To the editor:

Along with wanting to give a big thank you to all the voters for giving me the opportunity and the honor to serve as your city councilor here in Salem, I want to recognize and thank everyone who took the time to talk with me while I spent months going door to door throughout Salem. Going to someone’s home and starting a conversation leads to an incredible opportunity to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise ever get a chance to meet.

Of course I had many important conversations with people about their concerns regarding safe streets, snow removal, housing, etc; but I also had many unexpected conversations that were so enjoyable. I sat on porches and listened to stories from veterans about their military service, and chatted with people about their families, children and grandchildren. I heard about the stories and history of many historical properties throughout the city. It would take years to discover all the unique hidden gems in Salem and hear all the stories connected to them.

My favorite encounter was with a woman who read my name and asked if I was Pete Merkl’s daughter from the Woolworth store in Boston. Her father had worked with my father and we both remembered the store well and had fun reminiscing about Downtown Crossing in the late 1970s. I had worked in the store as a teenager. Other encounters included random topics of conversation about anything from music to history to our best places to eat. With the lack of socialization we’ve all experienced during the COVID-19 crisis, these conversations were especially welcome and joyful.

Another lesson learned is that it’s helpful to know your trivia. One resident started our conversation wanting to know if I knew who Fred Merkle is. Fortunately I knew he was a successful Major League Baseball player who missed touching a base in a key game over 100 years ago. I definitely surprised him with this knowledge.

Again, thank you to everyone who took the time to chat with me at the doors. These conversations were the highlight of the last few months for me and very much appreciated.

Alice Merkl

Councilor-at-large elect

Salem

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