Salem has its own ladies’ detective agency
By Tom Dalton and Stacie N. Galang Staff writers, Salem News
SALEM — Rose Mary O’Connor, head of the Mack Park Neighborhood Association, got a phone call Tuesday that was a little out of the ordinary.
It was from a woman in New Jersey who was worried because she had not been able to reach her elderly great-aunt, who lives alone on Buffum Street. The woman said she talks to her great-aunt on the phone almost every day but had not made contact for almost a week.
Linda Smigelski of Jersey City said she tried everything she could think of to get help. She called the police, local hospitals and area nursing homes and was getting desperate. When she searched “Buffum Street” on the Internet, she said she stumbled across a website for the Mack Park Neighborhood Association, where she found O’Connor’s name and number.
“I must have made 35 to 40 calls within the past week trying to find (my great-aunt),” Smigelski said during a telephone interview yesterday.
When O’Connor hung up the phone Tuesday, she called her friend Beverlie McSwiggin, an active member of the neighborhood group. The two women started making calls.
Actually, McSwiggin, a retired court officer, went over and knocked on the door of the Buffum Street home, talked to other residents of the two-family house and interviewed neighbors. With a few clues, she started calling nursing homes and found the woman at a facility in Peabody — all in a few hours.
“It was the process of elimination,” McSwiggin said. “I knew she wasn’t dead because I didn’t see (the obituary) in The Salem News.”
Smigelski was thrilled when O’Connor called to say her great-aunt was alive and resting in a local nursing home.
“I would like to make a donation (to the group), although I’m not working right now,” the New Jersey woman said. “Maybe somewhere down the line I’ll contribute to their group. They’re very nice ladies.”
O’Connor deflects any credit, giving it all to McSwiggin, who must have honed her skills during her years in the courts.
“I call her Detective Beverlie,” O’Connor said.
Publisher: Salem News, July 9, 2010