Sippican Lands Trust Free July Events

The Sippican Lands Trust invites you and your family to enjoy two free events in July.

Storywalks are a great way for younger families to spend time together in the outdoors and they promote literacy in nature. As part of our three-month series, July’s book will be located on our Osprey Marsh Property off of Point Road in Marion. The book, Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Lees, will be on display from July 15 until August 15.

In addition, our Head Steward, Yelena Sheynin, will offer a guided tour of our White Eagle Property located off of Parlowtown Road in Marion on Saturday, July 23 at 10:00 am (rain date Sunday July 24). This is a great way to get out and enjoy nature and learn about where trails exist for your continued use.

Founded in 1974, the Sippican Lands Trust strives to acquire, protect and maintain natural areas in Marion. Its purpose is to conserve land, protect habitat and offer public access to the beautiful, protected lands of our town. Currently, its main focus is to develop more events and educational programs for nature lovers of all ages.

Please call the Sippican Lands Trust at 508-748-3080 or email for more information. Thanks and we hope to see you out on our trails.

Town of Marion Water Restriction

The following mandatory water restriction will be in effect from June 15 through September 15. The use of any outside watering is prohibited except between the hours of 6:00 am and 8:00 am, and between the hours of 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for even street-numbered homes, and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for odd-street numbered homes. Residents may wash vehicles and water plants on Sundays by means of a hand-held hose between the hours of 6:00 am and 12:00 noon.

This restriction will be strictly enforced. Any person violating this State of Water Supply Conservation Bylaw shall be liable to the Town in the amount of $50 for the first violation and $100 for each subsequent violation. If you have any questions, please contact the Marion DPW at 508-748-3540.

General Joshua Chamberlain at SHS

The Sippican Historical Society has invited General Joshua Chamberlain, Civil War hero in the Union Army, to lecture at the Marion Music Hall.

On July 21 at 7:00 pm, General Joshua Chamberlain, portrayed by Rev. Bob Macfarlane (retired minister and Civil War historian), will lecture at the Music Hall in Marion. A highly respected and decorated Union officer, Chamberlain became famous for his leadership during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, which earned him the Medal of Honor. He served in 20 battles, was cited for bravery four times, and was wounded six times during the Civil War.

In addition, Chamberlain served as President of Bowdoin College and as the Governor of Maine. The Sippican Historical Society invites you to meet General Chamberlain. His lecture is free and open to the public.

The Mattapoisett Purse

What makes a small woven basket worth thousands of dollars?

Anyone who has ever watched Antiques Roadshow might quickly answer “the age of the piece.” But in the case of a small handcrafted basket from Mattapoisett, the answer would be “time, intricacy, uniqueness, and beauty.”

Gladys Ellis was a well-known Mattapoisett artisan who worked in the medium of pine needles, raffia, and ivory. Ellis not only perfected the making of Nantucket baskets, which have a very long history dating back to the 1800s, she also invented a newer style so painstakingly involved they would take months, if not years to complete. She called her creation the Mattapoisett purse.

For decades, Ellis held classes in her home at 87 North Street. Pat Goss of Mattapoisett said, “She was a great teacher, a great lady.” Goss described Ellis as a perfectionist who guided her students towards their own level of perfection.

Primarily self-taught, Ellis worked tirelessly on her craft and became the teacher many students wished to study under. There was always a waiting list of eager women.

“She always had a full class,” said Bonnie Silverstein of Dartmouth and Maine. “I got on a waiting list, and when one of her summer students left for the winter, I took her place.” When winter ended, Silverstein lamented at having to leave so the summer student could return.

“I studied with her, oh golly, for probably fifteen or twenty years,” said Nancy Snigger of Freetown. She learned about Ellis’ classes from a craft supplier. Snigger wrote to Ellis and was subsequently admitted to the class. “There were lots of girls she was teaching,” Snigger said, adding that many became lifelong students of the art of basket making.

