Author Archives: Nichole S.

What’s Fair is Fair…Or Not.

Since I’ve started contributing to GMG there’s been a particular hot topic that seems to come up every so often…so today, I took that topic to the streets.

Actually, not so much to the streets, as to the classroom.

Joey has referred to it as “The Pussification of Sports”….I chose to not use that term in the classroom today.  But, I was very interested in what my students would have to say.

The hot topic in question has centered around the belief that some parents have that all kids should be praised, rewarded, celebrated, and applauded equally no matter how they play or contribute (or don’t contribute) to the team’s success. Don’t go all nutty here about the word “success” and how it should be measured. I realize that a team’s success could just as easily be measured by the number of laughs the kids had or the great team morale…or even because of an injury free season.  But, for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, let’s say that just for a second, we’re measuring the success of a season by the “Win vs. Loss” column. Is it OK to single out players who excelled?  Is it OK to acknowledge those who gave 110% all season long?  Is it OK to determine that one kid’s talents and abilities are clearly above the rest?  Is it OK to give awards for things like MVP? Or Most Improved?  Or by naming one kid the Captain?

Some parents will say that hurts feelings.  Some parents will say, “There’s no I in Team” and each player is equally important.  Singling out the “better” players is wrong…and not fair.  Other parents will say that in the college or professional sports we have things like captains, MVPs, Golden Glove Award winners, Heisman Trophy awards, Cy Young Awards, the coveted Master’s Green Jacket, or the Tour de France yellow jersey.  And what about Gold Medals?  Parents from the other side would clearly retort, “But our kids aren’t playing professional sports….these are just little kids.”  Fair enough.

FYI…the same conversation has been happening in academics.  Who remembers this story from last year?  It isn’t fair to give Awards of Academic Excellence to just some students!  It will hurt other kids’ feelings.  Oooh, Oooh, Oooh……OooooR, I have an idea….it just might motivate them to work harder. Or to put energy into something that they excel at or have a passion for.  Maybe they’ll never be top of their class, but maybe they become motivated to paint more, or write more poetry, or practice more piano, or donate time to a worthy cause, or think outside the box.  Because, really, being top of the class isn’t everything, but those kids do deserve their academic merit awards…and hopefully other children will find their own way to shine…or at least feel good about themselves!  Just Saying.   (Darn..I wasn’t going to offer my own opinion…but it got away from me for a minute).

The sports question came up mid October in the Boston Globe when Globe Columnist Thomas Farragher wrote, “Put Our Kids In, Coach”.   And then Sports Columnist, Bill Speros (Obnoxious Boston Fan), countered with “There’s a Reason Why Your Kids Aren’t Playing – They’re Not Good Enough” on

So, when, if your child has decided to become part of a sports team, should you expect that the Direct Goal is a winning season and the Indirect Goals (added bonus) would be that all the kids have fun, learn about team work, get some exercise, learn a bit of stick-to-it-ness, and maybe gain some discipline.  I ask that seriously.  What is the “correct” age for the transition.  I mean clearly Professional Sports are concerned about THE WIN.  Safe to say College Sports are too.  I’d even dare say, High School sports would rather win than lose…even if that means some players didn’t get a chance to touch the ball.  So, when should a child be prepared for less playing time or smaller (or no!) trophies unless they’re the high scorer, most valuable, etc.?

Well, those questions may have been too abstract for my 3rd grade students today.  So, with the help of Time For Kids Magazine, we explored this question instead.

“Should everyone get a prize or is it OK to acknowledge just the “best” players?”

My students had some pretty interesting and wise things to say.  At first the majority quickly thought, “Yes, everyone should get a trophy for being part of the team” but then we started discussing it a bit.  Some interesting “what ifs” came up.  I won’t try to wax poetically about our whole debate, but some of the key points became:

What if one player plays well, but has really poor sportsmanship?

What if one player plays well, but never shows up to practice, doesn’t try much until its a game situation, and doesn’t act like a part of the team?

What if a player isn’t so great, but supports all of his/her teammates, tries really hard, takes advice, works on skills, never gives up?

