01907 Spring 2022

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Fresh<br />

Eyre<br />

SPRING <strong>2022</strong><br />

VOL. 7, NO. 1<br />

• Thomson tale<br />

• Can we talk?<br />

•Town tableau

Design. Build. Maintain.<br />

Landscape | Hardscape| Irrigation<br />

Maintenance | Lighting<br />

56 Sanderson Avenue | Lynn, MA |<br />

781.581.3489 | www.LeahyLandscaping.com

Shop us @vinninliquors.com for<br />

Delivery, Curbside and In-store pick-up<br />

• Party Essentials<br />

• Craft Beers<br />

• Cigars<br />

• Hard Cider<br />

• Seltzers<br />

• Wines<br />

• Sparklings<br />

• Spirits<br />

• Specialty Foods<br />

We DELIVER! Please check our website for your area zone.<br />

Now offering free delivery for qualifying orders to ALL zones.<br />


371 Paradise Road, Swampscott • 781-598-4110 • vinninliquors.com<br />

VINNIN<br />


2 | <strong>01907</strong><br />



A publication of Essex Media Group<br />

Publisher<br />

Edward M. Grant<br />

Chief Executive Officer<br />

Michael H. Shanahan<br />

Directors<br />

Edward L. Cahill<br />

John M. Gilberg<br />

Edward M. Grant<br />

Gordon R. Hall<br />

Monica Connell Healey<br />

J. Patrick Norton<br />

Michael H. Shanahan<br />

Chief Financial Officer<br />

William J. Kraft<br />

Chief Operating Officer<br />

James N. Wilson<br />

Controller<br />

Susan Conti<br />

Editor<br />

Thor Jourgensen<br />

Contributing Editors<br />

Madison Bethune<br />

Gayla Cawley<br />

Sophie Yarin<br />

Writers<br />

Adam Bass<br />

Madison Bethune<br />

Allysha Dunnigan<br />

Alena Kuzub<br />

Sam Minton<br />

Photographers<br />

Spenser Hasak<br />

Jakob Menendez<br />

Advertising Sales<br />

Ernie Carpenter<br />

Ralph Mitchell<br />

Patricia Whalen<br />

Design<br />

Edwin Peralta Jr.<br />

Advertising Design<br />

Emilia Sun<br />

INSIDE<br />

4 What's up<br />

6 Let there be light<br />

10 Surf and skate<br />

12 House Money<br />

14 Perseverance<br />

16 Friends with zest<br />

19 Thomson tale<br />

24 Way to play<br />

28 Town tableau<br />

29 Can we talk?<br />


85 Exchange St.,<br />

Lynn, MA 01901<br />

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

Subscriptions:<br />

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

<strong>01907</strong>themagazine.com<br />

Plugged into<br />

Swampscott<br />

In the 1880s, a young scientist named Elihu Thomson had an idea<br />

to use a spark from an electrical current to provide heat for welders. He<br />

won the patent for his invention in 1891 and introduced it at the welding<br />

company he had founded in 1886, called Thomson Electric.<br />

For more than 80 years, Thomson Electric operated out of the building<br />

on 161 Pleasant St. in Lynn, now occupied by Traditional Breads. You can<br />

see it from the Lynnway.<br />

A scientist and inventor, Thomson was granted 696 patents during his<br />

life that spanned 83 years. He is perhaps best known as being extremely<br />

instrumental in forming the merger of electrical giants that resulted in the<br />

General Electric Company. And the Thomson Club in North Reading<br />

bears his name.<br />

Thomson was born in England, but his family moved to the United<br />

States when he was a child.<br />

So what’s the <strong>01907</strong> connection?<br />

As an adult, he settled in Swampscott, in an estate near the beach on<br />

22 Monument Ave., where he lived until his death in 1937. We know it<br />

today as Swampscott Town Hall.<br />

In this edition of <strong>01907</strong>, Alena Kuzub profiles Elihu Thomson. She<br />

talks of his childhood in Philadelphia, and his interest at an early age in<br />

all things scientific. Alena relates the circumstances under which Thomson<br />

partnered with Silas Barton, Henry Pevear, and shoe-manufacturer<br />

Charles Coffin to leave New Britain, Conn., and come to Lynn to form<br />

the Thomson-Houston Electric Company on Market Street in downtown<br />

Lynn. Later, Thomson helped engineer the merger with his competitor,<br />

Edison-General Electric Company of Schenectady, N.Y., to form General<br />

Electric.<br />

And why do I care about Thomson Electric? Because my father worked<br />

there until he died at the age of 48 in 1969. As a kid I’d accompany him<br />

to the plant on occasion – but never had a clue as to what he did or what<br />

the company did or who Elihu Thomson was.<br />

Now I do. Thanks, Alena.<br />

I do know what Essex Media Group designer/illustrator Edwin<br />

Peralta Jr. does, because I work with him almost daily. And I marvel<br />

at his drawing and digital talents, which he used to capture the iconic<br />

Swampscott Town Hall. Check it out on Page 28.<br />

A different type of artistic prowess is shown by Julie Butters. The<br />

Swampscott Public Library staffer – who graces the <strong>01907</strong> cover –<br />

combined her love of playwriting with Zoom’s popularity to write and<br />

stage a Jane Eyre novel adaptation. A novel adaptation, indeed.<br />

And – speaking of a novel concept – there’s town resident Bob Scheier,<br />

who co-founded the New England chapter of Braver Angels, a group<br />

dedicated to bringing conservatives and progressives together to listen to<br />

opposing views and shaping perspectives.<br />

Civil discussion? In <strong>2022</strong>? What a concept. Good luck with that, Bob.<br />

COVER Actor and writer Julie Butters found a way to stage "Jane Eyre" on Zoom.<br />

PHOTO BY Jakob Menendez

4 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

WHAT'S UP<br />

Civic reminder<br />

What: It's time to register to vote<br />

in the April 26 town election — a<br />

Swampscott springtime ritual.<br />

Where: The quickest way to register to<br />

vote is either online at http://www.sec.state.<br />

ma.us/ or visit the Clerk's office, Town Hall,<br />

22 Monument Ave., to complete a voterregistration<br />

form in person. Mail-in forms<br />

are available online or at the Clerk's office.<br />

When: The registration deadline is<br />

Wednesday, April 6 with registration open<br />

from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.<br />

Global appetite<br />

What: Swampscott Recreation<br />

sponsors Eat Breakfast Around the<br />

Globe, a culinary adventure for students<br />

in grades 5-8 making "stops" in Costa<br />

Rica, Japan, Switzerland, and the U.S.<br />

Where: Swampscott Senior Center, 200R<br />

Essex St. — check swampscottma.myrec.<br />

com for registration information.<br />

When: Tuesday, March 15-April 5, 3-4:30 p.m.<br />

Taxing questions<br />

What: The public library is taking calls<br />

for American Association of Retired<br />

Persons (AARP) income-tax-assistance<br />

appointments.<br />

Where: Visit the library reference desk, 61<br />

Burrill St. AARP will mail information prior<br />

to the appointment day.<br />

When: The library will take<br />

appointment calls Monday-Friday until<br />

5 p.m. and Saturday until 1:30 p.m.<br />

Sitter School<br />

What: Swampscott Recreation sponsors<br />

a babysitting class for students in<br />

grades 5-10 taught by a licensed daycare<br />

provider focusing on infant and toddler<br />

care. Sign up at Swampscottrec.com.<br />

Where: Swampscott Senior Center, 200R<br />

Essex St.<br />

When: Sunday, March 13, noon-4 p.m.<br />

Bring-A-Friend<br />

What: Rotary Club of Swampscott<br />

sponsors a monthly meeting to introduce<br />

the club's serving humanity mission.<br />

Where: Mission on the Bay, 141 Humphrey<br />

St. Visit Swampscott Rotary Club Facebook<br />

page for more information.<br />

When: Wednesday, April 6, noon-2 p.m.

