Category Archives: Green Island Grrrl

My Worcester Police Department “experience” – Part 2

By Rosalie Tirella

The WPD cops outside my apartment door this a.m. were jerky, but just the two of them. My neighbors are PROFESSIONAL LIARS, and the cops listened to their lies… WHERE WAS THE WPD PAPERWORK? WHY NOT TELL ME WHY I WAS BEING ARRESTED?! I said: my vile neighbors are at the bottom of this. And Millbury State Police trooper TIMOTHY HARRIS. So…the morning unfolded in a paddy wagon, jail cells, hand and ankle cuffs…

But I need to say this: a TOTALLY HUMANE EXPERIENCE AT WPD headquarters at Lincoln Sq and Woo COURTHOUSE. I felt I was dealing with human beings who heard me, listened to me. I have never been so harassed by neighbors in my life, white, with cars – not disenfranchised at all – yet here were the authorities treating me with kid gloves!

My neighbors and Millbury State Trooper Timothy Harris and Millbury barracks brazenly disrespecting the system because they know they can. The cops at WPD RESPECTING people and the law. And me. … The regular WPD officers all seem to love Police Chief Steve Sargent – …
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Chief Sargent

… they told me he’s a great guy. They also struggled – with their computer equipment!! Their computers were sluggish and crashed, and they had to take my mug pic twice! I told them: I AM 60 AND NOT WEARING ANY MAKEUP! The cops told me: BLOG ABOUT HOW WE NEED NEW COMPUTERS! The cops do – I was there! The WPD computer system IS garbage. Come on, Mayor Petty and city leaders, we’re the second largest city in New England. Help them do the paperwork …

Sweet: One of the cops was so gentle with me, so patient, patting my hand with a: “good luck.” Another cop said: “You’re a nice lady.”… Later I told the Worcester police officers – all of them – YOU’RE NICER THAN MY NEIGHBORS AND LANDLORD!!

One officer suggested, softly: Get out of there … (my apartment)

So, maybe the Worcester Police Dept is not so bad: if you are real, they are real. If you are calm and honest – they are, too. The hand and ankle cuffs were terribly traumatic for me. The cells clean but bleak. I see why people kill themselves in them. We do need changes – young kids, Black kids, they aren’t gonna react the way I did. THEY WILL PANIC. THE COPS WILL PANIC. CATASTROPHE in 30 seconds! But my Woo cops knew that I was harmless – and stressed – and kept the cuffs loose and comfortable and readjusted them numerous times when I whined about my delicate wrists …

So why the pure hatred and lies from my neighbors here? Why make up lies and call WPD and the staties – I will be calling state human rights commission re this incident. State Trooper Timothy Harris took my license plates months ago – told people: ROSALIE NEEDS TO TALK WITH ME TO GET THEM. I was creeped out by him – there were 2 boxes of license plates in the Millbury Barracks. Why DID TROOPER TIM HARRIS HAVE MINE IN HIS CAR? WHY DID HE SAY I HAVE AN ATTRACTIVE POCKET BOOK?? I called State Senator Mike Moore – told them about Harris – they called the state police – I got my license plates back – after the state police had told me State Trooper Timothy Harris had destroyed them.

What is WRONG WITH THE MILLBURY STATE POLICE BARRACKS?

Why such horrible neighbors – but such good Worcester cops? Wow. A few epiphanies over afternoon (very late) coffee and buttered bagel …

Questions

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose, December 2020

Yep. 2021 begins in Worcester, but it’s the same old song and dance: Amanda Wilson, head of the City of Worcester Building and Code department, located on Meade Street, already seems MIA. Or maybe it’s just her heart that’s stopped pumping. Amanda says – YES! THE CITY NEEDS AN APARTMENT REGISTRY! But NO! NOT THIS YEAR! IT’S AN ELECTION YEAR!

Now why would a big important city department head, in charge of making sure all of the city’s rental units are fit for human habitation (many are not), not move ahead and DO HER JOB? Make sure all the rental apartments/units in Worcester are up to code?

Oh, right. It’s an election year. She needs to not upset the apple cart – keep her job. Amanda’s partner – a contractor – was once involved with bilking the City of Worcester of millions of dollars when he headed up various building projects for the City’s CDCs. He was found guilty of robbing the City of millions of dollars as he built his super-inflated$$$ CDC apartment complexes. So Amanda better keep quiet now.

Another question for you: Why would District City Councilor Matt Wally declare his candidacy for an at large city councilor slot this election year – and not mention his signature political campaign issue/promise of political campaigns past?: ESTABLISHING AN APARTMENT REGISTRY for the City of Worcester?

