, Salem, MA

April 26, 2013

Heard Around Town: A heartfelt response ... measured in bags of popcorn


---- — SALEM — Half the city must have headed to Salem Willows on Sunday for E.W. Hobbs’ fundraiser for the Richard family of Dorchester.

Martin Richard is the little boy who was killed in a bomb blast at the Boston Marathon, which badly injured his mother and sister. His dad, Bill Richard, is from Salem and still has many friends here, including Charlie Hobbs.

In an effort to reach out at a time of unimaginable pain and loss, E.W. Hobbs donated all the proceeds from popcorn batch sales to a Salem Five fund for the family.

They sold almost 1,000 large batches or vouchers for future batches. Ryan Riley, popcorn popper extreme, cooked up 400 all by himself.

Together with donations and employee tips, the grand total came to an amazing $14,350.

In another nice gesture, small American flags were handed to customers, who planted them in a lawn nearby.

Golden years

What a nice time they had Sunday at Immaculate Conception Church, where the Rev. Timothy Murphy celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination.

Instead of three Masses, they held one at 10:30 a.m., during which both the Spanish and English language choirs performed. That night, they held a dinner at the Knights of Columbus.

Several priests attended, including the Rev. James Riley, who served at IC in the 1960s.

Murphy, who turned 75 last summer, is from the hard-scrabble streets of Somerville. He served in North Weymouth, Allston and Mattapan before coming to Salem 17 years ago as pastor.

The most amazing thing about Father Murphy?

“I’m not the first Timothy J. Murphy to be here,” he said.

Yup, a priest by that same name served at Immaculate Conception in 1904.

Land grab

This is a groundless rumor, but we heard that Mayor Kim Driscoll, the queen of regionalization, has another move up her sleeve.

Now that Beverly’s Bill Scanlon is not running for his 73rd term as mayor, she is considering a land taking with herself serving as mayor of both cities.

It’s not out of the question. Think about it. She once worked in a big-time Beverly law office and for the Panther Planning Department. And did you notice that her former chief of staff, Jason Silva, is a Beverly city councilor?

Coincidence? We think not.

Pesky Pole III

On Saturday, a “Pesky Pole” was dedicated to late Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky at the Salem State University baseball field.

What a great move. Pesky was from neighboring Swampscott and received an honorary degree from Salem State in 2009. Even better, he used to eat breakfast across from the campus at the Salem Diner, which dedicated its own “Pesky Pole” a few years ago.

Three’s company

In case anyone’s counting, Driscoll now has three opponents.

The latest to take out papers is Elvis Alvarez. He joins Ken Sawicki, Cedric Ashley Jr. and, of course, Her Honor.

So there you have it — Kim, Ken, Cedric and Elvis. Sounds like a Memphis law firm.

Putting out fire

There was a lot of commotion this week when an anti-Islamic rant, apparently prompted by the Boston Marathon bombing, appeared on a “Salem, Massachusetts Fire Department” Facebook page.

It drew heated complaints — to put it mildly.

It turned out it was not an official Fire Department site, but one run by a firefighter. The comments were quickly removed, and the matter, which reached all the way to the mayor’s office, is still being straightened out. It sounds like a new Facebook page will be created, maybe something like “Friends of the Salem Fire Department.”

The old Facebook page, which for some technical reasons is still up, now has the following message: “This page is NOT an official page of the Salem, Massachusetts Fire Department or the City of Salem, Massachusetts or its employees.”

Tom Dalton can be reached at