Town of Lexington Hosts Chinese Business Delegation

The Delegation with town officials

The Town of Lexington recently hosted the Shanghai Zhangjiang Delegation for an afternoon of business and history. The seven member delegation represented investment and biotech interests from Shanghai, China. Lexington was the third stop on their 10 day trip to investigate investment and development opportunities in the US and abroad.

The visit began with tour of the new Shire facility led by Bill Ciambrone, Senior Vice President of Technical Operations for Shire. Mr. Ciambrone emphasized the importance of both the cutting edge technology used at Shire and the close relationship they have forged with Minuteman High School. Shire sponsors two programs at the school that help develop curriculums and offer internships to students in the Shire labs. Many of the students in the internship program go on to become Shire employees.

After the tour, the Delegation heard presentations from Peter Abair, Director of Economic Development at the industry association, Mass BIO. Mr. Abair gave an overview of the State’s biotechnology industry, how it began, where it is now, and its projected growth.

Angus McQuilken, Vice President of Communications at the Mass Life Sciences Center explained the state’s role in supporting business growth. The organization has been charged by the state with promoting the expansion of the life sciences industry in Massachusetts by providing tools and funding sources to businesses. Like Shire, they also encourage recent graduates to pursue careers in Masssachusetts life sciences through an on line resume exchange between graduates and businesses.

Finally, Bob Richards,President of Richards Barry, Joyce and Partners offered a look at the commercial real estate aspect of life sciences within the U.S and the Greater Boston area in particular.

Representative Jay Kaufman shares a laugh with Delegation leader Ding Lei, President and Managing Director of the Shanghai Zhangjiang Group

Following the presentations, the Delegation expressed intense interest in the Rte. 128 Technology Highway area. They requested more information and further discussions about real estate options and available sites along the corridor.

Returning to the Battle Green the group enjoyed Lexington’s hospitality like almost any other tourist. They took pictures with the Minuteman Statue and learned a little history. Unlike other tourists they received a brief lesson in Massachusetts politics from Rep. Jay Kaufman, who had come to the center to greet the group.

Delegation leader Ding Lei, President and Managing Director of the Shanghai Zhangjiang Group compared US and Chinese companies this way, “US companies are strict, they are set in their ways. In China companies change a lot. They are more flexible, adaptable.” He added, “Americans have strong capabilities and great education to offer companies.”

Lexington is one of only five cities the group will visit. They had already visited Singapore and San Francisco. New York would be their final stop before returning home to China.

When asked what his favorite stop in the US had been, Lei immediately answered, “Lexington. Of course.” Causing Rep. Kaufman to quip, “He’s not only a businessman, he’s a politician, too.”

The delegation ended the day at a brief reception with the Board of Selectman, Town Manager Carl Valente and other local dignitaries where the groups exchanged gifts as a token of their new friendship. The Chinese delegation offered traditional style Chinese tea sets to their hosts and the Town of Lexington gifted commemorative coins to their guests.

 

Share this:

A Fenway Hit at the New England Quilt Museum

By Judy Buswick  |

When you’ve got baseball lovers and art lovers in the family, where can you go for a Leaving Lexington event to satisfy both passions? Try the New England Quilt Museum at 18 Shattuck Street in Lowell, Massachusetts, before the current exhibit ends on July 8th.

Here, Red Sox fanatics who are also quilt artists have skillfully combined their passions to create an exhibit titled “Fenway Park Centennial.” As Fenway Park celebrates its 100th season of games played before the Green Monster, this show features fabric depictions of the park, the players, and baseball history. New England Quilt Museum Board Member Maureen Sullivan says, “These are not your Grandma’s quilts.”

Fenway Park Centennial quilt by Rosemary Bawn

These art quilts recount World Series triumphs, bemoan the “Curse of the Bambino,” and capture the heart of the Red Sox nation. A totally un-researched observation asserts that you’ll never see so many signed autographs of baseball players in one place as in this show. Rosemary Bawn, a nationally recognized quilt artist of long standing and Red Sox-lover since her teenage years, has contributed most of the quilts, though other quilters also add to the colorful tributes to America’s pastime. Rosemary and Vivien Lee Sayre, a certified quilt appraiser for the American Quilter’s Society, co-curated this exhibit, having both lectured on quilts all over New England and collected loans for the Fenway exhibit.

Living in Watertown, Rosemary became a lifelong Red Sox fan in 1967, the year of the “Impossible Dream,” attending games in Fenway with high school girl friends who dubbed themselves ‘Martin’s Marauders.’ Radio announcer Ned Martin always acknowledged their many banners displayed in the bleachers. After attending the New England School of Art in Boston, getting married, and having two children, Rosemary made her first Red Sox quilt in 1992, naming it “I remember the $1.00 Bleachers,’ based on her youthful passion. This quilt in the exhibit displays a list of her favorite players: Dick Ellsworth, Bob Bolin, Cal Koonce, Bill Lee, and Danny Carter for whose children she had babysat in the past. She wrote them, along with other favorites Ed Phillips and Dick Pole, asking for autographs on fabric squares and later on the quilt itself. Other players signed “at baseball card shows, the 1999 All-Star Fanfest, and Fenway’s autograph alley,” which resulted in the quilt now bearing 65 major league baseball players’ autographs.

Jean and Tom Yawkey are remembered for their six decades of team ownership (from 1934 to 1992) in the “Days of Glory on A Field of Dreams” quilt made by Rosemary in 1996. This quilt was a finalist in the All-American Quilt contest sponsored that year by “Land’s End” and “Good Housekeeping.”

From left : Fenway Park revisited quilt by Rosemary Bawn, I remember the $1.00 Bleachers by Rosemary Bawn

Other quilts feature individual players. Rosemary explains her “Papelbon Brothers” quilt by recounting, “After I made a commissioned quilt of the three Papelbon brothers for their Mom, Sheila, in the winter of 2006 I started my own Papelbon quilt.” She was working on it when the Sox won the World Championship in 2007 and Jonathan did a victory jig that she had to add to her quilt. The three bothers later autographed her work. Her wall hanging tribute to Nomar Garciaparra, titled “Nomah!” was made for the a Celebrity Mini Quilt auction held at the New England Quilt Museum’s 2002 Images Quilt Show. A tribute to Satchel Paige was designed by Ed Larson of Libertyville, Kansas, and quilted by Yvonne Porcella of California in tribute to the 1971 Baseball Hall of Famer, considered “one of the most colorful and best pitchers” in the sport.

Ask for a scavenger hunt sheet for young baseball fans who will have fun seeking names and objects on the 25 quilts and many pennants in the exhibit. Adult input might be needed.

Lexingtonians may recognize former resident Barbara Crane’s name. Herself a quilter and member of Quilters Connection, Barbara offered her friend Rosemary a poem about attending early season home-games in cold weather. The “April Snow” quilt includes the poem and depicts a snowman in Sox gear and “frozen fans.” A line from Barbara’s poem asks, “Which runner slides the best on sheets of sleet?”

Lexington’s 300th Anniversary year runs concurrently with Fenway Park celebrating its Centennial and the New England Quilt Museum celebrating its 25th Anniversary. We have a triple header: town history, the art of quilting, and Fenway lore. Go Sox!

 

Judy Buswick is the author of an upcoming book on quilting. Visit her Web site at www.judybuswick.com for more information.

 

Share this:

So you think you can dance!

Thelma Goldberg, Director of the Dance Inn

By Digney Fignus  |

I remember being in high school and first learning how to dance. There was no such thing as instruction; I was just imitating what I’d seen on TV shows and what some of the “cool” kids were doing. And although our dances had names like “The Skate” or “The Swim” it was still pretty much just shakin’ and wigglin’ around in a way that we hoped would impress the girls and drive our parents crazy.

That kind of freeform dancing was a blast and I got pretty good at it when going to nightclubs was all the rage. I always had a great time dancing but I’d never taken any formal lessons until recently, and I havc to tell you, there’s a big difference between “dancing” and “DANCE.” Still, with a little practice they both can be spelled “F-U-N.”

Lexington offers a wide range of programs for adults who like to “trip the light fantastic.” All you really need to do is check the internet where you can find a number of locations throughout the town to get up and “get down.”

