Bedford Artists in the Time of Pandemic

Creating art is often a solitary experience, yet most artists want and need contact with other artists. The usual forums include on-site classes, art shows, critique groups, and visits to art museums.  The coronavirus at first left many local artists alone in their studios.  As the pandemic has stretched on, though, artists have reached out to one another in creative ways.

Bedford Explained ~ A Narrow Gauge Railroad Once Connected Bedford and Billerica

We had a request.  A fan of Bedford Explained was curious about the narrow gauge railroad bed that runs from Depot Park all the way to Billerica. 

It’s a great rail-trail now, but our fan, Adam, was curious about the history. So we went right to the expert, Jim Shea.  Jim is the president of  Friends of Bedford Depot Park.  Below is the fascinating history he shared with us. 

Our “Two Footer” Was the Country’s First
By:  Jim Shea, Friends of Bedford Depot Park

Alternate Route Sought to Concord

With all the paving projects going on, one seems particularly impactful.  On Route 62, from Bedford to Concord there is an orange construction sign saying “Construction- seek alternate routes.” Which begs the question – what is the alternative?

The Suffragists Who Lived Next Door ~ The 19th Amendment in Bedford


They were called “Soapbox Suffragists.” They would arrive in a town with a wooden box to stand on, set up on a busy corner, and take turns lecturing the crowd that gathered.  Sometimes they would speak from the town common or the steps of a public building or standing in the back of an open car. Once, when she was warned out of a seaside town as a public nuisance, a speaker went down to the beach and waded out into shallow water — neutral territory — and gave her call to action from there. Sharon McDonald serves both as Bedford’s Town Historian, and as Historian for First Parish, Unitarian Universalist, on the CommonA group of suffragists came to Bedford from BESAGG – Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government — one Saturday afternoon in 1909. They wanted some practice before they went on their speaking tour. “Go out to Bedford,” they were advised.

Honoring John Lewis and Reflecting on One Book One Bedford in 2017 ~ ‘The MARCH Trilogy’

Just a week ago, on Thursday, July 30, Rep. John Lewis’ funeral was held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA.  The congressmen and civil rights hero died on July 17 from pancreatic cancer.  His passing and the recent focus on systemic racism and bigotry in our country, has made the 2017 One Book, One Bedford community-wide read of Lewis’ MARCH trilogy even more pertinent and meaningful.

Three events from the series of activities that year are particularly worth re-visiting.  If you did not attend them, please consider watching the videos from those talks – they pose questions that we still wrestle with, and offer possible solutions that are more important now than ever.

….and the answer is

Sports are back……yawn.   Apparently readers of The Bedford Citizen are not all that excited about professional sports being back. 

An Appreciation: Jeff Hoyland

Several Bedford High School seniors and their family members took a detour on the way home from Sunday morning’s outdoor graduation to personally salute Jeff Hoyland, whose declining health precluded his covering the event with his camera – a ubiquitous feature on the students’ landscape for several years.

And there he was at his front door, acknowledging his admirers with a wave and a flicker of the outside light.

A few hours later, he succumbed to an 11-year battle with cancer.

Hoyland, who during his illness reinvented himself into an authentic local folk hero, was 59. He is survived by his wife Randi, children Alec and Sienna, his parents, and six brothers and sisters.

His death engendered a massive outpouring of sadness, admiration and gratitude, primarily on social media, which was Hoyland’s constant communication vehicle.

Click here to read more

Covid-19 ~ When Life Gives You Lemons? Make Lemonade!

All right, there is a lot, I mean a lot of things wrong with life in our pandemic world.  Healthwise, economically, socially, and worry, are just the big ones.  There are countless other terrible aspects of all this.  I’m lucky, I know, knock on wood, but everybody in our house is healthy, and no one has lost their job

New Hands Unite in Separation

In a year of much change and turbulence, Bedford welcomes two new pastors to the community. Interim pastor The Rev. Leah Goodwin joined First Baptist Church in late May, and The Rev. Jonathan Manor became pastor at The Lutheran Church of the Savior (LCS) in mid-March. The two have been presented with unprecedented circumstances in the religious community amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

What’s Bedford Thinking? A Snap Poll ~ Reopening Houses of Worship

Here’s the second What’s Bedford Thinking snap poll, this time about reopening houses of worship.

