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Setting sail X Parade time X Town counter
SUMMER 2021 X VOL. 4 ISSUE 2
reaches down the
block and around
5 WALLINGFORD ROAD, MARBLEHEAD NECK
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A publication of Essex Media Group
Edward M. Grant
Chief Executive Officer
Michael H. Shanahan
Edward L. Cahill
John M. Gilberg
Edward M. Grant
Gordon R. Hall
Monica Connell Healey
J. Patrick Norton
Michael H. Shanahan
Chief Financial Officer
William J. Kraft
Chief Operating Officer
James N. Wilson
Edwin Peralta Jr.
04 What's Up
06 Preppy Stitch
12 House Money
14 Setting sail
18 Bank on it
23 Author Author
24 Town counter
26 A story told
30 Parade time
32 Cutting edge
35 Past tense
36 Step in time
38 Hope class
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Lynn, MA 01901
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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
An ode to the cheeseburger
I would consider myself an expert in few things. Very few. In fact, other than clothes (I’m a Ralph Lauren
Purple Label, Brioni and, on occasion, Kiton guy), my only other expertise might be cheeseburgers.
I minor in cookies and peanut M&Ms and ice cream (man, I miss Coffey’s). But I major in pizza and
Mexican and I’ve all but made it my life’s mission to find the ultimate cheeseburger.
So God has been good to me. He led me to Marblehead — home of Marblehead House of Pizza and
Howling Wolf and 5 Corners Kitchen. And home of me.
I’m told all Houses of Pizza are essentially the same — Greek style, as opposed to Italian — but I think
Marblehead House of Pizza is the best. And Wolf ’s steak chimichanga with refried beans is the greatest
Mexican since Salma Hayek.
Then there is the cheeseburger at 5 Corners. The best on planet Earth. Or so says me.
My relationship with the cheeseburger had a rocky beginning. My mother was not exactly a cooking
savant. The first time she made a cheeseburger for me it actually came out of the oven — don’t ask — on
fire. Flames. I’m still sort of surprised she didn’t burn down the kitchen, if not the house. Her subsequent
attempts were less memorable, but sufficient.
Thus began my quest.
Its earliest stages included a place on the Lynnway — called Burger Boy, maybe? — and my introduction
to McDonald’s came compliments of my cousin Bill, whom I’d visit each summer in Manchester, N.H. He
took me to one there, on Elm Street, and an obsession was born.
I spend a fair amount of time in Manhattan (New York, not Kansas), and have sampled dozens and
dozens — from low end, such as Big Nick’s Burger Joint on the West Side and Whitman’s on the Lower
East, to high end, $40 burgers at Gramercy Tavern, Peter Luger, Minetta Tavern, Tribeca Grill, Union
Square Cafe, and the like.
Boston was always represented. Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons. Abe & Louie’s. Grill 23. Joe’s. jm
Curley. I thought the best was at Bouchee on Newbury Street, but that’s no longer with us.
Obviously, I’ve given this search my best effort. But my current favorite (I say current because I am fickle)
is at 5 Corners.
What does this have to do with this edition of 01945? Well, nothing. But I thought you should know
there is burger greatness in our midst.
So what is in this edition of 01945? I’m glad you asked.
Danielle Rogers has a history of creating designs and artistic elements. Now she has taken to
monogramming. The Preppy Stitch — has there ever been a more Marbleheady name? — is her latest
venture. Allysha Dunnigan has the story.
We've had drones on land and drones in the air. Now we have drones on the ocean. And that's thanks to
SeaTrac of Marblehead, whose prototype drone vessel promises to do all the work at sea that many find
unattractive. Steve Krause has the story.
Last month, at the Marblehead town election, a familiar face kept tabs on the results in an old-fashioned
way — via the whiteboard. Sam Minton profiles Carl Siegal.
You're never too young to write. Cate Cole, 11, proved that earlier this year, winning an award for her
one-page fiction piece on a lone wolf trying to escape a forest fire. Krause again has the story.
And speaking of writing, do you think it's easy writing a book these days? Think again. Kate Anslinger
has written four books in a mystery series — six overall — and publishes them herself. It involves a lot of
time and money. Again, Krause has the story.
Elsewhere, singer Melina Laganas, who just graduated from Marblehead High, will get to refine her skills
this fall at Berklee School of Music in Boston — on full scholarship, no less. Bill Brotherton has the story.
It may not be a well-known fact, but slavery was a part of Marblehead in the years leading up to the U.S.
Civil War. Sam Minton again has the story.
Since golf is near and dear to a lot of hearts in town, we have this one for you: Brad and Roger Tufts have
played a lot of golf together over the years, but the brothers shared a first this June. It was their first time
competing in the Mass Open. Mike Alongi has the story.
And then there’s the cover story. The National Grand Bank is 190 years old and has always been stable,
conventional, and predictable — exactly what one would want in a bank. Mike Shanahan profiles the bank
president and offers an overview of the bank itself.
Plenty to digest.
COVER National Grand Bank CEO Jim Nye stands with the bank's 1951 Chevrolet 3100. PHOTO By Spenser Hasak
02 | 01945
Where the North Shore
Community Comes to Bank.
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community and who are committed to doing what’s best for you.
We offer competitive personal and business banking products and rates,
convenient online and mobile banking, local decision making and attentive and
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online 24/7, visit institutionforsavings.com. Better yet, stop by any one of our
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04 | 01945
What: Interactive maps and displays
present the town's history in a way that can
be enjoyed by all.
Where: Old Town House, 1 Market Square
When: Thursdays, 1-7 p.m; Fridays, 1-4 p.m.;
Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sundays, 1-4
p.m. through October.
What: Chandler Hovey, Castle Rock and
Crocker Park can be booked for weddings.
Where: Call the town Recreation and Parks
office, 781-631-3350, to find out if desired
date and location are available.
When: Bookings may be made as far out as
one year from today's date.
Way to grow
What: SPUR community roots is looking
for community garden waterers.
Where: St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 135
When: Go to spur.community/volunteer to
check the community garden calendar for
What: Sustainable Marblehead is a
community organization working to reduce
waste and pollution and achieve net-zero
carbon emissions by 2040.
Where: Visit sustainablemarblehead.org for
activities and how to join.
When: Sustainable's six working groups
devoted to bicycling, clean energy, a healthy
harbor and other goals meet regularly.
What: Marblehead Little Theatre offers
music theater classes for kids 7-12.
Where: Classes are held at the Theatre, 12
School St. Visit mltlive.com for registration
When: Six week-long sessions run through
August 20 with classes scheduled Monday-
Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
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06 | 01945
Danielle Rogers, owner of The Preppy Stitch, sits with her dog, Bo, in Poppy the Preppy Hitch, a 1969
camper that she uses as a pop-up shop to show off her custom monogramming business.
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
makes its mark
BY ALLYSHA DUNNIGAN
Danielle Rogers has a history
of incorporating design and artistic
elements into her everyday life. After
spending time as an interior designer,
painter and embroiderer, Rogers has now
taken to monogramming.
