Category Archives: InCity Voices

Reposting this GIG column for Father’s Day …

I wrote this column about 14 years ago, right after my father died. – Rose

On Seeing My Father

By Rosalie Tirella

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Country Boy. Rose’s father as a teen with his dog, Pal. He always owned dogs – loved them! Later he became obsessed with German Shepherd Dogs. Rose inherited her father’s love of canines! Today: Lilac at her feet. Below, Jett by the stove, waiting patiently for scraps. pics: R.T.

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Ever since my father died (about two months ago), I’ve been seeing him every where. When he was alive, he made about 1,000 entrances in my family’s life. Married with kids but not wanting to be married with kids, my father lived with my mother, two sisters and me some months and was Missing in Action (MIA) during others. He was as tentative as the junk yard dogs he loved so much (and owned).

Some of his entrances were comical – like the time he waltzed into our Lafayette Street apartment with some Frank Sinatra LPs and sang “I Did it My Way” to me. My mother had sent him out for a loaf of bread!

But most of his entrances were cruel, small, mean. He made my sisters, my mother and me cry and succeeded at that so well that we eventually learned to … simply dismiss him — cut him out of our world the way you cut the bruise out of an apple. We went on with our lives, worked around our peripatetic “Daddy.” My mother held down a 60-hr-week job to pay the bills, we kids went to school, held after-school jobs, applied to colleges. My father popped in – for weeks or months.

Very confusing.

Then, after all these years, my father died in the nursing home two months ago. And Bingo! He’s now larger than life for me – omnipresent, so to speak.

As I drive around Worcester selling ads for my newspaper, InCity Times, with the radio blaring and paperwork to the side of me, I see him. I’m eight years old; my sisters are six. It’s Easter afternoon and my father strides into our Green Island flat, chomping on a big cigar. My mom has my two sisters and me sitting in our three little kiddie rocking chairs waiting for her to get dressed. We’re going to Easter Mass! We wear new pastel dresses with butterflies embroidered on them. My mother “set” our hair the night before, and now our straight brown hair bounces happily around our faces in “baloney curls.” In my father strides, enraged. We had not seen him for almost … forever. We did not know from which land he strode – not the sweet and holy world that my mother and grandmother had created in our apartment, a world filled with prayers to the saints, rosary beads, homework papers, rules and pet hamsters! Was my father going to hurt anybody this time, I asked myself?

No! He was going to have his picture taken with the Easter Bunny! God love my wonderful, hopeful, dreamy mother, she had my father sit in the grownup rocking chair in the kitchen. She would put the big, vinyl Easter Bunny she had bought at the five and ten and blown up (to our merriment) near the rocking chair where he sat. Then she told us little kids to “sit on Daddy’s lap.” We would all say “cheese” on the count of three! It would make a great Easter photograph!

I was only eight but thought my mother mad. No, I would not get on Daddy’s lap! No, I would not be in the Easter Bunny picture. My sisters – twins and safe in their look-a-likeness – happily clambered atop my father. Then my mother lifted her little Brownie camera, peered through the little viewer and said, “One two! Say Cheese!” and snapped the picture.

Today I look at the square little photo from the ’60s and see two little gangly girls in pretty dresses in baloney curls looking exactly alike and smiling widely. Each one straddles one of my father’s legs. The bottoms of their dresses fan out over my father’s lap. And there’s my 30-something father; he’s wearing a striped muscle shirt. His hands are on my sisters’ knobby knees and he stares into the camera, looking … trapped. His rugged handsomeness blows me away! When I was a little girl he seemed the ugliest person in the world!

When I’m on the road, I look out of my car window and think I catch my father’s eyes. But it’s just some old man.

