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The envelope I received today from Price Waterhouse

I’m a winner!

So is Hilary Clinton. My brother called to tell me that one.

My envelope was addressed to my neighbors but it was in my mailbox along with the box containing their Signature Hardware copper claw foot bathtub. Finders/Keepers. I have a really big mailbox. You could fit 140 of Donald Trump’s hands in it.


This is what you want to hide under when there is an earthquake, if it doesn’t run away on those fat little legs. Body shaming aside, they are a bit tubby.

Why did Price Waterhouse pick me? Probably because I am from Manchester by the Sea. I am one of the former residents who, like Casey Affleck’s character, moved away to make less money than they could at home. Manchester is a really pretty place but you have to be really rich to live there. Little did I know that you have to be pretty rich to live well anywhere.   Maybe the letter was meant for Casey but I think he already got one.

I hear P.W. has two copies of every envelope they give out, which is a bit excessive. I don’t write two checks when I pay my rent or have sex with individuals twice just in case they didn’t hear me the first time.

But what to do about the bathtub? I’ve already made a couple of speeches about it to my easily impressed co-workers. My neighbors might get suspicious if there’s a plumber’s van in the driveway tomorrow so I will probably have to sleep with a working man for a believable backstory.

Truthfully, I think the postman made the mistake because I am white and my neighbors are not. I don’t make as much money as them but I look like I do based on skin tone.

No that can’t be it.  I’m Catholic, like Casey Affleck’s character. I’m the one who is oppressed and just can’t beat my past including my genetic tendencies towards violence and ridiculous sensitivity to both the sun and the criticism of others. Don’t tell me I live in La-La land because I live in Alaska where no one has a tub like this and everyone is really just a loser from somewhere else. Don’t make me give it back.

 I have my doubts about the integrity of Price Waterhouse.  My first association with that kind of fancy-ass name is Fisher Price toys but their tubs are much smaller and apparently come equipped with photogenic bathers.


Move over Sunny Pawar! I’m younger than you and I’m white!

 You may ask, what do all these references have in common? Do they all involve water? Yes but NO!  THEY ARE ALL FAKE NEWS!

I only got a catalog from Signature Hardware which is the Rock/Movie/Musical star of bathtub makers. It was not addressed to me. It was not addressed to my neighbors either. It was addressed to my roommate who is black and has a much better bedroom set than I have.

We do have a big mailbox.  We just got an upgrade. With three of us living here and about 10 old roommates who still get their mail here we needed it. Besides that, it has a lock so no one can steal our Academy Award letters.

I did audition for a movie the other day but I was funnier off script than on so I don’t think that is going anywhere fast. A girl can dream about playing an old alcoholic smoker who sees dead guys coming on to her but that doesn’t make her dreams come true.

I am from Manchester by the Sea. I recognize that the movie is not so much about that town but about the small town that many of us come from. The one that never forgets the best of people and the worst of them. The small town that is our family, our workplace, our culture that we can’t get far enough away from, because they’re inside of us. I’m proud to be from a town that will now be forever remembered for alcoholism and dysfunction.

I will probably not see the movie La-La land because I don’t need more fantasy in my life especially  anymore white people’s fantasy. This includes thinking I deserve more than I get and that life is fair. I should see Moonlight. Maybe I will go with my roommates.  Meanwhile I just had my taxes done at H&R Block. They only use one envelope.


Turn down the volume and live a little



Whoa. My life has gotten a little loud! That means I find myself distracted by voices in the lobby, by my own thoughts and by every freakin’ song on the radio.  I tried a little exercise to calm myself down. I thought of all the sounds I have really liked in my life, that mean something to me.

1. Train horns, bells from crossing gates, track noises.  I can’t help it, even at night I love the sound of a train going by.  The sound of a plane is cool but the sound of a train reminds me of  trips to Boston, the conductor with his hole punch marking my destination and fare, then of course calling out the stops – Beverly Farms, Montseratt, Beverly, Salem,  Marblehead, Lynn, Swampscott, GE/Waterworks and finally North Station. If I can hear it, I can smell it. The cars are musty. There were those crazy cone shaped cups for water. Later in life I would spend 6 summers working as a railway tour guide in Alaska. You get to know the sound of the airbrakes. Whoa be to the person who tries to disembark before the airbrakes are set!!

