February 9th, 2022

Just ahead of the seasonal Hanging of the Maple Buckets, this evening the Brookline Historical Society had the distinct honor of the company of Annette Quimby, Chris Corey, Peter Cook, Vicki and Jim Pope, Susan Laub, Diane Austin, David Fessenden, George Winters, Peter Webb, Eric Jensen. The public, as always, was more than welcome.

The minutes from last month were obviously defective, but they were accepted. Those who would otherwise consider it their place to pass judgment on petty things were quieted by the knowledge that they might be asked to take on the job. Chris presented her clear and thorough Treasurer’s report. Thank you. No big surprises. Chris is also working diligently on the various filings required by the State and the Feds. Diane and Peter Cook offered assistance. Jim made some recommendations on the management of our funds.

Heating the place in winter is certain to keep us fund-raising. To our surprise it was time already to order Christmas trees from our grower. The consensus of the group was that the trees were less dry, and that muscling fewer Giant Sequoias was a good thing. Flushed by this year’s success, we decided to increase our order to 115, with more in the moderate-sized range. We are thankful for our loyal customers and generous helpers for making this crucial fund-raiser a success.

The DiVirgilio Brookline history calendar sales and sponsorships also went very well. The calculation of the profit is being finalized. Local folks are expressing their hope that there will be another BHS calendar next year. It was voted to donate the emaining calendars to the schools, in hopes of fostering some history awareness among our littlest Brookliners. Thank you, Eric, as well as Marcia and Gina, for your work on this project. Brian Fessenden continues his work on the lighting for the town hearse.

The delicate issue of elections was then raised. Aware that sore losers have been known to stir up unending turmoil, the process was approached with trepidation. However, the group was relieved when it became apparent that not a single office was contested. If fact, someone may have been elected without his or her knowledge. The price of not coming to the meeting. Anyway, the certified results were Chris Corey, Treasurer; David Fessenden, Director; Webb, President (pending an audit) and Taker of the Minutes; Eric DiVirgilio, V.P. An extravagant inauguration ceremony is being planned by anonymous but hugely wealthy campaign donors.

Everyone was asked to spread the word that the BHS is always seeking materials for preservation including photos, films, etc., from the 200th, 225th and 250th town anniversaries. We are eager to slow the regrettable loss over time of precious historical records and artifacts.

Our bi-monthly historical research projects are rolling along. Town histories, local newspapers, town records and town reports are being combed for relevant information. Draft chronologies of the data are being compiled that provide detailed insights into the stories of our current subjects: the Brookline hearse, the Democratic cannon, and the Brookline Meetinghouse. Copies are available upon request. Progress has been made on building a scale replica of the Brookline Meetinghouse, lost to fire in 1915. The building’s foundation stones continue to stand atop the highest point of land on Meetinghouse Hill. Meanwhile, the Wednesday morning work party/coffee klatch has occupied itself with exchanging wonderfully simple answers to impossibly complex problems. They may soon be moving on to interior painting.

The town has offered the use of town recording and broadcast services for the oral histories we’ve been contemplating. We are in touch with David Pease and are hopeful that schedules will permit us to proceed soon. Mark Fountain is expected to be the first interviewee. We also want to see what existing Brookline recordings Mr. Pease may be able to make available to us. Another large screen monitor was donated, this one with the requisite portal thing-a-ma-gig for doing what they enable one to do. Returning to monthly Saturday open houses was raised, but there was uncertainty about whether the public interest warranted it. Discussion of a revitalized membership program was deferred, but membership cards are forthcoming. Eric Jensen shared stories about the former Milford Street Primary School.

A magnificent 1919 cabinet photo of the A.A. store, recently obtained via Ebay, was shared and appreciated by all. The photo included a section of a former barn that stood at the current Cook home. Legend has it that Willard Cummings, with the aid of Ice House horses, later used the lumber from that disassembled barn to build his home.

The formal meeting was adjourned and snacks enjoyed. The evening was considered a success in that participants continued discussions outside in the cold night air well after all the lights were turned off.

The next meeting of this infamous cabal will be March 16, by which time one’s woodshed will be close to empty and town meeting behind us. Provisions will be thanks to Chris Corey.

We hope to see you then.