Category Archives: Green Island Grrrl

Fruit Cocktail❤

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday was a sheltering-in-place kind of Thanksgiving. Made all the veggies and sides – but ate no turkey, for love of the bird❤. …



Then, I found this culinary talisman, a can of fruit cocktail and burst into tears:


I called the old beau and sobbed to him: “I MISS MY MOM”! He knew Cecelia, too, and loved her, too – more than me at the end. When Ma was dying, he raced from a work site to the nursing home to say goodbye to her. He was in his painters pants and covered in white paint strokes. He looked exhausted – but went to my mom’s bedside to “just visit.” Not a huggy guy, he said, formally: “How are you?”

Ma said: “Fine! You’re looking good, ‘John’!

Both lousy liars. Ma died several hours later. John went back to his worksite, then helped me remove Ma’s stuff from her half of the nursing home bedroom the next day.

But I digress. Back to the can of fruit cocktail. …


When I was a little girl growing up in Green Island, fruit cocktail – the sweetened kind – was a staple in our Lafayette Street flat. Ma loved it, used it almost every day: as an appetizer served in a little bowl, for all of our father’s steak dinners – when Daddy was around. She poured it over her Corn Flakes for breakfast. She urged us to eat it too – over our Corn Flakes or as a stand alone dinner staple, to be savored before supper. Or for dessert.

Right before our birthdays – Ma would walk to Supreme Market on Millbury Street and buy her Cecelia Kiddie Birthday Party Bonanza for me, my sisters and our party guests, Uncle Mark, Aunt Mary and their three kids, our cousins: three big cans of fruit cocktail, a box of Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme cake, eggs, Betty Crocker canned chocolate frosting and a jar of red cherries.

Then she’d go to White’s Five and Ten across the street for paper cups and plates, a plastic table cloth, paper party hats, party favors, a small box of pink candles and a Pin the Tail on the Donkey wall game – and Scotch Tape to keep it all together.

Ma would bake her instant cake – and give me the bowl to lick (never got sick!). When the two pink layers were baked, Ma frosted them and then cracked open her little jar of red maraschino cherries, cut all of them in half and decorated her cake with them. I hung out with Ma at the kitchen table, watching her, admiring her artistry, hoping she’d hand me a few sweet cherries. She did.

But for Ma, the big event was pouring all those cans of fruit cocktail into a special, BEAUTIFUL, glass punch bowl, gingerly placing a clear plastic ladle in it, then pulling the tiny glass bowls out of the china closet and setting it all up on our big laundry wash tubs in our kitchen – now covered with a lid and a plastic table cloth. Cake and fruit cocktail front and center; sandwich meat from Buehler Brothers Meat Market on Millbury Street, State Line potato chips, Cheetos and Wonder Bread flanking the heart of the spread. Ma made a ritual of serving everyone their fruit cocktail, ladling it in the tiny bowls…serving us kids from the left. Very classy. Very Eisenhower 1950s wife and mom.

Ma had learned all this in Springfield during the Great Depression, when she was a maid/assistant cook to her sister for the Bishop of Springfield. The pious bishop ate like a hog: roast beef, steak, salmon, shrimp cocktail, homemade desserts every night. And fruit cocktail.

My mother, a young Catholic girl …
Cecelia, left, in Springfield, with one of her big sisters, Aunt Mary.

… working away from home, Worcester, to send money home to her Polish immigrant parents, was proud to be working for the CATHOLIC CHURCH. Almost Royalty! Practically Presidential! Beautiful china. The best cuts of meat! Linen napkins. Silver tableware. Cream for your coffee. And FRUIT COCKTAIL!!! … Thirty years later available at Supreme Market on Millbury Street! For cheap!

Holding that tiny fruit cocktail tin yesterday, I realized the fruit cocktail we were swimming in at Lafayette Street when I was a little girl, was, for our sweet mother, a reminder of holy, halcyon days: days sans a face-slapping, screaming, red-faced Daddy; a big, cold tenement to heat with just a gas stove, with gas log, in the kitchen in winter time, and two small electric heaters in the kids’ bedrooms. Poverty 24/7: 60-hour work weeks at the dry cleaners, walking all over our gritty neighborhood to work, shop, work, work, work … Spring, summer, autumn, winter …

Putting can opener to a big can of fruit cocktail brought Ma to a better place: memories of the Bishop’s big Victorian House, with radiators for warmth, her two big sisters for company, mass and Holy Communion every morning – and her two beloved Doberman pinschers, Rocky and Bridgette. And their cat who had adorable kittens twice a year.

Cecelia in Springfield, with Dobbie Bridgette.

Then here in Worcester the sweetened bits of pears, peaches and grapes conjured up beautiful kiddie birthday parties with pin the tail on the donkey games! And dressing up her three little girls wicked cute!:

Rosalie, center, with her two little sisters.

Beef loaf from Bueller Brothers, maybe a jar of pigs knuckles, too (not bad)! Singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! …a sweetener for Corn Flakes, meals, snacks … her hardscrabble life.

That’s why I cried yesterday.



Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Have a grateful THANKSgiving, Worcester! I am grateful for my life, my choices: almost 20 years of InCity Times/CECELIA newspaper, 12 years of

Today I am recalling some of Worcester’s great ones, thankful for having known them:

ROBERTA OF THE LONG GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN Java Hut at Webster Sq. – 20 years ago, there she was standing behind her coffee-house’s counter making me java!

An ICT advertiser and beautiful lady to all in the city, Roberta was ahead of her time, the Java Hut the cool precursor to all future Woo coffeehouses, terrific sandwiches, artisan coffee, poetry readings and gangly folk music players. …


❤Buddy Brouseau, executive director of the long gone PIP wet shelter in Main South (above, standing at the PIP’s client coffee bar). In recovery, Buddy called the men and women of the PIP – most drunk, many strung out on heroin – “my brothers and sisters” AND HUGGED THEM, FED THEM, LOVED THEM.

The late great Polish Santa (Tony Hmura)

...🎅The late great Polish Santa (aka the late Tony Hmura) pictured here loading up his trunk/sleigh on Canterbury Street with toys for Worcester’s inner-city kids:

On Dasher, on Dancer … on Dodge!