The Preppy Stitch is her small
business, based out of her Marblehead
home, where she monograms everything
from blankets to napkins to pillows and
even water bottles.
Rogers graduated from Syracuse
University with a degree in interior
design, but eventually left the field to
raise her two sons.
She then started a business hand
painting children's furniture, but said
that shipping was too costly, so she
decided to end that venture as well and
focus on being a mom.
Rogers has always loved monograms,
and would often monogram things in
her home as a hobby. She then decided
to branch out and monogram for other
people; stitching for her friends made
her realize that she could make her art
into a business.
She now monograms for customers
across the East Coast and, with a two
week turnaround, said she has new
products to be made every day.
When the pandemic hit, Rogers
thought her business wouldn't survive.
She said she didn't think anyone would
want to order monogrammed items
during a time that was so crazy, stressful
With COVID-19 hitting the United
States so quickly, Rogers noticed the
lack of personal protective equipment
at hospitals across the country. Since
she has a basement full of cloth, yarn,
sewing and embroidery essentials, Rogers
decided to make masks.
When she began making
monogrammed masks, she had her
busiest month ever. Last May, Rogers
said, she was making dozens of masks
per day and had never had that much
PREPPY STITCH, page 08
On Sale & Coming to the...
08 | 01945
"It was crazy," Rogers said. "We were
shipping out between 25 and 50 orders a
day, mostly masks."
Rogers has an assistant, who she said
has been very helpful during this time.
While Rogers monogrammed the masks,
her assistant stitched the fabric together.
The mask making has now slowed
down, but Rogers said The Preppy Stitch
is doing well.
The Preppy Stitch offers over 40 stitch
designs, fonts and numerous colors, but
also does personalized designs as well.
Rogers has her workshop in her
basement where she has two large
monogramming machines as well as
a table for preparing, measuring and
completing the work; she also has
computers where she makes the designs.
To make a monogram, Rogers will
insert the letters and colors in the
monogram onto a flash drive, which then
goes into the monogram machine. Then
the machine stitches the design onto the
"I really love monograms," Rogers
admits. "I always have."
She also keeps inventory and
coordinates shipping on the other side of
her basement workspace.
The majority of her orders are placed
online at her website thepreppystitch.
Colored thread spools line the wall of Danielle Rogers' basement studio.
com. Customers can choose fonts and
thread colors to put onto products in
Rogers' inventory, or people can drop off
their own products for her to monogram.
During the pandemic, she had a
contactless system where customers
could leave the items they wanted
monogrammed on her front porch, and
she would ship them back when they
The turnaround for her work is
around two weeks, depending on how
busy she is.
As her business grew, Rogers decided
to add to her workshop with the purchase
Serving the North Shore since 1972
497 Humphrey Street, Swampscott, MA
of Poppy, the Preppy Hitch. During the
pandemic, Rogers bought a trailer that
she renovated to act as a second home for
Putting her interior design skills to use,
Rogers redid the floors, walls, countertops,
bathroom and seating areas — and, of
course, added her monogrammed towels,
blankets and placemats.
She also repainted the trailer, to
match her business' pink, blue and white
The trailer is parked in her driveway
and is used for her pop-up appearances at
markets and events. Rogers said she, and
her mini labradoodle, Bo, like to work
and design in the trailer sometimes to
switch things up.
"It's nice to have Poppy because if I
want to do a pop-up here, I can do that
and people won't need to come into the
house," Rogers said. "I'm so excited to
see what else I can do with this (Poppy).
This just opens up a whole new world."
Rogers was working from home even
before the pandemic, and she said it's
nice to have another place to go to work.
In October, Rogers took Poppy on her
first road trip, venturing out to Vermont
for a pop-up show.
Rogers said she is hoping to do more
shows now that things are opening back
up, and said that those she has already
done have been both successful and fun.
During the holiday season, Rogers
had a few pop-ups in her driveway, where
she opened Poppy up for people to see
She posts the pop-up dates on
Instagram and sends updates via email,
so customers know when to come by.
"It's just different, so it's fun," Rogers
PREPPY STITCH, page 10
10 | 01945
As a small business owner during
the pandemic, Rogers faced uncertainty
and restrictions regarding her sales and
products. Adjusting to the pandemic was
tough, she said, but she credited a group
of female entrepreneurs for helping her
get through it.
Five years ago, Rogers went to a
conference in South Carolina called
the Southern Sea, where she met other
female business owners. This group met
once a week via Zoom, and Rogers said
she collaborated with the other women
to incorporate her work into Southern
magazines and articles, which resulted in
a large consumer base in the South.
Through Instagram, Pinterest,
Facebook and email, Rogers connects
with her customers in the South to keep
them up to date with new and exclusive
products, including her personalized
"My two little hashtag I always
use are "#popitwithamonogram" and
#elevatetheeveryday," Rogers said. "I
think elevating the everyday really
embodies so much of my personality and
what I do."
Rogers said she is hoping to continue
to work with her friends in the South
to grow her business and clientele, and
wants to bring Poppy on a road trip
"I love seeing how much my business
has been growing and branching out,"
Rogers said. "I have a lot of plans for The
Preppy Stitch and am excited to see how
it all plays out."
Rogers encourages people to follow
her on social media (@thepreppystitch)
for updates and information about popups
Danielle Rogers uses her 1969 camper, Poppy
the Preppy Hitch, as a mobile display of her
Danielle Rogers, owner of The Preppy Stitch, a custom monogramming business based in Marblehead,
stands with her 1969 camper, which she purchased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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SUMMER 2021 | 13
A peek inside
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SALE DATE: May 24, 2021
LIST PRICE: $4,000,000
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YEAR BUILT: 1998/1930
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for renovation, office, or studio use.
Barns have capacity to store six cars
14 | 01945
Marblehead Town Class sails on
BY TRÉA LAVERY
On a hazy morning, a group of small,
brightly-colored sailboats drift slowly
from their moorings by the Marblehead
causeway toward the end of the harbor.
These boats, most crewed by just one
or two sailors, may look inconsequential,
but they make up Marblehead's oldest
continuously-raced fleet. The Town Class,
affectionately known as "Townies," are
ready to race.
On the porch of Corinthian Yacht
Club, the race committee hangs an orange
two-by-four from a railing, marking the
starting line. Traditionally, a sailing race
committee will be stationed on a boat to
set the line, but Corinthian's is unique.
"Coming back and looking at
that is just beautiful," said sailor Peg
The 16.5-foot, one-design Townies
were first built in 1932 by Marcus Lowell
of Amesbury, and arrived in Marblehead
in 1936. They were designed to be
accessible to an ordinary townsperson,
hence the name. Marcus' son, Pert, later
took over the business, establishing the
Pert Lowell Company in Newbury, which
Boats in the Town Class, affectionately named
"Townies," race around Marblehead Harbor during
the Monday morning regatta.
