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~ Malden Musings ~

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“In Memory of Mary Anne”

  Picked up pieces while counting down the days to the Saint Rocco Feast…

  • Mary Anne Gray passed away on November 19, 2022, surrounded by the love of her children and sisters. A “Fundraiser for Mary Anne” will be held on Thursday night, April 20 at Prince Pizzeria. Kevin Larsen related to me how Mary Anne was a “beacon of light” for the Class of 1981 at Malden High. A light that shined the brightest when it concerned her classmates. Mary Anne is mourned, loved, missed and remembered by the entire Class of ’81. Fellow Maldonians Paul Gilligan and Dave Russo will entertain that evening. Sure to be a joyous celebration with all proceeds going to scholarships.
  • Think about this for a moment: Steve Freker is in four Hall of Fames! Do you realize what it takes to get into oneHall of Fame?! Never mind four! G.O.A.T.?
  • Great to see our very own local hero made (very) good, Democratic Whip/Congresswoman Katherine Clark, make an appearance at the Malden Democratic City Committee fundraiser on March 11. Katherine’s a rising star in the Democratic Party and we could not be prouder of her!
  • Congratulations to “The Thunder,” who won the Al Locke League Championship in March, and to “Villanova,”’ who won the Arthur Boyle League championship in the Malden Recreation Youth Basketball finals at the Salemwood Gym.
  • I remember Al Locke when he ran the Malden Protestant Church Athletic Association Program aka the Church League (and officiated games). Al started the league some 75 years ago and was involved with the program until his death – well into his eighties. He was a wonderful man with a heart of gold from what I recall.
  • In case you didn’t know… Malden’s very own Pam DeGroot runs the highly acclaimed Natalie Kaplan Speaker Series at the Harriet and Ralph Kaplan Estates in Peabody – a popular monthly event at the assisted living facility. Pam’s mom Natalie started the series, but when she passed in 2019 Pam continued it in her honor. Mazel Tov, Pam.
  • Malden suffered immeasurably with the loss of the legendary Karen Anderson. We’ll be feeling this as a city for years to come. That’s what kind of value (and love) Karen brought to Malden.
  • Amazing fact that Karen served as City Clerk and Chair of the Board of Registrar of Voters for a whopping 33 years (1984-2017). Her longevity brought to mind Parking Enforcement Officer Jerry Lander, who started in the D.P.W. back in the Summer of Love (1967) and is still plugging away in 2023 in the Parking Dept. 56 years later! Jerry Lander in bell bottoms? We can only imagine.
  • Congratulations to recently crowned 16U National Champion wrestler in the 127 lb. class at the USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle Nationals in Omaha Nebraska – Malden’s very own Corynne McNulty straight outta the Forestdale School – her second national championship, by the way.
  • I exit Tous les Jours on Pleasant Street after procuring one of their outstanding hot brews, place the cup on the top of my vehicle, then drive off. Left onto Commercial then left onto Exchange is when I notice what are perceived as many friendly motorists waving hello to me. I take a right onto Jackson – as the coffee flies by me I feel like the Village Idiot. I have made a rookie mistake. And their coffee ain’t cheap either!
  • I love local journalism! Best example: the March 24 edition of the Malden Advocate and Steve Freker’s “It is said…in Malden” column. For newcomers to Malden, Frek has more right than anyone when he uses the iconic “It is said…in Malden” header. That was a mainstay for the late, great Malden Evening News for many, many years, including Frek’s time at the MEN as Editor (and writer of just about every article). Frek uses “It is said…in Malden” with love and the reverence it deserves. If your name appeared in that column back in the day, you were somebody. But back to why I love local journalism… In this column he acknowledges a couple of beloved legends (Jeanne Marqurdo & Katie Bowdridge), gives us a bird’s-eye view of nightlife activity in Malden Square on weekend nights, name-checks another legend – Judy Spadafora aka Brandano Sullivan (insert smiley face) – and the paragraph that brightened my day – the dead skunk at Maplewood Park and that classic rock fave mention (I remember it vividly when it hit the AM airways back in ’72), Loudon Wainwright’s “Dead skunk in the middle of the road.” Thank you, Frek, for keeping local journalism interesting, fun and alive!
  • Also, the best picture of the year appeared on those very same pages – the (MNBL) broadcast team of Laker’s coach Bernard Stroud aka “Unc” and Nester Dudley sitting courtside with huge smiles – two famous and forever handsome local icons!
  • Sad day for Malden when Ward 5 Councillor Barbara Murphy announced she would not run for reelection. Sad day indeed. Barbara lived for her Ward and her constituents. Everything she did for Ward 5 (and Malden) was from the heart and for selfless reasons. Never a self-promoter, Barbara was an “old school”–type pol – a direct descendent of Johnny Furlong, Jim Conway, Paul Condon, Greg & Ed Lucey, Steve Finn, Dom Fermano – too many to name-check – who just got the job done. From my heart to yours, Barbara, all the best!
  • The Kierstead Park facelift is long overdue. With as much visibility as it gets being on a main drag, such as Eastern Avenue, it makes sense to beautify this very much neglected gem of a park. My only concern is that the Jerry Robbins memorial stone be preserved and honored as it should be. Back in 2017 the City of Malden acknowledged Jerry’s humanitarian legacy by naming the baseball diamond at Arthur S. Kierstead Park in his honor. The Jerry Robbins Memorial Field is located just a block away from the former Robbins family business site. The stone commemorating Jerry sits at the corner of Eastern and Willow.
  • Another hidden gem in plain sight: the “Jaden-Brito White Memorial Basketball Court” at Miller Park. Thank you to Ward 7 Councillor Chris Simonelli and his predecessor Neal Anderson for ensuring Malden doesn’t forget Ward 7.
  • Speaking of Tous les Jours, I recently spotted the forever youthful former mayor, Riche “Ace” Howard, sitting at a window seat enjoying the view. Richie looks marvelous btw and is without doubt a respected Malden elder statesman.