Ellis would become widely acclaimed for the Mattapoisett purses she designed and created. The process was long and very precise, her former students all attested. Using the long nettles of southern pine trees coiled with raffia, the process included wrapping raffia tightly around a metal form to create lace-like exterior detailing. These decorative elements gave the purses a complexity not included in any other style of basket making. Add to this an oval of ivory expertly carved using scrimshaw techniques affixed to the clamshell hinged top, and you begin to appreciate what Ellis was doing: making masterpieces.

An admirer of Ellis’ work and also a basket maker, Melissa Abbot of Gloucester Woman Baskets and Supplies wrote, My friend told me her mother had given her a basket she made … her mother had been a student of Gladys Ellis … it was called a Mattapoisett purse … it was as hard as wood and as light as a feather.…”

Rochester resident Elise Coyne said, “I had to wait two years to get into Gladys’ class.” The Mattapoisett purse she created in 1984 while studying with Ellis is used for special occasions only, she said. Coyne did her own scrimshaw design on the oval insert, a picture of the Bird Island lighthouse, a magnificent rendering done freehand. “It’s not perfect, but it’s me,” she said. Ellis advised Coyne at the time to insure the piece for $1,000.

            Mattapoisett resident Lois Ennis is one of Ellis’ many family members living in the area. Ennis said of her aunt, “There wasn’t anything she couldn’t put her hand to.” She said Ellis also taught at universities. “She held classes just for family because you couldn’t get into her class otherwise,” Ennis shared. Of her many talents, Ennis said, Ellis was also a self-taught seamstress.

Another student, Roxanne Bungert of Mattapoisett, said she studied with Ellis during the ‘80s until Ellis’ passing in 2011. Bungert said she once asked Ellis, “How does it feel to be a legend in your own time?” after several media outlets published stories about her Mattapoisett purses. “She just smiled; she was humble,” Bungert said. Bungert described Ellis as very patient. “She’d lead you every step of the way.”

Silverstein knew that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts had acquired one of Ellis’ baskets for their collection, paying a rumored $35,000. When asked about that sum, she responded, “I’m not surprised at all…. Some of those baskets took years to complete, and she did all her own scrimshaw too,” she said.

Silverstein reported that it was her brother-in-law who had commissioned the purse now at the MFA. “It was a gift to his wife,” she said. When Silverstein’s wife passed away, his daughter, Suzanne Wise, inherited the purse.

Calls to the MFA to confirm the basket’s value of $35,000 went unreturned.

Ellis’ energy and creativity, keen eye for detail, and artistic talent are memories shared by dozens of women in the area. Now one of her masterpieces will be forever preserved at the MFA.

“She knew they were valuable,” Coyne said, adding, “She was quite proud of them.”

Ellis passed away on January 9, 2011 at the age of 94. Born in New Bedford, she lived her entire life in Mattapoisett.

By Marilou Newell


The Great Community Picnic

The Mattapoisett Historical Society and the Mattapoisett Land Trust will host The Great Community Picnic at Munro Preserve, west of Shipyard Park, on Thursday, August 4 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.

All are invited to purchase tickets for this fundraiser and watch the sunset over the harbor with their own picnic fare. There will also be live music by Grace Morrison, Huxster and Glowbox. The Inn at Shipyard Park will provide hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar, and there will be fresh local oysters from Mattapoisett’s own Coot Cove.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and space is limited. Party goers purchase tickets for a table (including tablecloths and lighting) and bring a picnic, utensils, napkins and table decorations. Tickets for tables for eight people are $160, six for $120 and four for $80.

Tickets are available at Town Wharf General Store, 10 Water Street, and The Mattapoisett Historical Society, 5 Church Street or by or calling 508-758-2844.