PHOTOS: JULIA HOPKINS
his son-in-law, Ralph Johnson, runs today.
To date, they have built over 2,000 of the
boats in wood and fiberglass models.
Marblehead Harbor is home to the
world's largest fleet of Townies, currently
numbering just over 40. Race committee
member Bart Snow is to thank for that.
Snow's parents purchased a Townie
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in 1953 to provide him with an outdoor
activity that wouldn't upset his hay fever.
The next year, he started racing and, in
1962, he won the first-ever National
Town Class Regatta in Nahant.
In the 1990s, after taking a few
decades off to race other boats, Snow
was approached by an old classmate to
join the Town Class Twilight Series,
which races in the harbor on Tuesday and
Thursday nights throughout the summer.
He was disappointed to find that, while
he was used to seeing upwards of 60
boats from his old racing days, just 11
Townies were left to sail Marblehead
"We would go out racing and be
lucky to get three or four on the start
line," Snow said. "The whole problem
was that all the boats got sold out of
town, because it's a 20-year wait for a
Snow decided to take things into his
own hands. He got permission from the
harbormaster to install a trawl along
the causeway, which could hold 20
boats. The space was formerly unused,
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Andrea Dodge and Nick Cann sprint to second place against fellow Townie sailors.
because at low tide the water is only
two feet deep — a problem for bigger
boats, but not for the Townies. Then, he
set about purchasing every Town Class
sailboat that became available, traveling
to Kentucky, the Great Lakes, barns in
New Hampshire, islands in Maine and
anywhere else he could find them.
Snow brings the boats to Pert Lowell
Co. for renovations, then sells them at
cost to local sailors. To date, he has sold
24 of the boats, and has six more in
varying stages of improvements.
"It's not a business," he said. "It's just
fun to get more out there."
Snow keeps track of each Townie's
history, too. The retired accountant keeps
a spreadsheet with more than 1,300 rows,
each corresponding to a different owner,
showing who had each vessel during each
year since it was built.
Some of them have interesting
histories. One light teal-colored boat,
the "Christie B.," was once purchased
by singer Billy Joel for his then-wife
As more boats pull up to the starting
line to prepare for the Morning Series
race, Snow looks out at them through
binoculars and shouts out the sail
numbers — 2047, 77, 2083 — to his
wife, Tuula, who records them on a
"We know a lot of them by name,
because we've been here a few years,"
Tuula Snow said.
Some of the sailors have been there a
long time, too. David Cooke started racing
when he was 13 on a Townie his parents
bought in 1955, before he was born. In
2006, he started again, racing with his
mother, who passed the boat on to him
after she died.
Now, Cooke races with his childhood
friend David Goldsmith on that same
boat, the "Aufblitzen," German for
"flash." It bears the number 3, because,
Cooke said, his father always preferred
"I've found the Townie's a slow boat
to race compared to a lot of other fleets
I've been in," Goldsmith said. "On the
other hand, the tactics — going to the
right, going to the left, rounding the
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marks — is a lot more challenging than
a lot of other boats and the fleet race is a
Cooke agreed, but said that
Marblehead's community is up to the
"It's become high-caliber now. A lot
of good sailors come in," Cooke said. "It's
exciting. You feel like you've accomplished
something when you do win."
Cooke's wife, Lynn, said that on top
of that feeling of accomplishment when
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16 | 01945
her husband wins, she buys him a lobster
Lynn Cooke prepares to keep time
on a battery-powered clock mounted
on a wooden plaque. As the frontrunner
rounds each mark, she will read out
the time for Tuula Snow to record. No
other conversation will be allowed in the
race committee booth, which ensures
everyone stays focused on the task at
Out on the water, the same silence
takes hold aboard each of the 13 Townies
sailing in today's race. Sailors test the
wind, milling around the harbor until
they see a yellow flag fall on the yacht
club porch and hear a horn that signals
that it's time to line up.
Three minutes later, another horn
sounds as a blue flag falls, and the
boats position themselves to have the
straightest shot to the first marker. After
another three minutes, a red flag signals
the start of the race.
"All clear," says race officer John Caslan
over the radio, and the Townies are off.
For each race, the committee chooses
a course based on the direction and
speed of the wind. Numbered buoys set
permanently throughout the harbor serve
as markers which the boats have to round
once, twice or three times, depending
on that day's course. Today, the course
markers are two green cylindrical buoys
known as "cans," numbered 21 and 22,
and the racers must make their way
through the course twice.
The participants in the race range
from seasoned pros to families with
children carrying bubble machines,
spreading glittering spheres behind them
as they float through the waves.
Alec MacMaster, Peg's husband and
the fleet's safety patrol, says as he follows
the Townies in a motor-powered yacht
club boat; when the couple's son was
younger, they would bring water balloons
along to the events, coordinating fights
with other sailors between races.
MacMaster said the games are part
of what makes the friendly competition
"They're more about the joy of
sailing," he said. "Victory is important,
but it's not the most important thing."
Race officer David Graham, another
mainstay of the Marblehead Town Class
community, said that this culture is part
of why he loves the niche sport so much.
"I love their enthusiasm," Graham
said. "It's a labor of love."
The frontrunner, boat number 2086,
Boats in the Town Class race around Marblehead Harbor.
rounds the first marker, with the rest of
the fleet tightly packed behind it. Here
at the beginning of the race, a sailor
could reach out and touch her nearest
competition. As they sail farther, the
group spreads out more, with the fastest
vessels separating from the pack and
stragglers falling behind.
As they turn past the second marker
and head back to the starting line to
begin the second lap, a message comes
over the radio: The wind has changed,
and along with it the course. Now, after
the first marker, they will turn in the
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opposite direction to buoy number 19, a
red "nun" named for its pointed top.
The sailors take the change in stride,
changing tack to glide out of the harbor
toward Marblehead Light.
Finally, 45 minutes after they started,
the first boat, number 2086, crosses the
finish line. Seventeen minutes later, the
last Townie completes the course.
"Some people say that watching
sailboat racing is like watching grass
grow," said Graham. "I don't think of
it that way. I think it's a thrill in slow
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Tellers tend to their customers' banking needs at National Grand Bank in Marblehead.
PHOTOS: SPENSER HASAK
BY MIKE SHANAHAN
Change comes slowly to
National Grand Bank, the
institution that is one of the few truly
independent banks still on the North
Shore. But you get a sense that is
exactly how the bank — and its nearly
225 shareholders — like things. Stable,
conventional and predictable.
Those characteristics have served the
bank well since its founding in 1831
as Grand Bank, a name that is less
presumptuous than it might sound when
you consider the source of its initial
deposits. The bank began as a refuge for
the hard-earned profits of Marblehead’s
principal trade at the time — fishermen
who farmed the sea in a place called
the Grand Banks, an abundant fishing
ground nearly 1,000 miles east of
Marblehead, off Newfoundland. The
“National” was added to the name when
the bank got its federal charter in 1864.
