Tag Archives: Rosalie’s blog

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

20170616_132452_HDR-1
Friday: Saying “hello” to Jett! pics: Rose T.

20170616_132501_HDR-1
💙💙💙

🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺

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

20170609_101005
incity yum-yum!

20170609_100958

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

20170608_185746(1)-1

… 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…

20170512_164815-1

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!

20170504_183445
On the road, after a run …

20170608_190332

20170608_190739-1

20170608_185653

20170608_185700

20170608_185733

20170608_185722

20170608_185706

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

20170608_185655

20170608_190320-1

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

20170608_185656

Life…reckless life…

Wild flowers

20170531_162525

20170512_164909

20170517_183445-1
crushin’ on spring!🌸

This Tom Petty song is for every Worcester inner-city kid cruisin’ on his/her crazy ol’ bike/ATV/mini motorcycle – reveling in the not-yet-oppressive city summer! Their funky mobility: celebratory and salutary!! (for the kids – and for me, a fan!) Their jaunts: poor kids connecting to sky, sun and the pretty green things growing by Dumpsters, underneath lamp posts, in slips of side yards in our urban core. Their style: city kids pedaling away on their banana or mountain bikes, doing their cool pop-o-wheelies, when they hit the right stretch of street! Sometimes all together! Like a show!

Worcester cops and city officials: Let’s embrace our wild flower kids of spring and summer! Let’s stop demonizing them! Let’s work to make the illegal bikes legal for their riders; let’s stop confiscating bikes when they BELONG to the kids!

Go, Worcester wild flowers, go!!!

– text+pics by Rosalie Tirella

Hello, old friend …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday was Memorial Day. So I visited my ol’ pal Tony Hmura. You know all about him, if you’ve been reading my columns these past 16 years. Tony – despite being a septuagenarian when I first met him – is one of the true rock ‘n’ roll guys, along with the OIF and “Just Joe,” my first serious beau (only 3!😢😢). By that I mean Tony embodied the spirit of rock music his whole life: sex, freedom, an unfettered mind and body. Three-somes?  Tony had them! And showed me the pictures! A juicer? Tony was concocting his own health potions years before the hippies mashed their first soy bean. He loved animals – especially cats…

20170530_110649
Cece!💙💙💙💙

… but he was suspicious of people, society. He was a gun guy. A few months before he died I found a pistol – new, silver, angular, heavy, loaded – under the seat cushion of his Lazy Boy while cleaning his living room. It was hidden under his blanket, next to an old Play Boy magazine. His easy chair (along with his gun) was strategically placed before his TV set – and front door. He watched his Humphrey Bogart movies – and front door – in Boggey style.

Tony did not give a shit what anyone thought about him. He did as he pleased, often living outside the law. He carried razor blades in his pants pocket at all times and once suggested that I do the same. He gave me a lesson in how to use a razor blade – cut up and fast. Like this, like this! he kept yelling at me. “God, Tony!” I said. “Put that away!” He didn’t. He showed me his three-some photos right before Christmas! He always carried them in his shirt pocket. The good old days. “Put them away!” I’d yell at Tony, alarmed. Yet fascinated. So Mick Jagger …

Tony surely went his own way, a loner dancing to his own crazy beat. But he always had – not at all obvious to most folks – his own wild moral compass. I recognized it early on, which is why we became friends. Like me, he grew up poor in Green Island, and his childhood haunted him. Through grit, pluck and smarts Tony pulled his entire family out of poverty – as a kid! He eventually made himself and his sons rich. But he always carried himself like a little sewer rat – same as me.

20170509_135816-1
Rose has baggage galore …

And he never forgot his roots. Giving money to every poor South Worcester guy or gal who crossed his path with a sob story. And, like me, his psychic pain roared unabated. No matter how good things were. We got each other on a deep level – often with just a phrase, or a sigh. I miss that.

anthony-hmura11
Tony, about 12 years ago. He had his WW II plane painted on the back of this leather jacket. Which he wore in all seasons.

Tony was a gunner in a bomber plane in World War II. He was a gunner because he was a little guy and gunners had to be small so they could crouch in the small sides of a fighter plane. Tony flew a ton of missions – the U.S. military kept increasing the number of missions the guys had to fly as the war dragged on. He was shot down twice and survived because he was so brutally smart. A SURVIVOR like I have never known! You felt it buying a cup of coffee with the guy! (no sugar, cream and two ice cubes, for Hmura!) He served his country with a tough grace that most people just don’t have. No judgements. It’s just a fact.

