Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella
Allen Fletcher, an old money Worcester scion whose family once owned a chunk of the old T and G, worth millions$$$, is sort of slumming it at his Ash Street School home. Still, he dreams the right dreams – of filling his Green Street and Water and Harding street neighborhood with walkers! With real city folks!!!!
I don’t see them. Never see them. Often, it is just Allen and I actually WALKING down Green Street, going about our lives/businesses. Separately. We ignore each other – I used to work for him👿 … But deep down we both know – we, arch enemies two, that we two, on some afternoons, are the only two city peeps feeling comfortable walking – really walking – through the neighborhood. Experiencing the scene!! Which IS a cool scene!
I feel bad for Allen: He is trying to recreate the Kelley Square area of MY childhood/youth!
It was GRAND AND … GRITTY!!! A kind of Eastern European enclave/slum: Green/Water Street area and Green Island (Millbury Street) over the Square filled with walkers – all characters! – visiting the scores and scores of our small local businesses that lined the streets, one after another: restaurants, diners, dry cleaners, drug store, bank, fabric store, children’s clothing store, fruit store, hair dressers, five and ten store, bakeries, grocery stores, tailor, Polish sausage market and grocery store, fish store, shoe store …THE LIST GOES ON!! AND ON! My childhood writ LARGE! A blast! A nightmare! An urban tale still unfolding in my mind! Real community – the locals (many of us poor) mixing with middle class visitors and diners from the city’s middle class West Side!!
A Worcester- an America! – that I (along with Allen) miss! Earthier, more real, more unafraid of the new kid on the block, unafraid to walk a half mile or mile to shop. Friendlier, less stratified …
I see what Allen Fletcher is trying to do – TO FORCE – TO RECREATE – BY SHEER STUBBORNESS AND MILLIONS OF $$$ HIS OWN DOUGH$$ AND TAX-FREE LOANS from city/state/fed sources (TIFS). But I wish the development of my old neighborhood had been more organic, driven by, stemming from the people in my ol’ neighborhood – bubbling up from us – not forced down upon us by rich Allen and his rich enablers.
When I was away in college my neighborhood was evolving into something new … a Vietnamese enclave – tbe newbies were opening stores and restaurants. They were buying 3 deckers on Lafayette Street. They were attending St. John’s Church on Temple Street, too. They were nice and hard working. I dreamed of our city’s vetsion of Boston’s Chinatown – Worcester’s VIETNAM TOWN!! Slurping their great big bowls of soup. Buying their pretty blouses …
Then came the millionaires: Allen Fletcher and his two main pals Bob Largesse and Johnny 3 G’s … to alter the fate of hundreds of Green Islanders and shoppers! Change the scene for ever. Gentrify and exclude. Sad …