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  • Last modified 126 days ago (Jan. 18, 2018)

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Veteran volunteers make pizza for veterans

Staff writer

For many Peabody residents, Friday nights mean more than the end of a workweek. It’s also an opportunity for pizza from American Legion Post 95, located in the 100 block of Walnut St.

Locals gather over spirits, laughter, and a variety of pizza toppings on homemade crust to kick off their weekends

“We like it because it’s someplace else to go, something different,” said Bret O’Dell, a frequent patron.

The process begins Thursday evening when Larry Watts, a post officer, prepares the crust.

“Crust is crust,” he said. “I use a little bit of flour, little bit of salt and sugar, and then add the yeast. Then I press it and run it through the oven for about three minutes.”

The Legion acquired specialty pizza equipment several years ago after a pizza restaurant across the street closed.

“We start the end of September and go through winter until the end of March, depending on the golf weather for our volunteers,” said Watts.

A majority of volunteers smearing sauce and scattering toppings are veterans. On Friday, predominant volunteers in the kitchen were Army veterans Josh Fistler and Jay Gfeller, who both served overseas.

On the surface, the atmosphere appears to focus on pizza and camaraderie of others. However, volunteers and patrons alike agree these components are just a slice of a bigger picture of what the pizza represents.

Many county residents visit Prairie Lawn Cemetery in Peabody annually during Memorial Day weekend for the Avenue of Flags, started and maintained by the labor of legion volunteers. The pizza offered on Fridays is another component to raise funds for the maintenance of the flags in place, and the new monument which was erected last Spring.

The avenue started with 35 flags, each with a light and nametag in honor of a local veteran who died and now has grown to over 200.

Now, the Legion’s main focus is adding more names to the freshly built monument.

The first names were of veterans whose families had already purchased flags. Legion members have since put their efforts into representing all veterans buried at Prairie Lawn Cemetery.

“Some have been gone so long, they don’t have any family left,” Watts said. Someway, somehow, we want to make sure they’re represented, too. The funds we get from pizza, along with donations we receive, all circle back to maintaining the Avenue of Flags and the monument. If we’re ever unable to get all the flags up, we’ll always have the monument.”

Pizza is served from 5-8 p.m. and prices vary depending on toppings, with a three-topping pizza costing $15.

Last modified Jan. 18, 2018

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