After some back and forth, my students decided that all members of a team (up until High School) should receive acknowledgement and, ideally, a really cute little trophy…or at least a ribbon and a certificate :)   BUT…then, in addition, the “best” or “hardest working” or “most helpful teammate” players could all get bigger and more special awards.  Their words, not mine.  Aren’t they cute!?

So, I’ll ask you too.

Take the Poll Here.  


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Nichole’s “Family Picks of the Weekend” November 22nd and 23rd

Ok, peeps.  I’m giving you one Schrafft family faithful field trip in case you’re not up for anything big, but my other two picks involve going over the bridge.  Not just that bridge….but, also the big bridge.  We’re talking The Tobin Bridge, people.


So, Pick #1

If you’ve never gone, you should.  Wolf Hollow.

If you or your kids aren’t up for learning, this isn’t for you.  I didn’t mean that in a snarky way…I meant it for real.  Wolf Hollow is no zoo.  Your children should be of an age where they’ll feel like sitting and listening to a fabulous and informative talk about the wolves while watching them romp and play in their large enclosure.  For a couple more weekends they are open for Saturday and Sunday presentations, but starting in December they only do Sundays.  Ticket sales begin at 1:00 and shows are at 1:30. My boys “adopted” Bear and Angus and they’ve become a part of the family.

Check them out here



Pick #2

Saturday afternoon check out the “Free Day of Holiday Fun For the Whole Family” at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre in Boston from 11-2. Cookie decorating, face painting, photos with Globe Santa, lots of arts and crafts, Legoland Discovery Center activities, a live holiday performance, and more!

A great event to kick off your holiday season!

Read all About it Here


Pick #3

AND talk about kick starting the holidays!!!!  The annual lighting of the Christmas Tree in Faneuil Hall also takes place on Saturday!  As a huge bonus, if you’ve ever wondered what 350,000 LED lights look like, you’ll be in luck, because it’s also the first night of BLINK “A light and sound Extravaganza” featuring music of the Holiday Pops! 

Stroll through Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, get a bit to eat, drink some hot cocoa, listen to the music, and be amazed by the lights… and then count down as the huge Christmas Tree gets lit for the new holiday season.  Does it get any more festive?

More about BLINK!

Schedule of Events for the Tree Lighting Ceremony


Reality Check

I had myself a little reality check over the weekend and quite honestly it has rattled me quite a bit.

The reality of the fact that really bad things can happen in literally a second caught up with me and I learned a lesson the hard way.

One of my boys had an accident that, while really bad, could have been much, much worse and any kind of parental pedestal that I might have felt worthy of standing on has been knocked out from beneath me.

I was right there….chatting in the open foyer with another mom who was about to host a play date between her boys and mine.  The boys, over the moon excited to see each other, had already run outside to play with neighborhood kids and announced that they were going to “throw the football around.”  We finished up chatting and I headed out to say “good-bye” to my boys only to see Thatcher running up the hill that collapses down to the end of their very quiet street. Thatcher was pretty close to hysterical saying, “Finn is really hurt…and it is really, really bad.”

And then…there was Finn…with more blood than I ever care to see again…and crying harder than I’ve ever had to endure.  The helpless, sickening feeling that hits you in the moment you realize that you dropped the ball…that you let your child escape your watchful eye just long enough for a horrible accident to happen, is nothing short of debilitating.

“Throwing the football”….just like that…had turned into Finn hopping on a scooter and underestimating the size of a pretty big hill.  While I didn’t witness it, I can only imagine the speed that he reached, prior to falling and hitting the ground. The gash in his forehead…just between his eyes…paints a picture that I’ll never forget.

You can imagine how the rest of the story unfolds.  There was ice, towels, blood, more blood, grabbing of necessary items, a scary ride to the hospital, tears, more tears, the check-in, guilt, more guilt, and finally stitches.   Finn was an utter pillar of amazingness.  I’ve never seen a braver child…and for that I am eternally grateful.

A fews hours later, we were back in our car….and then, just like that, the story, amazingly, got a little bit funny.

Finn, while slurping his fudgsicle, said nonchalantly to Thatcher, “Hey.  I think that doctor, the one who stitched my head, was on Naked and Afraid.”

