Updated: Jul 6
This month we're turning the tables on the Meet Me in Medford feature and interviewing Judi Harrington, who typically interviews our Meet Me in Medford local celebrities.
Known to many as "Judi 411," Judi is "The Woman Who Knows Things," and we wanted to know about her journey to Medford and what she loves about the way she lives here.
The 4Squares Team and many in the Medford community know and love you as Judi 411. For those unfamiliar, what's the story behind that name?
"Judi 411" started as a nickname because I'm a one-woman hive mind of information. Name the topic, and I either know about it or know how to find out about it. Add to that my knowledge and love of writing and storytelling, and it made sense to name my writing business "Judi 411." I don't think anyone calls "411" on their phone for information any longer, yet, people relate to the brand, no matter their age.
What brought you to Medford? What makes Medford home for you?
After years of living like nomads in Allston-Brighton, my husband and I chose Medford to be closer to his job with CJ Doherty Construction. At the time, I worked in the financial district at Fidelity Investments, and my only requirement was that the house have indoor plumbing and be close to public transit. We moved here in 1998 to our home on Bonner Avenue in South Medford. The location was perfect for us: the CJ Doherty garage was a mile down on Mystic Avenue, and there were MBTA buses at the top and bottom of Bonner that brought me into the city.
I loved living in South Medford. We were close to shops like Arthur's Pastry and could enjoy Brazilian food at Oasis or North End-style Italian food at Bocelli's. We could walk to Davis Square to the movies or attend an Irish sessiun at The Burren. Of course, once we discovered Bob's Food, it was all over. Do you sense a theme here? Yes, it's true. I can't miss a meal!
During our first few years in Medford, our home was mostly where we "hung our hats." When children came along, though, was when I discovered the true magic of Medford: The Medford Family Network. The MFN became my gateway to the larger community here. As someone who would attend the opening of an envelope, life as a new mom was isolating for me. I craved connection and wanted to know where all the moms were hanging out. I took my kids to every single playgroup and event that the MFN hosted, and the connections I made with the people I met are some of the strongest friendships I hold today.
What do you love about your Medford home and neighborhood?
I've been lucky because I've lived in a few different Medford neighborhoods. In 2007, we moved to a home in Fulton Heights, an area I fell in love with when my daughters attended a family day care near Carr Park. I admired the windy roads, nooks, and crannies and how all the houses differed. I couldn't believe I was in Medford! A genuinely idyllic, bucolic setting.
What I appreciated most about living in the Heights was that we had enough of a suburban feel while remaining in a city. My kids could walk to and from the school bus, and I could grab a gallon of milk at People's Market if need be, but I wasn't all that far from Medford Square. And, of course, we were steps away from the Middlesex Fells, where I spent many hours walking and running, and Wright's Pond, where I was a frequent flyer at summertime outdoor yoga.
I'm in a new chapter of life now, living in what I thought was South Medford, but my friend Renee Arsenault has informed me that I'm living in Medford Square. Oops! I joked the other day that I live between Barry Park and Barry Clemente of the Medford Police Department. A block from the Mystic River, I'm walking distance to the Farmers Market and a quick jaunt to the Square, the Post Office, Whole Foods, and a few of my favorite eateries: the Lighthouse Café, Sei Bar, and Salvatore's. I am a food-motivated woman.
Ah yes, you and Captain Barry! Tell us about your not-so-secret affiliation with him.
Captain Barry is a Medford treasure, period. I've worked alongside law enforcement at different points in my career. I can genuinely say I've never encountered anyone more devoted to his work or more gifted at cultivating community than Captain Barry.
That said, far be it for me not to find a little fun in the mundane. When Captain Barry started with his informational messages, he was a mysterious voice, parlaying information I'd never considered; where the paint shed was, when I could get a flu shot, what roads to avoid when construction was going on. I started to feel like I knew him, and I took to Facebook about it, noting that Captain Barry called me more often than my husband. I dubbed myself "Barry's Imaginary Girlfriend" and asked MPD officers where Captain Barry was. He was a unicorn to me. Seldom seen and often heard, I made it my mission to meet him in person, and a friendship was born when we did.
Not knowing when I've taken a joke went too far, I made a bumper sticker that said, "Where's Barry Clemente?" which, unbeknownst to me, became a viral discussion on the Medford Moms Facebook page and led to the hashtag #BarryCalled.
So, long story short, I am the one-woman campaign that made Captain Barry Clemente a Medford household name. Not the fame I thought I'd have in this life, but alas, the one I manifested.
Tell us about your life as a writer. How did you end up in the world of copywriting?
One constant in my life is that I've morphed into the de facto writing expert in every job I've ever held (and even when I'm not working!). People often ask me to critique their writing, and I usually have something crafty or witty to add that helps get the message across. I finally realized I could do this AS MY FULL-TIME JOB and leaped at the opportunity to create a business based on my love of writing. I write primarily in the digital space on various topics related to finance, law, and of course…real estate with 4Squares Residential Group!
You're also writing a book. Tell us more!
Well, as I like to say, I love to threaten everyone with a good time, and now I'm making good on the promise. I recently finished a humorous memoir celebrating generations of my family, putting the "fun" in "dysfunctional."
I also touch upon my role in life as the World's Most Approachable Woman. Honestly, no matter where I am, what I am doing, or what I am wearing, people stop to ask me questions: "How do you get to Route 93?" "Is Goldilox Bagels open today?" "Where is the nearest Baptist Church?" I'm continually presumed to be the person in charge. I've been mistaken for an airline attendant, a doctor, a professor, an undercover police officer, a CPA, and an attorney. I am none, nor have I ever been, any of these things, but here I am, trying to mind my own business while the world insists otherwise.
The book is slated to come out later this year, and I'm excited to live out my life-long dream of being a published author and having a permanent association in the Library of Congress.
You are certainly "Loving the Way You Live in Medford," as we say at 4Squares. As we do with all our Meet Me in Medford guests, we'd like to end with the question, "If your best friend were considering a move to Medford, what would you tell them?
What I love about Medford is that there's something for everyone. Do you enjoy nature walks? Head to the Fells. Do you like live theater and music performances? The Chevalier is where it's at. Many community organizations make our city a great place to live: my favorites are the CACHE-sponsored events like Circle the Square and West Medford Open Studios and the Mystic River Celebration.
Most importantly, the people in this community are fantastic. I've forged life-long friendships here with a diverse group of people who have my back when I need a helping hand, and I'm happy to do the same for them. Medford is a terrific community, and I plan to be here for a long time.
Don't Miss a Word! If you'd like to learn more about Judi Harrington and her life as a copywriter (and future author), head to her website, www.judi411.com, and sign up for her email list.
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