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Residents will no longer have to travel across the Causeway to get a carton of eggs and a gallon of milk thanks to Turnstone Market’s mid-summer opening.

The cozy store is filled with local, high-quality products like meats and seafood, as well as fresh vegetables and handmade pasta. Store Owner Leslie Intoppa also stocks curated items made by local denizens as well as spices and herb mixes she makes herself.

“I sort of want to encourage people to cook,” she said. “I love cooking and I want people to come in here and, if they want an idea of what to make for dinner, I can help them. I want it to be a friendly, more interactive place to come and shop.”

Intoppa described the Turnstone Market as a place where you can not only go and grab things for dinner, but also stay and talk about food.

State Sen. Brenden P. Crighton (D-Lynn) stated that, since small businesses have been on everyone’s minds recently, it’s great to see Intoppa open up her market in Nahant.

“The town of Nahant has not many food options so this is certainly something that I think a lot of people will take advantage of,” the senator added. “It’s great to see businesses not only surviving (and) fighting through the pandemic, but also new businesses now opening.”

Town Administrator Antonio Barletta added that it was great to see Turnstone open, as it’s rare that new businesses come to Nahant.

“We’re just so happy and pleased that Leslie’s decided to open her doors here in Nahant, (and) provide a local place for top quality products for residents and visitors to stop in and grab groceries,” he said. “It’s a great option for all of us.”

Intoppa says that the support she has received from community members has been incredible.

“When people come in here and tell me how happy they are to have this, and look around and say how wonderful it looks, I get emotional thinking about it because I put a lot of effort into it and it’s nice that people appreciate it,” she said.

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When Joe Douillette isn’t teaching at the high school or buzzing around local government meetings to broadcast them on Swampscott Cable Access TV, he can sometimes be found in his yard with a few hundred bees surrounding him.

The media arts teacher and cable TV coordinator is also an amateur beekeeper. Despite the fact that he has been keeping bees since the 1990s, Douillette still considers himself a hobbyist.

“I took a course five or six years ago from the Essex County Beekeepers Association after I’ve been beekeeping for 20 years,” Douillette said. “There’s always more to learn.”

Douillette grew up in Nahant and attended Swampscott High School, where he got involved in the school’s cable club. At the time, it was run by Lynn’s Warner Cable. That was where he got his first taste of television.

Douillette began his life as a beekeeper while living in Boston. He said he often rode his bike to Allandale Farm in Brookline, where he was instructed by farm workers on how to take care of a hive. He soon established his own hives in Jamaica Plain, getting permission from neighbors to use their yard as a home for his bees.

“I need something that’s not looking at a screen or electronic,” he said. “I need something connected to the weather, the sun, nature.”

Meanwhile, Douillette and his three children keep busy, tending to the two beehives that sit in the family’s garden. In the spring, he purchased a package of three pounds of Italian honey bees and a queen to inhabit the hives, after the previous colony didn’t survive the winter due to varroa mites.

Douillette explained that he doesn’t expect his bees to produce much honey for harvesting this year, as they have to first build up enough to feed themselves through the winter. Once that happens, he will place a structure called a super on top of the hive that the bees will fill with extra honey.

He said that in a good year, he can harvest 100 pounds of honey from his hives. 

“It really is a form of escape,” he said. “You have to move slowly and respond to the temperament of the bees. You have to be aware of the ebb and flow of the nectar and the weather, whether it’s the next day or the next month, and really understand how to keep the colony alive.”

His passion for beekeeping is matched by his love for video production. He is a self-described amateur moviemaker.

“I developed a love of it,” he said. “My friends and I would rent VHS cameras at a VHS rental store in Swampscott in Vinnin Square. We would rent a camera for the weekend and make movies.”

Douillette attended Boston University’s College of Communications and settled in Jamaica Plain. He worked for local TV stations and afterschool programs, developing educational programming.

Doing this work, Douillette said he developed a love for public-access television.

“There’s such a celebration of free speech, of local importance, of the power that is given to communities in a medium that could easily exclude them because it’s so expensive to run,” he said. “That’s also why I love working with teens. They’re at the point where they start to realize how powerful their voice can be, and you can teach them how to amplify that.”

Eventually, Douillette and his family moved back to Swampscott and, in 2014, he began teaching at the high school, also taking over Swampscott Cable Access TV.

“Swampscott’s been unique in that it’s only had a government and an education channel in a system where you could have a government, education and public channel,” he said. 

