Gaffney, Collyer and Kearney-Turtle Boy have come out against our new mounted police – and beautiful horses. And our new dog parks! Their opinions have always been wrapped in disdain for the poor, struggling and people of color. Ugly social media posts were their stock-in-trade. pic: R.T.
By Rosalie Tirella
If we believed in God, we’d thank Her! Miracle of miracles: the toxic, a la Donald Trump, Woo City Councilor Mike Gaffney is leaving Worcester politics, along with his loyal-as-a-Beagle wife Coreen, District 4 city councilor candidate. Until yesterday. The day they announced their departure to new vistas, ones not political, but a secret they are keeping to themselves. Mike and Coreen Gaffney – arguably Woo’s very own putrid political power couple! Gonzo! This news, coupled with nut-job enablers Aidan Kearney-Turtle Boy’s move to Jefferson and Change Worcester- Conservative-Woo political gadfly Paul Collyer’s move to the Catskills to own and operate a bowling alley spells the END OF A BRAND OF CAUSTIC CONSERVATIVE POLITICS that has done more harm than good in Worcester.
The three of these man-boys have supported/enabled each other from day #1 and taken turns sowing racial animosity in Worcester, shaming our poor (Collyer used to call them “pajama people”), exploiting every lower class stereotype ever hatched (see Kearney’s blog), and using so many to hurt so many for political gain (Gaffney’s Woo political trajectory in a nutshell – no wonder he flamed out). Gaffney used Turtle Boy and Collyer’s posts, tweets etc to attempt to run good people, such as Mayor Joe Petty, into the ground. But he also put out his own lies and hatred, often on the city council floor!, which Collyer and Kearney amplified on newspaper website comment sections, their FB pages – all over social media. Collyer was a bit slicker than the other two: he hid his agenda and negativity behind a jovial squawk and party times. But he did the same kind of damage.
So now these three political mouse-keters are gone.
Does that mean we are calling for the squelching of a more conservative point of view in Worcester?
One that often keeps its eyes on homeowners’ tax bills or the city’s budget?
It just means Worcester folks jettisoned the Trumps of Worcester – the loud mouthed, offensive and hurtful political kooks who took conservative ideas and wrapped them in poison. In other words, conservative message in the WRONG MESSENGERS. Conservative ideas in the WRONG bottle. NASTY, THIN-SKINNED, VINDICTIVE PLAYERS who the voters/people of Worcester have chosen to reject!
A Worcester conservative voice that works with local Dems, doesn’t demonize Mayor Petty and our Congressman Jim McGovern.
Conservative political candidates and “opinionators” who crunch numbers – not people’s souls.
Good riddance, Mike, Coreen, Paulie and Aidan! And take your devil attorney, Margaret Melican, with you!
Why can’t Macron be our prez? Why are we stuck with the horrific Trump??? Hillary Clinton is spot on when she says white working class voters were “snookered”!
By Michelle Kretzer
Agri-Plastics, I have a question for you: Exactly how stupid do you think women are?
For October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the company is hawking pink calf hutches that they’ve dubbed “Hutches for Hope.” My hope is that this is an ill-conceived joke.
Calf hutches are the cramped plastic crates that dairy farms shove baby cows into after they’ve torn them away from their mothers shortly after birth. It happens like this: Cows, like human women, produce milk after they give birth. The milk is specially formulated to meet the needs of their own infants.
But to keep them producing milk continuously, dairy farms force them to endure a constant cycle of cruelty: artificial insemination on a “rape rack,” pregnancy and the birth of a calf, then devastating loss, when their baby is torn away so that humans can consume the milk instead.
The male babies are useless to the dairy industry, so they’re typically sold for veal or fattened up for beef. The females can be used to replace their worn-out mothers, so they’re isolated in these hutches, fed milk replacers and forcibly impregnated much younger than they would naturally reproduce.
Separating mothers from their babies and denying them both their innate desire to suckle: That’s what Agri-Plastics wants people to buy into. For breast cancer awareness, of course.
Um, everyone is already aware of breast cancer. We’re also aware of “pinkwashing” and how to avoid companies that try to use breast cancer marketing to sell products—especially when those products contribute to the disease, not the cure.
