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Fireworks shortage presents the perfect opportunity for change!

By Michelle Kretzer

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Jett hates fireworks …

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Lilac is neutral …

In the era of COVID-19, “shortage” is becoming a familiar word. But unlike the absence of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and flour, the fireworks shortage could prove beneficial.

In its most recent Fireworks Annual Report, the Consumer Products Safety Commission estimated that in 2019, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated 10,000 patients for fireworks-related injuries. The agency received reports of at least 12 fireworks-related deaths but points out that the actual number is likely higher.

In addition, the National Fire Protection Association found that pyrotechnics start an average of almost 20,000 fires every year, causing more than $100 million in property damage. And insurance often won’t pick up the tab. Sadly, these explosives also cause thousands of wildfires every year with devastating consequences for forests and the animals in them. And with current drought conditions in many parts of the country, wildfires this year could be especially destructive.

Fires aren’t the only threat posed to wildlife by pyrotechnics. In areas where fireworks have been set off, surfaces and groundwater frequently become contaminated with perchlorate — a carcinogen common in explosives. Animals can also ingest or be injured by the unexploded shells, pieces of plastic and other debris left behind.

And during loud displays, startled deer and other animals frequently run into roadways and birds flee their nests. After one fireworks show in Arkansas, the bodies of about 5,000 red-winged blackbirds began raining down from the sky. The birds had panicked and taken flight but, because of their poor night vision, had crashed into houses, signs, and other obstacles, causing blunt-force trauma and death.

On New Year’s Eve last year, people set off fireworks in Rome, Italy, despite the city’s ban, resulting in hundreds of dead birds covering the city streets. The International Organization for Animal Protection surmised that in addition to dying in collisions, another cause of death was heart attacks brought on by fear. Other birds have died after choking on the thick plumes of chemical-laden smoke.

Bombs bursting in air can be upsetting to veterans, small children and anyone else with a sensitivity to loud sounds — but they are often deadly to dogs and cats, whose hearing is more sensitive than ours. Animal shelters have found that following New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July, they receive record numbers of reports from guardians whose animals have jumped fences, torn through screen doors or leapt through windows in an attempt to escape the noise. Many never make it back home. The problem has become so pervasive that last July, animal rescue organizations in Los Angeles set up microchip-scanning stations throughout the city to which residents could take wandering animals in hopes of reuniting them with their families.

But there is an easy solution. And we don’t have to give up our celebrations — or even drastically alter them. This year’s scarcity of fireworks and skyrocketing prices present the perfect opportunity for cities to try out cool laser light shows, which are safer, more eco-friendly and more humane. They’re also more economical, as municipalities can use the same lights year after year to create different dazzling displays. Lasers can mimic traditional fireworks as well as any other image imaginable and can even be choreographed with fountains and music.

And there’s no shortage of options for safe celebrations at home, either. Parenting suggests confetti poppers, glow-in-the-dark bubbles, exploding foam, glow sticks, “fancy sparklers” made from glittery ribbons, and “firecracker goop” made out of Pop Rocks.

We don’t need actual rockets to celebrate Independence Day any more than we need actual ghosts to enjoy Halloween. When one simple change can protect the environment and save countless lives, isn’t it worth a try?

Reposting this GIG column for Father’s Day …

I wrote this column about 14 years ago, right after my father died. – Rose

On Seeing My Father

By Rosalie Tirella

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Country Boy. Rose’s father as a teen with his dog, Pal. He always owned dogs – loved them! Later he became obsessed with German Shepherd Dogs. Rose inherited her father’s love of canines! Today: Lilac at her feet. Below, Jett by the stove, waiting patiently for scraps. pics: R.T.

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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 make a great Easter photograph!

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!

Downtown Worcester! Today!

By Rosalie Tirella

New day. Jett thanks “Auntie Lee” for the comforter – even though he likes to be on the bed with mommie. It’s good to have good people in my life! …

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❤Jett. Pics: R.T.

⚘Yesterday I worked on our 20th ICT/CECELIA anniversary issue and tried to buy a ladies wrist watch in our spiffed up, street-scaped, flower-pretty, benches-galore downtown. Ah! Great Expectations! Good luck with that! How naive was I?! Not a woman’s Timex to be found in our great urban renewed downtown – Main Middle or North – unless you wanted to go to the pawn shop in the heart of Downtown Worcester.

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Downtown Worcester…yesterday.