2. Thunder, wind, waves, rain. I know silence is good but there’s nothing better than hearing wind in the trees is there? The more wind the better for me. Thunder is also thrilling. It creeps up on you. I never can stop myself from counting to see how far away the lightening is, as if that’s going to do me any good.  (I’m the one who used to take my sneakers to bed so I wouldn’t get electrocuted.)  Even though I grew up near the ocean I only remember hearing the waves while I was sleeping a few times, maybe once or twice at my brother’s house when the wind was blowing right, maybe camping by a lake here in Alaska and at my mother’s cousin Rita’s house which was right on Manomet beach, (on the opposite end from the nuclear power plant!) Of course, sunning on the beach is so much better than pool side because of the wave and other beach sounds like people screaming and laughing who are afraid of the waves.  Rain is great at night. I feel grateful I have a roof for it to bounce off.

3. Bird sounds.  I really like seagulls. I know they aren’t technically called that, but they remind me of late afternoons at the beach when the shadows are long and the birds graze freely picking over the trash. My brother’s house is the best place in the world to hear bird sounds. Really. A previous owner planted special bird trees. Any morning in the spring or summer you awake to a cacophony of calls. It lasts about an hour then quiets. Once again it reminds me of childhood, how sweet the day begins when you hear natural music instead of  an alarm clock calling to set your schedule.

4. Snowplows.  Snow generally quiets the world but the sound of a big plow with chains barreling down the street is thrilling. We used to have one particularly large plow that my sisters and I called “The Monster Plow.”  We would hide ourselves under the covers when it came by. If we heard it roaring down Lincoln Street and we were outside we would race to the porch or some point where we wouldn’t be hit by the wall of snow it threw towards us.  It’s the only heavy machinery I love, ( along with Mike Mulligan’s steamshovel.)

5. Familiar cars parking. Ahh, I remember the sound of a particular boyfriend’s car coming down the street and parking. I would run down the stairs, in youthful leaps. Then there was my mother’s car which usually had to park in the driveway using reverse. Hers would also be the only car that would temporarily pull up to the side of the street where there was no parking, then honk the horn so we would take in the groceries.

6. The fire horn. It blew twice at noon each day for a test then there were codes for the volunteers to follow to certain neighborhoods listed in the back of the town telephone book. Our code was 26. That sure got our attention when you heard your own code being called. People would sprint to their cars either to respond or see if their house or neighbors were in danger. It would also blow if there was no school so you could bet we looked forward to that. It was a call to a common cause.

7.  The sound of a football game.  I grew up so close to the high school that I could leave for school at 7:58.  On Saturdays, we didn’t have enough money to go to the first half of the game, (not that I wanted to spend my babysitting or housecleaning money on this when I could get in free after half time.)  I would listen through the screened windows to The National Anthem, garbled announcements of the plays,  cheers,( Be AGGRESSIVE! B-E, A-G-G…) the band. I don’t like football but I liked watching boys a lot.

8. Fireworks and carnival sounds.  Most people know I’m in love with the 4th of July. I don’t care if it’s drizzling or foggy. I just want to hear the fireworks, the 1812 Overture and the calliope music. It’s all a bit steampunk but also an old fashioned celebration of life. Fireworks aren’t cool anymore because special effects in the movies are so awesome.  I still like hearing them even though I don’t stay up until midnight. I imagine the “oohs” and “ahs” then listen for the sound of applause/car horns after the grand finale. It’s a universal form of theatre.

9.  The sound of the pressure cooker. This is so 1970’s.  I would get off the  6 pm train coming from my job in Boston,(which I was so inept at). I would hear the pressure cooker jiggling through every screen door I passed, sometimes there would be two rhythms dueling from houses opposite each other.  My mother would have one going too, with beef, potatoes and carrots which smelled so good, like food smells when other people cook it for you.

10.  Wind in the rigging of boats.  They’re  the wind chimes of Manchester by the sea. I wonder if people getting off the train to go to the beach stop to listen to it or the little lapping sounds the water makes on the hulls? I don’t sail but I did paddleboard in Manchester harbor last summer and it sounded the same, even when I fell in.


Those are some sounds which calm me down. They make me listen to what matters to me not just to what gets my gall or gets stuck in my head. I hope you hear some beautiful sounds today. I know some people like silence but there is always something out there. Just keep listening.

