Tag Archives: Worcester

My America? Eighth USA school shooting in 2018! Majority of Americans want more gun control! Stop the madness, Congress and President Trump!!

By Rosalie Tirella

Our hearts break! We pray for Parkland! Another American school shooting! The 8th of 2018 – and it is only FEBRUARY! Schools, the learning, sports, arts and emotional hubs of so many communities are under siege, and our feckless Congress, the empty Trump, hundreds of our state/local pols do NOTHING! DO NOT LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE THEY WERE ELECTED TO REPRESENT!

Kids, parents, teachers, coaches, lunch ladies, janitors … coming together in their Florida high school yesterday to do the quintessential American thing: EDUCATE ALL American kids! Girls, kids of color, kids with special emotional or physical challenges, rich, very poor, brilliant and not brilliant. All American kids have the American right to free public education! And TO BE INSPIRED BY GREAT TEACHERS/STAFF … DO SPORTS … REVEL IN MUSIC, PAINTING, CREATING ART … FIND AND PURSUE THEIR PERSONAL PASSIONS! And, yes, come together to have plain ol’ fun!

Do you remember high school and junior high? I do! The great Worcester Public Schools! K through 12, for me! Providence Street Junior High, Burncoat Senior High … lot of books but a lot of friends, movies, pizza parties, joking around, being silly, hanging out listening to rock n roll, too! Kids and adventures I’ll never forget, courtesy of the grand old Worcester Public Schools. Years later I would become – for a few years – a substitute teacher in the Worcester Public Schools. A different perspective! What cool kids – many struggling, needing guidance and nurturing but still open to the love and learning you get in all great schools! So many good teachers and teacher’s aides – and lunch ladies and coaches – all so dedicated to their kids and our community!

It was the same in Parkland! But yesterday in that Florida high school – a revered American space – lives ended. Worlds were shattered.

What will it take for President Trump and the Republicans in Congress to stop caving to the politically powerful NRA AND LISTEN TO THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS?

Americans want stricter gun laws – not more loopholes! Is being re-elected really so important to scores of mediocre politicians?! “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” – President John F. Kennedy said that. Do you think President Kennedy and brother Bobby (Attorney General) would lead like sicko Trumpo and our gutless Congress? Let our kids die? Die horrific deaths? By assault weapons – like soldiers in battlefields.

American kids aren’t in a war.

American kids aren’t expendable.

AMERICAN STUDENTS MUST NOT DIE WALKING TO SCHOOL, STUDYING ALGEBRA, KIDDING AROUND WITH THEIR BUDDIES IN ENGLISH CLASS… THE MADNESS MUST STOP! Grieving American families don’t quit grieving – ever. Once the TV cameras are turned off and the news vans drive off they hurt forever, think of their dead sons and daughters every day.

Trump’s response to yesterday’s carnage? Ho hum…nothing new to see here. I am sure he will use the tragedy to defend and get in even better with the NRA. He will push for a plethora of guns in ALL our schools! Trump wants every American teacher, school principal, music instructor armed. Carrying a concealed weapon they may be too terrified – or unwilling! – to fire. The obscenity of it all.

I’m certain President Trump will put his big ugly foot in our hearts and slosh it around – make the families, all Americans, hurt even more with his incoherent, emotionally fucked-up, off-the-cuff remarks given after he reads his official statement off the official White House teleprompter. And his asinine, evil Tweets will bring more pain…

Pray for Parkland.

Pray for America.



We’ve made some sentences bold. We pray for the dead children and their coach … and their grieving families and community. Their lives will never be the same! – Rose T.


How many US school shootings have there been in 2018 so far?

Attack on a Florida high school is the eighth shooting to have resulted in death or injury during the first seven weeks of the year.

Break the cycle: it’s time to end America’s gun violence epidemic
Lois Beckett in New York @loisbeckett

Thu 15 Feb 2018

Just seven weeks into 2018, there have been eight shootings at US schools that have resulted in injury or death.

Seventeen people have been confirmed dead in the latest shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.

Less than a month ago, a 15-year-old student opened fire at a high school in Kentucky, leaving two students dead and 18 injured. Other incidents have been grave, but on a smaller scale.

In early February, one student in Los Angeles was shot in the head, and another in the arm, when a gun concealed in a fellow student’s backpack went off.

The congressman Bill Nelson, a Democrat of Florida, said on Wednesday afternoon: “Are we coming to expect these mass shootings to be routine? And then after every one we say ‘enough is enough’ and then it continues to happen?”

Congress has refused to tighten restrictions on gun ownership, even after 20 children and six educators were massacred in 2012 in Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

“We’re lessening the threshold of how crazy someone needs to be to commit a mass shooting,” Austin Eubanks, who survived the 1999 shooting at Columbine high school, told the Guardian last fall.