My first stop was the Monroe Center for the Arts on Mass Ave. in the old Monroe School. I was headed to the Dance Inn, one of Lexington’s most popular dance studios, to meet the studio’s founder, and dust off my never-been-used tap shoes. Celebrating their 30th year, Studio Director Thelma Goldberg started the Dance Inn in February of 1983. Thelma began her dance training as a child and taught all throughout her undergraduate career as well as while teaching special needs students in Boston as a graduate student. After earning her M.S. in Special Education from Regis College, Thelma found herself at a crossroad. “I was on leave from Boston Public Schools, having trouble finding daycare, and wasn’t happy staying at home.” The Dance Inn was born. “In September of ’84 I came to Monroe” where she has been teaching ever since.

An energetic dynamo at age 59, Thelma (who still teaches dance classes 4 or 5 hours a day) is one of the best advertisements for the vitality of dance. She is also a tremendous advocate for the social benefits of dance. Thelma is especially passionate about the importance of sharing the dance experience. As she explains, “So much is to be gained by being part of a community.” After pounding the parquet for an hour with a gang of fellow tappers I can tell you, there certainly is something special about being in a group of dancers all in sync. Besides fellowship, Thelma touts the health benefits to “bone, circulation, memory, and balance.” Thelma jokes, “Where else is someone going to ask you to stand up on one foot for so long?” I really didn’t understand what she meant until I laced up my taps and started “heel, toeing” with the rest of the beginner class.

Class started out simply enough with a nice warm-up walk. At first I was thinking, “phht, this is easy.” Snap, five minutes later…”heel, toe, slide, slap, brush, slide, heel, slap…” All of a sudden it’s like I’m trying to calculate the square root of pi to the thirteenth digit. Besides that, there’s a muscle in my ankle screaming at me that I didn’t even know existed before. Maybe there is something special about this dance stuff. I generally pride myself on being pretty fit and coordinated, but while I was breaking out in a sweat, my classmates, some of whom were in their seventies, were leaving me in the dust. Somehow it didn’t matter. I was still having fun.

How has dance changed over the years? Thelma responded, “Not that much. Hip-hop has become a major dance discipline and has risen like a form of jazz dance. Like all styles of dance it’s responded to the music, just like in the swing era.”

Thelma’s son Sebastian was also part of the tap class. He’s a professional dancer who tours with a national dance troupe and teaches at the Dance Inn when the troupe is on hiatus. It’s really nice to see him following in his mom’s footsteps. It adds a special family vibe to the busy studio, which also offers adult classes in Jazz, Ballet, Hip-Hop, and Zumba, and sponsors an adult performing company called the About Time Tappers.

My next stop was the Bridge School. I had taken a ballroom dance class there a few years back taught by long-time dance instructor Steve White who retired last year after teaching the class for many years. This class was at the opposite end of the spectrum from my tap experience. The program is run by the Town of Lexington Recreation Department that also sponsors classes in everything you could imagine, from Adult Fencing and Rock Climbing to Red Cross and Yoga. Francis Floyd is the current teacher for ballroom dance. He is a former competition dancer who has toured the world and has a trophy case full of honors for his dance performances.

Ballroom Dance with Francis Floyd

The ballroom experience is a lot different than the high intensity of a tap class. It’s more like a date night, a great opportunity to skip across the dance floor with your significant other. Many of the couples who attend the intermediate class have been coming to the program for years and are quite accomplished dancers. This program is pretty laid back and although it might not prepare you for Dancing with the Stars, with a little effort, even a guy with a couple of left feet like me can figure out how to Tango and manage to look good doing it.

The newest craze in dancing is Zumba. It is currently being taught at all the dance studios in Lexington. With Zumba classes breaking out all over the place, I thought I’d drop by the Boston Sports Club Lexington to see what all the excitement was about. I was met by Valerie Gleason, the perky BSC Lexington Assistant General Manager who gave me a quick tour of the impressive sports facility located at 475 Bedford Street at the end of Hartwell Ave. Valerie stood out from the rest of the crew because she had on high-heels rather than sneakers, part of her corporate responsibilities. She laughed when I pointed it out, lamenting that she would rather be wearing her workout shoes. There is a lot of ground to cover at BSC Lexington. As well as aerobics and Zumba, they offer a complete package of fitness programs, and even have a convenient on-site babysitting service for parents on the go. As we made our way up to the large room where they were holding the Zumba class, Valerie gave me a brief overview of the new dance sensation.

Like a lot of huge successes, Zumba happened completely by accident. The creator, dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez, was an aerobics instructor in Columbia during the 1990’s. One day he forgot the tapes that he had prepared for the class he was teaching and in a panic used whatever tapes he found in his backpack. It was mostly traditional salsa and merengue music. In a burst of inspiration Beto improvised dance moves to make it all work. People loved it, and when Perez moved to the United States in 2001 he partnered with an old friend from his childhood, Alberto Perlman. Together they licensed the concept, and the rest is history. Today there are franchised Zumba classes, Zumba clothing, and Zumba fanatics just about everywhere you look. Valerie warned me that sometimes it gets a little crazy when the doors open for class. I did notice a large staff “bouncer” standing by the door to help maintain order. The students for the class line up long before the start of the session, Valerie explained, “So they can ensure a good spot, since some people have a special place they like.” I could feel the anticipation building as the start time grew closer. A few people were decked out in total Zumba-wear, like warriors about to go to war. It was kind of exciting. Finally the doors sprang open and people poured in en masse.

Zumba class with Ann Munchmeyer at BSC Lexington

At the head of this wildly popular class is Ann Munchmeyer, one of the Zumba instructors at BSC Lexington. What a fireball! This diminutive mother of four from Lexington simply didn’t stop. I got a workout just watching her. Zumba is high-throttle aerobic dancing on steroids. The mix of Latin music crossed over from Shakira to a revved up version of “Jump Delilah” and even took a side-journey through Irish step dancing and Shiva-inspired poses set to middle-eastern rhythms. Wow, what a workout! Not really what I consider “dancing” but the moves are very similar and the health benefits are off the charts. For anyone who thinks normal aerobics is boring, this is the ticket.

The great thing about Lexington is that there is something for everyone. Besides the wonderful opportunities offered by the Dance Inn, the Lexington Recreation Department, and BSC Lexington, there are also classes available through the Lexington Community Education program which is an extension of the Lexington Public Schools. It offers all kinds of classes for adults and young adults in a variety of areas including dance, where this spring they are running an Argentine Tango class. The classes are open to everyone. You don’t have to be a Lexington resident to register or attend. The programs operate parallel to the public school schedule, offering classes for adults in the fall, winter, and spring, and having a special children’s program during the summer.

No dance article would be complete without mentioning the Lexington School of Ballet. It is located on the second floor of the Monroe Center for the Arts just upstairs from the Dance Inn. The Lexington School of Ballet has been training young ballerinas for years. Many have gone on to apprentice at prestigious programs like those offered by the American Ballet Theatre, the School of American Ballet (New York City Ballet), and the Royal Academy of Dancing in London. In addition to the excellent programs for children, the Lexington School of Ballet also offers classes in Ballet, Pointe, Modern Dance, and Jazz for adults. Ballet is one of the best disciplines to work on balance and flexibility. Even pro-football players have studied ballet to improve their athleticism.

The bottom line is, there is no excuse NOT to dance. It’s joyful, good for you, socially uplifting, and you can look good doing it. Lexington has so many opportunities maybe it’s time for you to dust off your dancing shoes too. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you at the next tap class.

 

Share this:

The Prank Heard ‘Round the World!

By Marilyn Rae Beyer  | 

Armored Forces Supplement Colonial Firepower at Rehearsal for Patriots Day 2012  |

Bill Mix and Tom Fortmann inflate the “tank.” Photo courtesy of Marilyn & Rick Beyer.

It was a covert operation employing a time-honored military tactic, the element of surprise. On the Lexington Green on Sunday, Lexington Militia Capt. Bill Mix gave orders to Lexington militia man Bruce Leader, and Andrew Coots of Gardner’s Charleston Militia to commandeer two inflatable rubber Sherman tanks in order to startle and befuddle His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot as a practice battle ensued on Lexington Green on Sunday – April 1st. Just as the King’s Troops Commander, Paul O’Shaughnessy blustered and bellowed for the rabble from Lexington to “Lay down your arms and disperse!” the unified local forces shouted a unison rejoinder, “Oh, yeah?”