So yesterday, Memorial Day, when I went to his grave and saw his tombstone adorned with just that one classy beige cross AND ZERO AMERICAN FLAGS, I knew I had to get busy! I drove to the Dollar Store and bought a bunch of American flags, stars and plastic flowers – for Tony. For Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

I really did it up for Tony!

20170529_152113-1

Sure, it’s not the most artistic looking tomb in the cemetery, but it’s what Tony would have loved: bold, in your face, colorful, red white and blue and a mess of Old Glories! The gaudiest, freakin’ most patriotic tomb stone in the whole cemetery!!

Just what Tony – a Type A personality all the way – would have loved!

And I put a red plastic rose on his stone so he’d know it was me, Rose.

20170529_152113-2

20170529_152116

See? There’s his plane – a perfect replica – etched onto his tombstone.

20170529_152130-1

And in back his birthday. He lied to me about being born on the Fourth of July! But that’s ok – the lie was out of love for country!

20170529_152143-1

I like how Tony’s death date isn’t engraved onto his tombstone… It’s like he hasn’t died! Or refused to go!

Keep rockin’, Tony! Keep flyin’ above the clouds!💗💗💗💗💙🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

20170529_152137

Skin deep

Pics and text by Rose T.

20170523_135958-1-1
Rose, an old broad …

… knows, from experience, there is more to a city than meets the eye. Take any city. Take Worcester …

20170522_172508-1
A few days back, Millbury Street …

20170522_172539-1

20170522_172533-1

Vernon Street:
20170522_165905-1

Symptoms of acute poverty …

But dig deeper:

In Main South:

20170517_153109-1

20170522_154430

20170522_154413

20170522_154355

20170522_154026

Green Island:

20170524_171954-1

20170524_171950-1

20170520_192833
❤❤❤❤

Coes Pond:

20170517_160142_HDR-1

20170517_160124-1

South Worcester:

20170524_172451

Instead of acting like a whiny little bitch … OPEN YOUR EYES AND SEE THE GOOD AND THE BEAUTIFUL IN MY CITY!

20170512_130827

20170512_130930-1
St. John’s Church

linked_image(1)
Youth Grow teens

20170502_153835
Piedmont – Chandler elementary school

20170512_164451
Smiley face – designed in Worcester.

Go, City Manager Ed Augustus, go!!

GO, WORCESTER, GO!!

“Ma” – always in style, always in my 💗

Photos by “Ma” and her sis

By Rosalie Tirella

20170517_100204-2
photo: R.T.

I’m having an early lunch, in my big kitchen, in my lower Vernon Hill flat. Looking straight at “Ma” (with me at the park) and thinking back to her big kitchen in her Green Island flat, where I grew up, where Ma used to throw some great birthday parties for us kids.

20170517_110918-1

Here I am, at the head of our paper-table-cloth-covered kitchen table (the “table cloth” bought special at White’s Five and Ten on Millbury Street for this special occasion!), basking in all the attention. I’m sitting in the “queen for the day” chair, our old needs-a-paint-job creaky, cracked wooden chair taken from our back porch. We had four green wooden chairs in our apartment – to be tucked under our green kitchen table. No dining room – or dining room “set,” a staple in all Mad-Men era homes but absent from poor ones like ours. So there was no dining room table from which to pinch dining room chairs for our guests. So Ma would run to our third floor back porch and grab the late Jaju’s (Grandpa’s) wooden chair, along with a couple of benches he built 10 years before.

It was all very rough hewn! See! I still have the tin cup Jaju made for himself, with the door hook handle. He used to drink his cheap vino from it. He loved to work with his hands. His carpentry projects included: wood swings for our bedroom doors, a long gliding patio swing for our front porch. Most of them made from scrap wood. He even made me pink Play Doh horses with my pink Play Doh!

20170517_120353-1
photo: R.T.

Jaju, a Polish immigrant who worked his whole life in the textile mills in Douglas and Dudley, felt besieged in his new country, America. He missed the “Old Country” and played sad Polkas on his harmonica in the evenings, from his bedroom filled with the thick furling grey cigarette smoke from the cigs my mother used to roll for him, in his little rolling machine. Unfiltered, of course. I used to have a small package of his cig papers somewhere in my desk drawer – they were so fine and delicate. Tracing paper that left no traces of Jaju … He died of cancer, just an illiterate “Polack” factory worker to most folks… (not to me, my sweet Jaju!)

