Guests, Hosts at Stringer Open House

... random shots at the Carriage House Lounge

PhotoTeam special feature

The SilverStringers held an open house in mid-April, inviting the public to the Milano Senior Center to see how we publish The Melrose Mirror. We had some 70 guests take part (we estimate), definitely gained two new members (possibly a dozen more, we hope), and caused the resurrection of several members who had fallen on lazy times.

In brief, it was profitable. Further, the project served to bring our current group together, to lift the morale, and to find that working together can be fun.

We also promised all guests that we would have our crack photo team take a picture of every visitor -- and provided each with a handsome print to carry home -- which pictures would appear on the internet in the next issue of the Mirror. Well, this is it, the May issue.

We hope we spell your names right. We hope we get the right names with the right pictures.

We also made an edict that all Stringers who took part in the open house would write a paragraph or two on their impressions. And that's what you'll find in the random copy below. (If you don't find any copy, just remember that the Stringers have no bosses, give no assignments, and pay very little attention to deadlines. Nevertheless, we are very proud of our Mirror, and we do struggle to produce a rag that reflects to the world a favorable image of our city).  ... Don Norris.

Most photos by Louise Fennell using a Nikon D70. Some shots by Shirley Rabb with an digital Olympus, and a few more pix by Don Norris with a Nikon Coolpix 5700.

From the left, Natalie Urban, Hal White, Angie Leavy and Gene Marchand.

Elena Sullivan at the left, John Johnson, Helen Lambert and Rosemary Behrle, who is a member of the Council on Aging.

... trodding another path, from Natalie Thomson

Computers! They're not exclusive to offices anymore. They're in the schools and in the homes. The portable ones are in the cars and on the planes. The latest news is that they're in the downstairs Carriage House Lounge at the Milano Senior Center.

It was a festive two-day introduction in April, 2006 when sixty members of Melrose's visiting population signed the guest book and had their picture taken as souvenirs for the visitors. Other members of the Silverstringers showed how to operate the eight new computers and made appointments for future lessons. A big-screen photo display automatically showed the Melrose Mirror creative staff in action. In one corner of the room, Bill Jodrey's book, "Diary of a Hobo" was displayed beneath a hanging quilt. This handmade treasure shows scenes from the story, drawn and embroidered by the present owner of the old Jodrey homestead on Highland Avenue.

The fellowship was great, the shared knowledge a goldmine, and the efforts were most rewarding.

If members of the Silverstringers were asked what they considered the highlight of this gala event, the vote would probably be won by the efforts of the coffee maker and the lunch provider.

Julie Nolan (not quite a senior citizen), Hendrikus Smits, Mae McGrath and Freeman Dicks.

Marie Sica, Carl Sorice, Alma Staskawicz and Hector French, who has supplied the Mirror with several fine stories.

From Stringer Shirley Rabb:

My experience at the open house was one of camaradarie. The visitors seemed happy with what they saw and those of us that gave our time were more than happy to be there. I felt that the quick pictures of those attending was a great hit thanks to Ella (Letterie) and her printing machine. I feel that the visitors came away with a bit more knowledge about the Stringers, which is why we held the open house. It was a good time.

Betty Fondulis with John Averell, and Dorothy O'Connor Berg and Russell Berg -- our oldest Stringer at 92.  

Laura DiMattia is too young to belong to the SilverStringers, but her many delightful photographs have illustrated her mom's stories. Mom is Stringer Carol Nelson. At the right is a thoughtful pose of Phyllis Constantino and her father Dick Gorman. (See below).

Word from Project Chairman Jim Driscoll:

Regarding the recent Open House, I came away with two reactions.

First of all, I was impressed with all the work done by the SilverStringers and the good spirit with which they carried out their particular tasks. They made the two days a joy and I think the many visitors sensed the enthusiasm and camaradarie that prevailed throughout the day.

Also, while there is room for improvement, I think there is merit to having an open house once a year or so and I would be interested in comments from the rest of the Stringers on their opinions

Jim D.

Even the U.S. Post Office appeared at the Open House: Representatives are Linda Tucker, Ronda Annaletto and Janet Gould. At the right are Lucy DeFeo and Phyllis Gorman.

A row of SilverStringers: Ella Letterie and Shirley Rabb in the left frame -- trying to operate the new dedicated printer; and Carol Nelson and Natalie Thomson in the right.

Small world, Advisor Jack Driscoll says

It was a happening. For two days folks milled around the wonderful,
comfortable lounge area in the lower level of the Milano Senior Center. A
few trickled into the computer room where the obliging John Averell gave
them some gentle pointers. Some settled in beside him and were given a more
thorough briefing on how the simple SilverStringers system works.

To me the highlight was the hanging of a clever quilt made by Phyllis Constantino
depicting scenes from the late Bill Jodrey's book "Diary of a Hobo". How fitting, given that she lives in the same house Jodrey grew up in before hitting the road during the Depression.

The feature that was the funnest (as the kids would say) was the continuous
running slide show put together by Don Norris, showing a variety of scenes
and people who have frequented the senior center. Every so often someone
would holler out, "Hey, Mary, look, you're on the video." By the time Mary
(or whoever) looked up from her coffee, new faces were on the screen.

I thought it might be a little like old-home week, having lived in Melrose
the first 35 years of my life and now living in Rye, N.H. Instead it had
more of a Rye flavor. When Joe Sullivan was asked how he knew about the Melrose
seniors' publishing group, he said he was alerted by one of the SilverSurfers. "Who?" said someone. "The SilverSurfers. One of them is an old Malden friend. They're in Rye, N.H. (having been publishing only a year compared to ten by the Melrose Mirror's SilverStringers).

Then there was my first-ever meeting in Melrose with Alicia Roman. She's a
longtime resident of Melrose, but the only time I have ever seen her has
been in Rye, where she has been summering around the corner from my house
for many, many years. File under "Small World".

jack driscoll

At left, left to right are Astrid Napolitano, Betty Frongillo and Cynthia Jenks. On the right are new member Joe Sullivan with Stringer John Averell.

Former Boston Globe Editor Jack Driscoll, pictured with guest Alicia Roman, was the founder of the SilverStringers, and our advisor for the past ten years. At the right Ella Letterie holds one of her prize photos which the Stringers produced for their guests.

Who's in charge here? SilverStringer Marie Salamanca (in the rear in the flowered outfit) has her hands full with guests. Left in rear is Phyllis Gorman; Betty Fondulis in blue, and in front, Angie Leavy (in red) and Elena Sullivan (in white). They are all from the Milano sewing and knitting group.

Phyllis Constantino with the corner display of the late Bill Jodrey's work. Phyllis and her family now own the West Highland Avenue house that Bill grew up in. When she discovered the connection and read Bill's book -- "Diary of a Hobo" -- she made the small quilt as a tribute to his memory.

Old friends: Barbara Benardi and Stringer Jim Driscoll.

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