For those of you who may not know….  Naked and Afraid is a “reality” TV show, on the Discovery Channel, in which they drop a man and a woman (strangers) off in a very remote location and they need to survive…naked…and evidently afraid….for 21 days.  Let the record state, that they blur out any “private parts” and my boys enjoy watching the show with my husband because of the nature and survival aspects of the experience.  While I type those words, I do realize that is sounds similar to “reading Playboy for the articles” but, I really do mean it. Each episode follows two different survivalists.  Sometimes one bails, sometimes they both quit, and sometimes both endure the challenges, and make it to the end.  The next episode then chronicles the experiences of two totally different daring participants.  Meaning, there are no reoccurring characters on the show.

So….when Finn announced that his doctor had been on the show…I of course assumed he was wrong.  This was the same kid who, after all, had thought it wise to take his first ride ever on a scooter down a large hill…just hours before.

Back home in Rockport…dazed, exhausted, and overwhelmed…Finn’s stitches began to bleed.  Drained, I picked up the phone and called the hospital to seek advice.  They talked me through what to do….and then for kicks…I had to ask. Because, upon thinking about it, his doctor was wearing hiking boots.

“My 5 year old son seems to think his doctor appeared on a TV show called Naked and Afraid.”

“Well then, your son is very observant, because she sure did.”

So, good on you, Finn.  In the aftermath of a horrendous spill, your little 5 year-old self, managed to recognize someone from a 60-minute episode of a show, that aired on July 27th, who was naked, dirty, and exhausted as the same woman who was now dressed, in a hospital, calming your mother, and tending to your very bad wound.  You never fail to amaze me!

From Reality television show, to my reality check.

Meet Finn’s doctor.



Strange Magic

Someone commented “Bah Humbug! Get in the spirit!” to a post that I wrote the other day about the fact that Santa has already taken up residency at the North Shore Shopping Center.  To the contrary….I’m well on my way towards making sure that this holiday season is as magical for my boys as possible. Although, I sincerely did appreciate the kick in the butt…as sometimes I do need it.

While I have totally begun my holiday planning, I try to keep the holidays a bit under wraps for the boys until Thanksgiving.  We’ve made a Thanksgiving night tradition out of making popcorn and hot cocoa, spreading out sleeping bags, and watching The Polar Express for the past several years.  For us…that is the true beginning of the holiday season. That also happens to be the evening that jolly, little “Jingle the Elf” sneaks back into the house to oversee the boys’ behavior and keep the big S privy to the going ons of the dynamic Schrafft duo.  And then, the day after Thanksgiving, we go out and tag and decorate our Christmas Tree at the tree farm (and then let it sit and simmer prior to going back to chop it down)…..another favorite day of ours for sure!  In my humble opinion, 7 or 8 weeks of holiday excitement kind of detracts from the specialness of the season. Too much of a good thing, and all.  For pete’s sake, that is 1/6 of the entire year! For us, the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas is perfect!  And…we do those 4 weeks BIG.

For starters, an overnight trip to NYC to skate at Rockefeller Center and to see the tree, lights, and decorations is already booked (thanks to a pretty sweet Groupon)….as is a trip to ride on the Polar Express up in New Hampshire. A really special thing for little ones to do. My iCal on my Mac is all loaded with no fewer than a dozen important holiday festivities and I’ve already lamented the fact that we can’t see Santa on the Beauport Princess while simultaneously watching him arrive by lobster boat in Rockport Harbor.  The two appearances overlap by just enough time to make doing both impossible.  Never mind the lies that would have to be told to explain how Santa actually did both.  Magic….I know.

I won’t share more of those events/activities with you yet…as they are bound to reveal themselves in some upcoming “Picks of the Weekend” posts over the course of the next several Thursdays.

A whopping 4 stocking stuffers have been purchased….along with three teacher gifts.  I have a “sticky” on my desktop all organized with a T and an F and a B (for both) to be uber organized about which gifts have been ordered…and for whom (with the boys being exactly 2 years apart…they get some gifts that are actually meant for them to share…hence the B column).  I have items in virtual shopping bags locked and loaded at Under Armour, Nike, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Likewise, my eBay “watch” list is growing with NWT (new with tag) items to be bid on.  I’ve also started to DVR Christmas movies as they begin to get listed.  Game On, peeps.