Back to my birthday party… A fine time was had by all – me and my cousins and my aunts and uncles! Pin the tail on the donkey games! State Line potato chips for the kids! Pickled pigs knuckles in big clear jars – a Polish peasant delicacy! – for the adults! My birthday cake from Widoff’s! My purple, ribbon-trimmed dress from Jack and Jill’s kiddie clothing shop on Green Street!

Ma’s beaming down on me, straddling my kid sisters on her strong legs. The babies are twins! No one can tell them apart, except Ma! Ma LOVED all little kids.

She loved animals, too. Cats, kittens, puppies … dogs, especially. Here’s her fave dog (not any of mine!) – ROCKY, her brave, beautiful and loyal Doberman pinscher from her Springfield days. I wrote about Rocky last year – the beloved, vicious-to-everyone-but-Ma-and-my-aunties Dobie who died trying to get back home to my mother and my two aunts. Rocky had bitten several folks, so he had to be given away to a farmer, miles up north in the country. But he broke free and ran back home to Ma and her sisters. One night they found big old Rock at their door, bleeding from the mouth. He died at my aunt’s feet – he just had to get back to his favorite mistress!

20170517_110850-2

Here is Ma outside Worcester City Hall, wearing – like all women of the late 1950s/early 1960s – her pretty gloves…

20170517_114108

I still remember them! – will never forget them! – crumpled at the bottom of her closet on Lafayeytte Street, in a box, with her nice jewelry – of no use to her now, living on Lafayette Street, working 60 hours a week at the dry cleaners, a single working woman with three little girls and an ailing mother (Bapy) to care for. When I was a little girl, I used to take Ma’s gloves out of their box and flatten them out on my lap to admire them. They were the epitome of all things feminine! They were powder pink, soft, so pretty with delicate, pale blue stitching along their edges. I’d brush them up against my cheeks and smell them! They’d smell like musty moth balls! I loved that smell! It was of hidden secrets! A special past! Ma’s glamorous days!

20170517_114556-1

Did you know my new monthly, Cecelia, coming out next Friday, is named after my late mother?💗

Happy belated Mother’s Day, Ma!! I love you!!

Late-afternoon Gaffney musings …

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Hanging with the mutts …

20170513_123518

20170513_130155

… and Miss Cece …

20170512_175622-1

… drinking my java, thinking about local politics – thanking the dear sweet Jesus that former Worcester mayor, city councilor and school committee guy Joe O’Brien is coming out of his new-daddy-hood cocoon to run for public office again. Yeeeehaaaa!!! He’s running for Worcester city councilor at large, which means:  Mayor Joe Petty, who’s running for re-election, will, once again, win the mayoral seat and Joe O’Brien – because he’s well liked and a smart, compassionate and effective public servant – will be second highest vote getter and become the Worcester City Council vice chairperson, KNOCKING COUNCILOR MICHAEL GAFFNEY OFF THE COUNCIL VICE CHAIR PERCH, a perch he milks to no end! YAY! 🙌 🙌 HOORAY! Yipee! Reason enough to REJOICE that O’Brien is running  for public office! We are so sick of councilor at large Michael Gaffney – he’s brought Woo political discourse  to a new,  toxic low! Plus, by being vice chair, he trots out his mayor-in-waiting schtick at every turn. O’Brien’s strong win will make him #2, the new vice chair and …. keep Gaffney off that dias at City Hall! Rip the mayor’s gavel out of the Gaffer’s cold, clammy hands! Take the pinch-hitter title away!

Again, reason enough to be ELATED that Joe O’Brien is running for city council!!! (he’d never run for mayor this election cycle because he’s Petty’s friend and political ally.) But there are other reasons to be thankful for our soon to be new city council vice chair: First, O’Brien will be the antidote to the poison that is Michael Gaffney. Every time Gaffney uses race or class  to hurt one group of folks to win political points with the Turtle Boy brigade or twists the truth in the sickest ways a la sicko prez Donald Trump, O’Brien will call him out. Call out his twisted lies and counter them with TRUTH.  O’Brien is an articulate, progressive policy wonk who went to Harvard. He’s also a regular guy/dad/husband who loves/lives Worcester 24/7. He’ll brook no bull shit from Gaffney. For example, we could have used Joe a few days ago: The Gaffer was on his video channel crying over the fact that our City Council went on record supporting a statewide living wage of $15/hour. His cynical, slimey Gaffney intimation? That the living wage is a nefarious Socialist plot to subvert democracy! My late great mother who worked her whole working life for minimum wage and wanted a LIVING wage for the folks who came after her was NOT a Socialist! She LOVED AMERICA! SHE WAS A PATRIOT. She once told me SHE WOULD DIE FOR HER COUNTRY! Gaffney is no American patriot. He wraps himself in the American flag and sticks a WPD badge on his lapel to create the image of patriotism. It’s all marketing. For votes. Gaffney, like  Donald Trump, is a power-hungry con artist who lies to people to  win elections. Joe O’Brien will, on the council floor, rebut Gaffney’s slick lies.