“He’s dead!” I tell myself angrily and shake my head as if to shake out the images of him. Then four or so hours later I see my father walking down Shrewsbury Street (his favorite street) and I have to remind myself all over again.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he was not living with my mother and us. Mom had stopped giving him second and third chances a decade ago. My sisters and I had moved out of the apartment in pursuit of higher education/careers. So it was a shock to see him walking past the fish and chips joint on Grafton Street, red-faced, his nylon jacket unzipped, billowing out behind him. He wore no shirt that raw, autumn day and he looked dazed. Then there was his neck: as big as a basketball. The lymphoma had set in.

And yet my father went walking around Worcester – his hometown that he seldom traveled outside of –as if nothing unusual had happened. It was one of my aunt’s – his sister – who had found him in his mother’s old house, lying in the darkness, and said: “Bill, you’ve got to go the hospital.” And then he did – quietly and with some grace – because he knew he was dying.

Sometimes I look out my car window and see my father after the cancer ravaged him. I see a helpless old man – my father after the chemo-therapy, the radiation, the blood transfusions. The chemo treatment took all his curly thick hair away and left him with silver, wispy locks my aunt would cut in a bowl shape. Gone was all his wild, curly red hair that rode high above his already high forehead in some grand pompadour, the wild “do” that lead my feisty old Grandma (she was my mother’s mom and lived with us and loathed my father) to nickname him: “The Red Devil.”

Run, devil, run! There you are standing outside the Commerce Building on Main Street, waiting for the bus. There you are walking out of the Millbury Street fruit store, eating a juicy plum and throwing the pit into the gutter. There you are eating the same juicy plum over our Lafayette Street kitchen sink, my sweet mother looking absolutely smitten by you. You have no time for dishes, meals served on plates. Family sit-down meals are not part of your universe. “Gotta get outta here!” you used to say. “Here” being: our Green Island flat, poverty, a wife, three kids, responsibility.

You want to leave – I can tell. But I just can’t let you go, Daddy!

Downtown Worcester! Today!

By Rosalie Tirella

New day. Jett thanks “Auntie Lee” for the comforter – even though he likes to be on the bed with mommie. It’s good to have good people in my life! …

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❤Jett. Pics: R.T.

⚘Yesterday I worked on our 20th ICT/CECELIA anniversary issue and tried to buy a ladies wrist watch in our spiffed up, street-scaped, flower-pretty, benches-galore downtown. Ah! Great Expectations! Good luck with that! How naive was I?! Not a woman’s Timex to be found in our great urban renewed downtown – Main Middle or North – unless you wanted to go to the pawn shop in the heart of Downtown Worcester.

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Downtown Worcester…yesterday.

Remember when you could buy the necessities in our downtown, in any downtown in America, like a basic ladies Timex – or even, for Worcester folks, a better and fancier wrist watch at Denholms or Shacks (for men)? Those days have evaporated like the foam off your mocha caramel latte! Seems you can get all the high priced high falutin’ coffee you need in our downtown, but you can’t buy a da*ned Timex. Or a package of new Fruit of the Loom men’s cotton briefs. Or socks. Or kids school or “church” shoes.

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Remember when our downtown was built for and around the Worcester worker bee? We had Woolworths. The Mart. Lerners. American Supply. … Furniture and ladies bras and mens underwear for the Woo masses. My mom loved to shop in our downtown. We kids loved to shop with her. It was all just a 25-minute walk away from our Lafayette Street tenement! … 25 mins until we saw and mingled with hundreds of Worcester folks buying their goods like us, enjoying their hot fudge sundaes at the Woolworths lunch counter on Front Street. Magic time. The American Dream made visible, tangible … edible!

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Today’s new Downtown Worcester has been marketed to, built to, accommodate the moneyed Millennial (via their parents who foot the bill$$) or deluded old upper-income empty nester (“if I hang with the young, I’m young!”): We’ve got fancy, over-priced restaurants and bakeries and coffee shops made for people on the move. Entertainment districts. Beer gardens. But no Timex ladies watches! No sports coats for Uncle Walter! No neckties or tie clips for dad … or new ottoman for the living room to match your new Lazy Boy that sits in front of the Zenith 19-inch, color TV. All made in America. For sale in Downtown Worcester.

