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The first English Language Armenian Weekly In The United States
Acting Editor Barbara J. Merguerian Assistant Editors Alin K.Gregorian Suzanne E. Moranian
755 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, MA 02472-1509 Tel:(617) 924-4420   Fax:(617) 924-3860 E-MAIL: ArmenMirr@aol.com

February  12, 1999


1)  A Watertown Historian Looks at Steve Mugar's Legacy

A Star Before and After Merger

By Sigrid Reddy Watson

WATERTOWN, Mass. - The recent news of the merger of the Star Market with
Shaw's, under the ownership of the British conglomerate Sainsbury's, gives us
an opportunity to look back at the 82-year history of the Star Market, which
had its origin on Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown Square.
Many local residents still remember Stephen Mugar, who was responsible for the
growth of the "Stah Mahket" (as I once heard Julia Child call it on a
television cooking program). Mugar was responsible for a number of innovations
in the marketing of meats and produce. Steve's father, Sarkis Mugardichian,
bought the Star Market at 28 Mt. Auburn St. in Watertown in 1916 for about
$800, and he moved his family to a house on Palfrey Hill. Sarkis and his
brothers, Arthur and Gregory, had been brought to America in 1906 by their two
older brothers, Charles and Martin, who had come from Kharpert, Turkey in
1904; at that time the family ran a restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue in
When Sarkis died in 1922, the victim of an automobile accident, Stephen was a
young boy, but he immediately assumed responsibility for supporting his mother
and three sisters and took over the management of his father's store. Like all
his family, he was a hard worker, getting up before dawn to go to the Boston
produce market for fruits and vegetables for the store. In 1931, when his
cousin John, Martin's son, graduated from high school, he joined Stephen, and
the two developed their motto, "Take extra good care of the customer, and the
customer will take care of you!"
Over the years, Steve and John Mugar (they had shortened the family name) kept
service in mind, developing, in cooperation with DuPont and the Union Paper
Bag Company, a number of useful innovations in the grocery business. It was
the Star that pioneered cellophane packaging for meat, stronger paper grocery
bags, unit pricing, employee benefit systems including profit sharing and time
off for school, and the use of the "radar range," as the first microwave oven
was then called, in the store's luncheonette in 1948. In 1963 the Star Market
was the first business to build a store using air rights over the
Massachusetts Turnpike, in Newtonville. Remembering the customer's interest,
Star introduced conveyors to take their orders outside where they could be
picked up. The Star developed a reputation for selling superior grades of
The Star Market prospered, and John, following Steve's interest in education,
attended Tufts, after which he returned to work full-time with Stephen. The
Mugars became leaders in the modernization of grocery stores, brightening them
up with colors rather than sticking to the antiseptic white tile that had been
emblematic since the turn of the century. They were always ready to help with
Armenian causes. The former Coolidge Bank building in Watertown Square, now
the home of the Armenian Library and Museum of America as well as Project
Save, is now called the Mugar Building in recognition of the Mugars'
contributions to the Armenian community.
The new merger with Shaw's is not its first, for in 1964 Star merged with
Jewel Tea of Chicago. Star branched out into over 60 markets, and Steve made a
lot of money and expanded his philanthropic and educational interests by
giving money for libraries to Boston and Northeastern Universities. He
established the Mugar Foundation which, when I was at the Watertown Public
Library, gave us the funds for a project describing the Armenian immigrant
At a bank dinner years ago, I sat opposite Steve Mugar at the table, and since
I knew he had given money for libraries, I asked him if he collected books.
Collecting books turned out to be one of his great enthusiasms, as was his
passion for education. He was a collector of books with fore-edge painting and
had recently acquired several on a trip to Paris. A fore-edge painting on the
front edge of a book's pages can be seen when one fans the edge of the pages
which, when the book is at rest, merely looks like gold leaf, but when fanned,
may surprise one by revealing a beautiful miniature painting.
Steve Mugar is chiefly remembered in Watertown for his pioneering work at the
Star Market and for his support of Armenian causes. Reflecting sadly on
leaving his grandparents in Kharpert, he said that he would never forget his
departure from home with his family, with everyone piled into a horsecart. His
grandparents followed the cart for as long as they could, his grandmother
running after them, waving as she ran, until her figure disappeared from view.
It was their final good-bye, for he was never to see them again. In addition
to this moving story, which could be echoed by many Armenian Americans, I will
remember him for his generosity to libraries, his enthusiasm for learning and
for his love of beautiful books.
Reprinted from the Watertown Tab and Press, December 17, 1998

