, Salem, MA

August 23, 2013

Heard Around Town: A Salem horse way up in the Maine woods


---- — SALEM — It has been a few years since we have seen Ruth Wall, a sweet and gentle woman who ran Friendship Carriage Tours.

For more than a decade, Wall gave rides to tourists, clop-clopping with her handsome horses through the McIntire Historic District and down busy city streets.

The business was both a joy and source of worry, as Wall tried to lead a 19th-century life in a 21st-century town. She seemed forever in search of somewhere to keep her carriages and horses.

Friendship Carriage Tours has not been around for several years, but the Walls are not far away.

Ruth and her husband are living on a farm in Maine, not too far up the coast, working hard to get the land in shape.

Her beloved 17-year-old horse, Curley, is still by her side, moving logs and helping clear fields. He has been joined by 10-year-old Dan, also a Percheron.

Ruth, who works as an EMT, said they live “on the side of a ridge that is all covered with blueberry fields.”

Sounds like paradise to us.

Monster tuna

If your were dining in Gloucester on Sunday night, or anywhere near that salty city, you probably heard the news.

Right around dinner time, a 37-foot fishing boat out of Marblehead chugged into the harbor with one of the biggest tunas seen around here in a long time.

A bluefin tuna that weighed 900 pounds and was almost 10 feet long was caught at Jeffreys Ledge, about 35 miles out to sea.

It was caught by a three-man crew aboard “Second Source,” which is owned by Bob Hansen of Hansen Marine Engineering of Marblehead.

And it took all three men to haul in that huge fish. The victorious crew included Hansen, Faxon Michaud and Jim Michaud.

Faxon, by the way, is the son of Biff Michaud of the Salem Witch Museum.

As for the tuna, it’s already on dinner plates in Japan.

Auction treasure

Write down this date: Sept. 29.

That’s the day The House of the Seven Gables holds “Taste of the Gables,” its big fundraiser.

This is a great event for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the incredible food served up by local chefs. But what caught our eye is one of the auction items.

A sculpture by the late Beverly Seamans has been donated for the live auction. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it should. Seamans, who lived by the sea in Marblehead, was a noted sculptor whose work is literally all over the world.

Her family has donated “Winslow,” a harbor seal sculpture originally commissioned for a project at Prout’s Neck in Maine, where the artist Winslow Homer had a studio. This is a smaller, possibly prototype of the original, mounted on granite from Prout’s Neck.

A similar piece by Seamans sold at a recent auction for $24,000.

Drunken driver

An item in the police log caught our attention.

A Salem man was arrested for drunken driving last Friday in the “Blaney Street parking area.”

Why it caught our attention is that the Salem ferry, which is located at the Blaney Street landing, just opened its little outdoor cafe where it proudly, and hopefully profitably, is serving alcohol to ferry passengers and, from what we’re told, a few locals who like to sip wine by the sea.

Anyway, we put our crack investigative team to work and discovered, much to our surprise, that the incident had nothing to do with the ferry. The guy simply had too much to drink someplace else and was spotted staggering toward his car over by the landing.

Good cause

Salem High band director Cynthia Napierkowski’s campaign to raise $100,000 for new uniforms and equipment is marching right along.

She hit the $15,000 mark the other day.

If she can reach $25,000 by Sept. 1, she says she can order new drum equipment and possibly have it in time for this marching season.

The campaign is now online through Indiegogo. It’s called Musicians with a Mission.

Here’s the link:

Busy agenda

If you’re thinking of giving back to Salem by serving on a city board, give the Park and Recreation Commission some consideration.

This week’s agenda included someone who wanted to hold a peace gathering on Salem Common and someone else who wanted permission to go into Salem Woods at night and scream a lot while making a movie.

Mayoral mayhem

Did you see the story about Sunday’s political rally in Boston for mayoral candidate Bill Walczak that was interrupted by a man who ran into a crowd and started punching people?

It was a pretty scary scene.

You know who was right in the middle of things? Darek Barcikowski.

Barcikowski, a publisher who ran a Polish restaurant in downtown Salem, is Walczak’s campaign manager.

The angry man, by the way, was quickly arrested and taken to a Boston hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Tip of the week

There’s a great event tomorrow at Forest River Park.

Salem Sound Coastwatch is hosting the eighth annual New England Championship Open Water Races.

More than 150 swimmers from across New England are expected for races that range from 500 meters to 3.1 miles.

The fun starts at 11:30 a.m. and, best of all, it’s free and open to the public.

Tom Dalton can be reached at