Space will be limited. Tickets are required for entry and must be purchased in advance. More information is available at or

The Plimpton Effect

As I mounted my bike to head out on the Triathlon course for the second leg of the race, it occurred to me that I was like George Plimpton. Plimpton, highly respected writer and world-class amateur athlete, attempted very difficult sports activities. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t do very well whatever the challenge was, it only mattered that he tried and survived. Of course, he wrote about these great adventures becoming rich and famous. My goal was less grand. I simply wanted to finish.

This quest to try and be an athlete really began last summer when I was covering the annual Lions Club Triathlon for The Wanderer.

I watched as individuals and relay teams swam, biked, and ran. Participants of all ages were smiling and laughing. The excitement was palpable and with the music pouring out from loud speakers, there was a party atmosphere.

Giving voice to my desire to be a triathlon participant in early April, I’d say things like, “…if I could only find someone to do the swimming…” and “…if I could only find someone to do the biking.” The silence at that point was deafening. Not a lot of takers at the councils on aging where I hang out. Go figure.

But somewhere along the way, my aerobics instructor Ellie Mae Higgins heard me and responded, “How far is the swim?” Her fate was sealed in that moment.

Ellie is an amazing woman who teaches ladies of a certain age how to move, how to exercise, how to prevent falls, how to stay strong. After decades of sitting on my butt in what I like to call “corporate hell,” once retired I joined one of her classes. After nearly three years of squats, twists, and power lifting 3-pound weights, I believed I could ride a bike 10 miles followed by speed walking 3 miles.

There was one hitch – I hadn’t been on my bike in nearly 17 years. Once upon a time, I’d ride to Onset or New Bedford with confidence. But bone spurs in my neck and a career that found me traveling more frequently, coupled with domestic demands of caring for an elderly father and infant granddaughter, didn’t leave much time to ride a bike. Now, at the age of 65 with time to train, I would take on this challenge.

I got the bike tuned-up and modified and began the arduous process of training. First 3 miles, then 8 miles, then 12 miles. I was getting stronger.

In the meantime, Ellie was doing some training at the gym. She felt confidant that she could complete the quarter-mile swim, saying, “I won’t be fast, but I’ll finish.” I was saying the same thing.

Unlike Mr. Plimpton, I wasn’t challenging myself so I could get a story and make a load of cash by writing a book about the experience. Nah, that would be too easy. I was going to do this because I wanted to. I was, after all, channeling my inner athlete, Plimpton style. “Not bad,” I thought.

Besides the goal of simply finishing what Ellie and I started, I didn’t want to fall. Grade school science class came to mind, specifically Newton’s first law of motion: a body in motion stays in motion unless an external force is applied. Yes, please let me stay vertical and not break a hip!

The moment of truth had arrived.

Ellie was in and out of the water in eight minutes flat. What a machine! It took us 1 minute and 40 seconds to transition, and then I was off and riding.

Having done the course over the previous weeks, I knew what they meant when they talked about the uplands of the Mattapoisett River Valley. From Water Street to Wolf Island Road, the topography of the land rises. Not in an Everest-like manner, but up nonetheless.

I pumped with every fiber of my being. I looked forward to coasting back into the village but got swept up in the illusion that I really was an athlete and kept on pumping. I flew around corners like a bat out of hell. My thighs were pistons. I was no longer 65, I was 15. The 10 miles took me 54 minutes and 46 seconds. All right, I am 65.

I dismounted back at the beach, transitioning to the road race in 1 minute 35 seconds. I hit my stride at the intersection of Ned’s Point and Marion Road. The sound of the ambulance that followed me the entire way accompanied the cadence in my head. I was over the finish line in 47 minutes 16 seconds. We’d done it in under two hours!

Our supportive crew of ladies from the COA exercise classes was there to congratulate us. Their beaming faces meant everything in that moment. I thanked them as my loving husband’s strong arms held me up. The ‘Yes We Can Duo’ came in dead last, but we finished. It was the thrill of victory, not the agony of defeat. Plimpton would understand. Now, for next year “…if I could only find a runner.”