Fishing was a serious engine of the
New England economy in the 1830s —
so much so that Marblehead was one
of the 60 largest cities in the United
States at the time. The Grand Bank
came to be because the local fleet wanted
more control over their finances, a local
institution which avoids speculation
and would be there for them in good
times and in bad. That philosophy hasn’t
changed much in the intervening years.
The bank takes pride in the fact that
when you call its headquarters during
working hours a real person answers every
call. And you will not find the bank leading
the charge on changes in technology,
either. Sure, they have services like online
banking and mobile deposits, but they don’t
feel the need to be first in implementing
innovation. The last “tweet” on their
Twitter account was posted in 2014.
“We prefer to let the big guys sort out
the technology challenges and then we
follow,” NGB president Jim Nye explains.
“You don’t come to a bank our size with
our culture expecting us to be on the
The mantra that National Grand Bank CEO Jim Nye lives by.
cutting edge of technology, and we’re
comfortable with that. You come because
you know us, we know you, and we can
And while other banks are bent on
growth through new branches, new
products and acquisitions, that’s not
NGB’s style, either. In fact, they lasted
131 years in their first headquarters
building on Hooper Street before they
made a bold move in 1962 by buying the
abandoned Boston & Maine Railroad
station on Pleasant Street, where they
built their current quarters in 1963. For
all those years, the bank operated with a
single banking office.
“We’re centrally located in a small
town — we think it’s helpful for our
customers to have us all here in one
place. If there is a question or a problem
we can walk down the hall and come up
with a solution,” said Nye. “Marblehead
is our market. We don’t need growth for
That said, the bank did open its first
“branch” in 2002 when the new high
school opened at Tent’s Corner. Inspired
by a suggestion from longtime business
education teacher Joan Stomatuk,
the bank operates a limited service
branch, operated by students under the
supervision of the bank’s Matt Martin.
But don’t expect to see any additional,
traditional branches. As Nye pointed out,
“Expansion is not on our agenda.”
The agenda for the bank is managed
by an unusually active Board of
Directors. The group of six directors,
plus Nye, meets every other Tuesday to
personally review the details and approve
most loans. Competitive institutions
generally delegate that responsibility to
management, but that’s not the practice
at NGB. Like the bank, the board is
very stable. Its last new member joined
in 2014, and two current directors have
served since the 1980s.
“Our board knows our customers and
knows our market, so they help us make
better lending decisions,” explained Nye.
“And if a customer gets into trouble, they
SUMMER 2021 | 19
understand the situation already, so we’re
able to make adjustments and help the
customer through the problem.”
Many banks have whole departments to
deal with delinquent loans and foreclosures;
that’s not the case for National Grand.
In fact, they can count on one hand the
number of formal foreclosures they have
had in the past 30 years.
“I think our last one was in 2012,”
Nye recalled. “It was an unfortunate
family situation where the elderly
borrower passed away. We worked
through the process (and) sold the home,
and we were able to cover our loan and
present the widow with the surplus.”
Such credit quality isn’t an accident.
With about $425 million in assets,
the vast majority of their investments
are in real estate loans: $281 million as
of March 2021. And nearly all of that
($246 million) is in one to four family
residential mortgages; in other words,
loans to everyday people, not developers
or speculators. The bank’s staff and
directors know the neighborhoods,
current real estate trends and credit
worthiness of the customers firsthand.
This familiarity adds a layer of safety to
“We know when a family is having
a hard time and we’ll work with them,”
Nye pointed out. “But, on the other
hand, it’s hard to live and work in this
town and bump into our staff in everyday
life knowing you’ve defaulted on a loan.
People tend to return our phone calls and
we work things out.”
A small sign in Nye’s office speaks
directly to the strategy that helps set
them apart from so many other banks.
The sign says, “It's Nice to be Important,
but it's more Important to be Nice.”
For most of the bank’s 50 employees,
being nice goes beyond day-to-day duties
in the office. Many of them actively
serve in volunteer roles in Marblehead
community organizations, and several hold
seats on town boards, commissions and
committees. All of this deepens their ties
to the community. And the bank puts its
money where its heart is. From sponsoring
the annual Fourth of July Horribles Parade
to encouraging reading by promising kids
$10 if they read five books this summer, the
bank supports dozens of causes in town,
including promoting local businesses.
When the staff came across a
1951 Chevrolet 3100 panel van in
Marblehead’s red-and-black colors,
they purchased it, cleaned it up and put
it on the road in town to promote the
bank and local businesses. The truck,
with its vintage ‘50s lettering displaying
the bank’s phone number NE1-6000
(NE1 stood for the NEptune exchange,
predating 631), goes on tour to promote
local businesses during the month of
December. And local business owners
appreciate their support.
“They were there for us when we
needed them and, frankly, we wouldn’t
be here without them,” explained Trish
Brogna, owner of Tony’s Pizza, which
suffered a devastating fire in 2003.
“The community would be lost without
them. They go above and beyond to help
customers and you can’t ask for anything
more than that.”
But does all of this George Baileystyle
banking really work, financially, in
the long run? Apparently, yes; it works
quite well. The bank has been named
one of the top 200 community banks in
the United States by American Banker
magazine eight of the last 13 years based
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20 | 01945
Nye's is a Wonderful Life
Even though National Grand
Bank’s President Jim Nye
doesn’t look like Jimmy Stewart
when you sit with him in his
office, you can’t help but think
back to Frank Capra’s classic
movie about a friendly local
banker who’s right in the center
of things in that small town.
A larger-than-life cardboard
check memorializing the bank’s
commitment to Marblehead
High seniors stands in the
corner next to pennants from a
dozen schools where scholarship
winners will matriculate this
fall. The walls and bookcases are
adorned with trophies, plaques
and testimonial pictures. And
the door to his office is so rarely
closed that it’s a wonder he even
has one in the first place.
“I tell people ‘If you see my
door closed, I must be getting
grilled by our auditors’, otherwise
it’s always open,” joked
During a short visit with him
to discuss the bank’s history,
about a half dozen people took
advantage of the open door —
some to say “hi," a couple to say
“thanks for taking care of that,”
and a few asking him for a favor.
He knew everyone by name.
“One of the big advantages
we have working in a town like
Marblehead is that, after a while,
you can get to know everyone,
or at least know someone who
knows them,” Nye noted.
When he says “after a while”,
he’s being modest. Nye, a legitimate
Header who was born at
Mary Alley Hospital, has spent
virtually all his life in Marblehead,
and it makes him seem
like someone out of Central
Casting for his role as the head
of the town’s oldest and largest
Nye’s parents hailed from Toledo,
Ohio, and visited Marblehead
on their honeymoon back
in the 1950s. They loved the
town so much that they ended
up moving there and raising
four children. Jim, who played
football, swam and ran track for
the Magicians, graduated from
the high school in 1979. His
first brush with business in town
was a schoolboy lawn-mowing
business he and his brother
started, called “Just Kuts.”
