, Salem, MA

February 15, 2013

Heard Around Town: For lease, a scenic restroom with water view


---- — SALEM — A legal advertisement in the daily paper caught our eye.

“Lease of Former Restroom at Salem Willows Park.”

At first flush — or rather, blush — it looked like a practical joke. A few friends must have got together at O’Neill’s Pub, hoisted a Guinness or three, and decided to place a bogus ad in the unsuspecting local paper. A Presidents Day prank.

After all, who in their right mind is going to lease a restroom, even a historic restroom with an ocean view, for anything other than the interrogation of suspected terrorists? Maybe the CIA is looking to open Gitmo North.

But this was no joke. This might be the third time that the city has tried to rent the scenic loo, but nobody has yet taken the plunge.

Although we’re not privy to the city’s thinking, it appears they’re looking for someone with a can-do attitude.

Happy birthday

The Ryan clan gathered recently at the Hawthorne Hotel to celebrate the 80th birthday of their matriarch, Ann Ryan.

She is a woman of note.

She was president of the Class of 1950 at the former St. James High School, taught at Carlton School and is one of those brave souls who swims at the Salem YMCA before the sun rises.

Mrs. Ryan is the wife of James “Doc” Ryan, the legendary dentist, baseball coach and one-time mayoral candidate, and the mother of 14 children, including our very own Jerry Ryan, president of the City Council.

N-ice job

Let’s hear it for the DPW crew and the job they did during last weekend’s storm, working through the night to clear city streets.

Take a bow, Ron Malionek and Tom O’Shea.

Prison party

Here’s an unusual event.

The Young Jewish Professionals North of Boston are celebrating one of the holiest days of the year for Jews. And where are they doing that? Inside the former Salem Jail.

A “Purim in Prison” party, held in conjunction with Chabad of the North Shore, will take place Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Great Escape Restaurant, which has a jailhouse theme.

If you’re interested, contact Rabbi Shmaya Friedman at 781-581-3833 or

New home

Bob Hayes, our favorite Salem Willows trombone player, and his wife, Mary, have moved to Brightview in Danvers, an assisted-living facility.

When he moved, Bob, 92, took along part of his impressive collection of photos and artifacts from the USS Essex, the ship he served on during World War II. They had been in his basement, which was a mini-museum to the ship.

Bob was aboard ship on Nov. 25, 1944, the day it was hit by a Japanese kamikaze plane. As a fireman, Bob helped douse the flames.

Brightview currently has a display of photos from Bob’s collection, including one of the kamikaze attack.

Salem So Snowy

The Salem So Sweet festival got snowed out last weekend. You know it’s a bad storm when they have to cancel the ice sculpture display.

But it’s making a comeback this weekend. There is a chocolate and wine tasting tonight at Colonial Hall, upstairs at Rockafellas.

More than a dozen ice sculptures will be around town by tomorrow, and it’s quite a lineup: the Taj Mahal, the Salem State Viking, a Valentine teddy, an octopus and The Three Walsh Brothers (Brendan, Charlie and John).

OK, we made up that last one.

But there is one funny sculpture: the Headless Horseman. And it comes with a story.

Remember last year when two guys were arrested for stealing the head off a dragon ice sculpture in front of Museum Place Mall? They even went to court and had to pay restitution. It sparked lots of jokes about their lawyer requesting a continuance, hoping the evidence would melt.

Well, the same mall stores who paid for the dragon decided to have some fun this year.

“We are doing a Headless Horseman so nobody can steal our head,” said Lynn Lazdowski, co-owner of Bewitched in Salem. The sculpture will be in front of her store on the Essex Street pedestrian mall.

Statehouse shuffle

There are some changes in Rep. John Keenan’s office.

Lynne Montague, his longtime chief of staff, has taken a job as deputy director of government affairs for Gov. Deval Patrick. The move reunites her with Rosemary Powers, her old boss at The Salem Partnership.

In other moves, Grace Harrington has been promoted to chief of staff, and Molly Gachignard has been named legislative aide.

Harrington, a law school student, is the daughter of former Mayor Neil Harrington, and Gachignard, who was on national tour with the musical “Wicked,” is the daughter of former School Committee member Norene Gachignard.

Super kid

A belated congratulations to Emily Fabre, a 12-year-old from Salem who was named one of the state’s top youth volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program honoring high school and middle school students.

She won the state’s top middle school award for collecting recyclable bottles and cans to help a local agency fund a transportation service for senior citizens. She also earned $1,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C.