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The Sounds of Saugus

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Memorial Day Parade returns Saturday

Saturday, May 25, 2019. What a great day it was for a parade! And what a great day it was to observe Memorial Day weekend by honoring the town’s fallen heroes.

I remember it very well three years ago, while snapping photos of the Lynn English Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) doing maneuvers in front of Saugus Town Hall. I was standing right near the entrance to the Saugus Public Library, where staging had been set up for the official Memorial Day Ceremony. It was a beautiful day. And the town was blessed to have a special guest – Francisco A. Ureña, the state’s Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services – delivering the keynote speech after the annual Memorial Day Parade.

It was a few minutes before the ceremony was set to commence. I remember Saugus Veterans Council Commander Steve Castinetti expressing his displeasure with what he thought was a disappointing turnout for the day’s events. “There should be a lot more people out here today,” Castinetti said, openly chiding the community of Saugus for not having a better response to the day’s events.

I happened to agree with him that the seemingly good crowd turnout along the parade route and the cemetery seemed to dwindle drastically by the time the parade ended officially in front of Town Hall. Few people actually showed up for the most important part of the festivities: to pause and reflect on the great human sacrifice of Saugonians during the various wars. Seventy-seven of Saugus young men died in combat serving their country since World War I and through the Iraq wars.

All of them were true heroes. All of them deserve a day of remembrance.

But it was a reflection of a disappointing national trend. Memorial Day just doesn’t command the respect and demonstration of patriotic pride that it once did.

Hopefully, after the parade being canceled during the past two years because of COVID-19, Saugonians – young and old – will appreciate this year’s event even more.

The Town of Saugus, along with the Saugus Veterans Council and the American Legion Post, extends an invitation to all local servicemen and women to join them at the Memorial Day Parade tomorrow (Saturday, May 28). Come march with town officials, residents, students and fellow soldiers to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our freedom.

The parade – which is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. – will be “historical” this year, according to Saugus Veterans Council Commander Castinetti, a retired U.S. Navy captain. Billie June “BJ” Farrell, the 77th Commanding Officer of the USS Constitution – but the first woman officer in charge during the ship’s 224-year history – has accepted an invitation to be the grand marshal of this year’s Annual Memorial Day Parade and keynote speaker for the town’s Memorial Day Ceremony. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime event that you cannot miss!” Castinetti told us a few weeks ago.

“It’s historical because Commander Farrell became the first female Commanding Officer of this great ship in 224 years. Come out and welcome Commander Farrell to Massachusetts and, more importantly to Saugus!! Meet the new Commanding Officer of the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, on May 28,” he said.

The parade will step off at 10 a.m. from Anna Parker Playground at 124 Essex St. in Saugus, proceed to Cliftondale Square, to Central Street and to Winter Street and end at Riverside Cemetery where a Memorial Day Ceremony will take place.

I plan on attending this year’s Memorial Day weekend event, just as I have most of the others during my time as Saugus Advocate Editor. But, personally, I’m looking forward to the event.


A Saugus Medal of Honor recipient

It will be 78 years ago next month that Arthur Frederick DeFranzo, a 25-year-old staff sergeant from Saugus, sacrificed his own life on a battlefield in France while displaying what his Medal of Honor Citation hailed as “extraordinary heroism and magnificent devotion to duty.”

On June 10, 1944, near Vaubadon, France, German combat forces opened fire with several machine guns, wounding DeFranzo while he was rescuing an injured man. Unconcerned about his own injuries, he led an attack on the enemy positions and encouraged his men to advance. He destroyed an enemy machine gun position after being hit several more times. He died of those wounds.

There are few living Saugus residents who would remember DeFranzo, a member of the Saugus High School Class of 1939. He would be 103 years old today. But for patriotic Saugus residents who take pride in their town, the memory of DeFranzo lives on as the most celebrated example of the ultimate sacrifice paid by a Saugonian fighting for his country.

DeFranzo is one of more than 3,500 Americans to have received the Medal of Honor – highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces since 1863 – and one of more than 600 who received the medal posthumously.


Be safe out there, Saugus

Each year at this time, I devote some space in this column to share with readers my personal connection to Memorial Day – in hopes that it might get people taking special steps in their own lives to avoid becoming part of the tragic Memorial Day weekend death toll on the nation’s highways.

