Monday, December 4, 2017

I’m Your Man

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Hello from the Gurnet again. Today is Saturday November 18th. The air temperature is 43. The ocean temperature is 55 degrees. The sky is black. There is no wind for a change. The tide was very high and it was not easy to walk in the sand full of rocks.

I did not expect to have to clean Duxbury beach again so soon. Two days ago I did a pretty good job.

There was so much to clean, that with the two fisherman lobster catch boxes that I found, I made a train and pulled them along the sandy beach all the way from beyond Tall Pines to the second crossover. I found rope from off of some of the lobster buoys and connected them. I drove my pick up down to pick every thing up after my three and one half hour eco walk.

Look at this piece of pottery that washed up. Looks like Pilgrim stuff to me.


Hey! They just found a tintype in North Carolina of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, the man who shot him dead.

Stranger things have happened . . .  such as an old man was seen Saturday morning pulling two boxes along the beach filled with litter.

Cigarette filter butts on the Kaibab at the Grand Canyon to plastic bottles in Sicily near a closed tuna factory. As Leonard Cohen used to say, “ I’m your man."




Monday, November 20, 2017

Zylonite

Handwritten Letter to David Bongiolatti in Round Rock, Texas - November 19, 2017

We were friends from Kindergarten until the end of high school. We played football. Dave was a tackle at 6 foot tall and 285 pounds. Albin Mosher was the center at 210 pounds and six foot tall. I played guard and linebacker at five foot eight inches and soaking wet 160 pounds. We grew up in the Italian section of the mill town of Adams, Massachusetts called Zylonite. It was a kind of plastic that I am sure was environmentally friendly.

Hi Dave,

I know! I know! We just talked twenty some years ago, and now I am back.

People say that life is a circle. Well the circle is back to Zylonite. Check out this 1904 map of Zylonite. Pretty awesome, eh?  I have almost no one to share it with. Sandy did not grow up there. Bucky Volpe and Karen Bechard are muerto.

The Adams Historical Society newsletter map is wonderful. It was originally taken off glass plates. Check out Zylonite. It was all Irish in 1904, compared to all Italian in the 50’s and 60’s. Did you know that the street we both grew up on was named after a wealthy Quaker named Abraham Howland? Remember the Arcadia? That was their house.

Recently there was a story about Apremont Street in the Historical Society news. In 1904 it was known as Kipper Avenue. Kipper Avenue was the first place my ancient family moved to, from Savoy. The street name was changed to Apremont to honor the men from Adams who fought a tough battle and won against the Germans in WWI in Apremont, France. My daughter says the name means "at the foot of the mountain," and Apremont Street does sit at the base of Adams' Mount Greylock. The beautiful elm trees that bordered Howland Avenue are all gone, and the carved-out and blasted mountain looks like hell, but Mount Greylock is still there.  Some things never change.

Who grows up with a friend named Sterling? Well that mystery was also solved in a previous Adams Historical Society newsletter.

I send an occasional e-mail to Betty Hish. I was in contact with Beverly Banas until she got bored with me. She worked for the CIA in Russia. Really!

Eileen Blanchette and Albin Mosher are still married, and have done really well. They live in Rhode Island. They both attended Brown.

September 30, 2017 and Sandy Zabek and I are still very happily married for 50 years.

A writer found my blog about Russell Roulier. Did you know him? He was the second Marine killed in Viet Nam -- from our town. Thomas Edison High School in Philly lost 56 young men. He is writing a book about Russ.

Brown Street, between your house and Howland Avenue School, was where my not so great great grandfather deserted his family of seven in 1900. Remember Gumbo? I think my relatives lived in the second block that the Shepherds lived in. Closer to Billy Cairns house. He is gone also. The street was named after the paper tycoon, L.L. Brown.

My great grandfathers name was Bachand, which is my real last name.

Received a call at the end of this past June from someone claiming to be one of my brother Mike's daughters. Jack Daniels killed Mike at age 36. We learned even more about the Bacon family. But after Ancestry.com and 23 & me, it turns out she is NOT my niece.

I have suggested to the Adams Historical Society that they do a piece on the New England Lime Company, where your grandfather had so much to do with bringing all the Italian families over to work. Was his name Louis -- the same as your dad? You really should sign up for this newsletter.

So there. Aren’t you glad we connected again? It seems we were just at your wedding in Vermont, somewhere back in the late 60’s?

Your uncle Ippol Bongiolatti treated me like a son when I worked for him in the quarry, summers between high school years. He was a first class guy.

your friend from kindergarten     
Bobby Bacon    
from Zylonite, Massachusetts

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Just One Day On Isla Mujeres

Mary from Minnesota, who we met on the ferry last year, coming home from Isla Mujeres, asked, “If you had a day to ‘see’ and experience Isla, in all its glory, what would you recommend people do?

My idea of a perfect day on Isla would be . . .

• Arrive early, arrive early, arrive early.

