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 …
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.
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!
Here is Rose, not at all looking like her Mom. Maybe a little like May …
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.:
Near Park Ave. pedestrians walk in the crosswalks! So many crosswalks in Woo need to be re-painted! pics: R.T.
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.
… who still refuses to sleep/play in her new kitty bed!
… Thinking about my city, Worcester, and how she, unlike many mid-sized American cities, has no African American middle class!!
Look around your Woo lives, Woo peeps!
Do you see – like I saw when I lived in Hartford and Springfield – hundreds of African Americans making their way across the urban landscape in crisp suits, polished shoes, brief cases swinging by their sides, ready to lead a city? Are they, with their college degrees, their professional credentials, entering City Hall meeting rooms to join City Manager Ed Augustus to add their voices to our civic conversations? So we navigate the 21st century TOGETHER?
Where are Worcester’s solidly middle class Black neighborhoods, like you see in so many American cities?
Where are Worcester’s black school principals, black teachers, black librarians?!
No where. Or: their numbers are so puny they can’t have a huge effect on Worcester civic life – or life in general. Every day life. Where we forge our identities, our beliefs.
When I lived and worked in Hartford and Springfield as a young woman years ago I was the minority. Most of the teachers, social workers and city leaders that I interacted with were Black or Hispanic. Black teachers, librarians, school principals, social service agency directors, site managers and social workers. Politicians. Eye-opening for a gal who grew up in white, Irish Catholic Worcester!
And guess what?
There was nothing radical about my co-workers/friends! They did not hate white people. They were proud to be Americans. They believed in a meritocracy. They were open to me, nice, polite, real. Wanting to collaborate because we were working TOGETHER to help all people in our city! These Black professionals were well spoken, thoughtful and family-oriented. They looked at learning, the school experience, child care, city safety the way I looked at the issues – or the way you’d see them!
But because Worcester doesn’t open its doors to Black/Latino professionals, racism blossoms here. The worst kind of racial stereotypes rule! People here don’t see a Black professional class, so they don’t know one exists. Our city grows more diverse by the day, and yet we still have Worcester Public Schools (at the elementary level) stuffed with all-white-teaching staffs! Our public library and its branches still have so few African American and Hispanic staffers. The Greendale Branch Library looks like it waltzed out of 1950! Pathetic!!
The situation, if you compare us to similar cities, IS NOT NORMAL!!
It just feels that way to most folks in Worcester because our racism, our separate state of being, is all they know – and feel comfortable with. It is their milieu. Their “norm.” Poor BLACKS – they too live in this weird racist home zone that reflects a skewed picture of Blackness. They can feel hopeless, depressed, less whole, less self confident living in this world, in Worcester.
Worcester – a city that excludes so many folks of color – politely and not so politely. Repeatedly. Since day #1. No matter how many community meetings the city hosts. No matter how many “official” pronouncements come from City Hall, the City Council and School Committee – all proclaiming we are an OPEN TO ALL city!
No matter if the U.S. Department of Justice!! calls us out and comes to Worcester to help right our wrongs. We hold more polite, controlled community meetings … the City Manager makes more promises … even hires a City Diversity officer, Malika Carter, to help make us whole, to bring Blacks and other minorities into the picture. But she gets our game soon enough and quits her high paying City of Worcester job. Most likely Carter left us only after only a year and half because she realized the City Manager gave her no real power to effect real change in our city. She was just the city’s fake badge of honor it awarded itself to make itself feel better about itself … the titular head of … nothingsville!
Factor in the racism of these perennial Worcester slugs:
The Turtle Boy (Aidan Kearney) blogger who destroyed the lives of so many black and minority professionals in Worcester … lead the charge to harass them out
and his rogue lawyer/Turtle Boy blog poet laureate Margaret Melican (cousin, so he says, to local hater Brendan Melican) who supports the Turtle Boy poison
and race-baiting/nightmare of a human being Worcester City Councilor (and mayor wannabe) Michael Gaffney who some people have called: “pure evil”
and Change Worcester and Worcester’s Dirty Secret FB pages author – “anonymous” blogger-crank conservative Paul Collyer, a political gadfly who has attacked Worcester City dems, a progressive City agenda and Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera – incessantly and mercilessly … for months and months and months …
and, well, you’ve basically got yourself a Woo shit sandwich! A racist shit sandwich! And it is not going away any time soon because these creeps actually have forums, platforms, bully pulpits, reach so many Worcesterites so they can stoke their class fears and racial prejudices. They incite hatred for poor people, homeless people, addicted people – our community’s weakest members!
