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From condos and single-family homes to restaurants and businesses, churches throughout Eastern Massachusetts are finding...

From condos and single-family homes to restaurants and businesses, churches throughout Eastern Massachusetts are finding new life after the buildings are sold.

Church buildings are being sold and converted to housing across Massachusetts.
Sale of church buildings often changes town landscapes

Church buildings are being sold and converted to housing across Massachusetts.

More and more churches in Massachusetts are being sold, such as the Belmont-Watertown United Methodist Church in Watertown and Belmont.

Persistent illegal parking at White Horse Beach leads to parking ticking increase.
Big parking fines increase at White Horse Beach

Persistent illegal parking at White Horse Beach leads to parking ticking increase.

Illegal parking problems at White Horse Beach prompted the town to seek state permission to increase fines in the area.


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THIS SATURDAY, 4/23 @ 8PM - Jeff Purchon & Friends at the Westford PCA!
Grab your friends and come to this fun evening of listening and dancing to soul/funk/blues/rock classics!
Tickets $25/$21 - Advance tix recommended Doors open at 7:30PM - BYOB (drinks & snacks) Parish Center for the Arts, 10 Lincoln Street, Westford, MA
The annual Remembrance Ceremony was back at Meriam's Corner in spite of off and on heavy rain. Look for the photos in the Concord Journal.
A strong 9-4 win for the Concord-Carlisle boys lacrosse team over Newton North. Look for the photos on our webpage!
Saturdays at 9:30 AM on zoom! Rev up your weekends with cardio, 1-3 lb. weights & gentle stretching. Tone your muscles, increase bone density and raise your heart rate in this fun, effective class!
$50 for the 10-week session. Classes start on 4/11. Register on  Milford regional medical Center’s website:
Thanks so much to writer Wilson Kerr for featuring Gaining Ground in this month’s Time Outdoors column in The Concord Journal—and for joining us with his family at our recent Maple Sugaring Open House.

We’re always thrilled to get the word out about the incredible—and centuries old—practice of making syrup out of sap collected from our local sugar maple population.

This is a lovely and informative read!
Thank you to The Concord Journal for sharing this piece about Gaining Ground's continued harvests this winter.

Every pound of food we grow—even during the cold months—is donated to hunger-relief partners serving people experiencing food insecurity in Greater Boston and the Metrowest.
Hello, fellow Concordians. Many of you by now have heard of the passing of my biological mother, long-time resident Lydia A. H. Smith, child-psychology specialist and yet EXPERT CHILD ABUSER, whose obituary and services can be found at these links:
My purpose here is neither to invite nor forbid anyone to attend but to leave behind a lasting memorial to show who she truly was:
Dear readers, associates, contemporaries, colleagues, friends and family of the late Dr. Lydia A. H. Smith, Ed.D., of Simmons University in Boston, founder of its MAT program, author of several books, child-psychology specialist and yet EXPERT CHILD ABUSER:

