Tag Archives: Green Island Grrrl

Woo news for you🍒… and …our thoughts on Trump and Woo’s Trumpistas!😱

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We did it – thank you!

With your help, we were able to raise a grand total of $5,040 and earn a $5,000 matching gift from the Cahn Fund for Social Change to help support our move!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped to spread the word and made a donation – every dollar has a tremendous impact on our students!

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Join us for our Annual Meeting and Open House on August 30th!

We are thrilled to let you know we have finished moving into our new office space – Suites 350 and 355 of the Denholm Building in downtown Worcester.

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We would like to invite everyone to our Annual Meeting and Open House to be held from 6-8 pm on Wednesday, August 30th.

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RSVP to OPEN HOUSE!
Join us for our Annual Fall Fundraiser on October 12th!

Tickets are now on sale for our Annual Fall Fundraiser to be held from 5:30-9 pm on Thursday, October 12th at UMass Medical School.

The evening will be filled with African food, drumming performances, inspiring speeches from our students and alums, and, of course, silent and live auctions filled with items including African art, jewelry, pottery, and much more!

Purchase Fall Fundraiser Tickets!
Thank you for all of your support during these busy and exciting times. We are so grateful to have so many generous and thoughtful proponents of ACE. We look forward to seeing many of you soon!

All the best,
The ACE Team

Our mailing address is:
African Community Education
24 Chatham Street
Worcester, MA 01609

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❤BE THERE! SO IMPORTANT!❤

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Go, badass women, go!💐🌺🌻

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Impeach Trump! Worst POTUS eva!!!!!!😱

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Trump and Woo’s alt-right brigade

By Rosalie Tirella

Pres Donald Trump is a blip on our political scene, a big fat, dangerous transitional figure in American politics. The world has changed. America, too! The global economy has raised some up – but hurt others (read: under-educated Americans). The world grows more diverse – in 20+ years America will be a majority minority country. Lots of Americans can’t embrace these seismic economic and cultural changes! Out of fear, confusion and ignorance, they embrace  and endorse racist acts, classism, hatred for refugees, free speech and a more diverse and egalitarian America.

On the Worcester front, we don’t have a Mayor Trump, but we do have our alt-right figures:

Worcester City Councilor and mayor wannabe Michael Gaffney;

his political (but keeps it a secret) clone, wife Coreen Gaffney, District 4 councilor  wannabe;

local rogue lawyer Margaret Melican;

and Melican’s social media BFF, Turtle Boy hate blogger Aidan Kearney;

and Paul Collyer,  FaceBook pages “owner”/author of CHANGE WORCESTER and WORCESTER’S DIRTY SECRET.  

This group of peeps may think itself forward looking, but with all their blogging, comments, repostings and postings you get THE MOST RACIST, Worcester-harming political rants and political strivers this side of Steve Bannon’s office.

They are Worcester’s alt-right movement and Breitbart News rolled into one! Far right strivers hawking ideas that do not fit the Worcester of 2017.

But fear not! Like Trump, they are political flukes, too. Look around you! Don’t you see? This bunch cannot get any kind of political traction here, in Worcester. They are leaving our city/disappearing. Worcester is too racially and socially progressive for them…too willing to bring EVERYONE UP. We don’t traffic in their welfare queen and prince cliches, their “Petty” bashings etc.

Out they go!

For instance, by trashing our recent Worcester City Common anti-racism rally a la Donald Trump, Collyer, Gaffney and Turtle Boy show us how they have outlived their ability to thrive in Worcester. They have been called out by Worcester, they have been put on notice: they are Woo’s political old guard uttering their last, desperate syllables.

Like Trump, their “ratings” in Woo are low:

Paul Collyer has lost clout ever since his buddy former City Manager Mike O’Brien left his job, after HE realized he was no longer a good fit for a diverse, challenging, wonderful Worcester. Collyer is moving to the beautiful Hudson Valley in New York – miles and miles away😄 – with Susan to run a bowling alley. This permanent move will be good for Collyer and GREAT for the new Worcester!😄 Truly evolving cities go way beyond the installations of beer gardens and the scarfing down of fancy food and patronizing over-priced boutiques. That kind of economic development is just a small piece of the Woo puzzle, focusing on and catering to our upper-middle class. What we and most WORCESTERITES are talking about is SOCIAL JUSTICE, THE LIVING WAGE, POLITICAL MOVEMENTS WHOSE ARC BENDS TOWARDS OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL – not just the moneyed or politically connected.

City Councilor Mike Gaffney is, for Woo, a political anomaly. He is smart but duplicitous and a fraud. He will never become mayor of Worcester – even though he’ll try any DIRTY trick in the book to win, which usually entails lying about present mayor, Joe Petty, and shredding our community to bits as he throws wedge after wedge into sensitive city issues.

His wife Coreen knows how to be polite, but she’s dead in the political Woo waters, too. She’ll be another Mike Gaffney vote on the city council – no one will go for that. She has no chance of winning in majority minority, ever complex District 4. The best Coreen can hope for is a job with the DPW on its grounds maintenance crew.

Turtle Boy has moved to Jefferson because Worcesterites loathe him so passionately – and he’s got two kids to raise. They would be pariahs here – just like their daddy Aidan is. Aidan’s toxic Turtle Boy blog can no longer handle local stuff, so he Jerry Springers all of New England. It’s an emotionally ugly ride – his Turtle Boy blog. No one will publicly come out in favor of this racist, far right wing nut and his blog – except for Collyer, the Gaffneys and Melican who push the TB toxicity out into the community via their FB pages, etc…

It was great to see Mayor Petty and City Manager Ed Augustus at the anti-racism, anti-white-supremacy rally on the Woo Common a few days ago! They stood with the good folks at Charlottesville – not the Neo Nazis. They stood on justice’s side! Former CM Mike O’Brien would have tried to shut the rally down! Social justice is too messy and un-pretty for O’Brien, Collyer and crew. That’s why O’Brien’s gone, and his compadres will soon follow in his footsteps …

Ronny!

By Rosalie Tirella

Hello again?
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Yesterday Cece spied someone outside my apartment window.      pics: R.T.