Over the years, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Douillette built up the government channel to broadcast many local meetings so that even residents without Zoom could see them, enlisting the help of his media arts students. They also improved the sports channel, spending around $10,000 to install three new robotic cameras and other equipment at the media booth at Blocksidge Field in May. This allowed them to do more with a smaller crew, and broadcast every home lacrosse, field hockey, football, basketball and volleyball game this year.

In class, students get to learn how to use both cameras and a studio, helping with the public-access station but also working on creative projects.

“It’s an elective (class), so you often get students who can’t find a place,” Douillette said. “They get to be in this environment where it’s very hands-on, but it’s not void of context and content … you see them thrive.”

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At the beginning of the pandemic, the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein ― who has been the Unitarian Universalist Church Of Greater Lynn’s minister since 2013 ― was on sabbatical and home between travels. 

As the news came in about the COVID-19 contagion, cancellations and closures, she called the congregation’s board president, who said that staffers knew the minister would not be calling during a sabbatical except in cases of extreme emergency.

“It sounds like a global pandemic might be an extreme emergency,” Weinstein said. “We had no idea what a cataclysm awaited the world.”

The first thing UUCGL had to do was figure out how to stay connected safely, which involved learning a lot of new technical skills while experiencing a great deal of shared fear, confusion, and dread. 

“How would we do this? Our scramble to learn how to gather for worship and meetings on Zoom, produce videos for worship and host online fellowship hour was like repairing a hole in the boat while out on choppy seas,” Weinstein said.  

While this transition was underway, everyone in the congregation was experiencing their own version of this chaos while forced to quarantine in their homes. One of the great parts about the UUCGL, said many members of the congregation, is the support everyone showed for each other during these unprecedented times. 

The Unitarian Universalist religion has prided itself on being a denomination that is open to all people, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexuality. 

The UUCGL has always had a tight-knit congregation, one that comes together to support its members and the community, whether it is by hosting and participating in food drives, volunteering at My Brother’s Table, supporting housing for families in need, donating money to charities, volunteering for beach clean-ups and community gardens, and much more. 

When the pandemic left many anxious and confused, Weinstein said the phones suddenly became very popular again as church members reached out to each other to make sure that everyone had basic necessities and were coping emotionally with the disruption. 

“To our relief, almost everyone in the congregation was able to remain employed at least part time, so we were eventually able to turn our collective attention to the needs of others in the wider community who were suffering food insecurity,” Weinstein said. 

UUCGL also has a long history of working with St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Lynn on the issue of food insecurity. 

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn (UUCGL) has been a part of the Swampscott community for more than 40 years.

The church was formed from the combination of the Unitarian Church of Lynn, the First Universalist Parish of Lynn ― which was the largest Universalist congregation in America in the late 1800s ― and the Swampscott Universalist Church. 

Between 1964 and 1966, these three churches consolidated and on March 22, 1981, the seven-and-a-half acres of wooded land at which the church is currently located ― 101 Forest Ave. ―  was dedicated and renamed the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn.

The congregation itself dates back to the First Church of Christ of Lynn, which was organized in 1632, and later dispersed into a number of Universalist and Unitarian organizations. 

UUCGL has long been a community resource, reaching beyond its membership to make ministry and social justice programs available to all, providing aid to underserved populations, and supporting organizations in need by making the church and its grounds available for meetings and events.

While the church has served community members and generations of families for years, it was forced to adjust its usual services when the pandemic hit. 

After closing down the church for all in-person services and events, the UUCGL transitioned to a fully-remote capacity. While this offered a way for the congregation to stay connected, many still faced struggles outside of the church. 

Church members Clare Campbell and Michael Celona said that St. Stephen’s food pantry saw its demand for food triple after the start of the pandemic, so several UUCGL members started volunteering at the pantry to help organize and hand out food. 

Members also organized several drive-up food options during the pandemic. Campbell and Celona said these “pop the trunk” drive-ups provided goods for local food pantries and a “fun, safe method of socializing for church members who masked up to retrieve an abundance of offerings from the trunks of friends and neighbors of the church.”

While many struggled with food insecurity, others struggled with losing loved ones. 

Weinstein’s mother died suddenly in South Carolina in the first weeks of the pandemic, so she became one of many grieving people who lost a loved one but was not able to travel to be with family for their memorial service. 

“This personal experience gave me a renewed appreciation for how much human communities need rituals that facilitate our sense of the sacred and connect us in spirit across time and distance,” Weinstein said. “Not just funerals, but other rites of passage like birthday celebrations, baby blessings, graduations, holidays and holy days and ceremonies to mark transitions. It has been beautiful to see the creative ways people have managed to mark these moments of life’s passage.” 

