Category Archives: InCity Voices

Hey, Domino!!!

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Who’s the king?!


At the park. The guys are playing dominoes now. Not for money, they tell me, but TO BE KING! They all claim to be #1, and there is much slapping down of the plastic dominoes in a kind of sweet bravado! I am bugging them, I know, but keep asking them: Who’s the king? Who’s the king? The guy with the table, I think! One of the men points to his ample chest to tell me he’s the winner and then drops his cig on the grass to pat Lilac. Lilac frees herself from her collar and goes over to the cig. The man stamps his cigarette out on the grass and is distracted by who’s under their table. Then he says to me, Take off your glasses! I ignore him and ask, Where’s this game played? … ALL OVER THE WORLD! they shout! ALL OVER THE WORLD! Cuba! Puerto Rico! CUBA!



Worcester, Massachusetts!

All hands on deck!

These friends play every afternoon.

Away now sitting on a patch of dry grass with my dogs under a tree, I can still hear their yips and shouts and the dominoes coming down hard on the plastic table or being mixed in the middle. I’m annoyed at this drought. The grass is brown and rough and scratches my calves. Jett rolls around on his back – a good scratching for his old back.


… It’s so refreshing to see something slow and social, a kind of jazzy board game, with folks talking across a table, ribbing each other, making eye contact, listening to their music, being happy together.







Beating the city heat in their local park.


Worcester ❤️!

Worcester’s “Main Middle” is asleep …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Denholm’s = dead-zone. Empty commercial buildings in Worcester’s Main Middle are the norm.

Clean but barren …

This week: All dressed up, driving through WORCESTER’S MAIN MIDDLE to find businesses to sell CECELIA ads to. But it’s as dead as a door nail here! A handful of small biz folks and a million plants, benches, banners, murals, flower beds … Downtown Enhancements that beautify yet don’t seem to attract businesses to our Main Middle.

WORCESTER’S MAIN MIDDLE, the stretch of downtown Worcester’s Main Street that we ol’ Worcesterites used to flock to in our childhood and early teen years. The “happening” and fun part of the city where we all came together to shop, snack, worship God, window shop, people watch and so much more.

Where are all the shoppers???

All gone. The stores and shoppes that drew thousands in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s – Marcus, Shack’s, Sylvia’s Dress Shop, the Mart, Lerner’s, American Supply, Denholm’s, Rovezzis, Ephraim’s Bookstore, Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, the Paris Cinema, lawyers’, dentist’ offices …music shops! Gone and not replaced. … I remember: My mom rented a pretty little violin for me from a music store on the second floor of, I think, the Commerce Building. A tone-deaf old lady with a gold front tooth gave piano lessons. Her husband rented and sold their musical instruments. Small accordions, tubas, violins, trumpets and clarinets were all displayed on high shelves. There were a few music rooms with upright pianos in them for people taking piano lessons from the gold-toothed old lady. … My mother was enthralled! Enthralled when we entered together and she made her tiny weekly rental payment on my pretty little violin. Her daughter Rosalie, a second grader at Lamartine Street School, played the violin she rented from these folks! Got weekly free lessons at Lamartine St. School from a very talented WPS music teacher! She was asked to be in the WPSchools orchestra by her teacher! I remember being bored with my violin and fascinated by the shop’s little red accordion with its rhinestone-studded C button – and also drawn to the store’s framed black and white photo of a big white rabbit wearing a bowler and fake-playing a piano … I think he was smoking a cigar …

Downtown Worcester deceives the uninitiated, but then you see this store front – one of many – and you know the score.

What do little kids have to experience today as they traipse through Worcester’s Main Middle with their parents?! Where are their memories?! Where can they buy a cute Cinderella wrist watch or fidget impatiently as mom buys herself a tube of Elizabeth Arden classic red lipstick?

Main Middle is asleep – and this time we can’t blame City leaders for its refusal to wake up!

Worcester City Hall, left, is located in the middle of a dead downtown Main Street.


By Rosalie Tirella

The site of the Golub brothers’ Green Street Market, now a parking lot. photos: R.T.

