Category Archives: Green Island Grrrl

My Kelley Square

By Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday, as I was driving through Kelley Square and dealing with THE TRUCK IN REVERSE, and taking pics of THE TRUCK IN REVERSE, I realized, later on, as I looked at my photos: THERE IS A HUGE TRENDY BAR JUTTING RIGHT INTO KELLEY SQUARE!! And across the street there is another BAR/BBQ feeding into Kelley Square. And up Green Street and on Water Street there are more BARS/GLORIFIED PUBS where patrons can guzzle alcohol – get drunk, whoozy, booze-buzzed – and then DRIVE THROUGH KELLEY SQUARE. Get into their cars and DRIVE RIGHT INTO KELLEY SQUARE TRAFFIC! The rats’ maze that it is now – or the new multi-laned Peanut Mess which will have cars driving thru at a FASTER speed because it will be multi-laned and laid out straight by Mass DOT.

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pics: R.T.

WOW. Think about it – all up and down Green and Water streets: 20 to 25 bars/pubs where you can drink beer, wine, mimosas, martinis … AND THEN DRIVE THROUGH KELLEY SQUARE.

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🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

So different from my childhood WHEN KELLEY SQUARE WAS REALLY ABOUT WORKING CLASS PEOPLE, THEIR BUSINESSES AND THEIR KIDS. I grew up on Lafayette Street and felt: Kelley Square was a serious/fun biz district that accommodated my mom and us kids. We had:

Jack and Jill children’s clothing store on Green Street – great for First Holy Communion dresses and pocketbooks and Easter dresses

Atlas Fabric Store on Green Street – millions of yards of all kinds of fabric for our moms and grandmas – or anyone who liked to sew skirts, dresses, coats, etc.

Molly the hairdresser for those brillo pad shaped curly perms for moms and grannies – and cheap haircuts for us kids. Cheap and basic.

Then the Automotive Parts Distributors biz on Kelley Sq…and next to it, the blue collar/working class King of Kelley Square, where Allen Fletcher’s building now sits and houses the Wachusett brewery mega bar that juts into Kelley Square: Edward’s Paint. BIG, MAJESTIC, A GIGANTIC NEON SIGN EDWARDS PAINT SIGN. Pink I think. At Edwards: thousands of gallons of paint, paint brushes, rollers, painters pants, paint trays, heavy canvas drop cloths, infinite paint colors … ALL MEANT for Worcester’s contractors, handymen, house painters, do-it-your-selfers. The worker bees of Worcester.🐝🐝🐝🐝

Then Water Street: strictly for families and fun. Not a barroom in sight. A special place for fsmilies overflowing with rootbeer floats, homemade pastrami on rye sandwiches, french fries, apple struddel, blueberry pies, birthday cakes!, Babka Bread, brownies, bismarks, BULKIES!!!!!♥️♥️♥️:

Widoffs Bakery♥️

Lederman’s Bakery♥️

Weintraub’s Deli♥️

Charlies Surplus Sports Store♥️ – kids and adults basketball shorts and jerseys, sweat pants, basketball socks and more! And the gregarious Charlie!♥️

The Broadway Ice Cream Shoppe and restaurant! With its inimitable proprietor, Sam♥️!!! Always Sam looking so natty in his beige sports coat, standing, every Sunday morning, at the Broadway’s front door … to shake hands/greet every man woman and child who walked in! Usually after church – for a hot fudge sundae – icecream made at the Broadway – or a burger and fries or a plate of scrambled eggs, homefries, bagel with cream cheese. Sam made my mom, a single working mom, a counter girl at the dry cleaners on Millbury Street … Sam made Ma feel like a million bucks when she walked in! The warm smile, the handshake, the Hello, girls to us! He made everbody feel special – factory workers, shirt pressers, brick layers, mechanics and short order cooks.

Water Street was great! No bars. No pubs. No booze. … ABSOLUTELY BUILT FOR workers, then KIDS AND PARENTS – AND FUN AND SUGAR HIGHS! You could spend your day on Water and Green streets AND DRIVE HOME THROUGH KELLEY SQUARE unscathed. Or you could walk across it, like Ma, me and my kid sisters did. Holding hands. Looking two, three, four ways … serious but feeling safe.

Crossing Kelley Square with a grin because we just had icecream cones at the Broadway or bought a dozen bulkies for home at Widoffs. All affordable – all made for the working families of the neighborhood, Green Island and Vernon Hill – and any other Worcester guy or gal with a few bucks in his or her pocket.

My uncle’s gold Electra sailed effortlessly through Kelley Square – with all of us kids and grownups in it – to the 290 on ramp…He had just bought two dozen bulkies at Widoffs. For sandwiches my mother and aunt would make at the beach…We were going to Hampton Beach and sailing through our beloved Kelley Square to get there …

🎶😉🎶😉♥️:

“Jo,” don’t go!♥️

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Driving in downtown Worcester yesterday …

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Front Steet

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…I spied Worcester City Council sweetheart-gadfly “Jo” – the old woman who, for several years, attended each and every Worcester City Council meeting, every Tues nite. And each Tuesday nite Jo got up and calmly railed against the stupidity and pointlessness of Worcester and our elected officials. No one ever really “got” what she was saying, but listening to Jo you felt Worcester was on the brink of an existential crisis. Long grey hair in a smooth pony tail – or in a puffy bouffant sometimes – umbrella and tote bag in hand, a tan raincoat on her slim body, Jo was our inner-city prophet – sometimes speaking in tongues we did not understand. Yet the council – everyone in the room – was always respectful. Haughty yet ever ready with a thin-lipped smile, Jo was da*n serious when she stood up to pontificate – for the papers and the public record and her sense of purpose: WORCESTER’S SIDEWALKS WERE A MESS, THE LEADERS OF THE CITY CLUELESS, THE INFRASTRUCTURE NONEXISTENT. … Didn’t we all get it? Couldn’t we SEE?