Tom Fortmann, Rick Beyer, the two militiamen, plus late recruits in the persons of Rita & Mike Cramer, David Brossi and Michelle Berniere & sons Ben, Jeremy, Christian Berniere charged onto the Green bearing the faux armored vehicles, causing the staunch Redcoats to bust a gut and sending O’Shaughnessy into fits of laughter. Upon recovering his wits, the Redcoat leader barked, “Fix bayonets!” and ordered a unit to charge, threatening to poke holes in the balloon-like weaponry and thus taking the wind out of the brazen bearers of the buoyant battlefield prank tanks. Mix ordered a hasty retreat and the rehearsal proceeded in earnest, with the usual annual outcome at the expense of the Lexington Militia.

Battle Ready...Mix and Bruce Leader inspect the equipment. Photo courtesy of Marilyn & Rick Beyer.

Just about a month ago, after a committee including Fortmann and other Lexingtonians mounted a fund-raiser for local filmmaker Rick Beyer’s WWII documentary The Ghost Army, Fortmann had a bright idea. Goofy, yes, but bright, as is the wont of the MIT PhD engineer turned educator and former member of the Massachusetts Board of Education. Why not use the inflatable fake tanks from The Ghost Army event to put one over on the Redcoats during the April 1 re-enactment rehearsal? He called up the commander of the Lexington Minutemen, Mix, who portrays Captain John Parker on Patriots Day. The two cooked up the plan.

Redcoats charge, tanks retreat. Photo by Peter Lund.

About an hour before the practice battle, Fortmann and friends inflated the phony tanks and hauled them onto the lawn across the street from the Green. On cue, the crew hoisted the bright green dummies onto the field. Afterwards, the pranksters admitted that – even though the rubber tanks were filled with air – dragging them the 100 yards to the battle line was hard work. Fooling the Redcoats, however, was well worth it. Beyer noted, “The look on O’Shaughnessy’s face was priceless! I have no idea what he said, though, because he was laughing so hard.”

While the battle is a somber chapter of early American history, and, indeed, the yearly Patriots Day re-enactment honors that revered history, the early-April practice sessions frequently include such tomfoolery.

Share this:

Will Lexington Welcome the Inn at Hastings Park?

By Laurie Atwater  | 

Lexington Family Purchases the Former Dana Home and Proposes to Open a Traditional New England Inn  ~ 

Lexington has a long history of providing hospitality for visitors. Above, the Lexington House provided lodging, and acted as an important gathering place for community events. Below, a menu from the same establishment. Photo from the Lexington Historical Society archives, reproduced in Lexington Massachusetts, Treasures from the Historic Archives, by Dick Kollen.

 

Lexington has a long history of providing hospitality to visitors. In his volume Lexington Massachusetts, Treasures from the Historic Archives, Dick Kollen, Lexington historian and former Lexington High School teacher writes, “In the nineteenth century several large and successful hotels prospered near the center of town. The heyday of Lexington’s hotel era really began after the civil war, when the railroad’s full effect of affording easy access to Boston combined with increased urbanization. Large Hotels such as Massachusetts House and Russell House attracted travelers who liked to ‘summer’ in Lexington as well as those planning winter sleighing parties.”

The Lexington House (originally called Muzzey’s Hotel) was built by Benjamin Muzzey in 1847 where the CVS stands today. It took the place of the Monument House a smaller hotel owned by Muzzey just as the railroad (he was a big booster and a heavy investor in the railroad enterprise) came to town. Kollen writes that Lexington House was an important part of the community providing a venue for reunions, concerts and other community gatherings. It was an elegant building with “two extended wings, fronted by large porches.” The “Bill of Fare” at the Lexington House restaurant featured such delicacies as “Escalloped oysters, quail, duck and Italian cream.”

After this period, hotels in Lexington began to disappear until the Battle Green Inn remained the only lodging option in Lexington proper. The Battle Green, was allowed to fall into such general disrepair that it could not be credibly marketed to families and tourists as an inn so it became transitional housing and was subsequently demolished. It is now the site of luxury condominiums. Lexington has no centrally located accommodation for visitors.

Currently a proposal is before the Lexington Planning Board and headed to Town Meeting to allow the rezoning of the former Dana Home property to accommodate an inn and modest restaurant just outside the central business district. The Dana home is located at 2027 Massachusetts Avenue and has been used as an elder home for 95 years since it was purchased with a generous bequest from Lexington resident Ellen Dana. The Dana Home is perfectly suited to use as an inn with rooms with private baths, a modern sprinkler system, commercial grade kitchen and hospital sized elevator for handicapped accessibility, the property will transition nicely. This may be Lexington’s chance to continue an historic tradition of warm, welcoming hospitality in the center of town.

 Lexington Neighbors for Responsible Growth

However, there is a small group of citizens who oppose this proposed use for the property because of its location. They call their association Lexington Neighbors for Responsible Growth (LNFRG ) and they have been actively opposing the proposed inn for almost a year now. They have approximately 100 members mostly from the neighbors across the street in the Parker Street area as well as residents in Pine Grove Village and the Woodbury/Stratham Road area. Their letters to the Planning Board and other documents are available on their website www.lexprotects.com.

Gresh Lattimore, LNFRG member and resident of Jackson Court objects to “the size and scope of the project.” According to Lattimore, “She [Kennealy] will be using something like 80% of every square on the two properties. The parking will dramatically change the look of the property. Once she’s built her expansion using the Mulliken House and doing the restaurant build-out, she has to use the rest of the property as parking. The plot is not that big to begin with.”

Lattimore and LNFRG is also worried that the onsite parking will not be adequate and will force additional parking onto Parker Street, Massachusetts Avenue and Worthen Road.

According to Lattimore the group feels that the biggest problem with the proposal is the change in zoning from residential to commercial. “The fact is that something like this hasn’t been done in over a half-century—it sets a dangerous precedent.” In their latest letter to the Planning Board, LNFRG now favors “converting the Dana Home property into a multi-family residence.”

 Lexington, Lexington, Lexington!

Trisha Pérez Kennealy along with her husband Mike is willing to roll the dice on this enterprise. With a lot of work ahead, Trisha is still convinced that this is the right business for this spot in the town that she loves. “As Lexingtonians we have a responsibility to nurture our place in history and to welcome and accommodate those from across the country who wish to visit,” she says. “Mike and I are committed to making this a quintessential New England Inn with local fare and exceptional hospitality.” The want to call their business the Inn at Hastings Park.

“When I first moved to Lexington in 1982, I vividly remember the first time we drove through the center. We were coming from Puerto Rico—very different culture, different architecture—just very different,” says Trisha Kennealy seated in the dining room of what she hopes to be her new Inn on Hastings Park. Trisha is an animated and attractive woman, a graduate of Harvard University and Le Cordon Bleu in London, a mom of three and an active member of the Lexington community.

“We drove into Lexington, mom, dad my sister and me, and we knew that we had found the place we wanted to live,” she says. Trisha Pérez, as she was known back then, came to New England with her dad Luis Andres Pérez who was pursuing an educational opportunity at Harvard. “It felt like a real town. The history, the architecture—there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is a small town.”

It’s a small town that she came to love and cherish. “My sister and I were supposed to go to private school,” she says, but when we moved here we decided to go to public schools. Then, when my father completed his Masters program, we just assumed we would move to the New York or New Jersey area where my mom and dad’s parents were, but we loved it so much we wanted to stay.”

Kennealy is a product of the Lexington public schools and proud of it. She went on to Harvard and when the time came, she was married at the First Parish Church on the Lexington Green.

A generation later, with daughter Gabriella in tow, Trisha and her husband Mike (they met at Harvard; he’s from Reading) came back from Europe where Mike had been working. They were looking for a place to locate and grow their new family. “I was very flexible,” Trisha says with a laugh, “I’m willing to look at three towns—Lexington, Lexington and Lexington!”

That’s when her true love affair with Lexington blossomed. Trisha and Mike had two more children, Rory and Conor, and became deeply involved in the community. “I have been committed to participating in my children’s education through the PTO and I’ve been involved with Stand for Children, Lexington Education Foundation (LEF) and the Community Nursery School,” she says. Kennealy is also a town meeting member from Precinct 6, so she is no stranger to the process that has consumed her ever since she purchased the former Dana Home and has sought to change the zoning of the parcels.