A few hours ago I got a phone call from a Richard something – I glanced at my cell phone quickly and picked up immediately, not noticing the last name on the menu bar … I was quick with a HELLO? because I thought it was a Worcester landlord about to offer me an apartment! I was wrong. Instead it was Richard Golub, famous New York City lawyer and famous crime thriller novelist calling me from NYC. To thank me for my column on his late dad Charlie Golub and Uncle Izzy! I wrote the piece a few months ago after driving by the little Green Street parking lot where once stood their little Green Street Market. I wrote about the always sweet, always quietly intelligent Golub brothers, proprietors of a Green Island landmark that deserved its own special historical marker, just like so many other spots in the now chi chi Canal District. Richard said his cousin sent him my story and he read it and liked it. “It was so warm, it brought me back … so nostalgic …”

He asked me how I was doing. I told him I slept in my car last night. “I’m basically homeless,” I said. I could tell he felt bad. Always a bit competitive, if not proud, I felt: Here is a successful writer and a loser writer. Someone whose novels made him millions $$ versus someone whose little community rag – filled with her stories and columns – made her homeless after 21 years. Richard sounded emotional when I told him of my fate, but then we both got excited about each other’s writing. We started talking shop, Richard in his fabulous New York City, maybe his penthouse. Me in my 2010 Ford Focus with the R rejection sticker plastered on the windshield. Richard told me he just finished writing a Worcester book.

Really? I said. Is it about Green Street, Green Island, the old neighborhood?!

A little bit. But mostly it’s about a girl I loved … she worked at Table Talk Pies.

Wow, I said, thinking: first love, good Jewish boy primed for college falling in love with a blue collar Green Island pie factory girl … What a yarn!

I’d love to read it! I said.

It’s coming out in six months. It hasn’t been published yet. I’ll send you the first chapter. What’s your email address, Rosalie?

I told him. Then Richard said he was mailing me something, too. What was my address? I told him I had no address at this point in time, but he could send me whatever he was sending me (one of his previously published crime thrillers, I supposed) to my p.o. box. We really struggled with this…me giving him my p.o. box, Richard telling me to slow down, me telling him I was driving and had a heart murmur, Richard telling me he had heart problems, too, as did local author Nicholas Gage. YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN, Rosalie, Richard said firmly.

I know, I said.

Still, I was getting excited: I know I’m nowhere near your level, I said … I’m old, 60 –

I’m 79! Richard piped in, his voice booming.

Well, I’m 60, I continued, and before it’s too late, I want to publish a book about my mother … about growing up in Green Island. Can you help?

Richard said he knew no publishers.

I thought: bull sh*t.

But we talked…we talked about the old neighborhood … Where was St. John’s Church? he wanted to know.

Ash Street School is located behind the old Green Street Market site. Allen Fletcher bought the school 23+ years ago and now lives there with his tenants.

I miss your dad and uncle I said. They were saints, Richard said. Just like my mom, I said. She died 10 years ago. … and on and on we reminisced … about Kelley Square, Millbury Street and our good parents overflowing with sweetness and integrity.

Things took a turn for the worse when Richard said, I’m friends with Allen Fletcher.

Fletcher, I hissed. He’s the one who destroyed the old neighborhood! Then I told Richard, who said he never understood why Allen chose to buy and live in the old Ash Street School, I told Richard that if Allen hadn’t butted in and moved into our neighborhood with all the gentrifiers, then our neighborhood would have evolved into a cool Vietnamese neighborhood. It would have become, it was becoming before Fletcher “interloped,” Worcester’s Vietnam-town, with Vietnamese food, celebrations, homes, three deckers. Fletcher and co came to the ‘hood and the Vietnamese couldn’t compete $$$.

And so we chatted. Writer to writer. Green Islander to Green Islander. It was delicious.

Richard said he was mailing me my little something.


He said, No. That everyone he grew up with on Green Street and Worcester no longer lives here.

Then he said he’d give me a buzz next time he was in town, but he doesn’t come back to Worcester very often.

Then I said, email me your chapter! Then we said goodbye.



CECELIA columnist/reporter Jim Coughlin


There is a serious issue in the city that has been brought to our paper’s attention in recent days and weeks by a number of sources: the homeless and the heat.

It has been reported to us that the Worcester Senior Center has been closed and remains closed as a result of COVID 19, the Pandemic. According to our editor, Rose Tirella, the homeless shelter on Vernon Street at the site of the former Ascension Church is NOW closed as a result of the minister, Richie Gonzalez loosing the lease to operate the shelter.

Additionally, at the former shelter, there are huge piles of clothes in front of the building along with furniture. Within the past few days, a sign has been posted to the effect of, “We are no longer accepting donations.”