Second, Mayor Petty, along with most of the other city councilors, is doing an admirable job at keeping Worcester, a Mass Gateway City, open to and PROUD of immigrants…making our public schools strong and the portal to a middle class life, a life of knowledge and a never-ending quest to LEARN MORE. Our parks are beautiful, our inner city ‘hoods need help, but we are all trying. Downtown may yet prove to be our own urban dance party – singing and swinging to a million different voices! I cannot wait! Michael Gaffney is the political thunderclap over our urban dance party. Immigration, refugees, a global multi-cultural Worcester, a Woo struggling with poverty and hunger in many of its quarters…Gaffney, like Trump, exploits all this and plays to people’s economic fears and racial prejudices. O’Brien is just the opposite – he will help lead the city council – and city! – to higher ground. He will help bring people together – not divide, to conquer.

Here are last night’s Bill Maher video clips. Maher, one of America’s most gifted satirists, has Trump pegged. But you can extrapolate and apply his satire to Gaffney, on a much teenier political scale, of course. Spiritually, Trump and Gaffney are identical twins:

Good discussion:

But enough Gaffer talk! On to:

Mike Gaffney’s wife, Coreen Gaffney. She is running for the Worcester District 4 City Councilor seat – a seat her fat patootie will NEVER warm! Not for one milli-second! Once again, the Gaffneys know/show no shame. Coreen, the wife of toxic Michael Gaffney – a politician who gets his political steam from castigating minorities, refugees and Sanctuary Cities – runs for office in Worcester’s majority-minority, mostly inner-city District 4. (And, no, Mike, it is NOT sexist to write in news stories and headlines that Coreen is married to you. IT IS NEWS-WORTHY.  You’re a CONTROVERSIAL COUNCILOR and you GET  YOURSELF INTO THE NEWS every other day. Think of it like this: If Hitler’s lover ran for Vice Fuhrer, wouldn’t you want to know that she was Adolph’s squeeze?) Yeah, D 4 could use better garbage pick up (more often – and street sweeping, too!), but that doesn’t mean we throw the district (my district!) out with the unrecycled water bottle!

Smile, people!

20170512_164459

This November the dynamics of the Worcester City Council are gonna change – for the better!!😄😄😄😄💗💗💙💛

What would be so bad about weekly street sweeping/cleaning in our urban core, courtesy of the City of Worcester?

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Or a daily garbage patrol on the look out for abhorrent stuff like the illegally dumped garbage, pictured below? I took these photos of Millbury and Endicott streets yesterday. Now that the slobs at the slobby Endicott Street house I have been whining about for THREE YEARS have been removed by the authorities (police wearing bullet-proof vests), there are no more heaps of trash in front of the place. But we’ve got other offenders on the street:

20170509_153238(1)-1

20170509_153242-1

20170509_153223-1

These contractor bags I wrote about last week are STILL “cooking” on Millbury Steet!!:

20170509_153205-1

That’s why we have a rat problem:
20170504_081447-1
Cece and Rose’s  rat “sub.” (if you squeeze its front paw, it sings “Little Drummer Boy”😉)

What does all the garbage, blatantly “on display” in our city, say about Worcester? We have better public schools than all the other New England Gateway Cities, but many of these lesser urban hubs look so much cleaner than Woo! Our parks are many and beauteous, but you forget their lush gorgeousness when you have to cede the sidewalk to a mountain of garbage!
20170427_172400-1

Our West Side homes rival Wellesley’s, but visitors get the wrong impression of Woo – and don’t want to commit to our city – after they do a bit of exploring and come upon sights like this one:

20170502_175720-2

Our garbage/dirty street problem is deeper than “cosmetics,” and I’ve written about the culture of poverty here. But, on the most basic level, we must treat our trash as a cosmetics challenge! More street sweeping – especially in District 4. More garbage trucks, more often – especially in D 4. ASAP!

