New Contest to Bridge the Generations for Salem Depot

Vintage photo of the Salem Depot.

Our lives are filled with the endless tasks of family, work, and household responsibilities.  It is a rare opportunity to become part of a project where you can work with your neighbors, see almost immediate physical results, and “feel good” with your accomplishments!  The Salem Train Station Renovation Project is gaining momentum and popularity — it is a “feel good” project.

Last fall, the Salem Board of Selectmen authorized Beverly Glynn, Chairman of the Historic District Commission, to oversee the Train Station Renovation Project.  Recognizing the complexities of coordinating the volunteers, contractors, and fundraising, Beverly quickly named Salem’s retired town manager, Henry LaBranche, to assist her in managing the project and head up the steering committee.  Today, members of the steering committee consist of Donna Velt of Pentucket Bank, Diane Paquette, Howie Glynn, and Tom Gioseffi of Stonehill Builders, and Beth Roth, selectman representative.

Now that the town made the building safe for volunteers, by removing asbestos and demolishing an unsafe addition to the building, the steering committee is beginning to launch its fundraising efforts.  The committee plans to raise private funding in an amount to restore the train station and establish a trust fund for upkeep on the building, avoiding any impact on local taxes for present and future maintenance on the structure. 

This week, members of the steering committee are unveiling their first fundraising project at the Salem Ingram Senior Center.  The fundraiser is a contest where seniors are asked to share their personal stories of the train station.  Twelve stories will be selected by a panel of judges and those 12 storytellers will visit the Salem High School and Woodbury Junior High Art Classes in April.  The seniors will tell their stories to the students, to inspire paintings and illustrations.  The work of the seniors and students will be collected and bound in a commemorative book and sold as a fundraiser.  The winners of the story contest and the art contest will be honored at the gala kick off fundraising party that is scheduled to take place the first week of May.

Eileen Mawson was one of the first to share her story when Beth Roth introduced the contest at the recent Senior Center Ladies Tea.  Eileen, a World War II war bride, with a hint of a British accent, told how she and her trunk finally arrived at the Salem Station from England during the war.  Other stories are coming in quickly as members of the steering committee are receiving calls from people in Derry, Lawrence, and Methuen who also want to share memories!

The contest is open to anyone who has a story about the train station.  The deadline to submit your story to any member of the steering committee is March 21.  For assistance in writing your story, you may contact Patty at the Senior Center or to Beth Roth at 893-5465.

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Military Moms Meet for Support

by Jay Hobson

Military Moms (from left) Donna Velt, Sandra Bohne, Pam Russell and Lucille Penny

The sometimes desolate, often lonely, and always dangerous places that American soldiers find themselves in this age of “war against terror” is a fact of life for the men and women who are in service to their country.  A service rendered not only to their government, but to each one of us.  Their sacrifice of what we take for granted on a daily basis — television, fast food, home-cooked meals, and the safety of American soil — is what they give up so we can enjoy heated debates, political differences, and religious affiliations of our own choice without government interference.

Back home, their families, especially their mothers — women who have nurtured and cared for them all their lives — are waiting.  They wait.  They wait to hear their child’s voice on a telephone or an e-mail informing mom of an upcoming leave and a brief chance for a hug and a long look into the eyes of the child that went to war — and the man or woman that is back, if only fleetingly.

They wait, but not alone.  Since November, a group of military moms has met at the Salem Boys and Girls Club on Geremonty Drive, every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, to give each other support and to talk and share stories and information about the children they have that are fighting halfway around the world, some in Afghanistan and others in Iraq.

Donna Velt, a single mom, whose son, Spc. Jordan Labrie, 26, enlisted after 911 and served his duty and was then recalled on Veterans Day 2007, will leave on Sunday for Baghdad for a minimum tour of 425 days.

Lucille Penny whose son, Staff Sgt Mark Penny, 34, has been in Baghdad since September and is with the N.H. Army National Guard, said, “Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry, but we are here for each other.  My grandson is seven and he said to Mark, ‘Do you really have to go, daddy?’ to which his dad replied ‘If they call me, I really have to go; it’s my job.’  And my grandson says to him, ‘Well, can’t you call in sick?’,” Penny said.

Pam Russell, whose son, Army Pfc. Tom Russell, a combat engineer, is currently home on an 18-day leave which ends March 2, stated, “Women tend to open up more than men.  Men (husbands and fathers) still are experiencing the same feelings, but women tend to open up more and discuss things and find comfort from each other.  The group is here as a support, somewhere we can go as mothers of soldiers and talk about our sons with someone who is going through the same experience.  They understand exactly what we’re dealing with — the highs and the lows,” Russell said.

Sandra Bohne whose son, Joe Bohne, 24, was in the army for five years and did two tours in Iraq, is currently with the Mass. National Guard.  Her other son, James, is a senior at Salem High School and is already signed up on delayed entry and will be in the Marines this summer.

Lisa Desrosiers’ son, Marine Lance Cpl. Edmund Vandecasteele, 20, is currently in Okinawa.

The hardest thing to endure, according to the moms, is waiting for “the call” — the notification that something has happened, either injury or worse.

Just as their children experience the need for camaraderie, so the military moms experience their own brand of camaraderie that helps them cope with the separation and apprehension of having a loved one in harms way.

“At first you feel that sense of fear and then it turns to intense pride for who they are and what they are doing. We are very proud of them,” Velt said, with the others nodding in agreement.

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Light-Hearted Storytelling

by Robyn Hatch

Chris Rose

Chris Rose, a fourth grade teacher from Fisk School, did a presentation of light-hearted stories to the Woodbury sixth grade classes.  Chris is well known in the Salem area for his ability as a reader.  One of the stories was about Santa Claus with “gas” and the kids and teachers in attendance enjoyed the laughter.  This was an excellent way to expose the students to a fun type of literature and to break up the day from serious studies.  Good job!   

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