January 10th, 2024

Present and accounted for were Gina Bent, Kim McClure, Bob Canada, Vicki and Jim Pope, Chris Corey, Mark Fountain, Annette Quimby, Tim Austin, Webb. Any remaining folks were either unaccounted for or simply of no account. The minutes of the last meeting drew strained smiles but were permitted to stand. Our treasurer, Chris, gave the welcome news that the prior 30 days were heavier on inflow than outflow. Income: Christmas trees – $150, calendars -$520, 2 life memberships – $300, cribbage – $150; total of $1,120. Bills paid: phone – $52.46, electric – $98.20, propane – $421.86; total of $572.52. The treasury stands at $34,037.53.

We will have an open house on Saturday, 1/20, from 9 AM to 2 PM, in hopes of giving an increased opportunity for folks to visit. There will be refreshments. Self-guided and guided tours will be available. The Society’s new Brookline mural by Mark Fountain will be on display in the lower gallery, a colorful backdrop to the infamous Democratic cannon. Standing nearby is the town’s 1908 horse-drawn hearse, our third, beautifully restored by the Brookline Fire Department.

We have the 1852 or so home of the iconic and eccentric Florence Barnaby, jacked up and moved on wheels in 1990 from the west side of Route 13, near the intersection of Averill Road, up Route 13 early one morning, David Ketchen astride on the roof, lifting up wires with a 2 x 4, up Meetinghouse Hill and onto the former town common. There’s the attached antique barn, made of hand-hewn mortise and tenon beams, disassembled from up north and reassembled on site around 15 years ago. The barn was sheathed, insulated and exterior barnboard painted and nailed up by local men and women who volunteered their time, toil and talent.

Many local treasures are safeguarded in those two buildings: old postcards and records of Brookline people, places and things, antique photographs of local folks and scenes, examples of early local currency, artifacts from businesses and organizations that were once an important part of the Brookline community, early local newspapers, Brookline Railroad paraphernalia, Fresh Pond Ice House materials, tools and photos, Brookline Ski Hill artifacts, a local autograph quilt from the 1800’s, a sampler stitched by an 8 year-old Brookline girl in 1809. There are drawshaves, axes and chisels made by local blacksmiths, books written by local authors, carvings by local craftspeople, a copy of the 1769 town charter under its original name, Raby.

It’s taken 40 years so far to gather our collection, but the hunt continues. We remain committed to rescuing the story of life in Brookline from oblivion. Please come on 1/20 and enjoy connecting with your predecessors.

Memberships are available, as are engraved bricks for the front walk, town histories and indexes. There may be a few calendars left. We are also selling raffle tickets for a one-of-a-kind cigar box 3 string electric guitar, made by a local craftsman, Shawn McCadden.

We reconfirmed our decision to buy 130 trees for our Christmas tree sale next year. The Hollis Brookline Rotary Club will have a potluck event in the barn on Saturday, February 3, 1 PM to 3 PM. We are continuing to cogitate about a motion-activated outside light for the front door, with valuable insight from Bill Graham. Tim Austin has kindly offered to help us remedy an HVAC and humidifier condensate issue, Bill Dulac and Mark Fessenden are helping us set up the proper lighting for the mural and cannon.

We then got to the best part of these meetings: attendees who are long-term locals sharing memories of life long ago in our little town. Be they silly, scary, suspect or sordid, their stories always give our familiar surroundings an added dimension. Thank you.

Next meeting, as always (except March because it’s Town Meeting), will be the second Wednesday of the month, 2/14. Uh oh, that’s Valentine’s Day. We’ll have to give that some thought. If and when it happens, refreshments will be pot-luck honor system.

Omitted from the minutes: we also had officer elections. Our officers will remain the same for 2024: Webb Pres, Divirgilio VP, Corey Treasurer, David Fessenden Director. If we need a Sec, it will be Webb, unless that’s some kind of conflict. New candidates for office are always welcome. The above were uncontested.

January 16th, 2024 update