After studying engineering
at Maine Maritime Academy
he transferred to Bentley University
to hone his business
skills and ended up working for
Chase Manhattan in mortgage
banking. Difficult times in the
banking industry and a young
family caused him to switch
gears and take a job selling baby
formula for a large company —
until a chance meeting with a
friend changed all that.
“I was attending a wake for
Brad Sheridan when I bumped
into Elliot Rothwell, who was
running National Grand’s
mortgage department at the
time,” Nye recalls. “Why don’t
you come back to banking?”
Rothwell asked, and the rest, as
they say, is history. Nye joined
Marblehead is the 57th
largest city in the U.S.
First lighthouse built
on Marblehead Neck
First railway station
opens at the future
site of NGB
65 Marblehead men
and boys lost in squall
off Grand Banks
first police force
fire destroys much
1831 1835 1839
1846 1853 1864 1877
Grand Bank established
Major Joseph W. Green
1st GB president
GB helps finance
replacement fishing fleet
Bank gets national
charter - changes name
to add “National” NGB helps finance
National Grand Bank president Jim Nye has an open-door policy for his office and welcomes
customers and visitors to pop in for questions or just to say "Hi".
National Grand’s mortgage
department and ultimately took
over the group from Rothwell
when he retired.
“When Barry Weed decided
to retire in 2008, I asked the
directors if I could be considered
for the president’s job. They
hired a national search firm and
they were a bit surprised, but,
when the process was done, I
was thrilled to become the 13th
president of National Grand
Bank,” Nye says.
“The only reason we are here
is to help this community,” he
And he practices what he
preaches, encouraging many of
the bank’s management team to
take active volunteer roles in the
community. Nye is currently a
member of the Board of Selectmen
in Marblehead, and was
the top vote getter in a recent
election where 15 people vied
for the five seats on the board.
It’s no wonder, based on feedback
from his peers.
“I can only speak in superlatives
about Jim Nye,” said Jackie
Belf-Becker, who has served
with Jim as selectperson since
2005 and currently chairs the
board. “He is a terrific colleague
on the board, and, more importantly,
he is one of the most decent,
kindest and caring people I
know. He is a great asset to the
Town of Marblehead.”
Ever humble, Jim deflects the
attention and praise.
“I’m a lucky guy because I’m
able to work in a town that I
love. Marblehead is the greatest
town in America,” he says with
a twinkle in his eye.
And he means it. X
“New” post office opens
on Smith Street
new high school
1962 1963 1976 1977 2000 2002 2008 2021
First shares of NGB sold
to public at $40
NGB moves into new headquarters
on Pleasent Street
NGB share price
increases to $75
Barry Weed becomes
Jim Nye becomes
NGB opens its first branch
at Marblehead High School
trades at $7,500
Original headquarters on Hooper Street.
22 | 01945
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upon its financial performance.
Shares of National Grand were sold
to investors in 1962 at $40 per share.
Shares are closely held by about 225
shareholders, most descendants of early
investors. The bank has not sold any
shares to investors since the 1980s, and
regularly buys back shares offered to
it by existing shareholders, so it is not
as though they are readily available
— but the most recent purchase price
was $7,500 per share. To put that into
context, an investment of $1,000 in 1962
would be worth approximately $187,500
at current values.
But shares, like the bank, are not for
sale. The bank may well be worth more
than that if it were to entertain acquisition
by many of the larger banks in the area
or a national bank seeking a foothold in
Marblehead. But that is highly unlikely to
happen, according to Nye.
“We are fiercely independent,” he
noted. “We have no desire to change
what has been working so well for us for
so many years.”
You get the sense that people in
Marblehead like it that way. X
The current location of National Grand Bank in
Marblehead was previously a train depot.
X When the B&M Railroad
decided to close their Marblehead
spur and terminal,
it left a hole in downtown
Grand purchased the property
and built a new headquarters
in 1963 — later
expanding in 1983 — creating
a landscaped front yard where a block of stores once stood. They
sold their 132-year home on Hooper Street for $40,000 in 1963.
X The bank’s largest depositor — some $20 million — is the Town
of Marblehead. The bank competes with other, larger banks for
deposits, but convenience and service play a big role. The bank has
about $365 million in deposits.
X The first great Marblehead fire in 1877 nearly destroyed the
bank’s Hooper Street headquarters. The fire destroyed 72 buildings,
costing 1,900 their shoe-industry jobs. The fire consumed the
building right next to the bank’s headquarters. The replacement
building was separated on purpose — thus the current courtyard
between the Hooper Street building and the current home of
X The bank’s investment management business (which involves a
partnership with Eastern Bank) grew out of a request from a customer
during the Blizzard of ’78. The bank didn’t offer investment
products, but then-president Randy Goodwin walked a customer
down the street in the snow to Naumkeag Trust and a partnership
was born. Eastern acquired Naumkeag in 1988.
The trials and tribulations
of a do-it-yourself author
SUMMER 2021 | 23
BY STEVE KRAUSE
The next time you decide you want to be
the next Stephen King, consider what that
"It's not easy," says Kate Anslinger, who
has carved out a niche as a writer of supernatural
mysteries, these days with the continuing
"Grace McKenna" series.
Grace, she says, is a detective who lives in a
little north-of-Boston suburb that might — to
some people — bear resemblance to Marblehead.
Her deal is that she can ferret out clues
to major crimes by looking into the eyes of
But unless you're John Irving or J.K. Rowling,
your book will not be the top priority at
Simon and Schuster or any other major publishing
company. It's more likely you'll have to
publish it yourself. And, as Anslinger says, that
may run into spending some money — but in
the long run it can be advantageous too.
"I had a small publisher for my first couple
of books," she said, "but I didn't think it
worked all that well. So I went with self-publishing.
For me, it's better."
And that's for a number of reasons. First, if
you're under contract with even a small publisher,
you're limited in what you can write.
"This way, I have control over what I write
and when I write," she said.
And Anslinger loves to write. She's always
loved to write. Even in her "real job," which
involves ghost-writing for different people.
"I love to write so much," she says. "When
I lived in Boston, I started writing one hour a
day. That turned into 'Saving Jason' (her first of
six books she has written)."
That book was somewhat autobiographical.
Anslinger is a U.S. Air Force veteran and her
first husband was a U.S. Marine. Between the
two of them, they saw plenty of instances of
post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore, she
has a deep knowledge of the condition.
"Jason, in my book, is a veteran who was
married to the Marines," she said. "He came
back from the war with PTSD. The story is
loosely based (on my experiences)."
From there, she went to "Underwater
Secrets," which spans two generations, and is
based on a lake in New Hampshire where she
"I had to do a lot of research on that," she
Kate Anslinger is a Marblehead-based freelance writer and author of the Grace McKenna mystery novel series.
PHOTO: SPENSER HASAK
said. "It's about a woman who finds secrets of
her mother's past life in the underwater parts
of the lake."