Permit me to begin my long and tortured comments by filling a shocking absence in this, my biological mother's obituary, an absence so typical of her selfishness and aggressively arrogant self-worth, her many true and meaningful achievements notwithstanding: the very names of her children. I am first: I am John Andrew Smith, and my younger siblings are Marjorie "Bonnie" Hurd Smith, Emilie Everett Smith Caruso and Kenneth Hasbrouck Smith. The quality of Lydia's relationship with us ranged from worst to best: worst with me, poor with Bonnie, good with Emilie and best with Ken; while I am quite opinionated as to all four relationships, and of course that with our father, Alan Adelbert Smith – also never mentioned after their marriage from April, 1959 until his death in 2003! – for the sake of brevity and to allow the others the first comments, I reserve my time and space here for comments about Lydia's relationship with me. I intend here to reveal the real Lydia Smith: awful witch, horrid bitch, vengeful hater, superiority-complexed egotist, manipulative and misanthropic do******ix, arrogant narcissist and fervent keeper of perceived-royal appearances.
To be sure there is ample basis for her arrogance, superiority and association with royalty: a detailed read of this obituary certainly reveals that she was a pioneer in education, a published author, a well-respected academic, etc. I have also confirmed independently as best I can statements about her family tree, e.g., that her great-great grandfather fought the Battle of Bunker Hill, that we are related to President Calvin Coolidge, etc., although not yet that our ancestors came to this continent in 1635 or that we are directly descended of King Robert the Bruce of Scotland. Origins for her misanthropy are plentiful as well: she had as siblings only brothers, women's rights in general hardly existed during her childhood and adulthood, she told of harassment by her boss at a radio station where she worked, and she always used to watch the Senate and House on TV, especially during the Watergate era, and comment, "All men!" – nothing, strangely enough, similar to "All White men" – and at the time she was correct. Finally she achieved straight As from freshman year at Radcliffe to the attainment of her Ed. D. at Harvard with a specialty in childhood psychology. But it is this last achievement, truly a noble one, and the title of the book to which it gave birth, To Understand and to Help, a fine treatise on that subject, to which I must demand that you readers keep firmly in mind as I reveal to you her God-awful treatment of her "special" (read, "black-sheep"), eldest son, yours truly, which I offer in chronological order:
Lydia had always thought of me as crazy, and had hated me, since before my birth – yes indeed, as I was a fetus kicking around inside her. When I was age 10-11, by which time she had already openly called me a bully, a parasite, crazy, etc., and had been painfully physical many times over, to the extent that I had contemplated su***de many times just to spite her, then reconsidered, because I thought she'd probably prefer me dead, and I would not allow that, she actually bothered to tell me the story of her pregnancy with me. Again she thought I kicked around far too much, and so, since I was her first child and thus had no prior pregnancies of her own to which to compare that with me, she had only the two pregnancies of my biological father Alan's first wife, Julie, those with my half-siblings Duncan Emerson Smith and Lucinda Smith, with which to compare hers with me. These comparisons were valid in her warped mind because they were all three by the same man, Alan. And since I kicked around more than Duncan and Cindy inside Julie, I was automatically, "scientifically" and indelibly deemed crazy. For the record Lydia was a woman of medium build and height 5'6", and I was born weighing 8 lbs., 2 oz., so what comes to my mind is a quite reasonable, simple, and above-all benign explanation that perhaps I was disproportionally large inside her, again as her womb's first occupant.
Lydia had told me – among many others stories with which only to malign me and "prove" my insanity – that when I was her only child, i.e., before Bonnie was born, I ate well enough, but, when she was born, and she came of the age to eats solid food, I had attained the age when I could hold and manipulate a spoon myself. So innocently and practically enough, she started feeding only Bonnie, leaving me to my own devices, but, rather than eating myself, I became jealous of the attention given Bonnie and stopped eating, even pushing my bowl of food onto the floor, despite being so hungry that, as she described it, my face was as gray as the overalls I wore. Ivy-League child-psychology specialist and academic that Lydia was, she was familiar with the current works of Dr. Benjamin Spock, whose famous book covers this very situation, a book she owned and had read and referred to presumably many times, certainly over the five years during which Alan and she produced us four children. Nevertheless she was oh so puzzled and disturbed – again the notion of my scientifically-proven insanity firmly burned into her mind – that she felt it necessary to call her family doctor, one Dr. Whitfield. Only his professional medical opinion with accompanying credentials he had to share with Lydia for her to do what almost all other mothers, even those of the most modest educational backgrounds, commonly do: actively feed her son.