Bill Willis and Christine Tierney<br />

A Day in the Life<br />

A peek behind<br />

the curtain into<br />

the lives of two of<br />

Marblehead’s top<br />

real estate agents.<br />

Bill Willis & Christine Tierney<br />

Senior Vice Presidents<br />

christine.tierney@compass.com<br />

612.860.6446<br />

bill.willis@compass.com<br />

617.549.8956<br />

4:30am<br />

Rise and shine. Catch up on<br />

overnight emails and drink<br />

my first cup of coffee.<br />

6am<br />

Walk Oscar, my Yellow Lab. I<br />

find that getting outside early<br />

in the morning helps me feel<br />

most prepared to take on the<br />

day ahead and always makes<br />

me grateful to live in such a<br />

beautiful place.<br />

8am<br />

Make sure my youngest child<br />

makes it to school on time!<br />

8:30am<br />

Hit Plus Cafe for a second cup<br />

of artisan coffee. Downtown<br />

Marblehead has so many great<br />

shops and restaurants, I love<br />

supporting a local business<br />

while also getting an extra<br />

caffeine boost.<br />

9am<br />

Head to the Compass office.<br />

10am - 12pm<br />

Take Zoom Meetings, collaborate<br />

with colleagues, analyze market<br />

trends, and prep listings for<br />

market. As real estate agents<br />

we are so often on the move, so<br />

carving out time in my day to<br />

check things off my to-do list is<br />

a must!<br />

12pm<br />

Grab a quick lunch at Shubies or<br />

Eat Well Kitchen, two of the most<br />

delicious spots on the Northshore.<br />

1pm - 6pm<br />

Showing Appointments,<br />

paperwork, and client consults.<br />

This is why we do what we do!<br />

Getting to meet with our clients,<br />

understand their needs and be<br />

a part of their journey home is a<br />

privilege we don’t take lightly.<br />

6pm<br />

Dinner and Family Time.<br />

Winding down in the evening<br />

is crucial to making sure I am<br />

refreshed and present in every<br />

aspect of my life.<br />

Bill Willis and Christine Tierney are real estate brokers affiliated with Compass, a licensed real estate broker and abide by Equal Housing Opportunity laws.

6 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

Saving the planet<br />

one light switch<br />

at a time<br />


Ryan Hale, the chair of the town's Renewable Energy Commission, stands behind his solar-powered home on Paradise Road.<br />


Calling all Swampscott electricity<br />

users! You may be helping the<br />

planet in more ways than you<br />

think.<br />

That is if you are using Swampscott<br />

Community Power, a community-based<br />

program under National Grid, created to<br />

meet the town's sustainability goals, and<br />

also hopefully help you save a few bucks.<br />

Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) rates<br />

(such as National Grid) fluctuate in<br />

the summer and winter, because of the<br />

difference in electricity needs during each<br />

time of the year.<br />

With Swampscott Community<br />

Power’s long-term (28-month) pricing,<br />

LIGHTING, page 8<br />

A lone light iilluminates the pier at Fisherman's Beach.<br />


8 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

LIGHTING, continued from page 6<br />

compared to National Grid’s short-term<br />

(six-month or three-month) pricing and<br />

fluctuating rates, Swampscott Community<br />

Power offers stable, predictable rates for<br />

customers.<br />

Although savings can’t necessarily be<br />

guaranteed because of National Grid’s<br />

unknown future costs, savings do come<br />

with the program.<br />

“Looking at the published rates, I’m<br />

saving about 10 percent at the moment<br />

compared to current National Grid rates,”<br />

said Swampscott resident Eric Nothnagel,<br />

who would recommend the program to<br />

anyone not currently using it.<br />

Vice President of Communications &<br />

Program Management Marlana Patton<br />

from Peregrine Energy Group who<br />

runs Swampscott Community Power<br />

encourages people to check out the<br />

program this winter, because the prices<br />

will be competitive with National Grid.<br />

Swampscott Community Power is<br />

not only aimed at giving customers more<br />

stable rates, but is also being used to meet<br />

the town's sustainability goals. And not to<br />

fear! Although residents are automatically<br />

enrolled into the program, they can leave<br />

or join whenever they please.<br />

Participants are automatically signed up<br />

to receive 100-percent renewable energy<br />

with the Standard Green Plan. Under this<br />

plan, the energy is provided by wind power<br />

outside of New England.<br />

“The best-kept secret in Swampscott is<br />

that individual residents are reducing the<br />

carbon footprint,” said Ryan Hale, chair of<br />

the Renewable Energy Commission.<br />

Hale said customers can ignore all that<br />

“you-have-dirty-electricity” junk mail,<br />

because the electricity being provided by<br />

the program is far from it. Especially if you<br />

upgrade to the New England Green Plan,<br />

which also provides 100-percent renewable<br />

energy, but right from your own backyard<br />

— maybe not literally.<br />

The New England Green Plan provides<br />

energy from, you guessed it: New England!<br />

Although a bit pricier, the perk of this<br />

Power lines extend down Paradise Road.<br />

plan is that it creates a market demand for<br />

energy suppliers in the area, which will<br />

in turn create more sustainable energy<br />

providers in New England.<br />

More than half of Massachusetts towns<br />

use a community-power program, also<br />

known as a community-choice program.<br />

Swampscott Community Power currently<br />

serves 4,397 community members.<br />

“I think it's great,” said Nothnagel.<br />


"It saves us a little bit of money and it's a<br />

great way for the town to engage in public<br />

policies to help curb climate change.”<br />

So when you’re pumping that window<br />

air-conditioning unit this summer, you<br />

can feel a little bit better about yourself,<br />

knowing the power is coming from an<br />

environmentally-friendly source, and that<br />

it will keep an extra dollar or two in<br />

your pocket.