Also, the shelter in the basement of the rectory of St. John’s Church at 44 Temple Street that previously was used as a shelter in the cold weather if and only if the temperatures in the winter goes below 33 degrees is NOW closed.

As an aside issue, a real estate agent has privately told our editor that renting either a house or an apartment in the city have in many cases over the period of the last year year increased by over 50%.

The Director of the St. John’s Church daily meals at the church has recently been forced to resign as a direct result of allegations of sexual misconduct.

We are blessed with perhaps one of the best councils in the state of Massachusetts that truly reflects the diversity of many professions in Worcester. As you all know, among the ranks of the current Worcester City Council are lawyers, a social worker, a minister, a housing advocate specialist, a psychologist and a real estate agent.

These professionals, when they can put their minds and bodies to the task currently facing the homeless can be very effective in dealing with this current problem.

During the previous administration of former City Manager Ed Augustus when the homeless were creating problems for merchants in northern Worcester and throughout the city, he very ably assembled a task force of various kinds of health professionals to deal with them in the most effective and humane way possible.

As a direct result of CM Augustus’s efforts the problems that members of the city’s homeless population caused particularly on Lincoln Street have been solved to the satisfaction of members of the city council.

I am wondering if the current administration of Acting Worcester City Manager Eric Baptista has abandoned those previous efforts of the former City Manager in relationship to Worcester’s homeless community ?

The legacy of the Worcester City Council as a continuing body is, indeed a very good one for effective and meaningful public policies that work best for the entire city.

I would like to know what policies are currently in effect to deal with the current situation involving members of our homeless constituents in the city within the past few weeks as the temperatures have soared up to as high as the high 90’s and perhaps even as high as 100 degrees?

Respectfully Submitted,

James P. Coughlin

Homeless on Millbury Street, Worcester. Winter is brutal, but the New England heat is oppressive during summer time. The City of Worcester had no plans put in place to help the homeless during last week’s heat wave.

Two “L” words …

Leo …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

This morning: “Leo”‘s digs on Greenwood Street overflowing with crap:


The stuff that was strewn all over the sidewalk in front of his house is gone, but there’s still a bunch of refuse on his lawn, which is a foot tall. Not all Leo’s fault – a morbidly obese guy in a wheelchair. He called Vo Robert, director of St. Paul’s Elder Outreach, to ask for some help with mowing his lawn. A church volunteer, perhaps? She said “no.” She told me later, We don’t do that type of help.

Greenwood garbage…

So here’s summer and poor Leo – whom I saw in his electric wheelchair last week on Greenwood Street wearing just a pair of white briefs – very tiny whitey tightys – is overwhelmed with keeping up his house – both inside and out. Lee Hall, head housing inspector for the City of Worcester Code Department, said the City is on the case, but court doesn’t work for Leo. A friendly visit may do the trick. Meanwhile, Leo, a Worcester native and senior who lived with his mom his entire life, until she died, is stuck. If you are old or special needs or homeless, America’s/Worcester’s social safety net feels … nonexistent. Good people suffer. Alone? Old and poor with a big old house? Need help but have no family? In America – unlike in Canada, New Zealand, Finland or much of Western Europe – you’re left to dangle in the wind. Poor Leo.

Lock 50

The Canal District restaurants…like LOCK 50…HOW DO THEY SURVIVE?

I drive down Water Street lunch time, suppertime…weekends…I never see any customers inside any of the restaurants… enjoying dinner or lunch! What gives? I mean, I see a customer here and there but surely not enough to be successful – stay open. 21 years of visiting Worcester restaurants and selling ads to eateries for ICT and CECELIA…I can tell if a place is gonna make it. Most of these Water Street overpriced pubs, restaurants don’t look like they’re going to remain open for years like the old Charles restaurant on Millbury Street, or Messier’s on Millbury Street or the Broadway on Water Street. YOU NEED WAVES OF DINERS…much more than a full house on a Saturday night.

Which makes me angry that Tim Murray and the Chamber of Commerce poo bas are pushing for really poor folks to use EBT cards to buy restaurant food! Every Price C Chopper and Price Rite and supermarket in Worcester sell READY MADE SANDWICHES, CUPS OF FRUIT, CUPS OF YOGURT, PINTS OF POTATO SALAD – READY MADE. FOR A LOT LESS $$$ MONEY. Why spend all your measly snap benefits at a restaurant? BAD IDEA. Just another way to exploit poor people, Tim Murray!

