Their Gift to Chelsea: Zabot, Chacon Seek Residents for Oral History Project

If you have a story you want to tell about Chelsea, Devra Zabot and Edward Chacon want to hear it.

Edwardo Chacon (far left) and Devra Zabot (far right), pictured with friends, are co-producers of an oral history project about the City of Chelsea. The project is generating considerable interest among current and past residents.

Chacon, a creative film producer who oversees Chelsea City Studio, and Chacon, who is affiliated with Jukebox Event, are reaching out to the community for their oral history project focusing on the city. They are co-producers of the project, having worked together on different entertainment events such as comedy shows in the past.

The two Chelsea residents have received an Artists Recovery Grant through the Apollinaire Theater for the project. The search for storytellers is in high gear.

“Even before we received the grant, Devra and I had heard so many great stories about Chelsea from people spanning all generations,” said Chacon. “When the opportunity to do this production at the theater came about, we thought this would be a great way to put those stories together.”

Zabot, who is the sister of City Councillor Naomi Zabot, said she and Chacon are excited to bring the project to the stage.

“Edward and I are really excited to produce this oral history of Chelsea with current and former Chelsea residents,” said Zabot. “As Chelsea residents ourselves, we have this sense that this project is a gift to our city.”

Chacon believes there are many Chelseans who have interesting stories to tell about the city.

“We’re putting together a list of people that we would love to be a part of this project,” said Chacon.

That list includes Grammy-winning jazz pianist Chick Corea, who attended the Williams School and keeps in contact with Chelsea resident Minna Karas-Marino, who attended his recent concert at Symphony Hall.

“We’d love to record Mr. Corea’s story and have it as part of our live production,” said Chacon.

Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, dean of the City Council, Council President Roy Avellaneda, whose family has owned Tito’s Bakery for decades, GreenRoots Executive Director and former councillor-at-large Roseann Bongiovanni,  Collaborative Executive Director Gladys Vega, former Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash, CBC President Joan Cromwell, and long-time Chelsea residents David Rudolph and Isaac Irraola will be other likely “storytellers” in the project. 

 Former Chelsea Emergency Management Director Allan Alpert, Police Chief Brian Kyes, Walnut Street Synagogue caretaker Herbie Kupersmith, Walnut Street Synagogue President Ed Medros, Temple Emmanuel President Sara Lee Callahan, and community activist Judie Dyer are also being contacted about their potential participation in the production.

Chacon said he moved from Malden to Chelsea in 1992.

“I remember growing up here and going to the old Williams School,” recalled Chacon, a 2003 graduate of Chelsea High School. “There was a playground and all of sudden there wasn’t because they were building a new Williams School. Those are the type of stories we’re looking for.”

Chacon and Zabot said they are thankful for the support their project has received to-date.

“We are so grateful for the support of the Artists Residency Project through the Appolinaire Theater and the Chelsea Cultural Council without which this project would not be possible.”

Chacon and Zabot said residents can contact them about the project at [email protected]

3 comments for “Their Gift to Chelsea: Zabot, Chacon Seek Residents for Oral History Project

  1. Marsha
    January 27, 2020 at 6:49 am

    Thrilled to see this Recent renovation in temple Emmanuel showed post and beam foundation dating to 1770! Saralee callahan has many stories about the jewish history as well as Walnut St synagogue

    Live this project!

  2. Vanessa Markarian
    January 27, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    This sounds so fantastic! I have the booklet of old photos of Chelsea, but there aren’t stories attached!! I might be interested in submitting some of my life experiences in Chelsea. I lived there from 1956 – 1992. My grandmother lived in the dead end on Fourth Street from 1930, until her passing in 1990. I actually worked in The City Clerk’s Office from ‘73-‘81. Minna will remember me!!

  3. Deborah walker
    February 17, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    I would love to participate in this as my family has long roots in Chelsea.

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