Then came her move toward self-publishing,
and with it, the birth of Detective Grace
McKenna, a sleuth who has the often-unenviable
gift of being able to read into the eyes of
"She can see flashes of crimes they have
committed," Anslinger said. "And she struggles
with the images."
McKenna solves crimes in all of the books.
None of the settings are the same, but they all
take part in fictional communities based on
cities and towns in either metropolitan Boston
or New Hampshire. Eras also vary.
The first of her "McKenna" books was
"The Gift," followed by "Buried Secrets,"
"Never Tell," and her latest, "Family Photos."
"I have a team of about 20 early readers
who I hire to catch inconsistencies, and to
proofread," she said. "One thing you learn
quickly is that you can't have an ego." X
24 | 01945
A patented talent
BY SAM MINTON
Carl Siegel tallies votes for the Board of Selectmen on June 22.
If you make your way to Abbot Hall
to vote in a local election, there's a
good chance that you have seen one
of Carl Siegel's many inventions.
Siegel has called Marblehead home for
a little while now. He ventured to the city
from Buffalo, N.Y. in 1960 in order to take
a job with General Electric in Lynn after
graduating from college. Now retired, he
has kept busy by doing carpentry work.
Beyond carpentry and engineering,
Siegel actually lays claim to quite a popular
invention that football fans will be familiar
with. If you look at the officiating crew in
NFL games, a piece of their equipment
was created by Siegel: the self-proclaimed
"bean bag" that you can see officials sporting
around the waist.
Officiating crews use the bean bags to
mark various spots on the field, including
the spot of a fumble or where a punt had
been caught. While it might be called a
bean bag, there actually aren't any beans in
the equipment; it's filled with gravel from
Unfortunately, the Marblehead resident
ran into some problems. He couldn't get
the bag to stay on his waist. So Siegel decided
to make one with gravel on each end
and a space to put over a belt. This allowed
for the weight to keep them from falling.
After personally testing the invention,
Siegel put out an ad in a referee magazine
and was able to sell a few bean bags to
"So what I did then is, I got a hold of
the official and I sent 120 of them down to
the NFL free of charge," said Siegel, "and
that's how I got in the NFL."
Siegel has continued to make the bean
PHOTOS: JULIA HOPKINS
bags. He actually has made them for the
NFL's biggest game of the season.
"I make a bean bag for the crew that
worked the Super Bowl," he said. "On one
side it has the Super Bowl number and on
the other side it has their (the official's)
position and number so it's personalized."
Having something that is used by the
football league to this day is something
that the Marblehead resident is really
"I watch (the games) and I look for
them," said Siegel. "They're in some of the
colleges, and I have my local organization
where they buy them from me. It's a fun
While it has seen success, Siegel never
patented his invention — so he never made
any money off of the idea.
"(The NFL) copied the design, but I
made them long enough ago that, even if
I had a patent, it would have run out," he
explained. "I do it more for fun. I don't
make any money, really."
Another one of Siegel's inventions has
more of a local impact: He has had a part
in Marblehead's local elections for more
than 30 years, and he created the boards
upon which votes are tallied to this day.
"The previous town clerk, Betty Brown,
they just had a piece of board up there
and they (would) write on it," Siegel said.
"I talked to Betty and I said 'I'll make a
couple of boards for election results.' So I
made those two boards, and since I have
made them I have been posting the votes
on it. I missed one year, but other than that
I've been doing it for more than 30 years."
SUMMER 2021 | 25
Carl Siegel is an Abbot Hall fixture during town
Carl has been tallying votes during town elections more than 30 years.
As for Siegel's election participation,
he said he is just happy to be able to play
a part in his community. In the past, he
had helped set up and take down voting
machines for local elections.
Living in a small town has its advantages
and being able to get to know everyone
is what has kept Siegel in Marblehead.
"When my children were young, I
worked and coached in Little League, and
we had our own youth football program,
and you get to meet a lot of people that
way," he said. "Now I'm in Rotary (club),
so you get to know people. That's the best
part of a small community." X
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26 | 01945
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
Burial Hill with the family that owned her.
PHOTOS: JULIA HOPKINS
Museum unearths town's slavery history
BY SAM MINTON
It might come as a surprise to some,
but slavery was alive and well in
Marblehead in the days before the
When it comes to the historical
American practice of slaveholding, a lot of
the focus seems to go toward the southern
United States — but the northern United
States is not without guilt. Lauren McCormack,
executive director of the Marblehead
Museum, noted that it wasn't uncommon for
upper-class families in town to hold slaves.
While the environs were not similar to the
plantations of the South, the upper class
could typically have a few enslaved people in
"I don't think it would have been seen as
unusual or strange to find enslaved people in
Marblehead — which is true for all of New
England," said McCormack. "That's a story
that we're finally starting to tell correctly: that
slavery was not absent from New England
and certainly was not absent in Marblehead."
The first ship that brought slaves to
Massachusetts colony was built right in Marblehead.
Built in 1636, the "Desire" is viewed
as the first ship to traffick enslaved people of
color into and out of Massachusetts Bay, and
was just the third ship built in the colony.
As the Marblehead Museum director,
McCormack was able to recount specific
disputes between the Native Americans and
the colonists in various parts of New England
around the time. There was one "skirmish" in
Connecticut that colonists won, which led
to Native American boys and women being
put onto the ship and sent to the Caribbean,
destined to become slaves. When the
"Desire" returned, the ship brought with it
the first slaves of African descent to Massachusetts.
McCormack said that it has been hard to
pinpoint the amount of enslaved people who
lived in Marblehead at any given time.
"It was not an unusual thing; the records
are a little spotty," she explained. "It's a hard
history to get at because the documentary
sources are not always present to really find
the exact numbers or anything more than
a name of somebody, unfortunately. We are
working on a database that will capture what
SLAVERY HISTORY, page 28
SUMMER 2021 | 27
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28 | 01945
Lauren McCormack, the executive director of the Marblehead Museum, stands in front of the newly-acquired building next to the Jeremiah Lee Mansion which
will become an immersive museum bringing to life the history of slavery in Marblehead. The building was the former slave quarters for the mansion.
we do know and make that available to the
She added that the database should be
ready to be launched by 2022.
There is also the story of Agnes, a slave
in 18th-century Marblehead who had
appeared to be buried with the family that
owned her in Old Burial Hill. McCormack
revealed that they had found that, while
Agnes' headstone is at the top of the hill,
Samuel and Elizabeth Russell are buried
closer to the bottom of the hill.
As far as McCormack knows, Agnes
is the only slave to be buried in the
cemetery. This was rather unusual for the
time, as historians have noted that slaves
were usually buried in unmarked locations
outside the town burial plot. McCormack
also noted that Agnes had a rather elaborate
In an interview with the Marblehead
Racial Justice Team, Pastor James Bixby
indicated that documents from Essex Probate
Court showed that Agnes was a female
servant, meaning that she was there to serve
the women of the house.