The church’s theme for the year is “Together In Spirit,” which Weinstein herself suggested. 

At the time, there was no way of knowing how long the congregation would be unable to gather in the sanctuary, to hug each other, to see each other’s smiles, to sing together, and to pray together in physical closeness, but from the pastoral perspective, Weinstein said she saw that everyone was suffering in some way. 

For example, Weinstein said she saw that people who lived alone experienced terrible isolation and loneliness, and those who were in roommate situations or family settings often felt overwhelmed by the constant togetherness. 

UUCGL offered a parent support group and several meditative and small-group listening circles ― all online ― for spiritual support; additionally, some of the church’s cherished traditions, including the October Blessing of the Animals, the New Year’s Blessing and Banishing Ritual, and the Flower Communion in May moved outdoors. 

“I will never forget the ways that people would call out in joy just seeing each other walking across the parking lot,” Weinstein said. 

The church’s choir director, Kenneth Griffith, organized Zoom choir rehearsals, and used an online app to record hymns and anthems for Sunday services.  

Each choir member recorded their own part individually and at home, and then the voices were layered into a complete chorus.

Members of the choir said that, although they learned a lot from this experience, they are looking forward to the day when they can “stand shoulder to shoulder again and rejoice with our voices in person.” 

Now that the vast majority of the congregation is vaccinated, that day doesn’t seem too far away ― and the UUCGL is moving forward with a reopening plan. 

The church’s Reopening Task Force is consulting with many public-health resources and is listening to the congregation, whom Weinstein said expresses a deep yearning to be together. 

“We are committed to living by a covenant of love and mutual compassion and will do what it takes to mitigate risk and to continue to include folks remotely,” Weinstein said. “Things will not go back to ‘normal’ any time soon, but the congregations that merged to become the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn have been around for centuries and the church therefore bears witness to human resilience across many generations.” 

UUCGL Business Administrator Elizabeth Muller recalls March 23, 2020, when she was in the church office and heard Gov. Charlie Baker announce an emergency order requiring nonessential businesses to close by noon the next day.

Muller said the building may have closed, but the church never did.

“We took a giant leap forward in the realm of online services and offerings. We learned ― often painfully ― new software, and became adept at flower arranging to escape the ire of the Zoom Room Rater,” Muller said. “We were welcomed to online Sunday services by avian mascot Babs the hen, by adorable children lighting candles from their homes, and by guitar solos overlooking a sparkling Lynn pond. I learned, to my embarrassment, during what was to have been an audio-only webinar that ducking and falling to the floor is not a guarantee of escaping being seen, but it is good for comic relief.” 

To expand the church’s possibilities for outdoor and indoor services and events, the church purchased a new sound system and continues to explore better ways for hybrid

services and meetings to accommodate those at home. 

Muller said that although reopening has been a challenging issue, everyone worldwide is having the same difficulties, discussions and questions. 

“It can test one’s mettle: the old is not there, the new is not clear, and the one given is that it will have changed. Fortunately, those changes can provide great opportunities to deepen faith and service,” Muller said. “The cracks in the armor of our previously well-ordered lives have allowed the light of new opportunities to shine forth. We are ready to come out of the shadows and embrace them all.”

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Douglas Flores and Greg Perez may have only moved to the North Shore last year, but they are already making an impact.

The Swampscott couple both work to address food insecurity locally and throughout Massachusetts, with Flores serving as chief operations officer for Project Bread and Perez as reverend at St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church in Lynn.

“Greg deals with the immediacy of things. He’s taking care of people here and today and tomorrow — but Project Bread and most of my work — has been looking at systems change and environmental change,” Flores said. “People need food and they need it today. They can’t wait for the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to take effect. But we want to give them a solution that is sustainable and one that provides dignity.”

Texas natives Flores and Perez started in their positions during the pandemic, launching directly into dealing with widespread hunger exacerbated by the pandemic on top of the struggle of remote work.

Before his position at Project Bread, Flores worked for over a decade at GLSEN, a nonprofit that focuses on education and awareness for LGBTQ+ students. When Perez’s career brought them to the Northeast, he looked to his experience growing up in a family that frequently relied on food stamps and other governmental assistance programs to eat.

“I just took a step back and wanted to think, what are the other mission areas that I wanted to focus on?” he said. “There’s a lot of structures I’m able to build (at Project Bread). I think I can really contribute to HR, the people work, the diversity, equity and inclusion work that’s so critical to reach these communities.”