He was speaking in the wake of catastrophic Las Vegas shooting, where a depressed man took up position high up in a hotel, with a large arsenal of guns and ammunition, and sprayed bullets upon a music concert audience, killing 58 and injuring more than 800. Eubanks said he had watched an increasing pace of mass shootings across the US, in schools and elsewhere, with fear and anxiety.

The fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting last December passed in subdued fashion, with congressional Republicans refusing to pass new gun control laws and instead pushing for a law that would weaken gun restrictions nationwide and make it easier to carry a concealed weapon across state lines. Donald Trump won the White House campaigning on a promise to support the National Rifle Association (NRA), the influential gun rights group, and oppose any limits to Americans’ right to own guns.

In all, guns have been fired on school property in the US at least 18 times so far this year, according to incidents tracked by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group. In eight of these cases, a gun was fired on school property, but no one was injured. Another two incidents were gun suicides, claiming the lives of one student and one adult on school property.

The repeated tragedies and frightening incidents continue to spark deeply divided political responses, with some Americans urging tighter laws on gun sales and ownership and others advocating for putting more armed guards in schools, or making it easier for teachers and parents to carry their own concealed weapons.

Experts caution that the toll of gun violence on children and teenagers falls heaviest outside of schools. Youngsters are much more likely to be shot in their own homes or neighborhoods than at school, according to research by the school safety expert Dewey Cornell.

But the emotional impact of school shootings has sparked a booming school safety industry. In 2017, the market for security equipment in the education sector was estimated at $2.68bn, according to industry analysts at IHS Markit. Some companies have capitalized on parents’ fears by selling bulletproof backpacks or whiteboards, as well as offering ways to fortify school buildings themselves against attack.

While refusing to pass substantive gun control restrictions, Congress has approved hundreds of millions of dollars in federal spending to help put police officers in public schools, including $45m in 2013, the year after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

Some gun rights advocates have pushed to expand gun-carrying in schools further. Andrew McDaniel, a state legislator in Missouri who introduced legislation last year to make it easier to carry guns in schools, told the Guardian that, in rural schools where it might take 20 or 30 minutes for law enforcement to respond to a school shooting in progress, it made sense to have other armed citizens ready to step in.

Happy Valentine’s💕 Day!

pic: R.T.



A different kind of Valentine/maybe the same kind of Valentine💜:

Today is ASH WEDNESDAY, the first day of Lent. Go to church – get your forehead smudged … “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”

John the Baptist baptizes!



Worcester Historical Museum
30 Elm St., Worcester

This Sunday:

February 18

1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Celebrating African American History Month!

Communities of Color Seen Through a Different Lens:

Frederick Douglass to Black Lives Matter

A panel discussion with Janine da Silva, Dr. Janette Greenwood, Frank Morrill, Cheryll Toney Holley and
Chuck Arning.

In partnership with the Blackstone National Park Service.

LOVE this portrait! It is breathtakingly beautiful! Michelle Obama, fiery First Lady! Intelligent and righteous First Lady! We miss you!
Michelle Obama’s official portrait, painted by Amy Sherald. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

How to help ‘man’s best friend’ in the Year of the Dog

(editor’s note: we’ve made some sentences bold.)

As people around the world prepare to ring in the Year of the Dog, it’s worth noting that for many dogs around the world, the year ahead will be nothing to celebrate. We call them “man’s best friend” while often treating them like our worst enemies. But there are simple steps that all of us can take to help improve their lives.

For starters, stop wearing leather.

PETA’s affiliate in Asia exposed a thriving dog-leather industry in eastern China, in which workers bludgeon dogs, slit their throats and peel off their skin to make gloves and other products that are exported across the globe.

In the video footage, dogs cry out and writhe in agony after being clubbed over the head with a wooden pole, and some struggle to breathe after their throats are cut.

Finally, their skin is torn off.

Many mass-market retailers import cheap Chinese leather — which is often deliberately mislabeled — so there’s no way to tell whose skin you’re really in.

The safest and kindest choice is to shun all leather and choose vegan options instead.

When the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is on TV, change the channel. Westminster’s promotion of purebreds is not doing dogs any favors. Because of inbreeding and purposely breeding for distorted physical features, approximately one in four purebred dogs suffers from serious congenital disorders such as crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems and epilepsy.

If your child’s teacher “adopts” an Iditarod musher for the class to track, speak up. Dogs in this race are forced to run nearly 1,000 miles — roughly the distance from Orlando, Florida, to New York City — in under two weeks. That’s about 100 miles every day, with only a few brief periods of rest. They’re subjected to blinding snowstorms, subzero temperatures and treacherous ice.


