Thank You to the Volunteers
Over the course of many months this spring summer and fall, and with intermittent work, two Memorials for World War One Veterans have been given some new life through the efforts of resident volunteers. And just in time for next week’s Veterans Day Remembrance, 11/11/2021. Both projects were discussed with, and approved by, Steve Calla, Director of the DPW.
The first project, initially intended for completion on Memorial Day in May, was at the large granite stone in front of the EB Newton/Cultural Center building on Pauline St.; which seemed in need of a little more of Nature’s dignity for the twenty-two soldiers who lost their lives during WW1. This prominent stone and plaque (from 1922) with its small plant bed seemed to this writer not quite enough to honor these men. So a small drawing was sketched out, and shown to Mr. Calla for approval, and then many volunteers helped in its realization over these past spring and summer months.
The initial idea was for a Purple Heart-shaped bed design (see sketch), which proved not practical for the lawn mowing care; as mentioned by Paul O’Donnell of the Tree Dept., who also helped in the early stages. Paul offered a donation of quality bricks for defining the eventual circular bed around the monument. He also donated some bags of compost for building up some very tired soil. The first volunteers to help were Center neighbors Michael Bacon, Tim Burger and “Kayak” Rick, along with this writer, who helped edge and define the enlarged area, turned over and sifted the soil, added compost, and disposed of the grass and other weeds and clippings at the Town Yard. A couple of two- hour sessions were needed for this prepping, made much fun by the non-stop entertaining banter of Rick. Some small, neglected Hostas were replanted, and the untrimmed Azalea shrub fronting the stone was clipped back. On another day, Michael & Tim later planted some White Iris tubers and ground Vinca plants from their garden; meanwhile Paul O’Donnell had arranged for the hundreds of bricks to be dropped off near the site.
Some weeks passed before another planting was done, with a very large Hosta variety behind the stone, and some flowering groundcover in the circle, plus some Lambs Ears plants, and along with some weeding. During a late afternoon’s weeding, some playing Middle School kids were “enlisted” to help move the huge pile of 200 bricks, and lay them out around the monument; while the importance of the Memorial and these veterans was mentioned by this writer; and the kids mentioned their own stories about “Gramps”, and other family war veterans.
At a later session, about half the circle around the bed was later defined with the bricks, with the hands-on work of veteran Richie Gay, who appreciated his connection with the remembered servicemen. A second “dig-in” session in late summer with Richie and the writer completed the brick installation for the circular design, and more flowering groundcover was added. Some smaller white Irises, offered by Mrs. Grace Armitstead of Main St (the mother of DPW Asst. Dir. Aaron A.) were also set in; and finally a deep cover of brown mulch, donated from a town stockpile by DPW’s Steve Calla, completed the intended design (see photo). All plants at this site are perennials, which will blossom at various times during Spring & Summer seasons, and for many years to come; suitably serving the memory of these Soldiers. Next Memorial Day should see an eye-catching display. But the site is at least ready now for the Veterans Day Services this month.
Another Memorial project, running concurrently during the late summer months, was initiated from a September proposal by the Boston Tea Party Chapter of Daughters Of The American Revolution (DAR) to Veterans Affairs Director Rose Mazzuchelli and the Town Manager. Their proposal called for the installation of a small (9”x12”) plaque to be installed at a Town Hall site, donated by the Chapter. This plaque and a small “Never Forget” Memorial Garden would commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (first created after WW2 in France, and later celebrated around the world). There is a web site for these gardens, in many other locations around the country at https://tombguard.org/never-forget-garden-marker. The intent was to prepare a suitable site for our Town in time for this years’ Veterans Day, November 11th.
This writer was also asked to help advocate for the project and siting. I had discussed the deserving Project with DPW’s Steve Calla, TM Terry Delehanty, and Rose, who approved its location at the existing WW1 Memorial, in front of the Library on Town Hall Green. The scope of the work, arranged with the help of Susan Gerow of the Chapter and also an avid gardener, was tending to the overgrown flower beds at ALL the Town Green monuments, while focusing on the WW1 site for their installation. At first, Susan single-handedly weeded the overgrown WW1 site, and discussed with the writer about some existing, thriving and flowering plants that could be divided and moved to other memorials, and what types of bulbs and plants she (& the Chapter) would like to plant there. The work entailed quite a bit of clean-up, and thinning out; with some divided plants moved to the flagpole’s circular flower bed. In the interim, our neighbor gardener, Paul Roy offered a number of divided Liatris, Iris, and groundcover plants from his yard; as well as white Irises from the afore-mentioned Mrs. Armitstead.
On another early morning, Susan was able to move a very large blossoming Chrysanthemum and some perennial Coreopsis plants over to the beds around the flagpole and other statues. Other mums and plants need to be moved, but she wanted “to get the new things in the ground as quickly as possible”; and planted some small white Rose Shrubs at the WW1 site. Susan had also ordered hundreds of Tulip and Hyacinth bulbs for an edge planting; while she continued thinning and fertilizing the bed.
Once the prepping of the bed was completed, Susan arranged with her sister-members for a “day of service” work at all the Town Hall Monuments; where members from surrounding communities came to Winthrop and helped thin, weed, cut-back, prepped and planting cuttings, for all the monument sites. They also concentrated on the WW1 Memorial, planted the hundreds of bulbs (see photo), and especially prepared that site for their special plaque for Veterans Day. The results of all this hands-on work (and continued help in the coming years) for skilled local gardeners is- in the words of the late and passionate Tree Advocate Chris Zike – “to make the Town Hall Green a showplace”.
In the meanwhile, Richie Honan, our notable Veteran’s Advocate and expert sign-maker, will securely install the new Plaque at the base of the existing Memorial (see photo). Please now look for this dedicated Plaque, and at all these “freshened” monuments; and especially so come this Veterans Day, November 11th.
Frank M. Costantino, Founder, Winthrop