According to the American Cancer Society, a full one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States can be attributed to dietary factors.
Numerous studies of diets around the globe have led researchers to conclude that consuming animal fats, especially those found in red meat and high-fat dairy “products,” increases the risk of breast cancer.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University and one of the world’s foremost experts on nutrition, may have summed it up best: “[N]o chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein.”
So Agri-Plastics is selling products that are used to create one of the world’s most notorious chemical carcinogens—and coloring them pink. For the cure.
Even better (meaning, worse) is when companies guilty of pinkwashing partner with breast cancer charities that continue to waste money on ineffective, antiquated experiments on animals that after decades and billions of dollars have failed to produce a cure.
The former head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Richard Klausner, stated, “The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades and it simply didn’t work in humans.” The NCI now uses human cancer cells, taken by biopsy during surgery, to perform first-stage testing for new anti-cancer drugs, sparing the 1 million mice previously used annually by the agency and giving us all a much better shot at combating cancer.
So the “Hutches for Hope” sales strategy probably went something like this: Persuade people to buy pink plastic crates that will be used to kidnap nursing babies from their mothers in order to make products that promote cancer in humans—then we’ll donate money to an organization that kills animals but doesn’t do a damn bit of good toward finding a cure. They’ll do it because the crates are pink!
I’m not sure which is more insulting — the fact that this company is hawking carcinogens and cruelty for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or the fact that it doesn’t think women are smart enough to see past the color pink.
The best season has finally arrived, with crispy cool air and warm afternoons! Fall season is everyone’s favorite; from adding layers to your wardrobe and preparing for back to school, it can be both exciting and oh so dreadful!
Parents who enroll their kids in school can relate to the hustle and bustle. It’s dreadful because of all the work that needs to be put in, but once the mayhem is over, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment.
As a mother, I like to shop early for back-to-school supplies and clothing because that way I find things I need without any hectic wardrobe issues. However, many people wait for the back-to-school sales to hit so they can get more for their money. From school supplies, clothing and shoes, shopping in one store is impossible. The more kids you have, the more running around you have to do. It’s all about the prices and the convenience of the store.
The hardest part of the shopping is trying to meet everyone’s sense of style. My children each like different things and dress differently. My oldest daughter likes for me to dress her the way I would dress myself; on the other hand, my son wants anything and everything that has to do with super heroes!
All of the back and forth from store to store gets aggravating and tiring, but in the long run it’s worth seeing how happy your kids are. Knowing they will be neatly put together for their first day of school gives them a boost in their self-esteem. As a parent, making sure my child has the proper school material is essential. I want to make sure they are prepared for school. If they are prepared, then the school year should ultimately be successful.
The back-to-school routine can be more than running around shopping. It has a lot to do with sitting down and having very important conversations with our children, which can help them during the school year. For this generation, before you send your kid to school there has to be several talks, talks that vary between ages. If your children are going into elementary school, the bully talk needs to happen. They might be young and you may think they don’t understand – they completely do. Making sure they don’t become victims to bullies and knowing how to identify when someone is bullying them is so important.
If your child is attending middle school, the sex talk is practically mandatory. Teens as young as 13 are already having sex nowadays. Another good thing to talk about is peer pressure and safe sex — a must. It can be difficult to imagine having this talk with your child who you view so innocently, but with the way upcoming generations are growing up, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The truth is it’s best to try and have an open line of communication with your kids. That way they feel comfortable coming to you for help whenever anything happens to them. There are a lot of kids who don’t feel comfortable speaking to their parents and close themselves up, which is something no good parent likes seeing their child go through. Try to be understanding because we were all young and dumb at some point. The way we learn in life is through our mistakes.
Let your child develop the way you would’ve liked to have been given the chance to grow, while being the adult they need, as well.
From WAM website! Please check out these photos! WAM is FREE Saturday mornings! – R.T.
Rediscovering an American Community of Color: The Photographs of William Bullard
William Bullard, James and Jeannie Johnson Family
October 14, 2017 – February 25, 2018
Itinerant photographer William Bullard left behind a trove of over 5,400 glass negatives at the time of his death in 1918. Among these negatives are over 230 portraits of African Americans and Native Americans mostly from the Beaver Brook community in Worcester.