Not really.

Still, it broke my heart when I saw a disheveled, confused looking Jo walking down Front Street. Without that sense of haughty purpose. Without that lean, clean, angular walk – sometimes too hell bent on fixing Woecester to walk on our crumby sidewalks! She walked in the gutter, agsinst downtown traffic.

So it was no surprise to hear that this winter, while walking the streets of Worcester, she was hit by a truck. A plow truck.

Seeing her at a shop, seeing her in our downtown – NOT SEEING HER AT CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS – makes me sad. … I called out to her from my car when I saw her on Front Street yesterday: Hi, Jo! Do you need a lift? Where are you going? Walking past CVS, she said: The Worcester Court House! … A sweet Latina girl helped her cross the street and get into my car. My mutts were happy to see a new person in the jalopy, I held her coffee as she struggled to get in. The girl held her bag and eased her in … A Mass State Police SUV pulled up aside of me: A PROBLEM?! … I said: No officer, this woman has special needs. I am giving her a ride. He hurumphed: YOU’RE BLOCKING TRAFFIC.

In the car Jo immediately told me I had the heat on too high and that her legs were burning up from my heater. “It’s a mild day,” she said, giving me that famous don’t you get it? look. Exasperated at my stupidity. …She had a point. It WAS pretty mild out yesterday.

She wore a big grey plastic neck brace. Her pocketbook was old and faded in spots, her shoes too big, her hair chopped like from razor strokes or a crazy at home infront of the mirror haircut. Four inch, two inch strands of hair jutted out from the back of her head.

I said: Are you Ok? Safe? A place to live? She said YES. What about a social worker from Elder Services popping over to help? I asked. She said: Nope. I am an independent sort. Besides, my building is a dump. I said: We haven’t seen you at council meetings. She said: Soon. She is still recovering from being hit by a truck.

I dropped Jo off at the Worc Courthouse on Main and made a mental note of the newer clothing, pocketbook, shoes Jo needed. Then I texted Dorrie for the goodies…

And as Jo, now hunchbacked and unsteady in the slush, trudged to the Courthouse Library, I yelled: SEE YOU AT CITY COUNCIL, JO!

Don’t go, Aurora!

By Rosalie Tirella

A few weeks ago, I drove by her and smiled – happy at our chance encounter. I had almost forgotten her! My Aurora! Remorseful, I tried to snap a picture of her while driving by in my jalopy, but my cell phone camera wobbled in my left hand (I’m right-handed) so I missed the shot, especially with all the Main Street traffic speeding between us.

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Downtown Worcester: I would have just driven by Aurora, over my left shoulder. pic: Rose T.

Aurora! The Main South enchantress of my Worcester childhood! The star of – the star ON! – the Aurora Hotel on Main Street – that 4-story-high red brick building almost on the corner of Main and Chandler streets! The beautiful, long-haired, swan-necked, life-sized Greek Goddess drawn onto the front entrance of the old downtown Aurora Hotel. Her figure cut into one of the Hotel’s entryway stone columns – a permanent “drawing” for all to admire: the smooth lines of the folds of her robe, the straight, noble nose, the dainty bare feet – sandal-less, naked, even in January! Aurora of the Aurora Hotel! Still young and flawless, face smooth and unwrinkled, just as you were when I stood before you to admire you 50 years ago! Eyes staring away in calm wonder. I bowed before you, Aurora! You were unmoved! Yet you continue to grace all the poor pedestrians hurrying by you to shops, to cafes, to city hall, to bus stops.

Drawn into stone, yet walking amongst us: the Hispanic grocery shoppers, men in recovery, drug sellers with their tiny white square packets … desperate women, addicted to heroin or crack, and willing to do anything for their fix. In their youth, some as beautiful as you, Aurora!

Goddess Aurora of the Aurora Hotel dreamily floating in stone, down Main Street, still with us – after all these many many years! Artsy signage for the old flophouse of my Worcester childhood. Before that, maybe a nice place to live for aging actors, or work space for a city photographer (Mr. Cocaine!). Later, for a decade or so, Aurora actually adorned the entrance way to the NEW main art gallery for Arts Worcester located on the ground floor of the Aurora Hotel! Wow. West Side matrons, patrons and art lovers inside the Aurora during art show openings, tumblers of white wine in their soft hands. Worcester cops outside the Aurora Hotel – now a non-profit residential building with studio apartments and rooms for rent to recovering women alcoholics/drug addicts – the cops with their guns in holsters, standing erect in their blue uniforms in the crosswalk in front of the old hotel … making sure all the beautiful people felt safe inside and the neighborhood people felt unwelcome outside the Aurora. What a picture that made!

But I will always remember the old Aurora Hotel of my childhood – its lobby a portal for the old Aurora clientele: bums going in and out with their flies open.

Shopping Goddess Aurora! As a little girl walking by you you made me happy because 1. You were so beautiful and 2. Ma, my two sisters and I were walking to my favorite store in the whole wide world, THE MART, just three or four doors down! (now a neighborhood supermarket) … Flawless, your dress never dirty or wrinkled, your eyes wide open, never droop-lidded like my tired and weary Ma’s – you said to me: Ask Ma to buy you a pretty MART dress, Rosalie! Run downstairs to the pet section and nag your mother into buying you a pretty little grey and white mouse – the one with bulging red eyes!

There she was. Still is! Aurora! On the hotel wall! Waiting for me. For you? For everybody! A new Downtown Worcester emerges – all the new murals and street art diminish Aurora. But only slightly. She is still beautiful and still calmly wafts above all the City of Worcester craziness. She’s been around for maybe almost 100 years. She will be here when we are gone – have stopped all our yammering about taxes and racism and potholes!

