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A taste of colonial history

Brooksby’s Bill Scouler brings the past to life

Created date

October 13th, 2017
Bill Scouler, pictured with his wife Carol, worked as a Battle Green guide in Lexington, Mass.

Bill Scouler, pictured with his wife Carol, worked as a Battle Green guide in Lexington, Mass.

 

As an optical physicist, Bill Scouler devoted his career to the sciences until he retired in 1995.

“I wasn’t a big fan of history in school,” says Bill, who earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I was more of a math and science guy.”

Bill and his wife Carol lived in Lexington, Mass., for 53 years before they moved to Brooksby Village, the Erickson Living community Peabody, in June 2016. 

“When you live in Lexington for so long, you tend to get caught up in what happened there,” says Bill. “My interest in colonial history developed after I retired.”

The Battles of Lexington and Concord, on April 19, 1775, marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War between Great Britain and its 13 colonies in America.

“I saw guides giving tours on the Lexington Battle Green and thought, ‘I could do that,’” says Bill. “I took the test to be a guide in 2002, passed, and started volunteering.”

A few years later, the town of Lexington was investing in tourism and put the Battle Green guides on the payroll.

“Then I was a town employee with regular shifts running from spring through early fall,” says Bill, who purchased his own colonial uniform to wear on duty.

“Some days I’d start a tour with a half dozen people, then I’d turn around and have 20 people listening in,” says Bill.

One small boy, glancing up at Bill in his colonial attire, asked if Bill was old.

“I told him that I was old, but not as old as he thought I was,” says Bill with a chuckle. “He thought I was from the 1700s.”

Getting involved

When Bill and Carol moved to Brooksby, their neighbors were soon benefitting from Bill’s expertise. 

Live and Learn courses, taught at Brooksby by residents, are offered twice a year as part of the community’s emphasis on lifelong learning.

In the fall of 2016, Bill donned his colonial uniform to present “First shot—the Battle of Lexington” in the chapel at Brooksby.

“Afterward, I had residents asking if I was a history teacher,” says Bill. “I told them that if you live in Lexington, you get caught up in revolutionary history. Then I started asking myself what I should do next.”

For the Spring 2017 Live and Learn series, Bill prepared a presentation on Benjamin Franklin, whom he considers to be the most interesting of the founding fathers.

“Chris [DeThomas, TV/audio visual manager] helped me spruce up the technical part of my presentation,” says Bill. “It’s great to live at Brooksby where it’s easy to get involved, and we have professionals to support us in our endeavors.”

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