A few more reasons for all the trash? There are so many more people stuffed into gerrymandered (extra rooms and apts) three deckers these days. Way more than when I was a kid. And today everyone has his or her own car. And the diversity is truly amazing! So many cultures from all over the world live here! So many people from different countries, each guy or gal or kid with his/her own way of discarding their crap. THE CITY MUST START EDUCATING THE POPULACE! We must all get on the same trash-disposal/recycling page!

Downtown Worcester is coming along …
20170109_160448-1-1

Every striving city needs an attractive, bustling downtown. We applaud what CM Ed Augustus and other city bigwigs are trying to do. The naysayers have it wrong: it’s not either/or – either our neighborhoods or our downtown. IT IS BOTH … AND THEN SOME! I hope our reimagined downtown becomes more than a place that houses and caters to the well off. I hope we have all kinds of restaurants and stores for all kinds of people! When I was a kid growing up in Worcester, I loved Denholm’s (window shopping) and the Mart (real shopping)! Class war did not break out between the kids from Green Island and the matrons from the West Side! People in downtown Worcester were not in their silos! People pressed up against each other – the ideal America! You couldn’t say the same thing for Worcester City government or the City workforce or our neighborhoods, but downtown was a mosaic. Even as a little kid, I felt the electricity!!

Reclaim the spark, Worcester!

Worcester City Council, save our inner-city neighborhoods! Say “YES!” to a $15/hr LIVING WAGE!

20170502_175743
Poverty, Endicott Street.  pics: R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

WORCESTER CITY COUNCILORS, PLEASE SUPPORT COUNCILOR Khrystian KING’S RESOLUTION Tuesday night (May 9) and VOTE YES to SUPPORT a STATE-WIDE MINIMUM WAGE of $15/hour!

By doing so, you will save Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods/urban core.

If we continue on this road, if you do not show your support and VOTE YES to pay the working poor more than peanuts, Worcester will go the way of NYC and Boston: a city where the VERY RICH and VERY POOR live –  but no “in-betweeners” because they are priced out of the city. The upper middle class and wealthy will go to their special schools, restaurants, venues in the city; the other class – really the underclass – will live in Section 8/govt subsidized housing and have its own world, sometimes just several blocks away. We see this happening in Worcester now – our urban core these days is not the urban core in which I grew up. The American dream no longer takes hold in places like lower Vernon Hill, Union Hill, Green Island. Our economy does not support it! Instead, we have Section 8 meccas filled not with the working stiffs and stiffettes of yesteryear (like my late mom) toiling their way on/up the economic ladder, raising their kids in a no-bull-shit manner, making them go to school because education was valued as one of the sure ways out of poverty. Instead, these days, our inner-city neighborhoods are brimming with people whose lives are played out somewhere far from the American Dream, a landscape filled with guns, drugs, anger, depression, morbidly obese women, scrawny kids (1 in 4 kids goes to bed hungry in Worcester). They are not part of a world that creates aware, healthy, educated, aspiring Americans.

These once amazing old neighborhoods … where the original owners have died and their kids, detached suburban dwellers who want no part of the inner-city scene, sell their inheritances for top dollar to absentee landlords and developers who buy the buildings and make them Section 8 so they can make steady, good money, courtesy of the federal govt. These new landlords do very little or nothing for their properties; they couldn’t care less about the situation – even the law breakers and drug dealers they often rent to. As long as they get their Section 8 checks – a lot of $$ – every month –  like clockwork – from Uncle Sam.

20170427_172400-1
Section 8 housing – Endicott Street

Their tenants? Well, the working poor are priced out of these places! If you work full-time at minimum wage, you can’t afford these apts! Instead, the places are rented to people who have a Section 8 voucher for LIFE. This guarantees the absentee landlord (or slumlord) top rental dollar for LIFE. The tenants add nothing to the economic or cultural or educational fabric of Worcester. They usually bring drugs, violence, ignorance and zero respect for teachers, police, the rules of society into their new abodes. It’s the world of the under class – an entire swath of our population that cannot function in civil society. They are, for the most part, unemployed folks who game the WELFARE system with a kind of insolence that stems from knowing they’ll never be called out and the gravy train just goes on and on. It’s not a lot of $$ but just enough to keep you afloat and in housing. Then you can abuse the system to get extra $$/perks. Folks have no desire to get off welfare and become self sufficient BECAUSE BEING ON WELFARE IS JUST AS OR MORE LUCRATIVE THAN WORKING A 40 HOUR MINIMUM WAGE JOB! For lots of folks, it’s a better deal!