Rediscovering an American Community of Color features eighty of these unprinted and heretofore unpublished photographs that otherwise may have been lost to history.
Bullard identified over 80% of his sitters in his logbook, making this collection especially rare among extant photographic collections of people of color taken before World War I and enables this exhibition to tell specific stories about individuals and recreate a more accurate historical context. Moreover, Bullard’s portraits examine the role of photography as the vehicle for a “new Black identity” during the nascent years of the New Negro movement.
Offering a photographic narrative of migration and resettlement in the aftermath of Emancipation and Reconstruction, Bullard’s portraits address larger themes involving race in American history, many of which remain relevant today, notably, the story of people of color claiming their rightful place in society as well as the fundamentally American story of migration, immigration, and the creation of a community in new surroundings.
A comprehensive website hosted by Clark University (www.bullardphotos.org) offers teaching resources for educators, all of the photographs and sitters featured in Rediscovering an American Community of Color, a map of the Beaver Brook neighborhood (circa 1911), and additional research written by the Clark students who participated in a seminar related to the exhibition.
Saturday, October 14, 12 pm:
Musical tribute to Bullard portrait sitter and musician David T. Oswell by his descendents, Raymond T Jackson, D.M.A. (piano), Emma Jean Boyd (violin) and Joshua Allen Boyd (cello). Free with Museum admission.
Thursday, October 19, 5:30-8pm:
Reception with cash bar. 6pm: Master Series Third Thursday including performance by Native American flute player Strong Eagle Daly and art talk by Maurice Wallace, Ph.D., Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies, University of Virginia.
Hosted by the Worcester Art Museum’s Members’ Council and free with Museum admission.
Presented with support from Mass Humanities. Additional support is provided by the Bernard and Louise Palitz Fund.
Master Series is sponsored by:
Rediscovering an American Community of Color was organized in partnership with, and with support from, Clark University. The Museum extends its gratitude to Mass Humanities, the McMillan Stewart Foundation, and Stephen J. Javaras and Robert A. Collins for their financial support. This project is also funded in part by the Hall and Kate Peterson Photography Fund.
In addition, Frank J. Morill generously provided the Museum with the Bullard negatives and years of dedicated research. Finally, the Museum thanks the members of the community and descendants of Bullard’s sitters who offered advice, told stores and filled in crucial gaps that deepened the power of these portraits.
CLARK UNIVERSITY COLLABORATION:
Clark University Bullard Experience
Ten students from Clark University spent the spring semester in 2017 connecting with Bullard portrait descendants and doing archival research for the exhibition Rediscovering an American Community of Color: The Photographs of William Bullard.
The final product of their work appears in extended web entries found at www.bullardphotos.org and in content found on the walls of the exhibition. Each student wrote a short reflection on their experience of working on this project.
Health Care For All (HCFA) released yesterday “The Urgency of Early Engagement: Five Persistent Barriers to Mental Health Treatment, Care and Recovery in Massachusetts and the Search for Solutions.”
Substance use, homelessness, and incarceration are three devastating consequences of failures at the early stages of the mental health system.
The opportunity for individuals to get early and possibly lasting support for their mental health care needs can be lost when:
* important information about treatment options is not readily available
* when early symptoms of mental illness foster isolation and stigma
* when insurance coverage proves hard to navigate
* when costs of treatment discourage or limit access
* and when effective providers are seemingly impossible to find.
It is also true that by harnessing the potential of existing programs and promising opportunities to advance public policy, these barriers can be surmounted and that recovery from serious mental illness is achievable.
“This report presents the results of a yearlong study of ongoing barriers to early mental health treatment, care, and recovery based on the insights from people in Massachusetts. The study also explores how to overcome these barriers, using the most practical, concrete and cost-effective tools possible and proposes next steps,” said Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All.
This work was made possible by The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, which funded a broad overview of the behavioral health barriers that people face when trying to get care, particularly for individuals attempting to cope with mental illness as well as their families, providers and other allies.