Well, Matt knows better: it’s an election year! And he wants to get elected to an at large seat at all costs. So he can run for mayor in a few years. … Why upset the apple cart? In this case a mighty voting constituency: developers, landlords, realtors, the Chamber of Commerce yahoos. It seems likely Mayor Joe Petty will retire from the job in a term or two. The pandemic, racial challenges, the tanking local economy…COVID. It’s all taken its toll on our modest, likable, often competent mayor. He’s tried to do the right thing but Petty, like CM Ed Augustus, has been wrung through the wringer many many times. They are both pushing 60. The Murray-McGovern political poo-bas seem to be poo pooing reality and grooming Matt Wally, another insipid Worcester-Irish boys-club insider, for the mayoral slot. Another boring, vision-less, gut-less white guy to lead Worcester, a city that’s fast becoming a majority-minority city. Can Wally lead us into a new post-pandemic reality?? Or is he another walking political anachronism? Another elite lucky Woo boy who will shy away from making TRANSFORMATIONAL changes in our city’s police department, school system?

Why, when I called the Worcester Police yesterday about the abusers downstairs here in my building, did the lady cop in the WPD’s Operations Division start SCREAMING – abusing – me?!! Right after the police department touted their just-received grant$$$$ to help abused women? Why aren’t these nasty people trained – despite all the training they receive? Why the police brutality? Still? And why would Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent tell the city: THERE IS NOT ONE IOTA OF RACISM IN THE WORCESTER POLICE DEPARTMENT!!! What blue-colored goggles is Police Chief Steve Sargent wearing?

2021. In Worcester. Again. Just press the rewind button, fellow citizens!

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Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent. CECELIA file photo: Ron O’Clair

We celebrate the KING!!!

By Rosalie Tirella

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The dream unfolds …

For the MLK Jr. holiday I’m posting my favorite MLK speech, “live”: YOUR LIFE’S BLUEPRINT. King delivered it to a school auditorium filled with junior high students. In Philly, before his big event, The Freedom Festival, for their parents – a fundraiser to be held in the Spectrum, complete with Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte and all our other iconic Black American artists and civil rights champions. King was introduced by a Black kid with glasses; the school camera-kid drops his camera for a second and MLK disappears for a second! MLK congratulates their “fine” teachers and joked about being a long-winded preacher. He had already been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but this speech is better than that august acceptance speech. …

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Be a great student!!

… This speech, though around 20 minutes long, is major – true, real and filled with love for Black kids. Not a one-off. Not a small speech given to regular kids, in a regular school, with regular teachers. Nope. It – like King – SOARS. Black kids during the Civil Rights movement in the tumultuous 1960s needed to hear this speech – we all do, today. Now more than ever!

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❤photo: Fatimah Daffaie

I love MLK’s writing here: so kid-friendly and focused: “Stay in school!” he tells the students, 12, 13 and 14 years old. Love yourself! Celebrate your face, body and skin color!: “I have good hair,” King says to the kids, pointing to his hair, “and it’s as good as anybody else’s hair in the world!” 🌺MLK’s speech is so direct. He tell his young audience: “ALWAYS FEEL THAT YOU COUNT…THAT YOU HAVE WORTH. … Doors of opportunity are opening to you that were not open to your mothers and fathers.”

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And it’s poetic, filled with love. We’re treated to MLK metaphors and similies that transcend boring junior high school auditoriums, the study hall setting where students snap gum and doze off. Be Shakespeare!! he tells the students. Be a lone hero!!! Be Booker T. Washington!!! Be George Washington Carver!!! Be an opera singer!!!…Stay in school, no matter how hard the journey. Be somebody! And if you grow up to become a street sweeper, “Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry!” Can’t be “the pine on the top of the hill”? Be a terrific little scrub! “If you can’t be the sun, be a star!” he says, looking like a star.

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It all happens through principles of determination, excellence, aspiration … and, most and best of all, the transformational power of LOVE: “Don’t allow anybody to pull you so low that you hate them,” MLK says.

Amen.

https://youtu.be/ZmtOGXreTOU

The Capitol, the Rectory …

By Rosalie Tirella

Today, I am thinking about my late mom and the workers at our Capitol. I see my pretty mom during the Great Depression, just 14 years old, a housekeeper/cook/maid at the Bishop of Springfield’s rectory – a huge sprawling building with grounds and many rooms and mahogany furniture and a huge kitchen with swinging doors and real silver silverware and special China for guests. She and her two big sisters kept that special place humming …

My mom was “just” a housekeeper in the rectory, a cleaner of cubbards, a scrubber of pots and pans – and toilets. A server to the Bishop. But Mom considered herself blessed, a lucky person. She was working in a hallowed place – fulfilling God’s words and mission and breathing life into the dreams of thousands of Catholics in Springfield. A vision made real through her polished hardwood floors, shining silverware, sparkling chandeliers, dusted banisters, scrubbed bathrooms – her and her two sisters’ hard work.

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Rose’s mom, in Springfield at the Bishop’s house, with one of her pups.

