EDITORIAL: The spirit of Marblehead

What’s the “spirit of Marblehead”?

The answer that immediately jumps to mind is the iconic Archibald Willard painting that hangs in the Select Board’s meeting room at Abbot Hall.

“The Spirit of ’76” was exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and toured several major cities before Gen. John H. Devereux purchased it and brought it “home.” It was hung in Abbot Hall in 1880 by the artist and Devereux’s son, Henry, who had also served as the model for the young drummer on the left side of the painting.

But in recent days, we have been reminded that the spirit of Marblehead has other facets, too.

The spirit of Marblehead is resilient, as Thomas Smith demonstrated on Saturday. Smith overcame two hockey injuries and a subsequent car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down and walked down the aisle at his wedding with his mother by his side.

Not even a hurricane, which caused a last-minute location switch — kudos to the Select Board for the prompt Abbot Hall approval — could stand in the way of Smith fulfilling his promise.

Embodying a similar quality is Gail Perry Borden,  the leader of the Choose Happy Parkinson’s Network, a new support group based at the Marblehead Council on Aging. 

The group aims to combat the type of isolation that might otherwise set in without such an opportunity to laugh with and learn from others with Parkinson’s.

The leader of a Parkinson’s fitness class at the YMCA for seven years until COVID-19 hit, Borden reports that she got “inspired again” as the pandemic lifted. The town is better for it.

The spirit of Marblehead is also generous. Johnny Ray, owner of The Beacon Restaurant, read the Current’s story about Ed Bartholomew, the father of Marblehead resident Ivy Walsh, and immediately reached out to ask, “How can I help?”

Bartholomew, a retired science teacher and active artist, lost all his work and his art supplies — along with his house, his neighborhood and his community — in the wildfires that ravaged Lahaina, Hawaii.

The result was a fundraiser, co-sponsored by the Current, at The Beacon last Thursday, Sept. 14. With the help of donations to a silent auction by generous local businesses, the event raised thousands to help Bartholomew rebuild his life.

The spirit of Marblehead is enterprising, too. There are myriad ways one can earn an Eagle Scout badge. But Tyler Earp did not just want to check a box.

This week, with school leaders by his side, he broke ground on a greenhouse at Marblehead High School, a watershed moment in a project in which he has invested more than two years and 400 hours of work, raising more than $76,000 along the way. 

The greenhouse will continue to offer cross-curricular learning opportunities to Marblehead students long after Earp goes on to accomplish other great things, as we are sure he will. 

The spirit of Marblehead is also respectful — of tradition, of karma and of creatures great and small. Some may have been surprised to learn that Anne and Dave Rodgers released back into the ocean the blue lobster that they discovered to their delight in the traps they were pulling in ahead of the storm. But they agreed that it would be bad luck to do otherwise.

In a week where the Chamber of Commerce aptly honored as its Rey Moulton Person of the Year Dan Dixey — whose documentary on the town’s lobstering history has had repeated sold-out screenings recently — the universe seemed to be sending the Rodgers a message. They listened.

The Current salutes the spirit of Marblehead, in all its forms.

The Current Editorial Board
info@marbleheadnews.org | + posts

The members of the Current’s editorial board are Ed Bell, who serves as chairman, and Virginia Buckingham, both members of the Current’s board of directors; Kris Olson and Will Dowd, members of the Current’s editorial staff; and Robert Peck and Joseph P. Kahn. Peck is an attorney, former chairman of Marblehead’s Finance Committee and a former Select Board member. Kahn is a retired Boston Globe journalist.

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