Meanwhile, Perez had to acclimate to a new church and a new congregation without ever meeting them in person. He said that one of his favorite parts of the job is the regular food pantry events that the church holds, where they bring in up to 11,000 pounds of food each month from the Greater Boston Food Bank, My Brother’s Table and Lovin’ Spoonfuls.  In January, during the peak of the pandemic, they served 2,571 individuals from 683 households. 

“We have kept going because we know that people are hungry,” Perez said, noting that the vast majority of community members they serve are immigrants from Latin America. “People are out of work and resources are limited.”

Flores said that this trend is in line with the rest of the state. He said that across municipalities, there has been a 5 to 20 percent increase in households who have signed up for SNAP. Before the pandemic, one in 11 families was experiencing food insecurity; that number has gone up to one in six, and among Black and Latino families, one in three.

“It’s really just magnifying some of the fractures in the disparities,” he said. “It’s been really impactful on the most vulnerable populations.”

Flores and Perez are optimistic about the future, as both Project Bread and St. Stephen’s start opening up their operation, but both men are both committed to continuing the hard work they have done over the past year.

“When you see these people coming by, you become their friend, you strike up a conversation and you just see the need on their faces,” Perez said. “Their gratitude is written all over their face.”

The St. Stephen’s food pantry is open from 2 to 4 p.m. on the second, third, fourth and fifth Friday of every month. For more information about how to get help, call the Project Bread FoodSource hotline at 1-800-645-8333.

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In August, a formal reveal of the Frederick Douglass sculpture by 99-year old Nahant artist Reno ‘Ray’ Pisano highlighted the official dedication of a new Lynn park named after the prominent African-American abolitionist. 

The park and Pisano’s work is adjacent to the location where Douglass was thrown off a train on Sept. 29, 1841 for protesting passenger segregation aboard the Eastern Railroad Company. 

The incident led to the Massachusetts Legislature proposing a law prohibiting common carriers from discriminating against any class of passengers. The Eastern Railroad ended up abandoning second-class cars before the bill was passed in 1843. 

At the Lynn celebration of his work, Pisano rose up from his seat on the stage to say a few words. The crowd gave him an ovation. 

“All right, already,” joked Pisano, who thanked the Lynn administration, state senators and specific people who had helped him with this project. 

“Today is Frederick Douglass Day,” the sculptor proclaimed, sharing his sentiment about the dedication. “He believed that we are all cousins. That, to me, it is a big deal. That was the essence of the Frederick Douglass purpose ― the oneness of us. We are not separated. We are of each other and that’s the thing that I felt most of all.” 

Age can’t keep Pisano from carving, casting and creating art. A town resident for more than 40 years, he has an impressive resume of sculpting accomplishments.

His work, “Tectonic Eclipse,” graces the Nahant library’s lawn. Lynn is dotted with his creations, including a Douglass monument on the common and a carved tribute to Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. 

His sculptures and the material he works with reflect an inquisitive, impatient spirit that age and time have failed to tamp down. He switches from plaster to marble to granite to wood and epoxy, and his creations range from a massive likeness of P.T. Barnum to delicately rendered torsos.

For Pisano, art is not so much a process of creation as it is an exploration of the artist’s abilities.

“Most artists will produce work to impress others, but if that is your mission, it almost immediately compromises your objective,” he said. 

The son of a barber and a bridal gown designer, Pisano grew up in Lynn’s Highlands, graduated from Classical High School, and attended the Boston Museum School for a semester before joining the Army and taking part in several World War II campaigns.

He went back to school after the war and went to work for General Electric’s household division, creating stylistic designs for appliances. The father of four was married to his late wife, Mary, for 67 years.

Before channeling his energy into art, Pisano funneled it into physical fitness to overcome the effects of rheumatic fever. He lifted weights at the old Lynn Market Street YMCA and swam a mile a day. 

Like many Nahant residents, he owned a boat, but art has endured as his abiding passion. He has forged his own tools to create an implement capable of crafting clay or plaster into the creation he envisions. 

His interest in Douglass was influenced by Tom Dalton’s book, “Frederick Douglass: The Lynn Years, 1841–1848,” and the illustration on its cover, Pisano said. 

The sculptor incorporated into his work a description of the train incident and a quote from the famous abolitionist: “…justice must be done, the truth must be told, the wicked must be exposed, freedom and righteousness must be vindicated … I will not be silent.” The statue stands to the left from the “Stories of Lynn” mural, which was completed in 2014 and which also features Douglass presiding in the middle of a group of prominent Lynn residents. 