Historic mansion.<br />

Seaside cottage.<br />

Penthouse condo.<br />

Your dream is my job.<br />

Kathleen Murphy | Global Real Estate Advisor | 781.631.1898<br />

Uniting buyers and sellers along Boston’s North Shore<br />

21 Central Street | Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944

10 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

Amber O'Shea and Tim Oviatt recently opened<br />

Ocean House Surf and Skate in Nahant after<br />

moving from Humphrey Street in Swampscott.<br />


Ocean House Surf and Skate<br />


Amber O'Shea and Tim Oviatt<br />

have come a long way as owners<br />

of Ocean House Surf and Skate.<br />

The surf-and-skate shop had humble<br />

beginnings. The business started in Salem<br />

in 2011, with Oviatt selling gear out of his<br />

truck and garage. One year later, Oviatt<br />

moved his base of operations to Beverly<br />

Port Marina, and in 2013, moved the shop<br />

to Swampscott where he stayed until 2021.<br />

The shop in Swampscott also had a<br />

café, which is where O'Shea and Oviatt<br />

connected because O’Shea was a frequent<br />

customer. Eventually, with her experience<br />

Plan ahead for peace of mind.<br />



Lynn spacer<br />

781-599-3901<br />

An Affiliate of Alderwoods Group, LLC/Service Corporation International, 1929 Allen Parkway,<br />

Houston, TX 77019 (713) 522-5141.<br />

working in the food industry, she helped<br />

him run the café. O'Shea became more<br />

involved in the business as it grew by doing<br />

some buying for Oviatt, who also makes<br />

custom boards at the shop.<br />

Ocean House made its way to Nahant<br />

just before Christmas of last year, as the<br />

business moved into its new location at<br />

2A Wilson Road, with construction taking<br />

longer than Bulletin expected. Print Ad<br />

O'Shea said the Nahant community has<br />

been great in supporting the shop.<br />

"Everybody has been really cool," she<br />

said. "Two days before Christmas, all of our<br />

branded gear and T-shirts — everybody<br />

bought them so we ran out. Everybody<br />

seems really stoked."<br />

O'Shea said that Long Beach in<br />

Nahant is a great spot for surfing due to its<br />

long waves and shallow and sandy makeup.<br />

This also makes it a suitable surf spot for<br />

beginners, as well as more advanced surfers.<br />

The pandemic has helped people step<br />

It's simple to customize t<br />

1. Change the document<br />

clicking on "Change Do<br />

of the page. Consider i<br />

abbreviated publicatio<br />

2. Review the property in<br />

the correct location(s)<br />

out of their comfort zones and try some<br />

new hobbies, especially ones that can get<br />

them outdoors. O'Shea said that in the past<br />

3. Double-click on the hea<br />

change the messaging

SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 11<br />

Ocean House Surf and Skate co-owner Amber O'Shea<br />

removes a Walden surfboard from the display at the<br />

shop's new location in Nahant.<br />

Surfing in the winter, says Amber O'Shea, is no<br />

more rigorous than skiing or snowboarding.<br />

rides<br />

a wave to success<br />

two years, surfing and skating have really<br />

blown up.<br />

"Everybody just wants to be outside,"<br />

she said. "We've really seen the sport blow<br />

up lately and we have a ton of beginners<br />

coming into the shop that are super<br />

excited."<br />

O'Shea also mentioned the<br />

technological advances that have helped<br />

the sport grow in colder areas of the planet.<br />

"I don't think a lot of people realized<br />

you can surf in Massachusetts," she said.<br />

"The wetsuit technology wasn't really up<br />

to par 20 years ago, so if you lived in a<br />

cold-weather place or somewhere where<br />

the waves are best in the cold weather, you<br />

wouldn't (have) seen a lot of surfers in the<br />

water decades ago because the technology<br />

wasn't there."<br />

O'Shea compared hitting the beaches<br />

of Massachusetts to going skiing or<br />

snowboarding.<br />

"If you have the right gear, you can surf<br />

on a 20-degree day and be fine," she said.<br />

NOMAD: Ocean House<br />

Surf and Skate ended<br />

up on Wilson Road<br />

in Nahant by way of<br />

Salem, Beverly and<br />


12 | <strong>01907</strong><br />



SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 13<br />

A peek inside<br />

57 Puritan Road<br />

SALE PRICE: $1,520,000<br />

SALE DATE: November 4, 2021<br />

LIST PRICE: $1,599,900<br />


53 days to closing<br />


Maria Salzillo with J. Barrett & Company<br />


William Raye with William Raveis Real<br />

Estate - Boston - Back Bay<br />


VALUE: $1,007,500<br />

PROPERTY TAXES: $14,407<br />

YEAR BUILT: 2002<br />

LOT SIZE: .27 acres (11,761 sq ft)<br />

LIVING AREA: 3,554 sq ft<br />

ROOMS: 14<br />

BEDROOMS: 6<br />

BATHROOMS: 4<br />


Oceanfront home with steps to a<br />

private beach and unobstructed views<br />

of Boston skyline and Nahant from<br />

multiple rooms and the infinity pool<br />

and patio. Six bedrooms on three<br />

floors along with 2nd level great room<br />

with fireplace, deck and wet bar, 3rd<br />

floor bedrooms with additional deck.<br />

Plenty of entertainment space, plus the<br />

ability to moor your boat just off the<br />

private beach.<br />

Source: MLS Property Information Network.

14 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

All in the family<br />

Vinnin Liquors is a women-run business with a half century history, originally located on Humphrey Street, before moving to Paradise Road.<br />



As she looks back on the last year,<br />

Vinnin Liquors President Angela Ansara<br />

said the business is recovering from the<br />

pandemic, but there is still a need for<br />

quality employees.<br />

"We're still recovering a little bit, but<br />

it's still hard to find the employees who<br />

want to work because of the pandemic,”<br />

she said. “A good employee would be<br />

someone self-motivated, eager to learn, ask<br />

questions and show up on time. What we<br />

ask for is pretty simple.”<br />

During the early period of the<br />

pandemic, Ansara said alcohol demands<br />

were high, leading to more deliveries in<br />

Swampscott and other communities such<br />

as Salem, Beverly and even Boston.<br />

“We have delivery to go anywhere<br />

in Massachusetts,” Ansara said. “If it's<br />

too far out, we will ship it. If it's a big<br />

event, we will ship it. We go to places like<br />

Rumson's Rum, based in Salem, lines a shelf at Vinnin Liquors, 371 Paradise Road.

SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 15<br />

Gloucester, Boxford and Boston all the<br />

time.”<br />

Vinnin Liquors was established in the<br />

early 1970s by Ansara’s mother, Marge,<br />

who also commissioned the building’s<br />

construction. The store was originally on<br />

Humphrey Street before relocating to its<br />

current location at 371 Paradise Road in<br />

1975. Before starting Vinnin Liquors, she<br />

built and founded Lynnway Liquors in<br />

Lynn in 1964.<br />

“Her dad — my grandfather — sold<br />

perishables,” Ansara said. “The one piece<br />

of advice he gave her is: ‘Don’t go into<br />

business for things that expire.’”<br />

Ansara said her mother broke ground<br />

by being one of the few female owners of a<br />

liquor store at that time, and that she faced<br />

challenges when getting signatures to start<br />

her business.<br />

“It was hard times because women<br />

owners weren’t looked at very friendly,”<br />

Ansara said. “I remember my mother<br />

telling me she had a petition around<br />

Swampscott to get the dream she wanted.”<br />

As for Ansara, she said she had been<br />

interested in business since she was a child.<br />

“I was always a very business-minded<br />

person,” Ansara said. “I would always take a<br />

cart to King’s Beach and sell lemonade.”<br />

Ansara started working at the store in<br />

sales after graduating from college in 1994.<br />

She then climbed the ranks to become<br />

president in 2012. At the age of 93, her<br />

mother is still helping out at the store,<br />

Joe Cesarz, manager and beer buyer at Vinnin Liquors, organizes an aisle of wine at the liquor store.<br />

albeit less frequently.<br />

She's a minority owner and she does<br />

pop in a little bit less these days,” she said.<br />

“She still tries to rule the roost the best she<br />

can.”<br />

Ansara said business follows her<br />

wherever she goes, and she someday hopes<br />

her children will follow in her footsteps.<br />

“It comes naturally to me,” she said.<br />

“Maybe if it was more of a mental<br />

challenge it would be more of a stress.<br />

I want to share what I know and teach<br />

others and do business and marketing.”<br />

For those pursuing entrepreneurship,<br />

Ansara has a piece of advice: “Anything is<br />

possible.”<br />

Vinnin Liquors front-end manager Calvin Carter<br />

checks out a customer.

16 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

A zest for the best<br />


Ranging from ham-and-swiss hand pies,<br />

rosemary-and-lemon cookies, all the way<br />

to chartreuse cocktails and pomegranate<br />

martinis, there is something delicious for just<br />

about anyone at Zestfriendz, a bakery/smallbites<br />

bar in Swampscott.<br />

Owned and operated by two “zest<br />

friendz,” Margie Peterson and Trudi<br />

Fagerlund, this bakery by day and small-bites<br />

bar by night prides itself on unique flavor<br />

pairings and a focus on bringing people<br />

together. Zestfriendz coined its name from<br />

the pair’s zest for life, powerful flavors in the<br />

kitchen, and their 23-year-long friendship.<br />

“She’s (Peterson) had a lifelong dream<br />

to have the bakery side, and I always just<br />

wanted a bar. So we thought let’s just form<br />

the concepts into one business rather than<br />

separating them, and let’s leverage the upside<br />

of both,” said Fagerlund.<br />

Peterson runs the bakery side, and about<br />

90 percent of the baked goods are from her<br />

own recipes. She crafted the idea for the<br />

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Zestfriendz owners Trudi Fagerlund, left, and Margie Peterson toast their business' success.<br />


Zestfriendz signature rosemary-lemon cookie<br />

during her time running an at-home bakery<br />

business, Delicious Designs. Although the<br />

rosemary-lemon cookie is a staple for the<br />

990 Paradise Rd, Suite 3A<br />

Swampscott, MA<br />

781-581-1500<br />

2 First Ave, Suite 127-1<br />

Peabody, MA<br />

978-717-5370<br />

bakery, Peterson’s scones are pushing for<br />

front-runner.<br />

“You’re never going to taste a better<br />

scone,” Fagerlund added. “I would throw<br />

anyone down on a scone,” said Peterson.<br />

Peterson scratch bakes a batch of citrus<br />

scones every morning.<br />

“I always have a citrus scone, and that’s<br />

the whole lemon-lime thing; it goes with the<br />

zest again,” she said.<br />

Rumor has it, Gov. Charlie Baker is<br />

“infatuated” with the scone as well.<br />

“People on social media are like ‘I was<br />

fighting over the last citrus scone today,'<br />

or they’re like, ‘am I too late for the citrus<br />

scones?'” said Peterson.<br />

Her other flavors of scones change daily,<br />

ranging from cheddar-scallion, honeylavender,<br />

maple-oatmeal, orange-cranberry<br />

and cinnamon-raisin scones.<br />

Another crowd favorite is their hand<br />

pies. Due to their small kitchen and<br />

inventory space, Peterson didn’t want to<br />

have sandwiches on the menu, but needed<br />

a savory grab-and-go option — hence the<br />

creation of a hand pie, a pastry creatively<br />

named because of its pie-dough crust and it’s<br />

hand-holdability. These delectable treats have<br />

people coming back for more than just one<br />

handful.<br />

“People come in and are like ‘oh, can I<br />

have five of the ham-and-cheese hand pies?'”<br />

Peterson said, and explained they are the<br />

most surprising success of the bakery. Along<br />

with the ham-and-cheese hand pie, they offer<br />

a tomato-and-dill-havarti hand pie as well.<br />


18 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

A 23-year friendship forged Trudi Fagerlund's and Margie Peterson's commitment to start their<br />

Humphrey Street business.<br />

Carmelized Brussel sprouts topped with kimchi, roasted<br />

garlic aioli, and cilantro is one of the many small-bites<br />

options Zestfriendz offers for dinner service.<br />

Zestfriendz' strawberry-jam-filled sugar cookie dusted<br />

with powdered sugar.<br />

Zestfriendz chef Ryan McGovern dollops garlic aioli on top of a plate of carmelized Brussel sprouts<br />

