TOWNSEND -- The Townsend Historical Society treated members to a different view of Massachusetts history with "From Purgatory to Podunk."
The springtime audience was never short of an answer to any question posed by retired Lunenburg school teachers Pete and Debbie Lincoln after the annual potluck supper.
The couple set out to visit all 351 cities and towns of the commonwealth after they figured out they had not been in 70 of them.
What started out as an eight-month project, taking a picture of each other in each municipality, kept growing over the years.
"It never stopped. It will be our lives' work," Debbie said.
They continue to travel the state and put together a show with slides, stories and music that they give at schools, libraries and for organizations like historical societies.
Townsend is special, they let the audience know.
"You're in every presentation we do," Debbie said.
Their first picture gathering journey took them through nearby towns along the New Hampshire border; Tyngsborough, Dunstable, Pepperell and Townsend.
The journey took longer than expected. In four and half hours, they managed to take eight photos, one of Pete and one of Debbie in each town.
The delay? Most roads in the state go east/west, Pete said. They had followed Route 119, jumping north to get to the town centers.
Undeterred, they decided to carry on for the rest of the day, but never managed to find the town hall in
"In Gardner we put up this slide and they said, oh, you idiots," Debbie said.
Like many other communities, Baldwinville is a village, not a municipality. It is part of Templeton.
Audience members were quick to call out when something came up that was relevant to Townsend.
The Lincolns listed some of the unique destinations in the state. Hammond Castle in Gloucester has a large pipe organ, but that is not what makes it important to the Townsend folks.
It also contains granite from the town's Rusk Quarry, the Lincolns learned from a society member.
The presentation was filled with enough facts for the most demanding trivia collector. What is the difference between a town and a city? What is the largest, smallest, newest or the oldest? Where did the names come from?
The Lincolns even discovered a common destination many of the places had: a "House of Pizza" featuring the town's name.
They even uncovered at least one instance of misinformation. Westborough bills itself as the 100th town.
Not so, according to their research. They set out to find the truth by asking around in town.
"We don't know," they were told at the historical society in Westborough, "but it's on the quilt."
They told stories of prizefights and closed roads, of a town that never was and other towns that no longer exist.
The presentation ended with slides accompanied by a recording of "Massachusetts" performed by jazz singer Maxine Sullivan, leaving members to recall their own journeys through the state.