Aurora! The Roman Goddess of Dawn! Tiny waisted, every day you dreamily usher in the new day, announce the sun to all Worcesterites! City manager, mayor, college kids, junkies, house wives, doctors, babies, cabbies … you greet us with grace! And then you slide back onto your column by the revolving doors of the Aurora Hotel.♥️

*******
Elliott Smith and this Elliott Smith song were the inspirations for this column.

Tweaked: Happy New Year, Sad New Year!

By Rosalie Tirella

I suppose I would have to ring out the Old Year and ring in the New Year with this disturbing image … Driving in Worcester’s Canal District, my old Kelley Square, two days ago in my new jalopy …

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… I saw this sight: my beloved childhood pit-stop, Widoff’s Bakery, the bakery my extended family pounced on before our day trips to Hampton Beach for our two dozen Bulkie rolls for sandwiches, now transformed into a trendy, expensive, hipster gym! Our old reliable Bulkie roll factory (plain or covered with poppy seeds) that for decades filled the hole in my kid sisters and my stomach as we popped in after school to say HI! to the nice counter girl and buy 3 bulkies – 1 bulkie for each of us – so we could eat a very inexpensive after-school snack – gone, forever. The big, pillowy bulkie rolls so tasty they didn’t need a smidgen of butter or jam! After school, my two kids sisters and I walked down Water Street, crossed Kelley Square, then trotted down Millbury and hooked a right onto our street, Lafayette, eating our warm bulkies, so good, and talking about the nuns at my sisters’ school or the upcoming science fair at my school, Lamartine Street School. Widoffs and one of my kid sisters especially were the two loves of my young girlhood. Now, both gone. I taste the bread of life … it is the bread of my life!

Widoffs, the sweet baker’s shop where my sweet mother, tired from her 60-hour-work week at the sweat-shop dry cleaners down the road would come in to buy her favorite donut – the whipped cream and raspberry filled, powder-sugar-dusted, long, phallic, gigantic Bavarian. GONE. DEAD. Both of them. Forever!

Widoff’s. Always so famous in our city it was known to all Worcesterites as just “Widoffs,” the way everyone knew “Spaggs” as just Spaggs. An immigrant city with immigrant nicknames for the places it loved most. Both gone now.

Tradition.

For a half century, Widoffs was the destination of every Sunday morning church goer in Worcester who drove, walked, ran, or skeedaddled! to Widoffs (and Ledermans Bakery, right across the street), after attending Sunday Mass to buy a dozen of bulkies. For Sunday dinner. For sandwiches for the work week. They were always just-out-of-the-oven hot and maddeningly fragrant! And they were nestled in a crisp, medium-sized brown paper bag that you stuck your face into to get a good, deep, whiff of those fragrant beauties – like the glue sniffers who maybe hung out a few streets down in the old tenements. Always the brown bags. A Widoffs tradition as sacred as the Communion wafers we had just reverently swallowed at St. Mary’s or St. John’s churches.

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Rose’s auntie loved her Widoff’s bulkies!

Sometimes we stuck our grubby hands into that hot paper bag, inhaling the warm, doughy aroma, to grab a bulkie to GOBBLE UP RIGHT THERE, IN THE MIDDLE OF WATER STREET, on your way home. You didn’t care! You were intoxicated – drunk with love for your bulkies!

Yeah, we St. Mary’s church or St. John’s church parishoners may have picked up a few brownies or even a birthday cake at Widoffs, but all of us, like brain washed cult members – Hare Krishners but heavier cuz we ate bulkies! – were really at Widoffst for bulkies.

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Rose and her kid sisters, just after Mass – bulkie time!!

Sometimes, if the lines were too long at Widoffs (they were so busy you had to go to a ticket machine by the front door and pull a little lever to get a ticket with your service number on it), my mother crossed the street to buy our dozen bulkies at Lederman’s Bakery. Not as yummy, to me. There were known to be many passionate disputes between family members and friends: WHO MADE THE BEST BULKIES? WIDOFFS OR LEDERMANS? The one – or the other?! I was a Widoffs girl!

Now Widoffs has been transformed into A TRENDY GYM! FOR HIPSTERS! COMPLETELY UNRECOGNIZABLE! BOARDED UP with planks of light brown, shiny, fake-wood product! And painted an ugly, drab industrial gray! The topper? An on-trend, stupid, glass garage door – now Widoffs “signature” facade. THE GLASS GARAGE DOOR WILL LET US ALL GAWK AT THE JOCKS who, in turn, can stare at us pedestrians walking down Water Street. (Give ’em The Finger! Watch me!)

This turn of the Green Island gentrification screw hurts most of all – it is like seeing your favorite older cousin – the beautiful one – walking down the church aisle to seal her fate: marry some dolt because he’s got a great job and promises her the usual trappings: house, nice suburb, Virgin Island vacations, blah, blah, blah. I call it Prostitution. In this case, Ed Murphy, the kid-owner of the Widoff’s building, is the pimp, pimping her out to the highest bidder.

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Rose today, with her kitty Cece! She is on a perpetual quest for that perfect bulkie!

I really do not like this guy.

Membership to this Banal District gym is almost $160/month! “CRAZY! YOU CRAZY!” as my Polish immigrant grandmother, Bapy, would say!

Here once lived – LIVED! – my old neighborhood’s shopping district! Open all day … fun, friendly, cheap, delicious, ethnic (Jewish, Polish, Lithuanian), accessible to all! REAL! A haven for outsiders, refugees, laborers and the exploited … the dusty and the damsal in distress. The pious and the predatory. We, our parents or grandparents fled Eastern Europe, the bottom of the barrel for us, and made Worcester our new home. Water Street was our culinary heaven, and it became our adopted city’s cool hangout. The Broadway restaurant, the drugstore that served homemade icecream sundaes, bakeries … Cooks of all ilk – and tourists – welcome!

