St. Gabriel’s Church Yard Sale

St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Marion will be holding a Yard Sale on Saturday, October 25 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. The sale is being sponsored by the Adult Choir of St. Gabriel’s, and proceeds will benefit both the music program and St. Gabriel’s outreach and relief efforts. The sale takes place in the Parish Hall of St. Gabriel’s Church, located at 124 Front St. in Marion. The choirs will also be hosting a bake sale at the same location, so plan to come and spend some time browsing and enjoying some delicious baked goods!

The Working Grandma

One of my favorite things to do is read the Sunday morning newspaper. Recently, while leafing through the pages, I found the following, “The Working Grandma,” written by Kevin Harnett of South Carolina.

Now, the fact that a man was writing this piece about women didn’t surprise me at all. What I did find surprising was his surprise that grandmothers have been holding down full-time jobs while being caregivers to their grandchildren. Duh … nothing new here, buddy-boy. Harnett’s article was light on details, but it did manage to weave in some important comments, like grandmothers are sacrificing their retirement money to provide necessities to grandchildren. That, of course, is not good. In fact, it is troubling to note that many grandparents are bankrupting their own futures for the sake of their grandchildren.

A quick trip around the internet provides sobering facts. The U.S. census in 2000 estimated 2.4 million grandparents were involved in caring for their grandchildren, including sheltering them. By the 2010 census, that number had blossomed to 7 million. Grandparenting is so common that there are numerous government and private agencies geared solely to providing them with support services.

Harnett’s story didn’t seem to appreciate that grandmothers are essential in so many ways and that this is already common knowledge. That is the story.

In his article Harnett writes, “But working grandmothers? That’s a category we don’t talk much about. Perhaps we should.” “The perception people have is that grandma doesn’t have a job, she’s baking, she’s happy to have people over,” says Madonna Harrington Meyer, a sociologist at Syracuse University,” from whom Harnett quotes. Meyers wrote, “The real thing is grandma’s working and still taking care of her grandchildren.” Further noted in Harnett’s piece, Meyer investigated the challenges faced by working grandmothers for a book she has written in which she interviewed (only) 48 women. Meyer apparently explained to Harnett that the “biggest surprise to emerge from her research was that working grandmothers exist at all, at least in the large numbers that she estimates.” Large numbers! Now that is an understatement.

            Okay, let’s stop right there for a moment … I need to calm down. A spiking blood pressure at this age isn’t good. I can’t believe that anyone at this time in the history of human development would be “surprised” that women in great numbers are grandmothers and are still working and are supporting their growing extended families in a multitude of ways.

Throughout the ages, women have been doing what women do best: ‘multi-task’ tirelessly. Oh, sure, we bake, we sew, we bounce babies on our knees, we might even sit in rocking chairs humming a hymn under our breath while we embroider little lambs across an infant’s smock … but underneath that shawl are muscles that have been built from years of taking care of business – outside and inside the home.

Deep cleansing breath – I worked and took care of grandchildren. I’m still working and taking care of grandchildren, albeit not at the pace I once did. Their parents are running hard just to keep up with the demands in their lives, so having a grandparent – or, more specifically, a grandmother to fill-in for the parents – is the only way many thousands of families are surviving at all.

I would not have been able to work as a young single mother had it not been for my own Mother and her generosity. She took care of my son and my sister’s children so we could work. She cared for her grandchildren through sickness and health. She played with them, gave them sandwiches cut in fun shapes, sang silly songs at the top of her lungs, changed numerous diapers, and gave them unconditional love until the very moment of her death.

My Mother’s grandchildren cried her a river when she passed away last winter. She was eulogized as a fun, kind, unique woman they will never forget. I will never forget her either, but not because of her mothering skills with her own children. Those remained a work in process her entire life. Putting that aside, I’ve elected to focus on the love she gave her grandchildren, because in the end, that was her greatest work and she did it expertly. If she could read Harnett’s article, she would wonder where the heck he has been living to be so ignorant of real life. And as for Meyer’s surprise that grandmothers aren’t just sitting around quilting, my Mother would have a few choice words for her. Although my Mother did not work outside her home, that she worked inside her home and found the time and energy to care for a revolving door of grandchildren speaks volumes to her familial commitment. She believed it was her duty and experienced it as her singular joy. And yes, in the real, world millions of grandmothers are earning a paycheck, too.