before serving.<br />

ZESTFRIENDZ, continued from page 16<br />

The two friends are really excited for<br />

what's to come in the warmer months — in<br />

particular the outdoor dining right on the<br />

water which will seat up to 20 customers on a<br />

shaded painted patio.<br />

“You can come in in your flip flops and<br />

you don’t have to care that you have sand,”<br />

said Peterson.<br />

Some menu ideas for the warmer seasons<br />

include an outdoor oyster bar, gourmet<br />

ice-cream sandwiches with unique flavor<br />

pairings, and to-go items for people to pick<br />

up and take out onto their boat or to the<br />

beach.<br />

“And obviously we want to have some<br />

fun, light cocktails,” said Peterson.<br />

Speaking of cocktails, Fagerlund is<br />

shaking up some absolutely delicious drinks<br />

on the bar side.<br />

Fagerlund recommends trying the “Hair<br />

of the Frog” cocktail — a 110-percent proof,<br />

green French-liquor, gin, and lime.<br />

“It’s (chartreuse) a green, expensive,<br />

herbal, high-octane alcohol. None of us had<br />

tried it. So I bought a bottle, we sat around<br />

and we were like, what do we put with this?<br />

We looked up a few recipes that were with<br />

chartreuse and we were like OK, let’s do a<br />

little of this, a little of this, a little of this, and<br />

then we wrote it down somewhere,” said<br />

Fagerlund.<br />

Another popular drink the two love is<br />

their pomegranate martini.<br />

“We actually started drinking<br />

(pomegranate martinis) in Boston, and they<br />

have many, many stories, but we’ve brought<br />

that with us here,” said Fagerlund. Although<br />

many Zestfriendz-goers fear the sweetness of<br />

the drink, once they take a sip they’re already<br />

ordering the next one.<br />

Along with cocktails, an eclectic<br />

small-plates menu is offered, prepared in<br />

the kitchen by Chef Ryan McGovern. His<br />

favorite menu item to make is the mussels,<br />

flavored with a thai green curry for some<br />

heat, and garnished with thai basil, cilantro,<br />

and grilled bread.<br />

With many gluten-free and vegetarian<br />

options, Zestfriendz wants to be inclusive<br />

for everyone, and Fagerlund said that if you<br />

take the bread out of most dishes, they will be<br />

gluten free.<br />

McGovern has been working as a<br />

chef since the late 1990s, and worked in<br />

restaurants in Martha’s Vineyard, Florida and<br />

throughout the North Shore.<br />

He is looking forward to the new flavors<br />

the warmer seasons bring as well.<br />

“We try to cook and flow with the<br />

seasons and what’s available. As spring<br />

hopefully comes sooner than later, peas<br />

will be around the corner, asparagus, greens<br />

hopefully, so you’ll start to see a shift in the<br />

menu from heavier comfort food to lighter<br />

foods,” McGovern said.<br />

The owners have a few hopes for the<br />

future of their restaurant, one of them being<br />

for the bakery. Peterson hopes to one day<br />

have dessert cakes in the evenings that<br />

customers can stop by to pick up on their<br />

way to dinner or for someone's birthday. They<br />

also hope to be able to expand their team and<br />

bring in more help.<br />

For those of you interested in opening up<br />

your own restaurant, these friends have a few<br />

words of advice: “Sleep ahead of time. You<br />

probably should be prepared to sleep your<br />

whole life ahead of doing it.”<br />

Zestfriendz is located at 286 Humphrey St.<br />

in Swampscott. For more information, visit their<br />

website at https://www.zestfriendz.com/.

SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 19<br />

Who was Elihu Thomson?<br />


Elihu Thomson demonstrates the Electric Welding Transformer, one of the many inventions by the one-time Swampscott resident.<br />


Can you imagine a boy who wants<br />

to attend high school at 11 years<br />

old being told that he has to wait<br />

until he is 13? Can you imagine that boy<br />

being told he is not allowed to have books<br />

for two years? Imagine that 11-year-old boy<br />

saying, “If you do that, you might as well kill<br />

me now, cause I’ve got to have my books!”<br />

This was Elihu Thomson, future great<br />

American inventor and prominent resident<br />

of Swampscott. He used those two years free<br />

of formal schooling to study "The Magician’s<br />

Own" book, which contained tricks and<br />

puzzles, but also experiments in electricity<br />

and chemistry.<br />

“The electrical chapter was what struck<br />

me at once,” recalled Thomson.<br />

The book explained how to make an<br />

electrical machine out of a wine bottle.<br />

Young Thomson, made the machine and was<br />

able to get his first electrical sparks out of it.<br />

“My father rather poo-pooed the<br />

magnitude of my efforts and I thought I<br />

had to get even with him somehow,” said<br />

Thomson in a 1932 interview with Edwin<br />

W. Rice Jr., his student, assistant, and<br />

ultimately the president of the General<br />

Electric (GE) Company, in the collection of<br />

the Schenectady Invention & Technology<br />

archives.<br />

Thomson made a bigger battery for his<br />

wine-bottle device, which shocked his father<br />

when Elihu prompted him to touch it.<br />

Thomson was born on March 29,<br />

1853, in Manchester, England. He was the<br />

second-eldest child of a Scottish father,<br />

Daniel, and an English mother, Mary<br />

Rhodes, who had 11 children — six boys<br />

and five girls. Four of the children died in<br />

their early youth.<br />

In 1858, his parents decided to emigrate<br />

to America due to scarcity of work. They<br />

settled in Philadelphia, the second-largest<br />

industrial center in the U.S. at the time.<br />

Thomson’s father was a skillful mechanic,<br />

who traveled to Cuba and other places to<br />

set up sugar-refining machinery. However,<br />

he struggled to support such a large family.<br />

When Thomson finished high school, the<br />

family could not afford to send him to<br />

college.<br />

Thomson showed curiosity and<br />

extraordinary abilities for a child from a<br />

young age. His mother discovered that he<br />

knew the alphabet and could recite it both<br />

forwards and backwards at 5 years old.<br />

Young Thomson taught himself.<br />

He was highly influenced by his father’s<br />

work as an engineer and machinist as<br />

well. By his own account, he was able to<br />

visit various industrial establishments and<br />

witness the industrial processes going<br />

on, both in chemical work and also in<br />

mechanical constructions. He actively<br />

studied the two volumes of the "Imperial<br />

Journal of Arts, Sciences and Engineering,"<br />

which his family had at home.<br />

“I was always interested in what was<br />

going on around me, such as the laying of<br />

water pipes and gas pipes in the streets, the<br />

building of sewers, etc., and spending hours<br />

watching the operations,” said Thomson.<br />

When he was 10 or 11 years old,<br />

he constructed a small model of cupola<br />

furnaces with fan blowers and succeeded in

20 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

melting cast iron; however, the iron that was<br />

melted was not sufficient enough to run into<br />

a mold, which was Thomson’s ultimate goal.<br />

He also had a great interest in<br />

astronomy. In the summer of 1858, when he<br />

was 5 years old, Thomson saw the Donati’s<br />

comet, and in 1867 he witnessed spectacular<br />

meteor showers. In 1878, he published<br />

an account of a method of grinding and<br />

polishing glass specula, and in 1899 he<br />

began the construction of a telescope for his<br />

private observatory, including making the<br />

optical parts for the 10-inch reflector. The<br />

observatory was located on the lawn near<br />

his house, which is now the Swampscott<br />

Town Hall, but later removed and donated<br />

to the American Philosophical Society in<br />

Philadelphia.<br />

Thomson attended the boys’ Central<br />

High School in Philadelphia. He graduated<br />

with honors and accepted employment in<br />

a commercial laboratory which analyzed<br />

iron ore and other minerals. After about<br />

six months, he returned to Central High<br />

School with a title of adjunct professor to<br />

the Department of Chemistry and a salary<br />

of $500 per year (about $10,730 in today’s<br />

money).<br />

Student Edwin Rice was 14 when he<br />

You can't read General Electric Company's history<br />

without reading about Elihu Thomson.<br />

met 23-year-old professor Thomson at<br />

Central High School, who was keen to<br />

teach the eager student.<br />

“To me he has been ‘my professor’ ever<br />

since I first met him,” Rice said. “It is my<br />

recollection that there was no question<br />

that I asked to which I failed to obtain a<br />

satisfactory reply, expressed in language that<br />

I could understand.”<br />

One of the senior professors whom<br />

Thomson assisted at Central High School<br />

was Edwin J. Houston, who held the<br />

chair of Physical Geography and Natural<br />

Philosophy. The two soon started to<br />

collaborate in the evenings on investigations<br />

and formed a long partnership, inventing<br />

devices, especially in electricity.<br />

“Not infrequently I would leave home<br />

after breakfast and not eat or drink anything<br />

until I got home again at 11 in the evening,”<br />

wrote Thomson. “I’ve always believed in long<br />

hours. It’s the only way to get things done."<br />

In 1876-77, Thomson gave lectures<br />

on electricity at the Franklin Institute,<br />

an important center of American science<br />

and technology in the 19th century. The<br />

following year, he and Houston tested<br />

dynamos of different types at the institute,<br />

which prompted Thomson to design and<br />

build a dynamo for a single-arc light.<br />

That formed the basis of the later<br />

development of the Thomson-Houston<br />

arc-light system that involved several unique<br />

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presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable<br />

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virtually staged or digitally enhanced and may not reflect actual property conditions.

SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 21<br />

features, including three-phase winding and<br />

the automatic regulating system, which kept<br />

the current in the light circuit at an even<br />

value, no matter how many lights were on<br />

that circuit.<br />

Next, they invented an air-blast<br />

method to extinguish an arc, the magnetic<br />

blowout which employs a magnetic field to<br />

extinguish an arc and a lightning arrester.<br />

Thomson and Houston were able to get<br />

business backers to market their lighting<br />

system. They created a lighting system for a<br />

bakery that was open all night long and for<br />

a brewery.<br />

In 1880, Thomson was approached<br />

by Frederick Churchill, a young lawyer<br />

from New Britain, Conn., who had just<br />

organized the American Electric Company.<br />

The American Electric Company bought<br />

control over the Thomson-Houston patents<br />

and Thomson resigned from Central High<br />

School to become an “electrician” at the<br />

company.<br />

When he left Philadelphia for<br />

Connecticut, Thomson took Rice with<br />

him. In New Britain, Thomson focused on<br />

improving the arc-lighting system but since<br />

the market for commercial electric-lighting<br />

systems didn’t exist yet, the company was<br />

Elihu Thomson built his Georgian Revival-style home — now Town Hall — in 1889 and outfitted it with the organ<br />

he constructed as a teenager.<br />

struggling.<br />

Meanwhile, in Lynn, a group of<br />

investors, including Silas Barton, Henry<br />

Pevear, and shoe-manufacturer Charles<br />

Coffin, were looking to invest. Electrical<br />

lighting looked like a promising new<br />

industry for them.<br />

THOMSON, page 23<br />




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THOMSON, continued from page 21<br />

In 1882, Barton and Pavear went to<br />

Boston to examine an electric-lighting<br />

system that had been installed in a shop<br />

on Tremont Street. They slipped down the<br />

back stairs to the dynamo that was powering<br />

the system and located a brass plate that<br />

read “American Electric, New Britain,<br />

Connecticut.”<br />

The next day, they traveled to New<br />

Britain, where they met Thomson and his<br />

associates. They convinced Thomson to let<br />

them buy the American Electric Company,<br />

leave New Britain and form a new company<br />

with them in Lynn.<br />

Coffin became the president of the new<br />

company. With Coffin assuming the burden<br />

of finance and management, Thomson was<br />

free to give undivided attention to research<br />

and technical development, and for the first<br />

time he was able to surround himself with<br />

competent assistants.<br />

The Thomson-Houston Electric<br />

Company installed street lighting at 166<br />

Market St. in Lynn, and the merchants in<br />

the area began to subscribe to their service.<br />

Market Street became the first street with<br />

commercial lighting in New England.<br />

The firm grew rapidly. In 1884, it<br />

employed 184 workers. By 1892, when it<br />

merged with its competitor, the Edison<br />

General Electric Company of Schenectady,<br />

N.Y., the number had grown to 4,000<br />

employees. The result of the merger was the<br />

General Electric Company, with Coffin as<br />

president and Rice, who had been manager<br />

of the Lynn plant, as vice president and<br />

technical director.<br />

Thomson's contributions to the success<br />

of this great industrial organization was in<br />

industrial research.<br />

Thomson married his first wife, Miss<br />

Mary Louise Peck, in 1884. Together they<br />

had four sons — Stuart, Roland, Malcolm<br />

and Donald. They lived in Lynn until 1889,<br />

when Thomson purchased a prime piece of<br />

land overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from<br />

the Swampscott Land Trust.<br />

The Thomson house was designed by<br />

architect James T. Kelly in the Georgian<br />

Revival-style and was built in 1889.<br />

Thomson designed and built a steam boiler<br />

to heat the house, installed his electriclighting<br />

system, but also included eight<br />

fireplaces in the house.<br />

The second floor of the carriage house<br />

was designed and built to accommodate a<br />

laboratory for his work.<br />

He also installed a pipe organ — the one<br />

that he built as a teenager, which he had<br />

brought to Swampscott from Philadelphia.<br />

The Thomson-Houston Electric Company was a precursor to the General Electric Company.<br />


The pipes were installed in a grid above the<br />

second-floor ceiling.<br />

He also built a miniature railroad of<br />

about 100 yards for his sons.<br />

He donated the land next to his home to<br />

the Town of Swampscott for a town library<br />

to be built.<br />

One might think that a scientist of his<br />

intellect and intense work ethic would be<br />

reserved and strict. But Thomson lived a<br />

rich family life, actively engaged with his<br />

sons, and went camping and hiking in the<br />

Adirondacks and Catskills.<br />

There is old video footage showing him<br />

playing with his grandchildren in the large<br />

front yard of his Swampscott home and<br />

reading to them.<br />

The Thomson’s house was always open<br />

to visitors, including other outstanding<br />

scientists of the time, including Nikola<br />

Tesla.<br />

Thomson’s friend and MIT president<br />

from 1909-20, Dr. Richard C. Maclaurin,<br />

said that Thomson showed an intense desire<br />

to help all who were struggling earnestly<br />

with scientific problems. Many engineers<br />

came to him with their secret projects.<br />

“They have done this, knowing that<br />

they had only to ask in order to get the full<br />

benefit of his imagination and his power,<br />

and that they need have no misgivings<br />

that he would take any advantage of their<br />

confidence or any credit for their work, for<br />

he has no touch of selfishness,” Maclaurin<br />

said.<br />

Thomson was asked to become the<br />

MIT president as well, but declined the<br />

offer because he felt that the research he<br />

wanted to do would be hindered by the<br />

administrative work the position would<br />

require. Still, in 1920-23, he was convinced<br />

to assume the obligations of the acting<br />

president because the president of MIT at<br />

the time became ill.<br />

After 32 years of a happy marriage,<br />

Thomson’s wife died in 1916. In 1923, at<br />

70 years old, Thomson married again to<br />

Clarissa Hovey of Boston. Together they<br />

began to travel a lot.<br />

The prominence of Thomson is<br />

indisputable. He holds a prominent place<br />

among the brilliant group of scientists<br />

who worked on solving the problem of<br />

generating adequate current, including<br />

Brush, Edison, Siemens, Stanley, Tesla, Van<br />

Depoele, Weston, and others.<br />

Over his inventor’s career, Thomson<br />

patented almost 700 inventions. He is<br />

still one of the leading patent holders in<br />

America.<br />

His awards include the Franklin Medal,<br />

the Faraday Medal, the Hughes Medal of<br />

the Royal Society, the Edison Medal from<br />

the Institute of Electrical and Electronics<br />

Engineers (IEEE), the Rumford Medal,<br />

and the 1889 Great Prize from the Paris<br />

Exposition.<br />

Thomson died at 84 on March 13, 1937.<br />

His home was partially donated to the town<br />

by his heirs in 1944.<br />

An ongoing exhibition of the artifacts<br />

of the inventor’s career and life, “Elihu<br />

Thomson’s Inventive Life,” can be viewed<br />

until April at the Swampscott’s Town Hall<br />

during normal business hours.

