1990—Cyndi’s McAvoy Prize
Cyndi was just a year old in 1973, when we moved from Burlington to Timbaloo. As our little cutie, she enjoyed the basement room that I gradually outfitted as a playroom. We learned by hearsay, little by little, that this space held a place in the memories of some of our neighbors.

Tom Butler built his house, our eventual Timbaloo, in 1907. Over 30 years later, he met there with two friends to form the Touchdown Club as a booster organization for Arlington High School sports. Until the club grew too large, we’re told, our basement barroom served as their meeting hall. They continue today an annual ritual of banquets in honor of the local teams, as well as regular meetings for conviviality and a growing palette of community service. By the time we became the third proprietors of 82 Appleton Street, the Touchdown Club was larger and more active than the local branches of Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, and other such businessmen’s organizations. Its membership roster comprised most of the names that one would see on the doors of commercial and professional enterprises in Arlington.

During her senior year, Cyndi accumulated a number of awards for her scholastic and athletic performance, and so Valerie and I were not particularly startled to receive a very cordial letter from the current president of the Touchdown Club, inviting Cyndi Anderson and her parents to be their guests at a dinner meeting at the Sons of Italy Hall. We attended, expecting another banquet at which she and her various teams would receive trophies and pose for cherished group photos.

Our first surprise came as we observed that the crowd of two or three hundred included just three women: Cyndi, Valerie, and Mrs McAvoy, and that they, the club president, and I had a table to ourselves. After an unusually fine multi-course Italian dinner, the president arose and announced that we were here to honor Cyndi Anderson as the recipient of the fifth [I think] annual McAvoy Award. We could, said he, be recognizing Cyndi’s considerable athletic distinction, or her many academic achievements, but that this was something different. At Mrs McAvoy’s insistence, they give out the McAvoy Prize separately, so that its distinctive character doesn’t get lost. She had founded and funded the Prize some years earlier, in memory of her deceased husband, James W. McAvoy, selected in 1944 as Touchdown’s first president.

No, said he, we were not honoring Cyndi as an athlete, nor as a scholar. The McAvoy prize is awarded each year to the Arlington senior who has done the most to give back to the community more than she takes away. They were honoring her for a variety of low-profile volunteer service activities, many associated with her church participation. To an energetic standing ovation (her first ever, as far as I know), he called Cyndi up to receive a nice plaque and a scholarship check for a thousand dollars.

She was kinda flustered, and responded with little more than “Thank you!” They loved her.

Twelve years later, we would sell Timbaloo to a subsequent Touchdown president, who would remove the wet bar from our basement and install it in their current meeting place.
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