Their feet become bruised and bloodied, and many endure pulled muscles and stress fractures.

Some even die, including five in last year’s race and more than 150 since the first Iditarod — and that doesn’t include dogs killed or neglected in the off-season by mushers.

End the Iditarod!!

Call on Texas A & M University to end cruel experiments on golden retrievers and other dogs (visit PETA.org to find out how).

Eyewitness video footage obtained by PETA shows dogs who were deliberately bred to develop a crippling and painful form of muscular dystrophy. As the disease ravaged their bodies, they struggled to walk, swallow and even breathe. For more than three decades, dogs have wasted away and died in pain in the university’s laboratories, but not one cure or treatment for reversing the course of the condition in humans has resulted.

Adopt — don’t shop.


Animal shelters are filled to the brim with lovable, affectionate dogs who would make wonderful companions — and their lives depend upon being adopted.

But when people instead buy animals from breeders, classified ads or pet stores, those potential homes vanish. If you’re determined to have a specific breed of dog, you can still rescue one in need.

Having a pedigree doesn’t protect dogs from being tossed out like old furniture when they’re no longer wanted, and many purebreds end up at shelters or breed rescue groups.

Once you’ve found your new best friend (at the animal shelter) remember that dogs don’t want to be locked up in crates or confined to lonely backyard pens. They want to be part of the family. Please let them.

When we bring animals into our homes, we have a responsibility to take care of them, to be patient and to love them unconditionally, just as they love us — in spite of chewed-up tables or shredded sofas.


If you already shower your dog with kindness and respect, good human! But please remember the many other dogs who aren’t so lucky. Speak up for them in this Year of the Dog — and beyond!

Molly – a “cut” above the rest!

By Rosalie Tirella

Today, while looking in my “magic” mirror, …

pics: R.T.

… I saw my fingers fussing a little too busily with the grey hairs framing my middle-aged face. So I grabbed one of my cheap dye-job kits, …


… left the touch-up bottles in the bathroom, and went into my pantry to perform a MAJOR DYE JOB – platinum blond on top of the fake auburn, on top of the fake copper highlights, on top of the original mousy brown.  I dye my hair in  my pantry (dishes washed and put away!) because it’s  got two big sinks and a spray hose, making coloring my pixie pretty easy, if not at all pampering (trendy hair salons – with their $75 price tags – are “out” for this blue-collar gal!).

I grabbed my clean, old towels I use specially to dye my hair, the Nice ‘n’ Easy box, and was set to begin the all-too-familiar routine. But even before I opened the box – she, Molly –  came back to me. In a rush!  And I didn’t even have to get a whiff of the peroxide in the toner bottles!

When I was a little girl growing up in Green Island, Molly was our family “hairstylist.” My mom took my two sisters and me to “Molly’s” for our haircuts, and she went to Molly’s for her “perms.”  We always called the hair salon Molly’s, even though Molly had given it a proper name, probably something very glamorous for Millbury Street, where it was located – or should I say crammed into (the space was pretty much a long corridor) – near Kelley Square.

I think Ma called Molly’s Molly’s because Molly had been doing my mother’s hair for a decade  – way before Ma had us kids. They were “professional” friends: Molly took her clothes to be cleaned at the dry cleaner’s down Millbury Street where Ma worked as a counter girl, and Ma took her black hair (I always loved the color – her own) to be cut and given a curly permanent up Millbury Street where Molly worked. They had confided to each other through the years: Molly knew my mom was poor, killing herself at the dry cleaners to put a roof over her three little girls’ heads. And Ma knew that Molly was also alone – a single working woman hustling with her small business (I never saw a customer – I was so proud! It always seemed Molly had opened her shoppe SPECIAL for my mother and us kids!) and caring for her grown son who still lived with her and had “problems” and couldn’t hold a job. Ma never explicitly said anything about alcoholism,  but somehow I got the gist of it  – and was always nice and polite to Molly.

These days hair salons are like movie studios, filled with young, beautiful women with beautiful, long, thick  multi-hued tresses “foiled” ever so artistically. They are cutting, coloring,  practically caressing, their clients’  locks. These women – and men – consider themselves hair and makeup artists and use phrases like “color palette.” They are skin care professionals, too! Life-style gurus, even. To enter many Worcester hair salons today is to be swept up into  tranquil, luxurious worlds filled with lovely aromas, music, people, salon  furniture and shampoo dispensers. Places where stylists coo their flattery, offer you complimentary cups of chai tea  and dry your hair with the fluffiest towels! As if you’re Meryl Streep about to sashay down the Red Carpet!