I spent many a Christmas handing toys out with the Polish Santa!

❤G’s Cuttin’ Up’s BEST BARBER – I called him Pops to myself. A true father figure in Piedmont to all the young men and boys – doing the fades, cutting the locks, showing Black boys love, talent, a work ethic, hope:

Miss the hugs, my dear friend! …

❤Q-Village Angels …

The ❤ of QVCC Food Pantry!

…❤ The lovely old couple who ran the old Quinsigamond Village Neighborhood Village food pantry. They were in their late 70s and yet they drove all over Worcester to pick up donations, stocked the shelves, kept their list/records and manned it – 20+ hours a week! The husband, pictured above, was adorable! His wife of decades nice – but firm! They were on our InCity Times cover years ago – beautiful!

… 🌸St. Mary’s Elementary School …

A procession to shrine and church! photos submitted.

👬👭… – here, its last nun-principal, a nice lady whose name I’ve forgotten:

… St. Mary’s Elementary School – closed forever in the spring. Gone are the student processions to their little Polish church on Ward Street – the beloved church of my childhood! They are marching almost!! … across the street, in uniforms, neat and well scrubbed AND RESPECTFUL – the teacher proudly carrying the American flag. Today, I am so GRATEFUL FOR THIS GRAND COUNTRY, OUR America!!! And dear friends …❤

Looking for that ol’ snow plowing picture of the ol’ beau, outside of the long gone, much loved, Tweeds on Grove Street …

Rosalie, November 2020. Thankful!!

Holiday stories for you!🌲❄🎅⛄

Christmas Dolls

By Rosalie Tirella

Rose, November 2020

When I was a kid growing up in Green Island, Christmas used to mean getting that ONE SPECIAL DOLL from Santa Claus – aka Ma and Whites Five and Ten on Millbury Street – on Christmas morn – and always being disappointed after the wrapping paper was torn off. Santa (Ma) had refused to follow – just like the year before – the latest doll trends, watch the latest doll TV commercials, or even bother to learn about Barbie’s new Malibu Barbie beach house!! She always bought my two sisters and me the same old big, nondescript plastic dolls sitting high atop the dusty ol’ shelves of dusty ol’ Whites. The out-of-date dolls that Mrs. White, a towering “doll” in her own right, attired impeccably in navy blue dress and jacket, nylons, black pumps, with her jet-black dyed hair puffed up high into a towering bouffant – gently foisted on her. Mrs. White was a more interesting “doll” than the dolls she sold in her store! I loved to look at her – her foot-high bouffant, her ample bosom stuffed neatly into her dress, the heavy beige makeup caked on her not very pretty face, her classic red lipstick, the elegant way she walked through the shade and curtain section of Whites Five and Ten.

Cecelia – Rose’s mom’s – work vest (one of three) she wore at the Green Island drycleaners she worked at for decades. She bought this vest for herself 40+ years ago at White’s Five and Ten! Now it hangs on Rose’s bedroom wall, in honor of Cecelia’s life of integrity and love.

My sisters, pictured below, were always satisfied, happy with their Christmas dolls:



They let Ma put them in the special rocking chair in our Green Island kitchen to snap one of her famous Ma photos – same rocking chair, same Brownie camera every Christmas, Easter and Birthday. “Say Cheese!!” our sweet mother would gush as she pushed the camera button – photographing her own little dolls holding their own little dolls. Us – the gifts she loved most in her world – “my three girls” she would boast to anyone within ear shot! No TV commercials needed to sell our mother on motherhood. She loved it all. Here she is holding me!:

Cecelia❤ and baby Rose

But I wanted more. Was ambitious for my dollies. Ma was too poor to be trendy. In a time in America – the late 1960s – when fashion was king, and pop culture ruled, Ma was still stuck in Whites Five and Ten. She was oblivious to walking, talking, hair-growing, pop-song singing dolls. And STILL happy! Ma stuck to the basics at Christmas time: pretty plastic dolls in pretty dresses with curly hair – sort of like the perms Ma sported – bought at Whites, in our neighborhood. Dolls that we could hold and hug and kiss and put in our doll carriage and wheel around our big tenement – BUT DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

“Ma!” I’d say, “Please! Can Santa bring me an Easy Bake Oven!” Christmas morn I’d get that tiny plastic dish and pot set I’d seen at Whites. Months ago. Or: “Ma! Can Santa bring me talking Barbie and Ken? Pull the string in their necks and they REALLY REALLY TALK, Ma!!” She’d smile her beautiful smile, but Christmas morn I’d get a boring plastic knock-off Barbie with crumby wardrobe from Whites Five and Ten! She didn’t even have bendable knees like the REAL Barbies you saw on TV!

Rose’s ancient Christmas stocking! Bought for her by mom Cecelia many Christmas days past – at White’s! Cecelia bought three stockings – one for each of her daughters. On Christmas eve she stuffed each one with an orange, walnuts in their shells, a little prayer card, plastic rosary and small plastic doll. On Christmas morn, we’d find our stockings lying by our bed pillows.

Every Christmas was a bust. But there was more, something beyond dollsville: church and all the beautiful organ music and singing Christmas hymns together with all the people at St. Mary’s. There was the visit to Uncle Mark’s family on the other side of Worcester the day after Christmas – turkey dinner, ice cream cones for dessert, Ma kicking her shoes off, wearing the cute pink fuzzy slippers Aunt Mary gave her to put on … All of us kids playing Monopoly on the living room carpet in that cozy cottage with the tv on and Ma and Aunt Mary sitting in their Lazy Boys sipping their coffee and enjoying a danish from Widoffs Bakery on Water Street. Uncle Mark made the special trip – and the bulkies were still fragrant and soft at dinner time! Uncle Mark was an elementary school principal, owned a home and car – our cousins had all the beautiful TV dolls and battery powered Tonka Trucks. And boy! was it great to try them out!