Sigh …

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Rest in peace, “Blue Angel”!

Text and photos by Jim Coughlin

Worcester mourns the loss of our “Blue Angel,” Worcester Police Officer “Manny” Familia …

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The City of Worcester was in mourning for the last seven days because of the loss of one of our city’s police officers, Emmanuel “Manny” Familia, a member of the Worcester Police Department who tragically died on June 4, after injuries sustained trying to save a young man who was drowning in the Green Hill Park pond. The teen was 14 and from Virginia; he was in Worcester visiting his relatives when he went swimming in the pond with his friends …

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Manny was born in La Vega Dominican Republic and came to Worcester as a young man. He graduated from Doherty Memorial High School, the class of 2001. I also attended and graduated from Doherty High, the class of 1974. So, I share this in common with the fallen hero of our great city. But I did not know Manny. I only came to know him as a result of being assigned to cover his wake and funeral that was recently held at St. John’s Church on Temple Street on June 9 and 10.

I interviewed members of his family, his brothers and sisters in blue from the Worcester Police Department, his comrades from other police departments from throughout Massachusetts who descended upon Worcester this past week to provide emotional support to their Worcester brethren in blue and, lastly, some of Manny’s friends from either playing basketball in his neighborhood of Dewey Street or at Doherty High.

And after immersing myself in this story, I can, perhaps somehow say that I now know this fallen “Blue Angel” of Worcester. In my many years of being a local news reporter, I can honestly say that I have always approached every person whom I have ever interviewed with profound respect and courtesy. However, when covering this tragic loss for the city, I approached this story with even more heightened sensitivity.

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Two of my interviews in covering Manny’s wake and funeral stand out: One was with Roberto Diaz who attended high school with Manny and played basketball with him. The other was with a man who also grew up with Manny and is now living in Rhode Island. In leaving the funeral, this man came over to the area where a large group of us reporters were gathered in front of St. John’s rectory. He never identified himself and approached the police barrier between us and the large group of mourning police officers (as they were going inside the church.) He was openly crying and told us, “Thank you. You guys are great for telling everybody about Manny.”

As it turned out, the second man did not attend Doherty High with Manny. Instead, he went to North High and even competed against Manny on the basketball court. I know firsthand from coming out of an athletic family in Worcester that when you compete against another team, it is almost “automatic” (if you will) to dislike (if only for a time) those whom you compete against in sports. But those negative energies that somehow are inculcated into athletic competition did not find a place in the high moral conscience and values and core beliefs of Manny Familia. Manny was born a leader: both on and off both the basketball court and in the police force.

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As Mr. Diaz explained to me after he came out of his friend’s wake, there were absolutely no barriers in their friendship and relationship: Manny was Dominican, while Mr. Diaz is Puerto Rican. Mr. Diaz explained to me that Manny quickly and warmly embraced his neighbor and introduced him to something new for him: namely the Dominican culture.

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Mourners …

Manny was a leader and when those who unfairly criticize the men and women who serve in law enforcement, I only wish before those demagogues open their mouths again, that they could take a brief look at the life, legacy, the shining example and the supreme sacrifice that Emmanuel “Manny” Familia made as a member of the Worcester Police Department. Even more meaningful and powerful than the words I can muster in saluting officer Manny Familia are the words found in Chapter 15, Verse 13 of the Book of John in the New Testament which reads in relevant part: “No greater love has a man to give than his life for his brother.”

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Our Jim with Town of Auburn firefighter Maria Soya.

Maybe the words of William Shakespeare from his play “Romeo and Julliet” could be comforting to those Manny has left behind. These are the same words the late United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy, (D – NY) read before the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as he eulogized his assassinated brother, President John F. Kennedy:
“When he (Romeo) shall die, cut him up into little stars, and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

May Emmanuel “Manny” Familia’s life be a blessing to everyone who was in any way touched by him during his time on earth. … Rest in peace, “Blue Angel.”