It was former ICT scribe Ron O’Clair, in the St. Mary’s church parking lot, in a red convertible, with white interior! Ronny was wearing his big black hippy sombrero and (I think) sporting a beard. He was looking up at me, while I parted the curtains in my fourth-floor shack to admire the sight and snap a pic. Then he gave me a wide smile and a big thumbs up and sped off! Quite the sight!

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Ahhh, Ronny! On a high! Feeling good with the sun shining on his sombrero and a new shiny red toy! Here’s a guy who’s been knocked down by life from day #1 (childhood poverty, death of a parent when he was a little kid, then foster homes, depression, the murder of his brother, discharge from the military, alcoholism) and come back from the brink so many times (STILL brilliant and articulate, a TERRIFIC writer, in recovery for 30+years, a cool street social worker who’s helped hundreds of people find food, solace, housing, AA meetings as the live-in manager of a Main South rooming house ) that “resilient” is too weak (and serious) a word to describe Ronny. “Come backs” doesn’t fit either because the phrase makes Ronny seem old – which he sorta is, at 55!❤ – and a has-been, like a member of the Herman’s Hermits🎵 – which he is  most definitely not! (Sorry, Peter Noone!)

For me, Ron O’Clair is more Dylan than Noone. More Byron than Seuss. He never goes out of style … But his bipolar illness makes him disappear from the scene now and then, leaving his friends worried and sad. His condition makes him see things so intensely! The perfect writer for ICT! Ron can be deep – deeply sad, deeply wise, deeply sensitive. He can also be deeply wound-up, loud, revved up,  ecstatic. Manic.  Ronny has always offered his friends his kaleidoscope of feelings – and experiences –

… often powerful. When in his emotional “troughs,” though, Ron  pretty much hunkers down in his two rooms in Main South – for weeks. This breaks my heart. You can call it mental illness. But why put a complicated brilliant person like Ronny in a box? Still, his emotional vales break his momentum, whether it be his running for Woo City Council or following through on a marriage proposal that he made to a lovely – I mean lovely both spiritually and physically – hooker that he rescued outside his Main South building. … I think back to that time: Ronny was in love! But his complicated brain waves brought it all to a halt! It made me cry! I was rooting for the pair: Ronny bought “Sandy” a beautiful ring, rented a car one Christmas eve so she wouldn’t have to sit in his crap-cluttered vehicle on the trip to his brother’s house for Christmas dinner – to meet the family.❤ Ronny got Sandy clean and sober, took her to the doctors, the dentist, NA meetings. A gal pal gave Sandy bags of cool  vintage clothing. I planned their wedding with our gal pal: she would provide the vintage wedding dress and I’d dress up my apartment. I’d make the mostly veggie meals, served on my late Mom’s china, turn  my dining and living rooms into an inner-city chapel with all my candles placed on an altar I’d fashioned from headboards I had found on the side of the road. I’d board Jett for the day… Then boom. Ron shut down, so did Sandy  …

… and that was the end of that. Ron dismisses the whole love affair as a non-love affair. A pain in his butt. But I know he’s lying.

Ron has shared many of his experiences with you in ICT. Like the time he was a boy in foster care in rural Maine and bonded with a buffalo on the farm he was living on. The buffalo was like a big pet for Ronny, and he visited him in the field next to his foster parents’ house every day. But one Christmas Ronny unwittingly ate his best friend in the world. The buffalo was the main course for his foster family’s Christmas dinner! Ron tells the story with a chuckle, but you hear the real pain in the story he wrote for InCity Times. ICT – the conduit for Ronny’s dreams and schemes – realized and/or crumpled. If you meet Ron in Main South or at any of his haunts in Worcester – at a Worcester diner eating a killer breakfast, at a junk-yard buying parts cheap for his cars that he collects like jewels – you would think he’s kinda glib and … a jerk. Incapable of the stories he writes. But if you read his columns – which I have with so much joy, through years  – you’d soon realize Ron’s the brightest guy in the room. But his poverty, his living on the edge in the rooming house in Main South, his sometimes too enthusiastic emotional style, his physical SIZE! have left him the perennial outsider, here in Worcester, the hometown he adores. You all discount him and his intelligence and goals. It’s  a kind of prejudice. Not racial. But economic. And maybe just maybe your version of mental well-being skews a little to the left or right of Ronny’s state of mind! Shame on you!

In this life: so many people crossing each other’s paths, so many good people shunted to another road or handcuffed into silence by the in-crowd, the money crowd, the politically connected crowd. The hit brigade wallowing in their version of Wasp happiness.

What about WOP happiness?

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Wikipedia says: “WOP stands for WithOut Papers. Many Italian immigrants had no papers to identify themselves and were branded as WOPs.”

My grandfather Sabino was a WOP.

He was also a NANG: Not A Nice Guy!

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I’ve told you all about him: Unlike Ron, Sabino took his outsiderness, his otherness and used it to become a pretty successful entrepreneur. But he was an asshole in every other aspect of his life: cheated on his wife who gave him 10 children, beat her, beat my father, was a bootlegger. I mean, the guy was BAD!

Ron – and this WOP! – aren’t bad: we WRITE, we try to do the right thing for our city and this makes us happy and proud! Forget about moi for a second, let’s focus on Ron. Over the years Ron has:

given me a million rides when the jalopy I am driving breaks down.

delivered gallons of gas to me when I’ve run out – usually at night in the inner city. How comforting it was to see my friend pouring the gas into my gas tank, wearing his fake-lamb-skinned-lined bedroom slippers. In the middle of a Woo winter night. He wasn’t smiling, made no small talk and walked away with a huge huff after he finished his AAA call, but he ALWAYS came, always came through for me.

driven tons of people from his rooming house to the food pantry to get food so they could eat.

driven tons of people from his rooming house to AA, Al Anon, NA meetings – often joining the group as he is in recovery and never gets complacent about the fact!