My HOME.

When my late mother was a little girl, she’d go to the open air markets on Water Street with my grandfather, a Polish immigrant who loved Green Island too. They’d go shopping: buy the family’s bulkies, then vegetables and meat. She once told me of the small, trained monkey owned by one of the market’s vendors – a kind of cruel entertainment for customers, he was chained at the ankle and very nervous as he danced for their pennies. He kept turning around and around, patting his bony little butt for all the customers to see: KISS MY ARSE! he was saying to them! Kiss my arse! He wore a little red velvet vest and matching cap.

Where is that little monkey when you need him most?

🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶:

The Christmas season🎄 + 🎶

By Rosalie Tirella

If you are a Roman Catholic, even a “lapsed” one, Christmas gets stretched out to a weeks-long Season. Advent: waiting for Jesus’s birth, including the big day when an angel from Heaven flies down to earth to tell Mary: you’re preggo! With THE SON OF GOD! She can’t believe it! … Then Jesus’s birth, Christmas Day. Rejoice! The World is Saved (and it CAN BE SAVED) … Afterwards reality sets in: Mary, Joseph and their infant son Jesus head out and have a normal life. Sort of. Joseph is a carpenter, so he teaches his son Jesus his trade. Some Biblical texts say Jesus had a brother, also a carpenter. But Jesus, even at 12 years old, shows he is special – reveals his spiritual gifts to the community by discussing life and death so powerfully with the local priests that they are blown away! Everyone at the neighborhood temple – and beyond! – is impressed!

The birth of THE SON OF GOD, BORN TO A REGULAR PERSON, MARY, is a MIRACLE, if you are a “believer.” God the INFINITELY CREATIVE is made flesh: a human baby. Something, sadly, I can’t get back … long lost for me. I used to believe … wake up Christmas Day, as a child on Lafayette Street, and with my Catholic mother, old Polish granny and kid sisters go: YAY! GOD – JESUS – plus the HOLY SPIRIT IS BORN today!!! Magic! The MIRACLE MAN who I pray to for all my straight A’s at Lamartine Street School IS BORN! The little plaster of Paris Jesus statue on my bureau that I pray to every morning, before I walk down my street, up Grosvenor Street, to my teacher Mr. Monfredo’s 5th grade class at Lamartine is GOD! I “Bless” myself before the crappy little 25 cents statue my mother gave me one Saturday morning as she was cleaning out her bureau drawer: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” I say shaking with utter conviction … God is alive and watching over me and helping me live my life. Comforting. Reassuring. I am NEVER alone. God is always watching over me. This fact freaks me out a little, too, but it also makes me, the 10-year-old Rose who is a bookworm and near-sighted feel invincible! So every night, I “bless” myself before my plaster of Paris Jesus statue, and I write tiny notes to my Jesus statue (Jesus depicted not as a babe but as the sage, philosophical 12 year old – holding a book), and I stuff them into its hollow base, all crumply: DEAR JESUS GIVE ME AN A IN MY MATH QUIZ. – Rosalie … DEAR JESUS HELP ME GET AN A ON My BOOK REPORT. – Rosalie … DEAR JESUS I NEED AN A IN MY GRAMMAR TEST. – Rosalie Naturally, Jesus came through for me – I always got all A’s.

Then I went to college and met my boyfriend and his cool philosophy-major best friend – and I lost Jesus. Just like that. All the 17 years of Sunday masses with Ma, weekly trips to that big creepy box confessional booth at St. Mary’s, my prayer books, my nun pals, church folk group in high school! … 14 years of Monday evening catechism class at St. Mary’s … all down the toilet.

I never went to church again.
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Rose, left, – her First Holy Communion. Standing outside the front entrance with her two kid sisters of St. Mary’s church at Kelley Square. pic: C.T.

So, while I am not sure about the He-is-God-Almighty part these days, I do celebrate – in my own way – Christmas. I focus on the Christmas Eve Story – something I can relate to and believe in: being poor, being an outcast. An outsider looking in. No money? Then live in a barn – or a shithole tenement! The song remains the same – for eons and eons! But through the ages people have always transcended their mangers of hay! Rejoice!

I love the Christmas story! It was meant for this Green Island Grrrl growing up in a tenement with her poor beautiful sweet mother, Polish immigrant Bapy, fraile kid sisters. So poor, yet so loved! The precious gift. And yet so weary, like the weary, hungry, homeless Mary and Joseph looking for a room at any inn on that special night. No money? Then no roomie!! Into a barn (a crumby tenement) you’re shoved – with the sheep and cows.
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♥️

The animals’ body heat and warm gusts of breath keep Jesus and his parents from freezing to death. Like a gas log in an old kitchen stove in any of Worcester’s poorer neighborhoods. So the Son of God – THE KING – is born in low, bad circumstances – literally a stack of hay!

I showed you my late Bapy’s baby Jesus:IMG_20191216_092841017
♥️

Here is my sister’s. She upgraded – or so she thought – my Mom’s creche when she got her first real job:
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♥️

It came with shepherds, angels with wings, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Three Kings, even a cow and a few sheep. I just have Jesus. We don’t talk much these days, but her Baby Jesus in the Christmas manger speaks to me through decades – brings so many Green Island Christmas days to me. Memories of her. … All the church going, the kneeling on our kitchen floor, or beside our beds, praying to plaster of Paris Jesuses … HOPE. LOVE. Always LOVE.

Christmas Eve memories … 🎶

By Rosalie Tirella

This Christmas Eve … I remember some of InCity Times/CECELIA/ICTwebsite’s staunchest allies – Worcester men and women who are gone but never forgotten by me, not even for a day. They started out as advertisers but became my family.