“This is way long overdue since Frederick Douglass has had such a footprint on Lynn,” said Nicole McClain, founder and director of the North Shore Juneteenth Association, who attended the dedication. 

Andrea Gayle-Bennett, from the Lynn-Swampscott E.F. Gilmore Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans and a trustee of North Shore Community College, echoed the sentiment, saying “It is a source of pride for Lynn. You hear ‘Lynn, Lynn, city of sin’ all the time but look at all the wonderful things that are here in Lynn. 

“It should be Lynn Lynn, city of him, and her, and her,” added Gayle-Bennett.

Frederick Douglass Park is now officially a Department of Conservation and Recreation public property, available for daily use and events. Beside the statue, the space features a wooden stage in front of the mural, a lush lawn and benches both in the sun and shade.

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When George Floyd was murdered by a police officer on May 25, 2020, Tamy-Feé Meneide heard a call to action.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years in prison but activists like Meneide realized that their work is still not done.

She was hired as a critical partner in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) after Floyd’s death ignited a national demand for police reform and racial equity. Meneide was instrumental in the town officially acknowledging Black History Month for the first time this past February. She has also hosted an anti-racism forum with town officials in December of 2020.

Looking back to where the town stood in terms of racial equity before the murder of Floyd, Meneide believes the town has made strides in regards to race and racism.

“There’s been more of an awareness and education that I’ve seen,” she said. “I’ve seen and beared witness to folks moving into doing their own work and unlearning some of the harmful stories that are not necessarily the truth around the history of race and racism in the United States and having a sort of reckoning as it relates to their own upbringing, and how they show up, and whether or not their community is welcoming for all.”

Meneide added that while racial-advocacy groups existed prior to her arrival to the town, a lot more have been willing to participate and attend different events, “(t)o again, do their personal work and learning and unlearning some of the harmful lies that we have been told.”

Also, Meneide noted, the awakening experienced by Swampscott residents is on par with the changes experienced by other predominantly-white neighborhoods ― but there are still areas of concern.

“There are areas of concern until we all say that racism has been dismantled completely,” said Meneide. “There’s never going to be an end point to stop learning.”

She added that one of the things that has been most helpful for the community is holding public conversations for residents of Swampscott. Meneide stated that she has received feedback where residents have shown her how successful these events have been.

“I think as we continue to plan out what diversity, equity, and inclusion looks like in Swampscott that we will continue those learning forms, those community forums,” she said. “I think also providing spaces for other parts of the town to have honest conversations is kind of the direction which we’re going, whether it be the school communities, scholars and families, staff, or even our other municipalities … from the library, to the Select Board, to the police department or the fire department.” 

While some of these conversations can be uncomfortable, they are necessary and are not just about fulfilling a requirement, said Meneide.

“If you are looking at DEI work as sort of check(ing) the box off, you did your monthly forum or you did your quarterly forum then you missed the mark,” she cautioned. “A lot of the work has to be on your own, personal work. Everybody is going to be in a different space, which is why forums are great in terms of shared discussion but they shouldn’t be the only way in which one is learning to dismantle racism as well as unlearn(ing) some of the things that they have taken as gospel throughout their lifetime. 

“There has to be a willingness of individuals to put in the work to become more educated, become more aware, and then start to practice that education and awareness,” she said. “Because once you know better, you should do better.”

For Meneide, as long as Swampscott is centered around race, equity, and justice, the town will be on a path forward.

“It’s a matter of keeping the momentum going,” she said. “(That) is the bar of success at this point: for us to be able to continually impact change.”

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The Nahant Heritage Trail is a coastal walk where you can take a break from the loud traffic and bright lights and enjoy panoramic seascape views.

The 1.4-mile trail brings walkers deep into Nahant and allows them to see local historic spots. 

Jenna DeLisi walks it almost every day.

“I have walked the trail countless times,” she said. “My favorite time of the day is when the sun is setting and when you get to the top you can see the ocean and beautiful views.”

The trail begins at the north end of Short Beach, which is one beach inland from the Nahant Public Beach. 

Starting at the Little Nahant Playground on the north end of South Beach, walkers trek the entirety of South Beach before approaching the Life Saving Station. 

Built in 1898, the station was used to transfer the United States Coast Guard in 1915. In 2001, the station was deeded back to Nahant where it was brought back to life and restored by the Nahant Preservation Trust and is used as a venue. 

