, Salem, MA

October 4, 2013

Are you a legendary local of Salem?


---- — SALEM — A book arrived in the mail the other day that we simply had to open: “Legendary Locals of Salem.”

The mind races at the thought. Who’s in the book?

Better yet — who’s not in the book?

There are obvious choices — Nathaniel Hawthorne, Samuel McIntire, Alexander Graham Bell and other legendary dead people.

There are not so obvious choices — the Samantha statue, doughnut master Ziggy Akatyszewski, the gang at Hayden Safe and Lock, and pinball wizard Bowen Kerins.

There are some unusual, possibly controversial choices. In the hometown of the hallowed Harringtons, only Mike made the cut. What are Kevin, Neil, Joe, Lee and Nancy — chopped corned beef?

There are some wonderful choices — Steve O’Grady, Sam Zoll and Lionel “Beaver” Pelletier.

The book, published by Arcadia Publishing, goes on sale Monday. There is a book launching Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Hawthorne Hotel, hosted by local historian Bonnie Hurd Smith, one of the legendary locals.

Sign of times

Have you driven down Webb Street recently and taken a left onto Fort Avenue?

Right there at the beginning of the road is a series of garage doors decorated with elaborate signs opposing Footprint Power’s proposed natural-gas power plant. It’s part protest, part science lesson and part public art.

It’s reportedly the work of a fellow who lives around the corner on Webb.

World record

That was quite a scene at Wynott’s Wands on Essex Street last weekend.

Aaron Zev Katz, drummer for The Dejas, did something never dreamed of by Buddy Rich, Ringo Starr or Gene Krupa.

He played the drums for 25 hours straight, breaking the world record set only months earlier in New York City by rock personality Andrew W.K. The record, in case you’ve forgotten, is for nonstop drumming in a retail store.

(By the way, we thought that record was held by a cashier at Macy’s drumming her fingers impatiently while waiting for Salem Partnership director Patricia Zaido to find her credit card somewhere in her purse.)

Anyway, the 37-year-old Katz, using wands, drummed from 10:30 a.m. Saturday to 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Under the rules, he was allowed a 5-minute break every hour. He took his first break after 41/2 hours, stopping to eat a turkey and avocado sandwich from Milk & Honey Green Grocer. He made it the rest of the way on 22 McIntosh apples.

Lots of folks stopped by to offer support or to jam. Musician Black Dog Brother was there, along with guitar-strumming minister Phil Wyman. Boys & Girls Club executive director Joanne Scott played the djembe, an African hand drum, and City Councilor Josh Turiel banged on the bongos.

It was all for a good cause, raising $2,500 for the Boys & Girls Club.

It got a little rough, Katz said, around 3 a.m., but that’s when musician Michael Pritzl came through the door with his guitar to liven things up. Dejas band mate Callie Lipton was by Katz’s side the whole way.

When it was over, incredibly, Katz was able to stand and walk. In fact, he was so pumped, he couldn’t fall asleep.

“I’m still catching up on my sleep,” he said yesterday.

Wedding bells

If you pass Mike Allen on the street, tell him congratulations.

The Red Lion Smoke Shop owner, former School Committee member and star of the cable TV show “Inside Salem” just got married. He wed Maria Jones, formerly of Utica, N.Y.

It’s the first marriage for 60-year-old Allen.

Government inaction

Pity the poor Boy Scouts from Troop 24 who attended Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

They had come to watch a committee of the whole meeting on repairing the Washington Arch on Salem Common. Instead, they got to watch three councilors — Mike Sosnowski, Jerry Ryan and Bill Legault — pace about the room making desperate cellphone calls to absent councilors to try to round up the six stray councilors needed for a quorum.

Eventually, three colleagues staggered through the door, and the meeting began.

In the City Council’s defense, maybe they heard the news about the federal government shutdown and mistakenly thought they had been reclassified as nonessential personnel.

Fish tale

Do you know how many Salem residents went to the New England Aquarium last month?

Of course, you don’t. But we’ll tell you — 5,200.

And it’s all thanks to the Norman H. Read Trust, those incredible folks who paid so every Salem resident could go to the Aquarium for free during September. Over the years, they have spent millions of dollars doing nice things for Salem residents.

Information, please

Kate Fox of Destination Salem deserves a round of applause for the terrific job done by her office, Salem Main Streets, the Peabody Essex Museum and others in manning — or is that womanning? — the makeshift information booth set up outside the Visitor Center.

They, of course, were called into action as a result of the federal shutdown, which closed the Visitor Center, Friendship and the Customs House.

Based on the newscasts we saw, Fox could have a second career as a television personality. In fact, she could have her own network. She could call it Fox TV.

If you’re interested, Destination Salem is looking for more volunteers for the information table. You can contact Stacia Cooper at or 978-741-3252 to schedule time.

Witch way?

Weeks ago, before the government shutdown, Lorelei of Crow Haven Corner set up an information booth in an alley next to her Essex Street witch shop with the help of local warlock Christian Day.

It’s a regular tourist information booth — except that it’s staffed by witches.

Sure, they promote themselves and witch businesses, but they also give out information and brochures on local restaurants and hotels.

“We just thought it was a really cool idea to give the witches’ perspective of what to do,” Lorelei said.

And they did this long before the shutdown. How did they know?

“We’re psychic,” said Day.

Tom Dalton can be reached at