Which is why we need to raise the state minimum wage to $15/hour.

WE NEED TO WIDEN THE $$$ GAP BETWEEN the working poor and the scammers. We need to make WORKING 40 HOURS A WEEK AT AN ACAP AUTO OR CVS worth more $$$ than sitting on your ass in your Section 8 apartment becoming depressed or agoraphobic or morbidly obese or a pot head or a junky – all the while collecting the welfare package: free or low low rent, free utilities, free food, free health care.

This federally subsidized package – which should be a  temporary leg up and not a permanent hand out/way of life – should not be worth as much money as a PAY CHECK. From a 40 hour a week job – or from 2 or 3 part-time jobs.

WORKING FOR A LIVING – no matter what you do – should mean YOU CAN PAY FOR YOUR LIFE. Not a fancy one, but a stable, basic, healthy one – with a few perks thrown in, like a vacation at the shore, a jalopy that you drive around town to work etc – or to the Cineplex or the Olive Garden on a Saturday night. Certainly digs you can afford!

Welfare scammers should see that being a part of the legitimate American economy – on any level, even at Wal-Mart pushing a broom – IS VALUED by our society.

It gives folks pride and hope and spending money, which they WILL spend, boosting the economy, boosting neighborhood biz. Worth WAY MORE THAN SITTING ON YOUR ASS IN YOUR SECTION 8 APARTMENT SMOKING WEED, the way my downstairs neighbor does. Or renting a room out to a boarder and getting cash under the table and using your Section 8 apartment as a kind of business/rooming house – the way my downstairs neighbor does! Or bringing in your girlfriend, who collects welfare $$ because she had your baby and you do not marry her so she can move all her free govt benefits$$ into your apartment so you can afford to buy a shiny silver Acura! The one you zip around in with such absurd pomposity. I am describing the violent little tenant-turd at 48 1/2 Ward St. I guess that’s what babies are for!!

The madness must stop!

The cheating is almost universal in the urban core. The ingenious ways folks have of gaming the system here boggles the mind! And its done with TOTAL INSOLENCE. People feel it is OK to pull this crap – cheat the American taxpayers who are the ones SUBSIDIZING their lifestyle, if you wanna call acute dysfunction a “lifestyle.”

This is why Donald Trump was elected president. Lower middle class and working class resentment.

Enough is enough!

Time to support WORKING PEOPLE. In our hoods they used to and still do bring: a work ethic, stability, respect for property, respect for the rule of law, respect for teachers and public education, respect for all public servants. I grew up in a minimum-wage household years ago on Lafayette Street, in Green Island. I know first hand how tough it is to PLAY BY THE RULES and keep a family afloat on minimum wage. But my single working mom did it. She paid our bills by working for minimum wage at the dry cleaners down the street: 40 hours regular time, 20 hours under the table. Accounting for the cost of living/housing back then, minimum wage was worth about $10/hour in the 1970s. Still, my mom, my two kid sisters, “Bapy” and I lived hard lives: We never owned a car – or even a clothes dryer; vacations were the stuff of dreams (though we kids did have a lot of fun in the hood and cousins’ houses!); we – or at least I – wore a knit hat to bed during winter because our tenement was drafty and always cold in Jan and Feb, and we had to keep our gas bill down. Our only source of heat: the gas “log” in the kitchen stove. Meals were basic but healthful, Polish peasant food: lots of cabbage, potatoes, beets, onions and the cheapest cuts of beef – the meat more as a side dish or even a garnish. Looking back, my mom was feeding us well but, if you were a fussy eater, you might not like what was on the Mrs. Tirella menu. I was not a fussy eater – I was a little Hoover vacuum cleaner who sucked up all the food Ma put on my plate. My sisters were picky – and pretty skinny because of it.

Below: One of Rose’s kid sisters, goofin’ on their 3rd floor back porch, in Green Island. Many moons ago!

20170507_181834-1

But we survived. It was rough and tumble, but we had good shoes, good to nice clothing, went to the movies, bought records and portable record players… I grew up adoring my amazing mother, valuing work, family and God, enjoying healthy competition, getting up with a bounce in the morning to go to Lamartine Street School to study hard and get those all-A report cards for Ma – a lady who admired resourcefulness, competence and drive because she had it all in spades.