Mundane work to many but to them an honor. Their Depression era job was more than just a boon to my Polish immigrant grandparents back in Worcester – money coming in when most Americans were out of work. Good food, warmth, safety for their three girls … My Bapy and Jaju were so proud of their daughters: TRUSTED TO WORK IN THE BISHOP’S HOUSE!

Today I see my mom and I see the Capitol workers: the house keepers, the cleaners, painters, wood workers, pourers of coffee and tea …doing just “regular” work – no college degree required, just a lot of elbow grease. But it’s not regular work to them because they see themselves making a special place SPECIAL. Maintaining SPECIALNESS. The Catholic faith: Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. The Capitol: America’s sacred space – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. … Bending to scrub, paint, polish floors, stairwells and walls – just like my late mother did. To create MAGIC. BEAUTY. Every day, for all to admire. And love, too.

I never see photos of my late mom disheveled or unhappy at the Bishop’s house/rectory. I never see her in dirty rooms, dusty spaces. I see her amid elegant tea pots, heavy ornate desks, pretty paintings on walls – my mom dressed demurely but perfectly. I see the deference – and quiet pride – in her eyes. Just as I see the Capitol’s help seriousness, work ethic, perfectionism – and pride on my TV screen. Cleaning out the blood and dirt. Polishing Nancy Pelosi’s lectern once again. Vacuuming the nightmare up … Like my mom, they are RADICAL!! Radical in proving to the world that the regular peeps, the uneducated, the kids of immigrants can save a sacred space – keep and create a beautiful public dream made brick and mortar: a rectory, our Capitol, Supreme Court, White House.

Even as Donald Trump refused to call the National Guard in last week to help the regular workers at the Capitol who struggled against gun-toting monsters, monsters who trashed their world – their gorgeous work space – the just peeps did not quit their jobs. Within hours these cleaners and worker bees were scrubbing and cleaning and polishing and disinfecting … our Capitol, our symbol of Democracy, young, only since 1776. Even as Trump lied 4 years ago – said the White House was a “dump” – the “help” knew the TRUTH and still served the odious Trump his coffee and meals with respect and deference. They still polished the White House’s silver, still kept its mirrors sparkling. Out of love for their building, their special work space, our American Dream writ LARGE AND LOVELY. A song in stone and wood and metal to American democracy and its people. The White House – built by slaves! Home to museum quality paintings and statues and furniture. Repository of our History. Our aspirations. JFK. FDR. LINCOLN lived and loved here! The regular working guys and gals keep our American story alive!

Last week our Capitol was breached and its stairwells, walls, desks, chairs, floors, windows, carpeting dirtied, nicked, smashed, trashed. My mom – just a kid at 14 but a hard worker and super responsible – would have felt the acute pain of the Capitol’s “Help” – just average working women and men, like her. Many of them Black and brown: the painters, cooks, house keepers of the Capitol keeping it all humming. My mother would have seen all their hard work, their perfectionism disrespected – and she would have been angry – and she would have shed a tear or two. But she would have been eager to see the clean up, the repairs being done by the pros!

I see my mom now – it’s the Great Depression and she’s just 14 years old, farmed out by her parents to be, along with her two older sisters, a housekeeper/cook/maid at the Bishop’s rectory in Springfield. To keep herself warm and fed during hard times and to send money home to her parents, my Polish immigrant grandparents, so they could pay bills and eat during hard times. She took the bus, leaving downtown Worcester, already missing her feisty, dumpling shaped mom, but happy to be working with her big sisters. She was smart but was pulled out of school – Worcester’s Girls Trade School – to show the Bishop, the world what she learned at Fanning/Girls Trade: how to poach an egg and fish, cook white sauce, make a perfect bed, iron a man’s suit and draperies with complex pleats … My aunt – also a Girls Trade student – could make a man’s suit on Bapt’s push pedal Singer! Auntie used to make, sew my mom winter coats!! – complete with pretty linings! Auntie could cook a perfect tender roast beef or souffle. She had my mom serve the Bishop his shrimp cocktail, from his left … quiet as a mouse.

Special rooms filled with special people. Today I remember my mom and all the Capitol’s – White House, Supreme Court, too – maids, housekeepers, janitors and cooks.
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Rose’s Auntie visiting Bapy in Green Island during hard times. Auntie could make coats and dresses on her Singer.

☕Chef Joey in Rose’s space: Crispy potato recipe!🥔💛

By Chef Joey

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Joe Joe!!!

The trouble with living in France is the food!! So many choices!! So much freshness everywhere!! Everyday there are various markets open for business throughout various French towns and cities.

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💛💛💛

For those who cannot make it there, the local markets and supermarkets carry local produce, most of which is refreshingly organic. Tomatoes smell like tomatoes; zucchini is a normal size, and everything is so inexpensive. I just purchased a 5 KG (10 pounds) of locally grown potatoes for $4, the same price for onions. Both staples of French cooking, not to mention the garlic too!