“There hasn’t been a public meeting that we have been asked to participate in, that we have refused,” Kennealy says with a smile. “The bottom line—I want the community to feel good about this and to understand that I want to make a real contribution to Lexington with this business.”

The many hours of public debate, strong opinions and heated comments have no doubt taken a toll on Kennealy who has owned the property for about a year now. She also purchased the adjoining Mulliken House which features a barn on site that was used as a casket company. During the past year her company AB Holdings has been developing the site plans and participating in the process of bringing those plans to the community. Trisha’s dad, Luis Pérez of Wood, Hammer & Nails is deeply vested in the project. Luis’ is a company builds distinctive homes and he will be very involved in the restoration of the inn.

Several of the meetings including an informational forum presented by the League of Women Voters have become contentious, but the group soldiers on because they believe in the project. Both Trisha and her father agree that the process has been very important and instructive.

There are several issues that the property owners must overcome before they will be allowed to build out the site and run it as a 22 room inn with a small restaurant that will be open to the public.

 Rezoning the Property a Contentious Issue

The number one objection expressed by LNFRG is the rezoning of the spot from residential to commercial. Their letter indicates the group’s disapproval of the rezoning because of its possible precedent-setting nature, its deviation from the Lexington Comprehensive Plan as they read it and violation of the Commonwealth’s Uniformity Standards. These are common arguments for opposing spot zoning (zoning that is applied to a specific property).

Zoning conversion works both ways. For example, the development of the Battle Green Inn required rezoning from commercial to residential in our central business district and created a precedent for housing in the center. Many were opposed, but ultimately the issue won support and everyone seems thrilled with the result. More specific to the Dana Home site, designating a fifteen bedroom house with an institutional kitchen as a “residential use” was a stretch of the zoning laws to begin with. The Dana Home was a nonconforming institutional use of property on the outermost corner of a neighborhood that is abutted on most sides by institutional uses: St. Brigid Parish, rectory and offices, the Grace Chapel complex, Hayden Recreation Centre and Skating facility and the town recreation complex (pool, basketball, tennis, skateboarding, track). It is close to businesses—Douglas Funeral Home, Walgreen, Stop & Shop and Starbucks. Its closest abutters are the residents of Pine Grove Village who are in a difficult location between a parking lot and the wetland between them and the Dana Home.

 The Dana Home Board Approves of Inn

Patricia Nelson is the Co-President of the Dana Home of Lexington along with David Williams. Nelson and her fellow board members were charged with selling the property, and they feel that an inn is a perfect use for the location.

“Our first responsibility was a fiduciary one,” Nelson says. “We had an obligation to get fair market value for the property.” They received many proposals in two categories—inns and condos. “We wanted to make it as open a process as possible,” she adds. After the word got out about possible uses for the space, Nelson says that the support for the inn idea was overwhelming. “I was approached in the grocery story—completely unsolicited—and people would express their preference for the inn concept.” Nelson says unequivocally that the inn idea was much preferred over the idea of more condos. “We don’t have a nice historic inn like the Colonial Inn [in Concord]. The board also liked the idea from the preservation standpoint—maintaining the basic structure without cutting it up into condos and compromising the period woodwork and other architectural elements seemed ideal.”

“The Dana Home Board is supportive of Ms. Kennealy’s future plans for the property,” Nelson and Williams wrote in an April 8, 2011 letter announcing the sale, “The Dana Home has played a significant role in the lives of many Lexington residents. Trisha Pérez Kennealy’s concept will carry on that legacy by providing a place where residents and guests can gather to enjoy food, rest and community.”

At a recent Planning Board hearing, Ms. Nelson described about the busy life at the Dana home. In a follow-up interview she said, “The Dana Home was a very busy place!” She concedes that the past decade has been a little quieter simply because residents had become older and stopped driving, but it was not a sleepy little facility according to Nelson. “Residents shared 3 meals a day 7 days a week, 27 people were employed there and lots of people came to eat lunches.” The Rogerson Communities (the company that managed the facility) often hosted staff onsite. In addition Nelson says, medical staff “were always coming and going” day and night.

On the Rogerson Company website they list services as 3 meals a day, snack service, pharmacy delivery service, around the clock safety checks, housekeeping and laundry service, recreational programs and wellness programs as some of the activities going on at the home. At that same Planning Board hearing at Clarke Middle School neighbors took to the microphone observing that they never noticed that much activity at the site. Given Ms. Nelson’s claims about the actual activity at the Dana Home, it appears that the corner lot is able to absorb quite a bit of activity with little impact on the neighborhood.

Residents on the Green Support & Others Support the Inn

Residents residing all around the Lexington Green are in support of the project. Carla Fortmann who lives in one of the historic homes on the green says that she and her husband Tom are strongly in favor of the project. “Number one: We need it,” she says. “Number two: I don’t think it’s too big—I think it’s a very good design.” If anyone would know whether we could use an historic inn in town it’s Fortmann; she works as the manager of the gift shop at the Buckman Tavern and speaks with tourists almost every day. “We need a nice inn here in Lexington. This reminds us [she and her husband Tom] of all the fears that were raised about the Minuteman Bikeway, but now that it’s done it’s a big success and an asset to Lexington.” Carla forecasts the same result if the plans for the inn are allowed to move forward. “I think they would do a wonderful job and wouldn’t it be nice to have it go to a Lexington family.”

The Chairman of the Lexington Tourism Committee, Dawn McKenna agrees. In her experience the need for an inn to rival the Colonial Inn in Concord would go a long way toward encouraging tourists to stay in Lexington. McKenna noted that the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) recently estimated that there is $50 million in tourism spending in Lexington. That income for Lexington and its business community has been growing steadily and could be even greater if visitors could stay in Lexington Center according to McKenna. “We really want to capture that hotel and meals tax, but more importantly we want to offer hospitality to our guests.” Lexington currently has three hotels, but none of them are within walking distance to the center. “The longer they stay, the more they spend,” she says.

Proponents of the proposed inn from all parts of Lexington have spoken out at public meetings and written supportive letters to the Lexington Minuteman.

Additional Concerns/Traffic

The neighborhood group is also very concerned about traffic safety. They worry that additional traffic will add to the problems at the Worthen Street/Massachusetts Avenue intersection. However, these safety issues were in existence long before the proposal to convert the Dana Home to an inn. Over the years many attempts have been made to improve the safety of Worthen Road—a heavily travelled bypass that was designed to handle a large volume of traffic, diverting travelers heading from Bedford to Waltham, Arlington, Belmont and beyond away from the central business district. It is also the main road feeding Lexington High School, Hayden Recreation Centre and the town pool/basketball/tennis court/track complex.

According to the traffic and parking consultant advising Kennealy, they anticipate an increase in traffic of less than one half of one percent. Concerns about consumption of alcohol at the restaurant, large delivery trucks, and congestion at the intersection have also been raised. Kennealy does not anticipate an intensive schedule of deliveries and she says that she will be using local farmers and small purveyors with smaller trucks, so she does not anticipate many large trucks onsite.

Still, it is a busy intersection and like many areas in town, it is less than optimal from a safety standpoint. However, you could cite similar concerns about the center which has been the scene of several pedestrian fatalities and East Lexington which has adopted a system of using pedestrian crossing flags at certain crosswalks because of congestion and lack of visibility.

 Additional Concerns/Wetlands

When engineering Worthen Road, a section of North Lexington Brook was covered over in 1956. This created wetlands on the surrounding properties. These wetlands are protected by the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and the Lexington Wetland Protection Code and enforcement of these rules falls under the purview of the Lexington Conservation Commission. This important work preserves the quality of water passing through Lexington and on to other towns.

LNFRG has commissioned a report from a company (CEI) specializing in the analysis of wetlands. Kennealy has been very open to these outside reviews. “We appreciate that they have put in a lot of time. Because of these reports we have been able to identify many ways to make improvements to our plan,” she says. Many of the wetland concerns center on construction of the parking lot, staying within a 50 foot “no build zone” and handling storm water runoff.