It happened 44 years ago this weekend. But I remember it like it was yesterday – one of the saddest days of my life – relived over and over each year when millions of people across the country pause to remember those who sacrificed their lives for this country. I was working as a reporter on the police beat for The San Angelo (Texas) Standard-Times. And one of my assignments was to write a story about the death toll on West Texas roads and highways.

That grim task included coverage of a crash in the Texas Hill Country that killed seven people in one family. There weren’t that many deaths the next day, so the editor on duty asked me to rehash the fatal facts so he could “juice up” a recycled story that had very little new information, but would still run on the front page for the second day in a row. It really bothered me as I left the newsroom that day, knowing how some of us in the media can be so callous in the way we treat these tragedies. I carried out the assignment while expressing some dismay to the insensitive desk editor.

I awoke the next morning to a knock on the door of my motel room. The stranger told me it was a family emergency and I needed to call home, so I walked out into the parking lot to make a dreaded collect call to my folks’ home in Swansea, Mass. My brother, Wayne answered the phone and told me that my twin brother, Lance, had gone to a better place and was no longer with us.

Here was a U.S. Air Force veteran who survived the Vietnam War – serving his time in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and ’Nam – coming home without a scratch. But on Memorial Day 1978, Lance was one of the 15 people who died over that weekend on Massachusetts roads. On a dark, foggy night, less than an eighth of a mile down the street from my parents’ home, Lance hit a curb with his motorcycle and was fatally injured. As I recall, he snapped a vertebrae in his neck.

Alcohol wasn’t a factor. There weren’t any witnesses to report what happened. We’ll never know whether a passing car or an animal could have caused him to lose control of his motorcycle, or whether there was some other kind of fatal distraction.

It was a two-hour car ride from my motel room to the nearest airport in Midland, Tex., where I barely caught the last connecting flight to Boston that day. I was stuck in Dallas for several hours.

More than 12 hours later, I sat in the kitchen of my folks home, reading the local newspaper story about just another Memorial Day traffic tragedy. But this one really hit home and still resonates painfully every year at this time.

Lance was just 25 and was an excellent student, looking forward to his junior year at Southeastern Massachusetts University. So much of life ahead of him. But all his dreams and hopes ended on that Memorial Day.

It’s a holiday tragedy that visits hundreds of American families every year. If you head out to the roads this weekend – especially to do some long distance driving – be safe out there.

Enjoy the holiday with family and friends. And take time to say a few prayers for the service people who sacrificed their lives in combat duty to defend our American way of life.


Honoring Saugus High baseball seniors

The Saugus High School Varsity Baseball Team invites all Saugus Little League players to attend the Varsity Senior Game to be held at World Series Park, today (Friday, May 27) to celebrate the last home game of the season for graduating seniors. Little League players who wear their game shirts will get to come on the field during the ceremony and will also receive a ticket for a free slush at the concession stand. To participate in the ceremony, the Little Leaguers should arrive at the field no later than 3:15 – 15 minutes before the ceremony starts.

Feel free to contact Renee Howard (617-592-5876) with any questions or concerns.


One-day trash delay for holiday week

The Town of Saugus announces that trash and recycling collection will run on a one-day delay from Tuesday (May 31) through Saturday (June 4), due to the observance of Memorial Day (Monday, May 30). There will be no collection on Monday (May 30) due to the holiday. Services will resume on a one-day delay from Tuesday (May 31) through Saturday (June 4). Residents whose collection day falls on Monday will be collected from on Tuesday. Collection will continue to run on a one-day delay for the remainder of the week.

Please contact the Department of Public Works at 781-231-4145 with any questions.


Want to help make a better Library?

The Saugus Board of Selectmen is accepting applications for appointments to the Saugus Library Board of Trustees. This is a volunteer/nonpaid position for Saugus residents. Those interested may submit a letter of interest/resume no later than June 1 to the Saugus Board of Selectmen, Saugus Town Hall, 298 Central St., Suite 4, Saugus, MA 01906.


Compost site now open

The community’s compost site will be open to residents on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The site is located behind the Department of Public Works at 515 Main St.

Stickers are required to gain seasonal access to the site. Stickers may be purchased for $25.00 at the Department of Public Works (DPW) located at the Compost Site when making your visit to the Compost Site. The Town of Saugus accepts checks only for payment of the $25.00. No cash will be accepted. Kindly bring a check when visiting. Thank you!

Compost site stickers must be permanently placed on the lower left corner of residents’ automobile windshields. Vehicles registered out of state are not permitted.