24 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

The play's the thing<br />


CURTAIN HALL: Actress, writer and town library<br />

employee Julie Butters saw room on Zoom to stage a<br />

theatrical adaption of "Jane Eyre."<br />


Two years ago in pre-COVID<br />

times, many of us didn’t even<br />

know about Zoom — a cloudbased<br />

communications app. Although it<br />

provided convenience and changed the way<br />

we work and connect, some say that they<br />

are tired of virtual meetings.<br />

Still, it is undeniable that Zoom has<br />

been instrumental over these two years,<br />

not only in supporting 9-to-5 jobs and<br />

our personal lives, but also in furthering<br />

the reach of the arts. One such example is<br />

a "Jane Eyre" play that was adapted by a<br />

local actress and writer Julie Butters and<br />

produced by Connecticut-based nonprofit<br />

Flock Theater.<br />

Butters, who works as a part-time<br />

circulation aide at the Swampscott Public<br />

Library, has been acting since she was little,<br />

primarily on a volunteer basis. She was<br />

involved with children's theater when she<br />

was younger and participated in a lot of<br />

plays while studying English at Harvard in<br />

her college years.<br />

In 2019, Butters adapted the "Jane<br />

Eyre" novel by English writer Charlotte<br />

Brontë into a script for a theater play. She<br />

worked with a nonprofit Flock Theater in<br />

New London, Conn., for many years in the<br />

past and they were interested in staging the<br />

play.<br />

“Jane Eyre was actually sort of my reentry<br />

into theater after a long time,” said<br />

Butters. “The first major project I had done<br />

in quite a few years.”<br />

The theater began rehearsing "Jane<br />

Eyre" with Butters in the main role in<br />

March 2020. However, they managed to<br />

hold only a few in-person rehearsals in<br />

Connecticut before everyone’s lives got<br />

halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

“And so at first, I remember those<br />

rehearsals; we had some hand sanitizer on<br />

the tables. And we were careful to use that<br />

before interacting with each other,” Butters<br />

said. “None of us really anticipated it would<br />

become the huge pandemic that it is now.”<br />

Soon the schools started to shut down.<br />


SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 25<br />

Charlotte Brontë's timeless novel "Jane Eyre" sits on<br />

a table in the Swampscott library among biographies<br />

of the Brontë sisters.<br />

As things with COVID-19 got worse, the<br />

director of the play, Derron Wood, made a<br />

decision to continue the production online<br />

over Zoom.<br />

“Initially, I was skeptical of the idea of<br />

doing a Zoom presentation of this play. It<br />

was a new thing, and I wasn't sure how it<br />

would work,” said Butters. “Our director<br />

took a leap of faith with it. And I am so<br />

grateful to him for that because it was<br />

amazing to still find a way to act and be<br />

creative and connect with other artists and<br />

performers to create something to share<br />

with the community.”<br />

The production involved 18 people<br />

playing various roles. To create a more<br />

consistent look, all actors were asked to use<br />

a black background and wear light clothes.<br />

Butters used a spare room in her condo.<br />

Her husband helped her set up some<br />

wooden boards propped up against chairs<br />

with a black material draped over them. She<br />

put her iPad against shoe boxes and books<br />

stacked on a desk.<br />

“I really had only a little more than<br />

maybe a foot of playing space between the<br />

backdrop and my desk,” said Butters.<br />

To light the scene, she blocked the<br />

window light with some fabric and put<br />

shading over lamps to soften the fluorescent<br />

light. For some of the night scenes, they<br />

decided to use handheld electric candles to<br />

create the ambience and atmosphere of a<br />

Julie Butters calls her Zoom staging of a theatrical version "Jane Eyre" a "leap of faith."<br />

gothic novel.<br />

“You obviously can't tell from watching<br />

the program that that's what the setup was.<br />

But it was definitely a challenge I had not<br />

experienced in acting before,” Butters said.<br />

All the actors were used to performing<br />

in the same space with each other and<br />

having a very personal interaction. Instead,<br />

they found themselves isolated in their own<br />

locations, performing via the screens of<br />

their devices.<br />

“That was very different for us,” Butters<br />

said. “But there were some advantages to<br />

that as well.”<br />

She found the fact that she wasn't<br />

worried about a sudden block or the<br />

physical movements or dealing too much<br />

with props interesting and rewarding.<br />

Without an audience in the room, Butters<br />

was able to focus solely on the face on<br />

the other side of the screen — her scene<br />

partner. She looked at their face and saw<br />

what they were expressing, focused on their<br />

eyes and what they were saying in a very<br />

intense way.<br />

“I tried to use the challenges of the<br />

medium as an opportunity to enjoy that<br />

intimacy between performers,” said Butters.<br />

The director and assistant director were<br />

recording over Zoom, as the actors were<br />

giving their performances from their homes.<br />

However, filming over the internet had<br />

its technical challenges. Not everyone in the<br />

cast was familiar with Zoom at that point<br />

in time. Sometimes the internet connection<br />

would lag and people would freeze on<br />

screen.<br />

“If someone's screen froze, we would<br />

have to stop and then do another take,” said<br />

Butters.<br />

She believes that the production turned<br />

into a wonderful project and a wonderful<br />

experience for everybody.<br />

“It was not something that we had<br />

traditionally done, but I give (the director)<br />

credit for being forward thinking,” Butters<br />

said.<br />

The filming was finished in the spring<br />

of 2020. The Flock Theater staff moved<br />

on to editing and recording the shadowpuppetry<br />

scenes, which formed a big part<br />

of the project and took quite a bit of effort,<br />

time and ingenuity, Butters said. To film<br />

the shadow puppetry, give it depth and<br />

create different effects, the crew used a DIY<br />

multiplane-camera setup.<br />

The film was released on Nov. 6, 2020,<br />

on YouTube.<br />

“In person, we would have, of course,<br />

reached the local community,” Butters said.<br />

“But because the pandemic forced us to find<br />

another creative way (to make) and present<br />

the film, we ended up having a much larger<br />

audience than we would have had.”<br />

To date, the almost two-hour video<br />

BUTTERS, page 27

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SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 27<br />