Yet there was something about Ma in those fuzzy pink slippers, laughing with Aunt Mary, eating her danish, enjoying her day off from the dry cleaners, looking so pretty in Aunt Mary’s little living room brimming with kids, toys and their big white Christmas tree … I just wanted to cuddle up at Ma’s feet and bask in her joy, her love, my own Christmas doll!:
Cecelia, on the Worcester Common, circa 1962



By Rosalie Tirella

Last night I spoke to an old beau over the phone. We talk on the phone often these days – “just friends” these days. He had been scheduled for a “procedure” at UMass hospital: a stent was to be inserted into his aorta. But a day before he was to go into the hospital, he blacked out (symptom of a blocked, clogged aorta) and tumbled down three flights of stairs, and collapsed on a first-floor landing, unconscious, bruising his ribs, his back, his arm.

He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance inside which, he quietly told me, the EMTs were rough and uncaring. He felt alone. The aorta procedure was postponed and he was checked out by nurses and doctors and brought home.

Now, recuperating in his big bed, the antique bed his grandmother Anna willed to him decades ago, he acknowledges in that sexy voice of his that he’s the antique now – and “still happy. I am old but I am happy,” he says, quoting a fave Cat Stevens tune (“Father and Son”):

His big German Shepherd Dog is old, too, lying heavily by his side, her big head on his stomach, the loyal old dog, a “rescue” on which he spent thousands of dollars to bring back from her brink: preventing blindness, joint pain, crippling of her back. Anna, named after his beloved late granny, the only adult in his childhood and youth who was kind to him. Both his parents were nightmares. …

His transistor radio is on, softly playing on his night table (yes! he still has his radio from his youth!) … the FM radio station is playing “oldies” in the background. It felt like years ago when we first met and loved – and we would chat on the phone for an hour or so – the same little radio playing classic rock and pop. When we were both younger, more ambitious – and had landlines! Now me, almost 60, he, now in his early 70s, are just bookends … to a period in our lives that we shared: concerts every weekend, all over New England!; plowing the Worcester snow in winter, for hours, our city silent and beautiful, sleeping beneath her blanket of downy innocence … listening to music playing on his truck’s radio and kissing at all the red lights … eating a late-night meal at the now long gone Tweeds on Grove Street, while the snowflakes still came down in sheets of pettiness.

Late last night, it felt intimate and real and true again: We talked of America, our dogs, music … and our youth, now a dream – “a time of innocence, a time of confidences” just like in this Simon and Garfunkel tune, below. We talked of dice being tumbled and how bad luck – awful bad luck, like the death of his spouse at 48 from cancer, years ago – does irreparable damage to a man. You cannot recover – ever – you can only coast, numb yourself to the pain and listen to your radio playing softly in the November night …


The movie SHANE belongs to Alan Ladd!

By Rosalie Tirella

After THE SEARCHERS, SHANE is my fave Western. And no, the movie is not directed by John Ford! George Stevens is the auteur – just as brilliant as Ford, maybe more modern … I love Stevens’ other famous films, too: GIANT and A PLACE IN THE SUN.

Stevens made a different kind of movie: the currents of race, class, gender as they played out in our country – and still play out – run strong through his films. In SHANE not so much – though there are no gratuitous gun fights, people seem to try to think their problems through and discuss them thoughtfully with friends and foes alike. And, best of all, Shane, as played by the terrific actor Alan Ladd (in a performance of a lifetime!), is the ex-gun fighter-hero who, though lean and still lethal, is unafraid of his feelings. Wallows in them, so to speak. Is, in fact, haunted by them!

Ladd, physically speaking, is no John Wayne. But he’s “in touch” with his emotions in a way the strong silent Wayne could never be. Ladd’s not tall, his shoulders are just merely average in width, and his waist is slim. Wayne was pure POWER on screen – just his mere presence in a film scene spoke volumes, blotted out every other cowboy in the saloon! Ladd is the opposite in SHANE. He rides into the immigrant settlement, so pretty in the Wyoming sun, in a buckskin outfit, with fringes!, looking gorgeous – not like a “sod- buster.” His blond hair is combed back to showcase a tanned, sensitive, handsome face that nonetheless seems clouded by regret, remorse, alienation, aloneness. The perennial outsider. Small in stature, Shane is big in tragedy.

Like I said, Shane is big on feelings: gentle with Little Joey, willing to take the time out to teach him how to shoot, share little life lessons, “race” the boy to the farmhouse – his horse and Joey’s galloping through green fields … A great father figure, role model. Little Joey is smitten with his new hero.

But Shane is very much in love with Joey’s mom, Marion, played by the 1930s and ’40s screwball comedy actress, Jean Arthur. Of course, Shane can’t and won’t act on his feelings for Marion – he respects her husband too much. But more important, his gunfighter past constrains him … death for hire has a way of killing the killer. So Shane worships Marion from afar, telling her the dinner in her log cabin kitchen set against the Wyoming mountains is “elegant”; standing out in the rain, soaked to the bone, his cowboy hat soggy but too mesmerized by Marion to stop looking into her kitchen where she stands with Joey. Marion opens the window and the chemistry between her and Shane … wow. So sexy! And everyone’s got their top collar buttons buttoned!!

Intuitive like all children, Lil’ Joey, picks up on the couple’s attraction. However, his dad Joe (the excellent Van Heflin) is unaware of the simmering feelings. He sees ALL the possibilities loud and clear when Shane and Marion (dressed in her satin wedding gown) dance together during the settlement’s Independence Day celebration. And Joe and Marion’s wedding anniversary! The look on Joe’s face … There’s no fighting over the woman in this film – Joe knows Shane and Marion live by a higher moral code. He maybe once alludes to Shane’s violent past.

There are so many layers of feelings to this film – love of nature, love between wife and husband, love of justice, love of absolution and renewal. The children’s world shines through beautifully: a little girl innocently waves at the now dead Torry, slung over his horse’s saddle like a sack of flour, being carried home to his now widow. Or the same girl and Lil’ Joey running to play with a feisty little pony during Torry’s funeral. The mountains of Wyoming make a dark, foreboding and beautiful backdrop, the small group of ragtag homesteaders say the Our Father all the way through…but the kiddies are bored! They run to the adorable pony to pat him – and the pony does nip at Little Joey! His playmate giggles in delight.