Agnes' headstone was stolen in the
1970s, but thanks to efforts from the Marblehead
Racial Justice Team, the headstone
will be replaced. The group raised more than
$7,000 and, according to Bixby — who
helped organize the fundraiser — the new
stone is in the middle of being carved.
Local historian Louis Meyi has noted
that during the 1600s and 1700s, many
Marblehead residents owned slaves. The
system was firmly in place until 1780 when
the Massachusetts court system ruled that
slavery wasn't compatible with the newly-adopted
Meyi and the members of the MRJT are
hoping to be able to increase awareness when
it comes to the town's history of slavery.
McCormack said that it's difficult to
figure out one sole reason why slavery isn't
talked about as much in this region, but
believes that the issue "goes way back."
"There was the sense of the 'good versus
the bad' or the 'North versus the South,' and
I think that was perpetuated, the idea that
there was no slavery here. You also hear 'oh
but slavery was nicer here' (as if) somehow
people were treated more nicely in the North
than they were in the South but there were
still enslaved people," she said. "You can't get
around that. But I think, for many reasons,
we weren't taught that in schools. I don't
know if it wasn't seen as important enough, I
certainly wasn't taught a lot about New England
slavery in school or slavery (in general)
Now McCormack believes that, as we
learn more, the tide is shifting and will
continue to do so.
"I think that as historians we're definitely
a part of that (shift)," she said. "We
want to be telling the full story and not just
the Eurocentric story, and to recognize the
humanity of people. It just helps explain a lot
of what is going on today."
For McCormack, it is extremely important
for residents of Marblehead to be aware
and knowledgeable of the town's history
when it comes to slavery.
"If you want to study the history of any
town, (including) Marblehead, then you
have to study all of it; sometimes people
will say 'well we don't want to be negative,'
but to me, I don't see it as being negative
to talk about these things that happen," she
said. "What we're trying to do is recognize
everybody that contributed in some way,
shape or form to the town — and certainly
people of color did that. Certainly, whether
they were enslaved or not, they were a part of
the community. They informed the history of
the community, and if we ignore that or we
choose not to focus on that then we're missing
out on a part of the past that's informing
the present." X
Lauren McCormack said Agnes, a slave in 18th-century Marblehead, is buried at the top of Old Burial Hill.
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30 | 01945
PHOTOS BY JULIA HOPKINS
William Tracy, also known as "Uncle Sid," leads the parade at the Marblehead Horribles Parade.
A patriotically-attired Max Urena throws candy to the crowd.
Owen Williams, 6, dressed as a firefighter complete
with engine for the Horribles Parade on July 4.
SUMMER 2021 | 31
Revelers decked out in red, white, and blue take to the street for the Marblehead
Horribles Parade on July 4.
Revelers decked out in red, white, and blue take to the street for
the Marblehead Horribles Parade.
Will White, 3, and Connor Ridge, 7, showed off their patriotic spirit during a July 4 fire engine ride.
32 | 01945
She put a cutting edge on a new idea
BY STEVE KRAUSE
Drones have come to land and
drones have come to air. Now
they're going to sea, too.
That's the idea behind SeaTrac, which bills
itself as the next wave of uncrewed surface
vehicles. Alessandra Bianchi, who labels
herself the "Communications Queen Bee
of SeaTrac," explains that "people would like
autonomous boats for jobs in the water that
are dirty, dull, dangerous or expensive."
Bianchi says there are plenty of uses for
drone boats that don't threaten any existing
maritime occupations. SeaTrac, headquartered
on Hoods Lane in Marblehead, is the
brainchild of two longtime entrepreneurs,
Buddy Duncan and James "Jigger" Herman.
They met in the hallway of the MIT naval
architecture department, and discovered they
both had entrepreneurial sides to them.
"They have been collaborating ever since
— and very successfully," said Bianchi, who, as
well as being the communications director, is
married to Herman. With a journalism background,
Bianchi used to cover startups for Inc.
Magazine. Now, she's actively working for one.
"The karma of the universe has come to
make me humble and appreciative of how
challenging it is to make something out of
nothing." she says.
Duncan and Herman's first company was
Cutting Edge Inc., a forerunner of computer-controlled
fabric cutting machines. That
ended up as high as No. 86 on Inc's list of
fastest growing companies in North America.
HomeLogic, the second startup by the
two, specialized in home automation almost
a decade before the term "smart home" came
Duncan was passing time in a Chinese
hotel room one day, overseeing manufacturing
of HomeLogic components when he saw,
on YouTube, videos of autonomous surface
vessels. He thought he could do better, and
when he and Herman could get together, they
got to work.
They spent the next two years designing
and building a red prototype boat. Their second
model, this one yellow, has more speed (5
knots), solar panel power (750 watts), battery
capacity (6.75 kilowatt hours), motor power,
payload capacity (70 kilograms), easier launch
and recovery, and a lower price point by half
than alternative autonomous vessels.
"Their mantra is to make products that
are simple, reliable, and cost-effective," said
Bianchi. "That's their playbook. They have
learned how to solve problems for demanding
Bianchi said the company approaches
customers in the military, scientific and commercial
fields — commercial meaning offshore
wind, oil and gas.
"All these stakeholders are interested in
collecting real-time data in the water, whether
BIANCHI, page 34
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Alessandra Bianchi demonstrates a state-of-the-art drone boat.
PHOTO: ALESSANDRA BIANCHI
it's temperature or turbidity (the level of
clarity in the water), waver height, and other
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The personal service and attention you deserve.
water-column parameters, such as nutrient
makeup of what's actually in the water," said
Also, she said, cameras and sensors can be
strapped to these boats to survey what lies on
the ocean floor.
"You have to know what the topography
looks like, for example, if you want to put an
offshore wind tower on the ocean floor," she
Drones have become part of life in other
areas, she says, from Roomba vacuum cleaners
"Now," she said, "they’ve come to the sea.
And the ocean covers 71 percent of the planet.
It's like the Wild West of blue technology. "
Bianchi says SeaTrac's way of measuring
the amount of harmful red tide material in the
water is much more accurate.
"That's really a big deal," she said. "That
much algae in the water can close beaches to
Another potential benefit might be listening
to sharks, she said.
"I don't think they make sounds," she said,
"but they have some predictable behaviors.
There's a 'shark whisperer' on the Cape
now who has tagged some of them. He is
studying migratory shark behaviors. He says
he can learn a lot by the precise behavior he
could capture, in theory, on the boat. If you
can dream it up, it might be feasible with an
uncrewed surface vehicle."
There are practical advantages to this too.
Uncrewed boats don't require overtime.
"Our boat will work overtime for as long
as you want," she said. "It doesn't require food.
Just sunshine. There's smart technology inside
of it, it can plot a course and it can change
course on the fly. It can 'mow the lawn,' or do
tight patterns back and forth. Maybe a person
might be seasick doing that, but not our boat."
The only real human requirement is the
"man in the loop."
"Somebody will want to be watching what
the boat is doing and where it's going," she
said. "We can do it for the customer, or they
can. You can be at your desk sipping a cup of
coffee as your drone is doing what you would
have been doing.
