, Salem, MA

January 17, 2014

Case solved: the missing Pesky Pole


---- — SALEM — It’s hard to believe a tiny diner next to a liquor store could generate so much excitement, but Salem State University did everything but hire trumpeters and put on top hats for the reopening this week of The Salem Diner.

Never before has grease and high cholesterol gotten such royal treatment.

Amid all the hoopla, however, a few people did notice that something was missing from the old diner — and not just former owners George and Zoe.

The Pesky Pole is gone.

“Where’s the Pesky Pole?” one regular exclaimed as she sat down to lunch on Wednesday.

This is not the famous Pesky Pole at Fenway Park, and not even the one at the Salem State baseball diamond. This Pesky Pole was inside the diner in the corner where the late, great Johnny Pesky used to meet his pals for breakfast.

Fearing the worst, we turned the case over to Salem State Police Chief Gene Labonte.

Using detective skills honed during his State Police days, Labonte made a startling discovery: the much-ballyhooed Pesky Pole was an old, rusty metal coat rack located near where Pesky used to dine. It even had the words “Pesky Pole” inscribed on the side. This coat rack and another one of similar ilk apparently were tossed by a vendor during renovations.

Take heart, Pesky fans. There is still a No. 6 on the diner wall.

Dog news

Attention, all you 3,000 dog owners. If your pooch is neither spayed nor neutered, the 2014 Salem dog license will cost $5 more than last year.

Don’t blame the city — the state law changed.

Licensing starts the first week of February. You can register at the city clerk’s office, by downloading a form online (search for forms under “City Clerk”), or the lazy way — wait for the census form to arrive in the mail.

George Washington, Mason

George Washington may be gone, but he still has clout in this city.

As you may or may not know, funds are being raised to restore the replica Washington Arch on Salem Common.

The original 1805 arches — there were four — were designed by Samuel McIntire to commemorate Washington’s visit to Salem in 1789.

Both Washington and McIntire were Masons. That’s important to know because it explains why $1,500 was just donated to the cause by three Scottish Rite bodies in the Valley of Salem: The Sutton Lodge of Perfection; Jubilee Council, Princes of Jerusalem; and the Emmanuel Chapter of Rose Croix.

Write those names down because there will be a quiz next week.

Manhole man

God bless Joe O’Keefe.

Who else would call to say we ran the wrong photo of a manhole cover with the story “The Case of the Flying Manhole Covers”?

“That’s a sewer manhole,” the veteran councilor and former state fire marshal said. “It has a big ‘S’ on it, which means it’s a sewer manhole.”

The story in question was about electric cables burning underground and giving off gases that built up and blew off several manholes near Front and Central streets. A photo of a manhole accompanied the story.

Who knew there were different kinds of manholes? And, for manhole mavens, they’re all apparently clearly marked for electrical, gas, water, sewer, soybeans, skunk cabbage or whatever.

All of which goes to prove we don’t know a manhole from our elbow.

Calling all Republicans

Our favorite endangered species, the Salem Republican City Committee, meets Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. at Hawthorne Hotel to elect delegates to the 2014 Massachusetts Republican State Convention and to name a new chairperson.

Word is the energetic and affable Sean O’Brien, a recent City Council candidate, is in line for the top job.

Temple vote

Temple Shalom is one step closer to being turned over to the Pabich family for redevelopment.

On Sunday, the congregation of Temple Shalom approved the deal with Renewable Ventures LLC. A purchase and sale agreement has been signed, and the sale is expected to close in June.

Salem Renewal plans to lease the building to Salem State for classes.

Lynn, Lynn ...

Planning and Community Development Director Lynn Duncan received the highest award from the state chapter of the American Planning Association. Duncan was presented with the Professional Planner Award, which is given each year to one planner in the state.

In her 10 years in Salem, Duncan’s office has overseen the virtual transformation of the city: the Salem Pier, the Salem Jail redevelopment, the new state courthouse, the commuter rail station, and on and on.

“The people of Salem are fortunate to have someone of her caliber and expertise working on their behalf,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll.

Duck, it’s a plane

Got a note from a resident who said he saw “what looked like a midsize military cargo plane” flying low over the North River around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

He said the plane had one engine “on its starboard side and was flying at about 2,000 feet, veering to the left.”

RoseMary O’Connor of the Mack Park Association was home baking calzones at that time, so she’s been ruled out, and the police said they didn’t get any unusual flight reports. Can anyone solve this riddle?

Tom Dalton can be reached at