2012 – from my cell phone

I took a look at photos I hadn’t used in my blog and a few I had that were still sitting on my cell phone card. I was reminded of what a fine year 2012 was for art, for rain, for travel and fun in general.
Here are a few reminders.

I went to Minneapolis for a conference and became aware that Anchorage was not the center of the Universe. The art was like drinking pomegranate juice after having nothing but Pepsi for a year.

The best art challenges the status quo - African print debutante gown

The best art challenges the status quo – African print debutante gown

Some Minneapolis school children were out celebrating their Native American heritage. It reminded me that people are resilient. Cultures can go underground but are carried inside us until they are safe to express.

What this lake looked like before the white people

What this lake looked like before the white people

After white people

After white people

Back in Anchorage I witnessed a short parade, part of a religious festival for the Filipino community. I hadn’t seen a pageant like this since we had May Day parades for The Virgin Mary in my childhood.


A celebration of Our Lady – Filipino style

It was a year for remembering childhood. Our classmate Dan Goodwin died, as did his father. There were memorial services and a 35th class reunion. Things change. The parents of our generation are nearly gone. Our generation will be next. It’s already starting. Our time together is more obviously limited.

Some things remain the same. The spirits of the young, the old, the living and dead may find solace in the shoreline. I try to visit Singing Beach each time I return to Manchester by the Sea.  I loved it as a child and as a teen. As an adult I find myself lost amongst the strangers who with my myopic vision remind me of people I used to know. I only find my 8 year old self when I enter the ocean.

Who walked here before?

Who walked here ?

A few things have changed. My mother used to work with Lillian Theriault at the bathhouse. They would give you a number, you would get a basket to put your clothes in and they would guard it all day. My sister Beth and I worked at the canteen selling hotdogs and popsicles. This is what they sell there now.

Would you like a tubesteak with your Orso?

Would you like a tubesteak with your Orzo?

Then there was the rain, and more rain. Anchorage had a very wet summer and fall. It was a little depressing as this is the time we like to stock up on Vitamin D.

Chester Creek trail

Chester Creek trail

With a long cold snap in November,  very little snow and warming back to normal in December we now have ice overflow all over the trails making them  pretty messy but that doesn’t stop most folks from sliding through. The ice is so thick in this tunnel now that I have to duck my head to walk through.

We lost a strange neighbor, The Sunrise Bakery, owned by Hostess. This was a home to most of the city’s pigeon population who had been staging an Occupy movement in the front dumpster for many years.  We have a couple of newer, smaller, better bakeries nearby so I can’t say I’ll miss the Sunrise much. I did like the sign though, especially on a day where the sun didn’t come up until 10:30 or so.

Wake up everyone, someone baked the Twinkies!

Wake up everyone, someone baked the Twinkies!

Then there was The City of Anchorage’s Zombie Emergency Preparation videos which got me interested in making some shorts of my own. Theatre is a wonderful thing but I have never quite thrived in it. My creativity is the only thing I brought to the table. I’m getting older and work full-time so my energy is more limited. I have to deal with the non-profit which pays me so my tolerance for the institutional limitations of theater companies is limited.  It turns out that I’m more of a clown/ comedian/satirist than an actor, so sue me.

And I photograph well!

And I photograph well!

No pay for the zombie video but they did serve us lunch.

No pay for the zombie video but they did serve us lunch.

I went to Juneau near the end of the year for The Alaska Peer Consortium meeting and fell in love with Alaska again just when I needed it. Juneau hosts our cute little state legislature, and apparently karaoke as well. It’s very beautiful.

Just up the street from the legislature

Just up the street from the legislature

Our legislature only convenes for Jan-May so I had the House to myself.

Our legislature only convenes for Jan-May so I had the House to myself.

It was good to see the economy  is doing better down there.  Our new focus at work is finding jobs for people in recovery so I found the following ad encouraging.  Now if I can just find someone who is okay with relocating.

There is hope!

There is hope!

Most everything else I covered in earlier posts, the rowing, the staph infection, whooping cough, roommate angst, computer snafus. The world didn’t end so I guess it’s just going to change, either that or I’m going to.  I’ll be back.