Remember when you could buy the necessities in our downtown, in any downtown in America, like a basic ladies Timex – or even, for Worcester folks, a better and fancier wrist watch at Denholms or Shacks (for men)? Those days have evaporated like the foam off your mocha caramel latte! Seems you can get all the high priced high falutin’ coffee you need in our downtown, but you can’t buy a da*ned Timex. Or a package of new Fruit of the Loom men’s cotton briefs. Or socks. Or kids school or “church” shoes.

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Remember when our downtown was built for and around the Worcester worker bee? We had Woolworths. The Mart. Lerners. American Supply. … Furniture and ladies bras and mens underwear for the Woo masses. My mom loved to shop in our downtown. We kids loved to shop with her. It was all just a 25-minute walk away from our Lafayette Street tenement! … 25 mins until we saw and mingled with hundreds of Worcester folks buying their goods like us, enjoying their hot fudge sundaes at the Woolworths lunch counter on Front Street. Magic time. The American Dream made visible, tangible … edible!

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Today’s new Downtown Worcester has been marketed to, built to, accommodate the moneyed Millennial (via their parents who foot the bill$$) or deluded old upper-income empty nester (“if I hang with the young, I’m young!”): We’ve got fancy, over-priced restaurants and bakeries and coffee shops made for people on the move. Entertainment districts. Beer gardens. But no Timex ladies watches! No sports coats for Uncle Walter! No neckties or tie clips for dad … or new ottoman for the living room to match your new Lazy Boy that sits in front of the Zenith 19-inch, color TV. All made in America. For sale in Downtown Worcester.

Sigh …

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Crompton Park

By Rosalie Tirella

Crompton Park Skatepark is gonna be built. Watch the video, below. Wowza. Big plans augmenting what’s already there: the park’s new basketball courts look great. The new playground looks wonderful. The swimming pool, relatively new, built on former City Manager Mike O’Brien’s watch, is still fantastic. All these amenities for the families of Green Island! Impressive!

I grew up in the neighborhood decades ago and remember swimming in the humble “mud hole” at Crompton and sledding down the nondescript little hill by the Harding Street side of the park with our English setter Belle. Both features gone to make way for better and more better. Still, I had a ton of fun and have wonderful memories of my neighborhood park. Those many afternoons spent at Crompton added sparkle to my impoverished childhood. And by impoverished I mean financially – never spiritually. I had my mom Cecelia and my Polish Bapy waiting for me on Lafayette Street!

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Rose and her two kid sisters at Rocky Point – a bit more fun than Crompton!!

Sadly, there were lots more people at Crompton Park when I was a kid and it was just another ol’ city park. Rough around the edges. No bells and whistles. Yeah, we were the Baby Boom generation – Green Island kids and their dogs traveled in packs back then, the old three deckers bursting at the seams with us all … but it seems to me people just got out more and really enjoyed sharing public spaces. There was no razzle or dazzle or state of the art anything. You made your own razzle. Endeavored to dazzle the cute boy in your 6th grade class – Mr. Chickarian’s class – at Lamartine Street School by your wit and charm …and for some girls and boys …fisticuffs.

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Belle❤

Today … Despite the City’s efforts to uplift and beautify, two teens were shot recently at Crompton Park. About 10 years ago, our city’s senseless youth killings began at Crompton: A teen was shot dead in the middle of the park in the middle of the afternoon. Yellow tape was stretched out over the murder scene by the police. I remember driving by my old park, staring at that yellow crime tape, horrified. Now it all feels routine.

Will a brandy new skate-park save us?

I certainly hope so!

https://youtu.be/y6JT4X346yE

Safeguarding animals and workers in American slaughterhouses: President Biden makes a good start …

Slowing down slaughter speeds is a step forward, but we can do far better!

By Ingrid Newkirk

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Ingrid has changed the world❤🌎!

President Joe Biden’s recent decision to dismantle a Trump-era program that allowed slaughterhouses to raise slaughter-line speeds should be applauded by all, regardless of politics.

The program — implemented by at least eight slaughterhouses — relies on employees to inspect pig carcasses and perform other tasks as bodies go whizzing by at breakneck speed. It cocks a snoot at anyone who values animal welfare, worker safety or the food supply.

In March, a federal district court ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t thoroughly evaluate the program’s impact on worker safety when it allowed slaughterhouses to eliminate any already-sparse restrictions on line speeds.

