, Salem, MA

May 3, 2013

Heard Around Town: A $1,200 gift from the heart


---- — SALEM — Ron Hobson is a 19-year-old who works at Brookhouse, a Derby Street residence for elderly women. He makes $8 an hour.

He is enrolled in Embark, a postsecondary program for young adults between 18 and 22 with disabilities that is located in the Enterprise Center at Salem State University.

Hobson loves the program and is grateful for how it has helped him become an independent adult. He loves the program so much, he decided to give something back. When he told Director Patrice Grande he was going to donate more than $1,200 from his savings account to the Friends of the Northshore Education Consortium and the Embark Program, she almost fell off her chair.

She tried to talk him out of it. She called Hobson’s parents in Lynn and told them she thought it was way too much. They agreed but said it was something their son really wanted to do.

A few weeks ago, Hobson handed over his hard-earned money, which the program used to purchase Photoshop, a digital camera, a scanner and other equipment.

In return, Hobson and his family were invited to the ribbon-cutting last week of the Ron Hobson Technology Lab at the Enterprise Center.

“Ron, you are exemplary as a role model for staff and students alike,” Grande said at the ceremony. “You have looked beyond your own personal needs and desires to help your school and the consortium ...”

A lesson for all of us.

Long live the queen

There was a lot of excitement Tuesday night at Finz restaurant.

The Salem Rotary Club held a celebrity bartending event to raise funds for its many charitable causes. There was quite a lineup: Billy Costa of Kiss 108, a Salem resident; Channel 5 meteorologist A.J. Burnett; 1976 Olympian Dick Lamby; Bruce “Elvis” Whear, a local thespian, electrician and man about town; and the usual assortment of elected officials.

There was even more excitement behind the scenes at the restaurant.

Rinus Oosthoek, executive director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, organized an impromptu party to celebrate a big event earlier that day in his homeland. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands had abdicated her throne to make way for her eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.

If you don’t understand the significance of that, think Barack Obama stepping down so his daughter Sasha can take over. That’s a bad example, but you get the idea.

About a half-dozen local Dutch personalities showed up decked out in orange, the national color, including Olle Duijvesteijn, geographic information systems director for the city of Salem.

The only thing missing was a toast with Oranje Bitter, a royal drink in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, Finz owner George Carey doesn’t stock it at the bar.

Celebrity watch

It won’t come as a shock if some of the cases heard this week in Superior and District courts in Salem end up being appealed.

The court staff, jurors, judges and everyone else on Federal Street were a little distracted by the lights and cameras of a Hollywood movie. “American Hustle,” a 1970s corruption drama, was being filmed in the vacant Superior Court building.

There were several sightings, by the way, of stars Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams.

Prize winner

Our own Nelson Dionne, retired police officer extraordinaire, was honored this week by Historic New England with the 2013 Prize for Collecting Works on Paper.

On Wednesday night, Dionne received his award at the Gov. John Langdon House in Portsmouth, N.H. He was accompanied by his family and several close friends from Salem, including historian Bonnie Hurd Smith, Ellen Hardy of Hardy House publishers and Beth Bower of Salem State University.

Dionne has a spectacular collection of books, brochures, pamphlets, letters, bills, matchbook covers and anything else connected to the business, manufacturing and industrial history of Salem over the past 150 years — a collection that is about to be donated to Salem State.

Mother’s Day gift

Radiance Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa on Derby Street is doing something special for Mother’s Day.

On Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they are taking part in a statewide cut-a-thon to benefit breast cancer prevention. The spa is providing a DJ, raffle, refreshments and $15 haircuts, with all proceeds going to the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition.

For more information, contact the salon at or 978-741-8110.

New parking lot

Have you noticed a fence going up around the vacant lot on Derby Street across from the Salem Wax Museum?

If you can’t place it, this is the empty lot where Fiesta Shows puts its carnival rides every Halloween.

Well, the Peabody Essex Museum has signed a lease for the land and plans to use it for parking for construction workers. The lease only goes through the rest of the year, but the PEM may extend it into future years.

The current $200 million expansion won’t be done until 2017.

Switching spouses

Did you catch the reality TV show “Wife Swap” last week?

We didn’t either, but we heard it involved a pagan family from Salem and the Los Angeles-based parents of a tap-dancing prodigy.

No, we’re not making that up.

Tom Dalton can be reached at