“The research initially focused on insurance barriers, mostly relating to mental health parity. However, the information coming back took us in a less obvious but no less compelling direction: early barriers to getting care can have a significant impact on a person’s potential for recovery,” said Stephen Rosenfeld, former HCFA interim Executive Director and project manager for the report. “It is in the earliest stages of mental illness that engagement can have the most effective outcomes, but where too often circumstances prevent people from getting the care they need.”
“As a result, many individuals face an increased likelihood of months and more often years of untreated or inadequately treated mental illness. The resulting life disasters become immoveable problems in and of themselves. This makes it difficult – and sometimes impossible – for individuals to regain precious ground and access the treatment and supportive services that make recovery an achievable goal,” added Rosenfeld.
The report also highlights key recommendations to overcome those barriers:
* Massachusetts should help promising programs grow to scale. Two immediate candidates are the INTERFACE referral service (INTERFACE) and Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT).
* The state should commit to closing the knowledge gap by creating a state-of-the-art resource helpline and promoting its use statewide. A promising project with that goal is now underway.
* Massachusetts should expand the training and employment of people in peer support roles. One major step in that direction would be MassHealth payment for Certified Peer Specialists.
* Massachusetts should require increased transparency of insurance, improved customer relations, and safeguards to guarantee that people receive the full measure of the mental health coverage to which they are entitled by their insurance policies.
* The services of Emergency Services Programs (ESPs) should be available to all. To that end, all commercial insurers should include ESPs as an essential part of their behavioral health coverage.
* The comprehensive approach to children’s mental health, embodied by the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), should become a universal feature of commercial insurance.
Appearing throughout this report are photographic portraits of people in recovery from mental illness.
These individuals are participants in the 99 Faces Project, an artistic work conceived and created by Massachusetts artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell. The goal of 99 Faces is to portray, in the words of Cutrell, “individuals whose lives are remarkable for their recovery, not their illness.”
As such, they exemplify and reflect the promise that timely and effective access to treatment for mental health conditions holds. This report takes an optimistic approach to our collective ability to reduce the barriers to delivery of effective mental health treatment in Massachusetts, because optimism supplies essential energy to the effort. The photographs we have included speak eloquently to why this matters.
Health Care For All (HCFA) is a Massachusetts nonprofit advocacy organization working to create a health care system that provides comprehensive, affordable, accessible, and culturally competent care to everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us.
We achieve this as leaders in public policy, advocacy, education and service to consumers in Massachusetts. For more information about HCFA, visit our website at: www.hcfama.org. You can also call our free HelpLine (800) 272-4232 if you need help.
Now that parents are breathing a sigh of relief, and children are firmly ensconced in their respective schools, we can all breathe out and get onto other things. How about a little reminiscing? We all know the jokes about grandparents telling their grandchildren that they walked miles uphill through wind and snow, and if you’re old enough, maybe there are tales about having to sweep out the one-room schoolhouse, bringing in the wood for the pot-bellied stove, and sharing slates, books and notebooks with younger children. The whole idea is to share how MUCH schooling has changed in the last few decades, and still is changing constantly.
Not all the changes are for the best – the incessant drilling to learn useless stuff to answer inane questions on standardized tests so that schools, children and teachers can be rated and berated, for rather murky reasons, for the benefit of people who have ulterior motives – all that time and expense could be better spent on meaningful testing to improve or correct learnings. But that is a topic for another time …
At this point, we need to look at how far we have come from the one-size fits all model of yore and how much closer we are to tailoring the school so that EVERY student can learn and achieve his/her highest potential.
We breathed a sigh of relief this year, as the WPS teachers’ contract was ratified, and our busses also started out on time. Now we can concentrate on our students and meet their needs.
It is no longer true (generally, anyway) that the child has to be ready for school. We have gradually, little by little, moved over to a philosophy that the school needs to be ready for the student, at whatever level he/she comes to us. Worcester has made giant steps in that direction.
We have just opened a new, state-of-the-art elementary school at Nelson Place; we have gradually replaced or refurbished many older buildings, and are planning constantly for newer, better buildings.