Worcester is, at this point in its history, stuck – it’s a city that can not move forward, cannot honestly embrace people of color. Poor Blacks and Latinos. Middle class Blacks and Latinos with college degrees and more, folks who’ve relocated from the South or the Mid West, altered their LIVES, to take a high paying job in city government … only to face an intense backlash. From Turtle Boy. From Gaffney. From half of Worcester.
Worcester Public Schools Superintent Melinda Boone was harassed out of her job. Turtle Boy and Gaffney lead such a horrific Melinda Boone witch hunt/hate fest that she moved out and on. The Latino assistant WPS Superintendent who applied for Boone’s job got kicked in the nuts – so he got himself another job and moved on, too. The Harvard-educated, so smart, so savvy, so cool Latino man who applied so whole heartedly for our City Mananger job … realized city leaders were really holding the slot for Ed Augustus and he was just a … diversion. So what if he and the other CM candidates took weeks out of their LIVES to apply for the CM job, fly out to Worcester, interview for the job, meet and greet city poobahs, visit Worcester for extended periods of time to get to know us? It was just a fancy dance meant to distract from what was going on behind the scenes.
Malika Carter, the woman Augustus hired in February 2016 to spearhead the city’s diversity outreach and inclusion efforts, can now join that Black/minority professional graveyard that Turtle Boy has on his blog!
And Woo stays intolerant, narrow-minded, unfair, unjust, inequitable … choose your adjective.
Cece and Lilac have always got to be “center stage” – they’re such pushy characters! They push Jett away, literally off my bed! With their cute – cloying – ways!
But I’m closest to the one furthest away … the Jettster❤❤. My little husky- mountain-feist mix. With a little coyote thrown in for good luck! (Jett’s a rescue from Appalachia, land of the coy-dogs!)
Jett❤❤❤! So regal!
So tough! So emotionally lean. Not asking for anything but always thinking of me, aware of my situation. Jett always has my back! Literally inserts himself between me and any stranger, barking like a madman. In the city, in the country. I like that. He makes me feel safe …
Still, the ol’ J-dog is pushed away by pushy young ‘uns!
He finds himself on my bedroom floor – no matter how hard I try to bring him in. I call Jett!, he dutifully jumps up and settles by my thigh. I tell Lilac and (sometimes) Cece DOWN! But in a few minutes the old dynamics have reasserted themselves: Lilac snoozing heavily by my side, her head on my stomach. Cece curled in a ball by my head. Jett is back on the hard floor (where he doesn’t even sleep on his blankets). … Lilac and Cece are suffocating me!
Today, we are all in our places, with sun shine-y faces! Listening to my new musical discovery (3 days old!) – the AMAZING Mary Gauthier. She sounds a lot like Lucinda Williams, a personal fave, even works with Lucinda’s producer. But Mary’s got a voice, a perspective, all her own! She’s gay, ran away from home at 17, lived on the streets, became a successful chef/restaurateur!, got addicted … then clean and sober. Her music was born of the chaos, hurt and … love. Always love …
Her songs are lean and beautiful, like my Jett’s soul …
Gauthier has been around for a long time but I missed her greatness! Until a few days ago! I was listening to my boom-box radio on my kitchen window sill …
… and she came on! WOW! Raspy voiced, killer images … . Such a story teller! A GIFT! For free! To me! To anybody willing to play with their radio dial.
I love when an artist gets to me for the first time! Moves me in a way that most singer song writers/bands don’t because … I’m old! Hundreds of concerts, records, CDs, radio-to-my-ear days (on the beach, in the bedroom, in the car) have left my ears a little jaded (I’m slightly deaf in the left one). I’ve heard it all! Or I tell myself: So and so sounds like this person but is a weak replica.
My great musical loves, many discovered in my youth, like so many of our true loves, have come and gone. Or so it feels for the moment.
But then it happens! You’re driving down a Worcester road. You hear Nirvana on your car radio for the FIRST time and even though you’re already in your early 30s and feel middle-aged, you just gotta PULL OVER, STOP going to wherever you’re going and think: THIS IS FUCKING GREAT! I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYONE LIKE THIS BEFORE! WHO CAN THIS BE? The song, the artist (Kurt Cobain) got to you, the way most songs, places – even people – don’t!
And the next day you’re at Strawberry Records on Front Street asking the kid behind the cash register: WHO IS THIS? because you never got the band’s name on the radio. You sing the kid a snippet of the song: NO, I DON’T HAVE A GUN! NO, I DON’T HAVE GUN!!!
You are making a fool of yourself but don’t care. Neither does the kid. He listens, understands, gets you the Nirvana audio cassette. You tell him you wish it were an l.p. – he says nope – but you still leave Strawberries floating on air!
