SALEM — School Committee member Janet Crane, a retired college associate professor, was on her way to a school meeting a few weeks ago when she fell on a downtown sidewalk and hit her head.
After getting back on her feet, she made her way to the meeting at 120 Washington St. but never felt quite right. In fact, she was dizzy and nauseous. At one point, she actually sat on the floor.
Concerned about Crane, Salem High Guidance Director Robert Quist stopped the meeting and asked if she wanted to go to the hospital. Superintendent Stephen Russell wound up escorting her to the emergency room at Salem Hospital and stayed with her for several hours.
It turns out she had suffered a concussion. Her doctor told her not to do any strenuous physical or mental activity for a week and recommended limited use of a computer and TV.
Today, she is doing fine.
OK, that's the outline of the story.
Now, here's the rest.
Crane is chairwoman of a committee writing a new policy for the School Department — a concussion policy. In fact, the meeting she attended that night included two people writing the policy with her — Salem High Principal Dave Angeramo and Athletic Director Scott Connolly.
This Monday night, the school board held the second reading of the new concussion policy. (It takes three readings for it to become policy.)
A smiling Crane began her introductory remarks by saying: "I have done some fieldwork on this issue." Those who know her story laughed.
As trying as these past weeks have been, Crane has learned several important lessons from her ordeal.
"One doesn't even know when one has a concussion," she said.
She also learned that some doctors recommend virtually no activity afterward — even what appears to be benign mental activity.
Crane confessed she didn't follow her doctor's orders to the letter and, as a result, didn't have as quick a recovery.
Fortunately, Crane is doing well. And she has certainly gained insights into a complex subject, and not from books or scholarly papers.
She did it the old-fashioned way: the school of hard knocks.
One of the best
In a world that is too often black and white, William Russell Burns is bright technicolor.
If there are three great personalities in this city, Bill Burns is two of them.
A former city councilor, the gruff, irascible, lovable Burns is probably prouder of being goalie on the unending street hockey game on Chestnut Street than anything else. Of course, now that we think of it, he was probably prouder of his dog, Baxter, who ate more meals and made more food stops at downtown businesses than the UPS man.
Bill, now 85, took a spill at home the other day and is recuperating at Grosvenor Park Nursing Center, 7 Loring Hills Ave.
If you get a second, drop him a line.
Tuesday's ceremony for the new courthouse was a wonderful tribute to late state Rep. Mike Ruane and late Mayor Sam Zoll.
The highlight had to be the singing of the national anthem and "God Bless America" by Alison Fields. What a wonderful voice.
And how fitting that she is the niece of Sam and Marjorie Zoll.
If there is one criticism of the ceremony — and this is trivial — it might be the performance of Chief Justice Robert Mulligan, who served as master of ceremonies. Although he appears to be a wonderful man and, no doubt, is a brilliant legal mind and, in truth, did a great job, Mulligan is not the person you want in front of you if you're fleeing a burning building.
The ceremony, as nice as it was, moved a little slowly. Mulligan gave rich, full and lengthy introductions of all eight speakers and two clergy members. It's not clear whether his introductions or their speeches were longer. And he graciously introduced anyone and everyone who had anything to do with $106 million courthouse project, some more than once.
The judge could have saved time by having everyone in the large crowd stand and take a bow even if they had nothing to do with the project.
And judge, if this crosses your desk, it's all in good fun. No reason to invoke that "contempt of court" mumbo-jumbo.
Wow, did you hear about those kids at Carlton School?
Principal Jean-Marie Kahn held an event this winter called a "Snowball Slam" to get her students to read.
Five and a half weeks later, Carlton's 225 students read 30,096 books or chapters.
In case you're math-challenged, that's about 134 books per child.
Second-grader Brooke Foster was the top reader with more than 500 books.
And she won the grand prize — a giant, flat-screen TV.
(That's not true. That's a bad joke.)
But three cheers to those Carlton readers.
End of chapter
Austin "Tut" Ropes Jr., 63, died last Friday.
You may not have known him, but he was the last family member to live in the Ropes estate on Felt Street, the magnificent old house the city is trying to save.
He lived at a beautiful spot with towering trees and will be buried at another grand, peaceful place, Harmony Grove Cemetery.
The new guy at the Chamber of Commerce is Scott Gibney Jr., who replaces Ben Bouchard as assistant director.
A Salem native, Gibney graduated last year from Salem State, which he attended on a four-year Jack Welch Scholarship.
The Mack Park Neighborhood Association is always doing something.
Now they have printed up "I Love North Salem" bumper stickers as a fundraiser. You should start seeing them on cars any day now.
There are a lot of comings and goings at city restaurants.
The latest is Coven, the hip market on Essex Street. It has closed and will be replaced by Life Alive, an organic cafe.
The Upper Crust Pizzeria, as has been reported, also recently closed.
This month's issue of Better Homes and Gardens has a really nice piece on Barbara Pervier's beautiful Salem condo.
Check it out.
Hess Corp. is applying for a liquor license.
That's interesting because they run a gas station on Derby Street. It may be common many places, but in this city, there are not yet any service stations selling booze.
Hess wants a beer and wine package store license.
It's not clear, however, whether they want to sell six-packs inside the station or just pump it into customers as they sit in their cars.