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💛💛💛💛

I was speaking to my mother and remembered a crispy potato recipe that my grandmother used to make. The prep is a snap; however, it takes longer to cook. It is a great side dish; it is basically potatoes cooked with stock and fresh thyme.

You can used dried thyme; however, I suggest fresh. This is a dish you can make year-round – it is always a favorite. I used chicken stock; however, it can be vegan using vegetable stock and no cheese.

You will need:

4 or 5 large Yukon gold style potatoes (boiling potatoes)

1 tbsp fresh thyme, and a couple springs for garnish

½ cup stock (chicken or vegetable)

3 cloves garlic cut into 4 pieces

salt and pepper

Olive oil for drizzle

Parmesan cheese (optional)

The key is thinly sliced potatoes, you can use a food processor, mandolin, a good knife to carefully cut thin slices or even a box grater to slice the potatoes in circles.

Once this is done put them in a bowl.

In a food chopper/processor add the thyme, garlic and about 4 tablespoons oil and blend until smooth.

Pour on top of the potatoes and add a little more oil if needed until all sides are coated.

Take a greased baking or casserole dish (about 11 x 7 inches) and STAND the potatoes up and arrange them in 2 or 3 rows.

PREHEAT your oven to 400 – convection works best however any oven will do.

Pour the stock all over your potatoes.

Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper and cover with foil.

Bake for about a ½ hour – remove the foil and bake another ½ hour until the top starts to crisp and potatoes are tender (test with a fork).

Sprinkle with cheese and thyme springs -let sit a few minutes before serving – enjoy!

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In Joey’s garden, in Cannes. We miss him already!

🇺🇸OUR DEMOCRACY🇺🇸 AND CONSTITUTION🇺🇸 DID NOT DIE! January 5 and 6: dates that will live in infamy!

BY EDITH MORGAN

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Edith🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

On election nights, the news channels start showing the early voting results and keep on updating them as results dribble in. Like a political junkie, I stayed up until 3 a.m., watching the Georgia numbers come in. I could have curled up with a good novel and just got the numbers in the morning. Then the figures verified the good news: both Democrats in Georgia won, and the Senate would flip, evening up the numbers, with the tie breaker being our new VP. So far, so good …

But then things took a turn – definitely for the worst – and the nation, and most of our overseas friends and even our enemies, got to watch as an unruly, hostile mob attacked our Capitol in Washington, where all of our legislative branches of the Federal Government were assembled to go through what was supposed to be a mere formality – the counting of the 50 States’ electoral votes, duly verified, signed, and delivered for the final count in the Senate.

There had been a lot of talk and speculation as to whether Vice President Mike Pence, who had the job of reading off the electoral report from each state, would be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat and some how do what boss Trump wanted him to do: find a way to throw Trump the election. Which Trump had been claiming for a long time was ”rigged” against him.

Pence decided to obey our sacred Constitution and read off the electoral scores just as they had been submitted.

Trump, who has always had his temper tantrums, let it be known that while he liked Pence, he would like him less if he did not deliver!

Trump had threatened there would be a terrible aftermath on January 6th, he and harangued his supporters to assemble, march down Pennsylvania Avenue, go the one and a half miles down to the Capitol building, where our entire Congress was assembled and doing its job.

Of course, there was also staff there … so there were many people in the building! The Capitol holds a warm place in the hearts of Americans: so many of us have toured it! And loved and admired it! Or even attended hearings there, or even State of the Union speeches – sitting in the gallery, or perhaps even starting a career in politics as an aide to some political figure.

So when we were suddenly confronted by TV film footage of a large pro-Trump extremist mob, bearing sticks, flags (including not just the Stars and Stripes but also confederate flags and banners bearing Trump’ name and face), most of us watched in horror. Horrified as these domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol building, broke windows to get in, pushed past the few guards who were massively outnumbered, and proceeded to vandalize offices, sit behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, sit in the hallowed chamber taking selfies
… strewing papers all around. Looking for the mahogany ballot boxes TO BURN AND DESTROY voting results. The sat insolently in the big chair on the dais above the rows of seats in the great meeting hall – a very familiar room to the world.

Eventually they were forced to stand down and leave – hundreds of brave law enforcement officers did their job and protected our constitution, democracy itself!

Then – gloriously! – the Capitol Security guards led our Senators, US Representatives and their employees to safety – and Congress did its job.

For the history books …

Let us pray America gets to January 20th without any further manifestations of the vicious and sadistic leader Trump – a madman we must endure for two more weeks.

Edith in Rose’s space!🌲🌲🌲🌲

A New Normal?