Manchester by the Sea in the rear view mirror

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I was a little depressed on my trip to Manchester by the Sea. Hard to imagine with the sun shining, the beach and all but I’m pretty hard core with my moodiness.  So here is a review of Manchester making it more mysterious and peppy with some help from my friend Picassa.

A teacher once told me when things get boring or sad – look up. So that’s what I did. There are some old, odd buildings in Manchester. They look like they are watching you. As a child I fantasized about living in the tower bedroom below. The dates on the house made it all the more attractive. One could dress Victorian. There might have been fireplaces, ice boxes. Although I visited the gift store below many times, I only have a vague recollection of being upstairs maybe once.

The Diges House with super surprised eye windows!

In the center of the photo above is an entrance way which I have passed a zillion times. It was so clean that the paint was shiny.

Welcome to Manchester by the shine

Across the street from the Diges house is the old fountain on the town square. I made sure I had a drink before I took this photo.

Vintage male fountain, Manchester, Mass.

The library is kind of spooky looking both inside and out. There is a marble statue inside and as I remember they used to put the checkout cards right on top of the cleavage shots on The Cosmopolitans. Not sure if they still do that. I tried to make the library look a bit more Harry Potter here, not hard to do.

Happy Hogwarts!

My favorite bookstore, Manchester by the Book, is just a block down. I could spend lots of money there if I had the strength to carry the books I would buy back in my luggage. They have lots of history books about Cape Ann, old children’s stuff, arty books and a great selection of things to read on vacation. I picked up a history of the beach which I am enjoying  immensely.

Then we come to a view of the harbor. I have decided to take a random dory like vessel and put it on ice.

cool boat

Across the street is a stop for all pilgrims on the way to or from (why not both?) Singing Beach. The most delicious creamsicle shake was had by me. You may choose from many other flavors including something blue which they appear to be quite proud of.

Don ‘t be crusty, Stop at Dusty’s

Manchester was given an award for being a “Tree City USA” at one point. The trees are impressive. Here is a nice puffy one in the park across from Cap’n Dusty’s.


The Piece d’ resistance is of course Singing Beach, which I bring to you in technicolor. There is none of the loud radio music of my teens, just seagulls and many people speaking Italian.  I overheard some collegiate conversations and noticed that they are selling gazpacho at the canteen instead of hot dogs. But nothing can outclass the beach itself.

gateway to happiness – Singing Beach

You must walk Singing Beach to experience the Singing and the beach

As those who grew up here know, the beach does sing when you scuff your feet. One must walk on the “hot sand” to hear that. Most prefer walking in the shallow water where they may be part of the parade of joy cooling their feet in the pleasant sharkless surf.  When you get to one end of the beach you see Eagle Head rock. When you get to the other you see this home. Unlike Capt’n Dusty’s, you won’t be welcome here. These houses are a bit more scary to me. They seem too big to be lived in and I imagine they are either drafty or dry and well, dusty with a lower case “d”. I do like to bike around the road back there and peak at them but I have never been in even one of these behemoths my entire life in this town.

One of the impressive mansions you will not be able to visit on Singing Beach

On a more personal level here is a parting shot of me on Singing Beach. The water was warm! See you next year.

Me carrying my clogs

Don’t fear the reaper, or the class reunion

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It’s normal to be wary of  a class reunion but don’t let that wariness turn into distress or disdain. It’s only a party and a kind of interesting one at that. The 35th high school reunion for my class was extremely welcoming and warm. Sure I was a little disoriented but I bet everyone was.  These people both are and aren’t the same kids I went to school with for about 12 years.  It does remind you that we’re getting older. People have died and we all will eventually but there’s still time to live large and give each other a pat on the back for making it through this far. God knows high school didn’t prepare us for AIDS, Cancer, divorce, addictions and mental health issues. Well, maybe it did prepare some of us for addictions but we are a resilient bunch. We take what we get and make it into art, money, love, a family,  and our own humanity.

Here is what I wore to the reunion. I wanted to look  1977 without having to buy anything or try too hard. That’s my brother in the back of the photo. He can not believe how much attention I need to stay alive!

