pictures from the reunion
day started with a message from my brother Dan (who died in
August 2001) from a dream that the organizer of the Village
Reunion, Betty Ann (Mitchell) Doherty, had. I joked that she
"channels Dan" for me because it wasn't the first time she had
a dream like this: I was running up past the cemetery along
the bay when I noticed
a truck with REDMAN on the side of it parked in a parking lot.
It was Danny sitting in the truck, talking on the phone. I said
to whoever I was with, "Oh, that's Danny probably talking to
Colleen about who will be at the reunion."
I sat at a table to sign
books, under a tent that was decorated with flags and red-white-and-blue
balloons. It was Memorial Day after all, a day for remembering
the dead. Across from me was my husband, Joe, wearing his HULL
sweatshirt that he got at the Wellspring Thrift Shop on our
first day in town because it was cold and we hadn't packed enough
warm clothes. He was setting up a camera to film the event.
I didn't sit for long. I
was soon jumping up to greet old friends, running around to
pose for pictures, and putting people together who didn't recognize
each other. The Hull Times newspaper tells it like this: Old
Home Week…Members of the Mitchell and Redman families were among
the 47 families - between 150 and 200 people strong - who came
to take part in the Hull Village reunion.
But I did sign a lot of
books. Although I sold a handful of my poetry books, Muses
Like Moonlight, I mostly sold The Jim and Dan Stories:
A Journey of Grief and Faith because many of the stories
took place in Hull and most at the reunion knew Jim and Dan.
I actually had people waiting for their turn to get a book.
My first customer of the day was Joe Cole, a Hull icon with
developmental disabilities who roams the beach with his metal
detector looking for coins. "I found a ring today!" he told
me. Joe used to help out with the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization)
drill team that many of us at the reunion once belonged to some
40 years ago.
A couple of people bought
3 or 4 books. I remember saying, "They're $13 each. Figure out
what that comes to…and tell me what I owe you for change…I can't
concentrate enough to do math today!" I said to someone else
about the frantic pace of events, "I feel like a chicken with
my head cut off," but when I later viewed the video, some of
which was shown on the Hull Cable TV Network, I didn't look
that bad. I learned a lot from that video.
I learned that Mrs. Delaney,
a former Hull Village mother of 9, came all the way from Florida
to attend the reunion, and that Mrs. Connelly, also a former
Village mom of 9, came all the way from Georgia. There was Dan's
friend, Chuckie Lacentra, pointing to the tennis courts while
re-telling the story of how he got hurt there and still has
the scar on his hand, and Ricky Ruscansky, another friend of
Dan's, relating the rules to the game "Relieve-eo," a game we
were all once familiar with. On the tape you can hear Frank
Currell, an old friend of my brother Jim's (Jim died in July
2001), saying, "Your brother Jimmy was fanatical about whatever
sport he loved at the time. One summer we played darts everyday.
Jimmy had to play everyday…"
The ice-cream truck came,
ringing its bell. I looked over and saw my mom and dad sitting
in lawn chairs and eating ice cream. Kids were playing in the
field and Oldies music was blaring from the old brick-red fire
station where we used to put on our ice skates as kids and sometimes
go in to get warm. Pinball games at The Villa, church at St.
Mary's of the Bay, makeshift skateboards down fort hill, hard
balls and soft balls that sometimes broke windows, and getting
in trouble for getting home after the streetlights went on were
all bits of conversations thrown into the mix.
Hull is where your story
begins…are the words on the needlepoint pillow that Betty
Ann made for me, words that aptly describe the feeling of the
day. The Hull Times reporter was there to document this new
part of the story by taking a picture of the Redmans and Mitchells
together; two big Hull Village families brought together by
the book. Mr. Mitchell, who drove the funeral parlor limousine
for both my brother's funerals, was "like the father of the
Village," Dan had said on the ride to the cemetery to bury Jim.
The Librarian of the Hull
Village Library, where The Jim and Dan Stories can be
purchased or checked-out, stopped by to let us know he had opened
the library for out of town visitors. Considering this one-of-a-kind
library, built in the late 1800s as a home, it's no surprise
that folks would want to reminisce there. The Fort Revere Tower
was open for us too.
Somewhere in-between greeting
Mrs. Mecurio, who ran the small village store that is gone now,
and trying to eat a few bites of cheese for lunch, my high school
English teacher, Mrs. Kellem surprised me with a visit. Her
appearance brought squeals and hugs and a crowd of old students
who gathered around her. I wasn't the only one who thought she
was the best teacher in our school. (Mrs. Kellem is the "good
teacher" referred to in my poem "The Zen of Winter Poetry" from
Muses Like Moonlight.)
It was about this time that
someone pulled out a Hull High Yearbook to see how much we had
changed. Then came my childhood pink "ponytail diary," which
figured in The Jim and Dan Stories and was good for a
few more good hoots.
The reunion started at 10
am, after the town parade, and ended at 4 pm, with me sitting
in a rocking chair on the Mitchell's front porch. The Mitchell
house was a landmark in the Village when I was growing up. I
knew who they were, of course, but because I didn't know them
well, I don't think I actually spoke to any of them. Who would
have thought when I walked by the Mitchell's house as a girl,
with my schoolbooks held in front of me, that I would be sitting
on their front porch now, seeing the Village from a whole new
perspective? And who says you can't go home again?
pictures from the reunion