AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FAMILY OF FRIENDS OF THE WELLESLEY COMMUNITY:
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Welcome back to a post-Labor Day Wellesley that looks a lot different than those of years past. We can remember end-of-summer times when our family just barely skidded back into town ahead of the first day of school. Off we sent the kids, practically tracking beach sand into the classroom.
Times have changed. Given that the Wellesley Public Schools, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, has switched over to a hybrid model of learning that doesn’t start until mid-September, many families may have chosen to hunker down at their summer escape spots for a little while longer. And why not? Remote instruction for students starts September 16th. The transition to a hybrid model that includes in-person instruction will begin on October 1st. So those who have reluctantly left their happy places all too early year after year suddenly have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to extend the season.
Here are some other highlights from Wellesley that you might have missed over the summer:
1) Wellesley residents took to the streets
Hundreds of people, many holding signs bearing the names of those killed in recent years while in police custody, lined Washington Street in Wellesley from Reidy Field past the tennis courts in a mostly silent vigil. SEE PICS.
The somber crowd, facing the road as honking vehicles drove by, urged justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality. Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25 after being pinned to the ground by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for over 8 minutes. READ MORE
2) Wellesley Free Library reopened
We had missed the Wellesley Free Library terribly since it closed in March due to COVID-19 concerns, so you can bet we rushed right in to get a first look at the main branch the second it opened. No matter how many rules we had to follow (and there are a lot of rules) it didn’t matter. We just wanted to drift through one of our old haunts and remember better days. READ MORE.
3) WHS Class of 2020 got its outdoor ceremony
About 200 Wellesley High School graduates took part in a scaled down but still rewarding ceremony to celebrate the Class of 2020’s launch to the future. The entire ceremony clocked in at a bit over an hour and a half. READ MORE. SEE THE VIDEO.
4) Linden Square art installation refused to go down to coronavirus
Three recent Wellesley High School 2020 graduates took up their paintbrushes and completed a long-planned project for their WHS Art Intensive course. It had been a long time coming. First the public artwork, a 6′ x 27′ mural-style painting on the curved brick wall at the corner of Linden and Everett Streets, faced delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. Next, the artists were challenged by 90+ degree temperatures. No matter, they got out there and made it happen. Project mentor Alexander Golob said, “The result is a joyous and playful mural that showcases various animals doing activities that community members told us they were doing during the pandemic, baking, listening to music, playing soccer, going for picnics.” READ MORE
5) Diamonds in the rough at the RDF
Wellesley’s Felicity Bortolan used to remove her wedding ring before showering. But that routine is no more after a close call this summer during a dump run.
“I’m completely fanatical about where I put stuff and my ring, I always take off and put in the same place when I shower,” she says of the jewelry, which marks 21 years of marriage to her husband Paul. “However there were tissues and other things that were on the counter and these covered my ring. In the sheer hurriedness of getting to the dump I swept the trash off the counter and tied the bag. Paul took it to the dump.” READ MORE, SEE THE ROCKS
6) Colette Aufranc won Wellesley BOS seat in special election
Colette Aufranc, who cited her financial experience and school volunteer efforts as prepping her for a seat on Wellesley’s Board of Selectmen, won a close Special Election race over two other candidates. Just over half of all registered voters cast ballots. Aufranc’s competition for the position were Gwen Baker and Odessa Sanchez. READ MORE
7) Wellesley Square clock
Don’t be alarmed if you notice the 2-dial Wellesley Square clock disappearing in coming weeks. It’s getting a facelift and more. This Wellesley landmark is being completely renovated and hopefully will be back before the holiday season, says the Department of Public Works’ Mike Quinn, who is superintendent of the Park & Highway Division. YOU’VE GOT TIME TO READ MORE
8) Wellesley police went for gold with Winnie the dog
The Wellesley Police Department has welcomed Winnie, a 10-month old English Cream Golden Retriever, as its community resource service dog. SEE THE CUTE PUP
9) Mrs. Swellesley has a thing for Phil
It’s not what you think. READ MORE
10) Letter from Wayne the postal worker to the Wellesley community
Wayne says, “For approximately the past 10+ years I have had the pleasure & honor of being your “Window #2 postal clerk” at the Wellesley Square Post Office. It has truly been a great & rewarding run! It is time for me, however, to venture on into life’s next adventure as I will be retiring from the United States Postal Service on June 30th after 32 & 1/2 years of employment.” READ MORE
Wellesley Square postal workers are on the job, making sure that home delivery service throughout town remains in place despite COVID-19 concerns. I stopped into the 1 Grove Street office to check on the status of Swellesley’s P.O. box and was greeted with a number of safety measures. All interior doors are propped open so that customers and workers do not need to touch handles; blue tape on the floor marks out 6-foot distances between customers and front-desk employees; and the flower boxes out front maintained by the Wellesley Gardeners’ Guild remain empty for now so that volunteers do not have to perform watering and dead-heading duties.