Lydia constantly reminded me to my face how she felt; I still retain flashbacks of her asking me, "Don't you know you're crazy?" with an extra breath of emphasis on that adjective, her calling me a parasite and a bully, and much more. Even my favorite color, purple, not shared by anyone else, to her was a crazy kid's favorite! Often I would simply sit on my bed and look out my window, saying and doing nothing, because I simply couldn't think of anything to do or say that she wouldn't use to supplement her "proof" of my craziness… and she'd use that very absence of word and deed as supplement! These were among my more suicidal moments, and they were many. All my life in her mind I was wrong unless proven right, bad unless proven good, guilty unless proven innocent, and most of all crazy unless proven sane. I could have recited the six Laws of Physics, and she'd disavow them only because they came from the mouth of a proven-crazy kid, even calling simple logic "your logic", Aristotle and 2,500 years be damned. I was always on the other side of a wall, one that was clear and thin enough to see and hear through, but nevertheless impenetrable: her side of that wall included those humans who deserved the most basic levels of human respect, including freedom from the occasional corporal punishment. Another flashback from about my age 6 or so was Lydia twisting my arm in front of me and threatening to twist it out of its socket. And she loved to make me angry and blame me for being angry, using it to further prove I'm insane – her favorite was to move something I had left lying around the house, and then "forget" where she moved it. Over and over again I pleaded with her to leave it there or ask me to move it so she could yell at me to get her satisfaction in that regard and then not have to remember where she put my thing, leaving me and only me to remember where my things were or to blame for losing something, a position one would think she'd enjoy. And so every time she did that I'd scream and yell louder and louder just to punish her more and more, and I loved it. All this from a Harvard-educated child-psychology specialist – clearly she thought of me as so much less than human.
Lydia became so falsely concerned for the safety of her human children, Bonnie, Emilie and Ken, that after I was deemed smart enough to skip third grade at Concord's Ripley school, but then had to stay back for fourth grade at Alcott, she decided to institutionalize me at Baird Center for Children in Burlington VT, for two years. She tells me Alan drove me and her there, and she cried all the way home. I simply don't believe that story: she must have been laughing or sighing relief. Baird was a harsh place, full of kids around my age (9-10) that already had serious criminal records, whose tempers and misdeeds were unlike anything I'd ever seen, even from Lydia and at Ripley and Alcott. The supervisors there disciplined children with pinning and submission holds borrowed from wrestling, they'd literally wash kids' mouths with soap who uttered swear words, and occasionally they'd place a kid for hours within either the Quiet Room or the Nursery, rooms with nothing but four walls, the Nursery being totally dark as well. I was one of the better-behaved and smarter kids, but I didn't totally escape all these forms of punishment. I still remember the names of about a dozen or so kids and supervisors, because I formed friends easily enough with people who hadn't erected the aforementioned clear wall between me and them. Worthy of note is that it was at Baird when for the first and final time I completely stopped loving my mother to any and all degree, and in addition, because she was also the most spiritual in the family – Alan called himself "agnostic" and never attended church – that I also stopped believing in God or anything spiritual at all. I shun, despise and belittle religion as actively as possible to this day, now that I've examined plenty of reason and science. Note, believer-sheep: I've been on both sides, believer and now atheist, so that makes me the open-minded one who has fairly examined both sides, unlike Lydia and all the rest of you galactic morons!
Lydia hated me even more for refusing to go to church, where I had been a member of the choir before being Baird-institutionalized – after all she must have thought Baird would "cure" me! So she took the trouble to tell many family members and church friends of my transition, including her priest brother, my uncle John Coolidge Hurd, Jr., named after her father. So now I was an outcast to my entire family for yet another reason, besides clearly my insanity, and quite a meaningful one. Family and friends alike proceeded to call me insane, an incomplete human being, devil child, demon seed, and so on, due to their believer-cult-inspired insecurities. I quickly reasoned – I choose that verb carefully – that indeed they were so insecure and fearful that facts, logic, math and science, which I champion and uphold to this day as all I can ever truly count on, would prove them wrong, that they all erected the same wall as Lydia had: that clear, not soundproof wall that separates humans from monsters.