The Kennealys have also agreed to clean-up the invasive plants that currently threaten the area as part of their plan for wetlands management. Hopefully a cleanup will also ensure a more aesthetically pleasing appearance on the site than currently exists and enhance the experience of all those who abut the marshy area.

 Additional Concerns/Parking

The proposal for the inn includes plans to build a small parking lot between the Dana Home and the Mulliken House. This has created concern about the aesthetics of the streetscape. The eleven page letter submitted to the Planning Board by LNFRG claims that there is no other visible parking along the Battle Road. In fairness, the “scenic byway” doesn’t really begin until the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Route 2A. The National Park Service purchased and removed more than 200 structures in the process of creating the scenic byway that successfully recreates the look of small farms and pastureland. However, from the Lexington Green to Route 2A there are two circular driveways that are often full of automobiles (St. Brigid and the Methodist Church), parking at Community Nursery School is visible from the street and the overpass hums with automobiles as you cross at any time of day. Certainly one cannot deny the 21st century as you stop at Wood Street to wait for traffic to empty out from MIT at rush hour even as you are on the edge of the National Park.

Despite claims in one of the LNFRG document that a parking lot beside the inn will be “an anachronistic embarrassment to the period homes around them” and be offensive to “visitors from all over the world,” it might just as easily be suggested that those very visitors would love the opportunity to sit on the porch and enjoy the beautiful surroundings in Lexington on Patriot’s Day for example, or listen to a band concert at Hastings Park or perhaps enjoy a friendly meal alongside some locals to add to the hospitable feel of Lexington and nurture their desire for a return visit.

Listening and Responding With Revised Plans

Though the Kennealys have been accused of responding slowly to the concerns of the neighbors and the Planning Board, Trisha notes that her team has been attending all of the meetings, engaging in the process and collaborating with their team to provide a workable solution. According to Kennealy she has researched the industry, talked with other inn owners and created a mix of room fees and food service that will allow her to prosper as a business.

Now the Kennealys have submitted revised plans for the site that respond to many of the neighborhood concern. “Our primary objective in redesigning the plan,” she says “was to scale back the massing of the structures on the site.”

On March 16th at a meeting with neighbors and citizens, they unveiled a new site plan (see old and new plans at right) designed to preserve the core of the business plan and achieve it with less intensive use of the site—to reduce the visible mass of the project and maintain the original footprint of the buildings as closely as possible. “We began by taking out the office component of the proposed project,” Kennealy says. The office was to be located in the barn. “We are moving our offices and the related jobs to our Westwood location. This enables us to relocate two guest rooms from the former Dana Home into this space. In addition, heeding the recommendation of the Historic District Commission, we will not change the facade of the barn. We will maintain the facade, while making only the necessary repairs. Much of the site to the right of the barn will be maintained in its current state, including the existing stone wall,” according to Kennealy.

The architects have eliminated both proposed additions to the original Dana Home structure and added a small hallway around the elevator to accommodate service staff. They have reduced the addition to the Mulliken House by fifty percent and want to move the house by eighteen feet to clear the 50 foot wetlands no-work zone. This will also allow them to install a foundation below the house.

By moving the Mulliken House, they can reconfigure the parking lot, increase the parking spots to 31 and improve traffic circulation. They will also be able to move the Massachusetts Avenue entrance to the parking lot so that it is sixty feet from Parker Street and 200 feet from Worthen Road. According to Kennealy’s plans, this parking lot will be designed to minimize the impact of headlights and ambient lighting and will be extensively landscaped to enhance the streetscape and provide a screen. The parking lot on the Worthen road side will remain the same—wetland requirements make it impossible for the new owners to relocate the side entrance or connect the two parking areas. However, they feel that their reconfigured parking and circulation plan (calculated using AutoTurn® analysis as LNFRG requested), will improve traffic circulation and safety.

Kennealy does not expect that these changes will satisfy all concerns, but feels strongly that she is making every effort to work with the neighbors and address most of their concerns. “We have really worked hard; the rest is up to the Planning Board and Town Meeting,” she says. “It’s all about balance,” she says. “We have listened and incorporated many of the requested changes, but we have to maintain the economic viability of the project.”

Moving forward to town meeting Trisha and Mike are optimistic. “What we want is to create a great inn here in historic Lexington like those in most historic towns.”

Lexington’s history is full of wonderful inns and hotels. Proponents of the Inn at Hastings Park hope to revive this great tradition at the site of the former Dana Home and provide a much-needed addition to Lexington’s tourism offering, a vehicle for economic development and a welcome addition to the commercial tax base.

The prospect of a warm and hospitable place to gather with friends, to celebrate special occasions and to provide lodging to our guests in the center is exciting for the Lexington community and many hope that Town Meeting and community leaders will come together and support this plan.

 

Share this:

Falls Prevention- a Physical Fitness Essential

Front: (L-R) Fran Coscisa, Inez Zimmerman, and Beverley Ikier. Rear: (L-R) Pam Carle, Carol Goldberg, Lorraine Caron, Liz Sullivan by: Rick Karwan

By Beverley Ikier  |

Have you fallen lately? Have you fallen and fractured a bone? Are you afraid of falling?

If you have answered “yes” to one of the above, please read on and find out how you can turn your life around and be proactive in regaining confidence to do what you like to do.

Acrobats and gymnasts fall off the beam many, many times before they develop the skills to perform cartwheels on it; the artists of Cirque du Soleil think nothing of practicing one maneuver six hours a day until they “get” it. Of course, their life depends on it, but doesn’t yours?

The statistics around falls and fractures are increasing daily and the prognosis for rehabilitating from a hip fracture after the age of 50 is grim; mortality rates are high and a third of patients require long term care after a fracture, according to the International Osteoporosis foundation.

You are probably sitting to read this, but if you sit a lot because you are afraid of falling, then you are putting yourself MORE at risk for fracture because you are losing bone mass. By not placing a force on your bones from muscular activity, they stop new cell production. (Do not even cough!)

In the sixties and seventies, I was nursing in McGill’s busy teaching hospitals, the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Montreal Neurological Institute, daily offsetting the ramifications of the now- considered deadly- BED REST. To keep patients from falling flat on the floor after 2 weeks in bed for appendectomies, childbirth or any procedure that required 30 or more minutes of general anesthesia, we had to “dangle” them. That’s right, all doctors ordered “dangling” before walking as lying about caused gross imbalance; a given in conjunction with de-conditioning

So much has been learned about activity and health promotion we can hardly grasp the 180 degree turns in the treatment of many conditions. For example, arthritis? Then, it was “take it easy” and “save some steps.” Now, we know to strengthen and walk. The same is true for heart surgery. Post-surgery care was “bed rest.” Now, patients are put straight on a treadmill. And today, breaking news is that by exercising the balance system, it can be developed and strengthened just like a muscle.

I’d like you to meet the home team-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the opposing team, contributing to imbalance:

1. Medical conditions (Parkinson’s, low blood pressure, dehydration, inner ear pathology)

2. Medications (for high blood pressure, diuretics, barbiturates, mood altering and sleep inducing)

3. Dehydration

4. Fear of falling

Apart from inactivity, the above mentioned can seriously affect balance but will respond to balance exercises.

Exercises to Promote balance

These are best learned in a balance class under the supervision of a trained, experienced practitioner. However, the following exercises are safe and simple, offer some benefit, and will get you started. All may be performed seated. Anyone at a higher fitness level will require more challenging exercises.

Eyes

  • Move eyeballs left and right, and up and down, following a fingertip.
  • Standing, keep your eyes on fingertip and turn around full circle.

Inner Ear

  • Turn head left and right, starting slowly and increasing the speed. If you get dizzy, stop and wait until it subsides, and try again.

Muscles – mainly of the lower body

  • Stand up from a hard chair. Sit down and repeat; gradually “stop the drop” a few inches above the chair. You may fatigue, but this is strengthening.
  • To stretch, straighten out you leg and push heel away from you. Hold this for 30 seconds.

 Feet

  • Without shoes, apply foot to a tennis ball and roll, keeping the knee bent and the foot under the knee.
  • Take care of calluses and long toe-nails.

Walking safety- “Five for Focus.”