Tim, check out Bon Jovi and the cool restaurants he and his wife have established for the homeless, poor …and middle class diners in New Jersey! Very cool. Pay as much as you can for your terrific restaurant quality meal. Got no dough? Still get the great meal but do some volunteer work in the restaurant. Regular customers pay full price …

That’s how you help the homeless and poor, Worcester Chamber of Commerce.

LOCK 50 …

St. John’s Church Food for the Poor carries on …✝️

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

St. John’s Church is located on Temple Street …

… and its food pantry, fully equipped kitchen and dining room where a big breakfast is served daily are all housed in this state of the art building. Free veggies and fruit giveaway every Saturday morning!

We pray for a penitent Bill Riley and look to the future as St. John’s Church’s Father John Madden – pastor extraordinaire – and his staff/volunteers march on and continue to feed Worcester’s hungry at the St. Francis Food for the Poor complex on Temple Street, right by the iconic Green Island church. This early morning I saw so many people! Most were homeless. All were poor. I saw lots of people leaving the building, with it cheerful awnings facing pedestrians and gold cross offering salvation, after having eaten a big breakfast at St. Francis’s. Some carried plastic food bags filled with bread and such as they walked out of the building. …



I saw single folks, couples, a mom and dad with little child. Community. Across the parking lot I saw people lined up to take a refreshing shower in the mobile shower, parked to the side of St. John’s:


God’s work. God’s love.


Reflected in all …

Once I saw a young guy, a contractor, leave his big truck and run into the rectory and tell Father Madden: here, for all the good work you do. It was a $150 check. The contractor was on his lunch break – and had admired all the good things happening at St. John’s every time he drove by the church.

Today? Well, today, it’s a beautiful day and hope rises like the sun did at 5 a and … for believers, Jesus, a few millennia ago. The Food for the Poor truck and van head out of Kelley Square to pick up donations for tomorrow …
Hitting the road for Worcester’s hungry …

There’s something about Mary!

By Rosalie Tirella

Mary Keefe

I agree with State Rep Mary Keefe on all the issues but could never warm up to her. She’s always seemed like, well, … an as*hole. Or been one to me. And I never liked the way Mary treated the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center – located next to the Pickle Barrel in Worcester’s Piedmont neighborhood: LIKE IT WAS HER PERSONAL INNER-CITY CASTLE. Mary Keefe parlayed her brief directorship of the center to a State Rep seat. After she won the election, the center went silent. For years. And Keefe is in the position to fund it! Yet it hasn’t been open to its inner-city neighborhood since Mary used it as her political spring board. No director there. No outreach worker. No after school program. No referral services. Nothing, thanks to state rep Mary Keefe who, when she leaves an inner-city neighborhood center closed for several years – just a 7-minute walk from her Crown Hill home – shows us all how oblivious she is. Shows us all she doesn’t care about the people of Piedmont, many poor, most folks brown and Black. Residents who could have used support during COVID, school closures, now the affordable housing crisis and inflation. Neighborhood people who could have availed themselves of the services of a vital, STAFFED neighborhood center!

Not on Mary’s radar.

Entrance to the neighborhood center. Photos: R.T.

The neighborhood center used to house, years back, several of Mary’s pals! – many thought they were her political pals who used a city neighborhood center to run Mary’s political campaigns. Once, at night, I popped in to the center …the lights were on. Was it staffed again? Nope. I saw community/political organizer and Mary Keefe ally Kevin Ksen in the back office tapping away on an office desk top computer. He said, Rose, I’m not working on Mary’s campaign.


Dante and Kevin’s hang out!

That night Kevin was being “supported by” pals Dante Comparetto and his gal pal. The two were slumped over each other, seated together on a lumpy sofa in the front room of the center. They looked stoned out of their minds. Supporting Mary Keefe’s run for political office, too. Wimpy, former one term Worcester School Committee member Dante Comparetto. He promised so much and did nothing but wilt under what little backlash he got from colleagues and voters. Wimpsville. And his girlfriend, now wife (both living in DC, last we heard) also helping run Keefe’s political campaign out of a City neighborhood center.

Then the center went quiet. It’s still closed.

So when I saw Mary Keefe a few days ago, leaving the Highland Street Price Chopper with her groceries, I yelled: HEY, MARY! WHEN IS THE PLEASANT STREET NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER OPENING UP AGAIN?