Yard waste must be disposed of in brown compost bags or open containers. The Town will accept grass clippings, leaves and brush. As in years past, no branches or limbs larger than three inches in diameter are permitted.

We ask all residents to please wear a mask and maintain and respect social distancing from others while visiting the site. Residents may call Lorna Cerbone at the Solid Waste and Recycling Department at 781-231-4036 with questions or for more information.


We have a winner!

Congratulations to Carole Drake for making the right identification in last week’s “Guess Who Got Sketched” contest. She was one of several readers answering correctly. But she was the only one to have her name picked in a drawing from the green Boston Red Sox cap.

Here’s the correct answer, offered by the person who goes by the name of The Sketch Artist:

“The answer to last week’s sketch is the multi-talented Gabriella Snyder Stelmack! Gabriella has such an angelic, highly skilled and trained voice!

“Check out Gabriella’s CD ‘Ancient Christmas’

“Songs and Carols with Gabriella Snyder with Mountain Dulcimer Guitar, Viola & Violin

“The song #3 ‘Come With Me’ (a favorite of mine) Gabriella wrote the music & words. She states on her CD why she wrote ‘Come With Me’ ‘I wanted to write a “Little Drummer Boy” type song, with the wise men hearing about the newborn King and setting out to find Him. I hope this takes you on your journey’ Gabriella.’

“Such a myriad of beautiful Christmas songs on Ancient Christmas! She produced the CD through her own Colla Voce Recording & Publishing Co.

“Gabriella quotes in her own words the following: ‘I am the Executive Director of Bread of Life in Malden, a nonprofit faith based, volunteer driven organization that provides a million meals per year for struggling families and senior citizens in the north metro Boston area. I have worked with the organization for 33 years. What some people don’t know is I am also a composer of two operas, many songs and choral pieces, and have sung professionally, and was a private vocal instructor for many years. I want to continue sharing my music and sharing what I have with those who have less. Knowing that only God can save the world through Christ, I try in my small way to be part of His work. My favorite passage from the Bible is Matthew, chapter 25, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink….I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” I consider myself to be on a pilgrimage through life, stumbling many times, but continually trying to go God’s way rather than my own: God’s goals, God’s methods, God’s timing, with God’s power. On the wall of my office hangs something that was read as a young girl and I always want to remember: “I shall pass this way but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”’

“Gabriella, you are a great example of ‘don’t hide your light under a bushel, let it shine for all to see’ – you are a great beacon of light to this world!

“Thank you, Yours Truly,

“The Sketch Artist”


Disco Dance party at the Kowloon

The Kowloon Restaurant is set to host an outdoor Disco Dance Party featuring The Cover Girls performing live in concert. The event is set at the Kowloon’s outdoor venue on June 18 (rain date June 19) on Route 1 North in Saugus. Showtime is 7 p.m., and doors open at 6 p.m. General admission is $39 per person and V.I.P. reserved seating is $59 per person. Guests are invited to dress in disco wear. Tickets are available at online ordering, front desk or charge-by-phone: 781-233-0077.

The Cover Girls are an all-female, New York City-based freestyle group that achieved most of their chart success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Among the group’s best-known songs are “Show Me,” “Because of You,” “We Can’t Go Wrong” and “Wishing on a Star.”

Opening for The Cover Girls is Vinyl Groove. Vinyl Groove is a multitalented vocal group who sing the best R&B dance music from the 70s, including Motown-Philly and classic disco dance music – including songs from Tavares, The Trammps, The Stylistics, The O’Jays, The Temptations, Blue Magic, Smokey Robinson, Earth Wind & Fire, Donna Summer, The Spinners and the Four Tops.


A “Shout Out” for “Shout Outs”

Jeanie Bartolo, a prolific contributor to our weekly “Shout Out” segment of this column (and she was actually the catalyst behind this weekly feature) offers the following “Shout Out:”

“Memorial Day marks the third anniversary of The Advocate’s Sounds of Saugus “Shout Out” column with a total of 230 Shout Outs, so I thought a “Shout Out” for “Shout Outs” to EVERYONE who nominated someone special and to Mark Vogler for printing them. Let’s keep it going!!! Many thanks.”


A “Shout Out” for those who get sketched

We also received a “Shout Out” this week from “the Sketch Artist”:

“A SHOUT OUT & THANKYOU To ALL the wonderful people sketched so far!