And while great new buildings with many facilities are a big help, there are many things that our schools are now offering to students that were strictly the responsibility of parents or neighborhoods. Research has shown us that children need certain minimal supports to be able to take advantage of all that is offered to them so they can succeed. We can no longer assume that there is a level playing field out there and that every child has access to a good breakfast, clean clothes and a quiet, stress-free place to study. Children who have all these things can profit from all that the school curriculum and the teachers offer.
But over the years, teachers and principals have noticed children who come to school tired, bedraggled, worried and hungry.
Of course, there have been the critics who say that it is not the job of the school to remedy these deficiencies. But the cost of ignoring these problems was/is too great, and the waste of potential too costly for us to wait for others to take up the slack.
So, in a number of instances, schools have stepped in to properly equip our children to be really ready to learn. We have, in addition to lunch programs (some at reduced price, some free), we also have some breakfast programs where needed; several of our Worcester high schools have food pantries, where students can take home extra (donated) food – and some take bags to get through the weekend for their families. “Andy’s Attic” at South High School is just one example of how schools see that our students have appropriate clothing (we all can probably remember how painful it was to be improperly dressed and suffering the taunts of fellow students). Not all our students come from homes that have washers and dryers, and sometimes they have to wear the same soiled outfits for days. So our schools are trying to help by installing washers and dryers in selected schools – like those at Worcester East Middle School.
I applaud these additions, as they enable students to be comfortable, clean, and accepted by their peers.
Of course, a sick child also is really handicapped as far as learning: if you hurt, feel awful, or are otherwise not running on all cylinders, much of your time in class is wasted. So our schools have a health clinic where most needed.
Finally, now that we are doing many things to be sure that all our children are in school ready to learn what we believe they should know, we can fully concentrate on the main purpose of education. And there is much to be done yet in the area of curriculum, if we really mean to turn out mature, thinking individuals who can succeed in a rapidly changing society.
There has been much lamenting about the fact that we do not read books like we once did. And while our many gadgets require some ability to read and spell, they do not require the ability to really delve deeply or sustain attention page after page. But even there, with the competition from the electronic media, great efforts are being made to put books into the hands of our children. We are, after all, “The City that Reads” – and Worcester School Committee member and former Belmont Community School principal John Monfredo and his wife Anne Marie, a former Nelson Place Elementary School teacher, have for years collected children’s books and put them into the hands of our students. Every year they collect tens of thousands of children’s books and distribute them to Worcester kids, especially those from poor families.
And, finally, we are very fortunate that we have a school superintendent who has been involved in these ventures, supports those who create new opportunities for our children, and always looks for ways to be sure that every child has the opportunity to realize his/her full potential.
With a local election on the horizon, we can show up to vote for school committee members who best exemplify the goals I have described above!
Oct. 19 public keynote to present “Stories from Syria’s Children
The Clark University Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies will host an academic symposium, “Children and Mass Violence,” Oct 19 and 20.
Experts at the symposium will explore the traumatic impact of mass violence on the most vulnerable segment of society – children and youth.
The conference will open with a free, public keynote lecture, “Stories from Syria’s Children: Growing Up in the Age of Genocide and Displacement,” by Lina Sergie Attar, at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 19, in the Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons.
Attar is the co-founder and CEO of Karam Foundation, a non-profit organization on a mission to build a better future for Syria. Her personal talk about the Syrian humanitarian crisis and its devastating toll on children will describe living through the deep layers of unimaginable loss when conflict hits home and explores innovative and meaningful ways to nurture hope in a time of despair.
“The modern history of human rights is closely linked to the genocides of the 20th century,” writes Mary Jane Rein, executive director of the Strassler Center. “Expanding human rights education will strengthen knowledge about individual genocides and will provide a theoretical framework that deepens appreciation for similarities and differences. Such an approach offers the best hope for understanding possible strategies for prevention, steps toward intervention, and insights into promoting democracy and justice in the aftermath of violence.”
Beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, October 20, Thomas Kühne, Professor of History and Strassler Chair in the Study of Holocaust History and the Director of the Strassler Center, will present welcoming remarks in the Higgins Lounge of Dana Commons. Talks by esteemed experts will follow, continuing to 6 p.m. Program details are available online.
The symposium is open to the public by reservation. Please contact Robyn Conroy at email@example.com.