The neighborhood center is located in Piedmont, a Worcester inner-city neighborhood that’s seen its fair share of struggles…

She said: WE’RE HIRING A NEW DIRECTOR SOON! and hurried to her silver car and zipped out of the Price Chopper parking lot.


Mary’s silver vehicle zipping out of the Highland Street Price Chopper parking lot.

Baby rabbit and kind printer

By Rosalie Tirella

Lilac, after the fact … pics: R.T.

I drove to Providence to get the rest of my CECELIAs. While the printer guy was loading my car trunk with my newspapers, I brought my dogs out to pee. Lilac, who was on her lead, as was Jett, pulled me to a stack of pallets, shoved her strong neck under the tall stack of wood and pulled out a baby rabbit. It was in her mouth a bit of blood where Lilac’s teeth had sunk in … the soft middle. I gasped. But whispered to Lilac: DROP IT! DROP IT!! Lilac dropped the rabbit. She knew I was upset. The little rabbit – very young – went into shock and didn’t move, though sometimes they play dead when caught by a predator. I’ve owned dogs for 32 years…it’s all instinct. Not angry but firm, I led Lilac and Jett back to my car and commanded INSIDE and they both jumped into the back seat, Lilac looking a bit sheepish.

The young rabbit was hiding under the stack of pallets

I walked back to the baby rabbit, lying on its side, on the grass in the hot sun and saw the big puncture wounds that Lilac’s canines had left in its slim body.

Fatally wounded …

I said to the loading dock guy: Fred, I sound brutal but it’s suffering. Lilac can finish the job quickly. It’s instinct. It’s fast. Over in a minute. The baby won’t suffer for the next five hours before he dies.

Fred, got upset: NO! LEAVE IT, ROSE! JUST LEAVE IT ALONE!! It might just be hurt.

He threw me an accusatory look. I didn’t see the little rabbit under the stack of pallets! Lilac made no excited noise as she grabbed at the little rabbit, and the babe made no noise as Lilac bit into it.

If Fred hadn’t been there, pissed off at me, I would have put the rabbit out of it’s misery …and let Lilac finish the job – and then pulled her off. She and Lilac have all their vaccines … But Fred stood watching me, reading my mind …

I said to myself: Lilac’s teeth are big even though she’s a medium-sized dog – and she clamped down on the baby’s middle. IT’S SUFFERING!

Fred loaded my car trunk with CECELIAs. I splashed some water by the rabbit’s snout making a teeny puddle and cut out the bottom of my McDonald’s lemonade takeout cup to create a very small low water dish. I filled the with an inch or two of water so if the baby recovered (doubtful) and needed to drink fresh water to revive itself, he could.

The bunny’s home – a patch of woods just yards away …

Then we left. Drove off. Once on the road I cried, pissed at Fred for thinking the rabbit would be ok. The baby did wiggle one of its big brown ears after a few minutes and its long lanky legs, they pushed feebly into the summer air as as if to hop away to safety …but he couldn’t.

Still crying, I called the Seekonk police department and told them about the suffering bunny. The female dispatcher was unmoved, said the town’s animal control officer does not deal with wildlife. She gave me two phone numbers to call – one to a rude vet assistant who said NO! WE CAN’T HELP! He told me about a wildlife sanctuary an hour away and said I would have to drive the rabbit there if I wanted the rangers there to examine the rabbit.

I said: I’ve GOT A CAR FILLED WITH NEWSPAPERS AND TWO DOGS, BOTH HUNTERS!!! Plus I’m 60 and stressed!!! And there’s no ac in my car! … I hung up, angry.

I was shaken – not upset with at Lilac, a good dog with Shepherd and Hound roots… serious, smart, a hunter. I was certainly not mad at the bunny, all sweet innocence, like Lilac, also following instinct: not dashing into the little patch of woods less than 10 yards away from where we stood, staying out, in hiding with two dogs and a human walking about. It hid ever so quietly under the stack of pallets …

On the highway I called the printing press’ co-owner, a good guy. I had wiped the tears from my eyes. I said: I’M SORRY, BOB!! I’M SO SORRY!!! I LOVE ANIMALS!

“Rose, Rose, Rose,” Bob said in his gentle tone of voice. “Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes things just happen. We’ll take care of him.”