About seventeen years ago, one of our adult married children found himself with a bit of a problem. He needed to work overnight shifts, not arriving home in time to take care of his infant daughter before his wife left the house for her job. There was a two-hour stretch at dawn where they needed someone to take care of their baby girl: Enter a working grandmother. Without hesitation, I volunteered to stay with the baby until our son came home from his shift.

Each morning when my services were required, I’d wake up at 5:00 am. I’d hang my corporate attire in the car, get myself groomed, and then head out in sweat clothes for my babysitting shift. By 6:30 am, I’d be sitting by the crib of my sleeping baby granddaughter, eager for her eyes to open. That precious moment when her eyes would fix on my smiling face and she would respond with her own toothless little grin was heaven for me.

For the next hour or so until her Daddy came home, the world was ours to share. Counting, A-B-C’s, reading stories, patty-cake, hide-n-seek were the stuff that made those early mornings complete. When Daddy came home, I’d do a quick change, morphing into a marketing manager and head to my office.

Many times I’d find myself feeling quite sleepy by noontime. I became well known for taking lunchtime naps in my car. But I didn’t care – the baby needed me and, in retrospect, I needed her. The time spent in caring for that infant often was the only good thing to happen to me all day. There is no doubt in my mind that such relationships help sustain other grandmothers. By the way, that baby is now a college freshman.

We have five granddaughters in total. Three of these lovelies we took care of while their parents worked. One is still an integral part of our daily life. All five have benefited from having a grandmother who not only was able to provide some extra material support but also ‘be there’ in any way necessary. I am not unique in this category. My friends who are grandmothers have all done what I have done and continue to do so.

Sure there are folks out there whose stories are ones of extreme sacrifice. There are grandmothers taking in grandchildren because the parents are deceased, in jail, sick, or otherwise unable to take care of their own children. There are grandmothers taking care of their own mothers, working full-time jobs and watching over grandchildren – a trifecta. For a time, I did that, too.

But here’s the thing. One doesn’t dwell on the long to-do lists associated with taking care of others. You just do it and try to do so with as much kindness as your tired soul can muster. I never knew my grandmothers, but there sure were times when I could have used one. I am, however, externally grateful I had a mother willing and able to help shoulder my burdens by taking care of my son, her beloved (could do no wrong) grandson.

To the Harnetts and Meyers who have never been exposed to working grandmothers before deciding to explore the subject let me say this: It would be great if everyone on the planet had the resources to be totally free of needing a helping hand – that isn’t real life! Real life is messy at times, certainly challenging and in great need of grandmothers who can rock the cradle while emailing a corporate executive the spreadsheet she prepared for an international conference call. Or, better yet, a grandmother who after a day juggling demands and expectations at the office, picks up her granddaughter from daycare and heads home to play dress up.

In the book Three Cups of Tea by Gregg Mortenson, he wrote, “…a porcelain pendant around her neck read ‘I want to be thoroughly used up when I die…’” Me, too.

I wouldn’t trade one second I’ve spent taking care of my grandchildren. When I’m too old to be useful, sitting in my rocking chair humming “How Great Thou Art” and reading the Sunday newspapers, I sure hope I hear the echoes of their little voices, a reminder I was once their working Grandma.

By Marilou Newell


Digging for History, Planting for the Future

The landscape outside Sippican School in Marion changed on Friday, October 10 when ten native Atlantic White Cedars were planted by the fifth graders as part of a hands-on educational program in partnership with the Trustees of Reservations and Sippican School.

On Thursday, October 9, sixth graders from Sippican School traveled to Copicut Woods in Fall River for a hike to Cedar Swamp where they learned about the history of the cedars in their natural habitat. Ten cedars taken from Copicut Woods – a 516-acre property that abuts the bio-reserve in Fall River – were later delivered to the school courtesy of the Sippican Lands Trust where, on Friday, members of the Trustees of Reservations and SLT gave a presentation before fifth graders planted them in their new home.