When it was first implemented, food inspectors said that pork was “more likely to contain feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders and unwanted hair” as a result of this plan.

Of course, the program also increases animal suffering, as what the animals endure is not even a consideration when workers must slaughter as many animals as possible in the shortest possible time.

Pig slaughterhouses will have until the end of June to reduce line speeds to the previous legal limit, which had already been roundly criticized for being too high: 1,106 pigs per hour or 18 pigs per minute. Not even Superman would be able to examine a body for disease at that rate.

Slaughterhouses are dangerous for both man and beast. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slaughterhouse employees endure about 16 times as many illnesses and injuries as the average American worker. When COVID-19 swept through slaughterhouses, some Tyson Foods supervisors allegedly took bets on how many slaughter workers would get sick.

Biden had already rejected a proposal to increase chicken slaughter line speeds.

Chicken slaughterhouse workers have complained of having to wear diapers because they’ve been denied bathroom breaks, and 60 Minutes described the liquid often seen in the bottom of a package of chicken in the supermarket as “fecal soup.”

Small wonder that USDA inspectors often state that they don’t eat meat. They’ve seen too much to be able to stomach it, and anyone concerned about animals, slaughterhouse employees or food safety would do well to follow their example.

Dismantling the program is a good thing but not a significant sign of progress. Having stood inside several slaughterhouses, I can confirm that they are egregiously cruel. Even after the line speed is reduced, animals will still be hung upside down, scalded and bled to death, sometimes while they’re still conscious, as government reports show. Newborn pigs are often killed before they even reach the slaughterhouse — workers commonly slam their heads into the concrete floor, also known as “thumping.”

Pigs, chickens, cows and other animals experience pain and fear, just as humans do. In nature, they play, explore and love.

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Read Ingrid’s book ANIMALKIND with a friend!

They have impressive memories and problem-solving skills. Piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices, and mother pigs “sing” to their piglets while nursing. Chickens talk to their chicks while they’re still inside the shell and in behavioral studies have been shown going to great lengths not only to protect them but also to find places to build nests away from prying human eyes. All animals have personalities and emotions, not just the dogs and cats we have in our homes. It is only a lack of familiarity with them, and an upbringing steeped in speciesism, that leads us to believe that some living beings are meant for the table.

While the previous administration’s inhumane — and unsafe — slaughter program is coming to an end, the suffering that we may find inconvenient to examine closely will continue as long as people choose to eat flesh.

Let’s not return to the way things were — we should move forward and focus on vegan meats and other tasty vegan foods, including Beyond Sausage, tempeh bacon, vegan ham and Gardein Chick’n Strips. There’s no need to wait for politicians to protect animals or human health — PETA will gladly send you a free vegan starter kit. VISIT PETA.ORG

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WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD! GO VEGETARIAN OR, AT THE VERY LEAST, EAT WAY LESS MEAT! FIGHT FOR FARM-ANIMAL AND -WORKER RIGHTS!

Rest in peace, “Blue Angel”!

Text and photos by Jim Coughlin

Worcester mourns the loss of our “Blue Angel,” Worcester Police Officer “Manny” Familia …

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The City of Worcester was in mourning for the last seven days because of the loss of one of our city’s police officers, Emmanuel “Manny” Familia, a member of the Worcester Police Department who tragically died on June 4, after injuries sustained trying to save a young man who was drowning in the Green Hill Park pond. The teen was 14 and from Virginia; he was in Worcester visiting his relatives when he went swimming in the pond with his friends …

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Manny was born in La Vega Dominican Republic and came to Worcester as a young man. He graduated from Doherty Memorial High School, the class of 2001. I also attended and graduated from Doherty High, the class of 1974. So, I share this in common with the fallen hero of our great city. But I did not know Manny. I only came to know him as a result of being assigned to cover his wake and funeral that was recently held at St. John’s Church on Temple Street on June 9 and 10.

I interviewed members of his family, his brothers and sisters in blue from the Worcester Police Department, his comrades from other police departments from throughout Massachusetts who descended upon Worcester this past week to provide emotional support to their Worcester brethren in blue and, lastly, some of Manny’s friends from either playing basketball in his neighborhood of Dewey Street or at Doherty High.