helped strangers when they needed help

befriended lots of Woo characters – including this one! I remember the night Ronny came to my house with an old ex-boxer from Boston who just got a room at Ronny’s place. I had called Ron frantic – my late Mom’s cat April had just become diabetic and I did not know how/was afraid to use the needles to inject the insulin into April. Well, Ronny brings the boxer over to my house to help – the guy is BALD, HUGE, covered with tattoos, standing at my door, with Ronny. It is close to midnight. I am distraught. April needs her medicine. I don’t want her to die. I say…OK, come in. The boxer comes in, fills up half the entry-way but … picks April up, talks oh so softly to her, takes one of the skinny needles out of her needle box (filled with about 1O0 needles), shows me how to poke the needle into the little insulin bottle (always shake it beforehand), measure the amount of insulin. Then he lifts a bit of April’s fur on her shoulder, making a little tent, and gently gives her her shot. Then the boxer gently massages the spot where he inserted the needle. He told me and Ronny his grandmother had been a diabetic and, as a little boy, he used to give her her insulin shots. Every day. He said it all so beautifully. I could tell he had really loved his grandmother. Maybe she had raised him… I felt like shit for having been afraid of the Boston boxer and hesitating to let him into my home. As he turned to leave, I hugged the boxer – and Ronny -and said THANK YOU, GUYS! They lumbered down the stairs that lead up to my 4th floor apartment. Noisy as hell. I loved them both!

A night I will never forget, courtesy of Ronald O’Clair.

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Lilac and the late, beautiful April

Ronny has also:

supported his landlord who was overwhelmed with his rooming house.

worked with the Worcester police for years to make his neck of the woods – the corner of Main and Charlton streets – much safer and quieter and a little less heroin-infected, especially when the PIP wet shelter was still open (across Charlton Street!)

So naturally it enraged me to see my friend’s hopes dashed when he applied for a slot on a City of Worcester Board/Commission and  was turned down by a City Manager toady. Not the commission who does the vetting but by one of former CM Mike O’Brien’s (an ICT detractor for sure) employees. This was about five years ago, when Ronny was on a huge UP and had all his i’s dotted and t’s crossed. He had applied to sit on a City of Worcester health or zba board – for no pay, as the job is a volunteer position. I had encouraged him to apply. Ronny, living the life he’s lived, KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT INNER-CITY HEALTH ISSUES. And what he doesn’t know – he’ll read up on. He’s a brilliant guy! Also, so compassionate! Hell, he’d be down in the trenches with Dr. Mattie at a homeless camp, talking to the folks, driving them to job interviews! I mean, he would be all in – give 100%. But CM O’Brien hated ICT, so Ron got screwed.

A few days ago I called Ronny. We were talking about city boards and commissions when I urged him to take another crack at the HEALTH commission. “The city needs lots of people from District 4! On lots of city boards!” I said.

Ronny was hesitant. I said: GO FOR IT, RONNY! YOU WILL BE GREAT – on that city board or any city board!

He laughed. Then I asked him to cover an inner-city health clinic’s health fair for me, to run in the next issue of CECELIA. Ronny said YES, attended the event for me and sent me some pics he took a few hours later. Here is one for you!

Ronny O’Clair: gotta love the man!!
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Baby in Piedmont. photo by Ron O’Clair

Trump’s “Real Dump” comment sealed his fate!! IMPEACH PRESIDENT TRUMP!

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose walking her dogs.   pics: R.T.

Let us Impeach President Donald Trump. Be done with Trump!, America’s big, bloated megalomaniac – our orange-headed, toxic buffoon! He has turned us Americans into a global punchline! He has destroyed millions, globally and locally – humans, fauna and flora! From the refugee, the young woman – really, just a girl – who flees her homeland and runs straight into America’s arms to escape gang rape, stoning, starvation for her children … to our Appalachian streams and their quicksilver fishes: Trump has hurt us all.

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And he’s only been in office for eight months!

Impeach Donald Trump!

If enough Dems win the House in 2018, it will happen – but not soon enough!

I say: House Republicans, put your political careers into the buzz saw and do the RIGHT thing: Cut Trump out of the White House the way you would cut a bruise out of a beautiful apple with your pen knife! That beautiful apple is America!

Do it after summer recess…

Comedian Dave Chappelle nailed it when he said: Trump’s a bad DJ at a great party.

That GREAT party is AMERICA!!

I am exhausted – the world is exhausted! – emotionally, spiritually, psychologically – by this pathological liar who is squatting in OUR White House! The people’s house!!

The LAST STRAW, for this Green Island gal???

A few days ago, as reported in Sports Illustrated, President Trump called the White House, the people’s house, “A REAL DUMP.”

“A real dump.”

Would you put up with some asshole calling your apartment, condo, ranch, Dutch colonial or room “a real dump”?

Didn’t think so!

Early Americans chose NOT to call our president YOUR HIGHNESS. They chose the every-man title “Mr. President.” They chose NOT to attach a fancy name to his abode or build him a castle. No castles for us Americans! No moats, moors or parapets for us! Our head guy (or gal) – the person who served/represented WE, THE PEOPLE, would live in a house, just like most Americans did. True, it would be a big house and have nicer china, but it would still be a house – a white house. So we called it the White House!

If you visit Washington, D.C., for the first time ever, you’ll be a little surprised when you first see the White House!❤ I know I was! It is not really all that big a house! It looks like a huge estate on television, but it is not in real life!! … Cool!!

Apparently, the White House is not grand enough for Donald Trump, the king of opulent crud.

The White House is just not ostentatious enough for the King of the Moneyed.

Or gold-plated enough.

Or gaudy enough.

Or bloated enough.

The gold-leafed toilet to puke or shit into is missing!

So he calls the people’s house – belonging to you and to me! – to just regular folks (the millions who voted for him and made him president!) – “A Real Dump.”

Trump’s possible very own collusion with Russia to turn the 2016 U.S. presidential election in his favor, for me, at this moment, this early Saturday eve, August 5, 2017, means ZIPPO. Nothing. Nada.

I, Rose T.,  caffeinated, swingin’ at the ceiling, my Lafayette Street childhood cold-water tenement existence haunting me more than usual…my husky mix Jett yippin’ at God’s lilly white robe while wearing his Yankee Doodle hat …

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… I, Rose T., say: SHUT THE TRUMP DEBACLE DOWN!!

Enough is enough!!