By Edith Morgan

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Edith🌲🌲🌲🌲

We have a new year, a new President and Vice-president, a new vaccine or two (or maybe three, if the single-shot Johnson and Johnson pans out), and so many new businesses turning out the new protection products we are all grabbing up as fast as they are produced. I have a collection of masks, hand sanitizers and disposable gloves, and even travel kits to use on airplanes or busses.

There are so many ways to part us from our money – if they cannot get it at restaurants, theaters, museums and other venues where we used to gather together, then the enterprising have found ways to supply us with substitutes at a nice high profit and to reshape our needs and tastes to meet their new supplies. Being incessant consumers has been normal for some time: all that is different is what we consume, when, and at what price.

So, in 2021, what will be the new “normal” – and when?

If “normal” means a return to some past time, which time period do we pick? If you’re my age (90), maybe you are looking back to the rather quiet times of the Eisenhower years. If you are an activist, the “sixties” with all their upheavals, protests, marches and projected changes that somehow always seem to get partially lost as something else, newer and hotter, comes along may be your pick.

The one thing that always seems certain is that there will be some kind of change, largely brought about by technology, that grabs us more and more rapidly, leaving us constantly scrambling to keep up to date.

Politics has changed, too: big money, which has always played a large role in America, now is almost in charge. I am constantly bombarded with requests for money – though I never quite know how it will be used, and by whom. And the requests for my opinions and the surveys now are always accompanied by requests for donations. And, above all, the constant “hair-on-fire” pleas for help, describing the opposition in colorful emotional terms fill my e-mail box daily – as well as my mailbox.

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Kids learn at different rates and in different ways. The pandemic has limited Worcester Public Schools students to ZOOM classes.

So, is “normal” to be a return to the lying, lawlessness of the past four Trump years? The lack of shared values, the lack of cooperation, the vengefulness of our justice system? Or will the new normal be a shared belief in the values we profess to hold, in moderating our language, taking responsibility for what comes out of our mouths, and in feeling responsible for sharing with those who have the least, not just in the glow of the Christmas season but all year long?

And will we finally realize that learning and education are not the same! And that our children learn all the time, from everything around them, not merely in a brick-and-mortar building …

And, finally, will we expect our leaders to be concerned about us, who elect and pay them – rather than accumulating wealth and power and holding on to it?

I hope, while in our bubbles during the global pandemic, we have at least learned that there is a dangerous form of insanity which can be quite charming but very destructive. So as we rebuild, let us be more forgiving of those who merely err, not be taken in by the con men and hacks …

We were not “normal” before the pandemic, but we could be a new kind of normal soon, when the vaccine is ubiquitous. Until then, wear your facial masks – wash your hands – disinfect, and keep your distance, Save your hugs for later!
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Good riddance!!!!!!!

GREEN ISLAND = CHRISTMAS!🌲❄⛄🐧❄

By Rosalie Tirella

I just made some apple crumble and cooked up a yam/?sweet potato. (Are they the same root veggie?)

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The sweet potato is so orange and yummy. So tasty I don’t even sprinkle sugar/cinnamon on it. Fresh from the good earth.

These simple pleasures remind me of a few of the small Green Island winter wonders of my childhood: Hoodsies!! – which we kids used to get at Lamartine Street School, the day before Christmas, as we watched a fun winter Disney movie in the yellow-walled auditorium of Lamartine Street School. Mr. Chickarian, Mr. Gilman and grade 5 teachers coordinated it all – the teachers leaning against the side wall, chatting and joking with each other. We kids – all poor from the Green Island neighborhood – thrilled to be at “the movies”! A Christmas treat just for us! The movie was the same as last year’s, an old Disney movie; the metal folding chairs uncomfortable, but the otters sliding down the snowy slopes in the Disney movie made us kids – grades 4, 5 and 6 – laugh like crazy. Best of all there was no penmanship or phonics class. And we could eat – with that classic small flat little wooden spoon – our HOODSIES: teeny cups of Hoods vanilla and chocolate icecream – split right down the middle. Half the Hoodsie was chocolate, the other half vanilla! Delicious but so small, Mr. Chickarian (a great teacher whose daughter was my classmate at Burncoat High years later) gave the older boys in his sixth grade class two Hoodsies! No matter! We younger kids savored our treats: some at the chocolate side of their Hoodsie first, some dipped into chocolate and then vanilla (like me). At the end, you had a soupy chocolate shake at brought your Hoodsie to your lips to drink off the last bit of your ice cream treat.

We were so grateful! We – or many of us – came from broken homes, with an abusive (usually) dad or boyfriend. Ben’s Cafe was down the street, but even the snow on its sign and roof couldn’t cover up all the alcoholics or pi*sy smalls that emanated from it … Across from Lamartine the WPD still gad its minny jail – every year we Lamartine kids were taken to the jailhouse only yards away from school to tour a cell. To show us that this is where we’d land if we screwed up, broke the laws … I wonder if the students at Flagg Street School got such tours … The small upright sink, the toilet, the thick metal bars, the darkness…so anti-Christmas to little kids who long for Christmas every day!