And after immersing myself in this story, I can, perhaps somehow say that I now know this fallen “Blue Angel” of Worcester. In my many years of being a local news reporter, I can honestly say that I have always approached every person whom I have ever interviewed with profound respect and courtesy. However, when covering this tragic loss for the city, I approached this story with even more heightened sensitivity.

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Two of my interviews in covering Manny’s wake and funeral stand out: One was with Roberto Diaz who attended high school with Manny and played basketball with him. The other was with a man who also grew up with Manny and is now living in Rhode Island. In leaving the funeral, this man came over to the area where a large group of us reporters were gathered in front of St. John’s rectory. He never identified himself and approached the police barrier between us and the large group of mourning police officers (as they were going inside the church.) He was openly crying and told us, “Thank you. You guys are great for telling everybody about Manny.”

As it turned out, the second man did not attend Doherty High with Manny. Instead, he went to North High and even competed against Manny on the basketball court. I know firsthand from coming out of an athletic family in Worcester that when you compete against another team, it is almost “automatic” (if you will) to dislike (if only for a time) those whom you compete against in sports. But those negative energies that somehow are inculcated into athletic competition did not find a place in the high moral conscience and values and core beliefs of Manny Familia. Manny was born a leader: both on and off both the basketball court and in the police force.

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As Mr. Diaz explained to me after he came out of his friend’s wake, there were absolutely no barriers in their friendship and relationship: Manny was Dominican, while Mr. Diaz is Puerto Rican. Mr. Diaz explained to me that Manny quickly and warmly embraced his neighbor and introduced him to something new for him: namely the Dominican culture.

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Mourners …

Manny was a leader and when those who unfairly criticize the men and women who serve in law enforcement, I only wish before those demagogues open their mouths again, that they could take a brief look at the life, legacy, the shining example and the supreme sacrifice that Emmanuel “Manny” Familia made as a member of the Worcester Police Department. Even more meaningful and powerful than the words I can muster in saluting officer Manny Familia are the words found in Chapter 15, Verse 13 of the Book of John in the New Testament which reads in relevant part: “No greater love has a man to give than his life for his brother.”

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Our Jim with Town of Auburn firefighter Maria Soya.

Maybe the words of William Shakespeare from his play “Romeo and Julliet” could be comforting to those Manny has left behind. These are the same words the late United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy, (D – NY) read before the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as he eulogized his assassinated brother, President John F. Kennedy:
“When he (Romeo) shall die, cut him up into little stars, and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

May Emmanuel “Manny” Familia’s life be a blessing to everyone who was in any way touched by him during his time on earth. … Rest in peace, “Blue Angel.”

Jim – always in style 🇺🇸❤

The rescue attempt, the losses … reporting from St. John’s Church

By Jim Coughlin

Worcester Police Officer Emmanuel “Manny” Familia of Worcester died on June 4, 2021, after trying unsuccefully to save a youth aged 14 from Virginia, who was visiting family in Worcester, when he swam out too far – along with two other youths – and was seen drowning by onlookers. They called 911…the WPD arrived at the pond at Green Hill Park. Officer Familia was one of a few Worcester police officers who waded, then swam into the pond to save the kids.

Familia was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, on February 23, 1983. He came to Worcester as a young boy and graduated from Doherty Memorial High School, the class of 2001. After graduating from Doherty where he met and married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer (Cruz) Familia and had two children: his son, Jovan F. Familia and a daughter, Jayla A. Familia. Following high school, he attended Quinsigamond Community College and most recently was pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Anna Marie College in Paxton, Massachusetts.

For the past five years, Manny served as a police officer for the Worcester Police Departme. He was assigned to the Operations Division working in the department’s Route 2, serving in the northeast section of Worcester and in the department’s Tactical Patrol Force, along with the Crises Intervention Team and also as a Crises Negotiator.

Prior to joining the Worcester Police Department, he previously worked for the the town of Oakham, the Qunsigamond Community College and the Clark University Police Departments.

The wake for the fallen officer was held at St. John’s Church on Temple Street from 4 to 8 p.m on June 10th and the funeral Mass of the Resrruction for the
Catholic Church was held the following day at 10 a.m. I attended. At the start of visiting hours, a long line of mournors had assembled that initially consisted of mostly uniformed police officers … as the line grew, there was also a smattering of uniformed police from other communities from some communites in the Worcester area.

However, when this reporter sought to get comments from Manny’s comrades on the Worcester police force, not one of them felt comfortable about commenting for the story on their fallen comrade.