In Phase One of Massachusetts reopening, houses of worship can open with restrictions.  Assuming your house of worship chooses to open, how likely will you be to return to services within the next month?

What’s Bedford’s Thinking?  The Bedford Citizen’s Snap Poll

There’s a lot going on.  Big issues that affect us all, both directly and indirectly. Although The Bedford Citizen is focused on Bedford news, what happens in the broader world affects us all.

For instance, what do you think about Gov. Baker’s plan for reopening Massachusetts?

That is why we are launching a weekly poll, What’s Bedford Thinking?

You’ll find the poll on the main page of The Citizen’s website, alongside every story you read on the website or after you scroll through the news or read a story on your phone.

Bedford Explained: The 1918 Influenza Epidemic

It is thought that when the influenza epidemic arrived in Massachusetts in late August of 1918, it was brought by Navy men returning from World War I. The disease felled sailors on a receiving ship docked at Commonwealth Wharf in Boston and spread to the dockyards and naval station. It began to sicken Camp Devens, in Ayer, where there were thousands of soldiers waiting to be posted to France. Inevitably, it leaped to the civilian population.

So Why Visit an 1836 Prison?


Usually when folks take a weekend away they tend toward the exotic or skiing or a beach or a spa.  When I told friends we were going to Philadelphia for the weekend to see Eastern State Penitentiary, I got some “why-would-you-want-to-do -that looks” and then explained the history of this particular prison and its significance. Not one had ever heard of Eastern State Penitentiary. However, it is no wonder that Eastern State Penitentiary was the 2017 overall winner of the Excellence in Exhibitions Award from the American Alliance of Museums.  The public dialogue that this prison has introduced around issues of crime, justice, and our incarceration system is crucial to our future. Located within walking distance of the heart of Philadelphia and its plethora of museums along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world.  It was supposedly the world’s first true ‘penitentiary,’ a prison designed to inspire remorse and regret in its prisoners when it was built around 1840. Built of stone, the prison had single cells that were vaulted and sky-lit with a window in the ceiling; each wase designed to hold just one prisoner.  Each cell also had access to a small outdoor enclosed yard that was also just for that cell, and each prisoner was allowed outside at a different time each day but never at the same time as their neighboring cellmate since communication among inmates was discouraged.

Pole Capping, 2019 ~ Reminiscing with Jeff Hoyland

Bedford’s Pole Capping Day looks different in 2020. Due to Covid-19, the annual festivities which were supposed to happen today, Saturday, April 11, were canceled. We spoke with Jeff Hoyland, the man whose camera captures some of the town’s best moments, to hear his thoughts on that iconic day.

Could you describe the atmosphere at Bedford’s Pole Capping?

Passover 5780 – Differently Different

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Passover snuck up on me this year. After a March that came in like a lion and went out with a quarantine, and seemingly went on forever, I lost track of time. (After all, didn’t you hear- we are down to only three days a week: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.) But here it is, and here we are.

One of the most cherished traditions at the Passover Seder is the recitation of The Four Questions, when the youngest child present asks a series of questions to the group about Passover and its rituals- eating matzah, eating bitter herbs, dipping vegetables, and eating while reclining. The beginning line of The Four Questions, which is perhaps the most famous, is traditionally translated as “How is this night different from all other nights?”, from the Hebrew “Mah nishtanah halaylah hazeh mikol halaylot?”

A Visit to Los Alamos, New Mexico, and the Manhattan Project

Any visitor to the Taos and Santa Fe area of New Mexico should consider a trip to Los Alamos, home of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park.  Shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 during the Second World War, the United States began hiring scientists to work on a ‘better bomb’ to end the war.  Secret sites were set up starting in 1942 across the country, with the beginning being in New York City, thusly named the “Manhattan Project.”  Los Alamos was chosen as the main site for a new laboratory due primarily to lead scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer’s house in nearby Albuquerque and familiarity with the region.  The new, secret town of Los Alamos was built in 1943 and called “Site Y.”  Hanford, Washington, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, hosted secondary labs.

Callahan’s Karate Holds Virtual Online Belt Graduation Ceremony

Amidst all the disruption, Callahan’s Karate held a virtual online belt graduation ceremony and hosted a drive-through, no-contact belt pick up.

Instructors cheered for the students as they pulled up to the karate school. Another instructor with gloves on placed the belt onto our DIY social distant belt delivery device to allow the students to still receive their new belt!