May 2021 Newsletter



        May 2021 Newsletter

Lots of interesting information to share this month including the Attendance Survey highlights, A Trip Down Memory Lane event, a Wine Country article about classmate Merrill Lindquist, a Donations update and Key Dates to remember.

Countdown to Sept 17th & 18th

We are pleased to communicate that our 50 +1 Reunion Plans are on for September 17 & 18, 2021.  We have a responsibility to make the most educated and informed decision to move forward. Vaccinations among our age group should be completed.  Combined with expanded age group vacinations, suggests we will be in a much safer place come September.  The CDC and most states, including Massachusetts continue to ease up on restrictions with plans to accelerate during the summer, provided current trends continue.  Some may be still concerned and anxious, yet, our survey suggests with Covid restrictions easing, the vast majority of respondents plan to attend.

Attendance Survey Highlights

We reviewed the results during our May Monthly Zoom Meeting and the feedback assisted us in moving forward with our Reunion plans.  A brief summary of the survey is provided below;

  • 53 of 126 Website Registered classmates responded, 37 Yes, 10 Maybe and 6 No.  That is a 41% participation rate and an good sample size.
  • 6 of the 10 Maybes were Covid related concerns, the balance were scheduling conflicts.
  • 25 classmates indicate they plan to bring a guest.
  • 28 people plan to attend the Friday LHS Tour, with nearly 80% indicating they would be willing to pay a small fee (est. - $10.00) to secure a bus to and from The Four Points Sheraton and LHS. 

We will leave the survey open on the website until we begin Event Registrations in mid-June.  Feel free to complete the survey.

"Trip Down Memory Lane" You Won't Want to Miss

The positive feedback on the LHS Tour on Friday afternoon inspired our Committee to expand the Tour.  Thanks to the efforts of Committee members Alan Foulds and Joy Rossborough Doyle, they have developed a fun and memorable Trip Down Memory Lane in conjunction with the LHS Tour.  This will entail visiting local landmarks that were important fixtures during our youth in Lynnfield.  Just a few teasers - do you remember Tony's Gas, Kernwood, Tally-Ho, Barkey's and Dr. Devaney's?  

"Little Piece of Heaven"  -  Merrill Lindquist

Among our wide-ranging life path and careers, our classmate Merrill Lindquist’s path from project management in the Boston area to producing high-end wine in Napa Valley is a particularly intriguing one. Thanks so much to Merrill for her willingness to share with me some highlights of that path to date—and she’s determined there are many more to come!

-Kitsie Eckert Claxton


After our 1970 graduation, Merrill earned a degree in English at Boston University and considered doing graduate work in pursuit of a teaching career. But committed to financial independence, she moved in a different direction instead, her natural organizational skills leading from work at Ann Taylor to importing Brazilian footwear. It wasn’t long before Merrill “talked her way” into Digital Equipment Company, she describes, where she worked as a project and program manager in the engineering department. Merrill took early retirement from DEC in 1992 to focus on starting a family.

Several years later, when Merrill’s husband’s work led them to Silicon Valley in California, she found the setting and atmosphere there “crowded and competitive, with everything driven by high-tech.” Weekends would frequently find them escaping north to Napa Valley, where Merrill soon began scouting out a possible vacation home. One rainy October night,  Merrill remembers, she and daughter Emily fell in love with a 60-year-old farmhouse in Calistoga, a small town in northeast Napa Valley.  

The “little piece of heaven” that drew them just  happened to include a small vineyard, tiny by Napa Valley standards—just 464 grapevines on two-thirds of an acre. Merrill knew nothing about winemaking, describing herself back then as “someone who would just pick up a bottle of wine at the corner store.” But she soon decided that “since we have grapes, we should just make ourselves some wine!“  

Merrill’s vineyard is located in an area known for outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, with several large, prominent vineyards nearby.  A combination of factors—including soil, climate, and sunlight—gives wine grapes their distinctive character, and every small element plays a role. Merrill’s vineyard, for example, is on the level ground of the valley floor, which means that all of her vines get even amounts of sun and rain.

Click for preview Click for preview             

From her first harvest in 2000, Merrill kept a half-ton of grapes, which she had produced into wine by a local winery, in what is known as a “custom crush.” She named the vineyard EMH (for Emily, Merrill, and her then-husband Hugh) and the wine Black Cat after the cat that roamed the property. By a chance set of events and contacts, the wine was included in a double-bind tasting at a well-known San Francisco wine seminar, where it placed ahead of many high profile Cabernets. “You should be selling this,” remarked the seminar founder, who would soon become Merrill’s winemaking mentor. 

Merrill made the decision to use the vineyard’s entire next harvest for an increased production of Black Cat wine, using all of her project management skills to secure licenses, coordinate the fermentation process with her winery partner, develop plans for production and shipping, etc.—including details as specific as choosing the make and age of every wine barrel.

Her favorite part of winemaking, Merrill says, is deciding when to harvest the grapes each fall, widely known as the “call to pick.” The date is variable from year to year, but always timed early in the morning when the berries are cold; up to a dozen people can pick all the vines in about one-and-a-half hours. The harvest timing is critical to each vintage. “There’s huge risk in the call to pick, but also a sense of power,” Merrill says. “I make the call by my gut….but every year, driving home from the winery [where the grapes will be crushed], I can’t help second-guessing myself. You get some clues about the wine through the production process, but ultimately you don’t know exactly what you have until you open the bottle in two years time, or more.”

Merrill’s wines consistently get rave reviews, and depending on the vintage, may sell for as much as $200 a bottle. That’s quite an achievement for someone who knew nothing about wine when she started out two decades ago

          Click for preview                  Click for preview

Merrill is donating a magnum of her Black Cat 2014 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon for a reunion door prize…a very generous gift, and a reason unto itself to attend our gathering this fall. Get lucky, and you can start planning your own wine-tasting event, likely with pouring tips from the winemaker herself. (Connoisseurs, note the wine’s description: “Cherry, cedar and spice. Soft and voluptuous. Backing notes of anise and mint.”)

If anyone is interested in learning more or ordering from EMH Vineyards, a link is provided below.

Thank you, Merrill!

Class Gift & Donation Drive Update

Thank you to all who have made a Donation.  Over the last 30 days, we added a total of $1,950.  We still have a long way to go and just over 3 months to accomplish that.  We would like to exceed our goals as current inflation may increase the price of the Class Gift.  Please refer to the Class Donation Process tab on the website.  You can make a donation directly through the website or send a check.


Updated Current Classmate Photos

Several classmates have added current photos to their Website profiles - thanks.  We encourage everyone to add a current photo to your profile.  It may help Reunion attendees recognize the "new and improved" versions of LHS senior photos.

Key Dates
Now - August 30th:  Submit Donations for Class Gift & Website operating expense
Now - August 30th:  Book rooms at the Four Points by Sheraton.  Refer to Hotel Blocks website page for details.  Strongly encourage everyone to make reservations early.
June 14 - Sept 3rd:  Reunion Event Registration available on the website
Friday, Sept 17th:  LHS/Trip Down Memory Lane Tour, Meet & Greet at Four Points by Sheraton
Sat., Sept 18th:  Four Points by Sheraton Main Event

Stay healthy, stay positive, we are getting close!

Respectfully, The LHS 50+1 Reunion Committee