So unlike Molly’s. As a little girl, even holding Ma’s hand, I was always a little afraid of Molly – of getting my haircut at Molly’s. First, she wasn’t beautiful  –  or even pretty. She looked like Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. She cut her hair with a razor blade – very short and jagged. Then the lurid orange-yellow hair dye was poured on – Molly’s signature hair color. Until her death. Her hair was teased – spiked – out and up!  Laquered in place with a ton of hairspray…defying gravity. The first impression Molly made? She looked as if she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Molly always wore a black plastic robe tied tightly around her waist – if you could locate it on her torso.  Molly was skinny as a tooth pick – her waist would be hard to define. She never glided down her rented corridor on Millbury Street, like she was some beautiful movie star, the way some hairstylists do today.  No, Molly always walked jack-knife straight, as if escaping a bloody car accident. She’d lurch from the sink with stiff towel, to the black no-nonsense barber’s chair you sat on, to her back room, closed off to the public by a heavy gold plastic shower curtain dragged across its entrance … for another pair of shears, or just a time out. It was a stressful affair.

Molly never smiled or made chit chat with us kids when she cut our hair. No “How do you like your new teacher at school?” or “How old are you now? My, you’re a big girl!” Stuff that hairstylists say to kids today to kiss up to their  helicopter moms who hover over the hairstylist with polite determination. Molly – and Ma – had no time for that clap trap. We were little kids – as significant as the  faded posters of the out-dated models with their old hairstyles that Molly had Scotch-taped to the walls.  At Molly’s, the women did the talking. About grown-up things. I shut my mouth and closed my eyes while Molly cut away and talked with Ma.

Molly was a very fast and abrupt hair cutter and occasionally poked you in the eye with one of her bony fingers – or the points of her little scissors. I didn’t want her sharp little shears nicking my face – ouch! It had happened a few times during previous visits to her beauty parlor . So I closed my eyes and listened to Ma and Molly talk – in hushed tones – about their lives. Very seriously. Sometimes I’d open my eyes to see Ma seated on the barber’s chair next to the one I was sitting, leaning forward, looking anxious, as she confided to Molly. Molly, 15 or 16 years older than Ma, seemed to give her advice. Sometimes I’d open my eyes and see Molly in her little side room (the plastic shower curtain was pulled six inches to the right or left),  and I’d see her open a little drawer in her cabinet  and pull out a little flask like I’d  seen at McGovern’s Package Store a block away. Molly would stand stiffly by that cabinet, like a stork, her skinny arms and legs all veiny, and she’d take a few furtive swigs from the flask and shove it back into the drawer.  I once asked Ma about the flasks. Ma looked annoyed…said Molly had a lot to think about. Said Molly was taking care of her only son. A grown man who was sick and depended on Molly to take care of him. Did I say my pretty, sweet mother looked annoyed with me?  I never asked about the flasks and back rooms again and always tried to be extra nice and polite to Molly. My kid sisters sat on the gold plastic chairs lined up against the opposite wall, the reception area, while I got my hair cut. It’d be their turn next!

Ma always  made us get our hair cut at the same time. It was easier that way for her – one trip to Molly’s, one outlay of cash. Ma got her curly perms every three or four months at Molly’s. We kids went along – mainly for the trip to The Broadway restaurant on Water Street for hot fudge sundaes after Molly finished perming Ma’s hair! Sitting on those gold seats at Molly’s, watching her work on someone else, Ma, you got a different perspective – and realized that Molly was as cavalier with Ma’s hair as she was with mine and my two kid sisters’. She must have used the strongest chemicals to curl Ma’s otherwise soft wavy hair because she always lined  my mother’s entire hairline with a thick rope of cotton – to keep the chemicals off Ma’s face and out of her eyes. Still, while Molly worked over Ma in her stiff, fast manner, lips pursed, her black slim cats eyes glasses slipping down the bridge of her skinny long nose, I could see my mother’s pretty face turning a blotchy pink red from the strong chemicals. She sighed and sweated.  Molly ran into her back room for a swig of vodka and two cotton balls to plug up Ma’s ears. That was so the chemicals – of which Molly used a lot – wouldn’t flow into my mother’s ears as Molly rolled Ma’s treated hair into the scores of little curlers. It looked like there were around a million of them – small and medium sized – in her beauty tray. There were no  windows that opened at Molly’s – just storefront ones – so Molly opened the front door to let some fresh air in. Still it stunk to high heaven in that little Kelly Square beauty shop.

After a few hours of what seemed like torture to Ma – the smells, the red skin, the hot dryer over her head that made her face even redder – Ma was “done.” Literally! Molly took out the scores of curlers and combed out the little curls – teasing the front of Ma’s hair-do, over her still red forehead –  quite artistically we kids thought. Then she sprayed about a half a can of Aqua Net on Ma’s hair – and voila! Ma looked beautiful! She looked just like Elizabeth Taylor in the 1950s – or Sue, who worked at the dry cleaners with Ma, and also got her hair permed at Molly’s. Or my Aunt Mary who, now married to my Uncle Mark and living in the nicer part of town (the Burncoat area), was still loyal to her old beautician from Green Island and had Molly perm her hair, too. Like Ma,  Aunt Mary had a history with Molly.