Jack Palance as hired gun Jack Wilson paid by cattle king Russ Ryker to kill Joe and any homesteader interfering with cattle kingdom is frightening. A killing machine with zero feelings. Wilson is paid by Ryker to preserve a way of life that is fast fading from the American West: the open range. Going, going gone will be Ryker’s days – days of running thousands of cattle over hundreds of square miles of American land. All yours. For free. Now, thanks to the Homestead Act, civilization – farms, churches, schools, government – encroaches. Ryker wants to stop it in its tracks in a hailstorm of bullets. Shane – semi-retired hired gun – can’t be part of this new America, just like Ryker, “the difference is I know it” he says to the dusty, brutish Ryker.

What happens when you kill 10 men? 20? Or even one? “You’re branded,” Shane quietly tells Little Joey. “There’s no coming back from a killing.” And his face grows sullen as he acquiesces to his fate. His inescapable fate. Shane bows his head in shame at the realization and the consequences: he can never have the life he now covets – domestic bliss. A young son who idolizes him, a wife who is lovely and wants only him. Peace and love. No more blood and watching men die writhing in the mud (like Torry at the hands of Wilson). Nope. Just pure, unending love. When Marion cleans the wounds on his forehead after the fight at Grafton’s, Shane watches her with tenderness…can’t keep his eyes off Marion. He is so grateful for the painting of turpentine! It is like a caress. He’s known so little of it, the desperado “under the eaves”!

Shane is a tragic figure – as he enters one last gun battle to save Marion, Joe and Joey and the home, settlement they love so dearly, he knows its the end. But he knows he, the professional gun slinger, is the only one who can kill fellow professional killer Wilson, Ryker’s hired gun. Joe is tough and brave but no match for Wilson – “he’s quick on the draw” Shane tells the settlers when they ask: WHO IS THIS TALL MAN IN THE BLACK HAT?

Like the black and white hats worn in this movie, there is something black and white about life in this Old West, in this movie. But there is no nostalgia here for the Good Old Days. Just people making life decisions every minute of the day – most life-altering. But we don’t realize it until it’s too late. The cards have been dealt.

“THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE” – a Western fit for our🇺🇸 Election Day!🇺🇸

By Rosalie Tirella

“Election Day – you can depend on it – they’ll be here.” That’s John Wayne talking to James Stewart – warning him about bull-whip-thrashing, town-destroying, democracy-shredding, biggest-psychopath-from-BOTH-sides of-the-Picket-River “Liberty” Valance (Lee Marvin) in the John Ford masterpiece, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

As always with Ford, his movie transcends simplistic bang-bang Westerns. It’s about a lot of things: true love and sacrificing EVERYTHING/your happiness! for your true love …

… It’s about decisions made in youth – and regretted in old age. It’s about your roots and trying to reclaim them when it’s too late. It’s about people growing older and changing through the years. … Another theme in this great American film: Our AMERICAN democracy – safeguarding it, nurturing it, helping it grow in tough environs, like the beautiful cactus rose that also “stars” in the movie.


This Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (Election Day) try to catch this John Ford film. After all, it’s about ALL AMERICANS’ inalienable rights: OUR right to vote without fear or interference, to read freely, to write freely, to speak our minds, voice our opinions. It is about the noble freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly … equal education for all and free public schools throughout our land. It’s about saying goodbye to the Old West where gunslingers made the laws to suit their purposes/purses and the New America where voters elect people (white men back then) who REPRESENT we, THE PEOPLE, in Congress and in the White House. And, if our elected reps don’t represent us, we the people, as Nora says in the movie, in their humble one-room school-house: “then WE VOTE THEM OUT!!” Nora says this in her Swedish accent (she and her husband Peter are Swedish immigrants). She says it in a “classroom” filled with Mexican children, a Black man, a special needs guy, new American citizens, old people, children, a man with a stutter: AMERICA. John Ford knew this diverse land was made for you and me – and he told us so through this film. Can we understand and preserve our republic today?

Our Election Day approaches. Our very own Liberty Valance, Donald J. Trump, could – could!! – be re-elected!! NO PEACE in our land, as long as Trump hangs his orange hat in the Oval Office. Our cherished American Democracy hangs in the balance. Liberty Valance and his bull whip around every hitchin’ post. Donald Trump and his bull whip tongue “demagoguing” in every swing state in the union, spreading lies and COVID 19. Valance had his goons; Trump has his Proud Boys and Neo Nazis, KKK and other killers, psychopaths who plotted to kidnap the governor of Michigan, blocked Joe Biden buses, shot peaceful protesters with pepper spray. And worse. They carry shotguns to polling sites …

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” was one of Ford’s last films, made in the early 1960s. On the big screen, or your home screen, it looks shockingly mundane – nothing like the usual majestic John Ford film, in color and shot in Vista Vision (see The Searchers). The gorgeous Monument Valley is gone!! The authentic looking sets are missing, too. The views that take your breath away are, for the most part, absent. AND YET STILL WE ARE TRANSPORTED! Gripped by the greatness of this movie! Pulled in by the themes, complex and true to life. The towering acting talents John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart engulf you. Vera Miles – especially when she plays the older Hallie – is very good. All the character actors are lively, fun and interesting to watch. Symbols, maybe one-dimensional, but captivating. Still, this is Wayne’s flick. It is John Wayne who carries this black and white movie-gem.

The film opens with a train pulling into the dessert town of Shinbone, Texas. It brings Ransom Stoddard and his wife Hallie back home – years later – for the “funeral” of an old friend, Tom Donophon, once the toughest good guy in town, the coolest fast shooter. Now he’s a bum, forgotten by the community, dying impoverished, shoved in a pine coffin. Tom died alone, unloved, on the periphery of life. Ransom and his wife come for the funeral which is really no funeral – just an old man stuffed into a rough-hewn pine box, hastily built the coffin is, parked out of the way, in the old carpenter’s back room. The corpse, besides being bootless, is missing his holster … The only mourner: an old Black man sitting in the corner, Tom’s dear friend and helper, Pompey. Pompey is bereft.