Christmas is indeed starting to take shape….and commercials like this one are starting to give me the warm fuzzies.

Nichole’s “Family Picks of the Weekend” 11/15 and 11/16

This weekend’s picks involve a little bit of learning, a little bit of getting out into nature and a decent indoor activity to show some support for local youth.

Pick #1

My first pick of the weekend takes place at a fantastic Mass Audubon property on the Plum Island Turnpike in Newburyport.  Joppa Flats Education Center is always a great place to visit and if you’ve never been this is the perfect weekend to give it a shot.

This Saturday they are hosting “Nature’s Harvest Free-For-All” from 10:00-3:00. The event will include storytelling, crafts, educational games, guided bird walks, botany dissections, tree identifications, and more!  And yes…the activities are all free.

Check out Joppa Flats here!



Pick #2

The Neverland Theatre Company has been giving area youth a fantastic opportunity to explore acting and putting on wonderful shows for 24 years.  This weekend they are performing Disney’s High School Musical.  The shows are at Temple B’nai Abraham Theater on Lothrop Street in Beverly.

You can purchase tickets here


For the record, they are also performing a Broadway Kids Revue on 11/19, 11/22, and 11/23.


Pick #3

Forgive the obviousness of this pick, but it is that time of year!  Two words.

Plimoth Plantation.

A disclaimer here, friends.

I haven’t been in a looooong time.

But….with my boys being 5 and 7 now….I think it’s about time.  I have, over the last many years, had lots of students make the pilgrimage and all have enjoyed it.  I have also done virtual field trips through their website that we have enjoyed in the classroom.  It is obviously very educational and is really something that all children living in this area, should really see at least once.

Learn all about Plimoth Plantation here

For an added bonus, there are some hotels in the area if you’d like to make a quick little getaway out of it.  For example, the John Carver Inn, has a fun indoor pool area called Pilgrim Cove.


Making My List and Checking it Twice

Well, since there’s no denying that the holidays are coming…. I may as well make my list.

So, here’s item #1

What local peep is going to start cranking these out to sell in downtown Gloucester or Rockport so that I can buy one….or several?

Challenge on.  You make them, I’m first in line to buy some.

This one is from a company called Suzy Kuzy….how excellent.


check more out here

Like a Hunter in Headlights?

Wait, that’s not how the expression goes.

Sunday evening, on the way home to Rockport from Danvers, I saw a deer that had been struck dead on the side of 128.  It made me super sad.  It also made me worry about the driver who had hit it….as that is never good either.

It also reminded me of a time a couple of years ago that Freddy, the boys, and I were driving home from New Hampshire and ended up behind a guy with his dead deer trophy strapped casually to the back of his Jeep like it was a Thule or a bike rack.  Previously, I had only seen deer under tarps or in the back of pick-up trucks.  Never ever plain as day on the back of a car, in the middle lane of a large highway.  I’m not sure why it struck me as so out of the norm, but it did.

Please allow me stop here for a moment and say that I understand hunting and realize that there are merits to it for population control and certainly out of a necessity to feed a family. As a sport, simply for fun, I still don’t have to like it. This post is not intended to start a hot debate about whether it is OK or not….it is simply to retell a story.  So, I’m not going to go all “anti-hunting” on you….that being said, don’t feel the need to go all “pro-hunting” on me.  I should add that I just finished reading one of my favorite books ever, My Side of the Mountain, to my students….in which young Sam Gribley hunts and kills many deer and an abundance of other animals to survive in the woods.  I should mention too that I am the proud owner of two German Shorthaired Pointers, and, while our “bird dogs” don’t hunt, I enjoy hearing stories about their “friends” who do.  It seems hypocritical for me to say “it’s ok to shoot a turkey, a pheasant, or a quail, but not a deer” so I don’t.

I’ve also been on sport-fishing boats and have caught tuna, mahi-mahi, and marlin, and have felt super sad as the color drained from their previously gorgeous bodies.  It seems hypocritical for me to say “it’s ok to catch large fish, but not a deer” so I don’t.  A dear friend of mine (no pun intended) who passed away a couple of years ago, was an avid hunter and we agreed to disagree on the subject.  He teased me relentlessly about his “Gut Deer” (as in Got Milk) sticker on the back of his truck.