Stage it.<br />

Sell it.<br />

Intersecting Zoom and the theater garnered<br />

international attention for writer Julie Butters.<br />

BUTTERS, continued from page 25<br />

has been watched more than 4,200 times.<br />

Butters reached out to a lot of Brontë<br />

appreciation associations around the<br />

world. The Brontë Society in England<br />

posted a note about the project on its blog.<br />

The Italian Brontë Society posted about<br />

it on its Facebook page. The Australian<br />

Brontë Society shared information with its<br />

members and posted a review in one of its<br />

newsletters.<br />

There were also a few virtual screenings<br />

and a presentation for a group of<br />

international scholars who are members of<br />

the International Gothic Association.<br />

“We are still hoping and planning to<br />

perform the actual stage production at<br />

some point,” said Butters. “Theaters are still<br />

struggling with COVID right now. Some<br />

of them have done in-person performances,<br />

but it is always risky.”<br />

Even though the pandemic continues<br />

to be a challenge, Butters said, it has also<br />

offered new ways to come together and her<br />

experience with "Jane Eyre" is an example<br />

of that.<br />

“This project has been, and continues to<br />

be, for me, very joyful, fun, creative and just<br />

a soul-filling project,” Butters said. “I love<br />

the story so much and playing Jane and<br />

being involved with this project has been a<br />

dream come true.”<br />

Since finishing the project, Butters has<br />

participated in other theatrical projects<br />

over Zoom. She continues to write for<br />

Flock Theater and is looking forward to<br />

finding more ways to act, whether over<br />

Zoom or in person.<br />

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28 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

A town tableau<br />

Essex Media Group designer/illustrator Edwin Peralta Jr. created this mid-winter depiction of Town Hall and First Church, initially by sketching,<br />

then digitally enhancing his work.

SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 29<br />

Bringing<br />

the ends<br />

to the<br />

middle<br />


Bob Scheier of Swampscott is the co-chair of the New England Chapter of the Braver Angels, an organization commited to getting progressives and conservatives around a<br />

table sharing their views.<br />


The political spectrum is<br />

broader than ever with<br />

conservatives on one end and<br />

liberal Democrats like Bob Scheier on<br />

the other. Scheier wants both ends to<br />

meet in the middle.<br />

Scheier thinks he has a way to soar<br />

above the social and mainstream-media<br />

storm swirling around former president<br />

Donald Trump and fueled by the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

The Swampscott resident is co-chair<br />

of the New England chapter of Braver<br />

Angels, a national group consisting of<br />

more than 11,000 members formed<br />

after Trump's 2016 election as a way<br />

for people in opposing parties to learn<br />

to hear each other out and respect each<br />

other's differing views in a civil way.<br />

Scheier's co-chair is state Rep. Lenny<br />

Mirra, a Georgetown Republican,<br />

who stands at the other end of the<br />

political spectrum from Scheier. Braver<br />

Angels strives for an equal liberal and<br />

conservative membership, as well as<br />

leadership structure, to offer views and<br />

opinions from both sides of the political<br />

spectrum.<br />

"Many Braver Angels groups around<br />

the country are predominantly blue, or<br />

liberal leaning, and we really need many<br />

more strong conservatives so that we<br />

can have the genuinely challenging but<br />

rewarding conversations that we need,"<br />

Scheier said.<br />

The Angels' mission is to reach out

30 | <strong>01907</strong><br />

CONVERSATION STARTER: Town resident Bob Scheier thinks talking can bridge America's yawning political chasm.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

to groups that are more conservative,<br />

with a promise their members won't<br />

be shouted down, shamed, or attacked<br />

during political discourse.<br />

The group's monthly meetings<br />

commence with a reaffirmation by<br />

participants to confirm that they will<br />

engage in respectful, curious listening.<br />

The penalty for noncompliance? A polite<br />

request to leave the meeting.<br />

"We guarantee everyone a respectful<br />

hearing if they come in and we<br />

encourage them to live up to the Braver<br />

Angels name," Scheier said. "It's called<br />

Braver Angels because it takes courage<br />

to reach out to the other side and to take<br />

the risk of being heard by the other side,<br />

but it's very rewarding."<br />

As co-chair, Scheier is responsible for<br />

helping volunteers create, schedule, and<br />

run the monthly meetings, which occur<br />

on the third Monday of each month.<br />

Each monthly meeting features a<br />

different topic. Prior to the meeting,<br />

news articles are sent out for people to<br />

review and be prepared to discuss in the<br />

meeting.<br />

Braver Angels was founded by a<br />

family therapist and uses therapeuticlike<br />

techniques to facilitate respectful<br />

conversations with both political sides.<br />

"We don't try to convince each other;<br />

there is no interruption; there is no<br />

attempt to convince allowed," Scheier<br />

said. "The idea is that we form human<br />

relationships with people on the other<br />

side and we listen and be curious about<br />

how they think and the same in return."<br />

Of course, COVID-19 restrictions,<br />

vaccinations, and masking occupied<br />

a meeting discussion. Scheier is provaccine<br />

and pro-masking, but other<br />

discussion participants voiced strong,<br />

opposing views.<br />

"I found that by listening and trying<br />

to understand their views, I was able<br />

to see that these folks weren't living in<br />

some other reality from me," Scheier<br />

said. "They had some very heartfelt<br />

concerns, not concerns that I shared, but<br />

were coming from a different perspective<br />

and were skeptical about what the<br />

government and drug companies were<br />

trying to do and the quality of the<br />

vaccines."<br />

Scheier said his views were welcomed<br />

and respectfully listened to by meeting<br />

participants.<br />

"How often do you have a<br />

conversation like that about a heated<br />

topic, and the other side asks you to tell<br />

you what you think?" Scheier said. "I felt

SPRING <strong>2022</strong> | 31<br />

like him and I could sit down and come<br />

to a mutual solution on something like<br />

the COVID issue after that."<br />

In an effort to broaden their<br />

conversations, the New England chapter<br />

of Braver Angels has reached out to<br />

local colleges in an effort to provide<br />

information and awareness of the group.<br />

"They're the ones who will have to<br />

live in the society that we are hoping to<br />

improve," Scheier said.<br />

Scheier said he has one overriding<br />

reason for taking part in Braver Angels:<br />

This isn't the country that he grew up<br />

in, and it isn't the country he wants to<br />

leave to his children and grandchildren.<br />

He wants to be more involved in<br />

changing the trajectory of the country's<br />

political divide, and he wants to<br />

understand how people on the other side<br />

— Republicans — think the way they<br />

do, and to see if there is a way to have a<br />

respectful conversation with them.<br />

"I don't know exactly how I stumbled<br />

across Braver Angels but when I saw<br />

their approach, I was very impressed<br />

with it," Scheier said. "It works… It's<br />

one small step towards healing the<br />

divides in our country."<br />

Engaging in these kinds of civil<br />

conversations has led Scheier to having<br />

more respect and understanding in<br />

similar political conversations with<br />

friends and family outside of the group.<br />

"I became more involved in the past<br />

year as I became concerned about the<br />

breakdown of civility in society and the<br />

very sharp splits between the quote ‘red<br />

and blue sides,’" Scheier said. "I feel like<br />

our democracy is really in danger if we<br />

can't at least speak respectfully to each<br />

other, if we can't even agree on the same<br />

set of facts, and if people on both sides<br />

of the political divide are dehumanizing<br />

each other."<br />

Braver Angels is open to everyone<br />

regardless of age, sex, race, religion,<br />

culture and sexual identification.<br />

To learn more or to join the New<br />

England Chapter of Braver Angels, visit<br />

https://mailchi.mp/braverangels/greaterboston-email-list.<br />

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