My mother's brother Everett was buried last week.
He was 84 years old.
His nickname was "Mose," on account of the way he would mosey
along as a child.
He joined the Army after high school, becoming one of the first
troops to occupy Japan.
He married at 21, and had three sons, who produced five
grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He drove school buses, snowplows and rubbish trucks for the town
of Essex, Massachusetts.
He managed the local gas station/garage-started by his father-for
He was a Captain of the Fire Department for 20 years, and Chief
for 10, as well as a long-time member of the Planning Board.
And he drove across the United States five times in "The Great
American Old Car Race"-piloting a 1927 Chrysler and a 1936
Ford-just for fun.
More than just a good man, Everett got things done, and in that
way, was a great asset to his community.
And there's no doubt his community recognized that, as some 150
people turned out for his memorial service, despite the deep snow
that made walking and parking difficult.
The service was typical, mingling the traditional Christian
homilies about life and death with personal recollections from
relatives and friends about Everett's contributions to the world.
But left unsaid was one important fact.
Everett lived his life in the same town where his ancestors lived
theirs … going way back to 1640, more than 370 years! As
such, he was more than a resident; he was a living and breathing
part of the town, embodying what it had been and what it could
be. That tradition, in no small way, gave his life a sense
And I'm wondering if that's increasingly rare today in the U.S.
From the beginning, our country has been characterized by
freedom, which includes the freedom to move and settle in a new
place where economic opportunity is superior.
And for centuries, people did that.
They moved West, for land
They moved to cities, for jobs.
And they moved South, for the climate.
But very few ever moved back home. Home was a place from
which to escape, to blaze one's own trail. Home was anchors
and shackles, while "somewhere else" was freedom and opportunity.
Economically, this mobility was a tonic for the country. It
enabled growth that more established countries, constrained by
both geography and tradition, could only dream about.
But I'm wondering if there was a cost to this mobility.
With every move, the fabric that connects us to the past becomes
a little more frayed.
With every move, the traditions that foster responsibility and
stewardship in our community become a little weaker.
And with every move, we become a little more like Las Vegas-a
desert full of people from somewhere else-and a little less like
But now Las Vegas is hurting.
The Great Recession has put an end (at least temporarily) to the
credit-fueled expansion that built the city.
The Great Recession, in fact, made 2008 the year that fewer
Americans changed residence than in any year since 1962.
And the Great Recession accelerated the trend (started in 1980)
toward more multi-generation households (defined as a family
household that contains at least two adult generations or a
grandparent and at least one other generation.)
As I stood in the cemetery of Essex, surrounded by the headstones
of generations of Everett's (and my) ancestors, I couldn't help
but wonder if this is one silver lining to the end of the great
housing boom, and if it will result in more people, like Everett,
staying put in the community where they're born, to become truly
solid members of their own communities.
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Of course, the Internet promises numerous communities, from
Facebook to Twitter to thimblecollectors.com, and while they
can't duplicate the experiences of geographic communities, they
do provide great opportunities for education, entertainment and
Which brings me to today's recommended stock.
, which bills itself as a "social expression and personalized
publishing service," but is basically the world leader in digital
If you've got a digital camera, and an Internet connection, they
want your business, so you can create photo albums, print
pictures on coffee mugs, and generally "share life's joy."
The stock was recommended by Cabot Top Ten Report twice last year
(at 23 and 33) and once more last month at 37.
Here's what editor Mike Cintolo wrote then.
"Shutterfly is the leader in the digital photo publishing
business, be it calendars, scrapbooks, photo books, stationary
and cards, you name it. While the competition is vast, Shutterfly
is the leader in the space with great customer loyalty; 76% of
the firm's third-quarter revenue came from existing customers.
And, overall, the industry is just getting going-just 15% of U.S.
households have purchased some type of personalized photo product
online, despite the fact that most have Internet connections and
digital cameras. So the trick is to continually expand its
offerings and ease-of-use, and Shutterfly appears to be doing
both very well."
Then, just last week, the company released a superb fourth
quarter earnings report. Revenues were up 27% from the year
before to $166 million, while earnings per share were up 17%, to
$1.18 and trouncing analysts' expectations of $0.95. Even
more important, the company raised full-year guidance for 2011.
In response, the stock zoomed 18% in one day, on huge volume, as
institutional investors clambered on board. It's now
trading in the low 40s. To the novice, this looks high. But
to the experienced investor, the big-volume surge (out of a
decent base) is a big green light that says the stock is likely
to climb higher.
You might be able to pick up shares on a modest pullback toward
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Yours in pursuit of wisdom and wealth,
Cabot Wealth Advisory