Hearing Mary Gauthier for the first time, a few days ago, was, for me, like hearing Nirvana for the first time: WHOA! Or the Beatles’ RAIN for the first time … or pogo-ing around my UMass dorm room many years ago as PUMP IT UP played on my turntable. I’m a college kid in Amherst, skipping bio class but hanging with my dorm’s pot supplier and a brilliant English major who uses two crutches to walk and drinks heavily. I’m on fire with Elvis. The second one! He is gonna play at UMass!! My boyfriend, a lighting guy for major rock ‘n’ roll acts, got us tickets. We’ll be going to the show!
Mary Gauthier has been around for a long time, and I listen to music ALL THE TIME. How did I miss her???
I think I heard a few of her tunes on the radio – but not her strongest ones, for me – the ones that grabbed me by the ass!
Everything, for me at least, has always started with a song …
And listening to music takes me to places, like Sigel Street in my beloved Green Island …
… to the crappy three decker where the little baby died recently. My friend’s friend saw the little one taken to the ambulance on a stretcher. He said, IT DIDN’T LOOK TOO GOOD.
No, “it” didn’t. Because it was dead.
And you think: malnutrition, drug-addicted parents or just a mom sleeping with her fragile babe in her bed … and then tragedy, born of love and poverty.
So the city gets a $$$donation and increases the number of baby boxes it gives to poor parents from 10 to 500.
Or you look at all Worcester’s neighborhood community gardens …
… and ask yourself, why are our kids still so undernourished? Why do 1 in 4 Worcester kids go to be hungry?
You see our city swimming pools – only three for the second largest city in New England!! Fuck our spray parks! Glorified sprinkler systems designed to save the city mucho bucks! The kids know the truth! I was an inner-city kid many many moons ago – I used to go into the Crompton Park city built mud-hole to splash around and cool off. That was before the City of Worcester had the vision and compassion to build several magnificent swimming pools in our neighborhoods! What a summer thrill for me! Swimming EVERY DAY IN THE NEW CROMPTON PARK POOL WITH MY KID SISTERS!
These days it enrages me to see the long lines outside the Vernon Hill pool on hot summer days …
… the Puerto Rican babies often held by too chubby grannies, scores of people old and young (most of them poor) waiting in line for an hour or more in the hot late July sun. … waiting to take a dip. Tney – or the cue of folks behind them, most brown-skinned and from all around Vernon Hill – can’t enter the pool area because it’s filled to capacity. That is the law – health and safety regs.
So cruel on the part of our city leaders. But Why should tney care? How can they relate? Their kids are driven to the beach or local state parks or the Greendale YMCA for dips in the cold, refreshing water. Or maybe they’ve got a swimming pool in their backyards for the whole family to enjoy! They don’t understand what it means to wait in line for an hour in the hot summer sun to take a dip … To be poor. To have no political connections. To be on the outside looking in …
I am prepping my shack for the city’s July 4th celebration. It’s super, stupid early – like most Woo civic festivities – TONIGHT. Grrrr!
… My critters, always the cute, if sometimes unwilling, holiday props, are scooped into the silliness:
Then I see …
… 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 …
… 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:
On Green Street. The man is sleeping on the hard concrete!!, next to a Mercedes-Benz!!
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!
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…
… is, like Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney and his (Collyer’s) lawyer, local right-wing attorney Margaret Melican, and local hate-blogger Turtle Boy-Aidan Kearney: Deeply Negative and BULLYING. Especially when it comes to our City Manager, Mayor and District 4 City Councilor and, when you think about it, Worcester in general.
Paul Collyer is a political player wannabe who gets zero traction in Worcester (or his hometown-base Somerville) and is eternally frustrated because he is bellowing and no one is listening. So he lashes out. At the mayor, at the CM, at the D 4 councilor.