Yesterday, driving around Worcester in my new urban special …

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new jalopy. pics: Rose T.

… I seemed to see them ALL – as alive as the trees that line Burncoat Street, as tangible as the car coat I was wearing. The advertisers who became my confidantes – the people who made so many of my Christmases special! Plus: their kids, wives, husbands, even their dogs! I saw THEIR businesses, now gone, standing stoicly, on the edge of ice-trimmed sidewalks, in the thin, grey Worcester winter light. They were welcoming me in for a cup of coffee or a chance to chat about Worcester – or bitch about my gnarly personal life! I brought my old scarf to my old eyes yesterday as I remembered:

♥️Jan’s Kitchen

Now gone, but just a few years ago an advertiser and my fave breakfast nook. Yesterday, as I drove by the place, now a nail salon, Jan’s was filled with the laughter of Jan’s manager, the blond, beautiful Amanda and her adoring husband, “Joe.” They were regaling Jan’s Kitchen (named after Amanda’s mom) customers, seated on the “bar” stools of their breakfast place, with tales of their last vacation. How Amanda loved to fish – could sit on a wharf in the sun with rod silently dipping into the water and fish forever – waiting and waiting for a fish’s nibble – and how the sport repelled her hubby, tall, deep-voiced, big chested and with biceps built to reel in whales! Eeew!!! Joe said, laughing, wincing. Amanda flashed her pearly white teeth at her husband – the secret love smile all true mates share, and everyone, (me, the ICT ad rep) and customers laughed.

Amanda died of cancer a few years ago. Suddenly! One day we were talking about the vacation cruise she and her family were going to take … the next week she was in the hospital and never returned home, to Jan’s. She was dead within months. She was around 35.

♥️Leader Sign Company on Canterbury Street – The late kooky, wild, loyal Tony Hmura’s fiefdom – all 1930s and 1940s photos and old office furniture in the front of the shop, which still stands. By the entrance, next to the bookcase lined with right-wing conspiracy tomes and World War II histories: Tony’s old wooden easy chair covered with blankets, covering about five old, over-stuffed pillows substituting for the chair’s now lumpy, spring-filled (hence uncomfortable) cushions. Tony snoozing beneath all the covers – a little bump buried beneath a blue mountain of fleece. Tony kept his sign shop nursing-home warm at the end, and his son, Bryan, who worked with him, taking over the biz when Tony died, used to walk into the nursing home part of the shop and tell me: He should be home. I would say: Bryan, this is home.

♥️Thomas Autobody: Walter Thomas. Old School Worcester: married to the love of his life for 50 years, a pillar of his church, helped with the Grafton Hill neighborhood scholarship committee; a great, supportive Dad and father-in-law. You’d go into Thomas Autobody on Grafton Street to sell Walter an ad, and he would show you his teeny dog – furry and ancient – who kept him company in his shop. And big Walter would hold his teeny dog as gently as you’d craddle a baby (which Walter did plenty of too) … Then the two of us would wax nostalgic about dogs and cats we had owned and loved. Walter would always give me good biz advice – which I never took – and he was always polite, fun, a real gentleman. To me – to everyone. Like I said: Old Worcester.

♥️ Unique Finds … You know how I felt about the late, great Ron and his antique store on the corner of Main and Henshaw streets: I was there every other day! Looking at Ron’s kitchy knick knacks, his used acoustic guitars, the vintage bureaus and bookcases. But mostly: I was there talking music with Ron, checking out his store’s used and new lps: Beatles, Dylan, The Band, the Beach Boys, Elvis (Presley and Costello), jazz, STAX artists … admiring Ron’s old underwood typewriters (too $$ for my wallet), asking Ron about Lucinda Williams (he used to go see her shows when he was young and lived in Texas).

Ron was addicted to opioids – but clean when I last saw him. I never saw him high … Still, drugs caused the end. I miss my friend! I miss his husky voice and build! His handsome face … his bicep tattoos … I miss watching Ron repair, restring the guitars he had picked up. He was always quietly sweet to me, never loud or in-your-face. Loved my two dogs, too. And they loved him.
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Jett♥️ loved Ron!

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For Ron, a bigger Lucinda Williams fan than Rose will ever be:

Elliott and Worcester’s troubled kids

By Rosalie Tirella

This song, this Elliott Smith video, makes me think of a lot of Worcester kids but especially the homeless kids I saw yesterday hanging out under the Green Street bridge in the city’s Canal District while delivering the new issue of CECELIA.

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yesterday: under the Green Street bridge. pics: Rose T.

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New Christmas CECELIA

Tragic on a number of fronts: 1. Elliott Smith WAS A MUSICAL SHINING STAR, but he was also an addict. He was addicted to, for most of his life (he stabbed himself in the heart and died at 34): alcohol, heroin, anti-depressent meds, crack cocaine, cutting himself. … They say at the end of his life he was wandering the streets with a comforter over his head, totally disoriented. He was gentle, sweet, strong in his love for making his music – but haunted. He said in a few interviews, obliquely, he had been sexually abused by his stepfather when he was a child. At 14 Smith ran away, moved to Portland, OR, to live with his dad – to escape his sexually abusive stepdad. Smith said, when he left TX, he felt he had abandoned his mom, whom he loved. All of this personal trauma is reflected in his beautiful, melodic songs, often sung by Smith in a range just barely above a whisper! Smith’s beautiful songs, so Beatlesque Rubber Soul/Revolver in their musicality, have lyrics that cut like a knife, often filled with raw despair yet just as often perfect short stories – sung by him:


