01945 Summer 2021

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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


Susan Conti


Thor Jourgensen

Contributing Editors

Gayla Cawley

Sophie Yarin


Mike Alongi

Bill Brotherton

Allysha Dunnigan

Daniel Kane

Steve Krause

Tréa Lavery

Sam Minton


Spenser Hasak

Julia Hopkins

Advertising Sales

Ernie Carpenter

Ralph Mitchell

Patricia Whalen


Amanda Lunn

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


110 Munroe St.,

Lynn, MA 01901

781-593-7700 ext.1234


781-593-7700 ext. 1253




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,

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online 24/7, visit institutionforsavings.com. Better yet, stop by any one of our

15 convenient locations throughout the North Shore and Cape Ann.

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04 | 01945


Mapping Marblehead

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.

Wedded bliss

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

Lafayette St.

When: Go to spur.community/volunteer to

check the community garden calendar for

watering dates.

Sustaining vision

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.

Little theatre

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.


Preppy Stitch

makes its mark

in Marblehead


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

and unpredictable.

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



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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

were done.

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

her business.

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

her work.

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



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

napkin twillies.

"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

and products.

Danielle Rogers uses her 1969 camper, Poppy

the Preppy Hitch, as a mobile display of her

monogramming skills.

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

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of the main house with 3 bedrooms

and a separate, 1 bedroom cottage

along with two 2-story barns suitable

for renovation, office, or studio use.

Barns have capacity to store six cars

or boats.

14 | 01945

Marblehead Town Class sails on


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.


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

Christie Brinkley.

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

short numbers.

"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

lot tighter."

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

so fun.

"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.


Fiercely independent


Change comes slowly to

National Grand Bank, the

190-year-old Marblehead

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

be trusted.”

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

growth’s sake.”

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

their investments.

“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

Marblehead organizes

first police force

Great Marblehead

fire destroys much

of downtown


Train service


1831 1835 1839

1846 1853 1864 1877



Grand Bank established

March 17

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

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

Town opens

new high school

Wall Street

financial crisis

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

12th president

Jim Nye becomes

13th president

NGB opens its first branch

at Marblehead High School

NGB stock

trades at $7,500

Original headquarters on Hooper Street.

circa 1864

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

Marblehead. National

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

Mahri Jewlers.

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


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

grew up.

"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.


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


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

fish tanks.

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

NFL officials.

"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


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

proud of.

"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.


Museum unearths town's slavery history


It might come as a surprise to some,

but slavery was alive and well in

Marblehead in the days before the

Civil War.

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

the household.

"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


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

state Constitution.

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)

in school."

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

Horribles Parade


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


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

into being.

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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34 | 01945

Alessandra Bianchi demonstrates a state-of-the-art drone boat.


it's temperature or turbidity (the level of

clarity in the water), waver height, and other

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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

to aircraft.

"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.

Time traveling



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.

Marblehead Pottery

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.

Marblehead Handprints

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

Star-bound singer


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

need-based award.

“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

ensemble program.

“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

of Melina.

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

her development.

“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


Graduates receive their diplomas at the Marblehead Class of 2021 commencement ceremony.

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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

Piper Field.

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

by COVID-19.

Valedictorian Theodore James Chemel addresses

fellow graduates.

40 | 01945

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