Paulie’s pissed that no one in Worcester – or few folks – ever jump on his Paulie urban agenda bandwagon – with all its negative and BULLYING bells and whistles – noisy as hell. Paul Collyer has tried – FOR YEARS – to hog the Woo urban conversation, and the locals, after they get to work with him say on the Chandler biz association or some other civic group, all come away with just one thought: Collyer’s a nut. A colorful nut – but a NASTY, BULLYING nut. An ultimately dangerous nut. A nut who is not what he appears to be… A showboating nut, too. Big turn off for most Worcester folks, who have blue collar roots and can be modest…
Collyer got his urban-agenda way with former City Manager Mike O’Brien – a guy who gave Paul his ear – and our inner-city neighborhoods the finger – after being brain-washed by the charming Collyer. The Paul-Mike bromance was on! Beers together at night under the stars! The jokes! The laughs! The sharing of hopes and dreams and French fries! O’Brien, thanks to Paul Collyer, began to think Worcester’s road to urban renewal was/is Somerville’s – Paul’s homebase. Worcester is MOST DEFINITELY NOT Somerville! Somerville, at this point in its history, has become a suburb of Boston – Cambridge #2. Worcester is a GATEWAY CITY – filled with immigrants from all over the world. And their kids and grandkids. Its urban challenges are very different from Somerville’s because of intense poverty, childhood hunger, the opioid crisis, a struggling under-educated workforce lost in the new global economy, refugees … Yeah, the educated, well off millennials are attracted to the new Woo and her new restaurants, stores etc and the kids are setting down roots. That is a good thing. But with gentrification comes a two-tier city: the haves and have nots…
Worcester cannot become a mini Boston or New York: the well off and very poor – and no middle! Worcester is a compassionate city! City leaders will not forget the least amongst us! And they are working to grow a working class!
But I digress! Back to Paul and Mike! Former Woo City Manager Mike O’Brien was all ears when it came to Collyer’s urban agenda and quickly lost his feel for our city – and lost his job (that is, he was no longer a good fit for Worcester, could no longer lead her – everyone saw this – so he quit and moved to a ‘boro). O’Brien lost his feel for the heartbeat of Worcester – after following Paul Collyer’s advice. The same is happening to City Councilor Mike Gaffney, who has become Collyer’s mouthpiece at City Hall. The same goes for Gaffney’s wife, Coreen, who is challenging Woo District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera – Paul’s arch urban nemesis. Coreen is probably running against Sarai cuz Paulie told her to – charmed her hat into the ring, so to speak. Coreen’s really Paulie’s political tool – not her husband’s – as I wrote earlier!
Last night at the Woo City Council meeting when the Council evaluated the City Manager and a few weeks before that, all of Collyer’s reactionary foot soldiers took a hit! Down went Margaret Melican from her ZBA dream cloud! Down went City Councilor Konnie Lukes when she, an old bag who’s out of touch with the new Woo, tried to save Melican, another old bag who’s out of touch with the new Woo! Gaffney sounded insane last night when he read his evaluation of City Manager Ed Augustus – emotionally over wrought, in pain, like he was reading his eval with a knife sticking in his right eyeball. On the social media front, Collyer’s not so secret FB page – Worcester’s Dirty Secret – where he writes about Woo trash and recycling gets no traction with officials, so Paul has gone rogue on it and instead writes about/trashes City Manager Ed Augustus, Mayor Joe Petty and D 4 City Councilor Rivera – anyone who is not drinking the Paulie Koolaid. He is brutal in his incoherent way.
And now this: TOTAL REVOLUTION! Paul’s been stymied, he’s stuck … SO HE HAS STARTED ANOTHER FACE BOOK PAGE – CHANGE WORCESTER!
(can’t we change Paulie?!😈)
Paul’s new Facebook Page has, for its profile picture, a red ballot box. His home page commands: GO VOTE. We are presuming for all the candidates/city board candidates that Paul Collyer wants you to vote for: Michael Gaffney, Margaret Melican, Coreen Gaffney, etc. Paulie even did his own little City Manager evaluation last night, along with our city council: he gave EVERYBODY a D+.
This new Paul Collyer SECRET nutty Face Book page is just another WORCESTER’S DIRTY SECRET, without the trash – though I’m sure Paulie will get around to shoveling plenty of that in soon enough! Into his new Woo-altering social media SECRET SPECIAL platform! Ha ha ha!😂😂😂!
To Paul: Good God, man! You’re 54 years old! Grow up! Nut up! Stop playing with the lives of the people in the second largest city in New England! For your ego’s sake. Just to win. Please! Go away! Marry Susan and buy a bowling alley in the Catskills and live happily ever after! That’s the ticket 4 you – really! – Paulie!! Or: Just run away … run for dog catcher … in Wakefield. Take your super conservative, poor-people trashing, bullying, dystopian urban world view and go! To any city or town other than my beloved Worcester💗💗💗!
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.
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!
Harding/Endicott streets …
… 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!💗💗💗
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:
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 …
… but Konnie’s old porches are a good place to start.
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.
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!
Yesterday, I took Jett and Lilac runnin’. I love taking my dogs runnin’ …
… 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…
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!
On the road, after a run …
It was early evening, so most of the flowers were “closing up for the night,” their petals curled up tight …
There were, like people, a few reckless souls, the daisy or butter cup still smiling at the now-down sun.
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!