Bob’s words soothed me. They always make peace, they’re always wise, in that quiet way. Bob’s voice is a bit thick, gruff, older. But it is always a balm …

I drove down the highway, back to Worcester …

Driving CECELIAs back home.

Best buds!🐾💗🐾🐾💗

By Rosalie Tirella

Rose’s Jett and Lilac

I took Jett and Lilac to a vaccine clinic a few days ago. Not the most pleasant experience. I waited outdoors, with everyone else, for my dogs to be taken in to see the veterinarian. The old, tall guy in the Caddy decided to get chatty with me. He approached us, arrogant and moneyed. I wasn’t in the mood to socialize (you know my struggle) and, when I moved us to the opposite end of the low wall, the old guy decided to yell, so all the other clients waiting with their dogs could hear: LADY, REAL FRIENDLY! REAL FRIENDLY, LADY! … His rudeness and sarcasm made me pity the two old Labrador retrievers who were saddled with him.

I thought one young woman – who looked sun-scorched and especially rough and had her beautiful but scrawny dog in one of those awful prong collars – was homeless. Her skinny dog’s ribs were prominent and fluttered in the 80-degree heat. He was agitated, yelped as he tried to get close to her. I said, “Do you need some dog food? A doggy bowl?” … She looked at me, annoyed, and shook her head No. Her young dog seemed to be losing some of his fur due to malnutrition. … Hope WARL staffers gave her some dog food/help.

The vet had to muzzle Jett when it came time for his shots and heart worm test. Jett doesn’t like being torn away from me and gets stressed around syringes, so he got feisty and had to be muzzled. When the vet tech brought Jett back out to me, after he had gotten all his vaccines and blood work was done, she said: “He’s a wild man! He’s a wild man!” Jett had trotted out like a little firecracker! The vet tech looked at him admiringly. I smiled. Earlier, after I had told her Jett was 15 years old, she said, “Look at him! Still standing like that!” All the other dogs were lying in the shade or sun as they waited their turn to be seen by the vet. They were subdued by the humidity and sunlight. Not my Jett. He was rearin’ to go! Interested, alert …feisty… adorable! My best boy!


Lilac is always sweet but she seemed a bit sad after receiving her vaccines. The same vet tech (who was very knowledgeable and nice) said Lilac was visibly upset as Jett put up his fight and had to muzzled. She said, “Lilac loves him so much! She was worried about him! When Jett goes, you’re gonna have to get her another friend!” As in “another dog.”

Which means I will have TWO dogs for at least the next decade. When I am pushing 70!!! It will have to be a toy poodle, pug or Corgi mix. An old lady’s dog.

Then I remembered how three years ago, when I took Jett to a vet in a Worcester County town for a complete physical/work up, to see what was up with the big lump near his groin (he’d sprouted it after the thugs at Blackstone River Road threw chicken bones out the window) Lilac was beside herself while Jett was in the exam room. I had given Jett to the vet tech for her to take him inside the building to see the veterinarian. I sat on the bench next to the entrance, outdoors, to wait for Jett, as the pandemic has just begun … Lilac is in my car, all the windows are down, the car parked in the grassy backyard under a tree. It’s cool out. I’m worried about Jett. Cancer? Fluid in the abdomen? Well, as soon as Jett disappears into the veterinarian’s building, Lilac leaps out the car’s back window, runs up the lawn and gallops straight to the door Jett just trotted through. And stops right there – and will not be moved. She stood at attention, staring at that wooden door, for the next half hour. Lilac would not, could not, be distracted. She was waiting for her best friend! I was sitting on the bench a few yards away. I called, COME, LILAC! COME LILAC! and patted my lap, my signal to her that I was gonna cuddle her, kiss her furry forehead – which she loves. Lilac didn’t so much as turn her head to acknowledge me. Her snout was two inches away from that veterinarian’s door. She would have stood that way, erect, serious, her big soft brown eyes alert, her body tense, forever …

When Jett was brought back out, Lilac was ecstatic! She galloped around her old friend, leapt into the air, nuzzled him, smelling his neck … She was happy Lilac again! Her world was on its furry axis once again! Jett was back!

Best buds enjoying Worcester’s Elm Park!


By Rosalie Tirella

Worcester Mayor Joe Petty at a Main South community event. CECELIA file photo.