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2. The kids hanging out under the Green Street bridge in the Canal District are not like the late Elliott Smith – even without his musical genius. They are, with their dog-eared poetry books at their feet: without jobs/careers, without knowledge that can lead to good paying jobs (Smith graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst), without material goods/apts (Smith came from an upper-middle class background): couch-surfing junkies nodding off under the Green Street bridge (Smith always had friends and girlfriends to live with). The addict part of the Green Street bridge kids rubs the Canal District small business owners the wrong way – they feel the addict kids get in the way of promoting the city – ugly knick knacks set in a freshly painted room. They spoil the aesthetics. The young Canal District entrepreneurs don’t like the homeless street kids hanging around Water, Harding and Green streets – even though the kids under the Green Street bridge are often cold and hungry – and a lot like them. That is why they are hanging under the Green Street bridge – they naively think they will be welcomed, even embraced, by their peers. (They won’t.) Like the young biz owners of the Canal District, they in their 20s and early 30s, hopeful for their futures, at their prettiest/most handsome looking … and, I believe, idealistic!

The Green Street kids differ from the young Canal District biz owners in that most homeless youth, studies show, are horribly alone – with no real support systems – at least the family/good friends kind. They run away from their homes to FLEE THEIR HOMES. TO ESCAPE sick, violent, negligent and often sexually abusive parents or guardians. Horrible abuse! That can only be if you, as a kid, decide to leave YOUR FAMILY AND CAST YOUR FATE TO STRANGERS, HOMELESS SHELTERS, STREET CREEPS WHO PREY ON YOUTH …TO HANG OUT UNDER THE GREEN STREET BRIDGE.

To be exposed to drug dealers, sex abusers, the lowlifes of the world who will – often for sex – FURTHER TRAUMATIZE THESE KIDS.

It AMAZES ME: Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus and the Worcester City Council don’t really give a damn – they say they do, but the first thing you will notice about Worcester when you drive in to our city is all our homeless people – older, middle-aged and young. We have no BIG CITY-WIDE PLANS TO SOLVE THE ISSUE. Which is: BUILD MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING, CREATE SAFE GROUP HOMES FOR OUR STREET KIDS, BUILD SUPERVISED SRO-TYPE BUILDINGS for the poorest of the poor who are never gonna get shelter in the new, gentrified Worcester.

There are so many sick people in the world. Why expose a scared, on the run, TRUSTING and NAIVE, 14 year old to them? An Elliott Smith without the songs?

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CECELIA file photo: Rose T.

“Birches” …+🎶

This poem by Robert Frost is so beautiful. Lately, I always cry when I read it. It is especially poignant now, as I grow old. Me, Rose, a part of nature, hoping to bend, be as pliable, as the silver beauty in the woods! … Read Frost – he is perfect for winter nights!
– Rose T.

Birches

By Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust–
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows–
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

I believe, as a lyricist, Elliott Smith is right there with Robert Frost!
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Tweaked: Little wallet picture

By Rosalie Tirella

Instagram and Snapchat: social media platforms that are all about taking photographs. Millions of photos, now, fast, full color, full on via your cellphone (usually) and then “sharing” them with the world – really, whomever you like (a few close friends or Obama-millions). Pictures that can disappear in seconds (Snapchat) or often highlight bottles of beer, slices of pizza or exotic locales (Instagram). The first
category: junior high stuff; the second: show-off-y stuff you “share” with your co-workers or peers, people who don’t spend much time with you, or much like you.

No, today I sing the praises of the pictures taken when I and my mom were young. Photographs taken in big, maroon-velvet-drape-ensconced photo booths at Woolworths or with your $10 Kodak “Instamatic” camera – the little rectangular box camera that every American kid owned in the 1970s. It came with “flash cubes” that looked exactly like ice cubes! and made everyone’s eyes red in the color pictures you took.

Those photographs of my youth and my mother’s young adulthood feel worth more, maybe because film for your camera cost money and you had to put 50 cents in the front slot of the Woolworths photo booth before you could pictures. Years later, they look GREAT! Intimate! Real! Candid! True feelings revealed – blatant, out there. Or really really suppressed – inadvertantly out there!, exposed, just like the film.

These old photos seem more genuine than today’s billions of Instagram public relations pap, pictures that feel staged, are disposable, forgetable. Photos of my old Green Island neighborhood after the flash flood, my sister’s First Holy Communion photo – in front of the red dump truck … my father with his big Italian-bread belly hugging his old white Fruit of the Loom tee shirt. My mom, her hair in bobby pins so it would get curly, looking right at me, annoyed as hell because I am TAKING HER PICTURE! Today is her day off! Me pouncing on my cousin’s big sun-yellow Tonka Truck on Christmas morning! I want his toy! I never get great toys from Santa on Christmas morning!

Loves. Really. The moments in that photo booth with your boyfriend. Being hugged, kissed, smooched even! Or you were alone in that photo booth at Woolworths making a statement in your nice top or suit jacket – making/taking those two or three rows of tiny black and white photos of yourself for your true love, maybe fiance. This was about commitment. You were creating something – a keepsake of you for your love. A tiny black and white photo your honey would put in the photo section of their wallet – a little wallet picture. A little wallet picture of you that they would always have, that they carried with them pretty much everywhere they went. You would be with them. At all times. With a flip of their wallet’s plastic photo gallery they could see you – or show you off to friends or family. Or if it were really serious about you, your little photo would be slipped into that plastic frame next to the spot where you displayed your drivers license. No flipping – there you were, next to his license, for him and the world to see – at all times.