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circa 1965, Rose’s cousin and Jaju!

I know I did! I SAW ALL THE MAGICAL GREEN ISLAND things, like all kids, even in the depths of February. For instance, Jimmy, the boy I had a crush on at Lamartine, lived on Winter Street. Off Green Street – now part of the chi chi Canal District. Back then it was lined with rundown three deckers, but I did not know that. I lived a ways on Lafayette Street. Jimmy was sooo cute – looked like the cartoon race-car driver in SPEED RACER! He had that jet black hair over his blue eyes – the Irish can have that beautiful look – and was so smart in class. A great reader, a fave with the teachers: yet tough as diamonds – walked to school, across Kelley Square, every day in all weather, with his big brother Pat. Jimmy rolled up his sleeves high up around his biceps. He had biceps! I never saw his parents – I think his big brother Pat – godlike in Jimmy’s eyes – brought him up. So, Jimmy was Winter Street as in magical, cute, precious street – Christmas. When my mother and my two kid sisters and I walked up Green Street to get to Downtown Woo, we’d walk by Winter Street and I’d feel toasty and warm – Jimmy’s street – and it would be Christmas. I imagined big snowflakes with 100 points, no one like the other: like my Lamartine Street School kids. The girl in grade 5…the very poor girl with red hair and freckles who showed us her big knife in the school yard. She had a pet guinea pig she brought to school once – and a boyfriend! Wow! Coolio! Special like Christmas, we kids thought!!

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Baby Rose and her mother, Cecelia.

Or the big big Santa next door to the drycleaners where my mother worked: Kiddie Castle (for rich kids) had the best Christmas display window – a 7-foot tall Santa waving to all passersby. Beneath him, girls and boys hats, scarves and mittens and wrapped gifts. By his side an animated Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with a real red light bulb nose. The light bulb was small – Rudy’s nose!!! Visiting our mother at the cleaners, we’d stop before the great big plate glass window and watch Santa, wearing a red luxurious red velvet and white fur trimmed suit, wave to us kids. And Rudolph was so cute – the size of a large dog (my wish for many a Christmases until Ma caved in and got us a puppy years later when we no longer believed in Chris Kringle).

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Rose, center, when she loved her latke and pigs knuckles! Her two kid sisters, pictured, were neutral!

Or the canned latke Ma would buy at Buelher Brothers Market up Millbury Street. More for Hanukkah, but Water and Green streets were still ethnic Jewish, many Poles like my mother and even some of the younger moms and dads crossed over and experimented with different Eastern European foods. The latke were easy to make: Ma just opened the can and slid out the white pasty latke roo and cut it into 1/4 inch slices and fried them in butter in her frying pan. Ma loved her latke, so did I. My kid sisters were neutral, often passing on this Cecelia Christmas treat. Sometimes Ma bought a jar of pigs knuckles – and ate them out of the jar, a delicacy. I’d eat one, too, paying no mind that they looked like little pigs feet…Pre-WOKE/PETA days!

Sometimes I’d just be walking home from school in winter, books in my knapsack, and feel Christmas-y. I was 9 and just starting to write little essays for the Telegram and Gazette’s HAPPY TIMES page. On Sunday, next to the “funnies,” you could read Worcester city kids’ best essays – and win new books for points (I think). Writing made me happy! What gifts would be under this little writer’s tree? Ma read all my essays – first out of kindness, then because she liked the stories I was telling her. Stories about my pet mouse Gigi, about my Polish grandmother Bapy, about books and trees and wolves howling outside my secret Prince, Jimmy’s, house on Winter Street. About the stamp collection Ma kept when she was 12 1/2 years old and went to work in Springfield with her sisters during the Great Depression. For a Bishop! They had cats and kittens and two beautiful Doberman pinschers – Rocky and Bridgette. And when my auntie played Christmas carols at the piano, Bridgette would sit by the piano and howl. It was Christmas!
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Bridgette❤❤❤❤

My Mom’s Christmas notebook

By Rosalie Tirella

I have been leafing through my late mom’s “Christmas notepad.” …

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❤❤❤

I bought it for her at the Christmas Tree Shop in Shrewsbury, 15 or so years ago, when I learned she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She was 81 – and had just been diagnosed … She became ill after she had chosen to stay in her little studio apartment by the Holden line during that horrific ice/snow storm that turned all of Worcester County into a white, crystal castle – with no electricity for a third of our residents. Telephone wires dripped with iridescent, five feet long icicles, people snow shoed to their neighbors house down the street. It was all mystical and gorgeous to look at, but treacherous to survive in … brutal to drive through … scores of thick black lines down. And NATIONAL GRID WAS SO SLOW in fixing things. I am convinced they were the cause of many old timers’ deaths …

