Although my parents did not raise me in a home within Watertown’s boundaries; I have strong ties to this community. My first classroom experience as a pre-K and a Kindergartener was here in Watertown, at the Armenian Sisters Academy on Edenfield Avenue (the ASA later relocated to Lexington, where I attended for one year).
Furthermore, my family's U.S. roots began right here on Elton Avenue in 1947, where my grandmother - a newly married 17 year-old from Aleppo, Syria had arrived with her husband. They found a bedroom there to rent inside the home of an established Armenian family; both looking for work and struggling to learn the language and culture. My grandmother Mary found work from two brothers, Armenian immigrants Peter and John Airasian. Their School Street factory at the time employed over 225 residents – most of whom arrived from the Middle East looking for a new beginning after a genocide had taken a piece of their essence. It was at Eastern Coat Manufacturing that Mary was able to apply her seamstress skills; sewing the inside linings on the trademark raincoats.
Over time, my grandmother was able to afford her own home on Laurel Street. Widowed before twenty, she raised her daughter there with the core values and beliefs that hard work and determination will reap immeasurable rewards. Mary later remarried and established a new family outside of Watertown – raising two more daughters, the eldest of whom is my mother. Throughout her time in Watertown, Mary was able to slowly reunite with her family as they immigrated here individually from Aleppo. Decades saw sisters and brothers arrive, then later her mother and father. Finally in 1983, my great, great grandmother arrived and came to live with her daughter on Dexter Avenue, completing a quest that brought five generations to Watertown.
While I am not a lifelong resident, I am committed to the future of Watertown as an active member of our community. I have a deep and unwavering amount of respect for our residents. As a Town Councilor at-Large, I will honor and preserve Watertown’s history. As councilor, I will respect our community by never proposing to spoil our landscape with unnatural and unpleasant cellular base stations, unnecessary artificial turfs, or development that hinders our town resources and strains our roads and services. As a member of the council I will show consideration and fairness to all residents by providing compassion and understanding to their ideas – even if they are not consistent with the Town Council’s or Town Manager’s agenda. Listening is a skill, one of which has become a lost art. My first introduction to the Town Council’s inability to listen to residents began earlier this year, when presenting members with a petition of over 250 resident signatures opposed to a 100 foot cellular tower. Councilors ignored these concerns by moving to draft a Request for Proposal that will construct this tower. These types of actions do not demonstrate respect for our community or our residents. These types of actions do not serve to meet the needs of the people – particularly those that have given their trust to the current Town Council to act on behalf of the citizens.
Mary Kouyoumjian arrived in Watertown seventy years ago from
Aleppo, Syria. She found a community
that thrived on industry and small businesses.
While little is still visible of Watertown’s early 20th
Century factories and stores, what is present is our ability as a community to
welcome all individuals and ideas with open arms – to assist or guide others
and to ensure sincerity and integrity with every action. I call on the residents of Watertown, whether
they were born here or are only passing through, to celebrate these positive
aspects of our community by voting for change on Tuesday, November 5th.
Polls open at 8:00 am and close at
8:00pm. For polling locations, please