Conference sponsors include the Friends of the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Professor in Armenian Genocide Studies, Alan Edelman and Debbie Sosland-Edelman, and Fran Snyder and David Voremberg ’72.
Center faculty and students foster important scholarship and germinate significant ideas as conveners of a robust series of international symposia, workshops, and conferences that broaden the boundaries of genocide studies by introducing less known cases and novel approaches, Rein said.
The Center will continue to organize events that bring attention to fresh issues that genocide scholars hope to confront including imperatives to address slavery and Indian genocide in the Americas, and mass violence and ethnic cleansing in the context of colonization and the collapse of empire.
Physicians take an oath vowing to “do no harm” when treating their human patients, but veterinarians, too, strive to avoid causing harm to animals.
So PETA’s recent exposé of a little-known and almost totally unregulated industry — animal blood banks — is an eye-opener to many in the veterinary field. Blood transfusions can be lifesavers for sick and injured animals, but behind the scenes, dogs on at least one blood factory farm are caged in squalor, denied veterinary care and repeatedly bled, even when they are scared to death of a human hand.
Earlier this year, a worker at The Pet Blood Bank, Inc., in Texas, which sold dogs’ blood to veterinary clinics across the U.S., decided that he just couldn’t take it anymore.
He blew the whistle on the enterprise, sending PETA photographs and video footage of 150 or so greyhounds suffering in shocking conditions at the facility. The dogs were “discards” from the greyhound racing industry, and some were so afraid to be touched, even urinating on themselves at the prospect, that they are called “cringers.”
Photos show dogs with open and infected wounds, painfully rotting teeth and overgrown toenails curled all the way back to penetrate their paw pads.
Video footage shows dogs pacing and spinning endlessly in circles — severe stress-induced behavior.
Most of the greyhounds are confined alone to wire pens devoid of anything to do, the floors pitted with holes and invaded by mice, ticks and even snakes. Out of boredom and despair, the dogs dig and chew on the old, filthy chemical tanks that serve as their “shelter,” come summer or winter, leaving jagged edges that sometimes cut them.
The whistleblower reported that dogs were denied veterinary care—even for an apparent broken leg—and in recent months, he found two dead in kennels with watering devices that were bone-dry. He also found hundreds of ticks embedded in their skin. In a crude attempt to control parasites, workers sprayed them with a termite poison meant to be used on trees and buildings. The chemical blistered their skin and irritated their eyes.
When the dogs were bled, up to twice a month, they were confined to crates for hours — sometimes kept in the burning – hot sun without access to water and even muzzled. Workers took 20 percent of their blood volume at a time, which can lead to serious side effects in dogs whose health is already compromised, and some became so weak that they had to be carried back to the kennels.
Greyhounds are especially sensitive to extreme temperatures because of their thin coats and sparse subcutaneous fat, yet they are held at this facility without protection from the heat or cold. And one dog was photographed with deep pressure sores on the hindquarters, caused by having to lie on the hard ground.
Surprisingly, even as the demand for animal-blood products grows and dog-blood banks proliferate, most states do not regulate or inspect such operations, and no federal regulations regarding them exist.
If you care about animals, you may be wondering what you can do. Many animal-blood banks sponsor blood drives and recruit volunteers, a model that should be adopted by all blood bank operations.
If you’re a veterinary professional, please make sure that the blood products you use come only from humane sources — meaning that the donors go home and sleep in their own beds after their blood is collected — and not from captive dogs confined to cages. And check the veracity of such claims, as this blood bank told clients that volunteer donors were its source of blood, when, in fact, they were not. If you have an animal at home, please show this article to your vet and ask him or her to go to PETA.org/Bloodbank to learn more.
Everyone is invited to visit PETA’s website and join us in calling on The Pet Blood Bank to surrender all the greyhounds so they can be rescued and receive immediate veterinary care. They deserve a chance to experience love and respect, to run and play, and to live as dogs at long last.
When my late mother was around 14 years old she got the How To Pitch Baseball book by Lew Fonseca lots of American kids (mostly boys) owned around that time (World War II) and pored over after school, during school, before baseball practice and after a game (sand lot, park or school yard) – kid-arenas where your team either won or lost and a million stories unfolded between the first and ninth inning. All of them were dusty and dirt-beneath-your-fingernails hardscrabble, especially if you played them in Green Island!
