January 12th, 2022

Attendees: Susan Laub, Bob Canada, Chris Corey, Vicki and Jim Pope, David Fessenden, Peter Cook, Diane Austin, Peter Webb; present by virtue of snacks: Amy Fessenden. It was 8 degrees or less this morning. Variants of contagion continue to roam the streets. Nevertheless, mindful that our predecessors lived without running water, water heaters, central heat, antibiotics, washing machines, down jackets, a grocery store 20 minutes away, and, heaven forbid, cell phones, the above group met for a monthly meeting at the BHS’s barn. As always, the public was welcome.

Which reminds me…during the meeting it was noted that Thursday evening is likely an inconvenient time for many. At some point we will schedule our meeting for a more civilized
time, in case there are others who’d like to participate but are prevented by competing schedules and responsibilities. Stay tuned.

David opened the meeting. Minutes were subjected to vigorous criticism but were ultimately approved. Treasurer Corey submitted her monthly report. It was approved subject to a revision involving the deletion of the next-to-last line, as the $7742.00 entry was not a payment out of the barn account. A word about that sum, however. It is the value of the materials and services provided by Farwell Construction to build our new parking area. In an act of extraordinary generosity, that expense was offset by a donation of $7,242.00 from Farwell Real Estate. The BHS wants to express its sincere gratitude to Marcia and Clarence Farwell
who, by the way, have since abandoned us for their refuge in sunny Florida.

Chris, after receiving the recent proceeds, figured that we have about 35 of the 220 Brookline Historical Society 2022 calendars left. Given the alarming scarcity, the few examples remaining for sale ($20) are being closely monitored at the Brookline Library and the Brookline Town Clerk’s office. The BHS thanks Eric DiVirgilio for the diligence and generosity involved in creating the calendars. David reported that he was hopeful that Brian Fessenden would soon be installing lighting to better illuminate the town hearse. The goings-on of the Wednesday morning work party were addressed: 1) a concern was expressed, with bathing suit season approaching, about the number of baked goods being consumed during the group’s coffee breaks; 2) we need to identify, and maybe cull, the rusty treasures we’ve accumulated over time; 3) the Jensen Portico’s metal roof needs flashing against the side wall of the barn; 4) the woodpeckers have not been seen or heard from; 5) the security of Joe King’s collection of excavated Ice House artifacts continues to be improved.

The group carefully examined a precious store ledger that Tom and Sue Shutt have donated to the BHS for safekeeping and display. The beautifully bound ledger appears to have been that of James H. Shannon Tucker, who ran a general store at the Village Store/A.A. Hall Store/Tucker & Stiles Store building at the corner of Steam Mill Hill Road and Main Street, from about 1882 to about 1894. The ledger records, in meticulous hand, all transactions by name, item, price, date. Thank you to the Shutt family, who has been caring for this treasure for many decades and thank you to them for entrusting it to the care of the BHS. The BHS’s climate control, smoke alarm and motion detection systems will assure its safety. The Shutt’s Main Street home had apparently been a Tucker home, and the ledger was found there.

Peter proposed a formal membership program. We’ve been more business-like in the past and are hopeful that reinstituting membership will be beneficial. The tentative thought was for a calendar year membership: $20 per individual, $40 per family, $200 for lifetime, $1,000 for benefactor. Members get to be on the group address list so as to be privy to BHS correspondence, articles, and notices. Members would be entitled to a 10% discount on facility rental, item purchases, event admissions. Facility use has not started but is in the works.

Undaunted by nodding heads and glazed eyes, Webb refused to relent. He then went on to propose that the BHS, including all interested people, teamwork the development of info on rotating subject matters of historical interest. The subject would change every two months. Interested people would research and develop in any manner data on the select subject. That work would result in an article, printed display poster, or presentation. So doing we could develop information which we could collect, preserve and present on focused matters of historical interest. Maybe something would come of it that the the local schools would find useful? Maybe it would allow us to collect stories and recollections which will be lost if we fail to act now? Maybe it would allow us to give periodic presentations? Remember the Spile magazine?

For starters, the first two-month subject will be the town hearse. Research will be done by anyone and everyone to develop all info we can. There are town reports, archived newspapers and memories to mine. Where appropriate, conversational sessions will be scheduled and recorded. In this first case, what we come up with on the hearse will be distilled into a story to be printed on a 3’ x 4’ or so rigid poster that will stand beside the hearse, on display at the BHS. Subsequent subjects would include: the town cannon, the meeting house fire, the ski hill, building of the firehouse, the Village Store, the building of the BHS barn. Anyone interested in helping to develop the story of the Brookline Town Hearse is asked to contact Peter Webb.

It was noted that we senior citizens need informed advice on the best modern audio-visual device for recording and transferring what it records.

Once Webb finally took a breath, a motion to adjourn was abruptly made, and quickly seconded and approved. The group then proceeded to enjoy conversation and Amy Fessenden’s delicious snacks.

The next meeting is 2/9/21, and Webb will rustle up the grub.