X<br />

Musician Melina Laganas juggled work and school to pursue her music-making dreams.

38 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

Class of '21 commences<br />


Graduates receive their diplomas at the Marblehead Class of <strong>2021</strong> commencement ceremony.<br />

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SUMMER <strong>2021</strong> | 39<br />

a return to normal<br />

After one of the most challenging<br />

years that any of them have ever<br />

faced in and out of the classroom, the<br />

Marblehead High School Class of <strong>2021</strong> got<br />

its first real taste of normalcy on Friday, June<br />

4, when 247 seniors graduated on the turf at<br />

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The Class of <strong>2021</strong> was described by Marblehead<br />

Superintendent of Schools Dr.<br />

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Marblehead High Principal Daniel Bauer for<br />

getting through a year that he said was challenging<br />

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the more than $200,000 in scholarships<br />

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Positive memories were looked back upon<br />

by Class President Daniel Walter Howells,<br />

Valedictorian Theodore James Chemel and<br />

Salutatorian Jack Norman Dalton; at the end<br />

of the ceremony, a fountain of black and red<br />

caps went shooting into the sky.<br />

A big balloon arch celebrates the Class of <strong>2021</strong> commencement following two academic years dominated<br />

by COVID-19.<br />

Valedictorian Theodore James Chemel addresses<br />

fellow graduates.

40 | <strong>01945</strong><br />

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