We all had a history with Molly –  one that overlooked the actual hair care. Molly seemed to know only a few hair cuts and styles. She never was “on trend,” unless you want to count her punk rocker look. It was the early 1970s – punk rock was ascendent … maybe she really was trying to look like Ziggy Stardust. All I know is that Molly made my mother and all the ladies who came in to her salon for perms look like … poodles. We kids got the crookedest pixies…she was too cheap to shampoo us. Hair conditioner? We didn’t know what that was –  didn’t  use it at home. Our kiddie hair cuts were supposed to air dry. We were treated rough – like wayward puppies who had rolled in dessicated squirrel and dried dog shit. Fast, fast, fast went Molly’s hands over our little heads – so rough!

When I got older, say 11 or so, I began to develop my own sense of fashion. If  you’ve been reading me, you know as a tween I had a mega crush on the ’70s teen heart-throb pop singer David Cassidy, lead singer of The Partridge Family. I wanted Molly to give me a shag – just like David Cassidy’s – like all the kids were wearing! I went into Molly’s with Ma and, shyly, tried to explain to Molly, the look I wanted: the bangs, the layers, the length. I even said: “David Cassidy” and “Partridge Family”! Molly frowned, put me in her stiff black barbers chair, draped a big black plastic cape over my front and went to work – feverishly. I expected the worst and shut my eyes to protect them, and my psyche, like I always did. When it was all over, Ma gasped. I opened my eyes to see my mother … smiling! At me! I looked into Molly’s big wall mirror and saw me … looking very cute!!  Like a mini-David Cassidy! Or the beautiful Karen Carpenter of the Carpenters! Or Paul Williams, the little pop singer I just watched on the Odd Couple TV show with my sister the other night!  I  looked so cute in my shag!! ….My bangs softly framing my face, my hair flowing softly, roundly about my ears, then gently cascading over my shoulders, very feathery! JUST LIKE DAVID CASSIDY’s coif!

Molly smiled when she saw my beaming round face. She took the big black cape off me and, with a flourish, shook it so my light brown hair wafted to the floor. Ma, still smiling, paid her for my haircut and we walked home. I floated down Lafayette Street! A few days later, our class photos were taken at school – individual ones now because I was in seventh grade. I still have one of the wallet photos. I am smiling broadly. I’m wearing a silver band around my neck, from which dangles a delicate silver heart. I’ve got on a thin, bright yellow orange sweater – almost as bright as Molly’s hair! All the cool kids were wearing sweaters like that. And the color was so “in”! And I’m sporting – modeling! – the shag haircut Molly gave me just a few days earlier. Perfect!

Goals and wishes

Imalay, her mom and baby💕

By Imalay Guzman

Often people promise to change once a new year comes, not knowing that change comes with life experiences. To embrace change and let things fall where they are supposed to, like pieces of a puzzle. Eventually, with time, it all comes together. This past year I accomplished so much, so I’m beyond ready for what this new year has in store.

What I want for this new chapter of my life is only to be successful. I need to succeed in all that I am currently working on. I was blessed with an opportunity to work for the City of Worcester as an intern, and now my goal is to obtain the position permanently. This past holiday season left me with a few extra pounds, although I needed to work on my weight before I made it an obligation to push myself to lose at least 45 pounds or so. Having children is a constant hole in your pocket, from diapers to after school programs or even personal necessities, but to save money is the ultimate plan.

When it comes to my kids, my resolution for them is for them to help me do chores around the house, like clean up their room or pick up stuff around the house, and to make sure their home work is done everyday after school. My husband is incarcerated so it’s been difficult for my kids to cope with his absence. As their mother, I am working with them so they can learn how to identify their feelings and be able to cope with the situation in a healthy manner. Having a significant other who was there as your backbone and only support system gone is painful. But like any other hard working intelligent woman, I learn how to deal with life as it comes and just do the best I can

I made a routine that works and I will stick by it: In the morning I wake up at 6 a.m., so I can get the little ones washed up, fed and dressed for school. Once I drop my oldest off at school, I make my way to work, were I feel like I am making a major difference in people’s life. I currently intern in administrative work at Work Force Central. There I set up appointments, receive and make out-bound phone calls, fax and make copies and instruct a seminar on the services we provide in Spanish. After I finish up at work, I go home and begin my mommy duties. I start to clean and prepare for supper. I also help my daughter with her homework. I do this every day except on weekends. The weekend I set aside for laundry and organizing for the week ahead.