My mom was probably one of the hundreds of Worcester County folks who got very sick/died because of that ice storm. No power at her complex!! No heat! No hot water! No electricity to run her oven/stove or refrigerator! … All the seniors at my mom’s complex chose to go to shelter with relatives or live, for a few days, in the gym at Doherty High School, the City of Worcester makeshift shelter for West Siders. My mother was the outlier – my strong-willed mother and her two Greek pals. They decided to tough it out. They were the healthiest of the 62 old folks at their seniors housing complex, so they were confidant … Four days later, four days of living in what amounted to a dark, freezing meat locker … the electricity was back on. My boyfriend at the time and I visited her twice a day – we pressed her to go to his house. He had gas heat. She was adamant: NO! THIS IS MY HOME!

… Health complications for the Three Amigos after the storm: Jane got blood clots and died four months later. Maria had to move in with relatives. And I assume my mom had something happen with blood clots, too, because she stopped being the smartest person in the room. She began asking me the same questions over and over again. Annoying! But when I found a chicken carcass in her stove’s broiler and not in the waste can by the kitchen sink, I called her doctor and made an appointment for her for a physical. Ma had a full medical work up: lungs, heart, mammogram, blood, urine, calcium level tests. Her doc told me: Cecelia has the early stages of dementia. Keep her as healthy and strong as you can – and call Elder Services of Worcester for visiting nurses aides, home health aides and MORE SUPPORT SERVICES so she can continue to live in her apartment for as long as possible. I did just that. I’d visit my mother every night to make sure all the cogs in this new machine rolled on …

And they did – for four years! And then Ma went into a nursing home where they over medicated her, killing her. Years later, I consider those four years of caring for Ma my noblest years! Some of my finest hours! It was so HARD – but I did it all: hugs and kisses, new dusters from Building 19, cute nighties for bed, McDonald’s take out coffee, fish and chips, the Turner Classic Movies cable TV channel … and those excellent home health aides and homemakers. Angels. They showered Ma, made her her farmer’s breakfasts, vacuumed her wall to wall carpet and more … My mother grew very attached to one young homemaker – buying her kids birthday, First Holy Communion and Christmas gifts. A beautiful friendship – until Ma’s dementia became MODERATE and she got more and more forgetful and hid her big porcelain dolls – standing on her TV set – in the closets and peed her pants more often than walk to her cute little bathroom to urinate. Even wearing Depends and me doing extra, and the help growing weary I knew it was time. When Ma fell over her cat April and landed in rehab, the docs recommended a nursing home …

So here are some pages from that time, Ma’s notebook, the early years, written in her straight, un-pretty penmanship … list, after mini list … I see so clearly my mother’s hard life in those thin note pages. Ma’s life: a series of to do lists so she, a single mim with three girls, could keep us all on track. Lists so she could get the right groceries to keep her girls healthy and strong. My mother was obsessive about the weather when we were young because we had no car and walked to school, church, work in the rain, snow, sleet, hail. We had to dress appropriately for the weather! I got awards at Lamartine Street School for “perfect attendance”! All seen today, again, in the palm of my hand: My mother a small woman swimming against grinding poverty, saved by her Catholic faith – and a will of steel … ans her daily to do lists, like what I see today:

“Lungs clear, blood pressure perfect … BUY MILK, ORANGE JUICE … Need qts for laundry … Buy eggs, cheese … Pay rent on 3rd … ”

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And at the end of those years, as Ma struggled against dementia and tried to hide it from me and the world, in her little Christmas notebook, she wrote desperate questions to herself: “Do I have money in the bank? … My telephone # [blank]” … or “today is Tuesday.”

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Missing my sweet, strong and loving mother this Christmas Eve!

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❤❤❤❤❤

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❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

LOVER COME BACK!!!!

By Rosalie Tirella

I’m watching what the film critics tout as the quintessential Rock Hudson-Doris Day romantic comedy: LOVER COME BACK. For me, PILLOW TALK is #1 – this Day-Hudson classic is like a John Ford cowboy film without the cowboys, guns and Monument Valley: perfect, as in not one superfluous line of dialogue, one flat joke, gesture, kiss. Resolves beautifully. Lovely to look at.

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Rock Hudson gets a free ride from the ladies!

LOVER COME BACK is still lots of fun!: filled with glitter, swanky night clubs, kisses, two sexy stars … rife with double entendres, witty repartee and a showcase for cool 1960s Manhattan apartments, offices, sky lines … and hokey tourists. And it’s got Tony Randall – a third wheel who’s anything but!

Doris Day is Carol Templeton, a very early 1960s career gal working in advertising high up in a gorgeous NYC skyscraper. …

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Carol at work❤

Carol is hard-charging and ambitious – she pretty much has the job that actor Jon Hamm had in the cable TV classic MAD MEN: creating advertising campaigns for all kinds of products and dealing with the creepy guys behind the products. And managing an unruly love life on the side. They work to make cans of wax fun! They mold America’s tastes and desires!