The loss of their brother was too great for all of them to come to say anything.

One WPD officer told me, “its too soon.”

While another told me, “I just can’t talk about it.”

This reporter totally understands trauma and loss because I am a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing that had happened in Copley Square Boston on April 15, 2013. I was riding my bicycle just outside the perpiter of the race. I carry some of the battle scars with me everyday, mainly severe hearing loss in my left ear.

I did, however, get a comment from one of Manny’s classmates from his time in the police academy in July of 2016. Peter Geradi, a patrol officer with the town of Westboro Police Department, said: “I loved his smile. … He (Manny) would put himself before others. He would be the first one to take blame if anyone got in trouble and say it was my fault.”

Also in the line was a uniformed police officer from Northhampton, Massachusetts, who was with his partner, “Douglas,” a 3 year old Golden Doodle, a comfort dog whom he described as “officially working” as they both scanned the line of mourners waiting to go into the century old church to pay their last respects to Manny.

I did manage to get a comment from one of the fallen officer’s relatives, Mario Pineda, who said, “I am a second uncle to Manny. We played softball, together. This is so sad.”

Also in the line was a uniformed police officer from the Worcester area who also knew Familia but declined to give either his name or department affiliation because of what he said “was (police) department policy.”
“Manny was a very good officer, was very proficient and knew how to deal with numerous situations. He was just a very proficient cop and his potential was limitless,” he said.

As the line of police officers began to thin out, it was then Manny’s friends and neighbors that composed the on-going line going into St. Johns Church. Among them was Roberto Diaz of Worcester who grew up with Manny on Dewey Street in Worcester. He said, “We played basketball, together.” He was a great athlete, a good athelete, a good brother, father and husband, he said, adding, “there was nothing he could not put his mind to and could not do.”

What Diaz mostly admired about their relationship was that despite their both coming from different cultures – Manny was Dominican and Diaz is Puerto Rican – there was respect and love.

REC Summer Farmers Markets Open June 14!⚘🌻🥦🫑🌽🥕🍞🌶

This just in …

Main South’s Regional Environmental Council announces the opening of the REC Summer Farmers Market season, starting June 14!!

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Eat your REC carrots! CECELIA file photo

REC Summer Farmers Markets Opening Day

WHERE: Various locations throughout Worcester

WHEN: Monday – Saturday, starting June 14

The Regional Environmental Council (REC) Summer Markets will return to sites throughout Worcester starting on Monday, June 14th and will run through November. REC markets run six days a week, except Sundays.

The REC Standing Farmers Markets operate three days a week:

🥦 at Beaver Brook (326 Chandler St.) on Mondays and Fridays from 9am-12pm

🫑 and at University (Crystal) Park (965 Main St.) on Saturdays from 9am-1pm.

🥕🥕🥕🥕The REC Mobile Markets, where we bring fresh & local produce to neighborhoods across Worcester, run Tuesday through Thursday.🙏💙

🌻🌻🌻The REC continues to require facemasks for those who are not vaccinated from COVID and socially distance from customers and staff.🌻🌻

At all REC markets, purchases can be made with cash, credit, debit, SNAP, the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), Senior Farmers Market Coupons and WIC Farmers Market Coupons.

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For more information, visit:

recworcester.org/farmers-markets

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The Regional Environmental Council’s (REC) mission is to bring people together to create a just food system and to build healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities in Worcester, MA and beyond. The REC’s major programs include: YouthGROW, a year-round youth employment and leadership program for low-income teens on 2 urban farms; UGROW, a network of community and school gardens; the REC Community and Mobile Farmers Markets, bringing healthy, local food to low-income and food-insecure locations across the city.

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A fun summer vegan spread – get all your ingredients at the REC FARMERS MARKETS!

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FYI:

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Go vegan for World Food Safety Day

By Heather Moore

Every June 7, the United Nations and the World Health Organization observe World Food Safety Day in order to call attention to foodborne diseases and encourage everyone to eat healthful foods that benefit people, the planet and the economy. This issue has become much more meaningful in light of COVID-19. While investigators are still exploring other theories, it remains likely that the virus originated in a market that sold fish, poultry and exotic animals for human consumption. The deplorable conditions in these markets and other facilities that raise and kill animals for food should prompt everyone to choose vegan foods rather than animal-based ones. I hope the theme of this year’s World Food Safety Day—“safe food today for a healthy tomorrow” — will inspire more people to do just that.