Somehow, I don’t know why, but I have the little wallet pictures my mother and father made of themselves: just three, teeny and fragile. One is of my father, Daddy, when he was 12. He looks so adorable – big smile, and his curly hair, cut in a bowl-shape by his dad, my grandfather Sabino from Italy, frames his face. I think I spy a few freckles! The second photo: of my mother when she was about 14 – a student at the old Worcester Girls Trade School. She is also smiling – her big pretty smile – all her teeth perfectly aligned and white, no orthodontist needed. God’s gift to her! Or curse?: Daddy used to say he married Ma for her smile, her perfect teeth – and I believe him. He was a shallow person who scorned my mother’s natural goodness/sweetness – and he had lousy teeth! They were all pulled out by the time I was a teen – just gums a flappin’ but he was still handsome and charming (when not abusive).

Up until a few years ago, I used to put these two little wallet pictures of my parents – so mismatched in marriage, so wrong for each other in real life – TOGETHER!! Like they were happy together! Really and truly happy! On my refrigerator, that is. Overlapping each other, a refrigerator magnet keeping them together! Stuck together. STAY! STAY!

So opposite of Daddy, a womanizing free spirit, who disappeared from our Lafayette Street tenement for weeks – or months and months! – at a time. As a little kid, I needed to look at pictures of my father just to remember what he looked like. And that I had a father. Somewhere out there, past Green Island. But now he was MISSING! Like the little kids in the pictures on the half gallon milk carton on our kitchen table! Would I get Daddy’s photograph put on milk cartons, too?!

Then there is the third one – and a fourth, if you count another little wallet picture – but not taken in a photo booth. It’s a bit larger than the little wallet pictures taken in drug stores or coffee shops. These two little wallet photos are of my parents taken 15 or so years later, after the first set, when they are in adulthood, in the middle of parenthood, jobs, homelife. They are serious pictures now. Ma fake smiling and Daddy unsmiling. Both are looking straight at the canera’s lens … . Even though married to each other, they look lonely.

These little wallet pictures make me sad, send me searching for reasons, feelings … My father is in a suit, a heavy tweedy one guys used to wear in late autumn, with dark, clip-on necktie. He looks handsome with his Roman nose and his thick curly hair styled high up in a pompador, but he also looks menacing. Bitter. Alone. And he is only what? 29? 30? 32 years old? Married to my sweet mother! My sisters were just born. Twins! I am only 1 1/2 years old – at my cutest. I still remember my mother sitting me up on her and Daddy’s big bed, up on the nubby pink bedspread. Daddy is whistling a tune and smiling and patting my chubby leg! Ma took a picture earlier – I looked so cute, like a little doll. She had even entered me in a baby photo contest. And I had won first prize!!

That’s when Daddy took off for about three years! Good! No more Daddy slapping my mother’s pretty cheek! Hooray! No more Daddy calling my pretty mother “Mule”! or “Fuck nut”! Yipee! Stop all the clocks! Freeze time – PEACE ON EARTH. Or at least in our third floor Lafayette Street tenement … Ma holding me on her lap as we sit on the sofa watching the Red Skelton Show on TV together … or Ma taking out her special speckled box and letting me play with her fancy jewelry – her big pink stone necklace, a gold snake bracelet, with slit snake eyes and gold rattle tail! I have put the snake around my little neck and am parading around the kitchen, in front of Bapy, my old Polish granny, who is sitting inher delapidated old easy chair at the head of our kitchen table. She is wearing layers of flannel nightgowns to stay warm and doesn’t take baths like the rest of us. She smells … fecund♥️! Bapy old and arthritic stays nestled in her nest and tries to tap my lil’ bum as I run in front of her giggling, wearing Ma’s snake jewelry! Bapy is laughing and singing an old Polish folk song for me – her fave grandchild – to dance to. I oblige!

Then Daddy will return, years later, and after a brief honeymoon period with Ma, will be just as shitty! Scream just as loudly! Disparage us all, red-faced, lunging at the front door, banging it! Bapy throws her hardboiled egg sandwich at him and calls Daddy: “RED DEVIL!” I am scared! My little sisters are in their bedroom, holding each other and crying!

WHY DIDN’T DADDY LEAVE FOR GOOD? Hook up with one of his whores, for good?

Who knows … little wallet picture #4. Of Ma, at her big sister’s house off Webster Square. It is Christmas day. She is standing in front of my aunt’s big Christmas tree. She is smiling, but it is a stiff forced smile. Perfect but more brave than happy. Her hands are folded at her waist. She is dressed for the holiday: wearing her jewelry, a nice skirt and blouse. Still, to me, she looks sad beneath the perfect smile. Like something serious is happening somewhere: which it is – her husband is now Nowhere Man, gone, a loss, an adult man in the male-dominated early ’60s who does not have a job and therefore does not provide for her and their three little girls. Ma lives with her mother in an old flat on Lafayette Street – not in the cottage of her dreams, with the husband of her dreams. Daddy has, in actions and words, jilted her. Us kids, too. She is now and forever a single working mom, RESPONSIBLE FOR IT ALL – working at the drycleaners down the street, 60 hours a week, for crappy minimum wage. No car. Pulling groceries home, with her three little girls running and giggling behind her, in a rickety shopping wagon. Even in the pouring rain, her plastic five and ten rain bonnet tied tight under her chin, even in the pelting snow, her snow boots soaked, making squishing noises in the slush. Her life. Her hard little diamond of a life, and her three little precious girls the rose gold band it is set in! The little wallet picture, sealed in plastic, now frayed at its edges, meant to be carried in her husband’s wallet, in the space right next to his driver’s license! But for years it stayed on her dresser, propped up against a little statue of Jesus.
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Little wallet picture #4. pics: Rose T.

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Ma, AD – After Daddy

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P.S. This song was the inspiration for above column.

