, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 26, 2013

A celebration amid sadness

Florence Bushee praised at site of home that couldn't be saved


“It’s pretty heavy-handed,” said neighbor Lon Hachmeister, whose grandchildren, Jessica, 6, and Angela, 5, attended the memorial alongside him. “He set instructions that if anyone put a foot on the property, they were to be arrested.”

Given the constraints, guests gathered in the driveway of the nearest neighbor, where Hachmeister and others talked about Bushee with the expressed intent not to look on the memorial as a sad event, but rather make the day a celebration of a woman who did most of her good deeds out of the public eye, as some of her neighbors still remember.

“She always gave us Christmas gifts and Christmas cards,” recalled Mary Chick. “She’d come back from Jamaica and we’d all get the grass slippers and dresses.”

As a child growing up in her family’s home just down the street from Bushee, Chick remembered Bushee’s splendid show horses — her pride and joy — and the old plow horse Hiram that grazed in the fields beside Bushee’s home.

She recalled the children of the neighborhood would climb atop the good-natured animal and slide down his backside. She also remembered that at a time when it was popular to groom show horses in a way Bushee saw as cruel, the Newbury resident gained a following for her position and saw to it that the practice was banned.

With the cold weather wearing on them, guests convened at the Pollis home to continue their stories, where they milled about as if someone they’d all known and loved had been lost with the razing of the house.

“Unbelievable, isn’t it?” they commiserated, shaking their heads.

“By their deeds you shall know them,” said neighbor Mike Laurano, speaking of Bushee. “It’s a loss — very definitely a loss.”

What Laurano and other neighbors voiced as their biggest concern in the way the Bushee house was razed is the mystery surrounding the owners and their apparent lack of regard for those already living on the street where they’ve received approval to build a new subdivision.

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