Trail walkers cross Nahant Road and end up in the Lowlands, the town park doing multiple duties as a spot for baseball and basketball games, town events, and a host of other activities.

From 1905 to 1930, the Nahant and Lynn Street Railway ran on a wooden bridge through what is now the parking lot for Lowlands. 

Lowlands is also a great spot to sight birds and other wildlife, with its unique wooded wetlands. 

From the Lowlands, the trail crosses Flash Road Playground. Follow the trail markers behind the fire station to the sporting fields and directly to the Johnson School. 

This area was part of Fort Ruckman, a U.S. Coast Artillery fort back in 1904 to 1907. It saw duty in both world wars. After World War II, the fort was decommissioned and sold back to the town. 

The playground was the wartime site of the fort dining area, an infirmary, and movie theater. The Nahant Fire Station also used to also be a military fire house. 

The trail’s Johnson School portion includes the community gardens, brimming in summer with flowers, fruits, and vegetables. 

A brief walk through a small birch grove leads up wooden steps, climbing a slope where World War II wooden plankways led to Goddard Drive and the base of the Fort Ruckman bunkers. 

Climbing the slope is worth the effort: The view that awaits walkers is enhanced by following trail markers and proceeding down the switchback trail to Bailey’s Hill Park. The switchback trail still has the remains of Gun No. 2 of the underground fort, Fort Ruckman bunkers. The flat green area used to house soldiers and was also a rifle range. 

Bailey’s Hill was used for surveillance and weaponry sites in both World War I and World War II. It was also used in 1955 as a Nike missile site. 

Now, in peacetime, it is a park and the site of the Sears Pavilion Gazebo. 

At the top of Bailey’s Hill, the trail ends with plenty of sights packed into a 1.4-mile-long hike, including some of the most beautiful sites in Nahant. What goes up must come down: On your 1.4-mile stroll down back to Short Beach look for wildlife such as flowers and birds.

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The reason 93-year-old Mary McGinn has stayed in Swampscott for so many years can be summed up in one word: pride.

Although McGinn was born in New York, she has spent the majority of her life in Massachusetts. She has lived in her current home in Swampscott for nearly 70 years. 

“The town has been very good to my family,” said McGinn. “I married my high-school sweetheart, (Lawrence McGinn), and we moved into this one house and we are still here now.”

“Larry,” as Mary calls him, was the class president and co-captain of the football team at Swampscott High School in 1946. Mary was a class officer at the town’s high school in 1945 and was on the cheerleading team from 1943-46. 

With such a lengthy tenure in Swampscott, McGinn and her family have become fixtures in the community. Her six children attended schools in Swampscott and her husband helped with the town’s athletic programs. Mary served on the town’s Finance Committee for 18 years. 

The McGinns can often be found at St. John the Evangelist Church on Sundays. Mary also helps to coordinate weddings at the church; she estimates that she has worked nearly 500 of them.  

“I started this program and I worked weddings for 14 years and I loved it,” she said. “I met all sorts of people from all areas of Swampscott or anybody that attended St. John’s church. I really had a ball doing that.”

McGinn says that much of her life has revolved around the church. She was a eucharistic prayer service minister and eucharistic ministers program administrator at the church for many years. She has also served as a pastoral council member. In 2014, she was a recipient of the Boston Archdiocesan Cheverus Medal for Service. 

One of McGinn’s daughters, Erin, said that her mother has been able to make long-lasting friendships in the town because she is a forgiving person; she generously extends second chances, silently and without leverage.

“(She is) the best person most folks will ever know,” Erin said. 

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A mixture of renaissance and royalty — that might be the best way to describe Swampscott’s Edythe Comins Baker.

From being a political activist to volunteering on countless charitable and philanthropic endeavors to being a devoted mother of two and grandmother of one, “Edye” has done it all, spending her life looking out for others.

While many, no doubt, recognize Baker as the television face of the Channel 2 auction, in Swampscott circles, she is better known for her royal lineage.

She is the queen — the queen of Halloween.

Since 1975, Baker and her husband, Bob, have opened their elaborately-decorated home on Stanley Road to thousands of trick-or-treaters, inviting them in for doughnuts and Brooksby Farm cider. From the get-go, Baker put a personal spin on the open house, capturing the memories for future generations with her camera. 

But this isn’t just an assortment of photographs tucked away in some old shoe box or drawer. Instead, Baker has meticulously catalogued each and every photo by year and by family name, which serves as the centerpiece of the Halloween festivities.