“The Sippican Lands Trust approached the Sippican School last year with the hopes of bringing outdoor education and love of nature to the students of the Sippican School,” wrote Robin Shields, SLT executive director, in a follow-up email. “Through united efforts, the Sippican science teachers and the Sippican Lands Trust developed the program that began last week to get local kids outdoors and excited to be stewards of their own Atlantic White Cedar grove.”

Over the coming months, Sippican students will care for the newly-planted trees while learning about the importance of native flora species relative to the history of the land.

By Jean Perry

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Anne Fernandes

Anne Fernandes, 80, of Riverside, RI formerly of Marion, passed away on Thursday October 16, at Rhode Island Hospital. Mrs. Fernandes was born in Boston the daughter of the late Alfred and Margaret (Perry) Burgo. She was the wife of Joseph A. Fernandes Sr. and mother of Robyn L. Fernandes of CA, Stacey Fernandes of Wareham, Joseph A. Fernandes Jr. of North Dartmouth and Christian Fernandes of Wareham. She is also survived by 5 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and her sisters Jean Nebes and Carol Owen both of RI. She was the sister of the late Alfred Burgo.

At her request funeral services will be private and visiting hours have been omitted.

Captains’ Leadership Program

A key point in the Tabor education is to learn the skills of being a good leader. The Women’s Leadership Program and the annual Leadership Symposium demonstrate this commitment. Another group, the Athletic Team Captains, spend one day a week working on becoming better leaders. Captains are recognized as leaders of their respective teams, but behind the scenes they are working together to share their experiences and improve their leadership skills.

Assistant Athletic Director Kelly Walker has been in charge of this program, and recently instituted weekly meetings. Before practice at the start of each week, the captains gather to discuss the highs and lows of their most recent week of practices and competition. Although different teams face different challenges, the captains can often relate to the difficulties that other teams face. This meeting period is one of preparation and of reflection in which the student-leaders try to plan ahead on how to improve their team’s performance and morale, but they also sort through the effective components of their leadership.

The fall captains have been working since preseason on personal and team goals that they have for the season with their coaches and co-captains. The meetings will continue with the group of captains for each of the remaining seasons.

The initiative shown by the student-leaders and faculty within the Tabor community to improve leadership is one that will certainly be essential to future success.

By Julia O’Rourke


Quorum Issues Force Continuance

The October 9 meeting of the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals was the first time in collective memory that they failed to reach a quorum. Though calls were placed to board members, a lack of response and a ticking clock forced Secretary Anne Marie Tobia to review Robert’s Rules, since no one could remember the correct course of action to take when a quorum isn’t reached.

But given the smoldering neighborhood opposition to the only hearing on the agenda, residents were still ready to ask questions of those members who were in attendance – Eric Pierce, John Sylvia, and Tom Cooper.

The project that has inspired such distaste is a condominium planned for 16 Cottage Street by builder/developers Sippican Preservation LLC, whose partners are Christian Loranger and Albert Meninno Jr. They planned this return visit to the ZBA to share modifications to the parking scheme proposed for the site. A previous meeting with the ZBA had sent them back to the drawing board for this aspect of the project only.

Once it was announced by Chairman Pierce that the meeting would have to be rescheduled, the applicants began packing up their presentation materials. However, the residents who had come to voice their concerns were not ready to go home.

With no requirement to address the chairman by giving their name and address, one resident asked about the parking, saying that the street was already congested. Again, Pierce said there wasn’t a meeting so any comments or answers voiced on this night would be part of the public record. Another person asked what the next steps would be. Pierce explained the ZBA process, noting that the applicant had a right to come before the board under Bylaw 6.1.3, which in part states a structure may be changed or extended if not detrimental to the neighborhood. He said that once the ZBA renders its verdict, there is a 20-day appeal process that allows any aggrieved party to petition the Town with respect to the ZBA decision.

The structure at this location has for many decades served as an apartment building. An increased number of bedrooms that would equate to more people in the area and a dislike for having a condominium project located near their homes seem to be the sticking points between the developer and the local residents. Pierce said that the Board of Health had already signed off on the project because it would be connected to town sewer and water. He said, “…the Board of Health is not worried about it…”

As part of the public record packet that was made available at the meeting the following residents have submitted written objections to the project: Todd and Shelley Richins, 22 Cottage Street; Daniel Engwert, 7 School Street; Christy and Evan Dube, 9 School Street; Eric and Paula Strand, 3 School Street; Patricia Young, 28 Cottage Street; and Roy Strand, 32 Cottage Street. Their letters all direct the Town’s attention to increased traffic and associated safety issues more vehicles may bring to a family neighborhood, stress on utilities, and the ‘character’ of the town. The opposition letters also question the bylaw intentions in allowing a new structure on the site to be larger than the existing multi-family dwelling.