The slim red book is small and light – a teenaged boy could have held it in the palm of his hand easily.
It was published in 1942 as part of the Little Technical Book Library and belonged to Ma, a baseball lover from impoverished childhood to impoverished nursing-home death. But most likely it first belonged to her big brother, Walter, who played baseball on his high school’s b-ball-team. So it was a hand-me-down, one of many that came my mother’s way because she was the youngest of five children in a Polish immigrant family and it was the Great Depression . She did things like walk the railroad tracks with her Polish father, my “Jaju,” looking for “coke” – bits of scrap coal that had fallen along the railroad tracks – to take home for their little black stove my grandfather had set up in the corner of their big kitchen in the Lafayette Street tenement. To heat the cold water flat up in winter. Ma and Jaju would wander the Worcester fields, too, picking wild blueberries and mushrooms to take home to my Polish granny, Bapy. Bapy would cook them in soups or breads. She was a great cook, made egg noodles, stuffed cabbage – everything they ate at dinner from scratch. She kept (illegally) rabbits in a hutch on the back porch for stew. Jaju slaughtered them for Bapy and occassionally made Ma a lucky rabbit’s foot key chain from the scraps. Ma said the rabbit stew was delicious and, even though not all mushrooms were safe to eat, Jaju was an expert mushroom picker, and knew the safe ones.
Like I said, Ma’s big brother Walter played baseball and was on a team in high school. They didn’t have baseball teams for girls. I know Ma would have joined one if they had them, especially if they were St. Mary’s school- or church-affiliated. She was tiny and skinny but always active, a great walker, walked all over Green Island – up Millbury Steet to buy sausage at Biehler Brother Polish Market – or up Richland Street to help the nuns with decorating their classrooms at St. Mary’s School. Ma whistled when she walked – so much so that Jaju nicknamed his skinny legged, whistling daughter “scrovonik” – Polish for Little Sparrow. St. Mary’s school cum church was Ma’s, all Woo Polish folks’, cultural and educational nexus. A bridge to America, a new country, a place mysterious and grand and scary.
Baseball was another bridge to America! For Ma and Walter and so many kids of Italian, Irish, Lithuanian, Greek, Portuguese and Polish immigrants of the first half of the twentieth century. They found their parents flaying about – out of their deeply religious countries of origin and thrown into the great wide open moneyland that was America. They would do better than Ma and Papa. They would be fluent in English. They would be rich. They would live in houses, not tenements. They would go to baseball games and the movies. They would play ball!!!
When Ma died, her little red baseball book became mine. It is sweet looking and fine to the touch, but I like my baseball book best of all because it’s a window on America that is no more: an America that encouraged – practically forced – first generation kids and their immigrant parents to get with the American program! Become a part of the best country on the planet. No one called it “assimilation” back then or felt sorry for or psychoanalyzed anybody who was struggling to get with the American program. Our great land was serious and striving, even though it was brutally racist and loved its booze, vaudeville stars and strippers… For every illegal dog fight in Green Island there was a little paper American flag taped on a tenement wall. Right next to the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Rose’s Bapy’s Sacred Heart of Jesus picture hung on her kitchen wall in her Green Island tenement for decades. Now it hangs in Rose’s bedroom.
Patriotism is the subtext of Ma’s/my little red baseball book!
This late morning, as I turn its pages, I connect with the “late” America: one that paid lip service to equal opportunity for all but was dead serious about work ethic. Believed in dreams, infinite possibilities, the act of self-creation ane recreation. Embracing intellect, too – even if you were just a kid from Green Island you could be smart! In so many paragraphs the book is telling kids: The KEY TO SUCCESS IN AMERICA IS THE SAME AS IN BASEBALL – dream, work like crazy for your dream, and if you can’t realize your dream and you’ve had to settle for another position on the American team, that is great too! You’re playing the American game with gusto! Fonseca (or most likely his ghostwriter!) says this straight up in his introduction. He writes: “Pitching without a doubt is baseball’s citadel. … More often than not, however, he [the wannabe star pitcher] will find his forte is elsewhere.”