By Marilou Newell


Upcoming Events at Mattapoisett Library

Re-Set Your Stress with Dr. Kristen Lee: “Dr. Kris” will present her book Re-Set: Make the Most of Your Stress on Tuesday, July 19 from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Hear about her research and how to manage stress to your benefit. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Dr. Kristen Lee, Ed.D., LICSW, is an award-winning behavioral sciences professor, clinician and author from Boston. She is a regular contributor for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Dr. Kris’s work has been featured on NPR and CBS radio.

Dr. Kris is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker known for her advocacy in promoting increased mental health integration in social policies and institutions to facilitate access and improved health outcomes in the U.S. and across the globe.

Everyone is welcome to this free program to be held in the downstairs meeting room.

Free Health and Wellness Series for Adults and Teens: Each Tuesday from 10:30 until 11:30 am, adults and teens can find out more about wellness practices, courtesy of the practitioners themselves. The theme this summer is to exercise your mind and body to be in the best shape possible.

– July 12: Learn to De-Stress through Energy Work with Kim Field

– July 19: Learn about Reiki with Vi Bobola

– July 26: Have Fun with a Clean Living Make & Take with Kristen Boucher

– August 2: Try Chair Massage with Jessica Noblet

– August 9: Try Yoga and Mediation with Donna Wingate

– August 23: Experience Tai Chi and the Five Elements with Mary Beth Soares

Sign up for one or more programs by calling 508-758-4171 or visiting the main circulation desk. These programs are perfect for beginners who would like to know more about these practices. Everyone at all levels is welcome.

Book Walk and Talk Every Wednesday: Walk from the Mattapoisett Library to Ned’s Point and back beginning at 8:00 am every Wednesday with Library Director Susan Pizzolato to discuss good books and what we’re reading. Get in shape and get some good reading recommendations.

Library Bingo: Why should kids have all the fun? Stop by the library reading room and pick up a Bingo card filled with reading and activity tasks. Score Bingo and enter to win the giant basket of health and wellness items and books on display in the reading room. Fill the entire card and receive a copy of the hard bound book A Picture Postcard History of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts (a $30 value), courtesy of the Mattapoisett Historical Society. The drawing for the wellness basket will be held August 24. You need not be present to win.

The Mattapoisett Free Public Library is located at 7 Barstow Street and is handicapped accessible.

Pony Rides at Harbor Days

Munro Preserve is going to be a busy location on Saturday, July 16, at Harbor Days. Pony rides for children of all ages will be available from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. Munro Preserve is next to Shipyard Park. The ponies will accommodate anyone less than 125 pounds. Pony rides are $5 each. Wear your cowboy or cowgirl attire and join in the fun. We will have face painting available at Munro Preserve as well.

MHS Walking Tours

Walking Tours of historic Mattapoisett Village start at the Mattapoisett Historical Society at 5 Church Street at 2:00 pm on July 16, July 30, and August 13. Learn from Seth Mendell about historic buildings, the electric rail, the saltworks on Goodspeed’s Island, the Charles King Mansion at the mouth of the river, and “The Dude Special.” Visualize the building of whale ships in the park and how the British attempted to burn the shipyards during the War or 1812. The duration of the walk is approximately one hour and a quarter. Members are free; non-members $5. For more information, please call 508-758-2844 or email

MLC to Hold 1st Cornhole Tournament

Mattapoisett Lions Club will hold its first annual Harbor Days Cornhole Tournament during Harbor Days. Join the fun on Saturday, July 16 at 3:00 pm. Entry fee is $30 per team. This will be a Double Elimination Tournament, guaranteeing each team at least two games. First Place is a set of custom-made boards. These are high quality boards that retail for over $200. Second place prize is $100 with $75 for third place based on a minimum 20 teams. Immediately following the main event, a “Last Man Standing Tournament” will be held with a $10 entry fee and one winner. All proceeds to benefit Mass Lions Eye Research and local Lions Charities. Contact to review the rules and make your reservation.