Lydia in her mind probably made the mistake of a lifetime when I was to enter 6th grade, but in her never-ending quest to separate monster from humans, since I had aged out of that cold institution that is Baird, she enrolled me at Concord's own Fenn School for Boys. But not because of its exemplary records of academics, achievement and support since the year Lydia was born, rather because it is a boarding school, so she could have me out of the house for up to three more years, supervised by someone else besides my parents. Once again it's likely that Alan had absolutely no say in the matter, not only because he wasn't the educator and child-psychology specialist she was – he wasn't even Ivy-League! – but because in pretty much all matters regarding their marriage and their kids her word was law. He was there only because Lydia was never the businessman / accountant / financier Alan was, so his existence was reduced to shutting up and shuffling the papers to get the bills paid, and to do so he kissed ass within the context of both his entire career and his entire marriage. And yet it turned out that Fenn was where I grew, improved and learned so much at that very special place with very special people, that even Lydia once admitted, and even to my face, that I had done a great deal of growing up. Well, I would reply to myself, when people respect you as a human and work with your unique talents and quirks, even if they themselves give birth to them! By that I mean that it was at Fenn where I started doing computers and music, two mainstays in my life, for which I can't possibly be more grateful. I became quite good with computers thanks to math teacher William I. Maxwell, and at music too, thanks to band director and former neighbor Davis S. Huston.
Lydia then relented with Fenn a bit after one year of my boarding there, not as likely because in her mind I had grown up sufficiently as that Fenn/boarder tuition was quite expensive, for she enrolled me there for 7th and 8th grades as a day student, i.e., one who lived at home. Yet she continued to send me to psychiatrist after psychiatrist, completely oblivious to the fact that, frankly, it's all her fault as not only the adult but the child-psychology specialist between us. And they all did nothing and said nothing. I saw doctors from earliest childhood until high-school graduation, and none said anything or did anything. I was told they said I'd never have a girlfriend and never marry, which, of course, are wrong. But even long before my first girlfriend, let alone marriage I have long concluded, from the examples set forth by Lydia and all those doctors, that all of psychiatry and psychology are complete and utter pseudo-science, and I hold this opinion dearly and strongly to this day. If ever I were to see a psychiatrist, I would unleash upon them decades of anger I hope at this point you readers find understandable, to the extent that they'll partake in their favorite sports: locking me up and playing with my mind for money. Lydia constantly reminded me how many thousands of dollars she spent on me, but it was all to replace her absolute refusal to accept me as human, which costs practically nothing. She was good for four things: food, clothes, shelter and money, but even those all to keep up appearances in her New-England WASP British-royalty-descended tradition. These appearances were shattered one day, when she called the police on me – get this, readers – because I had thrown a snowball at Ken, I had hurt him, and I had shown no remorse at all, instead complaining about the truth in the differences between Ken's and my relationship with her: he'd cry and cry to Mommy, pathetic little favorite baby that he was, and she'd get angry with me and punish me.
Lydia then enrolled me in regular schools for the first time in two-thirds of my childhood, namely CCHS, Concord's public high school. Having never attended Concord public schools since fourth grade, and having come from Fenn, which only a handful of kids had, I knew practically no one I should have grown up with. And yet I thrived there, earning good grades and friends alike, joining clubs such as the band/orchestra on percussion, the math team and the school newspaper and even having a lovely girl show enough interest in me to pursue me and join in a relationship with me that lasted a highly unusual two years. Obviously, psychology being the bain of charlatans that it is, even they might understand that my whole life changed for the better; no one from my family to my friends to our family friends thought it possible I'd ever have a girlfriend at all, let alone a dedicated one for two years! And to Lydia's credit – then again most likely only to keep up appearances or out of fear of a crazy-angry response – she never disliked my girlfriend or told her anything she thought about me. However Lydia did exactly that with many of my teachers, to the extent that I always knew at the beginning of every new class with a new teacher which ones she had contacted ahead of time, and which ones she didn't. I was hardly ever allowed to be the one to make a first impression. My high-school life, finally, was also improved simply because I was able on my own terms to do what Lydia always wanted, to stay out of the house, because I had joined clubs which had meetings and events after school.