Having to balance personal goals for yourself and your family can be exhausting, especially when the father figure is missing and mommy has to become mommy and daddy. I know this isn’t new – there are many women in the world that don’t have the option of having a father figure around. When it comes down to it, not much can be done except to have faith and hope that everything is going to work itself out.

As far as my personal goal to lose weight, I’m already on a diet. It includes baking fish and/or chicken, with an excessive amount of vegetables on the side! When I wake up, I have a tall glass of water and go about my day continuing to keep myself hydrated. At the end of my day, I eat a decent amount of protein and veggies. This diet teaches me self-control and helps shrink my tummy.

I’ve been learning how to save money. It’s something that was not taught at home, and I’m hoping that in the end it rubs off on my kids. In the long run, everything I do affects my kids, and they learn from everything they see. I want to peruse this year in a positive way; although my plate is full, this is only going to make me stronger. I’m praying that the end of this year my husband gets to come home so we can pick up where we left off.

Making your very own Valentine’s Day cards at the Worcester Historical Museum – always in style!💌💙💖 Tomorrow!💘

can't you see

Worcester Historical Museum
30 Elm St.

Tomorrow – Saturday, February 10

Valentine Workshop!💘💌

All ages!🌹

Haven’t bought your Valentine? Make one in the historic Worcester tradition!

1 PM – 3 PM


The History of Valentines

Learn the Worcester story with museum executive director, Bill Wallace!

1:30 PM

Howland Valentine (2001.FIA.06.1.8)


On Monday, February 12

4 PM

Award Celebration!💌👏👏

Celebrating the winners of the 40th annual “Be Our Valentine contest!”
(Snow date 2/13)

Whitney Valentine Card

2014 Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Sailors of the Year
And don’t forget to shower our heroes with💕💌💕💜!


Newsrooms in their heyday! I was there, at the “tale’s” end!

By Rosalie Tirella

Watching this 60 Minutes interview, thinking about the new Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep movie, got me thinking about American newspapers and writing for a “daily,” The Springfield Union News, pre-social media – say, the early 1990s. Back then I was a cub reporter for the Union News, just an hour and a half westward ride down the Mass Pike from ol’ Worcester.  I had made the wise decision to move to Springfield to immerse myself in the city – and its news.

I had been a “stringer” for the T and G here in town, back when the T and G – like most daily newspapers in America – was the only show in town and hence lucrative, and hence able to hire all kinds of writers. Back then the T and G reporters filled an ENTIRE building on Franklin Street! Three floors of writers! And there were all kinds: columnists,  lifestyle reporters,  cooking writers … travel, features and even music (classical AND rock n roll!) reporters. Today? Just the bare-bones news and sports writers , throw in a columnist here and there. It’s the formula for most second/third-tier city dailies in America today.

But back in the day things were so good$$$ for mid- to big-city daily newspapers that their reporting staffs overflowed into the many small towns and burbs around them. That was true of the T and G and Worcester County. We called them “news bureaus” – publishers rented small offices in the surrounding towns to “cover” them, too. Report their news. These news bureaus had a managing reporter/editor type in charge of two or three town reporters, plus a couple of stringers who covered the teeniest town meetings that were deemed to insignificant to be covered by the reporters. These  town meetings were usually sparsely attended and run by town officials – big fishes in miniscule ponds who loved the sounds of their parochial voices. Their egos were huge. Many were stupid and/or corrupt. I loved it!!

This was my entry into the writing world: Chasing a Spencer police chief who turned around and chased me out of his police station – his cane raised over his head, swiping away at me!  Limping and waving his cane over his head at me – Rosalie Tirella, not just a girl Polak from Green Island, but a REPORTER who demanded the TRUTH  –  to see the town’s police log – public record! I was a real threat to this guy! I had power! The truth, the law, was on my side! Intoxicating!

Reporting totally appealed to my feisty, right-makes-might, writerly Catholic girl self! I was in heaven in that stinking little police “headquarters,” being chased by the proverbial racist, sexist small town, good ol’ boy top cop! I knew, at that moment: This is the life for me!!

Flash forward three years… I’m still a stringer at the T and G. News editor Leah Lamson doesn’t want to take a chance on me and hire me as a full-time reporter – for a T and G bureau. “Our reporters have masters degrees from the Columbia School of Journalism, ” she tells me. Haughtily.

I think: Right, Leah, and you got your  entry level reporting job here because your family used to go to the same summer camp as the old editor.

But I was more polite back then. So I held my tongue. Faced with her snobbery – and mediocrity (Leah couldn’t write for shit!) – I smiled, thanked her for her “time and consideration”  and shook her hand. Goodbye!