Whereas the MAD MAD TV series was wonderful but always pretty dark and foreboding, LOVER COME BACK is wonderful but always light and fun. Both look a lot alike: linen sheath dresses for the gals; starched white dress shirts for the guys; clean-lined, mid-20th century furniture; deep, saturated colors all over the place. … Both TV series and movie depict the advertising game realistically: sex sells (Hudson’s character, Jerry Webster, says, “Give me a well stacked dame and I’ll sell after-shave lotion to Beatniks!”); they take their boorish male clients out to strip clubs and ply them with drinks; they learn everything they can about the product – and their clients. LOVER COMES BACK opens with a voice over, This is the Manhattan advertising world where Americans are taught: this is what you must eat, drink … smell like!

Then we meet Carol and Jerry. The narrator continues: “THIS IS A WORKER” and Carol (Day), in a gorgeous white dress with stunning black hat, struts out of her cab. The narrator narrates: “AND THIS IS A DRONE,” and we are introduced to Jerry (Hudson): chauffeured by a lovely brunette still in her lovely sea-foam-green evening gown driving her matching gorgeous sea foam green convertible. …
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Jerry at work❤

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Two yokel local tourists are behind the couple. They’re in a big cab with a regular old cabbie – they ogle Jerry and his date as they French kiss GOOD MORNING! These two fat, balding middle-aged guys from fly over country are the film’s Greek chorus: at various points in the film they see Rock at “the mercy” of yet another beautiful woman. How does he do it? they ask each other. And marvel at their super man …

The movie takes shape when a canned wax mogul from the South is in New York City looking for a new ad agency to represent his canned wax company. Jerry and Carol, working for two competing ad agencies, right across the street from each other, vie for the account. Jerry wins after he takes the guy to a night club to show him some better “cans”! …
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Carol is enraged! Jerry Webster is an unethical hack! She drags his bunny with the great can – “Rebel” – in front of the Ad Council for justice. Rebel, is supposed to rat out Jerry, but she only sings his praises – after Jerry promises her (a few days earlier) that she will be the TV face behind a brand new product: VIP.

The problem is THERE IS NO VIP! Jerry made it all up to get Rebel to say nice things about him during her hearing before the Ad Council. He saw the word “VIPs” as in “Very Important Persons” in a newspaper headline when he was at Rebel’s smothering her with kisses to … kiss up … and get her to lie before the Ad Council. His kisses didn’t take, but his promising her that she will be the ONE AND ONLY VIP GIRL – ON TV!! – did.

And so begins the Rebel TV advertising campaign of VIP – a product that doesn’t exist. All of America wants to buy VIP!! But what is it? And where can they buy it? The problem seems daunting until Dr. Linus Tyler steps in – Jerry visits this misanthropic quack in his Greenwich Village basement lab and bribes him with $5,000 to get back into the research game, to develop a VIP. Carol hears of this, and determined to steal the VIP account, tracks Dr. Tyler down in his lab. Only it’s Jerry in a lab apron washing some beakers – the real Dr. Tyler stepped out for a minute. Smitten by the pretty Carol, Jerry doesn’t tell her the doc has stepped out, but plays along. Meet the new Dr. Tyler. THE DOCTOR IS IN!

And so, a la PILLOW TALK, this beautiful play boy dupes Carol (a little too gullible, in my opinion) into believing he’s someone he’s not: the naive, innocent, VIRGINAL Dr. Linus Tyler. They date and smooch and date some more and smooch some more … and fall in love.

At one point, the wolfish Jerry is on the cusp of bedding down the chaste Carol – in the maid’s room in her apartment – when the telephone rings. It’s Carol’s boss and he enlightens Carol. SHE WAS DUPED! Carol is enraged! For spite, she lures Jerry out of bed to the beach 30 miles away where they first kissed … It’s time for a midnight skinny dip … but she does not take so much as her lipstick off and drives away with all of Jerry’s clothes. “GOOD NIGHT, MR. WEBSTER!” Carol yells from behind the car steering wheel as she zooms off. I won’t give away the ending of this terrific flick because it’s the funniest scene in the movie (to me!). But no one should ever write off Rock Hudson’s comedy chops or dismiss Doris Day as a sexless 1950s movie actress – Eisenhower’s girl but never JFK’s. Well, Day was sexy! She was more than a bridge to Jane Fonda and the American actresses of the 1960s and ’70s! Yes, she turned down the Mrs. Robinson role in THE GRADUATE, but did Ann Bancroft love and support Rock Hudson when he was dying of the then mysterious and taboo disease called AIDS? Doris Day was there for Rock. Sweet as sugar. Tough as nails.