Paul O’Shaughnessy and Stefan Louisos know the true meaning of a “small town.” They grew up next door to each other and later spent their adulthood living next door to each other. It is a good thing they have liked being neighbors because they basically have been neighbors for life.
The two friends have more in common than their choice of Marblehead addresses. They were born in Lynn and lived there until they were each 8 years old, when they moved to 151 and 153 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead.
Both are second-generation Americans. Louisos’ father came from Greece, and O’Shaughnessy’s dad arrived from Ireland.
They each met their wives in town, Louisos at work as a machinist at Burke Products Inc. on Green Street, and O’Shaughnessy at the former Marblehead High School on Pleasant Street. Their wives, Kerry O’Shaughnessy and Gayle Louisos, both worked for the Marblehead School Department.
Their parents also owned popular businesses in town for many years, and both sons worked at the family shops. Dorothy and Arthur Louisos owned and operated Baldwin’s Market from 1957 to 1976.
“They had that fresh hamburg,” O’Shaughnessy recalled.
Louisos agreed, “Yes, people went there for the hamburg.”
He described his parents’ store as the epitome of “mom and pop” shop, carrying everything from chips and bread to the famous fresh hamburg.
Louisos started working at the store when he was 11 years old and happily recalled working the cash register near the large window facing Atlantic Avenue.
“I would see Paul and his brother throwing the shot put; I tried and couldn’t even lift it,” Louisos said with a laugh.
In his defense, he is four years younger than O’Shaughnessy.
“I remember seeing Paul walking with Kerry while they were dating,” he added.
Little did he know the couple would be his future neighbors.
O’Shaughnessy’s mother, Cora, was the talented designer behind the Artcraft Curtain Shoppe, which operated out of the basement of 151 Atlantic Ave. with about nine sewing machines and lights filling the ceilings.
Cora’s business was open for 54 years. Her son began hanging curtains and draperies when he was 14 years old and made a successful career following in his mother’s footsteps. Louisos’ parents used Cora’s services and commented on the beautiful, detailed and professional work Cora and Paul did.
Louisos has fond memories of O’Shaughnessy’s mother, calling her an “angel.” O’Shaughnessy said he always got a kick out of Louisos’ dad. The neighbors never had any issues with each other — in either neighborhood, both said.
O’Shaughnessy married his high school sweetheart and later bought a house on Village Street around 1971 or 1972. Two decades later, Louisos was married to Gayle, the woman he met at the machine shop, and moved into the Village Street house her parents had built.
Looking at O’Shaughnessy with a smile, Louisos recalled, “When I first saw you were my next-door neighbor, I thought, ‘You gotta be kidding me. We used to be neighbors and now we are neighbors again.’”
“I was just like, ‘What?’” he said. “It’s always amazing to me.”
I can vouch for the incredible neighbors O’Shaughnessy and Louisos are, as I have lived across the street from them for almost 25 years. I remember hearing their story and, like O’Shaughnessy, always thought it was a great, small-town anecdote.
In fact, I first heard the story at the patio table the O’Shaughnessys put on their front lawn heralding the start of the warmer weather. It’s an invitation to anyone in our village who wants to come and talk for a while.
When I see that table out front each year, it brings a big smile to my face (and usually a cry of “Kerry and Paul’s table is out front!” to my family) because it means sunny days, longer nights and impromptu time with our great neighbors.
During the pandemic lockdown, the neighbors rallied to celebrate O’Shaughnessy’s big birthday as well as my daughters’ 21st and 25th. While none of us could celebrate as usual, our village came through for all of us.
O’Shaughnessy and Louisos are grateful for the bond they share and also know they are lucky to have found the right people to live next door to — twice.
“If you needed something, we tried to help you out,” O’Shaughnessy said. “It was good. We could talk to each other,” adding that he knows that’s not always the case with neighbors.
Louisos agreed, “It’s a no-brainer. He’s a good man, always respectful — even as a young man.”
In the poem “Mending Wall,” Robert Frost wrote “good fences make good neighbors.” O’Shaughnessy and Louisos did not have a fence between them on Village Street, but they did not need one. They already had lots of practice at being the very best kind of neighbors.
Let us tell your story
At the Marblehead Current, we believe everyone has a story to tell. Maybe you do not believe yours is that special, but we beg to differ. Perhaps you have a special connection to the town, have a unique or strange collection, explored many destinations, had incredible encounters or experienced something most others have not. We believe these stories make up the fabric of our town, and we want to share them in an effort to connect our readers to their neighbors. If you or someone you know has an interesting story to tell, email us at email@example.com. We will get to the heart of the story — and the heart of our town.