• On the ferry, find a seat on the top level, outside.

• Have breakfast at La Cazuela M & J. Corner of Abasolo and Guerrero. If you love eggs, this is the place.

• Then I would walk to Hotel Na Balam and rent two chairs and a sombrilla and relax on what is considered one of the 10 best beaches in the WORLD, Playa Norte. They have nice clean bathrooms, and a full menu restaurant with great margaritas. I would get one made with Herradura. When you walk through reception, tell them Tocino sent you. They will be so happy, they will probably try to give you besos y abrazos, especially Braulio. Be careful of Braulio. Ja Ja Check out the grounds. Are they not beautiful? Stay here all day, or book now for 2019.

• Treat yourselves to lunch right at your private palapa, or go inside the restaurant. Its name is Oceanas.

• Stay on Isla for dinner. Do not go back to Cancun! Shop along Hidalgo.

• You can make reservations at Olivia. It is Mediterranean. E-mail is Zelzers@gmail.com Tell them Tocino sent you. That is my last name in Spanish.  Think labne, labne -- make sure to order some. The wine is really good here. Reservations only and closed on Sunday and Monday. My FAVORITE on Isla Mujeres. It is on Av. Matamoros, across from a burger place.

• Or . . . El Varadera Qubano (Cuban) and the freshest fish ever. The view will knock you out. It is on the lagoon, where the pirate ships used to dock. Not sure when it is closed. Hands down the BEST mojitos on Isla. Just tell the taxi driver -- it is half way down the five mile long island, El Baradero Cuban restaurante on Calle Septiembre. Do not be afraid when you first see it from the street . . . and try not to step on the chickens.

• Gelato …. did someone say gelato? Better here than in Sicily. The one near the super mercado and the vocala is the best. I would get coconut.

• My daughter does a Joga retreat every year here and the yogis’ favorite restaurant might just be Lola Valentina’s, right on the main street, Hidalgo, on the north end. Google and check out the awesome menu. Lola is really Lauri Dumm from Oregon, but the Mexicans cannot pronounce it so she became Lola. Well Iris in Spanish is Edys. Go figure.

p.s.
Mary, you truly made my day, thinking about Isla. Any more questions? E-mail me, por favor. Try to enjoy this special place that we have been going to for 30 years. The ferry back to Cancun runs every half hour. Next year, stay for a week or a month, or even for 50 days.

Sandy and I, y friends, are going back in Febrero y Marzo.

Gurnet & Saquish 2017

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Buenos dias amigos y amigas. It is so foggy this morning that you cannot see from one end of the Gurnet Bridge to the other. Ok, ok, you call it the Powder Point Bridge, but the sign says Gurnet Bridge 1898. The every-other-day walk out to The Gurnet is uneventful. Almost no one is on Duxbury beach today because of the cloud cover, except for a few fishermen from the shore.

I decide to take the pot-holed gravel road back to where my pickup truck is parked. Almost immediately I come upon about 30 Boy Scouts, possibly walking out to the Gurnet Lighthouse to sit and have lunch. Around the lighthouse it is all grass, and the dirt mounds protect you from the wind. In 1776 there were six cannon here that fired on an English warship. My barber Carol says you can rent the lighthouse and sleep overnight. How much fun would that be?




Sandy and I were at the Plymouth or Gurnet Light last Saturday with Robin and David Armstrong. We sat in chairs on their strip of sandy beach property, facing Plimoth Harbour. It is only three miles from here to where the Mayflower is floating. Warm food, cool drinks . . .  September on Saquish. Wow! What a treat! 






On the way out, it was a full Harvest moon so David drove us past the foxes and rabbits, right up to the lighthouse. November will bring snowy owls and coyote. The past two nights in the casita I have been serenaded by two owls. One is a saw-whet and I didn’t get the second one’s name. Maybe a boreal. Who-who was it?

Just before Tall Pines, even though I am wearing earplugs, and before I can say Bob Marley, I hear steel drum music. My first thought is Duxbury teenagers, sitting in their Jeep with reggae rather than rap music, just over the second beach cross over.  That was my first thought. My other three thoughts were …

• Because of the hurricane, the music is coming up all the way from Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke


• There must be a Morgan, pirate-looking, sailboat sitting off Clark's Island.


Or . . .

• There is a older gent, driving his old pickup slowly, while pulling horizontally a large steel I-beam, which is smoothing out the gravel road from the bridge to Saquish.

Google says Foxy’s was leveled last week. There is no wind for a sailboat this beautiful morning.

So what do you think I heard?

- Tocino         
A friend to the universe -- just don’t break the beautiful silence by greeting me

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P.s.
Saturday October 28, at the Gurnet Bridge. I am walking out toward the Gurnet Light once again. It is the oldest wooden lighthouse in these United States. Of the 33 parking spaces, there are only seven available at the west end of the wooden bridge in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Well not really. All seven are full, but I kind of squeeze in and hope for no ticket. Denzel Washington is shooting his new movie, called Equalizer 2. Columbia Pictures has been shooting on Boylston Street in Boston, but they have a large set in the Brant Rock section of Marshfield. Rumor has it he is staying near the Fairview Inn, at a summer rental house called Shangri-La, on Ocean Street.