20170507_181206-1
Ma” (left), sharing a laugh with her fave sister (and Rose’s fave Auntie) in the Lafayette Street flat.

Councilor King’s Worcester City Council colleagues – Konnie Lukes, Michael Gaffney, Gary Rosen, Moe Bergman and Tony Economu – should support his resolution just like Worcester City Councilors Candy Mero-Carlson, Kate Toomey, Sarai Rivera, (mayor) Jos Petty and George Russell have. We need more Mrs. Tirella’s. But we need to pay them a living wage because, without these urban stalwarts, our inner-city neighborhoods will never wholly rebound.

20170507_183217-1
Where it all began: In “The Block,” on Bigelow Street, in Green Island. Rose’s fave Auntie💛 (again), with the beloved “Bapy.”💗💗💗

Talkin’ trash!!🚨🚨🚨

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Monday – two days before City of Woo garbage pick up day – I saw this “mixed bag” on Millbury Street, coming home from work:

20170502_175720-2
pics: R.T.

I wondered: Which bags will the City pick up?

A little game you can play here, in the ‘hood, where trash takes on a personality and life all its own!

Yesterday, coming home, I got my answer: everything except the contractors bags!

20170502_175720-1

Which made sense. The sad part: now those damn bags will sit on the sidewalk – forcing pedestrians to walk in the street! – until I make a flurry of phone calls to the City of Worcester/the Mayor’s Office.

The fault lies with the dunderhead tenant or illegal dumper! WHO PUTS OUT A CONTRACTORS BAG FILLED WITH GARBAGE?! DON’T WE ALL KNOW THE CITY ONLY PICKS UP CITY OF WOO YELLOW GARBAGE BAGS FILLED WITH GARBAGE?

The dumpers were either 1. aware of the rules and flouted them or 2. in the dark and need to be EDUCATED. Whatever happened to those big City of Worcester postcards that were once upon a time mailed to all city residents? The ones on which DIRECTIONS FOR PROPERLY DISPOSING OF YOUR GARBAGE WERE WRITTEN IN ABOUT a zillion languages?! The ones with easy to understand graphics? We need another mass mailing of those gems!

Easy to make this next jump: All the illegally dumped garbage in District 4 is a public health catastrophe.
20170427_172400-1

My neighbor, the great, brassy lady with a heart of gold and tough as nails moral code, the woman who is always cleaning up and tidying up ALL OF lower Ward Street – with a “Hefty” helping of righteous indignation – was drinking coffee with her sister a few mornings ago. Her sister was visiting from another Woo neighborhood, one sans garbage tsunami. As her sister sipped her coffee, she looked out my gal pal’s kitchen window and saw what she thought was an awefully big squirrel sitting on its haunches in my friend’s back yard. It looked like a giant squirrel … but not quite.

She said to my friend: What’s that?

My friend looked out her kitchen window. Expecting to see a fluffy squirel tail attached to the critter to which she had now turned her attention …she saw a long, thin, furless RAT’S TAIL coiled on her lawn – attached to a rotund bottom, attached to a rat the size of a cat. She screamed A RAT!!!

20170504_081447-1
A poor rat substitute!

She yelled, bellowed, at the giant rodent. It got scared and skittered into a hole…

Last night, as we chatted on the phone, we tried to determine where the big rat came from, which three decker or building. The list of candidates was LONG.

We decided 90 Endicott Street was the source:

20170422_151328-1-1

Then I told her: REJOICE! The neighborhood PIG STY was swarming this evening with undercover cops! 10 at least!!

Drug bust?

A killer tracked down?

We wondered.

The place was swarming with the good guys!!! All of them were wearing their dark blue bullet-proof vests. Bright blue lights now pulsated from their unmarked cars. Confused looking folks, with their heads down were surrounded by cops and cop cars.

This is how crazy all the garbage has made me!

20170427_134335-1

I was not worried about firearms or shootouts…I was obsessed with, gunnin’ for the guy in the building WHO ALWAYS DUMPED THE DAMN TRASH!

Ha! I said to my neighbor. He and his buddies are outa there! Maybe now the flow of trash will be stanched!

My neighbor was silent over the other end of the phone. She, wiser than I, may not have been as optimistic as this Green Island Grrrl!