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Go, Joe!

Vegan foods don’t cause animal-borne diseases, such as COVID-19, swine flu and bird flu. The viruses that cause them flourish in meat markets, factory farms and slaughterhouses. Humans can become infected with animal-borne diseases when we buy, sell, slaughter and/or prepare animals to eat. As renowned primatologist Jane Goodall recently pointed out, “We basically brought this [pandemic] on ourselves by our disrespect of the natural world, forcing animals closer to people, making it easier for a pathogen to jump from an animal to a person.”

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We can largely prevent animal-borne diseases by avoiding animal-based foods like the plague. Bird flu virus isn’t found in broccoli, after all, and swine flu virus doesn’t infect spinach or vegan meats like Beyond Sausage. I never worry about exposing my family and friends to animal-borne diseases when I make chocolate tofu pie or barbecued veggie burgers or vegetable kebabs.

These and other vegan foods taste great, and they don’t naturally harbor harmful forms of bacteria, such as E. coli, which is essentially from feces. Vegan foods only become contaminated with E. coli when animal manure is used to fertilize crops or leaks into waterways. Produce can also become cross-contaminated if it’s placed on the same surface as meat, or if someone doesn’t practice proper hygiene when handling food.

And think about all the delicious vegan meals you can enjoy that don’t involve cages, shackles, stun guns, bone saws or any other tools that you’d find on a factory farm, at a slaughterhouse or in a live-animal market. It’s always kinder to grow crops than it is to raise and kill animals, who suffer immensely in today’s meat, egg and dairy industries.

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Trader Joe’s sells SO MANY GREAT VEGAN MEALS AND SANDWICHES AND MIXED!

Chickens’ throats are cut while they’re still conscious, cows are separated from their beloved newborn babies, piglets are castrated without pain relief, and fish are slit open while they’re still alive. This is all wrong, regardless of where the pandemic started.

On World Food Safety Day — and all year round — please do your part to help animals, protect the planet and prevent future pandemics: Simply eat great-tasting vegan food.

Movie review …

SHALL WE DANCE

By Rosalie Tirella

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Fred Astaire

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When the going gets rough, I’ll always have Jett and Lilac … and Fred Astarie and Ginger Rogers. Now watching the black and white classic SHALL WE DANCE, dancing courtesy of Ginger and Fred, music a gift from the Girshwin Brothers. Astaire singing THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME to Ginger – so heartbreakingly beautiful. … Astaire was no Sinatra – he could carry a tune the way your favorite uncle might – but he’s effective. And his face – kinda homely, definitely goofy … feels American. Wouldn’t it be too too much – too perfect – if Astaire looked like Cary Grant AND danced like a god? We’d all jump ship! … Astaire never liked his hands – complained that his hands were way too big for the dance, which is why there are all these hand flourishes worked into his dance numbers. Fred’s trying to hide his big old inelegant hands. I love them …

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All that jazz …

The plot is thin as broth – the flimsiest excuse for all those gorgeous dance scenes. Our stars are on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean during the Great Depression. Fred’s a ballet dancer who yearns to tap dance, but that’s scandalous: tap dancing and jazz belong to the Black world. The swinging Black jazz band that Fred hooks up with to dance free and unfettered toils in the art deco bowels of the cruise ship … Dance company owner Jerry berates Fred, his primo ballerino, for wanting to ditch ballet to “shimmy.” No matter. Fred and Ginger may be awash in tuxedos and top hats; spanking, spangled evening gowns; scintillating repartee … white phones, white baby grands and white supremacy, but they are Yanks on the move – dancing to jazz, ditching (almost) the Russian ballet of the upper classes for tap dancing and a new kind of American swing – music for the masses. And they fall in love. Ginger rebuffs Fred at first, but he’s cute and pushy …AND HE’S A DREAM TO DANCE WITH ON THE BALLROOM FLOOR …

Love the scene where all the rich people are walking their pooches on the deck, and Fred rents a Great Dane to bump into Ginger as she walks her teeny bichon mix. Fred’s cheeky style … a hustler in top hat … he aspires to Ginger – who’s pretty but not beautiful the way the WASP-y Katharine Hepburn was – the girl you’d see behind the notions counter at Woolworths – wins the day.

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Puppy love …

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And this bon bon of a movie ends in another lavish dance … as another American turns the street corner and enters another Hooverville …

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