Hallie and Ranse arrive at Shinbone at the tail-end of their marriage and Ranse’s illustrious political career. Both conceived here in Shinbone. The once homespun Ransom is now a bloviating politician – full of himself and his empty sppechifying. Hallie, is a ghost of her former Shinbone self, when she was the lively, feisty waitress at the local greasy spoon. She has lost all her vigor, spunk and cheerfulness – she is a sad, wistful old woman, a woman still missing her true home – and her true love, the love of her life: Tom Donophon (John Wayne). Tom: The Man Who Shot (and killed) Liberty Valance – for her.

But the whole town, the whole state! believes it’s Ransom Stoddard who shot Liberty Valance! A brave and noble deed! It’s in their history books. They share Ranse’s story every day, pass it down from one generation to the next: The young tall gangly lawyer Ranse Stoddard confronts the sicko, sadistic Liberty Valance in a gun fight – AND WINS! SHOOTS DEAD THE BEST SHOT IN THE TERRITORY! KILLS A NOTORIOUS KILLER! RANSE IS A HERO!

Ranse’s alleged killing of Valance – a menace to the town and everyone in it (so many whipped to near death by Valance, scores more shot and killed by Valance, too!) – launches Ransom’s political career. He becomes governor, senator, ambassador, now possibly candidate for vice president of the United States! It gets him Hallie, too – she feels for the lawyer when he first comes to town, carried by Tom and Pompey into Peter’s Place, whipped to unconsciousness by Liberty Valance. Ranse brings out the mother in Hallie. He also brings in his law books, lawyering, justice for all without guns but through laws ethos. Ranse even starts teaching Hallie and the townspeople to read in a tiny ramshackle school room. Hallie has always wanted to learn how to read. She, like so many in Shinbone, are sick of being terrorized by Liberty Valance and his thugs, sick of the blood and death. …

Hallie, like everyone else in Shinbone, believes Ranse killed Liberty Valance. BELIEVES THE LIE Ranse builds his whole life on – after Tom tells him the truth – that he was the shooter – and urges Ranse to run for political office. For Hallie! “She’s your girl now!” the unshaven, untethered Tom says to Ranse. He is broken-hearted. He had set fire to his own home, the extra room he was building special for Hallie after they married … He tells Ranse he regrets killing Valance to save Ransom – for Hallie. For her happiness. That meant he lost his joy.

From then on for Tom it’s a spiraling down into alcoholism, poverty, isolation. He loses his land, his farm, his horses; doesn’t care what he looks like or where he sleeps. Hallie goes off to Washington DC with Ranse, after he wins the election, and starts a whole new life – the wife of a pompous politician, a man who loves her but loves himself a hundred times more. John Wayne burrows ever deeper into a depression that only quits when he’s finally squeezed into that cheapo coffin.

Hallie craved the rule of law. She wanted books, newspapers, schools, shops and irrigation for her dessert town so gardens filled with all kinds of flowers could flourish. Ranse represented the new America. She chose him. But years later, when she furtively places a cactus rose on Tom’s coffin, Hallie realizes what she lost when she chose Ranse: she lost Tom Donophon! Tom was real, smart, sexy, strong, brave – and he loved her with a love she hasn’t known since abandoning him (she was his girl first!)

I so like the movie’s final scene!: On the train back to Washington, Ranse muses aloud about retiring and moving back to Shinbone to be a country lawyer. Hallie’s eyes light up! For the first time in the movie she looks happy! But then a porter walks up to where they are seated, punches their train tickets and kisses up to “The Senator” saying: “Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance!” Both Ranse and Hallie look devastated. The hopeful smiles melt from their faces. They realize the lie they built their successful, wealthy, entitled lives on LIVES ON. Now a legend! They will never return to Shinbone.

They can’t come home.


“Playing Records”❤📀⌛

By Rosalie Tirella

Burncoat High School – Rose’s alma mater. She was deep into the Beatles at Burncoat!

Kind of a day off for me. Listening to a few of my lps – and LOVING IT. LOVING THE PHYSICALITY OF “playing my records,” just like in the ol’ days, just like when I was a 15-year-old kid growing up in Green Island, a sophomore at Burncoat High, and had just bought my first Beatles album – ABBY ROAD – at the teeny record section in Jordan Marsh, in the now razed Worcester Galleria. Brought the lp home to our Lafayette Street tenement and “played it on my record player,” a cheapie Emerson stereo my beloved, late mom, Cecelia, bought for me. I played that record 10 times straight – all the way thru, side one, then side two. Loving the goofy Paul McCartney throw-aways, but 10 years later hearing how brilliant side 2 is. Holding the album cover up, away from me, so I could better appreciate the album art, the photos of the band – front and back. When I was a kid, sometimes there would be a poster inside of your album – of your fave rock n roller. Or even glossy colored photo prints!, as was the case with early pressings of the Beatles’ WHITE ALBUM (lost ’em years ago!).

The Beatles❤❤❤❤

Sigh. The decades, and the lps, keep spinnin’ … away from me. But the young Rose reawakens today as I flip thru the lps, just like when I used to as an undergrad at UMass/Amherst and had amassed an impressive amount of lps (used) and audio-cassettes, mostly homemade, made for me by various plutonic guy pals on my dorm floor. The flipping of the lps, the stopping at one and pulling it out to see the cover and the playlist. Ahh, love that tune. Ahhh, love that B side …


Rose, left, with dear friend – both restless seniors in the library of Burncoat High – 1979.

Then choosing the record I wanted, pulling it out ever so gingerly … taking the big lp out of its sleeve, holding it by the edges – finger tips on the lp can leave behind dirt, oil from your finger tips that get into the record’s grooves – and can give it its popping, crackling sound (beautiful, to me)- maybe even skipping, if too dirty or dusty. At Radio Shack they used to sell vinyl record cleaning kits: a small bottle of solution, a velour type of cloth, tacked onto a smooth, pretty block of wood and, finally, a piece of soft cotton. Playing your records was science, as well as sacred ritual! All for: the BEATLES, ELTON JOHN, FLEETWOOD MAC, ERIC CLAPTON, THE MOODY BLUES, STEVIE WONDER … Such perfect music for such imperfect times – your teen years, when you’re gangly, acne-prone, longing for that first kiss, that first caress … but stuck at home with your conservative Catholic mother, kid sisters, Polish immigrant grandmother, Bapy … and your Bapy keeps feeding your pet hamster Joy chunks of her hardboiled egg sandwich. “Bapy!” you say to her, “Joy has her own special hamster food!” Your plea falls on deaf ears. Joy is overweight from being fed double – by you and by Bapy!