Impeach President Donald Trump!!

Shut the Trump Reality Show, in all its vulgar, crass, ghastly Day Glo “glory,” off.

Vice President Mike Pence is this liberal’s nightmare, but I’ll deal with his neanderthal political agenda when Trump goes, probably resigns, like Nixon did, to avoid impeachment. I’ll sleep ok at night knowing Pence sucks on climate change, women’s rights, saving the American working and middle classes but HE IS NOT DONALD TRUMP. That he won’t start a nuclear war with North Korea – or Russia. That America  – and the world – won’t know nuclear holocaust because Trump has a hair across his fat arse. That President Pence will shut his pie hole and not say asinine things 24/7. Pence will at least give lip service to the American ideals and building blocks: human rights, truth, artistic, religious, sexual and political freedoms, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Yes! to fledgling democracies, YES! to freedom of speech, Yes! to freedom of the press, YES! to sending EVERY GIRL ON THE PLANET TO SCHOOL and eradicating global diseases … goals and ideals the world connects to America, or the idea of America. The shining light in that city on the hill!

It’s so easy: TRUMP HAS TO GO because HE IS MENTALLY ILL.

MENTALLY UNFIT TO BE ARGUABLY THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON ON THE PLANET.

Trump is Unwell. Can’t You Tell?!

He called the White House, home to some of the greatest American thinkers and leaders in the history of America – Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Eisenhower, JFK – he called their home “A REAL DUMP.” Great Americans who filled his “dump” with grand, ahead of their times IDEAS, IDEALS, KNOWLEDGE, POETRY and SCIENCE … trips to the stars and back! Not midnight-trips-to-the-toilet Tweets!!

Who amongst us would say something so awful about THE BRILLIANT SIDE OF OUR AMERICAN FAMILY?! Who would diss their home – the people’s home – the White House – this way?!

I grew up in what most people would call a “dump” in Green Island years ago! For example, on Lafayette Street, in my childhood “dump,” we had: A tub that leaked onto the ceiling of the tenement below us every time you tried to take a shower. We had one crappy gas kitchen stove with a gas “log” to heat a three-bedroom flat where three little babes (my two sisters and I) lived. We had a perennially cracked window pane in our back door that the January winds always whistled through. Every winter my mother taped clear plastic wrap over all our windows to better keep out the cold and wind. Still, the snow sifted down, light as sprinkled sugar, and I would run my small finger through the little slanted hill of white snowflakes that formed inside our kitchen window sill, smiling at its pure, pretty whiteness. As a little girl in winter time, I slept in my bed wearing an ugly navy blue seaman’s knit cap but I dreamed of those beautiful white sugar snowflake mini-mountains…and wrote poems to them on my Saturday afternoons! And my mother told her sisters, my aunties: My Rosalie is so smart she is going to college someday! To maybe be a veterinarian because she loves animals so much! My mother gave birth to her and MY American Dream in that “dump.”

I guess a person today would call my childhood home in Green Island “a real dump.”

But, for me, today, whenever I drive by that Lafayette Street three decker (yes, it’s still standing!), I feel proud. It’s a shrine: A shrine to my immigrant Bapy from Poland who couldn’t write two words in English and wore my sisters and my knee-socks on her arms, in layers – the socks she cut the toe tops off of – to keep warm and soothe her arthritis. That “dump” is a shrine to my late, beautiful mother who not only persevered and raised (single handedly) her three little girls but INSPIRED us to be the best!

Don’t you see?

Donald Trump is the “Real Dump.”

SAVE AMERICA!

IMPEACH PRESIDENT TRUMP!

TC! TC! (Or: So go the bikers, so goes the city)

By Rosalie Tirella

A motorcycle guy gets his chest blown away on lower Chandler Street this past Saturday night. His soul is thrown off his bike and floats to Heaven like some inner-city feather. And that is the end of his dream called life. His Saturday night, all Saturday nights. No more bodegas, pizzerias, BBQ chick, cell phone shacks, dreamy sunsets, kisses, or cold cheap beers with friends on a summer night.

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photos: Rosalie Tirella

The beauty of life in the here and now, in Worcester, gone forever. Poof. Like magic it disappears from him just as mysteriously as it came to him.

His 46-year-old body, however, is no feather. It dies a horrific death from massive internal hemorrhaging, crushed bones … the blood must be washed from the cement … physical and emotional shock. The pain keeps coming no matter how hard the EMT kids work on him.

A Honda plows into him on Chandler Street, and he plows into a Nissan. 2,000-pound hunks of moving metal.

What could he do? How could he win?

A slow motion dream for the dying man, this accident on the corner of Wellington and Chandler streets, but not for the gawkers. The witnesses know it is over – in seconds – at one of Worcester’s most deadly intersections. An urban space where many cars  often speed up as they race to the tony West Side of the city, drivers pretending not to see all the poor Latinos, Whites and Blacks who live in the crummy three deckers and apartment buildings that line the street. They criss cross it every day – at all hours. They walk, run, stagger across the wide 4 -lane Chandler Street. Sometimes they’re on bicycles or pushing baby carriages or holding the hands of their little kids – the 5 year olds holding on to Papa or Mama tight with one small hand and covering their ear with their other soft little hand.  The traffic is too loud for them!

The poor cross their busy street to get to the  street’s local restaurants, Chandler Elementary School, the Family Health Center inner-city clinic/urgent care, Community Health Link mental health center, a homeless shelter, the several storefront Pentecostal churches, friends’ houses. As a driver, you have to go slow, you have to be AWARE at all times cuz life comes out at you from all angles on Chandler Street. Four or so years ago, I was the center of mayhem as I rescued a stray cat at the exact intersection where the biker was killed. It was a young cat, really an older kitten like my Cece (black too!),

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and I almost got us both killed running out of my car into traffic, scooping up the kitten and running back to my car with the kitten clasped to my chest. But it was OK. The neighborhood folks – the community – were good and had my back as I navigated the stream of cars.

If only I could have saved the biker – but how?