Practice this one starting now, and you will be amazed at the quick results. Take five seconds to view your terrain. What happens is your eyes send messages to the brain detailing the route you have chosen, including heights, widths, depths of obstacles you may have to deal with; lighting, noises, types of terrain and where it may change, for example, cement, grass, mud, puddle. Your brain then selects muscles to advise them of some upcoming performance, for example stepping up, pivoting, ducking down, turning right or left and puts them on “speed dial” for easy recall.

Now, when you start your walk, the calls go through, the muscles do their job, and you are safe. Without this five seconds to focus, you cannot expect your body to respond and perform safely in a new environment; even a familiar one, for that matter. Take “Five for Focus.”

Hydration

64 oz is the recommended daily intake of water. Fill up your containers at the start of the day and begin infusing early. Caffeine and related products take water out of the cell,- so replace the water you lose throughout the day and carry on.

It is predicted that one out of three people over the age of 65 will fall once a year. Each fall causes increasing debilitative results.

You may start now; I just want to encourage you as these exercises and safety precautions can prevent falls, in spite of abovementioned medical conditions and pharmaceuticals. I have been working with 100 seniors a week for 15 years, and to date, we have defied ALL the odds regarding falls and fractures.

 

 

Please contact Beverley Ikier at: wellness@theikiercenter.com,

or 781-229-1967 for classes in falls prevention, or to have a program in your facility.

 

Share this:

LexFun Celebrates 70 Years

LexFun partial board

By Marie Manning  |

LexFUN! will celebrate its 70th Anniversary this year! When I began researching this article, the phrase that kept coming to mind was: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change,” a quote by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in his novel The Leopard. Over the past seven decades, LexFUN! has weathered, indeed initiated, many changes. Yet at its core, it remains the same. LexFUN! is, and has always been, about community.

Archived records show that the organization has changed its name twice since its inception. Originally called the Lexington Pre-School Association, it was formally organized on September 7, 1942 by the President of the Lexington Council, Mrs. Robert C. McAnaul. The inaugural meeting was hosted by Mrs.Gandolfo Adolina at her Lexington residence. She was the first President of the association. To this day monthly board meetings take place in the homes of board members throughout Lexington. In 1942 it is reported that Mrs. Adolina served tea. Often, the hosts of modern-day LexFUN! board meetings treat their guests to hors d’oeurvers, desserts and wine…and, yes, sometimes, tea. The first hour and a half of each is dedicated to business. Jennifer Velis, President of LexFUN! during the 2010-11 seasons, has been known to state on more than one occasion, “This Board could lead a fortune 100 company! So on task they are with projects and desires to help serve the community.” Additionally, their members hail from a remarkable range of backgrounds such as attorneys, executives, doctors, event planners, technology experts, fundraising directors, stay-at-home parents, writers and entrepreneurs. As their current name suggests, they understand the essential benefits of play. So, the wrap-up portion of the evening Board meetings are spent catching up with each other socially.

Halloween Parade

The official minutes from the 1942-43 Annual Report clearly identified the mission of LexFUN!’s predecessor: “The object of this association shall be to study all problems of child nurture prior to the school age and to promote child training for parenthood and homemaking.” To that end, the Board invited special guests to speak about topics relevant to that time period: “Discipline;” “Controlling Communicable Disease;” “Intelligence Rating and Religious Education of the Pre-school Child;” and “Meals for Little Folks.” Though some of the subjects have changed, decade through decade, this organization has provided the forum for parents to continue their educations in parenting. The more recent seminar themes reflect the busy lives we live today, as well as the most pertinent challenges parents face: “Sleeping Soundly: How to Help Your Child and Yourself Sleep Better;” “Raising Sons;” “Raising Daughters;” “Preparing Your Will;” “Strengthening the Couple Relationship.”

The 1942 report continued by identifying that, “It has the distinction of being the first pre-school association in Massachusetts to be in membership with the Massachusetts State Branch of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers.” To this day, LexFUN! is an avid supporter of the Massachusetts PTA. Rallying behind causes such as the “YES For Our Schools” campaign, LexFUN! ensures its members’ voices are heard and their children’s educations protected.

When the organization was founded in 1942 “pre-school” as we know it today simply did not exist. There was no confusion about who was eligible for membership and who was not. If you had children who were not yet old enough for elementary school, you had “pre-schoolers” and were welcome to join the association. This was clarified in the preamble of the charter, “All mothers of pre-school children are cordially invited to attend these meetings, and it is hoped that a large number will be interested enough to become members…” In September of 1958, the still young organization began using the designation “Lexington Pre-School P.T.A.” in conversations and on its official forms: “LPPTA.”

From top to bottom: LexFun annual Consignment Sale. LexFun at Youville place. Deb Rourke president 04-05 and Jen Vogelzang. LexFun open house.

While the term “kindergarten” was coined in Germany in the mid 1800’s, it wasn’t until the mid 1960’s that common thought in the United States turned toward pre elementary schooling. Publicly funded Head Start pre-schools were established in 1965 for low-income families. This shifted the paradigm. Privately funded pre-schools existed prior to this, such as Montessori and Waldorf that had been emerging throughout Europe and in scattered parts of the USA for a half-century. But this era marked the increase dedication to early childhood education. By 2005, census informs us, almost 70% of children nationwide attend some form of pre-school by the age of 4. Thus, the word “pre-school” had taken on a new definition. Here in Lexington, the LexFUN! membership committee was challenged when recruiting new members because of the implied restriction in its prior name. Newcomers, especially parents with infants and very young children, asked continuously, “My child is not in pre-school, can we still become members?” Knowing that for every person that asked this question aloud, many others silently assumed they were not eligible to join, the LexFUN! leadership knew something had to change.

The organization took this identity crisis in stride and undertook as part of their mission to find a new name. Leslie Zales was the President of the Board when the name change occurred. “I was co-President for 2 years and before that on the Board for many years! I was happy to Chair the name change my last year on the Board.” On September 1st, 2009 a press release was issued unveiling their new name: “Lexington’s Five and Under Network: LexFUN!” Former co-President, Gretchen Reisig said, “Our new name is a reflection of who we are as a group, and who we are in the community.”

Community is synonymous with LexFUN! Sandy Schwartz tells us, “When I first moved to Lexington I had just a 6 month old and did not know many people. I was very lonely. Once I found LexFUN! I instantly had so much to do and met almost all of my Lexington friends.” Audra Myerberg echoed this sentiment, “I moved here from Waltham last June and the very first thing I did was to join LexFun and it was the best decision I could have made! It is a great way to meet people. Everyone is so welcoming and there are so many ways to be involved.” Meredith Applegate, current co-President says, “I joined the LexFUN! Board when my first child was several months old and have met so many wonderful people ever since! Getting involved with LexFUN! Is also a great way to become connected in the community as you realize the number of familiar faces that you get to know over the years. It is also a way to feel good about doing good work in the community.” Scott Bokun (Yes, father’s can join too!) voiced his experience with the group, “I joined LexFun! because I was an at-home dad new to Lexington and I needed a support group, some friends for me and my children…I’m still close with many of the friends I met 13 years ago in LexFUN!…It brings together young families and gives them great opportunities for fun and support. When you’ve got little kids, it’s great to have playgroups and activities for them that don’t break the bank. And it helped keep me sane; being at home with young children can drive you crazy!” Leslie Zales encourages those in career-parent transition, “Being on the board helped bridge my former professional life to being a Stay-at-Home Mom–using talents, skills and energy outside of motherhood. It was grounding, yet lifesaving! LexFUN is an impressive, well-oiled non-profit organization that serves our young families, our local businesses and charitable causes. I met my best friends while being on the board of LexFUN! We’ve all graduated but we remain close….we’ve grown up together with our children. I buy a membership every year in support of LexFUN! for all it has given me and my family.” Jen Vogelzang, who recounted how she was in labor during a December LexFUN! Potluck Board Meeting, cherishes her time spent with the group, “It is multi-faceted. You have a support network. You have an outlet for your creative talents. Once you join, you have a gift!”