Sometimes there would be no album art on an album cover – just the band’s name. Written in fancy font or just embossed … almost invisible. This usually happened with the brilliant million-record-selling SUPER STARS, like the Beatles (their “white” album was just that: WHITE, with the Beatles name embossed on it, like a wedding invitation) or as with the Carpenters, even as Karen struggled silently with her anorexia we LOVED her!

… Then propping up the album cover – propping it us against a small stack of books – so I could stare at the album art – and we all considered the illustrations, photos, printing on our album covers to be TRUE ART – gaze longingly at Eric Clapton or the Beatles – as I listened to their songs. Their music. Their world view. Their experiences, hopes and dreams. They were mine, too!

I’d lie on my big bed, in my Lafayette Street bedroom, and close my eyes and just listen … and soon my abusive father, the drunk guy staggering out of Ben’s Cafe, the train ch-ch-ch-chugging down the railroad tracks, the ghetto all around me, would fall away, AND IT WOULD JUST BE ME AND MY MUSIC. Rose playing records.

Abortion – Not for Kids!

By Rosalie Tirella

Rose, left, and her kid sister on Rose’s graduation day from the University of Massachusetts.

United States Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will be sitting in Notorious RBG justice’s seat on the Supreme Court sooner than you can say: NO MORE ROE V WADE! Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the highest court in our land is still warm!, her final note, written just a few weeks ago, just before her untimely death, its ink still wet! No matter to the Repubs and their mad dash for re-election.

Ginsberg was respectful but adamant in her note to Congressional leaders: PLEASE DO NOT FILL MY SEAT UNTIL AFTER THE NOVEMBER 3 ELECTION. Please let the new President – whoever that may be – CHOOSE his/her own nominee to the Supreme Court.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg – an American icon who fought for – and won – equal rights for us women (and our moms, sisters, daughters, best gal pals, cousins …) – is now a DEAD American icon. Her final note, her dedication to THE FREEDOM of all women, is a joke to Republicans in Congress, unread, un-respected, disrespected … by Mitch McConnell and Trump minion Lindsey Graham – they are ramming Coney Barrett’s confirmation down American women’s throats – with politeness, fake erudition. With brutality wrapped in politician-speak. Trump, so desperate for re-election believes Coney Barrett is THE #2 GIFT to his campaign. After his COVID 19 super-spreader Rally Reality TV Shows!

Let’s be honest: Amy Coney Barrett is a good woman, a wonderful mom who has, with her loyal husband, adopted two Black children and loves them as dearly as the gaggle of kids she’s given birth to. But Coney Barrett is passionately pro-life … really, truly, deeply. No way around it. So she is blind to so many women’s realities. So… this is the end of Roe V Wade. The end of every American woman’s right to control her OWN body – her right to a safe, medically/socially sanctioned MEDICAL PROCEDURE performed by doctors trained in MEDICAL SCHOOL. To safely remove a fetus – If she’s been raped and does not want her rapist’s baby. If she’s 17 and not ready to be a mom. If she is poor and her boyfriend – the one with the job – got scared and dumped her. If she is the older woman who had the one-night stand, but there was a birth control mishap, and now she is pregnant. She does not want a baby. She already has a life, her own life patterns.

Or: She’s a young, beautiful free spirit at UMass/Amherst … in Massachusetts – an older undergrad with wild, curly black hair – a magical sprite with a bit of a limp, who reads all the Beat poets and who bikes everywhere on our big sprawling UMass campus … her curly, black hair blowing in the wind, that Western wind that loves to sweep across her high forehead.

Joannie loves to discuss philosophy/LIFE, she is into women’s rights and is double majoring: English and the still new WOMEN’S STUDIES. Joannie has joined the super cool food coop run out of the UMass student union building. She calls me up the day they are serving their big vegetarian lunches… Me! Rose! One of her closest college gal pals: COME ON OVER FOR LUNCH – ON ME! she yells into my phone receiver. I can picture her smile. I laugh OK! and I, the young, uncool, untried, tentative 19-year-old freshman-hick, Rose, I run straight outa my dorm room, across the big quad, to my friend in the student union to the huge room and adjunct kitchen in the round student union building. Run to my best grrrl HERO, the coolest chick I know, the bravest woman I know. Not a lesbian. Just INDEPENDENT AND FREE like I have never seen. Three boyfriends – but not easy. Loves the smart men. The hikers and mountain bikers (she rides a sleek racing bike). Joannie Loves Sex. She describes her orgasms, talks about masturbation … asks me about my boyfriend’s sexual proclivities … “Rose, have you ever?” she queries AS WE STROLL BY MY ENGLISH PROFESSOR! Joannie! I scream at her, red-faced, … then I tell her everything.

Once, as we walked by the grocery store in the middle of Amherst, Joannie, as poor as I was, steered me into the grocery story … to the dairy section. She grabbed a Land o Lakes box of butter and shoved it into my jacket and zipped it up. LET’S GO, ROSE! she hissed into my ear and we booked it outa the automatic front doors. Once outside, I said, still not knowing what hit me (the Joannie hurricane!): JOAN! WE JUST SHOP-LIFTED!

Joan, especially pale that day, gave me an exasperated look, opened up the butter box and gave me one of the four sticks of wrapped butter.

Joan. I would have done anything for her. For her approval. She was exciting!!

Joannie, the most knowledgeable female friend I had ever had! The great girl with all the great ideas: socialism, cubism, veganism … The gal pal who gave me my first copies of OUR BODIES OURSELVES, DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET…THE NEW WOMENS GUIDE TO OUR BODIES … If she was late with a term paper, she asked me for one of my old term papers. I gave her one to copy verbatim. And she got the better grade, too!