They called him T.C…. Family, friends, the community, prayed TC did not suffer long. Of course, he did. A bunch of biker kids and men and their friends rode up to the site of his death a few days ago to mourn …

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… They left their not so pretty neighborhoods to gather at the not so pretty intersection of Wellington and Chandler streets to say GOOD BYE, TC!  To pay tribute to a fellow biker. To connect with him – and each other.

If you read my columns, you know I love these outsiders, inner-city bike guys and gals who cobble together these unlicensed, unloved sometimes kooky sometimes cool urban motor babies. They take their lives into their hands when they ride them. But it’s all they’ve got on a lovely summer day in the ‘hood. They want to feel free like the wind. Can you blame them? You were young once too! Their motto? Bikes Up! Guns down!

The bikers are loathed by Woo’s conservative crew … people like Paul Collyer (the Somerville-based political gadfly who runs FB pages CHANGE WORCESTER and WORCESTERS DIRTY SECRET where he posts Turtle Boy/City Councilor Mike Gaffney racist rants) and his toxic political allies, the always race baiting Woo City Councilor Mike Gaffney and Turtle Boy-Aidan Kearney who always gets the ugly ball rolling with a post that fires up people’s racial and socio economic prejudices and fears. Collyer, Turtle Boy, Gaffney AND PREZ DONALD TRUMP, cannot accept a global, often poor, always multicultural America, Worcester…a world that is messier than they’d like to see. These guys want to shut voices down … or they do not understand…know how to listen to the new global urban landscape.

The Worcester Police force knew how to listen to the TC crowd! The Worcester police officers who went into the big crowd on that summer day and talked softly and dispersed the group without so much as raising their voices understood the community’s pain. They did not fan the Collyer/Gaffney/Turtle Boy flames of hatred, racism, ignorance. Nope. THEY WERE OUTSTANDING police officers who did an excellent job of keeping the situation from blowing up. They got traffic moving again, kept everybody calm and, best of all, respected the bikers’, outsiders’, pain, feelings. They smiled, chatted, WORKED smart so the situation did not escalate…THEY DEFUSED THE SITUATION. Kudos!

Watch the videos. They make me sad. A bunch of bikers, people of color, mostly poor, mostly cut off from the mainstream…scores of them gathered  at lower Chandler Street and riding their bikes up and down where TC died. They did “burns” in his honor and chanted TC !TC! TC! and made more videos on their cell phones to share, to tell the world TC MATTERED – ALL LIVES MATTER! In a video you see one big black guy looking choked up, confused, softly muttering TC, TC … and shaking his head. Not the face of violence.

Not at all.

The TC “wake” was political, was peaceful, was REAL. It was a statement. It was a love song. Like a bird on the wing.

CECELIA – always in style!

By Rosalie Tirella

Delivering my spirited little rag …

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pic: R.T.

Named after my lovely, late, great Mom💙!

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A wee Rose, her beautiful mom and the first boy Rose ever crushed on! So pushy!

One of Rose’s mother’s favorite singers:

Rose’s mom loved Billie so much she used to wear a flower tucked behind her ear a la Billie and her famous orchids …

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See the flower? (Rose’s mom, left)

Above: Rose’s mom and her sister “May” on the roof of “The Block,” on Bigelow Street, in Green Island during World War II. They grew up in a tenement in The Block, a huge, ugly brick box – hence the nickname The Block – comprised of scores of tenements. Home to poor Polish immigrants, many of whom lived on Bigelow, Scott, Lodi, Siegel, Lafayette and Endicott streets, in Green Island.

One of May’s favorite songs, by John Denver (written for his wife):

Rose loves this song, too! As a teen hearing it (that’s when it was on the radio) she thought it was cornball. John Denver! Eeek! Too uncool!! Now Rose loves the cliche-ridden love song for what it says, how it sounds, and the memories it evokes. For its cliches!! They say FAMILY to her!

May, unlike Cecelia, married a good man and had a great life with him❤! During their youth and young motherhood, Cecelia and May were best friends! True sisters! Here they are, a couple of cute snow bunnies!💚, when they lived in Springfield and worked as live-in housekeepers (starting at just 14 and 1/2 years old!) for the Bishop of Springfield.

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It was during the Great Depression – everyone was out of work – sons and daughters had to be farmed out to employers far from home to help support the family and to be fed, clothed! Ma and May were sent by my Bapy to the Bishop’s big house in Springfield to be maids, cooks to make money for the family back home and to be able to eat well, dress well, be safe in lean times. Back then, among Catholic immigrants, it was an honor to have anyone in your family working for the Catholic church. Of course, having your kid become a priest or nun was the be all to end all – gave you instant cachet in the Polish, Italian or Irish ghetto!! And a free ticket to Heaven!

Happy Saturday!

Here is Rose, not at all looking like her Mom. Maybe a little like May …

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Here is one of Rose’s fave artists. She LOVES the late great Bill M! Was a Bill groupie as a young gal! Saw him several times – even in Worcester, when he played our First Night, with Patty Larkin💚! WOW.:

Thank you, Worcester City Councilor Kate Toomey, for making our city safer – for all!

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Near Park Ave. pedestrians walk in the crosswalks! So many crosswalks in Woo need to be re-painted!   pics: R.T.

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The busy Webster Square crosswalks

By Rosalie Tirella

KUDOS TO WORCESTER CITY COUNCILOR KATE TOOMEY for following Boston and Somerville’s lead and this week, on the City Council floor, proposing to set the Worcester City Speed Limit at 25 mph! The Worcester City Council must get behind Toomey and VOTE YES next City Council meeting! So easy to save lives – especially inner-city little kids and old people’s lives!

Toomey, a caring person who has made the every man/woman (often poor) her cause celebre during her council tenure, is pushing for this IMPORTANT, (we think) TERRIFIC change to our urban landscape because she has worked in the health field and has just read an important report. According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Worcester is THE most dangerous city in Massachusetts for pedestrians!

According to the study, our city is pretty much a death trap if you wanna cross the street to buy a cup of coffee! – we have 50 of the top 496 intersections for pedestrian accidents!

