A Gathering of Memories Revisited
By Tom Sheehan
Old friends come back at me in many ways in the spell of time, often special in their wrapping or in their expression.
Don Junkins and Bart Brady-Ciampa and Tim Churchard and Jim Smith (RIP) corresponded by letter or book or poem, CD or tape. All are Saugonians who had to go away to come home. Now my mouth waters at correspondence and is full of Don’s words, “Where have I been all these years?” from one of his recent book, and Buster’s Book being his spectacular newest one, 624 pages. They say Saugus to me, all the way from the bullring he writes about, all the way from a sweetened Iberia, all the way from the back of his head, and all his Lynnhurst folks caught up in a century’s wars.
What a cast! Don Junkins is in Deerfield, MA, retired but writing strong as ever, the metaphor saddled and ready. Bart Ciampa makes music in Vancouver and puts it on CD’s and sends them my way where they curl into soft and aging nights, as does the music and poetry of Tim Churchard in West Lebanon, ME, where he teaches and coaches, the Irish drum and the guitar loose in the night. From far off Waldwick, NJ, Jim Smith, before we lost him, wrote letters full of music and intelligence and first choices of a select mind. They came five and six pages at a time, robust, explosive, wandering his tastes, sorting them out for me with gunfire delivery.
Now, I read Don Junkins’ newest book, Buster’s Book, as I am surrounded by Bart Brady-Ciampa’s exquisite trumpet on his own CD from Vancouver way, hearing his Latinas Reflexiones, and he does all the instruments, one atop the other, pretending it’s about the Southern Desert, and all the time it’s all about Saugus.
Bart and Don, what a pair! What a pair! And they level out with Tim Churchard in cool West Lebanon, Maine and his music, and their long ties, and how they graced the same field as Tim and I did. And we all, to a man, love Saugus for what she is and what she has been in our lives.
My son Timmy (RIP) said, “So, you and your pals wrote a book about Saugus in this past century.” (A Gathering of Memories, Saugus 1900–2000.) “For example,” he continued, “tell me about the 1940s. What were they…