No matter your position, in America, you can still shine! It’s the effort that counts!
I love this caption, printed under the photo, you see below:
“Run out every batted ball.”
“Never assume you are out till umpire rules.”
Be tenacious, kiddos!
And our American love of science, math, Hard Facts, is on display, in several diagrams like this one:
Very “Technical” – just like the book’s cover says! There is a science to great baseball!
Even the President of the United States plays ball!! Fonseca tells his young readers that none other than our PRESIDENT throws the first ball of the first game of the baseball season! Every year! Right onto the diamond!
An American tradition!
In the book there is a photo of FDR throwing the first ball …
The kids probably didn’t know President Roosevelt’s polio-ravaged body would never allow him to “play ball.” He couldn’t even stand up! “Standing” for the photo – to throw that baseball was a herculean effort on FDR’s part. It was in fact an optical illusion that the wheel-chair-bound Roosevelt and his team worked hard to create: Before the baseball game, a big ramp was built so that the President’s car could be driven up it. Then hidden behind a ton of bunting and banners the president’s team propped him up, held him tight while he gripped a railing or his son’s arm with one hand and threw the baseball with the other. Sonetimes FDR just sat in his car and pitched – the roaring crowd didn’t know the difference. Sometimes the President’s car was driven on the field and he watched the game from the sidelines. No one knew the difference!
None of this is mentioned in Fonseca’s little red book. After all, FDR embodied everything that Fonseca preached in his little red book!: high spiritedness, optimism, intelligence, competitiveness, most important, control. Without control, Fonseca tells his young readers, your pitching is no where. Without self-control, you can never be a great pitcher! FDR was a great pitcher for America! He was the Babe Ruth of presidents!
Flash forward to today.
President Donald Trump TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL. absolutely undisciplined. Today. Trump would probably make fun of FDR and his physical handicap – just like he did that New YorkTimes reporter.
Or the many other folks on the campaign trail (U.S. Senator John McCain. A Gold Star mother). The way Trump still treats his fellow Americans is appalling! Most recently, NFL players (he called kneeling NFL football players “sons of bitches”) and the folks of Puerto Rico (he intimated they were lazy and a drain on the mainland).
Now Las Vegas. A mass murderer with a ton of money but no soul. A big empty hole inside he filled with evil. What were Paddock’s motives, America wants to know?
What are Trump’s motives?
How is Trump making America great again???
My mom, like every kid in America, went to the movies religiosly. There was an A picture screened, preceded by the B, preceded by cartoons and shorts like this:
Baseball was Ma’s fave sport! She must have loved this video when it came up on the big movie screen!! There were two or three movie houses in Green Island. They gave away dishes, so people would keep coming back. To make an entire table setting! American generosity and salesmanship!
Aa little kid, Ma listened to ALL the games on the big family radio in their “front room,” talked baseball with her big brother whom she watched play rough and ready pick up baseball games in the Green Island “big yard” – the sand lot down the street. Ma even grabbed her #2 pencil and, because she was a good artist, drew big sketches of her fave baseball players mid-swing or mid-catch. The hard, stitched balls only her mind’s eye could see…sailing through time and space … sateliltes of love. She gave her sketches to her teachers, the nuns at St. Mary’s school on Richland Street (still standing and operating!). They gave her little prizes for her skills: penny prayer cards (pretty picture in front, prayer in Polish on back), or little plastic statues of the Blessed Mother or Saint Joseph.
Paddock worshipped winning money – an unhappy addict. A brutal killer who didn’t see, like I did on YouTube news, that pretty girl with long hair in short denim jeans and sexy cowgirl boot go down mid run to safety. She was hit with a bullet in her middle but like a young beautiful deer in shock got up and holding her stomach, ran, kept running. In shock. Would this lithe beauty die???
Trump never mentioned her or the others who were in the madman’s shooting gallery. Gun control? Not a peep from Trump on universal background checks, something most Americans want.
Trump is a demagogue, a slick, creepy divider of Americans, not a healer like FDR or Obama…
… but a killer, like Paddock. A killer of America, Ma, the immigrant’s dreams, science, good sportmanship, baseball’s highest ideals …