"If you learn some new piece of information
that makes you want to change your
course, it can be done with the click of a
mouse. On good days, I feel like I'm in a James
Bond movie. On challenging days, I wish I'd
taken more math courses."
Screen printed textiles are on display at the Marblehead Handprints exhibit at Marblehead Museum, celebrating the town's vibrant history.
PHOTOS: JULIA HOPKINS
was incorporated in 1649
The town was settled by Europeans
in 1629 as part of Salem
and that was the case until 1649
when Marblehead broke off as
its own town. Some say that
Marblehead separated because
its residents were less religious
than those in Salem.
Old Town House
was built in 1727
The Old Town House was used
as a meetingplace for the town
until they moved to Abbot Hall.
For a century and a half, this was
where elections were held and
where town meetings would be
held. Frederick Douglass once
spoke at the Old Town House.
The Spirit of '76
was painted in 1876
This painting is something
that a lot of people think of
when they think about Marblehead.
According to a local
historian, someone who knew
the artist wanted to bring the
painting to Marblehead and it
was installed in Abbot Hall.
was first made in 1908
Marblehead Pottery was
founded by Dr. Herbert Hall,
who holds the distinction of
being known as the father of
occupational therapy. He used
trades and crafts to help patients
adjust to life while living with
various physical ailments. The
pottery business took off, and is
still collected today.
J.O.J. Frost dies in 1928
Frost didn't start painting
until his 70s after the death of
his wife, and it is believed that
he painted over 100 pieces. Frost
considered himself a historian;
he often painted memories or
stories told to him by his elders.
were first made in 1970
Kathy Walters and Molly
Haley founded the screenprinting
business in Molly's home
where they screen printed various
fabrics for a variety of projects
and purposes. The former
business was most well-known
for its bags. At one point,
Handprints even had a window
display in Saks Fifth Avenue in
36 | 01945
BY BILL BROTHERTON
It was the afternoon of April 2 when Marblehead
High graduate Melina Laganas
grabbed that day’s mail and spotted the
envelope from Berklee College of Music. She
opened it with a bit of hesitation and slowly
unfolded the letter.
“Congratulations. You have been accepted…”
She started to cry. Better yet, the prestigious
Boston school had awarded her a full-tuition,
four-year Berklee City Music College
Scholarship, a highly competitive merit- and
“I had to read the letter over and over and
over. I was crying. I was so happy,” she said.
She ran to share the great news with her
“I thought she was pranking me,” recalled her
dad, William, a Swampscott native, with a
laugh. “It was the day after April Fools.” The
estimated tuition for four years at Berklee is
Berklee, in fact, has already been a great
fit for Melina. She received a Berklee City
Music High School Academy 5-week
summer intensive scholarship three years
in a row and recently received the Unsung
Hero award for Berklee’s pre-college summer
“It was good to see that the work I put in was
noticed,” said Melina, relaxing on a bench at
Chandler Hovey Park. “It was so great to be
with kids who shared the same interests and
passions as me.”
The college provided her and other students
with a piano, mic and electronic digital
The Laganas home on Pleasant Street has always
been filled with music. Her dad, a 1984
Swampscott High grad and owner/caterer of
Eastern Harvest Foods, would blast his classic
rock albums (Kinks, Stones). Her mom, Enid,
prefered the pop hits of Shakira, Gwen Stefani
and Christina Aguilera.
Melina’s tastes are a bit more eclectic. She
gushes about Jacob Collier, Jill Scott, Erykah
Badu, Dinosaur Jr. and Charlie Puth — who
graduated from Berklee with a degree in music
production and engineering, the very program
Melina plans to major in.
Daughter and dad have attended many concerts
together, mostly at Lynn Auditorium
when Wiliam, who grew up on Shelton Road
in Swampscott, prepared and served meals
to the performers, which included Billy
Idol, Toto and Air Supply.
Her younger siblings, Aristotle, 15, and Oleana,
12, enjoy music but not to the passion level
It was clear from the start that Melina had
a special talent as a singer. She was the first
recipient of the Lynn YMCA’s Rising Star
title. At age 14, she fronted a band of young
musicians from School of Rock/Lynn that
performed a set of Rolling Stones songs in
Central Square as part of the Downtown
Lynn Cultural District’s 10th annual Clock
to the Rock 5K road race/celebration.
At Berklee’s summer program that first year,
she was the youngest — by three years — of
the 138 kids who participated.
“After my audition there I knew immediately
I wanted a career in music and I wanted to
go there," she said. "Berklee was the only
college I applied to. That probably wasn’t
very smart, but it was where I wanted to go.”
She will live on campus this fall.
“I’m actually really shy. I used to dread going
on stage. No more. Now I’m excited.”
After school nearly every weekday since her
freshman year, Melina took the MBTA bus
from Marblehead and the Blue Line train
from Wonderland to Berklee in Boston’s
Back Bay. She’d finally arrive home at about
10 p.m. Most nights she’d start her Marblehead
High homework at 11, get a few hours
of sleep, and then do it again the next day.
For the past year-plus, Berklee’s lessons were
taught online via Zoom.
“It was isolating," Melina said. "It messes
with your head not to be in the same room
with professors and fellow students.”
She credits Berklee professors, including
David Alexis and Tia Fuller — pop diva
Beyonce’s saxophonist of choice — for
helping to fan the flames of her musical
passion. Singer-songwriter Livingston
Taylor, a professor of voice, has also aided
“I’d like to make music that means something
to me and that matters. I’d like to make
a connection with people who understand
me and feel like they know me by what I
write,” she said. X
Musician Melina Laganas juggled work and school to pursue her music-making dreams.
38 | 01945
Class of '21 commences
PHOTOS BY JULIA HOPKINS
Graduates receive their diplomas at the Marblehead Class of 2021 commencement ceremony.
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Graduates applaud as they are celebrated for their achievements at a commencement ceremony on June 4.
SUMMER 2021 | 39
a return to normal
After one of the most challenging
years that any of them have ever
faced in and out of the classroom, the
Marblehead High School Class of 2021 got
its first real taste of normalcy on Friday, June
4, when 247 seniors graduated on the turf at
The Class of 2021 was described by Marblehead
Superintendent of Schools Dr.
John Buckey as "exceptional" and praised by
Marblehead High Principal Daniel Bauer for
getting through a year that he said was challenging
in many ways. Bauer also thanked the
community for the part it played, acknowledging
the more than $200,000 in scholarships
that were donated to assist over 100 students
with their next steps.
Positive memories were looked back upon
by Class President Daniel Walter Howells,
Valedictorian Theodore James Chemel and
Salutatorian Jack Norman Dalton; at the end
of the ceremony, a fountain of black and red
caps went shooting into the sky.
A big balloon arch celebrates the Class of 2021 commencement following two academic years dominated
Valedictorian Theodore James Chemel addresses
40 | 01945
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