Silver Stringer memories

... it's been 7 years now

Florence Shea

In December 2008, after forty and one half years in banking, my department
of sixty people was laid off. Knowing I had said "no job searching for me",
my co-workers were concerned about what I was going to do with my
newfound free time... They asked "What are you going to do?" I replied "My
friends are not the type to just sit around all day. Surely they'll find things to
help occupy my time."

One day fellow Stringer Kay McCarte suggested I attend a Silver Stringer
meeting. She said "Just try it. You don't have to come again if you don't like
it." Knowing nothing about journalism I was a little leery about going, but
figured there was nothing to lose. I went and just sat there listening to the
group discuss articles written/ in progress; possible topics for future issues
and happenings past/ present in their lives. Would I make any comments?
Heavens no! I'd sound like an idiot. This was my learning phase - people and

In the beginning as we were leaving meetings, the loveable late Tom Dillon
would say to me "Quit your yapping. You make too much noise." Then he
smiled and I knew he meant just the opposite. Heeding Tom's words I
gradually started to find my voice. Tom took great photos and occasionally
wrote articles. We were saddened by his passing in early winter of 2014.

Witty and thought-provoking author Dorothy O’Connor passed away in early
winter 2012. She had a walker which she named Percy. Together they came
to our meetings.

Sometimes she brought us muffins or coffee cake she had made to sustain
us during the meeting. When she smiled or laughed her eyes crinkled up and
her whole face lit up.

Don Norris is our ace photographer and has a vast knowledge of cameras.
The proof lies with the number of cameras he owns of various sizes and
costs. Many times he has come to a meeting with a 'show and tell' of his
latest purchase. If you have a question about a picture you have taken or
want to take, just ask Don. He'll have your solution. On rare occasions I will
write an article. If there is a photo to go with the story it would be sent to
Don to re-size and insert into the article. He will critique my picture, telling
me time and again "Look for the art in the shot. Don't just shoot." I must
remind him that my pictures are for fun and I don't have the artistic talent he

Joe Sullivan is our city bulldog. He attends many Park Commission meetings
held at City Hall. At our meetings he informs us what the topic was and what
happened. We discuss it - pros/ cons and in between. Then Joe proceeds to
write another informative article for the Melrose Mirror.

Casa is a very unique writer since she is a dog, Jack Russell terrier to be
exact. Her articles are from a dog’s point of view. She has written several
articles about trips she has taken with her “parent”, fellow Stringer Shirley
Rabb. Their house in Maine is a favorite place in summer since she can run
free, no leash law there. This past winter we read about how hard it was for
her to get outside in all that nasty snow.

Shirley Rabb is a well-traveled Stringer and has written many articles about
places she has been. Her most recent adventure article was entitled “A
fascinating journey through South Africa.” There are many photos included
in her stories. The captions she puts with the photos makes you feel like you
are actually there, not just looking at a picture. We always look forward to
her annual review of the Red Hat Society.  

Betty Rossi's favorite topic is her grandchildren. Another topic involves
growing up as a child and all the good times she had. She loves to tease Don
about his 'Joisey' accent. She adds much laughter, joy and life.
Louise Fennell occasionally writes an article about places she has visited and
is involved with local cable TV in Beverly. About a year ago she came up with
the idea to do a local travel show for MMTV. The Stringers were asked if
anyone would like to help. The show on MMTV is called "Have you been
here?" We focus on day trips in the local Massachusetts area. So began my
career in TV. Group members suggest places to visit. Before planning a trip, I
will research the site on the internet finding out what is there. I print copies
of what I found for the next meeting. Then we discuss the findings and vote
'yea' or 'nay' on a possible visit.

Debbi Collar joined our group in the spring of 2014. She has much
experience in print and broadcast journalism. Her articles are always
interesting and informative covering a variety of topics such as coffee.
Another of her articles of interest was titled "Re-enacting Paul Revere's ride"
and was published in May of this year.

Kay McCarte is one of the original members of the Silver Stringers and wears
many hats as secretary/ writer/ editor and publisher. It is through her that I
have gained knowledge of my fellow Stringers and the process of putting the
Melrose Mirror together every month. With her knowledge of the Mirror and
the people, she'll straighten me out when I don’t understand things. She's a
great friend and mentor as well.

A few years ago I was assigned the job of trivia research. Apparently it was
decided I needed something more concrete to contribute to the Mirror
besides being group treasurer. Knowing how I enjoy poking around the web
for different things, Kay knew that was right up my alley. A few people have
told me how much they like it and it's the first thing they read.

Dr. Ed Boyd is another long time Stringer. Although not attending meetings
on a regular basis he still contributes articles. Ed also will make minor
corrections and critique articles that have been submitted.

John Averell is another longtime member of the Silver Stringers.
Unfortunately he no longer attends meetings since he moved from Melrose.
He still is available for technical assistance and will help if we have questions
regarding whether or not a change we want to make will work and any
problems that arise on publication day.

Jack Driscoll was the founder of the Melrose Mirror. Having worked for the
Boston Globe for many years, he has a wealth of knowledge about
newspapers and publishing. If a writer has a question about whether the
story is too controversial for publication, Jack will read it and give his
opinion. The program we use is housed in a computer at MIT. If the program
goes offline and cannot be accessed, we shout out "Jack Help." He will
contact MIT and help get us up and running again.

We also have "foreign correspondents". They are Stringers who for the most
part no longer live in Massachusetts but still occasionally submit articles for

My decision to stay with the group and give it a try was absolutely the right
one. The Silver Stringers may be a small group, but they're a great group of
people. I should say they are more like family.

December 4, 2015

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