“Thank you for allowing me to use my little spark to showcase ALL you brilliant lights of Hope and wonderful people of Saugus! Shining so brightly In deeds and actions!

“Endless giving and doing for others lending uplifting hands reaching out.

“Saugonians who go the extra mile!

“Beacons of luminesce!

“If you know someone who hasn’t been featured, let’s not leave them out! Let’s get them sketched and showcased. We look to these people for inspiration, motivation and hope for a better Saugus each day! Thank you

“Yours Truly

“The Sketch Artist”


Want to “Shout Out” a fellow Saugonian?

This is an opportunity for our paper’s readers to single out – in a brief mention – remarkable acts or achievements by Saugus residents or an act of kindness or a nice gesture. Just send an email (mvoge@comcast.net) with a mention in the subject line of “An Extra Shout Out.” No more than a paragraph; anything longer might lend itself to a story and/or a photo.


Bishop plans to bless the Community Garden

The Right Rev. Alan Gates, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, will be blessing the Community Garden ground at St. John’s Episcopal Church today (Friday, May 27) at 9 a.m.

Meanwhile, The Rev. John Beach of St. John’s Episcopal Church, continues to search for a few good men, women and children who would like to join a noble cause – the second year of the church-sponsored community garden. “We are inviting all interested persons to join us in producing vegetables for those who are suffering from food insecurity in Saugus,” Rev. Beach wrote in a letter to the community.

Rev. Beach is looking for a variety of help as the garden approaches planting time for its second year:

  • If you are able to grow a few seedlings in your home, we would like to bring the seeds, soil, pots, and instructions in the next few weeks.
  • Assist in the planting of crops on Friday May 27th and/or Saturday May 28th sometime between 9 and noon. We will be having a brief service of the blessing of the ground on the Friday.
  • Assist for an hour a week in the tending of the crops (weeding and watering) over the course of the summer.
  • Assist in the harvesting of the crops in September and delivering them to the Saugus Food Pantry

“If you are able to assist, or if you are interested in contributing to the garden, please let me know. I am looking forward to working with you,” Rev. Beach said. He can be reached by phone (774-961-9881) or email (revjbeach@gmail.com).

“Before we plant the seedlings, it would be wonderful if you were able to join us for that service,” Rev. Beach said.


Saugus Kindergarten Registration underway

Kindergarten registration for students entering the Saugus Public Schools in the fall of 2022 opened this month. Registration packets may be picked up at the Main Office of the Veterans Early Learning Center (VELC) at 39 Hurd Ave. in Saugus Monday through Friday during school hours. The packet will also be available on the Saugus Public Schools’ website, https://www.saugus.k12.ma.us/.

Completed forms and required documentation may be returned to the VELC Main Office. Packet drop-off hours will be Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 11 a.m.; kindergarten screening appointments will be scheduled at this time. Screenings will take place on Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9 and will last about 20 minutes. There is no deadline for registration.

Saugus moved to a free, all-day kindergarten model for the 2021-22 school year to better prepare students academically, socially and emotionally. A half-day option is not available.

“Free, all-day kindergarten levels the playing field and gives Saugus children all of the building blocks they need from day one,” said School Committee Member Ryan Fisher.

Students must be five years old by Aug. 31, 2022, in order to enter kindergarten in the fall of 2022; there are no exceptions. For more information, please contact the Veterans Early Learning Center at 781-231-8166.


Buy a brick to honor a Saugus veteran

The Saugus War Monument Committee once again is sponsoring the Buy A Brick Program to honor all those who have served their country. If you would like to purchase one in the name of someone who is presently serving or has served, in the memory of a loved one, or just for someone from your family, school, etc., the general pricing is $100 for a 4″ X 8″ brick (three lines) and $200 for 8″ X 8″ brick (five lines). Each line is a maximum of 15 characters. The improvement and upkeep of the monument on the corner of Winter and Central Streets rely on the generosity of donors through fundraising.

The brick application must be in by Sept. 15 to ensure the bricks will be ready for Veterans Day. Please contact Corinne Riley at 781-231-7995 for more information and applications.


SHS Class of ’62 plans 60th reunion

Leaders of the Saugus High School Class of 1962 would like you to “SAVE THE DATE.” Their 60th Class Reunion will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Prince Pizzeria in Saugus. They are reaching out to contact fellow classmates as well as other alumni who would like to join them.