JOANNIE! I CAN STILL PICTURE HER RIDING HER BIKE THRU CAMPUS, IN THE RAIN, HER PLAID RAIN PONCHO covering that strong but skinny body – those knock knees that never slowed her down one bit! Ever!

So when Joannie told me she missed her period and feared she was pregnant and that I was to perform her abortion, with our mutual pal, Laura, I, stupidly said: Sure! Ok!

Joannie had read a book. It gave directions. There was this new method – a mini-vaccum hose you run up to the uterus … and easy peasy you just vaccum the snot out. Joannie had sent out for and got this special do it at home abortion kit. It was so early in her pregnancy, the fetus she kept reassuring me “was the size a snot.” Plus we could do it in her pretty bohemian room she rented in town, with her fave folk music playing on tbe stereo, the lights low, Laura could be downstairs baking brownies and the extra hands if needed.

This, when told to me by Joannie, all seemed to make holistic sense. Peace, quiet, Joan Baez music, young women empowered …

When I explained it all to Laura, who liked Joan, she said: ARE YOU CRAZY?! THIS IS WHY WE HAVE ABORTION CLINICS!


EXACTLY! THAT’S WHY IT’S NO!!!! Laura, long haired, and just as smart as Joannie but without all the beauty and pizzazz, stalked off fuming.

This gave me pause. As Joan gave me the abortion instruction pamphlet to read one afternoon, I timidly asked: Hey, Joannie, did you get your period? My friend said no. I grew afraid…began to hope the day would never come – even though I knew my wild child friend WOULD NEVER WANT A BABY.

The days rolled on… I begged Laura to help, be by my side: HEY! YOU CAN DO THE ABORTION! I’LL BE THE ONE WHO BAKES THE BROWNIES! Laura, in her long hippie skirt, twirled around and looked me straight in the eyes: NO. CANCEL THE ABORTION ROSE. Take her to the student health center…

I looked at Laura. I thought: It is not a baby, just a two week old piece of snot. How hard can it be? Joan has the little plastic kit… I was raised a Catholic by my strict conservative Catholic mom, Cecelia but we stopped talking a year ago. The Generation Gap writ large. These were my waters to navigate. And I loved my friend.

One day, as I was in the local park, reading a book of poems – by feminist Adrienne Rich for strength – it hit me: I CAN’T EVEN KEEP MY LOOSE LEAF BINDERS ORGANIZED FOR MY AMERICAN REALISM CLASS …HOW CAN I PERFORM A MEDICAL OPERATION PRACTICALLY? I would have to break the news to Joannie …I closed my book and headed for home.

And just as I was rounding the hill to walk back onto campus, Joannie was running to me, ecstatic, flailing her arms, skipping with those knock knees, beautiful …I GOT MY PERIOD!! she screamed. I GOT MY PERIOD! I was weak with PURE JOY! … YOU GOT YOUR PERIOD! I SCREAMED TO THE HEAVENS. YOU GOT YOUR PERIOD!!! Then we rushed into each other’s arms and danced in the sunlight.




Chef Joey in Rose’s space! New France Column!🐾🍷⭐

Schooling My Gigi

By Chef Joey

We all miss Chef Joey!

France – Education, the basis of our lives, the foundation, the learning from the start: the good manners, healthful eating habits, discipline such as making your bed, clean-up after games and chores. Basically, following the regimen that we build upon to further ourselves in the big old world.

Then comes the new “Education Center” School, where a whole new world of faces, noises, smells, accents comes to play, and then there is COVID 19 that eliminates that possibility so for the new kids on the block, home school via an I-Pad or lap top is the new norm. Frightening for some parents, easier for others, but the kids have this – technology is what the school motto was years ago – they know this walking in or “logging in” now.

Gigi at school, in France

The pre-designated lesson plans are geared to get the student through the day: a little reading, math, music, art and, of course, lunch breaks. Then there are parents like me that blow through the whole day in two hours and get it done and take on another project for my daughter Gigi, like cursive writing and memorization.

The trouble is in our Worcester home there is one parent working from home at the home office on the dining room table, and then there is the school department on the island in the kitchen (we all source the same wi-fi). And when there is a virtual classroom or a teacher meeting Gigi and I are definitely in a loud room, not unlike the stock market! Toss in a few dogs and the mailman ringing the doorbell, and BOOM!!

There was only one logical solution: someone had to leave – our bedrooms are at capacity with furniture and bedding … the next step was to escape back to France. So, we did.

I contacted our French school, got Gigi reenrolled for the 2020-21 school year and showed up on September 23 for our first day of classes. A tad different, as everyone was a little taller than last year, and the classrooms are mixed up with new students, students that did not attend Pre-K …plus other new residents.

In any case, it is all sanitized, infrared lighting at the doors, temperature checks all day long. The best part, besides the education, is the organic lunches that by the end of the year are going to be completely vegan/vegetarian so they can teach this new generation of children the importance of sustainable food, eating healthy, and getting back to basics … Insurance is a key part to keeping France healthy.

There are strong government restrictions on the amount of fat, calories portion size among other things that need to be in place, or the product is pulled from the market.

It is against the law to add artificial colorings and GMO’s to food, and pretty much everything is borderline organic with certified “BIO” for biological food available everywhere at normal prices.

I just bought certified organic veggies. The carrots were (in Euros) 1.99 for a kilo (2 pounds) potatoes 10 Kilos (20 pounds) were 3.49 and red peppers were 1.59 for 3! Cooked beets are a huge item here and a 3 pack of organic beets is about 2 Euros – right now a Euro is about $1.20 so 2 Euros is $2.40 – still a bargain compared to what I was paying in the states.

Seafood is aplenty, especially here in Cannes, especially because we are on the Mediterranean and there is a constant supply, not to mention the proximity to Italy and Spain. So we enjoy their treats as well!

France is socialized medicine and it works – it’s affordable without insurance and free with insurance. All prescriptions are the same price no matter where you get them, it’s the law. Lab results are within hours, I had an MRI and by the time I got dressed I had a copy of the disc and a written report of that was wrong signed by the doctor in my hands. All at an out of o=pocket cost of $100 for a $400 procedure on the newest quietest and smallest MRI machine I had ever seen.

