Lawrence: In the Spotlight

by NOËL CODY

 Poet and Author, Robert Frost

Poet and Author, Robert Frost

Many world-renowned artists, athletes and authors began their careers right here. It was from these local streets, that innovators and performers honed their crafts before making it big. Here are just a few people whose stories started in Lawrence.

On the Stage.The famous American composer and music director known for West Side StoryPeter Panand Wonderful Town, Leonard Bernstein, was born here. As was 1930’s jazz singer, Irene Day and Grammy-winning singer and Tony-winning actor, Robert Goulet. Not to mention, Joe Perry, the guitarist for Aerosmith and Godsmack’s lead singer, Sully Erna and bassist, Robbie Merrill.

On the Field. Some of the NFL’s best players started on the turf right here. Linebackers, Dave Rozumek and Ray Preston, along with tight end Bill Cronin played for Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles and many more teams throughout their careers. Boxer, Gil Reyes, whose nick name is “Sugar” first stepped into the ring right here and later held the WBA Fedecentro Title. And before hitting the boards as a standout with the Utah Jazz or even playing for Iowa State, Georges Niang could be found on local Lawrence courts as a kid. 

On the Page. Many famed writers originally called this city home, like iconic poet, Robert Frost, who received four Pulitzer Prizes and a Congressional Gold Medal for his work. As did Ernest Thayer, author of the acclaimed poem, Casey at the Bat, Ray Mungo, author, co-author, or editor of more than a dozen books, Paul Monette, author, poet, and activistand modern poet and hip-hop journalist, Garrett Caples, who released his latest book of poems, Power Balladsin 2016.

On the Cutting-Edge. Through history, some ground breakers and glass ceiling smashers have also hailed from this great city, like Marcos Devers, the first Dominican-American to serve as a mayor in the U.S. and the first Latino mayor in the state of Massachusetts. After his tenure as mayor of Lawrence, he would later serve as a Member of the House of Representatives until 2016. One of the CEOs of Malden Mills, Aaron Feuerstein is known for his generosity, for which he was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award. And lastly, Al Bernardin, inventor of the Quarter Pounder grew up here and would forever change the fast food industry by developing frozen fries.