Deb Rourke brought to light how advances in technology transformed the group. “It used to be that if the newsletter was late – it was a crisis! It contained the monthly calendar and our members wanted it delivered on time.” She spoke of the phone tree that existed when she was co-President in 2004-05. It was used when there was an event cancellation or member emergency. Deb smiled when she remembered the navigation that had to take place the year the widely attended Halloween Parade had to be cancelled. A form of the phone tree exists today, but more often than not, email is the mode of contact. Newsletters and calendars are distributed via the Internet. LexFUN! even has a Yahoo Group Listserv and a presence on FaceBook. Deb continued by saying, “The heart of the organization has not changed, but the efficiency has.” Technology has revolutionized the 1950s Rummage Sale the LPPTA hosted, to the current Annual Spring LexFUN! Consignment Sale. Consignors create an online account via LexFun.org to list their inventory. Bar code price tags are printed and Voila! The goods are ready for drop off. This year’s Consignment Sale is on Saturday, May 12th from 8:00am-2:00pm at St. Brigid’s Parish, 2001 Massachusetts Ave in Lexington.

LexFUN! has a number of committees for volunteers to serve on and the community to benefit from: Community Service, Early Education Liaison, Events, Fundraisers, Membership, Seminars, Social. Every season LexFUN! offers ways members can contribute to community service such as their on-going assistance with the Meals on Wheels program and visits to Youville Place Assisted Living. Many in-kind donations are made to Cradles to Crayons and to local shelters, such as the “Birthday in a Box” program for children and the “Esteem Boxes” they give to homeless mothers. Yes – homeless. Lexington is not immune to the current economic reality so many Americans are faced with. As a 501c3, LexFUN! raises money to make financial contributions to organizations in alignment with their goals including: the Early Childhood Committee; the Cary Memorial Library and the Lexington Education Foundation. LexFun! created the LexFUND Preschool Scholarship Fund. Awards range from $500-$3,000 per child. LexFUND granted over $30,000 in the past two years alone.

There are SummerFun and WinterFun drop-in centers to meet up with other parents as your children play together. The Social Committee coordinates an Annual Member Recognition Night each November, the Bicentennial Park Potluck in June, and regular Moms-Night-Out evenings. Couples are encouraged to attend the Annual Date Knight celebration. LexFUN! publishes The Annual Guide for Young Families in September which is distributed to their membership. Other benefits of membership are discounts at many local businesses and restaurants.

The founding members of the 1942-1943 Board included: Mrs. Gandolfo Andolina, Mrs. Frank H. Ready, Mrs. William P. Clark, Mrs. Stanley Robbins, Mrs. George Wood, Mrs. Lynman Carlow, Mrs. Handel Rivinius, Mrs. George Regan, Mrs. Bertram Gustin, Mrs. Ernest Rogers. Feminists may be taken aback to see such civic-minded women listed on record without any recognition of their first, let alone original sur, name. This is one more of many changes that mark the turning of the tide of this organization. The once ten member board has now grown to more than 60 women, from many walks of life. Each dedicate what time they have to fulfill LexFUN!’s current mission: “to offer social, educational, and recreational opportunities to families with young children [birth through age five].” LexFUN! has over four hundred member families. Only time will tell what cultural changes and influences the future has in store for this thriving group that has become the soul of our community. “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” LexFUN! you have proven your ability to do just so. Happy Anniversary.

Jennifer Velis and Lisa O’Brien represented LexFUN! on the television show “Contributions to Earth.” It is available on-demand at www.LexMedia.org and excerpts can be seen at: www.TVforYourSoul.com. To find out more about LexFUN!,

visit: www.LexFUN.org

 

Share this:

The 10th Regiment of Foot

Paul O’Shaughnessy (above right) leading his men.

By Heather Aveson  |

Getting ready for Battle – Behind the Scenes with the reenactors as they prepare for Patriot’s Day

Uniforms have always served two purposes. They identify an individual as part of a group, but their cut, style, color and ornamentation can also act like a peacock’s feathers to draw attention and intimidate an opponent. According to the National Park Service, the British soldiers wore red not only because of it looked good and ‘added a frightening appearance, ‘ but ‘Battlefields in the 1700’s were smoky, confusing places. Red uniforms made it easier for British officers to see their men through the smoke of battle. As a result, they were better able to control the action, and could avoid shooting their own troops!’That’s what happened the first time a young Paul O’Shaughnessy saw a “Red Coat”. In 1972 he was a student at Lexington High School serving as a guide on the Battle Green with some friends. He’d saved up a few hundred dollars and he was planning to use the money to join a local re-created militia with his friends. But one day, he saw THEM – The Red Coats of the 10th Regiment of Foot. The tailored jackets in reds and yellows, shiny buttons and glistening muskets, towering Grenadier hats of real bearskin were irresistible. Paul still remembers his feelings in the jargon of the day, “We took one look at them and thought, ‘That is so cool’”. But the feeling wasn’t immediately reciprocated. The Red Coats played hard to get and it was several months before the 15 year old was able to convince them to let him join. That young recruit is now Lieutenant Colonel Paul O’Shaughnessy, Commanding Officer.

And the authenticity of the Regiment’s splendor is the foundation on which the 10th is built.

AUTHENTICITY MAKES A RETURN

In the late 1960’s there was a resurgence of interest in the battles of Lexington and Concord. The Bicentennial was approaching and many local towns re-established militia and minute companies. They began staging mock battles with the “British Regulars”.

Vincent Kehoe, a Chelmsford photographer and historian, was assigned to cover one of these battles at the North Bridge in March of 1967. “When he got there he couldn’t bring himself to take the pictures because the British were outfitted in red paper hats and red waiters vests,” according to Paul O’Shaughnessy, “That inspired him to do some research into which regiments were actually at the battle and recreate one more authentically.”

Kehoe’s research led him to pursue the 10th Regiment of Foot; he knew they were one of about five regiments garrisoned in Boston during that time. Kehoe himself had served in the 10th Mountain Division during WWII and so “the 10th” held special meaning for him.

Imagine his surprise when Sir Christopher Welby-Everard, President of the 10th Foot Royal Lincolnshire Regimental Association in Britain heard from a New England photographer asking to establish an American contingent of the Regiment back in the States. The two began a correspondence and any initial skepticism gave way to mutual respect. It was clear that Kehoe was serious about building a regiment that would bring authenticity to the living depiction of British regiments. In July 1968 he received authorization to establish his American regiment. Sir Christopher and Kehoe continued working together for several years researching the history and uniforms of the 10th Regiment. By 1972 The American Contingent had grown to two companies, Light Infantry and Grenadiers. The same two companies remain today.

Gone were the paper hats and waiters’ vests. They were replaced by an ever evolving uniform of wool felt, leather strapping, bear skin hats and “Brown Bess” muskets; each new element reflecting an additional piece of research uncovering a greater level of detail.

EVERYONE DOES WHAT THEY CAN

It is this continued commitment to research and authenticity that sets the Tenth Regiment of Foot apart. A few years ago a button from an original uniform was found. The shape and design were slightly different from what the Regiment had been using. New buttons were cast and are being replaced on all the uniforms.

Even more recently the Regiment found that the belt buckles they had been carefully hand etching had the X, for tenth, going horizontally instead of vertically. So they will now buff off the existing X on each belt buckle and etch in a new one.

The attention to detail that sets the 10th Regiment of Foot apart also demands a greater level of commitment from its members. Each winter finds the group not only repairing and replacing existing uniforms and accoutrements but also replacing elements as new information comes along. And everyone helps out. For Grenadier Captain Michael Graves it’s become a family affair. You could say that for one weekend each winter the 10th Regiment becomes an occupying force in their home. Sheets of white leather and bearskins, heads and all, fill the living room as infantryman, and Grave’s son, Ian works with Kelsey Brennan of the light infantry and drummer Matt Lee building a new Grenadiers hat. In the kitchen, Captain Graves has traded his musket barrel for a curling rod and is coiffing wigs in the style of the day. Meanwhile, his wife Valerie is repairing small leather pieces nearby. “It all started with Ian when he was twelve. He joined as a musician and Mike would drive him to practice,” recalls Valerie, “After about a month Ian said, ‘you have to take me anyway so you may as well join too,’ so Mike joined. I help out where I can, so now the whole family is involved.”

In the basement, other members of the Regiment are rolling cartridge casings, repairing uniforms and cutting and sewing leather belts or shoe guards.

Taught by his mother, Ian Graves has become the Regiment’s tailor. Uniforms are created from patterns that have been researched back to the 1700s. Each uniform is individually made, from coat to waistcoats and britches. There’s no buying off the rack when you’re going for this kind of authenticity. “I’ve been doing this about eight months. It takes about 40 hours to make one coat,” Ian says, “No other regiment does what we do. They don’t have these kinds of workshops. People put themselves up against our standards because we set the bar. It’s just who we are.”