Me in my elephant bell bottoms, layered Izod shirts and macrame belt

I know that some of you just couldn’t come so I don’t want to make you feel bad. Not everyone has the time or money or  mounds of self esteem to spend on this kind of event but this particular investment paid off for me. I don’t trust the stock market but I know I need to invest in relationships. They help in ways that can’t be measured. I found at least one or two that I would like to reinvest in. Besides it’s good for me to remember my roots.  I am who I am today because of these people and where I grew up. Some might say despite these people but it’s the same thing isn’t it? Trying to conform or get approval and trying to break away are reactions to our environment.

Anyway it was a beautiful thing.  First off the lighting was low which is much appreciated by skinny white ladies like myself who are conscious of their facial crevasses. The balloons  reminded me to take things lightly and lent just enough MHS touch to The Gloucester House that we might have been in the old cafetorium if it still existed. The last time I actually was in the cafetorium it was during the  sale right before they razed the place.  I got a copy of The Last Unicorn marked MHS and caught up with Mike Rodier on the stage where we did Love Rides The Rails. Hats off to the planning committee who did not decide to go with a hornet’s nests  theme.

I’ve never been married so I sometimes  fear that I will be surrounded by couples and feel loserish.  It turned out that  the couples who attended like The Averills,  Holly Hoffman and her very gracious husband ,(whose name I can’t remember but he wore a stunning salmon shirt), were lovely. Other folks came in different sets like the  Willwerths, Richardsons and Maroney twins. I especially liked that Arden Donovan brought her brother Daren.  I asked Lee Goodwin if she would like to come with me but it was too early after Dan’s death.  He was missed. His buddies were there – Rick O. B., Craig Geary, Jeff Bishop. They hold the flame for you Dan.

I was very proud to be one of three  women who had attained ultimate greyness. Liz Welch and Susan Walsh sported it well. Speaking of which I don’t think I ever noticed how Irish many people were when I was a kid. I just assumed most people were because I was.  When I look at Sue Walsh I see Ireland in her eyes.  There isn’t much of that in Alaska. It’s something I miss.

Sail on Silver girl!

I thought it might be funny to come up with new nicknames at our reunion. When I saw Don Emery all I could think of was “Forty feet of rubber” because he used to annoy my mother no end leaving intentional skid marks in front of our house.  His new name could be” Self care man” because he has been working with some health issues and frankly looked fabulous. I would call Kathy Silva ” Waterfall woman” as her tresses still astound, rippling down her back and her voice still has that fresh tingle tone like a fountain. I would be “The Ivory toothpick” or perhaps “Woman who dresses brighter than she feels.”  I was thinking that as a town Manchester should be conceded to The Willwerth clan. Therefore they should invest in clan kilts and wear them in The Fourth of July Parade, to claim their domain. Their motto could be “There will always be more of us than there are of you!”

It was hard to talk to everyone given that there is so much to catch up on but each reunion becomes less  bounded by old barriers such as school success, money and appearance. Look at these two absorbed in each other. You can tell they care about what each other is saying. That means a lot these days.

Holly and Jerry in serious conversation

Also note that although Kathy Kiley was not at the reunion, jewelry she  made was worn by Holly and  others.  The best way to avoid people talking about you is to show up Kathy and bring some jewelry. I had my check book! Not all of the conversations were serious.  I think some people just know how to have fun better than I do.   These two ladies below were funny enough in school and still had us laughing.  I was doing the laughing/crying thing as Elaine was holding court on sex, Viagra and roommates, (sorry, not all in the same story.)

Those are the same smiles I remember Laurel St Clair & Elaine Ganley

Guys got to bond too. Some of us hadn’t seen Gabe Bernson in awhile. The memory that sticks in my mind is Mister Boyd throwing him out of class for some wise remark.  He had to stand outside the class in the snow by the tennis courts so Mister Boyd could keep an eye on him. He looks much warmer now,

Gabe and Greg lookin’ good

I had a good conversation with Stuart Parsons who teaches at a theological college. I saw photos of Dick Prouty’s children. I heard that Nathan Proctor is touring New England with the carnival.  I sometimes wish I could move back here but lots of us leave and have adventures that Miss Bachman could not have planned.  Here are two of my favorite ladies. They move with grace and ease between groups and each have their feet on the ground. More importantly, they are both as my mother would say,” Hot Tickets”.