Worcester Mayor Joe Petty has decided (on a whim? because he’s got nothing better to do? because he doesn’t have a life?) to run for state senator, “filling” retiring senator Harley Chandler’s seat. She’s 80+ years old. At 60, Petty’s a young senior – as am I. Truth be told at the ripe old age of 60, I just wanna write, read, bird watch, bake bread, get another dog, decoupage … But our very good, very modest, very senior citizen of a mayor has been bitten by the Ambitious Bug and decided to reach for the stars…the State House!!

A few in Worcester feel this is a bad idea. To wit: Joe’s political signage (VOTE JOE PETTY STATE SENATE) have been torn down, ripped up. All over the city and the West Side. Even the PETTY FOR SENATE mini-billboards, 8′ x 4′ monstrosities.

Petty’s campaign peeps have whined to the press. Vandalism! Destruction of property! Cheaters!

We say this is petty. Destroying a political opponent’s campaign signs is typical political season silliness, mean spiritedness, yes, unusual, no. Petty, who’s been Worcester mayor since 2012 and, before that, Worcester city councilor at large forever, knows this fact of campaign life.

On another level, we say the magnitude of the destruction may signal something more, may be a sign of the times … Maybe, just maybe, Worcester is trying to tell our good mayor: Joe! You’re a nice, modest, fair minded guy, but please do NOT run for Chandler’s seat! Don’t go to Boston! Stay away from the State House! We need someone new. Young. Female. Buy a hammock, set it up in your backyard and … retire from politics. You’ve been a fine public servant for decades. You’ve done good things for many people, especially your friends and family!, but a different voice is needed. Give it a rest – give someone else a chance to lead, to be in the spotlight, to collect a pretty good paycheck!

Let’s be real: Joe Petty has never been especially articulate. He’s never been especially inspiring or charismatic. He’s never really had much of a vision. But he was smart enough to give the Worcester visionaries creative space and support, the Woo egomaniacs the mic, the diverse Worcester a chance … That’s why we liked him and voted for him. Joe did the right things at the right time.

But his political platform planks for his state senator run: more affordable housing, more environmental justice feels, well, typically politically savvy. As mayor of Worcester Joe’s failed at the affordable housing thing…we have a true HOUSING CRISIS IN THE CITY AND IN WORCESTER COUNTY. Homelessness, old people displaced from the apartments and houses they’ve rented for years, sky rocketing rents – most apartments in Worcester at the $2,000 mark, up from $1,500 last summer – make this a problem too big for Joe’s small lens. THIS IS A CRISIS JOE PETTY ISN’T UP TO. THIS CRISIS CALLS FOR EXTREME CREATIVITY. Joe Petty is not that creative a guy. Converting CSX BOX CARS to rental homes? Rent control? Tiny houses built by our Worcester Technical High School students under the leadership of our local building trade union heads? Looking at safe spaces for the homeless who live in their cars? Establishing City of Worcester homeless camps with outhouses, community kitchens, places to legitimately camp, staffed by City of Worcester social workers and maybe a Worcester cop or two? More housing vouchers? BIG HOUSING COMPLEXES designated for low-income seniors … rental units for growing families as the Canal District/gentrification is not family friendly. The CD rental units are meant for young couples, singles or empty nesters… All of this has been out of Joe’s mental grasp.

We’re grasping… Do you think Joe Petty can advocate for any of these big, very major, outside-the-box housing solutions?

Neither do I.

Diversity. … Massachusetts is pretty racially segregated. If our Worcester Public Schools teaching staff is still lilly white and the City of Worcester had to be sued by a group of Black and brown WPS parents and community leaders to change the way we elect the Worcester School Committee, do you think Joe Petty has the mental tools – or the guts – to make our state, Massachusetts, less racist?

I doubt it. Take a look inside Mayor Petty’s office in City Hall – the Irish aunties rule the roost. God help you if you ask them to email you an attachment!

So we say: Retire from politics, Joe. You’ve done a lot of good for a lot of people. You’re a nice man, a loyal and loving husband, dad and friend. But “to every season turn, turn, turn … .”

A young man shoots for the stars, an older man looks up and sees their infinite beauty.

So, Joe, read all of Shakespeare’s plays in your new hammock in your yard. Bird watch from that hammock. Write a political memoir and hand deliver it to the Worcester Historical Museum. Visit every national park in America! Sip a glass of wine on the Seine! Run a marathon. Run a church bake sale. It’s ok to be … free.

Worcester City Hall – Joe’s been here forever. photo: R.T.