November 11 – NORTH ANDOVER – What’s in a Name? Anything, if the name is yours and it has been misspelled on a bronze plaque for almost 100 years.
This was the case with Arthur Enaire of North Andover, whose name was spelled “Ensire” on the town’s World War I memorial when it was erected in 1922.
Arthur’s nephew Leonard Enaire, 92 and also a veteran, learned of the misspelling from his father, Henry Enaire, who died in 1980.
But it wasn’t until Leonard went to see the plaque for himself at Patriots Memorial Park that he appreciated the permanence of this mistake and felt compelled to fix it.
“I’ve been trying to change his name ever since, and everyone tells me you can’t work on it, if you try to remove a letter you have water behind, it’s a big job expensive, ”he said. “I continued.”
Leonard said he has approached individual members of the North Andover board over the years about the issue, but to no avail.
“No one ever answered me,” he said.
The wheels didn’t start turning until about six months ago, when Leonard spoke to Joseph LeBlanc, director of veterans services for North Andover and Boxford.
LeBlanc had worked on a similar project several years ago, helping secure a grant from the State Historical Archives Advisory Council for the completion of the Vietnam War Memorial in North Andover.
So, after Leonard approached him, LeBlanc asked his fellow veteran duty officers to recommend someone who could fix the plaque, and they told him about Jeffrey Schiff of Schiff Architectural Detail in Chelsea. Schiff recently completed the changes to the plaque, thanks to $ 1,800 from city funds and a $ 200 donation from the VFW, LeBlanc said.
“It had some unique challenges,” said Schiff. “Due to the nature of a cast bronze plaque, it is not subject to an afterthought correction, and to do that you must destroy it to rebuild it.”
Working by hand and using a specially shaped chisel, he cut out the offending “s” as well as the “E”, which he said was damaged and needed to be replaced.
Finding letters to replace them was also a challenge, as the companies that made the originals are gone, and creating new matching letters would be too expensive.
“I created an ‘a’ out of a ‘w’,” Schiff said. “It didn’t exactly match the font, neither did the ‘e’. It was an original old ‘e’ I had. It’s again not a matching font, but if you get everything visually in a certain state, where it will be read and the color is consistent, it will pass. “
While fixing Arthur’s last name, Schiff also added a star next to Fred Houghton’s name, to indicate that he had died while serving in WWI.
This fact was recently confirmed for LeBlanc in research conducted by Anne Armitage of North Andover, a member of the town’s Patriotic Observation Committee. She wrote to LeBlanc that the absence of Houghton’s star was a mystery that could not be explained, but needed to be corrected.
Like Arthur Drouin, who always had a star next to his name on the plaque, Houghton died of the flu in the United States while waiting to be shipped to Europe.
Schiff also put a new star next to the name of Albert Thompson, who was killed in action in France but whose original star had eroded.
As with Enaire, the spelling of Thompson’s name has long been a source of debate, as he appears as “Thomson” in his military records. The Thomson School of North Andover was named in her honor, although it was spelled “Thompson” with a “p” when it opened in 1924, then changed to “Thomson” in 1928.
According to an article by Ted Tripp in the North Andover Citizen in 2005, it appears that Thompson may have deleted the “p” when he enlisted in the military, presumably to cover up the fact that he didn’t. was only 15 years old.
“Newspaper accounts in 1918 took Thomson’s name from the telegram of his death and mistakenly assumed the family name was spelled the same,” Tripp wrote. “The name change from Thompson School to Thomson School in 1928 could have been the result of the efforts of a local veterans group or family member who wanted the town to use Albert’s version. Army of the name. “
But the name of Arthur Enaire has never known this kind of public debate.
Leonard said he never even talked about the plaque on the World War I memorial with his uncle, who was considerably older than Leonard’s father.
He hasn’t seen Arthur often, although Arthur’s wife is Leonard’s godmother, and he remembers going to Arthur’s funeral in Boston.
“My dad once told me that (Arthur) lived in Hyde Park, Boston, and was a heavy equipment operator for the city,” Leonard said. “I have no idea when it was.”
Leonard was previously employed at the Davis and Furber Machine Shop in North Andover, and worked for the city from 1970 to 1994, driving a garbage truck and working for the highways department.
He also served in the Army from 1948 to 1951 and said the experience played a role in his determination to have the plate repaired.
“The name was wrong, and the vets always say, don’t leave anyone behind, we always take our people back,” Leonard said. “Being a veteran myself, it bothered me. Here’s a guy, he’s on the list, people think that’s his name, which he isn’t. He should have been like everyone else. world. His name should have been correct in the first place. “
While Leonard wanted the memorial to honor his uncle with precision, he also wants future generations of Enaires to be able to look at his plaque and feel nothing but pride.
“I have children and grandchildren,” he said. “They might look at it someday and say, ‘My name’s on it. “”