The well-known 50s and 60s music group of Howie Conley will be there for musical enjoyment. Those of you who have heard them know what a performance they put on. There will be pizza and salad combinations plus soft drinks. The price includes all you can eat, tax and gratuities – plus Howie Conley’s group – and is $29 per person. There is a bar available for wine, beer and mixed drinks.

There is no need to purchase tickets at this time. Please let one of the following people know of your interest either by a phone call or a text message so that you can be easily reached when the time draws near. No commitment is necessary. They are just exploring the number of interested classmates.

  • Donna “Cann” Olivera – 781-987-4308
  • Jonni “Giantonio” Matrona – 781-439-4200
  • Janice “Cristiano” Pomeroy – 617-512-2097
  • Larry Seavers – 704-906-2606


Food pantry seeking driver volunteers

The Saugus United Parish Food Pantry seeks volunteers to make food and bread pickups on Thursdays and Fridays from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Anyone who has the time and interest to help out should contact Jeff Hirtle at 781-922-0661. The food pantry operates out of the basement at Cliftondale Congregational Church at 50 Essex St. in Saugus.


Friday morning Legion Hall breakfasts continue

Here’s some great news for people who enjoy their Friday morning breakfasts at the Saugus American Legion Cpl Scott J. Procopio Post 210. Legion Hall, which is located at 44 Taylor St., resumed its Friday breakfasts and will continue through today. The buffet breakfast is served at 8 a.m. for a donation of $7.

Bon appétit! And good luck to the Kitchen Crew.


Looking for book donations

The New Friends of the Saugus Public Library are asking for donations of gently used adult hardcover and softcover fiction for the ongoing book sale in the Community Room. They would also appreciate donations of gently used children’s books. Please limit donations at this time to only fiction and children’s books; they do not have storage space for other genres or media. Please…clean and newer books only. No tattered pages, bad odors, stains, or dirty covers!

Books may be dropped off at the Main Circulation Desk during business hours. Please do not place donations in the outdoor book drops.


Want to be a Knight?

The Knights of Columbus is looking for new members to join. If you are interested in becoming a member of this local organization, please call 781-233-9858.


Food Pantry still open

The Saugus United Parish Food Pantry continues to remain open on Fridays between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. despite concerns over the Coronavirus. They have made adjustments to protect their core of volunteers and the needy people who receive the food. For the protection of volunteers & clients, and to limit personal contact and crowding/gathering, the food pantry has been distributing pre-bagged groceries. Even though clients may receive items they don’t want or need, food pantry organizers feel this is the best course of action to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. Those in need, even for short-term or one-time assistance, are encouraged to come. The food pantry is located in the basement of Cliftondale Congregational Church at 50 Essex St. in Saugus.


Let’s hear it!

Got an idea, passing thought or gripe you would like to share with The Saugus Advocate? I’m always interested in your feedback. It’s been six years since I began work at The Saugus Advocate. I’m always interested in hearing readers’ suggestions for possible stories or good candidates for “The Advocate Asks” interview of the week. Feel free to email me at mvoge@comcast.net.

Do you have some interesting views on an issue that you want to express to the community? Submit your idea. If I like it, we can meet for a 15- to 20-minute interview over a hot drink at a local coffee shop. And I’ll buy the coffee or tea. Or, if you prefer to continue practicing social distancing and be interviewed from the safety of your home on the phone or via email, I will provide that option to you as the nation recovers from the Coronavirus crisis.

If it’s a nice day, my preferred site for a coffee and interview would be the picnic area of the Saugus Iron Works.

GUESS WHO GOT SKETCHED! If you know the right answer, you might win the contest. In this week’s edition, we continue our weekly feature where a local artist sketches people, places and things in Saugus. Got an idea who was sketched this week? If you do, please email me at mvoge@comcast.net or leave a phone message at 978-683-7773. Anyone who between now and Tuesday at noon identifies the Saugonian sketched in this week’s paper qualifies to have their name put in a green Boston Red Sox hat with a chance to be selected as the winner of a $10 gift certificate, compliments of Dunkin’ in the Food Court at the Saugus Square One Mall. But you have to enter to win! Look for the winner and identification in next week’s “The Sounds of Saugus.” Please leave your mailing address in case you are a winner. (Courtesy illustration to The Saugus Advocate by a Saugonian who goes by the name of “The Sketch Artist”)

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