I also remember being at an airport in Africa with my camera gear all ready to “shoot” the Big 5 in Namibia and Botswana and standing behind people fully loaded with giant guns all ready to shoot some of those very same magnificent creatures.  Again….I’m sure there are valid arguments for that….but, I don’t have to like it.  And, in the case of large African mammals, I really don’t like it.

But, I digress….big time.

Back to the deer on the Jeep.

My concern upon seeing the deer was mostly that I didn’t want my boys to see it. They were maybe two and four at the time.  My husband slowed down a bit and changed lanes so that it wasn’t as easy to spy.  At the same moment, a little teeny car came flying by us, with an even teenier driver blaring her horn, screaming, and waving her middle finger wildly at the driver of the Jeep.  She was so incredibly upset and passionate.  I remember being proud of her….but yet, oddly, feeling bad for the hunter too.  Her anger was so deep and….dare I say, mean.  That sounds crazy, right?  Me calling her mean for her rage against the hunter.  It seemed like such a personal attack. She was so emotional and enraged.  I remember feeling kind of confused by the whole encounter.  It bothered me for days, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.

To go back to Africa….  I was confused in the same way that I felt on Day #3 of safari, when I found myself rooting for the cheetah to catch and kill the impala because I knew there were babies to feed.  Days #1 and #2 I was cheering for the prey…not the predator… but, that changed upon seeing the hungry little ones.  Surely the impala had hungry little ones too?  Knowing who to root for was hard…so I opted to not align myself with either side of the hunt, but to simply watch it unfold…sometimes through the tiny cracks between my fingers that were covering my eyes.

So, all this had been spinning in my head as I thought, “Blog worthy or not?” and then I sat on the couch and saw a video of a deer attacking a hunter that a friend had put on Facebook….   and I laughed…. and then I felt really bad for the hunter.  Full circle.

Can’t Quite Put My Finger On It

Hmmm.   There’s something different about Rockport Harbor these days.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Could it possibly be the massive marine crane that is resting alongside our sleepy and iconic Motif 1?

It has taken me by surprise several days in a row upon coming to the end of Broadway to turn up South Street to head home.

The equipment, for the record, is in town to work on the Rockport Breakwater.

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Let the Games Begin

Decorations, fine.  Commercials, whatever, I get it.

BUT….S.A.N.T.A already poised on this throne at the mall??  WTH.

Come On!!!  Madness.

Doesn’t he have like 9,837,261,2984,001 more gifts to help the elves handcraft?

This momma isn’t ready for this crap yet!

Wasn’t it just a second ago that I was lying about the Easter Bunny?

In case you missed the newsflash about how massive a liar I am, you can feel my pain here


There’s a New Slice in Town

Seaside Pizzeria on Railroad Avenue in Rockport!

So, I guess they’re not totally new, but they are new to the Schrafft family.  I think they opened a few months ago, but we went for the first time 2 weeks ago. Sadly, we scarfed down our pizza before thinking to take a photo.  Sooo, we had to order it again last night.


We got a large pizza with ricotta, linguisa, and eggplant.  My husband, who does not throw compliments around all willy nilly, said that it might have been his favorite pizza ever.  Them are some pretty big props, Seaside Pizzeria, I assure you.

Our bill came to $17.something.   Not cheap, but not expensive….and, either way, worth every single penny.

For the record, they also deliver.

Seaside Pizzeria’s website

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If You Could, What Would You Do?

I ask my students to do some journaling each day.  Some days it is just “free write” and they can write about whatever they please.  Other days they need to answer a question or address a writing prompt.

The other day I asked them, “If you could do something that you’ve never done before, what would it be?”

Their answers were adorable…because they’re in elementary school…and really, they have their whole lives ahead of them, and could have chosen a billion different things…and because, there isn’t much they actually have done yet.

But, it made me think.

What would I do that I’ve never done before?


1.  Swim with a whale

2. Be good enough to sing (and well) for a crowd.  In fact, I can’t sing at all and SO badly wish I could.

3.  Surprise some of the most important people in my life with the most amazing surprises.

I could go on and on.

What about you?

If you could do something you’ve never done before, what would it be?