So many of our kids and old people have died under the wheels of some asshole trying to swallow up a quarter of a mile of street just to get to his/her destination a few secs earlier! InCity Times ran free ads for the family of a little Chandler Street School boy who was mowed down and killed WHILE HE WAS WALKING ON THE SIDEWALK to get to school. They needed money to bury him. He had stayed home after the morning school bell rang to finish up his homework, like a good boy. Running to get to school with his homework safe in his book bag, knowing he was late…some speed DEMON ran him down – drove right onto the sidewalk – and killed him.

Death for his family too! Death for the community! Poor and often politically powerless…

Set at 30 mph – the current city speed limit – so many drivers go 40 – even 45 –  mph in our DENSELY POPULATED INNER-CITY AND CITY neighborhoods. Yes, our city lights need to be on a better sequence – often drivers run the yellow just turned red light to keep from sitting at the next red light, just yards down the road. My long ago ex beau hailed from NYC – Queens – and he graduated from Columbia. He wrote an ICT column on Woo’s whacky traffic lights and patterns almost 16!!! years ago! To no avail!

STILL, THIS IS NO EXCUSE for most of the fatheads who just don’t care. Who may even hate our homeless and downtrodden. Who speed up, rather than slow down! Maybe when they see the 25 MPH sign, they’ll only go 30/35 MPH. Which still blows. Which is still dangerous in a city.

Remember, drivers! You are in the city! All around you, in your 2,000 pound- metal-cocoon you have thousands of vehicles (some with drivers with guns!), a zillion pedestrians (many old, very young, sometimes high…or mentally ill), Noise, huge buildings that cast shadows, sunlight that blinds, food carts, pedi cabs, dogs, sometimes terrified kitties … The list of unpredictables is endless…

We should be proud Worcester is so busy, diverse … cool! But drivers must respect the environment they sail through – complex, urban, filled with little kids and old people.

Shelter from the storm

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

I am prepping my shack for the city’s July 4th celebration.  It’s super, stupid early – like most Woo civic festivities – TONIGHT. Grrrr!

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… My critters, always the cute, if sometimes unwilling, holiday props, are scooped into the silliness:

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Then I see …

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… a picture painted by “Joe,” an alcoholic, sometimes homeless guy, who was living in a Worcester flophouse the day he gave his painting to me a few years back. Very sweet and graciously. I said “thank you!!” and gave him a big hug and later mailed him a pretty thank you card. I think Joe was drunk when he painted his little masterpiece.

Joe was/is a creative guy! He paints on the cheapest canvas – cardboard he finds – and his pictures are usually pretty small in size – for economic reasons. The one shown above, now hanging on my bedroom wall, is the biggest he has: a foot by a foot and a half. He makes his own simple wood frames, too. He tries to sell his paintings – framed – for 10 and 20 bucks. Very affordable prices!

I don’t think Joe, who can get so drunk that he stumbles and slurs his sentences, has sold one of his paintings.

Even though they are all colorful and happy: paintings of animals – wild and domesticated. Paintings of city scapes and nature … sunsets. No one wanted to go up to his little gallery/studio in his room in the flophouse to check out his work. He had his paintings tastefully mounted on one of his room walls…waiting…

I thought of Joe when I took the photo of this homeless girl on Green Street the other day …

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… a regular there, under the bridge.  Always with a book by her side – her armor. I drive down Green Street every day – often I see her reading her books. I think: a soulmate…a fellow lover of words.

I took  the photo in the middle of a heat wave. She, like the other young people who hang out peacefully under the Green Street bridge, was wilting in the heat.

I called my friend Dorrie M., a great friend to the homeless, to see what we could do to help.

Rose: Dorrie, does she have a place to shower and cool off?

Dorrie: Yeah, they do. All the kids there do…they’re fine.

Dorrie was not about to tell me where the secret showers were, she was not about to betray the kids’ trust.

I ended the call feeling reassured.

I often drive by “the girl reader” as I call her and wish there were FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE COURSES FOR HER and her friends offered in our new downtown. Boston has just made its public colleges FREE TO ALL BOSTON KIDS. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made ALL PUBLIC COLLEGES IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK TUITION-FREE FOR ALL OF THE state’s young people. He is wise. He knows: the global economy demands it. And NYC and Boston and other big world class cities cannot have a two-tier society: the very poor/homeless and very rich.

Look at this pic I took, another Canal District photo:

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On Green Street. The man is sleeping on the hard concrete!!, next to a Mercedes-Benz!!

America🇺🇸😥

This guy tucked inside a Kelley Square doorway – it was raining buckets of rain! – told me or any one who cared to notice that he was a Celtics fan! I took his photo with that in mind. He made me sad, but I smiled at his New England sports mania!

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Worcester, we need to, begin thinking of the summer heat waves yet to come and how we as a community are going to help our homeless – folks often mentally ill, runaways from abusive situations, addicted souls… They don’t want to be stuck in some shelter. They want to feel free! Their American right – as long as they don’t hurt other people. These kids and adults are hard core – the ones who refuse shelter and, for the most part, have their communities in and of the streets. They have their own beats …their own special places…their schedules. They don’t mind living outdoors in the summer…

How to keep these folks hydrated and their body temps regulated in 90 plus degree humidity?

How to keep the old ones from dying on Worcester streets.

How to give them more DIGNITY.

I suggest, and city leaders are looking into this: a city run campground for the chronically homeless. A clean safe space with cots, showers, porto-potties, water, donated food…a few caring city social workers and a cop with a big heart. America is Trumpland now. It will only get meaner.

Governor Cuomo and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are bulwarks against the Trump Storm. Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus and the Worcester City Council must be the shelter in the Woo storm for our homeless, our street kids, my “reader girl,” who most days looks so pretty sitting under the Green Street bridge reading her books…

Three-decker porches (or: The Green Island slumlord, Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes)

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Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Below: Check out this ol’ photo from the Worcester Historical Museum! Embrace the glorious porches! When so many of our city neighborhoods had sturdy, even beautiful, decorative, back and front porches … You could park 4 or 5 of your old kitchen chairs on them, invite family and socialize … Or you could just amble over to a city park.

