There are a treasure trove of memories for me kept within the walls of the Townsman building at 33 Chestnut St. I met many wonderful people in this job, both Townsman workers and community members. (I won’t bore you with all the names, though I’d like to mention them all.) There are many I believe and hope will remain lifelong friends.
One of the first stories my future wife, Rebecca, and I worked on was the sentencing of Andover doctor James Kartell, who shot his estranged wife’s new beau in the hospital where the doctor worked. Although she had just been hired, Rebecca had to cover Kartell’s sentencing on a Wednesday morning as we were going to press. Kids, this was back in the age before everyone had a cell phone surgically implanted onto their hands. Rebecca called from a pay phone at the courthouse and described the scene, while I asked questions and typed up a story on page 1. The headline, which a School Committee member told me would make a good country western song, was “Iron bars for plastic surgeon.”
I am probably most proud of the Townsman edition published immediately following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. I remember talking to the secret service agent originally from Andover who was blown out of her shoes when the Twin Towers collapsed, the Andover truck company owner who found toys in the rubble, many people standing with candles on the side of roads in town because they wanted to do something. Shortly after the attacks we put out large sheets of paper on which people could write messages. I took those pages to New York and tied them to the fence around Ground Zero, with so many other messages of good will from around the country.
At its core, I hope that is a reflection of what the Townsman has been these last 20 years: a kind of community gathering spot in what sometimes feels like an increasingly impersonal world, a place to share ideas and learn about your neighbors.