I am not saying France is better than the USA. However, the medical system is governed, as well as the food by the Government. The European Union is the pretty much the same. Costs are important … every full-time working citizen has 5 weeks’ vacation a year, no matter what your profession. You pay heavy in payroll taxes; however, education and health insurance are free, a small price to pay. I know I pay thousands a year for a system that thankfully I do not use.

I am so lucky that my parents were from Europe and have the opportunity to live here with Gigi, so she can go to school, learn a second language and enjoy warm weather until at least December.

As far as food goes, my grandparents also taught me to shop frugally and healthy, I have written about it many times, dried beans and legumes go a long way, and buying marked down meats and other items as the expire is a smart way to shop -we have freezers to prolong the use. I personally make it a part of my routine to pop into the market at least once every other day to see what markdowns I can get – yoghurt is always available and one of the best kids, and adult snacks around …
Joey bakes his family homemade muffins

Edith in Rose’s space! …The Vice-Presidential Debate💃💃

My VP Debate Notes

By Edith Morgan


The Vice-Presidential Debate. It was a relief, compared to the Trump-Biden fiasco days earlier. Though the rules were the same as for the Presidential Debate, the two participants followed them much better, and their interchanges were much more civilized – and more rational.

Of course, there were the usual lies and distortions, which you can check in great detail in the CNN Fact Check video. There is not time in this article to get into all of them! VP Mike Pence was his usual colorless, acolyte self and dutifully repeated his boss’ stories. Often he did not fully adhere to the time limits and often ignored the warnings of moderator Susan Page, who had generated many good questions in the nine areas she wanted covered, and who – by and large – kept control of the event.

I kept an eye on Democratic nominee Kamala Harris, and I found she really comes across as a caring human being – and as someone who does not let anyone walk over her, as Pence tried repeatedly to do. Women are accustomed to being interrupted or ignored by men in conversation – but Kamala simply smiled and said “I am talking” and continued to speak.

The CNN Fact Check found some inaccuracies in both speakers’ answers but, of course, far more and more serious ones on Pence’s part.

The format, nine areas in 10-minute segments, did not allow any in-depth discussion of any important topic. The areas covered included the COVID Pandemic, the role of the Vice President (both candidates for President are well over 70 years old and, therefore, there is reasonable belief that one of them may be unable to complete his term), Trump’s present health (voters need to know), the economy (here there was the greatest divergence from the truth), climate change, China, America’s role in the world, the Supreme Court (where Pence kept insisting Kamala tell him whether the Democrats intended to pack the Court if they win – forgetting or not mentioning how the Republicans had just done that and were about to continue), the future of Roe v. Wade, the future of ACA (I was disappointed that Kamala did not more forcefully remind everyone that the Republicans had been trying to get rid of ACA for years, saying for the last decade that they had a health plan for Anericans, but we had never seen one), racial justice, and the upcoming elections.

At one point, Senator Harris went into her background, as many voters do not yet know her well – and it was a good summary of all her impressive experience and the skills she would bring to the White House. She did a good job of elaborating on Joe Biden’s beliefs and defending his programs, too.

Perhaps this will be the last debate for this election, as Donald Trump has just announced that he will not participate in any more debates, if they are virtual. I think that after his insane performance in the first debate, he has decided not to risk another such fiasco … or maybe he really is ill enough not to be able to do it? Nevertheless, he plans to do his mega-rallies instead, where he continues to spread the novel corona virus … and all his lies.




Rats Off to You, Worcester City Councilor Donna Colorio!🐭

By Rosalie Tirella

I received a phone call last week from an elegant gent I used to know and love. He lives at the gateway to our city’s elegant West Side: Homer Street, Institute Road, Massachusetts Ave …home to the Antiquarian Society building, depository of the first newspapers of our grand USA – newspapers containing the musings of Thomas Payne … His neighborhood is also home to WPI, our city’s engineering university where the finest scientific minds help search for the cure to COVID … Streets where tree canopies make you feel you are in Wellesley or Weston as you drive down the tree-lined Flag or Troy streets, the wide enough to host a parade Massachusetts Ave.

Now his elegant neighborhood is RATSVILLE – rats climbing West Side trees, rat burrows in West Side back yards, rats skittering up Mass Ave, rats nibbling on organic eggplants in chi chi West Side organic carefully tended gardens – gardens where Opera records have played – to the annoyance of my elegant old gent friend: he listens to ZZ Top and Greg Alman – LOVES Southern Rock.

All Southern Man past as he watched a big-ar*ed rat climb the tree by his back yard and another rat, smallish, hang from one of his many front porch bird feeders. The City of Worcester came to his doorstep and claimed: you’re the rat-magnet! Shut down your bird feeders!!

My elegant old gent thought: LIKE HE*L I’ll stop feeding my pretty robbins, feisty blue jays and hardscrabble little English sparrows. Not to mention the humming birds with their sugar water dispenser – now frequented by savvy Worcester rats!

My old friend – who loves nature but not rats – has exterminated twice. The rats return. He has had confabs with the city and his lawyer – and telephoned me. Not to take me to a socially distanced Martin Sexton concert as I had begged but to WHINE ABOUT RATS AND THE CITY. Not senior Sex in the City – but Rats in the City. A new kind of TV show, starring him but, alas, not I …📽

I said to him: Sweetie, I adore you, but I implore you: I have my own RAT problem here in Quinsig Village with my own rats to fret about – and they have guns and tasers. Rats bigger than your rats, and stinkier, too … but not as bright!

Worcester City Councilor at Large Donna Colorio declared at last night’s Worcester City Council meeting: WORCESTER IS FULL OF RATS: THEY’RE INUNDATING PARK AVE, VERNON HILL, GRAFTON STREET. We need to look into this rodent problem. She asked City Manager Ed Augustus to eradicate all the Worcester rats who destroy our happiness, peace of mind and organic eggplants! I second that emotion … and say, “Rats off to you, City Councilor Donna Colorio!”