2)  Dolphin Country

By Naomi Zeytoonian

Pro Player Stadium is still standing, now that the Super Bowl has been played
and won, and life goes on in South Florida. The executive chef at the stadium
is, of course, a transplanted Armenian from Detroit. Vasken Jibilian holds the
title of executive chef for the stadium, and he is now a permanent resident of
South Florida. He was previously the chef at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. He
and his lovely wife Zora have a beautiful newborn son, Vasken - a beautiful
name for a beautiful baby. Vasken's mother, Mari, recently moved to Boca Raton
after the death of her husband. Our sympathies to the entire family and a warm
welcome to mother Mari. Her daughter and son-in-law, Susie and Simon Javizian,
and their family also live here, making their family almost completely
assembled in South Florida.
Other Armenian participants at the Super Bowl included former resident and
Dolphin kicker, Garo Yepremian, who was in town as part of a Sprint marketing
campaign. Garo led the parade, complete with cheerleaders and a marching band,
to welcome the arrival of the Sprint technology truck, which carried all the
communications equipment for the Super Bowl. And, of course, everyone heard a
beautiful rendition of the National Anthem sung by the lovely Cher. Aren't we
proud to be a part of all this.
In the local news, Lighthouse Point resident, Art Mekenian, has been very
actively involved in keeping the lights burning. Art was instrumental in the
restoration and the replacement of a new mechanism that turns the lens of the
lighthouse at Hillsboro inlet. The lighthouse has been there for years and is
essential to guide the boaters returning home. Art is now also the lighthouse
A book that everyone absolutely must read is Clint Kelly's Deliver Us From
Evil. This book is without a doubt one of the best books I have read, and I do
read a great deal. The author makes you feel as though you are there, and you
can feel and think the characters' thoughts with great insight. Read it! You
won't be able to put it down.
St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton held its annual festival last month,
and it was very well attended. The festival opened on Friday afternoon, and
continued on through Saturday night. The food was mouthwatering, and the many
items offered for sale, as well as the great music for everyone's dancing
pleasure, made this event one spectacular function. Over 100 volunteers put
forth their best efforts under the chairmanship of Rudy Berberian, to make
this year's festival an even greater success.
The festival was a great place for meeting and greeting friends old and new.
Grandparents were having their own private victories, showing off all the new
grandchildren and future church members. Some of the new kids on the block
included Jordan Julia Salerno, with her mom, Tina, and her grandmom, Nina
Stapan. Grandmom Judy Khachadorian was showing off Kyle Steven, whose parents,
Barbara and Greg, took advantage of the free time for some great shish kebob.
And of course, our granddaughter, Caitlin, was there too, with her mother
Mary. The Holy Theotokos Monastery of Ft. Myers was represented by a lovely
lady, named Deborah, who hosted a booth of beautiful religious items for sale.
The month of February brings lots of love, Valentines and happy days,
including a St. Vartanants celebration at the newly consecrated St. Mary
Armenian Church in Cooper City on February 11. Refreshments and a program
after the Liturgy will be hosted by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan at 7
p.m. St. Mary Parish Council and the Women's Guild will also host a Parekendan
and St. Valentine's picnic on Sunday, February 14, following the Divine
Liturgy, at the Ty Park in Hollywood. Great kef time, plan on it. St. David
will host its annual Fun Night on February 13, the Fashion Show on February
27. That should keep everyone busy with a brief respite before March. On March
20 is the "Hye-Light" of the social season with the annual dinner dance of the
Knights of Vartan, Hayasdan Lodge, featuring "Manuel" at the Boca Embassy
Suites. The newly elected commander is Haig Basdekian, and the new Dirouhie of
Seranush Otyag is Violet Georgerian. We wish them success as they take their
respective offices.
A pontifical encyclical from Catholicos Karekin I was presented last November
at St. David Church to a most dedicated and loyal member of our community,
Grace Karagosian. On January 10, the entire community bade farewell to our
dearly beloved "Amazing Grace." Her family and many friends gathered to pay
their respects at the funeral service and burial. Words alone can never, ever
describe this great loss for us all. Grace was involved, actively, in
everything Armenian. The festival was one of her favorite projects, and was in
fact first conceived and planned by her. Our deepest sympathy to her husband,
Jack, her children, Anita and Freddie, and their families and to all of her
many friends and acquaintances. Her attitude was always positive, her outlook
always sunny and bright. She was truly a mentor and role model to many of us.

3) Reality to Fantasy


Contemporary and Modern Artist 
Sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association, Boston Chapter
To benefit ALMA and  TCA Armenia Programs

Grand Opening

Tuesday, March 16, 1999,   8:00 PM
Armenian Library & Museum of America (ALMA)
65 Main Street, Watertown, MA
  Public is Invited   

4)  President Arkady Ghukasian Will Speak in New York City

On The Occasion of the 11th Anniversary of the Karabagh Movement His
Excellency Arkady Ghukasian, President of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic Will
Address the Public

The Nagorno Karabagh Republic Affairs Office invites you to participate in the
event. Simultaneous English translation will be provided.

Kavookjian Auditorium 630 Second Avenue,
between 34th and 35th St., New York City
For additional information call: (202) 347-5166

Sunday, March 14 at 5 p.m.
Free admission

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