Expressions -- a new look at Melrose

... Photo team stakes out local coffee shops

from the SilverStringers

Jean Gorman (seated at left) is/was former director of the Chamber of Commerce and is now an agent for Re/Max Heritage real estate; Beth McNellis is the 'new' executive director of the Melrose Chamber, and John Cinella is a former city solicitor and alderman. They come in to Bread 'n Bits daily, they told us, "during which time they solve all problems facing the City of Melrose", said Jean.

Expressions -- that's the assignment. The Stringer Photo Team was told to fan out and look for people with expression -- you know, lively, lovely, handsome, animated, expressive people. And we found them.

Half the team unloaded their gear at "Bread 'n Bits", which is an Irish cottage type of coffee shop in Melrose -- and a favorite of everybody but the yuppies. They go across the street to Starbucks.

The other half of the team concentrated on Bruggels Bagels, just up the street from B&B -- just as popular if you're into bagels. A third half of the team, Team Leader Louise Fennell missed the whole show, showed up two days later at near-dawn at Bread 'n Bits, and did her bit for the project. Meanwhile the team was back at the Milano Computer Center putting this story together.

Being team leader means you can get your stuff in late. Besides, Louise is arguably the best of the best, probably tops of the seven-person team. She actually has a part-time job and a million other obligations, so we bend the rules for the chief.

Collectively we shot about 125 frames, and narrowed it down to these 30 for the show. But this time we assigned half of the team to chasing down names and addresses of those photographed, plus miscellaneous commentary they happened to pick up. The other half did the photography. There is very little structure among the SilverStringers. This plan was a first.

At the left is Jeff Sidmore, shift supervisor at Brueggers Bagels, downtown, who told us that "five generations of my family have lived in the same Melrose house on Lynde Street for over 50 years." Of a family coincidence, Jeff told us that "I went to pre-school at the First Baptist Church where my grandmother was the teacher. Years later, when my son attended, his grandmother (my mother) was the teacher."

Just up the street is Bread 'n Bits where Mary Anne McGonagle, owner, founder and head bottle washer, presides. She started B&B 15 years ago, was the original owner -- it was "something I always wanted to do -- owning a pastry shop". She decided to make it an Irish theme because both her parents are from Ireland. At the right is a retired Melrosian, Frank Paolino, sporting a mod pigtail in his doting years; a resident of Hancock Street, he and his traveling companion go to Orlando for the winter season. He is a "retired mason and cement worker" he says, "who once lived in Virginia".

At left is Saundra Bruce, yet another visitor from St. Mary's parish, and one of a class of ladies who attend an aerobics class at the Milano Senior Center every Friday -- the day the Stringers showed up. After the class, they obviously meet at B&B for some no-cal Irish sweets. Oh yeah.

One of the more familiar faces around town is that of Hollis Restall, now retired from city's park department. You can find him daily at the Milano Senior Center. Our group missed the mark with the last lady in this row -- and nobody can put a name to this pretty person.

Karen Reilly, looks more the youthful age of her niece, Jenny (see below, at right).

A couple of outlanders, Frank and Virginia DeSousa come to Melrose frequently "because we like Bread 'n Bits", she said. Besides, they also have a son living in Melrose. They are natives of nearby Saugus, but recently bought a new home in Georgetown -- about 25 miles to the north. At the right is Jenny Jimenez, formerly of Costa Rica, and now has a place in Chelsea. She is expecting a baby soon, and comes to Melrose to visit her obstetrician -- and to visit Auntie Karen.

All in the family: Jack is two years old, Caroline, 4, is in the middle, and Mom (Cindy Brown) is at the right. They come from Wakefield (next town to the north) and show up in Melrose at the Melrose YMCA -- which is right opposite Brueggers Bagels, where their pictures were taken. Cindy recommended we return to Brueggers on a Tuesday and see how the many children react to the rhythm as Jeanne Mack sings her stories to the group.

Jane Sughrue from Winchester and Thea Curtin from Medford meet at Bread 'n Bits where they have become out-of-town regulars. Their purpose in life is "to counter-balance the political and topical discussions at the meeting table, at which they provide a different perspective."

Tim Flynn is a painter from Hyde Park, working in Malden, visiting in Melrose for a nice breakfast place. He found it at Brueggers in Melrose. In the middle is Kim Galvin, a member of the Tim Flynn outfit -- next time around they will be headed to the Trackside Restaurant for a more tradition eggs-and-bacon breakfast. At the right is Mr. Congeniality, State Representative Mike Festa, with a coffee-and-bagel-to-go after visting the middle school to hear a 7th grader read his essay about veterans. It brought tears to his eyes, he said. He was on his way to the statehouse to "hear about long-time post-discharge rehabilitation help for imprisoned drug abusers."

Charles Jordan lives in Wakefield, works as an attorney in Medford, and stops at Bread 'n Bits on the way. He thinks the coffee and scones are great. First name is Lila, last name is Staeckle, and she is from Lexington, Kentucky after living in Melrose for 17 years. She comes back to visit friends and replenish her supply of Barry's Irish Tea, which she gets (in five-box purchases) at Bread 'n Bits. In the interim a friend mails the precious commodity to her in Kentucky. At the right is Francis Doiron, a former Reading-ite who now lives in Melrose. He is also  a devotee of Bread 'n Bits: "I love the coffee and pleasant atmosphere."

At the left is Dan Botto, owner of the Exquisite Hair Salon on West Foster Street, here in town. He is a stylist (NOT a hairdresser) who grew up in Melrose. He still lives here with his wife, Joann, and two beautiful children. Mary Lin is another of the exercise ladies at the Milano Senior Center who counters her expenditure of calories with a visit to Bread 'n Bits. At the right is Claire Mooney, another of those ubiquitous aerobic devotees who recovers at the pastry shop.

Dick Lyons is a former mayor (two terms, more or less) of Melrose, now involved with real estate, and a regular at the meeting table at Bread 'n Bits. Mary Spagnolo looks beautiful in her red dress, but we didn't get to talk to her. At the right, contemplating something very serious, is Ruth Brown. All these folks are from Melrose.

Taking part in this essay were SilverStringers Shirley Rabb, Natalie Thomson, Ella Letterie, Louise Fennell, Lorry Norris and Don Norris.

December 3, 2004

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