NORTH ANDOVER — Have you ever thought about visiting all 351 of Massachusetts’ cities and towns?
Pete and Debbie Lincoln, retired teachers from Lunenburg, not only thought about it, they actually did it and have shared their experiences with audiences throughout the state. Last night at the Stevens Memorial Library, it was North Andover’s turn to hear about their journey, which took them 7 1/2 months.
They didn’t just show up in each town and say, “We’ve been to Sudbury” or wherever. They took pictures of each other with signs proving that they’d actually visited a particular town or city. They also compiled a wealth of information and little-known facts about the state’s diverse communities, which range from Gosnold, boasting a population of 52 according to the 2010 Census, to Boston, claiming more than 600,000 residents.
The Lincolns ended up with more than 700 photographs and estimated they drove about 8,000 miles.
Both demonstrated their dramatic flair in their pictures. When they were photographed in front of a library, one of them would usually be shown reading a book. Pete is posed in front of the Wakefield Bowladrome, ready to hurl a strike.
They often posed in front of “Welcome to” signs.
“Does North Andover have a Welcome to North Andover sign?” Debbie asked. They didn’t find one when they visited this community, she said. People in the audience assured the Lincolns that a sign welcoming people to North Andover is situated in the downtown.
Massachusetts used to have 355 cities and towns, but that changed in the late 1930s, when the Quabbin Reservoir was dug so people in the Boston area would have enough water. The towns of Prescott, Dana, Greenwich and Enfield were disincorporated and submerged.
Pete said his family lived in what is now the Quabbin Reservoir for seven generations. More than 5,000 people were displaced by the massive project, he noted.