|"Prefers to be outdoors" Winter bicycling at |
below zero temperatures. (click to enlarge)
More than eleven years and five editors since this began, the column continues. The editors have been Brian Nanos, Bruce Coulter, Caitlyn Kelleher, Joyce Crane, and – since August 2013 – Holly Camero. All of them have given me free rein to follow my curiosity, as long as most of the time the column topic was relevant to Maynard and/or Stow, and at length between 700 and 800 words, preferably submitted with a photo either of my own or from the collection of the Maynard Historical Society. At times, length has crept up to 1,000 words. The splits by category have been roughly 60 percent history, 20 percent nature, 15 percent recreational (bicycling, kayaking, hiking trails, etc.) and 5 percent health-related topics. The last stem from my science education and pre-retirement career in various health industry jobs.
Productivity has been between 30 and 40 new columns per year, plus starting with 2014, five repeats per year of previously published columns, lightly reworked. The idea fountain has not yet run dry. There is always an ideas list of 10-15 potential columns, some as-name-only, some researched, and some partially written. Very often, ideas were generated by delving into the archives of the Maynard Historical Society, accessed either online or physically at the MHS collection, by randomly opening boxes of documents and photographs. Reader suggestions are always welcome.
|Selling books at Farmers' Market|
Looking forward, there is no expectation of running out of ideas. A town does not have to be famous, nor date to the colonial era, to have had an interesting history. Or to keep creating history, especially if one’s definition of history is everything that has occurred up to this morning’s cup of coffee.
Sometimes history comes alive in a wonderful way. Soon after the movie “The Finest Hours” was released in 2016, an acquaintance mentioned that a Maynard resident had been involved. To wit, Edward A. Mason, Jr., Apprentice Seaman, age 23 at the time, was awarded the Silver Life-Saving Medal for his part in a 1952 Coast Guard rescue effort off the Massachusetts coast. When I went to see the movie at the Fine Arts Theatre, I mentioned the connection to staff behind the counter. The reply: “We know. Mason and his daughter were here this afternoon to see the movie.” I got a column out of it, and the Beacon-Villager interviewed Mason.
|Lamson carving set|
Researching and writing for the Beacon-Villager has had collateral consequences. Information has been contributed to Wikipedia articles about Maynard, Massachusetts, the Assabet River and many other related topics. In May 2018, I was able to host a visit by seven descendants of Amory and Mary Maynard, great-great-grandchildren and great-great-great-grandchildren, and provide them with a tour of the town, including visits to the homes where Amory and Mary had lived, and inside the family crypt. Some of them were able to return, COVID vaccinated, to attend the April 19, 2021 celebration of the town’s founding, 150 years ago.
Mark had an indoor job (now retired), but prefers to be outdoors.