Lydia had me as the first child upon who to force hours and hours of SAT-test practice, and I did so, if only to be alone from her and everyone else for five-hour stretches. And so it came to pass that I applied to Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown and Syracuse as a safety: I was rejected at Harvard, accepted at Syracuse, Yale and Dartmouth, and wait-listed at Brown. I chose Dartmouth, because I had been doing computer programming since Fenn in a language known as BASIC, which was developed there, but that SO SHOCKED Lydia that I would choose Dartmouth over Yale – reputation and all that! – that she strongly insisted I attend Yale. Well, she was on the admissions committee at Simmons College, where she had taught for all of my childhood, and certainly she was much more familiar with academics and her own family's numerous Ivy-League members, that I relented and chose Yale. And it was at Yale that I had difficulties too numerous to mention, but they culminated in Yale accusing me of tampering with their computer system and kicking me off of it, which resulted in a $250,000 lawsuit based on denial of educational services – taking computer classes with no available computer – which is breach of contract. But by that time also our relationship remained strenuous, even though I lived on campus, and so she managed to cajole a family friend and psychologist, one Dr. Clarke, to prescribe lithium for me, going through none of the standard protocols even at the time, e.g., a simple blood test: all I know is receiving a big bottle of pills and instructions to take one every day. And I did. And I felt like a zombie. And she loved it. So I quit. And I even took the trouble to find a psychologist and Yale New Haven Hospital to ask him the simple question, do I need lithium? This is the only doctor, one Dr. Reddy, who put me through any relevant tests, in fact a battery of them, to scientifically answer to professional medical certitude: NO. I had him print out pages of his findings, I copied them, I mailed the to Lydia and Dr. Clarke, and I enclosed the remainder of my lithium, telling them in no uncertain terms what to do with it. But it was too late for my lawsuit – Lydia actually took the trouble to write to Yale's president, Bart Giamatti, to tell him of my much-"improved" behavior, in hopes of retracting the banishments and punishments of its computer science department, whose accusations were not at all accompanied by any form of due process. This came into play because at the same time Emilie had been accused of cheating on a history test in high school, and it too was without due process of any kind, so Lydia drafted an angry letter questioning the history department's familiarity with the Constitution, even offering sarcastically to forward them a copy. But her response to Yale's accusations without die process? "Shut up and get your Yale degree (so I can show to my family that I put a kid through an Ivy-League college.)" You see, none of my other siblings was Ivy-League, yet she had intellectual discussions with them fairly frequently, but never with me. Certainly she had many with Ken, her little favorite, who looks most like her, went into her field, studied in her classes, studied from her bookshelves of books, and even got the same glasses – prescription strength, frame shape and frame pattern – as Lydia, to make the transition complete from any semblance of a real man, his own person, to her junior clone. But I digress: Lydia's lithium letter to Yale ensured I'd get even less mercy from Yale than without it, my grades suffered, and I flunked out. And of course her anger couldn't be contained, because I was her only child in the Ivy League. I still had many friends at Yale, and one unfortunate night I went out drinking with one, and afterward we decided to break into a dining hall and steal some food, whereupon the police arrived and threw only me in jail, because the New Haven police coddled Yale students and spit on "townies" which by now I was. So my used my one phone call to call home, it had to be Lydia who answered, so I told her of my plight, and rather than the most natural of questions like "Are you OK", "Are you hurt", "What can we do", etc., i.e., those of a normal parent, her first question was, "Are you on drugs?", and next was, "What's it like in jail?" – a curiosity as morbid as it is intellectual!
Lydia was of little help as I sought my own job and quarters in New Haven, which I managed to get, and it is noteworthy that during this time the IBM-PC was born, because Windows computer skills have always been at the root of my profession from then until now, almost four decades. But that aside, our relationship was still dysfunctional, to the point where she asked – mind you I have no college degree at all at age 23 – "What's wrong with you? You should be married and have a kid!" It had been at Yale too where I discovered ma*****na, which I had used wholeheartedly since freshman year there, and one day she managed to catch a small amount in my pocket and threatened to throw me in jail. THIS DESPITE THAT KEN HAD BECOME ONE OF BOSTON COLLEGE'S BIGGEST CO***NE DEALERS, NOT JUST USING IT BUT SELLING IT BY THE POUND. And Lydia's reaction? Nothing whatsoever. The hypocrisy is palpable. And while Ken was somehow very good with the ladies, despite being severely dependent on co***ne and alcohol, I was none of these, and when I had the chance to call Lydia to tell her I met someone, her first question was, "Do you have AIDS?". Yes, really. And yet I'd go back for Thanksgivings and Christmases, because I had managed to stay away from homelessness by holding my very first job for 4½ years and then holding several more. There was one year I was so poor I couldn't go back for Thanksgiving, so rather than send me money or tickets she preferred I stay in New Haven and find a shelter for whom I could help prepare dinner for the homeless.