Monday they are shooting at the Powder Point Bridge, and that is why all the parking spaces are full. One of the larger trucks says on its side “Rain For Rent.” The pipes run right into Duxbury Bay . . .  to pull the rain water, I guess. There are porta-potties and a golf cart that says “Production” on it. Maybe the coolest things are the wind machines.

Did you catch the movie “The Way Way Back,” with Steve Carell? The Gurnet 1895 or Powder Point Bridge is in this film too. Carell plays a real rat in that one. You might enjoy it. Being the way you are. Just kidding. He owns the General Store in Marshfield Hills.


P.p.s.

• Dennis from North Carolina and North Adams is writing a book that will include a story about a kid that I grew up with, Russell Roulier, a grunt Marine, who was killed in a foxhole that was overrun in Viet Nam. He found me from a blog that I did seven years ago. YCMTS up.

• Yesterday I had lunch at El Sarape with an Army veteran of Viet Nam.

• I almost got in a fight at a bar in the liberty town of Oxnard California while in the Navy Seabees near Port Hueneme, California.  That was my closest scrape. I did manage to get Tex Ritter’s autograph.

• I told you already about the phone call at the end of June. “Hello. When I was 16, my mother told me that your brother is my father? You could say that that has sort of filled up the summer.

- Bob Bacon          
the very first person to EVER say  "you can’t make this stuff up." (I even edged out my friend Tom Donovan, who was the very first person to develop the Five Second Rule about dropped food.)

Family History Update

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The Facts:

Dawn Biagini Valenti leaves a message on our home phone at the end of June 2017.  “When I was 16, my mother told me that your brother, Michael, was my father.” Today Dawn lives in Pittsfield MA and is 50 years old.

I leave her a message saying you are half Polish and Half French. She replies "You are Jewish also."

To Dawn, I relate a SOLID family story. Alexandra Zaik, my maternal Polish grandmother, walks for two days to Gdansk while pregnant with my Aunt Blanche, to catch the steamship to Ellis Island. Her husband is in the Russian Army and deserts when he knows his wife is safe in the USA.

Dawn says NYET! She was not married. She traveled with her sister, Mary. Ellis Island wrote sideways on their entrance form, “SISTERS.” They came by way of Antwerp in Belgium. She shows me the proof.

I take a Ancestry.com DNA test.  

They screw it up.

I take a second Ancestry.com DNA test.

In her extensive research, Dawn finds that the not-so-great Great Grandfather who I have been looking for since 1976 was married to Rosalie in Can-ah-da before he married my Great Grandmother in South Hadley, MA. I never found proof that the Bacons ever married. Two families at once. How did he manage that?

1900 – Not-so-great Great Grandfather deserts a family of seven on Brown Street in Adams. Never to be heard from again. The youngest child is six months old, and the oldest is fifteen. One of the children was a tremendous source of family history. His name was George Washington Bacon. I saved all his handwritten correspondence. In 1976, I could not afford a computer. I worked hard on the family history for two years. Proof is in my four 4-inch thick books, and a chart that goes back to Paris 1668.

2012 - I ask Barbara Sylvester to please check her Ancestry account in Rhode Island to find Charles Frank Bacon or Charles Francois Bachand -- his real name. I have not a shred of evidence that he was living there. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. She finds Charles Francois and his wife Rosalie. 117-year mystery solved. Proof is in the 1900 and 1920 census.

2017, Labor Day - Sandy and I drive to Central Falls RI, near McCoy Stadium, to 9A Fuller Avenue. Today # 9 is an empty parking lot.

Test results are back. Dawn is not my brother’s child. Dawn is devastated.

Sandy says try 23 & Me. We do.

I dig deeper in RI. 9A was a garage that was torn down in 2012. # 9A and 73 Summer Street share the same address. The Bachand house still stands, and Sandy cannot wait to go back and check it out.

23 & me test results come back.    
I am still not Jewish and I am still not Dawn’s uncle.

Now it is clear that a Jewish Adams, Massachusetts-area man is. Dawn’s mom insists that Michael is the father. Dawn’s mom’s sister says, in her younger days, Mom was a bit of a tart, to put it bluntly.

In 1968, Dawn’s mom invites my brother to her house in Cheshire, Massachusetts where she is living with her mom. Michael goes, but asks if he can bring his wife. Dawn’s mom goes into the back room and brings out the infant Dawn -- the same age as Michael and his wife’s son. Mikes wife faints.    

Today  - Dawn continues her research.      

please file under YCMTS up  
     
- Robert Francois Bachand      
Friend to the fatherless          
October 29,  2017