, Salem, MA

October 11, 2013

Heard Around Town: Salem High honors the Music Man


---- — SALEM — If you don’t think music is an important part of education — and life, for that matter — then you never met Carlton G. Lutts Jr.

As a boy at the old Pickering School, he was given a clarinet and never stopped playing. Well, to be perfectly honest, he was actually given a violin, but when he brought it home, his father, a musician of some note, called the band director to say he thought a different instrument might be better. Hence, the clarinet.

Lutts played the clarinet in the Salem High marching and jazz bands and, for years, played at venues around the North Shore with local bands.

His favorite band, however, was the family band that played every Sunday at his home and included his wife, Nancy, and their five children.

“It was mandatory,” said his son, Rob Lutts, a trumpet player who heads Cabot Money Management. “We all hated it when we did it, but, in hindsight, we loved it.”

Carlton Lutts passed on a love of music to his children and to most everyone who met him.

Maybe that’s why, when he died last November at 86, the family decided that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions would go to the Salem High School Band.

The kind gesture generated heartfelt notes, cards and letters — and nearly $8,000 in donations, which were used to build cabinets for the band room, fund private lesson scholarships and purchase two clarinets.

Part of the money was spent on landscaping and two outdoor benches in front of the “band door” at Salem High, a place where music students sit after rehearsals while waiting for a ride home.

On one bench is inscribed “Carlton G. Lutts, Clarinetist.” On the other, “Music Makes Winners.”

“My dad honestly believed that,” said Rob Lutts. “He believed that music helps people grow and mature.”

Kardashian wish

There’s a new celebrity in town.

Alexia Palm, 12, of Salem, flew out to Los Angeles last month to meet Kylie and Kendall Jenner of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” fame. Kendall Jenner even posted a photo she took of the two of them and put it on her Twitter page with the quote: “Lunch with my new bestie.”

Alexia, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, got to make the trip thanks to Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Cemetery tour

You don’t really know Salem if you haven’t been to Greenlawn Cemetery. Not only is this a beautiful garden spot in North Salem, but it is the site of Sargent Pond and The Dickson Memorial Chapel, and the final resting place of John Riley, Salem’s Medal of Honor winner, and other notables.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., the Friends of Greenlawn are offering free tours of the cemetery.

This is also a fundraiser for the new group, which is working hard to preserve one of the city’s true treasures.

They will be auctioning a painting of Sargent Pond by Debra Freeman Highberger and a homemade quilt, and selling picture cards of Greenlawn. There are also a few free door prizes.

O.K. Corral

The big Ward 1 city council “debate” is coming up.

On Monday night, the Historic Derby Street Neighborhood Association hosts incumbent Bob McCarthy and challenger Steve Pinto. Should be a lot of questions about cruise ships and power plants.

Smoking in Salem

Tuesday was a good night for Footprint Power, which wants to open a gas-fired power plant in Salem. They were at the Board of Health meeting and, incredibly, were not the most controversial item on the agenda.

The distinction belonged to two fine gentlemen who went before the board seeking a variance from the city’s smoking regulations to open a hookah bar.

Do you know what that is?

It’s a place where people smoke tobacco from hookahs, or water pipes. Apparently, it originated in India, spread to other countries and is popular in some urban communities. After smoking bans passed in many American communities — like Salem — hookah bars started using tobacco-free products.

The variance was denied.

Merry time

Ian Merry, a local lad, will be honored on Friday, Nov. 1, when St. John the Evangelist School in Beverly holds its annual Legacy Celebration at the Danversport Yacht Club.

1st Lt. Merry, the son of Peter and Betsy Merry, went to St. John the Evangelist, St. John’s Prep and Bowdoin College before being accepted to U.S. Marine Corps’ Officers Candidate School in Quantico, Va.

He was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months as commander of Outpost Hernandez in the southern part of the Helman Province. Tragically, he lost a close friend there, his first squad leader. Following that combat deployment, he conducted training exercises in the western Pacific, notably South Korea and Japan.

Merry is now recruiting Marine officers at colleges in Virginia.

Tea time

And now for a word from the right.

Several local tea party groups and a new organization called the Salem Property Rights Council are holding a meeting Wednesday night at the Ward II Social Club.

A speaker from the John Birch Society will discuss how “green” programs and government grant programs impact private property rights.

Admission is free.

Great man

There is a memorial service tomorrow morning at The First Church for one of this city’s most distinguished citizens: George Brandenburg.

To some, he was a member of the Paul Madore Chorale, a volunteer aboard Friendship and an amateur pilot.

At Harvard University, he was director of the High-Energy Physics Laboratory and senior research fellow and lecturer in physics. Before retiring, he worked on the Atlas experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Those are the folks who study little things like the basic forces that have shaped the universe since the beginning of time.

Needless to say, a crowd is expected.

Tom Dalton can be reached at