Skatepark plans, Steve column … South High’s Andy’s Attic🧥 … 🍎Soup’s on! + 🎶

So many of our city kids – WPS students – could use warm winter coats and jackets this holiday season!❄️🎄♥️ At WORCESTER’S SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL – ANDY’S ATTIC: DONATIONS OF GENTLY USED/NEW WINTER COATS, JACKETS, hats, sweaters, scarves, mittens and more needed! A few years ago ICT writer Edith Morgan introduced you to the school’s AWESOME in-house clothing store for kids! We repost the story, below.
– Rose T.

SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL’S ANDY’S ATTIC🧣👢🧥🎁🎄

By Edith Morgan

Come with me and take a most remarkable trip, into a huge storeroom, with what seem to me to be 15-foot high ceilings, lined with metal shelves from cement-block wall to wall – and every row filled with “gently-used” clothing of every kind. As I enter, to my right stands a giving tree, festooned with pictures of students who have put in at least 20 hours already, and whose continued work will earn them a star for every ten hours more, s they fulfill their community service duties.

The room is alive with busy students, filling “orders” from families who have sent in requests. Other students are folding, sorting newly arrived donations, straightening shelves or drawers full of new items (the socks and underwear are new, as most people really prefer to wear such items new), The students come willingly and on time, and when asked why they participate in “Andy’s Attic, they all told me how heartwarming it was to know that they are helping truly needy families to be properly and warmly clothed – some even had been recipients themselves, and now were “paying it forward,” so someone else could feel what they had felt when someone cared enough to help them.

Since October 2013, hundreds of bags full of complete outfits in the right sizes have already been sent out, and every day about 36 students show up to help.

Why the name ”Andy’s Attic”?

The idea grew out of the tragic death of a 16-year old Shrewsbury student, Andrew Reese, whose parents and friends wanted to honor his memory. When the project outgrew its Shrewsbury quarters, after a couple of moves, Shrewsbury resident and South High teacher Christine Foley approached her principal, now WPS superintendent, Maureen Binienda, who provided the large basement room that used to be her supply closet. After a huge clean-up job and truckloads of moving, the “attic” was ready.

At first, South High students received the donations – many were needy themselves, but as the project grew, Christine and her volunteers found that behind every student in need was a family in need. And soon word spread, with “orders” coming in from other towns in Worcester County.

In the summer of 2013 the Reese family moved to Florida, and Christine Foley took over the project. She enlisted the help of several major Worcester organizations and got the project under way. Staff and students worked to get it started, and what I saw today would be the envy of any large business, with students performing the many tasks required to run such a great enterprise. We should all be very proud of the students who week after week see to it that Andy’s Attic takes care of those who are in need.

If any readers want to help, besides winter clothing, Andy’s Attic always needs: new socks and underwear, and “gently used” clothing of all sizes. Sometimes a special request has to go out for sizes not in stock, so Andy’s Attic can always use cash to purchase what is needed. For more information or to drop off donations:
South High Community School
170 Apricot St, Worcester
Principal: Jeff Creamer
phone: (508) 799-3325

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CONGRESS SHOULD END HEARINGS QUICKLY

By Steven R. Maher

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick and tired of the impeachment drama of President Donald J. Trump. I think getting this thing over with as quickly as possible is the best outcome possible.

Given Republican numeric dominance of the Senate, and given the Republicans have decided to hang together, Trump’s survival was forecast from the start. The Democrats would impeach Trump in the House and a Senate majority would vote against impeachment on a party line basis. Trump would survive.

When this whole thing began, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) reportedly stated he planned an immediate Senate vote on any impeachment bill presented by the House. That’s the smart thing for the Republicans to do. Vote as quickly as possible and get it behind them before the New Year.

The Republicans might drag this thing out for weeks. Can we blame them? Some Democrats wanted to drag this out as long as possible. The Republicans might feel the same way – exploit their position to enhance their electoral prospects in 2020.

My feeling is that the American people will blame whichever party drags the country’s agony out the longest. The Democratic House should vote out a one count impeachment bill solely related to the Ukrainian bribery episode. The Republicans should vote down as soon as possible the impeachment charge. They maybe we can back to some type of normalcy where the two parties spend time rhetorically attacking each other, instead of trying to put each other in jail.

I believe that Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense when he involved himself in the Ukrainian situation.

Trump has learned a valuable lesson from all of this, though he would never admit to it. His power is not limitless. Donald Trump will be remembered as the fourth President in America history to be subject to impeachment proceedings, right down there with Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. But the best thing now is to let history judge Trump.

My expectation is that 50 years from now Donald Trump will be judged harshly.

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From PETA.ORG:

ROASTED APPLE AND SQUASH SOUP

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🍎🍎🍎🍎

Ingredients:

4 green apples, peeled and cored, plus more for garnish
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 lbs. (8 cups) red kuri squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 carrots, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1/2-in. piece ginger, grated
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Pinch ground cloves, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups fresh apple cider
2 cups low-sodium broth
2 cups water
2 tsp. salt
Pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the apples in baking dish and roast for 20 minutes.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic, cooking till tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients. Chop the roasted apples and add. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Purée in batches in a food processor until smooth, then return to the saucepan. Heat over low heat, thinning with more water, if necessary.

To serve, ladle into shallow bowls and garnish with sliced apples, freshly ground cinnamon, and a pinch of ground cloves.

Makes 12 servings!

Adapted from A Vegan Survival Guide for the Holidays.

👏👏👏👏👏:

Skatepark at Crompton Park Design Workshops!♥️🙏♥️❄️

The City of Worcester Department of Public Works and Parks wants to hear from you!

There will be two meetings, open to all, to tell city officials – who destroyed the previous skatepark in the Canal District – what kind of skateboard area you want in Crompton Park:

⌚Dec 9 and Dec 11 – both gatherings @ 6:30 p.m. – at the newly reopened Green Island Neighborhood Center located in the old field house, by the pool!

Be there, young people!

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