Some blondes having more fun – Lynn French & Kathy Reuter

So what that one of the speakers was blown. We got to hear Arden do some stand up and I forced people to sing the Manchester Hymn.The slide show gave us something to talk about like the folks who weren’t there. We knew about Peter Vasapoli, (who looked great in the sailor suit photo I found from Anything Goes). We knew that Kathy Kelly was on her way to see The Olympics.  Andy Dulavitz was stuck out on an oil rig, and that Kiley was not answering her phone in an undisclosed location. What you may not have known is that the food was a far cry from garbage soup. Who knew that it was legal to wrap bacon around a scallop?  That’s just not done in Alaska.  We smoke everything up there, and when I say everything you know what I mean. But now I’m getting silly. Here’s one last photo of a group I took  before I left. Can you name them all? When the next reunion comes along you can look at these photos for reference. Remember our reunion doesn’t  have a political, altruistic or financial focus. It’s not a duty. It’s focus is fun, just like the play of children. This is how they learn. That’s what it was, fun and an opportunity to learn about assumptions, things you couldn’t see for the life of you and joy . See you next time or come visit me in AK before then!


Who are these people? Bubbly balloons courtesy of Tina Melvin

What was I thinking? – First Communion

They don't let you eat before 1st communion.

1. I’m not going to win the Jody Jordan contest in this outfit

2. I want my Maypo!

3.  I know this hairstyle is going to suit me better when I go grey.

4.  You can’t hear the brook in this picture but I can.

5. One banana, two banana, three banana four.

6. I’m not sure if I believe in Jesus but I like the songs.

8. My sister has a stuffed animal named Mule-Kick

9. Hi Danny! Hi Lee!

10.  Nixon may be the next president I better start living it up.

11. How much wood could a wood chuck chuck? I’m hiding my buck teeth.

12.  I would like to write a report on The Great Alaskan Earthquake.

13. I would like to be a priest when I grow  up.

14.  Have you tried looking relaxed when your hair feels like it’s being pulled into a cotton gin?

15. I just read Oliver Twist, Classic comic version.

16. I can’t believe I went to a Donkey basketball game.

17. Why can’t we wear tiara’s at First Communion?

18. Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended thee.

19. I’ve already had some bad thoughts so can I change into shorts?

20. Things just get worse, don’t they?

Dan The Man

We called him that in high school. After all, he was bigger than most men even though he was still a teen. Was he the tallest boy in our class? I think so. I know I had to look up to him and I was the tallest girl.  We know he was strong. Not bench press or beat up people strong but the kind of guy who worked as a landscaper for years. He had kind eyes. You can see from this very old photo from elementary school.

I knew Dan best from childhood because he lived two doors down from our funny farm/musical theatre enclave. He was “Danny” back then.  My first memory of the Goodwins is going to The Swan Boats on the train with Danny, his sister Lee, my sisters and our mothers. This was back before we had cars and  before it was cooties to hang around with girls. The Goodwins had a stucco house which I thought was fascinating, also a hole in the ground with a lid to put their garbage in. They also had a basement with an old fashioned toliet which had the tank on the top and a pull chain. The toliet bowl looked rusty and was a little scary. Their yard had a stone barbeque with a chimney and forsythia bushes we used for hideouts. For some reason we were  compelled to drop pennies into the pipe fence around our yard, like a community savings bank.

I soon relied of Danny and “Chuck” (Harry) Samolchuk for all my activities.  We raced Hot Wheels on the fence between the Samolchuks and the Nickersons on Lincoln Street. We rode bikes up and down the Burgess’s long driveway on Norwood Ave with the rest of the kids under the watchful eyes of all of our mothers.  Mr. Samolchuk called us all in to their TV room to see the men walk  on the moon. I thought I was a boy back then so Chuck, Dan and I, we arranged to have our own Apollo mission. My sister Beth was outfitted with an aluminum pan space helmet, placed in a refrigerator box on top of the Samolchuk’s picnic table then we pushed her off for splash down into the grass. I chose the two boys as allies against my sisters until  I discovered alas I was also a girl and began playing games like “which Beatle do you want to marry?” I was shut out of the boy’s club forever. Lee and I wrote a puppet show in crayon which I still have. It starred Lambchops and that blue dog. I’m sure Dan attended along with absolutely everyone we knew. I know my sister Beth did as she flushed our cellar toliet during a scene and stole the show

Dan was an integral part of our neighborhood gang when we put our sexes aside.  He and Lee were in charge of the Rex Trailer Carnival for Muscular Dystrophy which took place on Goodwin Acres. By this time the Petersons had moved in around the block and I think Wayne was involved in too.I got to lead people to the haunted house which was in our cellar and included Shirley George who would jump out of the storm center and frighten the younger kids. I was surprised to find that The Goodwin, Theriault and Peterson houses all had the same floor plan. They all had a breakfast nook, no fair! Here’s a photo of a birthday party at Cullinane ranch, Dan is at the left. It’s probably my birthday due to the brown leaves. Note my sister Ruth in the play pen!