After that first year, it didn’t take long for the open house to explode in popularity.

“It was incredible. People came back the next year and all the years after that to see the prior year’s pictures,” Baker said. “At first we hung the posters in the hallway, but after a few years, we outgrew the space, so now they are everywhere. 

“Every year, we see dozens of second-generation kids who are now adults. They come back to show their kids their photos of when they were kids and we have so many older kids who have outgrown trick-or-treating, but they still come to see their photos.”

Baker said families now come from everywhere, which includes a good many from Lynn.

“It’s become a Halloween destination, one of those things that at the time, we didn’t really realize what we were doing in terms of the impact it would ultimately have on so many thousands and thousands of people,” said Baker.

One story tells it all. Baker recalls a young girl whose family was planning to be out of town on Halloween. The little girl was distraught. She wasn’t doing well at school and her parents were struggling to find out why.

“Her father told me that she was upset that she was going to miss coming to our house,” Baker said. “That’s how important it was. It’s stories like that (that) tell me how people feel about our tradition. So last year with COVID, obviously we couldn’t have it, but people kept telling me, ‘Edye, you can’t stop this tradition.'”

In past years, it took Bob and Edye about a week to decorate nearly every nook and cranny of the house. The entire house was decked out in orange (Edye’s favorite color) with the front foyer creatively decorated right up to the ceiling with crepe paper — orange, of course.

This year, the Bakers strictly observed the town’s suggested safety protocols. Instead of Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins, they gave out full-size candy bars with “blinky” rings for those who could not have candy. The front porch was decorated with lights and Halloween decorations. Photo posters from the last eight years (2012-19) were on display with special Halloween lighting. Edye estimates an average of 300 people visit the home every year.

While Halloween is usually associated with spooky creatures, goblins, witches and monsters, the Bakers like to keep it kid-friendly.

“We have some things like a haunted house and train, but we prefer to be the ‘pumpkin and kitty’ house, nothing that would scare kids away,” Edye said. “It’s a happy Halloween house.”

Baker said Stanley Road has always been a family neighborhood. She estimates that the street has turned over three times since she and Bob moved here in 1972 shortly after the Syracuse University grads were married. That union is still going strong after 57 years.

“Chalk it all up to we’re extremely compatible,” said Baker. “Bob retired just before COVID, so we have spent a lot of time together and just love being here in this neighborhood. When families move out, young families take their place, so there are always lots of children, which makes for a very close neighborhood.”

Baker is quick to credit Bob’s selfless contributions to the community, saying their activism and outreach to those in need has been a lifelong passion.

“He’s very important in all of this,” said Baker, who together with Bob actively protested against the Vietnam War while they were students at Syracuse. “He served as chair of the Finance Committee during the Proposition 2 ½ years, was a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Town Meeting and worked on the YES campaign to build the new school.”

Edye also played an extremely important role in the community, serving on the board of The Tower School when her son, Roger, and daughter, Annette, were students. She spent close to 20 years on the Swampscott Democratic Town Committee (SDTC), starting a speaker series that featured prominent local, regional, and nationally-elected officials. She and Bob served as delegates at the annual state convention. She was also active in the League of Women Voters.

Baker said her sense of activism and giving back to the community began with her parents, Connie Weinstein and Adrian Comins. She and Bob are extremely proud that their granddaughter, Charley Baker, is continuing the family tradition.

“She’s a student at the New School in New York City and is out on the front lines seeking equity and social justice,” Edye said.

Baker is still active with the WGBH auction, serving on the Board of Advisors. She first volunteered in 1971 as a “table loader” and gradually moved up the ranks to auction manager, a massive position coordinating more than 5,000 volunteers and more than 100 hours of live television with just three paid employees. Under her two decades of leadership, the auction raised more than $21 million, most of it designated for children’s programming, she said. 

“I guess you could say I was involved in every phase of the auction,” Baker said. “I loved it as there was always a great sense of pride in the community. I developed connections to people I never would have been exposed to in such a thoughtful and human way.”

As far as Halloween goes, the sign on the Bakers’ front lawn says it all — “Back again in 2021.”

“After not being able to celebrate last year, we couldn’t be more happy knowing that we are keeping the tradition going,” Edye said. “Last year, the kids were able to have a parade, but I know they really missed this. I know we did. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. We have grandparents who come; we have dogs, so we added dog biscuits. That all makes it so special for everyone. We can’t imagine ever not doing such a wonderful tradition.”

With Halloween in the rearview mirror, what’s next for Edye?

