UPDATED: Patriotism On Display
Welcome to "About Town," a new column that will keep you up to the minute with what's what, who's who and what the town's talking about. Check in often, because we will be updating often. And if you see or hear something we could use here, let us know.
Colonial Concord Returns
When I first drove by Meriam's Corner this week, it appeared in its usual wooded glory. But when I returned six hours later, I saw large white oaks and other trees and shrubs lying on the ground, their stumps wide and raw. I jumped out of my car and snapped these photos. My immediate fear was the land was being clearcut to make way for development, crazy as that sounds in this economy and everything. I just had to know what was going on.
I called the offices of the Minuteman National Historical Park as soon as I arrived home. Superintendent Nancy Nelson put me quickly at ease (thank you, Nancy.) Good news! There will be no pastel-colored McMansions, nor an office park abutting Meriam's Farm at the corner of Lexington and Old Bedford roads. Instead, the National Park Service is restoring approximately 40 acres of the land to its agricultural splendor of 1775.
Big plans are underway and they stem from Congress' 1959 vision to preserve and protect historic sites, said Nancy, who is a landscape architect. "Through the years, a lot of the open farmland reverted to woods," she said. "We need the change to protect this landscape, which was so important on April 19. When you see the woods, you lose the entire sense of the battle of Lexington and Concord."
The battlefields are not the only historically significant detail being restored at Meriam's Corner. Rows of sustainable crops and grazing animals are on the agenda. "We hope to have sheep and cows," said Nancy. "People love to see these animals in the landscape."
Teenagers from the Somerville Student Conservation are being employed to clear hidden stone walls of bittersweet and poison ivy. "Bless their hearts," said Nancy. Partnerships are being formed with Battle Road Farms and other nonprofits. "Maintenance is important and we can not do it alone," she said.
In the end, the area will be transformed into the rustic, farming community it was on April 19, 1775. "Beautiful vistas will now open up," Nancy said. "You will see vistas you never even imagined were there."
I promise to add more on this project as it gets underway. I am very excited about it.
Just the Right Touch
Did you ever wonder who decorated the municipal and commercial buildings around town for our big festivities, such as Patriots' Day? I'll be honest. I never did until I ran into Ann Pomeo on Thoreau Street just outside Dunkin' Donuts. Mrs. Pomeo, 75, was holding open a yellowing photo album featuring Kodak 126 prints and 35 mm enlargements of work she and her husband Philip, 84, had done helping Concord prepare for its 250th birthday celebration.
The Pomeos, who make their home near the Rhode Island line, drove up two days in a row last week to place celebratory patriotic buntings over the doorways and windows of Concord businesses in preparation for this weekend's festivities.
"I was so surprised they called for the 375th," said Philip, "because I had forgotten that it was 25 years ago that we worked on the 350th, when I used to do the work myself."
Philip no longer climbs ladders the way he's pictured in the photo album - a family friend helps with that - but he remains the CEO of the mom-and-pop, said Ann. The husband and wife team have decorated many municipal and private buildings in Lexington since 1974, adding Concord and other New England communities soon after. Philip, however, has been embellishing Lexington for patriotic events since he was 6. His father returned from World War I and created a small business, placing buntings and such for town-wide and Italian celebrations.
The Pomeos are essentially retired, but still come out for a few gigs. In late August, they received a phone call from a business on Thoreau Street to decorate Hammond Residential Real Estate, Dunkin' Donuts, La Provence and The Concord Flower Shop.
"They wanted to decorate because the parade's going by there," said Ann, who is a bit camera shy so I only have photos of her recent work.
"We've been doing this for years and years and years," she added. "We don't advertise. It's all word of mouth. How many people do you know who do this?"
Happy New Year
While I am on the subject of celebrations, I would like to wish a Happy New Year to my Rosh Hashanah-observing readers. Today I mailed a homemade honey cake to our son who is away at school in Maine. Shanah Tovah! (Not bad for a girl whose academic career began at the Immaculate Conception School in Malden.)
Do you have a news tip? Something you'd like to share, say a wedding, new grandchild, completing a triathlon? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.