Though he grew up in upstate NY, Mark Cullings has called Hingham home since moving here in1979. His passion for the town has led him into many volunteer roles including being one of the founders of our beloved Christmas in the Square and the Hingham Farmers Market. Mark met his wife and mother of their two girls on a whirlwind trip to Boston just before he went to USAF pilot training. After serving a stint in the Air Force, Mark flew for Delta Air Lines for 30 years. Mark and his late wife Janice raised two daughters in town, Carolyn and Lauren, who are both proud HHS graduates. In 1983, after living here for just four years, he was elected to the Hingham School Committee. "It was one of the biggest honors of my life, and I’ll never forget the experience," remarks Cullings. "I guess I would have to say that one of my passions is 'Hingham.' My parents were involved in the town I grew up in, and were certainly models for my community involvement here."
Hingham, meet Mark.
What inspired you to start Christmas in the Square?
I’m an amateur photographer, and became friendly with Warren Noble, the owner of Noble’s Camera Shop, then on South St. where AZ Studios is now. Once we had moved here, I immediately began a love affair with Hingham Square and began to get to know many of the merchants. Maybe it came from my background living in a small town with small businesses hard at work trying to make a living. I enjoyed talking to the people who ran the shops, but knew they were in a constant struggle to attract customers. One day in Warren’s shop, I mentioned that having a Christmas celebration in the Square might be a good public relations idea. He said, “Yes, it would. We all [fellow merchants] know it, but no one wants to do it.” At the time he was the chair of the Hingham Merchants’ Association (now the Hingham Downtown Association). A couple of days later I went back into the store and told him that if the Merchants’ Association wanted to do it, I’d run it. That was 1982, and we had a wonderful turnout of maybe a couple of hundred people. I ran it for the next couple of years, then told the group that they needed to find someone else. It seemed to have ‘legs.” Yup.
Who do you find to be the most inspiring person in Hingham?
This is tough. I’m torn between Tom O’Donnell for his extensive and excellent leadership as Town Moderator, and Dot Galo. I’ll go w/ Dottie. I’m a lifelong supporter of and advocate for public education, and have a little experience being in the middle of it. A good school system doesn’t just happen. It takes everybody’s attention and effort, and good results are never assured, particularly in today’s world. I don’t know how many years Dot Galo has been involved with Hingham Schools, but it’s a very long time. I first met her when she was a math teacher and the head of the math department. Times were hard, and when the head of the science department retired, he wasn’t replaced. She took both departments, and also ran the schools’ ‘gifted and talented’ program. She did everything and seemed to be everywhere. Eventually she became the assistant superintendent, then superintendent and at the end of this academic year, she will retire after so much fine service to Hingham’s children. She’s been in the thick of everything having to do with our schools for 55 years. No one else I know comes close to having such a commitment to our Town and its schools.
If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why?
Ludwig van Beethoven. For the power, majesty and inspiration of his music, much of it composed as he lost his hearing.
If you could pass along one message to your 21 year-old self, what would it be?
If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
When presented with two options, when did you make a choice that totally changed the course of your life.
Shortly before I graduated from college, I had to confront whether or not to fulfill my military commitment to the USAF. I chose to do so despite misgivings about the Vietnam War. I became an Air Force pilot and served for over five years.
What is the most surprising thing that ever happened to you?
I walked into an apartment in Cleveland Circle one evening in the fall of 1967 with a couple of college buddies and a case of beer on my shoulder. We were there to see their girlfriends. There was this blonde sitting in a window seat on the far side of the room…… Janice and I beat my two friends and their girlfriends to the alter by a week.
What do you love most about Hingham?
The strong sense of community I’ve felt since I’ve lived here, not to mention its natural beauty and history.
Favorite local spot?
Whitney and Thayer Woods
If you had a different career, what would it be?
What is one thing on your bucket list?
I don’t make lists like that, but I look forward one day to seeing the great battlefields of Europe.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I like to write, and think I’m pretty good at it.
What is your beverage of choice/go-to cocktail?
A good whiskey. Either neat or on the rocks.
Favorite vacation spot?
What's one thing people may not know about you?
I used to get violently airsick during pilot training. I was terrified.
2 thoughts on “Celebrating Christmas in the Square with Mark Cullings”
I met Mark and a wake and funeral for a mutual friend. Mark went to Union College and was a frat brother of my childhood friend Willy Toth who passed away late spring 2018. A small world. I like the guy as soon as I met him. He is the real deal!
Wonderful article. Congratulations on your accomplishments.