Nichole’s Family To-Do Pick(s) of the Weekend 11/7/14

If you listened to the most recent podcast, you would have heard Joey challenge me (ask me?) to begin a weekly Thursday post highlighting my “Pick of the Week” for families with youngish children to possibly do over the weekends. Silly Joey should know by now that I can’t pick just one thing….SOO, sometimes I’ll highlight a few events…and sometimes I truly pick just one.

I’m thinking that I’ll also try to highlight something more local and then also highlight something that may possibly involve a little day trip and may take some people out of their comfort zones.

Pick #1

So, also, if you listened to the most recent podcast, you’d know that this first “pick” was kindly handed to me and comes along with some pretty exciting news. And, that is that GLAZED will now be operating out of Cape Ann’s Art Haven on Main Street in Gloucester. Beginning this Friday at 5:30 you can “Glaze Something Awesome” at Art Haven.


Pick #2

My 2nd pick is for a small theater that I have raved about in the past.  The Wheelock Family Theatre is a fantastic little venue for a show and they always do a tremendous job making first class productions!  “Alice”, an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass is playing from now until November 16th. Prices are totally reasonable and the shows that I have seen there have never disappointed.

more information about the show here 

Pick #3

My 3rd pick challenges you to dig deep for even more stamina and to actually head out of state!  WaterFire Providence is spectacularly gorgeous and isn’t really that much of a drive.  WaterFire is considered an art installation that consists of more than 80 bonfires aglow on the three rivers that wind and flow through the city of Providence.  While gorgeous alone would be reason enough to make the drive, it also has the feel of a large block party as bridges and vessels along the path are also lit up, music plays, street performers do their thing, and crowds gather to take it all in.  WaterFire Providence takes place periodically from May to November and is happening this Saturday, November 8th, beginning at sunset.  A bonus is that this weekend’s WaterFire experience is a salute to Veterans.

Learn more about WaterFire Providence here

Listen to the most recent GloucesterCast 102 (the Estrogen Episode) here!

Well, Lookie Lookie

Donna, this one is for you.  There was much discussion last week about the “Duck Face” thanks to Joey’s post.  There was also a ton of talk about the video of the young lady who walked through Manhattan and was subjected to some shady comments being directed her way, as well as, a good deal of what could easily be called harassment.

So, during Sunday’s podcast (The Estrogen Episode), we brought both topics up.

The Duck Face post

10 Hours of Walking in NYC video

Hear the podcast here

The one and only Donna Ardizonni commented that the girl in NYC “wasn’t necessarily Gina Lollobrigida.”  Crickets.  Some of us didn’t necessarily get the reference at first.  What she meant was that she was no super model…she was just your average young lady.  Nor was she acting all “look at me” like some of the girls who take selfies all day long of their Duck Face and then smack them all over social media.

So, curious, having heard the name, I wanted to refresh my memory of who exactly Gina Lollobrigida was.

And lookie what I found.

Gina herself doing the Duck Face!  Well, kind of.


Over the Bridge…not tremendous driving

So, in case you need to leave town, this is what it looks like over the bridge right now. First snowfall of the year = wackadoodle drivers. Be careful.

Rockport Harbor

Big seas and spray off of Rockport

Up, Up, and Away

Happy to update this post thanks to some great information from some readers!

So, it sounds like this building is being raised so that work can be done on its foundation and that it will remain in its current location!  I’m glad…because we walk, run, ride bikes by it often and I would certainly miss it!  So, a more fitting title would be, “Up, Up, and Going to Stay.”

Thank you also to Bill Hubbard for sending a fantastic photo of the Straitsmouth US Life Station from the early 1900s…around 1906.  Be sure to scan all the way down to see said photo!

This always fascinates me.  If I’m correct, this is a part of the old Coast Guard Station in Rockport.  I’m not sure where it is headed….maybe a FOB can fill me in? IMG_9868 IMG_9876 IMG_9878

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Live trick-or-treating at Fenway Park

Trick or treat? Yet to be decided. Good times!

What a Loss…What a Legacy

I had the pleasure and the honor of meeting and photographing Mayor Menino on several occasions. What a tremendous man, what a great influence on the city of Boston and beyond, and what a sad loss.

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