Meninno said, “We want to be good neighbors and do the right thing, we think the parking changes will help.”

The next meeting of the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals is October 23 at 7:30 pm in the Town House conference room.

By Marilou Newell


SouthCoast Toastmaster’s Club

The SouthCoast Toastmaster’s Club, a public speaking, communications and leadership organization meets the first and third Thursday of each month from noon to 1:00 pm at the Marion Recreation Center at 13 Atlantis Avenue in Marion. The building is located near the Sippican Healthcare campus and Marconi Village.

Come and experience what happens at our meetings! We have a vocabulary word of the day, a joke of the day, two 5-7 minute prepared speeches, two-minute extemporaneous speaking sessions and evaluations of what just happened. The meeting is one hour. Come and bring your brown bag lunch.

Get over your jitters and gain more confidence in your presentation skills. Bring a friend.          For more information, call 508-292-6706 or visit our web site at

Family Spaghetti Open House

Mattapoisett Congregational Church will hold a Family Spaghetti Open House on Sunday, October 19 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at 27 Church Street, Mattapoisett. There will be live music, storytelling, crafts, and more. Free-will donations accepted. All are welcome. Contact Patricia Berry, Christian Education Director, at 508-758-2671 or for more information or to RSVP.

Halloween Drop-in Crafts and Activities

Elizabeth Taber Library invites you to celebrate Halloween with drop-in crafts and activities the week of October 24 through October 31. Create Halloween masks, Jack-o-lantern puppets, and spooky goblins and witches and more!

CVS Proposal

To the Editor:

Congratulations and thank you to our Planning Board for bringing us all together to hear the CVS proposal and to share our concerns in a civil and productive way. The meeting Monday night in the Music Hall with 150 concerned Marionites brought forward some positive ideas about the development of Route 6 and citizens’ wishes for the quality of life in our town.

Clearly, we were all dismayed by the size and scope of the CVS proposal. The negative impacts would outweigh the positive ones, so obviously that there seemed to be total unanimity about keeping huge box stores out of Marion. Thank you, CVS, if you decide NOW to look elsewhere for your next project.

We urge our Planning Board to focus on Marion’s Master Plan and our vision for Route 6 in particular. We suggest expanding your sub-committee to include a few citizens and look forward to hearings and public meetings for input and consensus. It seems that we could encourage smaller businesses and retail shops to come to our town. Rather then a unilateral “no formula/box stores in Marion” bylaw, why not agree, through the updated Master Plan, that size and scale matter most to us, as well as businesses run by folks who live and work in town and cater to our needs. The Aubuchon Hardware in Wareham might be a “box store” but one that we could like. How about a sporting goods store, a small Motel, Country Inn, or B & Bs, and some more restaurants? Why not a B & B or inn at the Captain Hadley House?

This CVS project truly mobilized many in town to express their ideas and to appreciate Marion’s small town character. Hopefully, it will also encourage people to run for Planning Board and other town offices and take an active role in local policy making.

Thank you, Steve Kokkins, and your entire board, for a job well done. This was a seminal moment, allowing for better definition of our vision for our little town on Sippican Harbor, and high hopes for moving onward in the right direction.

Tinker and Bill Saltonstall, Marion


The views expressed in the “Letters to the Editor” column are not necessarily those of The Wanderer, its staff or advertisers. The Wanderer will gladly accept any and all correspondence relating to timely and pertinent issues in the great Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester area, provided they include the author’s name, address and phone number for verification. We cannot publish anonymous, unsigned or unconfirmed submissions. The Wanderer reserves the right to edit, condense and otherwise alter submissions for purposes of clarity and/or spacing considerations. The Wanderer may choose to not run letters that thank businesses, and The Wanderer has the right to edit letters to omit business names. The Wanderer also reserves the right to deny publication of any submitted correspondence.