Good morning, afternoon, or evening as the case may be! This week I bring some sad news to you all, along with two requests. Be sure to read to the end!
The Society recently lost two members who have done much for preserving Easton's history. John Peter Simpson passed away on December 7, 2017, at the age of 66. Peter, as he was best known, came to Easton along with his husband James "Jim" Carlino, after a career in the Boston office of Sears, Roebuck. He, along with Jim, were the proprietors of two businesses in Provincetown for many years, retiring in 2001. Having a love for historical properties led them to purchase Unity Close on Main Street, North Easton, the former home of Oliver Ames, Jr. and later the home of Mr. and Mrs. William A. Parker. Following the passing of the Parkers, the home was sold several times. At the time Peter and Jim purchased the house in the late 1990's, it was in sad condition. Much of the interior and exterior needed renovation, and some of the original fixtures had been removed and sold by a prior owner. The formal garden, designed by Fletcher Steele in the 1920's had also fallen into decay. Peter and Jim began a restoration of, rather than a renovation of, Unity Close. Because of their deep appreciation of the historic home and gardens, the entire building and surrounding grounds were lovingly restored to their former beauty and magnificence. They tracked down some of the original fixtures. The home was beautifully appointed and the gardens were always on display. The importance of their work was recognized by the Easton Historical Commission, who awarded them the very first Briggs Award in 2000 for their work in preserving one of Easton's most recognizable and important architectural masterpieces and landscapes. Peter and Jim made their home and gardens available to the Society on many occasions and thanks to them, we were able to include Unity Close on many of our tours for groups. It was always a hit! I had the pleasure of attending holiday events at Unity Close, and I can tell you it was special. Peter was such a gracious host and a perfect gentleman. His was a gentle spirit, and I will always remember him for his encouraging words and support. Mary Bodio passed away on January 11, 2018 at the age of 92. Mary was an Easton resident for 60 years, raising her family here. She was a tremendously talented artist, specializing in watercolors, many of which captured the places that made Easton her favorite place to be. Mary used her talent to promote the history of Easton. Beginning in 2003, her artwork adorned a series of Christmas ornaments produced by the Society as a fundraiser. These include her renditions of the five H. H. Richardson buildings, the Rockery, the original Oliver Ames High School building, and the oldest house in Easton, the Josiah Keith House. For half a dozen years Mary joined us at the Society to sign ornaments. She also graciously created a set of greeting cards that feature her paintings of the Old Colony Railroad Station, the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall, the Oliver Ames Free Library, and the Frederick Lothrop Ames Gate Lodge. Through the years she very graciously allowed us to continue to offer these cards for sale to benefit the Society. Other works include wonderful collages of Easton landmarks, Frothingham Park, and Easton schools. An original commission done by her of the 400 Club is part of our art collection and is featured in the Museum. We hosted two art shows at the Museum for Mary, and I can tell you she was a lovely and vibrant person to be around. Mary was a recipient of the Chaffin Award from the Easton Historical Commission in recognition of her work in promoting historical preservation through her art. Her zest for life was matched only by the colors of her art. Mary was a noted watercolorist as well in St. Croix, V.I. where she did a number of paintings and taught classes. Her work can be found in many places. For more on Peter and Mary, please follow the links below. I have two requests for you today. First, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the great flood of 1968. You might remember the spring thaw and heavy rains that swelled the ponds and rivers in town, and the failing of the Flyaway Pond Dam that flooded downtown North Easton. The water was so powerful that it literally "blew up" the intersection of Pond and Mechanic Street and Sullivan Avenue. We are looking for photos of the flood, and any remembrances you might like to share. The second request is for photos of the old railroad bridge that was once on Main Street. A local person who is a railroad buff came by the other day and was curious about what the bridge looked like. I remember driving over the old plank topped bridge, and the distinctive sound that was made as the car traversed it. I am hoping that a few photos may exist of the bridge, or that it might be captured in photos of the Main Street area in general. I thank you for emailing me back with responses from these weekly updates. I do enjoy hearing from you! Frank