Mr. and Mrs. Swellesley aren’t the gambling types. But it seemed like a safe bet that a visit to the Encore Boston Harbor casino & resort, along with our of-age Swellesley Jr., might be a fun outing on a Saturday featuring temps in the teens.
Getting to and from Everett, where the casino sits among smokestacks and the Boston Harbor, took less than 45 minutes at 11:30am and 3:30pm in what turned out to be a 5-hour adventure overall. Self-parking is free and easy in a garage that connects to the resort and casino.
We decided to take a pre-lunch noonish stroll around the facility, skipping the outdoor harbor walk on this frigid day. The main casino floor sparkles with hundreds and hundreds of slot machines surrounded by table games like roulette and blackjack, all illuminated by red lantern chandeliers. A decent, largely middle-aged crowd filled slot machine seats and circled gaming tables, though many of both were inactive as well.
Mrs. Swellesley commented that the Encore seemed to be catering to our demographic. I wasn’t so sure, based on the easy listening music selection, from Christopher Cross to Sade to James Taylor, being piped into the casino.
The smoke-free gaming floor smells good. It’s bordered by some of Encore’s 15 restaurants, including the roughly $40-per-person Buffet, which looks as if its whimsical decor was ripped off a Tournament of Roses Parade float.
We ducked off the casino floor to explore the shops (window shopping only for us at the Wynn Collection), where winners might be tempted to splurge. We also took obligatory photos of the bejeweled and flower-covered carousel in the hotel lobby and seemingly random $28 million Jeff Koons sculpture of Popeye the sailor.
Wellesley Square Post Office Clerk Wayne Watson will be signing his book “Gus the Goose” at Wellesley Books during our annual July Jubilee on Saturday, July 21st, from 11 am to 1 pm. The book is available for sale at the store.
The Wellesley Men’s Group, sponsored by the Wellesley Service League, will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 from 2pm – 3pm at the Friendly Aid Building, 219 Washington St. Speaker, Mark Lenci served 30 years in the United States military and then moved to the private sector and a career in information technology. All senior men are invited to attend the lecture and enjoy refreshments and conversation. Please email or call Helen Goins at [email protected] or 781-690-7867 if you have any questions.
A veteran’s veteran
Mark’s military career spanned 30 years – 4 years at the US Air Force Academy and 26 years as a Navy officer. He was the first US Air Force Academy graduate to be selected by Admiral Hyman Rickover to cross commission into the Navy nuclear submarine force. He commanded the nuclear fast attack submarine USS Houston (SSN 713). Under his leadership, Houston was recognized as the most improved submarine in the Navy in 1993. Other attack submarine assignments included the USS Los Angeles (SSN 688), Engineer Officer of USS Tullibee (SSN 597), Navigator of USS Trepang (SSN 674), and Executive Officer of the USS Richard B. Russell (SSN 687). Mark made nine six-month deployments to the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic Oceans; and the Mediterranean Sea.