Then the magic happened: I was hired as the Enfield, Connecticut, reporter at the Union News in Springfield, the same kind of newspaper as the Telegram – a small city’s major rag. They had just opened their Connecticut bureau but weren’t renting an office in Connecticut. The money folks weren’t sure how their CT experiment would unfold. So they kept their five newly hired CT cub reporters – my four colleagues and me – in THE CITY ROOM in Springfield. WHERE ALL THE GREAT REPORTERS WERE! WHERE ALL THE ACTION WAS! The big, beautiful, sprawling, fluorescent-light lit city room!

Did you look closely at the Washington Post’s city room in the above video clip I posted? That’s the way it was in Springfield. That’s where I worked four glorious days a week!

Picture this: Rose begins her day at the Union News hub, in the middle of a diverse, challenged and challenging city… the doors open…the news room beckons: row, after row, after row of desks…each desk with a reporter typing on the chunky keyboard of his or her gargantuan desk top computer – the early ones. Atop their metal desks: notebooks, thick, bound reports, file folders of  “clips” they’re referring back to for info and context, dinky paper cups filled with bad  coffee bought for just 50 cents out of the big coffee machine in the utilitarian (let’s face it – ugly) break room off to the side. The computers are as ugly as the break room. Big  plastic television set jobs – the size of a Lazy Boy lounger. The computer screens are ugly too: no beautiful screen savers, no fancy bells and whistles…just the black background on which you typed your deep and beautiful thoughts  in ghastly green letters, in a basic, no nonsense font. Paragraph, after paragraph. It was really all about the words back then. Nothing was Instagramed, touted on FB, publicized to death in a fast, streamlined, slick manner. No one sat on cool ergonomically designed desk chairs, no one drank lattes or spring water. People drank Coke and many reporters smoked cigarettes – in the city room.

The desks were big clunky metal jobs – like the ones your high school teachers sat at. Nothing was saved in “the cloud”  – we each had tall or short metal filing cabinets in which we saved our new clips – the ones we cut out of papers and periodicals. We created different file folders for different subjects: the dog pound, the shooting at the park, the restaurant with the roach  problem. Our file cabinets also looked like the ones you’d see in your high school – your principal’s office.

And yet the writing was terrific! The reporters smart and intellectual – and hard nosed – and idealistic! We talked poetry and music when not writing our stories. We shared notes, sidled over to each other while sitting in our beat up metal chairs – with wheels.  Told a joke, flirted …

The desks were arranged in subgroups, according to the reporters’ “beats”: the cop reporters sat at their clump of desks; living had their row, schools and education theirs, features theirs, sports on the other side. Editors and copy editors were stationed in the middle of the long room – big enough to host a wedding – but the nerve center of the city room, the entire newspaper, the desks from which all the orders and decisions floweded, the people we reporters went to for guidance, advice. The (mostly) men to whom we “sent”  – emailed I guess you can could say – our “budgets” – the list of stories we were working on and would have for them at the end of the day – usually around 11 p.m. , as we were a morning newspaper. Budgets had to be in to our editors around 4 p.m.  You had to produce stories at the Union News. You had to always be working on a story. You had to be fast.

This was exciting.

Your daily deadline made it  exciting.

Here you were – you and 100 or so other newshounds – up against the clock. Out in the city or your town or  police station (your beat) in the afternoon hustling for the facts, reporting, then coming back to the city room with your notes and typing up your story. There were no cell phones back the, so you made your follow up phone calls around a million people, at your desk phone – a big clunky black job with a receiver on which was attached a plastic or rubber cradle so you could type your interview subject’s answers right onto your computer screen while cradling the receiver in the crook of your neck. All the cool reporters wrote like this. I did. It was like being in a movie – you and a 100 other people talking into phones and typing. Still, some of the great ones used only pen and notebook. I had a crush on a senior reporter who did both. Sometimes I’d look up from my computer across the room to look at him working – and catch him looking at me! City Room Lust!

You had to write – or I had to write -beautiful prose within this world-wind of people and phones ringing and keyboards clicking…this cacophony of slamming of desk and file cabinet drawers, munching and lunching! Heaven! At least at the Springfield Union News where all the reporters we’re so respectful and friendly. I don’t know if this is true for all city rooms but, while being hyper-competitive – all reporters want front page, above the fold! – my colleagues in Springfield were always proud of each other’s good work, catches and scoops. We all read each other’s stories – kept tabs on our bylines. We knew each other’s strengths like the covers of our slim, reporter notebooks: one guy was a brilliant writer! Another guy super sleuth reporter. Another was a brutal but accurate political scribe – after one of his investigative pieces was published, the politician he wrote about killed himself! Another person wasn’t much of a writer but a great guy who was good with sources and a total work horse. One gal got cheated out of the cop beat cuz she was a girl – but the cop reporter (a guy) was so good to her, so nice, so wanting to share his beat with her (he felt guilty for getting the job she deserved) it was … a little heart breaking.