Our gang

As we got a little older the summer evenings were spent playing kick the can with the can forever placed in the clearing between the Goodwin and Burgess properties. It really was thrilling to rescue the captives and set them free. It was the closest I ever felt to being a knight with my horse being my own legs. We discovered flashlight tag and theatre was a naturally progression from dress up.

Dan was not in our dress up/theatre group although Lisa Kadra was. Lisa got us to cross the street from The Goodwin’s to the rope swing  across the gullyon Filias Circle. This was the beginning of risk taking and impressing the opposite sex. The Filias boys were older and very handsome. We didn’t see them much. We gradually moved to riding our 3 speed bikes around the oval at the high school hundreds of times a week and playing kickball with the Majenski boys across the street from their house.  We would bike down the hill by the high school (which we thought was enormous) until the streetlights came on or until you heard Lucille Goodwin call out “Danny, Lee time to come home.” By now The Vrattos family had moved in as summer residents. They went to school in Boston and were lots of fun. I wanted to get to know them better but I was shy. Luckily they liked theatre too. Because we were tall, Dan and I were always asked to take part in “chicken fights” over on the high school field where the parents couldn’t see. My mother however could smell these events a mile away and was thinking about concussions and disfigurements on a daily basis with three gigantic girls on her hands. I think I only did chicken fights once.

In the winter we would toboggan, sled or use flying saucers down that same hill which is now a new entrance to the high school. I remember when the new edition was built and we thought that was great with a drama room. Now they have an air conditioned stage! I think the Goodwins actually went skiing in the winter because they had relatives in Vermont. Dan’s dad also made a skating rink in their backyard which I thought was fabulous. At that point I had lost my dad and wished I had one.

There was no one who didn’t like Dan. I would have liked to have been better friends with him but I had lots of competition. Dan got the theatre bug eventually and I remember he and Alex Nahatis  being two of my biggest fans in school plays. I would go out on stage and I could see them over by that enormous green monster of a light machine stage right at The Memorial School. They would be all smiles when I got laughs and laughing themselves which gave me confidence. I remember the time my vacuum cleaner caught fire in No, No, Nanette. I don’t think it was supposed to. Dan and Alex pulled it off the stage and out of my hands by the cord so it looked like the thing had a life of its own.

By high school I had developed a crush on Dan. We were in all the same classes. He was smart and tall, smart enough to stay away from me because I was desperately lonely and a loner. Dan was more of a people person, he, Don Chounaird, Jim Oker, Chris Crowley, Craig Geary, Rick O’Brien, Jim Maroney were always up to something. I joined the math club to be around them. I joined the student government.  I hoped Dan might ask me to the prom but since I was not a dater in high school I knew this wasn’t going to happen. At least he went with another tall gal, Kathy Kelly. I believe Dan and the Super Techa guys were responsible for our really cool graduation set.

After graduation I saw Lee lots more, Dan lots less. Sometimes we would intersect at 7 Central or later in Salem on Pickering Wharf when I had a boyfriend who lived near there. I had a good conversation with Dan at The Elliot Chambers Memorial Fire Anniversary event organized by Jim Maroney. We talked about both having  issues with anxiety and getting help for that. We caught up about our families and were looking forward to the 30th high school reunion.

You never know when you’re not going to see someone again. I kind of knew after last reunion I might not see Dan as he wasn’t well. He was a smart guy but none of us are able to outsmart our lease on life. He was a sweet man, a quiet man, who seemed to love being part of the gang.  I envied him that as I am still a loner. We may have our 35th high school reunion without him but I hope we can all get together after this life for a game of kick the can or a bike ride in the sky. Dan can start working on the set for our reunion while he’s waiting for us.