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photo: Worcester Historical Museum

Below: Worcester’s Green Island – my neighborhood – today! Very few front porches – most of them have been torn down.😥😥😥 The ‘hood loses some of its social spiciness! I remember as a kid standing on our back porch chatting with my next door neighbor who was standing on her back porch. You could also stand on your porch and yell up or down to your upstairs or downstairs neighbors who were hanging out on their porches!

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Ward Street

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Siegel Street

Harding/Endicott streets …

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… Streets most likely named after, like all the streets in my ‘hood – some of the oldest streets in the city💙 – Revolutionary War poo-bahs or Worcester industrialist hoo-hahs. I was born on (French general) Lafayette Street, my kid sisters had friends on nearby (General) Lodi Street. Was Harding Street the namesake of some military dynamo-killer, too?

Ahhhh, but I digress! Check out the new beautiful porches in my neck of the ‘hood! Take note of what the NEW landlord has done to Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes’s old (as in former) slum building on Harding Street: he’s torn down Lukes’s former, God-awful, rickety, dangerous, paint-peeling-and-faded, OUT OF CODE, eye-sore slum porches! He is putting new beautiful ones up! Ones that aren’t baby/toddler death traps! Yay!💗💗💗

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The new landlord has actually HIRED capable contractors – a move the cheapskate Lukes would abhor – who expertly REBUILT AND REPLACED Konnie’s old crap last week. Just a few months after buying Konnie’s urban mess…the one she and hubby Jim turned a blind eye toward FOR YEARS as she, on the City Council floor, preached urban core revitalization, tidiness and brightness yet owned the shittiest rental property. Of course, she and Jim lived on the swanky Woo West Side and vacationed at their Cape Cod home – far away from us hoi polloi!!!

Hah! Konnie, Ms. Crusading City Councilor … at Worcester City Hall railing against the disrespect shown inner-city Worcester at every turn, but shitting all over her in “real life”! The hypocrite!

When I saw the new porches being built the other day, I shouted: “GREAT JOB, GUYS!” to the crew working so hard in the summer heat wave. I gave them a thumbs up! They grinned and shouted back to me! The new porches: so safe and in compliance – a definite lift to the Harding Street/lower Endicott Street area, these pressure-treated, sturdy back porches!

Here’s what the porches used to look like (for years, up until a few months ago), when City Councilor Konstantina Lukes owned them/the building:

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Pathetic.

Jim and Konnie’s other rental property, a few streets away in Green Island, made the newspapers as photogs rushed in to take pictures of her apartments with their gurgling, non-functioning toilets and a single light bulb hanging from a cord in a kitchen – the only “light fixture.” Like in a 1940s prison movie.

Why did Konnie even pretend to care about Worcester’s urban core when she so blatantly hurts us?

Why is she still on the Worcester City Council?

Aside from Lukes’s voter-catnip always lowest residential tax rate stance, what does Konnie Lukes really stand for?

At this point in her overly long Woo political career,  nothing. Lukes is simply a REACTIONARY who adds zippo to the urban conversation. She was always the City Council naysayer: now she’s morphed into someone dangerous. Some one, like Turtle Boy-Aidan Kearney and his brigade, who shouts NO! to the new Worcester and the challenges she faces: refugees from the Mid East, Africa and other war-ripped regions; poorer people; hungry children – 1 in 4 Worcester kids goes to bed hungry; folks with no entry into the working class; heartless, absentee, do-nothing landlords in place of the old non-greedy, pretty nice, property-loving Worcester three decker landlords of just 10 years ago … a city core unable to right herself because the new global economy is just not there for the regular folks who live here.

For City Councilor Konnie Lukes – on the heels of the tragic deaths of the 2 Woo babies this past week, for her to intimate on the City Council floor that their deaths were a “refugee” problem is pure evil. A la the Turtle Boy brigade.

Konnie Lukes needs to go – not run for City Council and win office for the umpteenth time. Several years ago she told me she would not run for public office if there were new candidates she liked to replace her (read: reactionary, like Konnie…Calling Michael Gaffney and his tool, Coreen!!) I was pleased with Konnie’s decision. She was in her early 70s back then and had almost a half century of public “service” under her girdle belt. But Lukes can’t let go of the spot light – and all the free perks$$$ and the almost $30,000 per year Worcester City Councilor “stipend.”

This city has left Konnie Lukes and the Turtle Boy creepos way behind. And they cannot adjust to the new reality … . Konnie, like Aidan Kearney,  no longer “gets” her city, cannot embrace her new people/cultures/challenges. Her ignorance, her anger, her belief that to solve our social problems all we need to do is lock folks out of/turn folks away from Worcester, an IMMIGRANT CITY, is a REACTIONARY move. Dangerous.

This city’s evolution is about way more than Konnie’s old porches …

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… but Konnie’s old porches are a good place to start.

For all the single 💗💗💗moms out there, this Father’s Day …

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Friday: Saying “hello” to Jett! pics: Rose T.

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💙💙💙

🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺

I wrote this column for my Dad several years ago. – R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

Ever since my father died (about two months ago), I’ve been seeing him every where. When he was alive, he made about 1,000 entrances in my family’s life. Married with kids but not wanting to be married with kids, my father lived with my mother, two sisters and me some months and was Missing in Action (MIA) during others. He was as tentative as the junk yard dogs he loved so much (and owned).

Some of his entrances were comical – like the time he waltzed into our Lafayette Street apartment with some Frank Sinatra LPs and sang “I Did it My Way” to me. My mother had sent him out for a loaf of bread!

But most of his entrances were cruel, small, mean. He made my sisters, my mother and me cry and succeeded at that so well that we eventually learned to … simply dismiss him — cut him out of our world the way you cut the bruise out of an apple. We went on with our lives, worked around our peripatetic “Daddy.” My mother held down a 60-hr-week job to pay the bills, we kids went to school, held after-school jobs, applied to colleges. My father popped in – for weeks or months.

Very confusing.

Then, after all these years, my father died in the nursing home two months ago. And Bingo! He’s now larger than life for me – omnipresent, so to speak.