Lydia was briefly happy at my efforts to apply to Columbia, whose computer department was much bigger and better than Yale's, and after getting denied once I was admitted. I also has a full-time job, for four years I commuted to New York City from my job in Fairfield, CT, then back to New Haven late at night; this was to take the core requirements of introductions to literature, writing, art and music which all Columbia must pass, hence there were many sections and professors. But when it came time to take real computer courses, etc., they were few and far between, so I had no choice but to move to NYC in 1990, where I had already found a 3-day-a-week job so I could take courses two days a week, and at LONG last I finally graduated in 1993. But shortly beforehand I had asked that the attendees to my graduation be firm believers of a certain fact, and to this day it remains a fact that I have proven over and over and over with my suffering: I. HAVE. BAD. LUCK. Lydia called it an obsession; she had zero sympathy, even as Ken once told me Alan had told him, "The kid has bad luck", even as people who knew me independently concluded the same, she blamed me for everything bad and credited good luck with anything good that happened to me without exception. And I in turn credited myself with all good things and blamed MOSTLY bad luck for all bad things. This was a long-standing theme of many many arguments we had throughout my life – I would even use my resume as an example to prove it: every job I got *I* got, and every job I lost was because of bad luck – according only to me. Anyway, the bottom line was, despite that of her children I was the last to graduate and her only from the Ivy League, absolutely not one family member attended. Not one. So I called her to demand that we have a good long talk about this and much more, pretty much all of the above, and so on Memorial Day weekend, that was the plan at Stonecrop. But she postponed it and postponed it all weekend long until it boiled down to about 15 minutes late on Monday, at which I became so incensed I grabbed all my stuff and left for the nearest bed-and-breakfast, and from there back home; I just couldn't believe that even Lydia took my graduation and all my many issues so lightly. Lydia then punished me for this behavior by sending a letter forbidding me to come to Thanksgiving, but then another one a week or so later telling me she's be oh so happy to see me at Christmas. And therefore, finally, I took the biggest and best step to improve my life I've ever taken: I sent a letter back estranging myself from my whole family, demanding no contact whatsoever, even telling them all to write me out of their wills. Yet this doesn't end there: a week later she managed to find my number and call me to sarcastically announce the birth of Emilie's first child, abruptly hanging up rather than await any response. I called back, naturally baby Ken answered, I yelled at him to demand that everyone respect my wishes, the promptly had my phone number changed, unlisted and unpublished.
This, then, is my story vis-à-vis Cruella, Medusa and the Wicked Witch of the West rolled into one, not only a bonified multiple-time child abuser but an expert in her field. She was not stupid. She was not ignorant. She was nothing but malicious. This is absolutely proven fact. Since 1970 I have never stopped hating her, even having bothered to find her number and call her on her 75th, 80th and 90th birthdays to disguise my voice to confirm it was she who answered, then tell her I still hate her. And I do, proudly, openly, unabashedly, viscerally and elementally, since my days as a fetus. I found that on my side of her invisible wall was the outside world, so I went there, and I found respect, friendship, admiration and even love, much more so that my own family had ever offered. Food, clothes and shelter – those minima are those even at Alcatraz, and I needed and deserved more, so I found them. And even precious little Ken, who years ago started negotiations to buy Stonecrop and along the way actually fell out of favor with Lydia by shadily taking her money, found me on LinkedIn and told me there that leaving the family was quite wise. Naturally I have blocked him there as well as Bonnie and Emilie, and I have also blocked all phone numbers and Email addresses for them I've found in all the legal documents surrounding the morass Lydia and my siblings created.
I curse you, Lydia Averell Hurd Smith, to eternal damnation in the Hell you believe in, may your body be desecrated by the maggots and worms that eat you, may your memory as cruelty personified be widely and long known, may those that know you and read this shun mention of you so that you will soon be forgotten in history except by me, your worst nightmare and pariah. Good riddance as I spit on your picture, I spit on your grave, I spit in your face, I spit into your womb and kick it ever more.

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