A few weeks later the company commandeers Commander O’Shaughnessy’s basement. Here the emphasis is on muskets and metalwork. Grenadier Private Eric Niehaus is doing maintenance on a Brown Bess musket. He’s much more comfortable here with bear grease and flintlocks, “I’m a lousy artist. I stay away from leather and costuming or we’d all be running around in loin cloths.”

The Brown Bess, or 2nd Model Land Pattern, is the standard musket for the Regiment. They can be bought new, but most members own a used model they have found or that has been handed down through the regiment. Light Infantry Private Marc McVicker is working on a musket that’s come down through his family, “This is my grandfather’s gun. He got it about fifty or sixty years ago.” It’s starting to show its age, the wood cracked during a drill, so while the gun is apart to be repaired, Marc is polishing and treating the barrel.

It’s not uncommon for the wood of these older guns to crack. The wood itself dries out and the percussion of the discharge takes it toll. Members painstakingly drill small holes into the wood and then pin the pieces back together.

Meanwhile, other members are polishing stocks and barrels while they compare the benefits of bear grease, orange oil and beeswax to preserve and maintain the wood and steel.

That’s not to say there isn’t any leatherwork going on here. Captain Graves is working with two of his men to make a bayonet belting for Grenadier David Parker. It’s a slow process for the first timers. I’m not sure if their banter makes the work go faster, but it certainly makes the time pass more quickly. That’s part of what makes the 10th Regiment special. These winter workshops not only enhance the group’s outfitting, they encourage camaraderie as well.

David Parker is new to the Grenadiers. “I started out as Light Infantry, but then I moved away. I’m coming back as a Grenadier. I’m very interested in the history of the revolution, not just re-enacting, so I wanted to experience it from both sides,” he says. Truth be told, David also feels more comfortable in the Grenadiers now that he’s not a kid anymore. The light infantry is for the young and agile. The Grenadiers are considered the elite, relying more on strength and size. Parker puts it more subtly, “Also, I tend to stand out in the Infantry. The average age of the Light Infantry is about 18. In the Grenadiers I’m about average in the age and size range.” But fellow Grenadier Gary Mezack isn’t buying that explanation either. “The real reason he joined us is that the Grenadiers get their picture taken with all the ladies. What attracts the ladies? It’s the bearskin.” Sounds like he’s speaking from first hand experience.

PUTTING YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD

The bearskin apparently attracts the ladies, the uniform attracted a young Paul O’Shaughnessy; each recruit has their own reason for joining. Grenadier Gary Mezack remembers what brought him to the Regiment, “I’d been involved in re-enacting for many years. I always wanted to join the 10th because it does set the standard. But I was working, traveling and raising a family, so it seemed there wasn’t time. Then I realized this is never going to change. I may as well do it now. I miss a few things, but it works out. And I’m definitely glad I did it.”

The Regiment is always on the lookout for new recruits. This year the Regiment is putting six new members through their paces. On a recent Saturday the new recruits showed up for their third Recruit Training at the Depot. Sergeant Major Charlie Ziniti gives the orders, and Sgt. of the Grenadiers Ed Scull is another set of eyes critiquing and correcting along the way.

The recruits don’t drill alone; they are flanked by veteran members of the regiment. Captain Graves explains the training technique, “If the recruits trained alone, it would go a lot slower. They wouldn’t know what to do. This way they can follow a veteran’s lead. And the guys who come, improve their skills as well.” All the training techniques come straight from a British Army Drill Manual of the 1760’s. The exercises and maneuvers are practiced just as they were by British soldiers at the time of the American Revolution.

The muskets start to look pretty heavy as the recruits repeat maneuvers and work on new patterns. Captain Graves explains that the different musket positions are designed to make carrying the 12 lb. gun easier over long periods of time and through difficult terrain, “After a while you realize that the way the musket maneuvers happen is very logical. There will be a change in position for narrow paths, rough terrain, or up a hill.” For instance, when going through dense brush, the muskets are dropped low along the side of the body, in a ‘trail position.’ This keeps the guns from getting caught up in the brush.

The maneuvers are highly choreographed. The recruits first learn to change musket positions in proper sequence. Once the recruits are comfortable with that, footwork is added. All steps begin with the left foot on a count of two. Steps and musket changes coming together in perfect choreography. And then there’s what I refer to as “sticking the landing.” At the end of any drill the soldiers should finish in clean straight lines. It’s not easy. The Sergeant Major’s final order at the end of any maneuver is usually “Dress!” This allows the soldiers to adjust their positions and create clean lines.

So how does this new group look? Captain Graves looks them over, “These recruits look very well.”

THE BATTLE BEGINS

Patriot’s Day starts early for the 10th Regiment of Foot. Although they won’t be marching out to Lexington from Boston through out the night, they will gather as unobtrusively as possible in the darkness by 5am. Weapons and uniforms will be inspected. Black powder will be distributed. In a private ceremony new recruits will be sworn in. The recruits are read the Britain’s Articles of War from the 1770’s and swear their allegiance to the King.

Then at 5:45am the Light Infantry and the Grenadiers will organize themselves. The drums will begin to beat as they start down Massachusetts Ave. from the Police Station.

The Regiment will march onto Lexington Green in the cold dawn as men and women, as well as boys and girls admire the cut and detail of their handmade wool felt jackets, the grandeur of their bearskin hats, the polish of their muskets and the precision of their maneuvers. Those watching are captured by the moment without a thought to the hours of research and work that go into this display of pageantry. And that is the beauty of this form of theatre. It all looks so natural.

The teenage age Paul O’Shaughnessy who was first drawn to the Regiment by its regalia on this very spot, now leads his troops as Lieutenant Colonel, Paul O’Shaunnessy Commanding Officer onto the field of battle.

Through their research, attention to detail and commitment to the History they not only entertain and educate, but they pay tribute to those who over two hundred years ago used their skill and knowledge to present the 10th Regiment of Foot for service in Lexington and Concord.

Share this:

Wilson Farm Welcomes Spring with New Entrance

Wilson Farm is saying good-bye to the familiar white tents along Pleasant Street. For years the tents have welcomed customers to the stand with fresh local produce, seasonal specials, samples and demonstrations. This spring the tents will be replaced by a permanent, climate controlled greenhouse structure. “The tents are labor intensive, not weather tight, and not as aesthetically pleasing as the farm stand itself,” says Lauren Wilson, 5th generation family member. “The new entrance will be unimposing, visually pleasing, and will complement the barn.”

The Stand will remain open through out construction and Wilson Farm has worked hard to make sure there is no impact on the quality of customers’ shopping experience while the new greenhouse entrance is being built.

Rendering of new Greenhouse Entrance to be completed this spring at Wilson Farm

One big move might make shoppers who remember the “old” stand a little nostalgic. The cut flower department will move forward into the new structure, similar to its position years ago. The extra space in the stand will allow the Farm to expand its product selection. Here’s a hint -look for a greater number of refrigerated cases inside.

The new entrance reinforces Wilson Farm’s commitment to local agriculture by providing more room for fresh from their fields produce, as well as items from other local growers and producers. Lauren says the continued interest in local produce allows Wilson Farm to compete with larger chain stores, which unlike Wilson Farm do not grow their own produce.

Wilson Farm’s commitment to local business played a big part in designing the new space. “Wilson Farm has always made an effort to give back to Massachusetts, especially in their partnerships,” Wilson said. “We explored several options for the new entrance, including researching many different companies all around the world. We chose Private Gardens because they are family owned, have a great product and are right here in Massachusetts, making them an ideal designer for the project.”

Wilson Farm customers are sure to be pleased with the comfort and look of the new space, but they won’t be the only ones. Owner Scott Wilson is excited about the benefits of the new entrance, “I’m looking forward to the day when we don’t have to bang snow off the tents; when we don’t have to adjust displays because of the rain; and when customers can enter and not feel cold! The new entrance will provide immense benefits, including the ability to protect our customers from the elements.”

Wilson Farm is open year-round and is a multiple “Best of Boston” winner (now a “Classic” recipient). They have locally grown produce, house baked bread and sweets, fresh