  As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character Columbo would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – Malden’s Strategic Planning and Community Development Director (formerly the MRA), Debbie Burke, has been an integral part of Malden’s resurgence for at least the past 35 years or so (I know, she doesn’t look old enough!). More so than most elected officials (or otherwise) in Malden. A journalist in another life, Deb put pencil to paper and penned this beautiful missive to the late Karen Anderson’s family: “Hi Jim and family: I just don’t have the right words to express how sorry I am to learn about Karen’s passing. I had the pleasure of knowing Karen for more than 30 years— ahhh such a lifetime ago. In fact, she and I were pregnant with our kids just months apart from the other and I must admit I was so flattered when she asked to share some of my maternity clothes. Ahh a 2 for one as they would say —such a deal! Lol… on a more serious note working alongside her at city hall I quickly admired her brilliance. She had a great legal mind and knew how to pull everything together. She was one of a kind. The city was indeed so very fortunate for her longtime devoted service. There will never be another Karen Anderson, but we are all the better for having had the pleasure of knowing her. Rest in peace my friend, you will indeed be missed, love Debbie Burke.”

  Postscript 1: My only brush with true greatness: 1983 – I am “in between jobs.” It’s a glorious midsummer morning so I decided to take the Orange Line into the North End. Destination: Galleria Umberto on Hanover Street. I get off at Haymarket and as I arrive at Hanover and Cross (close to where the Tony Demarco Statue now stands) I accidentally bump into a very tall man. I look up to see 6′ 5″ Boston Mayoral candidate (civil rights icon and much more) Mel King. I apologize then realize who this man is. I am taken aback for a moment before I gush best wishes to him on his run for mayor. The smile he gave me and the wave of thanks are indelibly imprinted in my mind. Rest in peace to a giant amongst men.

  Postscript 2: Not a dry eye on my face as I walk into Principal Mastrangelo’s office space at Malden High and experience the love fest thrown for longtime MHS employee Judy – “don’t call me Spadafora” – Brandano Sullivan. Timing is everything in life as the MHS Choral Group begin “Time to Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro)” before segueing into “An Irish Blessing.” Congratulations and all the best in retirement, Judy. See you around the neighborhood!

—Peter is a longtime Malden resident and a regular contributor to the Malden Advocate. He can be reached at PeteL39@aol.com for comments, compliments or complaints.

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