OK, so I want us to get on board with this really cool thing called email…
Mark’s senior staff position was Assistant Chief of Staff for Command, Control, Communications and Computers for the US Seventh Fleet with responsibility for the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean area. Mark was a key leader in the US Navy’s efforts to rapidly insert commercial information technology to enable network centric warfare. He led the effort to put the first e-mail and productivity software on US Navy ships and to connect ships at sea via satellite to wide area networks. Mark was responsible for the development and implementation of “Collaboration at Sea”; a global, web-based, collaborative environment for mobile combat forces specifically for ships of US Navy carrier battle groups connected by intermittent, low bandwidth, satellite channels. This system is used by the US Navy and its allies today.
Mark’s work in the Navy with information technology led him to a second career in information technology, first with Lotus/IBM and, most recently, with Microsoft. The majority of his work at Microsoft was the development of hosted Microsoft software services such as email and real-time communications for businesses. These services are often referred to as “the cloud” or “cloud services” and are branded today as Microsoft Office 365. Cloud services have grown to one of Microsoft’s main businesses. Mark brought the first customer on board in 2005 and has subsequently specialized in the US federal, state, and local government segment of the business. Mark retired from Microsoft in 2013.
The family business
Mark is originally from Minnesota’s “Iron Range” – the iron ore mining area in northeastern Minnesota. His first job was in the family construction business, which was founded by his great-grandfather and grew to a regional enterprise under the direction of his grandfather. He attended the United States Air Force Academy and graduated with distinction in 1975. He took his commission in the Navy and attended Nuclear Power Training in Mare Island, California and Idaho Falls, Idaho. In 1980, Mark and his wife, Beverly, attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. He then studied business and international relations in the German language for two years at the University of Cologne, Germany, as an Olmstead Scholar. He has also earned a master’s degree in International Relations from Boston University.
Oh, just a few medals here and there
In 1991, Mark attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and graduated with distinction. Mark’s military awards include the Legion of Merit with three gold stars, the Meritorious Service Medal with one gold star, and the Navy commendation with two gold stars. Ships that Mark has served on have earned four battle efficiency “E’s”; 3 Navy Unit Commendations; 2 Meritorious Unit Commendations; and multiple Navy Expeditionary Medals.
Come sail away
Mark is married to Beverly Dorfman Lenci of Wayne, Pennsylvania. He and Bev live in Natick, Massachusetts and have three children, Rebecca, Nicholas, and Amelia. Mark and Bev have a passion for sailing with friends and family in their 52-foot sailboat,
“Sunflower”. Mark holds a USCG 100 ton Masters License, a RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competence, and various other maritime certifications that support their long range sailing plans. He is a member of the Cruising Club of America and the New York Yacht Club.
Wayne Watson has learned a thing or two about being efficient during his nearly 30 years as a U.S. Postal Service employee, the past 4 in Wellesley Square as a window clerk. Perhaps that helps to explain how he was able to crank out his first book, called “Gus the Goose”, in about 2 days.
Though Watson actually credits his being a singer/songwriter for helping the words flow easily as he relived raising an orphaned Canada goose baby with his family back around 1999 until Gus heard the call of the wild. Watson also has supplied photos for the book, published by Adolph Caso of Wellesley’s Branden Books and available through Amazon and [email protected].
“We were going to keep [the gosling] just until my sons came home from school so they could see him, but as soon as they saw him, they begged to keep and raise him. Being well versed in the local wildlife, I agreed and so we adopted and raised Gus,” says Watson, a lifelong Randolph, Mass. resident.
Watson currently has two dogs, and past pets have included a cat, turtles, boa constrictors, pythons, geckos and more. When he retires, Watson hopes to build a log cabin in the northern New England woods, to stay close to nature.
Watson hopes to have a reading of “Gus the Goose” soon in town. And if he needs any props, he won’t have to look far to find a Canada Goose, since they’re basically everywhere these days.