“Planning our 60th high-school reunion,” said the 1962 Swampscott High graduate. “I’ve been doing it for what will be 60 years and it’s a lot of work. I always say my middle name is ‘organization’ so I think between that and the fact that the fun is always in the planning, we should be OK.”

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When the town was first hiring for a position at the library, Alyce Deveau said she was asked if she would stay on for a full year. When she agreed, the town immediately hired her. 

Now, 38 years later, Deveau is celebrating her retirement.

“I’ve enjoyed every second of it here,” Deveau said. “I’m lucky to say that there was never a morning where I wasn’t happy to go to work.”

Deveau, Swampscott’s dedicated librarian and library director, has retired after almost four decades of creating book clubs, programs, and helping everyone in town feel at home in the public library. 

“It’s bittersweet,” said Ellen Winkler, secretary for the library’s Board of Trustees, at Deveau’s retirement party. “We’re going to miss her so much, but we can’t help but to celebrate her today.” 

Approximately 100 people gathered on the Town Green on Oct. 1 to eat Chinese food appetizers — Deveau’s favorite — and chocolate cake to celebrate the director. People stopped by to congratulate the librarian on her years of service and to thank her for making the library feel so welcoming. 

“They aren’t just my patrons anymore,” Deveau said. “Over the years, they’ve become my friends.”

In addition to Deveau’s friends and family, state Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) and Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald attended the informal ceremony; both spoke about how much Deveau will be missed.

“You’re truly an inspiration,” Crighton told Deveau. 

Crighton presented the librarian with a citation from the Senate, commemorating the years of work she has done for the town. Although state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) couldn’t make the celebration, she also had prepared a citation, which recognized Deveau’s hard work. 

“Our libraries are engines for culture and community,” Fitzgerald said. “Alyce always welcomes people to be a part of Swampscott’s.”   

Deveau started six different book clubs, the Lou Gallo History Buffs, and programming over digital sites to keep people connected during COVID-19. In 2019, she said that she noticed the anger that was felt by many, with organizations like Black Lives Matter coming to the forefront of national conversation, and she wanted to do something about it. 

“You dedicated a year to offer programming with an anti-racist theme,” said Assistant Library Director Susan Conner. 

Deveau created events for this theme, including a reading of Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and worked with Swampscott Unites, Respects, Embraces (SURE) to create a book collection within the library called “One Topic One Town: A Journey Towards Dismantling Racism.”

These programs and collections won her the Essex Media Group’s “Person of the Year” award in 2020. 

Even though she is retiring, Deveau plans to remain active in the community. She has agreed to take on the role of part-time director for the Seaglass Village, where she will create community gatherings and help connect the program’s elders with volunteers. 

Deveau described Seaglass Village as a resource “to help seniors stay in their homes.” 

While Deveau has been the library director for the past 25 years, she had worked for the library for over a decade before her appointment. She started off working as a part-time assistant, then became an assistant librarian, and then the head of circulation before assuming the office of director.

Deveau retired from her position in October, but still hopes to be a part of some of the book groups, while also giving some space to let the new director feel at home.

For Deveau, her favorite part about the job has been all the people she has been able to meet.

“The staff is great, and over the years we’ve had great staff people, but I also love the patrons,” she said. “I don’t like being in (the office). I like being out there (in the library). I spend more of my time out on the floor. I love dealing with patrons.”

Deveau has also made the effort to run book groups, language classes, and knitting groups. She said that prior to COVID-19 there were so many activities going on at the library, but she admitted that things had been tough during the pandemic.

“We were closed, totally out of the building for a few months and then the staff came back and we were working in the building,” she said. “That was almost harder than when (we’re) normally working because we were doing everything on Zoom, trying to do as much programming outreach as we could.”

Deveau said that they offered “everything we could think of to keep the library viable to the public,” including home delivery of books and offering various forms of online programming such as interviews, instructional videos, and even podcasts.

Soon after closing their physical space to the public, the library added a window in the lobby where people could go to check out books. 

With Swampscott not having a community center accessible to all its residents, Deveau said that it was her goal to make the library a place where the town can gather.

“Twenty-five years ago when I became director, I made it almost like a goal that this would become a community center as well as a library,” she said. “That’s why we’ve offered so many programs.”

Deveau mentioned how the library is specifically focused on providing unique programs and opportunities, such as group ukulele lessons and the ability to check out air conditioners.

“I try to make it something that will help anyone in the community and that’s a real big part of the library being a community center,” said Deveau.

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