As I drive around Worcester selling ads for my newspaper, InCity Times, with the radio blaring and paperwork to the side of me, I see him. I’m eight years old; my sisters are six. It’s Easter afternoon and my father strides into our Green Island flat, chomping on a big cigar. My mom has my two sisters and me sitting in our three little kiddie rocking chairs waiting for her to get dressed. We’re going to Easter Mass! We wear new pastel dresses with butterflies embroidered on them. My mother “set” our hair the night before, and now our straight brown hair bounces happily around our faces in “baloney curls.” In my father strides, enraged. We had not seen him for almost … forever. We did not know from which land he strode – not the sweet and holy world that my mother and grandmother had created in our apartment, a world filled with prayers to the saints, rosary beads, homework papers, rules and pet hamsters! Was my father going to hurt anybody this time, I asked myself?

No! He was going to have his picture taken with the Easter Bunny! God love my wonderful, hopeful, dreamy mother, she had my father sit in the grownup rocking chair in the kitchen. She would put the big, vinyl Easter Bunny she had bought at the five and ten and blown up (to our merriment) near the rocking chair where he sat. Then she told us little kids to “sit on Daddy’s lap.” We would all say “cheese” on the count of three! It would be a great Easter picture!

I was only eight but thought my mother mad. No, I would not get on Daddy’s lap! No, I would not be in the Easter Bunny picture. My sisters – twins and safe in their look-a-likeness – happily clambered atop my father. Then my mother lifted her little Brownie camera, peered through the little viewer and said, “One two! Say Cheese!” and snapped the picture.

Today I look at the square little photo from the ’60s and see two little gangly girls in pretty dresses in baloney curls looking exactly alike and smiling widely. Each one straddles one of my father’s legs. The bottoms of their dresses fan out over my father’s lap. And there’s my 30-something father; he’s wearing a striped muscle shirt. His hands are on my sisters’ knobby knees and he stares into the camera, looking … trapped. His rugged handsomeness blows me away! When I was a little girl he seemed the ugliest person in the world!

When I’m on the road, I look out of my car window and think I catch my father’s eyes. But it’s just some old man.

“He’s dead!” I tell myself angrily and shake my head as if to shake out the images of him. Then four or so hours later I see my father walking down Shrewsbury Street (his favorite street) and I have to remind myself all over again.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he was not living with my mother and us. Mom had stopped giving him second and third chances a decade ago. My sisters and I had moved out of the apartment in pursuit of higher education/careers. So it was a shock to see him walking past the fish and chips joint on Grafton Street, red-faced, his nylon jacket unzipped, billowing out behind him. He wore no shirt that raw, autumn day and he looked dazed. Then there was his neck: as big as a basketball. The lymphoma had set in.

And yet my father went walking around Worcester – his hometown that he seldom traveled outside of –as if nothing unusual had happened. It was one of my aunt’s – his sister – who had found him in his mother’s old house, lying in the darkness, and said: “Bill, you’ve got to go the hospital.” And then he did – quietly and with some grace – because he knew he was dying.

Sometimes I look out my car window and see my father after the cancer ravaged him. I see a helpless old man – my father after the chemo-therapy, the radiation, the blood transfusions. The chemo treatment took all his curly thick hair away and left him with silver, wispy locks my aunt would cut in a bowl shape. Gone was all his wild, curly red hair that rode high above his already high forehead in some grand pompadour, the wild “do” that lead my feisty old Grandma (she was my mother’s mom and lived with us and loathed my father) to nickname him: “The Red Devil.”

Run, devil, run! There you are standing outside the Commerce Building on Main Street, waiting for the bus. There you are walking out of the Millbury Street fruit store, eating a juicy plum and throwing the pit into the gutter. There you are eating the same juicy plum over our Lafayette Street kitchen sink, my sweet mother looking absolutely smitten by you. You have no time for dishes, meals served on plates. Family sit-down meals are not part of your universe. “Gotta get outta here!” you used to say. “Here” being: our Green Island flat, poverty, a wife, three kids, responsibility.

You want to leave – I can tell. But I just can’t let you go, Daddy!

Breakfast in bed …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

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incity yum-yum!

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Yesterday, I took Jett and Lilac runnin’. I love taking my dogs runnin’ …

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… an excuse to do all sorts of foolish things, like frittering away an hour amid the tough wild flowers during my walk (their run). … Wearing my sensible old lady shoes that I keep in the car trunk for our lovely daily jaunt, the black shoes with the thick soles and arch supports – really ugly mugs! But they do their job – keep this old broad on the road … so that I can listen to the young trees bend in the wind and smile at the leaves turning their cheeks when the wind hits them…

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I should write something “flowery” like “caress,” but I live at 48 Ward Street in Worcester, so I’ll use the word “hit.”

Just last week my downstairs neighbors took their fire extinguisher and sprayed the white chemical foam all over a nest of chirping sparrows! Covered the singing, starlings in white poison. Mommy sparrow had the temerity to build their nest high up on my downstairs neighbor, Mary Paradise’s send-floor back porch! Well! That was it! She or her demented son sprayed the hell out of the chirping little guys. For days, when Section 8 Mary was away on vacation in Florida, I used to love hearing the little birds spunky, loud joyful, morning song – so freakin’ joyful! Like every day was BRAND NEW to them, as if LIFE HAD JUST BEEN CREATED that very instant! God’s song! But Mary killed the 6 baby birds.

One afternoon, walking downstairs from my apartment, not hearing the babes’ janglin’ jinglin’ song, I stopped short. I looked up, and I saw the birds frozen in mid-chirp! The chemical foam, like snow, covered their nest that their mom had built so ingeniously. Or so she thought. High, in a corner, half hidden from the elements, but facing the sky, too. It was a picture I will never forget, harrowing like the concentration camp survivor photos of WW II. The birds’ feathers had lost their life, their beaks looked skeletal, and I could see the outlines of their fine, hollow bones…

It is a strange ol’ world. Warped and broken in a million ways, by people, of course.

Yet the wild flowers open themselves to heaven every day! The little brown sparrows, as tough as the wild flowers, will build their nests in new, uncanny places! Again! To give praise to God!

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On the road, after a run …

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It was early evening, so most of the flowers were “closing up for the night,” their petals curled up tight …

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There were, like people, a few reckless souls, the daisy or butter cup still smiling at the now-down sun.

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Life…reckless life…