Easton Patch and "Muscato's Musings" Celebrate Their First Birthday
Here I Reflect – With an Assist from "Ski"
One year ago today, Easton Patch launched, and so did "Muscato's Musings."
When I embarked on writing the “Muscato’s Musings” columns (by the way, it was Easton Patch editor, Patrick Maguire, who came up with the name for the column), I was greatly enthused, happy and grateful to have an opportunity to share stories, that have an Easton angle, with people on the web, and thereby, theoretically, the world.
I still feel this way. Nothing has changed.
It is fun and rewarding to talk in person with people who read “Muscato’s Musings” – as it is to receive emails from people around the country, most of whom are former Easton residents, who write nice things about the columns – and how the columns reconnect them to Easton. I enjoy the comments posted in the commentary section that is located in the space after the columns.
I post links to the “Muscato’s Musings” columns on my Facebook page, and this generates fun and interesting discussion.
I suspect that some think that writing columns – especially a new column three times a week – almost all of which are directly related to Easton, and which have Easton and Easton people as a focus, can be something of a parochial and sheltered exercise.
I am a native of Easton, and have spent most of my life here, with stops in other places, like the Washington D.C. area, Boston, New York City and Quincy. But Easton is special to me, and within it I have known richness of experience – and in its people an abundance of virtue, such as courage, love, work, honesty, faith, friendship and compassion.
There are some, of course, who move away, and who think they have left the small town, and they have graduated to bigger things – and that the people who remain are the happy villagers, townies, who don’t hang with the important crowd.
Well, this thinking is the thinking of small minds, and of those who have priorities askew.
This is a wonderful place to live, this place called Easton – whether you are filthy rich capitalist or bohemian artist of modest means. And, believe me, we have both here.
You know, there are so many in this world who are accomplished and powerful and well of financially – yet who don’t know the comfort and spiritual renewal and happiness of strong and close-knit community.
Earlier this week, Oscar “Ski” Conceison, an Easton native, passed away. He was 85. Ski, the patriarch of the Conceison family, our next door neighbors when we lived on Andrews Street, was a fixture in Easton and highly respected. Dotty, Ski’s wife of 57 years – and herself an Easton native – died in 2008.
(Both the house my family lived in and the home that the Conceisons lived in were converted cottages that Ames Shovel Company built for their workers.)
A child of immigrants from Portugal, Ski was one of four kids. He attended Oliver Ames High School where he was a talented baseball player. Ski was a combat infantryman in the European theater in World War II.
Ski made it home from the war. He got engaged to Dotty Mullin, and in 1950 they were married. Together they brought up a family: Jay, Ann, Nancy, and Kara. My sister, Suzy, and Kara were the closest of friends.
Ski worked as a mechanic for 26 years for Sundell’s Auto & Garage, and then was hired as Transportation Supervisor for the Southeastern Regional School District, a position he held for 30 years.
By the way, Ski was a hard worker. When he wasn’t working as a mechanic, he was working around the yard doing … well … please hold on … this will be amplified a bit later in this column.
When I think of Ski, I think of someone who benefited from a long life in which he knew the blessings of strong family and community, both which he fostered and cultivated. Every day he knew rich friendship.
And, of course, as someone who fought for freedom, he appreciated it far more than the protected who take it for granted.
Ski and Dotty were weekly communicants at Immaculate Conception Church on Main Street.
Ski lived a life in Easton that was one that had much laughter; one in which he played the accordion for the “Portuguese-American Band,” an Easton institution – and for another band, “Ski and the Skidoos”; one in which he took daily pre-dawn five mile walks up and down Center Street; a life in which he hanged with the guys, many of whom he knew since childhood; he stayed involved with veterans groups.
Ski knew community. About 15 years ago, soon after Ski turned 70 and was as vibrant and productive as ever, scoring job review assessments on par with those he registered when he was a newbie in the position of Transportation Supervisor, an administrator with the Southeastern Regional School District sought to eliminate Ski’s position.
Ski wanted to keep working.
Well, this being in Easton, and Ski being Ski, this wasn’t going to stand. Friends and family rallied, a campaign in support of Ski was launched – complete with “Save Ski” lawn signs. Ski stayed on the job.
What Ski knew and enjoyed in Easton is what I know and enjoy in Easton – good people and caring community.
Ski passed away the same week as did Steve Jobs.
In a tribute and memoriam to Ski that my sister posted last night on her Facebook page, she put things in perspective; here is the post:
Nope, he won't be remembered as one of the greatest visionaries of all time. And yet out of love and purpose, he too used his mind and hands to create so many things that simply made people's lives better. Not the lives of millions of people. Not the lives of famous people. But my little life and the lives of scores of neighborhood kids were made better. Better by the life size doll house (the hut) in their backyard. Better by the professional grade swing set which rivaled any found on a schoolyard. Better by the paved basketball court. Better by the stone and masonry built-in grill in which he made his famous carne spiert. Better by the landscaping which wrapped around their entire house, featuring grass, bushes, shrubs, walkways, and a stonewall, and which couldn’t be beat to play, hide or just hang. Better by the massive flagpole, sunk with cement into the side yard so it stood at the highest point on the street. But, for me personally, his greatest work was a humble little bell. In five minutes or so, he attached an old bell to a piece of wood with a battery and some wires. As his daughter and I would play school in that basement for hours on end, I would call my class to order by touching those wires to that bell. A pure and loud sound would ring out. Nope, it wasn’t an iPod, or iPhone, or iPad. But, for a little girl, it was the best damn gadget, ever. God speed, Mr. Conceison, and thank you.
Suzy and her husband and kids now live in Evanston, IL. My mother, who turned 83 this past Sunday, also lives in Evanston, in a nice retirement community about a mile and a half from my sister.
The affection so evident and beautifully expressed in Suzy's post about Ski Conceison shows how a person continues to influence her, all those years after Andrews Street, and even now that she lives in the Midwest, far away from Easton.
Oscar "Ski" Conceison is a child of Easton. He is part and parcel of so much that makes this place wonderful.
I really believe that Easton is exceptional for its community spirit, its civic pride, and its commonweal.
This spirit and civic pride and commonweal has provided, and it maintains, bountiful natural resources, beautifull buildings, gorgeous landscapes, and a trove of valuable and enriching civic and cultural organizations.
We have strong schools and talented and committed town employees and elected offiicals.
It is easy to write three columns a week with an Easton tie and and Easton flavor.
My sister has a strong affection for Easton. Another Facebook post of hers, this one she made a couple years ago – and I know Ski Conceison would have found the post funny – whimsically expresses this affection. I'll explain.
At the end of the street that Suzy lives on, is the shore of Lake Michigan; actually a public beach on the lake is at the end of the street. Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, has a surface area of 22,300 square miles. It bounds the states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Talking about Lake Michigan on her Facebook page, Suzy wrote that the lake is "impressive, but it's no Long Pond."
Suzy is right. That's absolutely true.
And Lake Michigan isn't in the league of Shovel Shop Pond either.