Friendships formed, people hooked up and moved in with each other, a bunch of guys and gals would go on a celebratory bar crawl every Friday night – after the work week. I wasn’t a bar gal but I became  friends with three or so reporters – all guys, all helpful with ideas, sources, you name it. One turned out to be a total keeper – handsome, an elegant writer – and as crazy as me! His desk was next to the reporter I had a crush on. The guy I lusted over had a cute way of typing – eyes half closed, his long bangs brushing over his forehead. While busy typing, he never brushed his hair off his handsome face, just shook his head back. Very sexy. From across the city room I’d stop typing my school board story only to see my kooky buddy sitting next to him – doing the  same thing. Typing the same way my crush did. I’d laugh out loud! He would too. … I’m sure the object of my affection thought my buddy and I were both nuts! But we were good writers – sometimes my friend had written the most elegant news story of the day. Once I walked by one of the top editor’s office during one of his meetings with other top editors, and I heard him say “She’s one of our up-and-coming reporters.”

My God! Grab this girl’s ankles! Pull her down from scribe heaven! Wipe the star dust out of her eyelashes!

I floated over the ugly yellow linoleum city room floor for an ENTIRE day!

Back then there was a true mix of reporters – not everyone, as Lamson has stupidly crowed to me, had graduated with a master’s degree from the Columbia School of Journalism. Some great reporters came with no fancy pedigrees. After all, reporting started out as a career for blue collar smarties, society’s misfits and frustrated poets. That’s what made it such a great profession. At the Union News, the guy reporter I had a crush on had gone to a first rate liberal arts college, and there was a Yale grad, too. But there was a first rate gal reporter who had once been a social worker. There were Westfield State College grads – and a New York Times burnout at the copy desk. My editor was a very savvy reporter –  and an alcoholic. As in reeking of booze when you went to talk to him about your stories, blood shot eyes, greasy hair … stumbling as he walked over to you. Born and raised in Green Island, I had seen plenty of this before … and looked past it. One reporter, she was my least favorite , called him a booze hound, laughing . I never called him out. Was loyal to the guy. Liked him and his ol’ smile and his takes on the news. Today the editor would be fired, I’d be called an enabler and we’d both be in psychotherapy – and AA for him and Al-anon for me, to boot. But it was different back then! He kept his job, I kept my sweet editor who, in his tipsy state, still managed to do his job. Lots of reporters in the good old bad old days were drinkers. It kinda came with the territory.

Often I yearned for more…to be on the city staff writing about city people and city issues – the racial and ethnic stew from which I had sprung. It was a  drag covering the drippy (white, homogeneous) town of Enfield, Connecticut. So I’d propose stories with more oomph to my editors.  Stories with a wider scope. Big picture pieces. Investigative  juggernauts…but they never happened, or maybe a few did, but I don’t remember them. Mostly, people liked my feature writing and personal essays –  what I’m doing now for you.

In a year or two my city room dream died. The Enfield bureau wasn’t generating enough Connecticut ad revenue – so the Union News stopped printing a CT edition. None of us were laid off – but I was offered a job all the way up in no man’s land Greenfield. In their little bureau in a little town north of Northampton. I had graduated from UMass/Amherst, so I was familiar with the town. Like hell was I going there! A small town with no big exciting city news room where the piles of books and file folders were a fire hazard, where my drunk editor gave me silly grins, where I could go to the city room library and read The New York Times just for the hell of it. Or any major American paper. The city room, where all the ideas, arguments, note books, copy editors, editors, cans of Coke, cookie crumbs, photographers, affairs of the heart and words, words words that moved, changed a CITY sloshed about like a big gorgeous gold fish in a small gold fish bowl.  No. I was NOT going to the dinky Greenfield  bureau after the City Room!

Watching the clip, above, made me cry. To see all that beautiful junky clunky office furniture again. To see disheveled, dissipated looking, BRILLIANT editors  again! To see hundreds of work horse reporters who live and love their job. So NOT fake news, as President Trump bellows. And three cheers for all the young hungry reporters who are TODAY relentlessly pursuing  the TRUTH. Their writing isn’t as strong as the guy and gal scribes who preceded them…but they work just as hard – haven’t given Trump a second to catch his gassy breath. They are relentless! And that’s gangbusters!

Still, I cry over the death of most American city newspapers (even the T and G) and the shrinking of most city newsrooms. It’s the end of a glorious era. Glad I had a chance to experience the rukus and the romance!
Rose today: still crazy for writing, after all these years!