, Salem, MA

June 28, 2013

Ceremony tomorrow for a special veterans square


---- — SALEM — The final chapter in the long and — for many years — unknown story of a World War II soldier will be written tomorrow.

Family and friends will gather at 10 a.m. at Bridge and Arbella streets to dedicate the corner to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mieczyslaus “Mashie” Miaskiewicz, who grew up on Arbella Street.

The 27-year-old former leather worker was a crew member on a B-17 bomber shot down in 1944 over the former Yugoslavia. His devoutly Catholic family had attended a military burial in a Long Island Cemetery soon after the war only to receive the stunning news two years ago that his true remains had been found, along with a crucifix, rosary beads and dog tag, in a remote hillside grave in Bosnia.

Mashie was brought back home in 2011 and buried here on a Veterans Day weekend.

The public is invited to attend the veterans square dedication Saturday and a reception afterward at the Witch City VFW Post on Derby Street.

License to leave

Are we wrong or has John Casey been on the Licensing Board since the days of Al Capone and bootlegged liquor in Chicago? It just seems like forever.

Casey was there before Tavern in the Square, O’Neill’s Irish pub and Gulu-Gulu — before almost every gin joint in town.

Appointed in 1995 by former Mayor Neil Harrington, Casey served with a host of liquor luminaries including John Boris, Jim Fleming, Peter Merry, Harold Blake and, if memory serves, Nathaniel Bowditch.

It took some doing to replace the long-serving Mr. Casey.

Mayor Kim Driscoll was all set to appoint local banker Gina Flynn until a fly fell into the ointment.

City Councilor Todd Siegel, a lawyer, mucked the whole thing up by being the only person in the city aware of a state law requiring the Licensing Board to maintain political balance in its membership. Don’t you hate it when the city starts following the law?

And who knew?

Apparently not the most recent board, which consisted of “independents” Casey and Rick Lee and Chairman Robert St. Pierre, a registered Democrat.

So Driscoll, a Democrat, undertook the onerous task of finding a Republican in this Democratic stronghold. But she did a good job and came up with Paul Flores, a Republican plumber.

The first meeting of the politically balanced board is July 16.

Halloween news

The city launched a brand-new version of to promote Halloween in Salem.

It already has had 33,000 visitors, and it’s only June. You know what that means? Pack the bags; the hordes are on their way.

Generous gift

The North Shore Medical Center received $1.5 million from the Norman H. Read Charitable Trust to establish the Albright Read Institute for Healthcare Improvement Science and Medical Research.

The institute, which is dedicated to improving patient care, is named for Norman Read, an oil and gas executive who died in 1992, and Dr. Nile Albright, a trustee of the Read Trust, which has given millions of dollars to the Salem schools, the city and the hospital.

The Read family has a long history in Salem going back to the early 1800s.

Band aid

Salem High band director Cynthia Napierkowski is getting ready for a big announcement.

No, she’s not marching the kids all the way to Washington, D.C., while playing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” — although don’t put that idea in her head.

She’s planning to raise big bucks to help the music program. But let’s wait for her to make the announcement.

Hot off the presses

Did you hear about the big book launch Oct. 23 in the ballroom of the Hawthorne Hotel?

The book — “Legendary Locals of Salem” — features 100 Salemites, some dead, some alive, some in-between.

This is actually true, except for the in-between part. Historian Bonnie Hurd Smith will emcee.

School prize

What a nice award from the Greenhouse School.

It gave a prize in memory of Richard Rousseau, a 1982 Salem High graduate and artist who died a few weeks ago at 48. He was a friend of school co-director Dan Welch and designed the sketch of a child that is used as the school’s logo.

The first Richard George Rousseau Jr. Art Residence Award was presented to Marcus Seymour McKenzie, a 2010 Greenhouse graduate now attending Malden Catholic High School.

Church flag

The First Church in Salem, Unitarian, lived up to its name yesterday by being the first church in the city to hang a flag celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

With its tower pole broken, the church draped a rainbow flag over its front door.

Vegas Kate

Destination Salem Executive Director Kate Fox recently returned from a business trip to Las Vegas.

At least, that’s her story and she’s sticking to it.

This, of course, only fuels the absolutely groundless rumor that Driscoll may make a late bid for a casino gambling license by opening a slots parlor on Tinker’s Island and asking homeboy Chip Tuttle, the lead man on the Suffolk Downs bid, to run the floating facility.

And ideas what to call it?

Grand opening

The Grapevine Mediterranean Kitchen & Wine Bar celebrated its grand opening last night.

New owner Kristin Zarkades has taken over a restaurant that has been a city landmark for two decades.

She also opened the city’s newest outdoor dining area, a patio on the banks of the South River basin.

Long overdue

Ken Perrone was inducted into the Salem High Hall of Fame last night before a packed house at the Knights of Columbus.

The former Salem High football coach is tied for the most victories (151) in school history, but his induction was blocked for years due to his controversial role in the 1994 teachers’ strike.

A huge crowd was expected for a coach with a large and loyal following.

Tom Dalton can be reached at