REC Summer Farmers Markets Open June 14!⚘🌻🥦🫑🌽🥕🍞🌶

This just in …

Main South’s Regional Environmental Council announces the opening of the REC Summer Farmers Market season, starting June 14!!

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Eat your REC carrots! CECELIA file photo

REC Summer Farmers Markets Opening Day

WHERE: Various locations throughout Worcester

WHEN: Monday – Saturday, starting June 14

The Regional Environmental Council (REC) Summer Markets will return to sites throughout Worcester starting on Monday, June 14th and will run through November. REC markets run six days a week, except Sundays.

The REC Standing Farmers Markets operate three days a week:

🥦 at Beaver Brook (326 Chandler St.) on Mondays and Fridays from 9am-12pm

🫑 and at University (Crystal) Park (965 Main St.) on Saturdays from 9am-1pm.

🥕🥕🥕🥕The REC Mobile Markets, where we bring fresh & local produce to neighborhoods across Worcester, run Tuesday through Thursday.🙏💙

🌻🌻🌻The REC continues to require facemasks for those who are not vaccinated from COVID and socially distance from customers and staff.🌻🌻

At all REC markets, purchases can be made with cash, credit, debit, SNAP, the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), Senior Farmers Market Coupons and WIC Farmers Market Coupons.

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For more information, visit:

recworcester.org/farmers-markets

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The Regional Environmental Council’s (REC) mission is to bring people together to create a just food system and to build healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities in Worcester, MA and beyond. The REC’s major programs include: YouthGROW, a year-round youth employment and leadership program for low-income teens on 2 urban farms; UGROW, a network of community and school gardens; the REC Community and Mobile Farmers Markets, bringing healthy, local food to low-income and food-insecure locations across the city.

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A fun summer vegan spread – get all your ingredients at the REC FARMERS MARKETS!

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FYI:

Vegan-Cooking-Tips

⚾️⚾️PLAY BALL! Retired Worcester Cop Heads Security at Polar Park🙂🤸‍♂️

By Jim Coughlin

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Worcester: youth baseball game, 1949. Photos courtesy of Worcester Historical Museum.

Lee Boykin grew up on Winfield Street in the neighborhood of Chandler Street’s Beaver Brook Park. He excelled athletically, playing Little League baseball for the Ted Williams League under his late, long-time coach and mentor, John F. Coughlin, who was my father.

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Elizabeth Street School baseball team, 1947.

Attending Worcester Vocational High School, Lee Boykin was not expected to excel academically, but Lee had higher goals. He earned excellent grades, applied to Florida State University, and played so successfully there that he was drafted by New York Yankees farm team upon graduation.

Just as Lee’s star was rising in professional baseball, however, Lee suffered an injury diving for a ball during his “Charlie hustle days” of playing for the famous Cape Cod League in Hyannis, Massachusetts, effectively ending his career as a promising professional ball player.

Not to be deterred by such a mishap, however, Lee Boykin applied his obvious intellectual and athletic abilities to a profession where he could make a difference to the Worcester community and as a groundbreaker as an African-American policeman. Beginning in 1985, Boykin, like all rookie cops, became patrolman for Worcester State College and he worked on their police force until 1994, when his commanding officer, Police Chief Jim Granger, was so impressed was Boykin’s performance, integrity, and work ethic that he “ordered Lee to take the city Civil Service exam in order to help him become a Worcester police officer,” where he again started out as a patrolman but rapidly rose through the ranks to become sergeant in 2013, and then rose again to become the Worcester Police Force’s first Diversity Officer in 2019.

It was in this position that Boykin remained for just under one year, however, and he recently retired from the force in June of last year (2020). It was in this position in the WPD where he really tried to make a difference in the criminal justice system, but when I asked him what role he played in advancing diversity in the force with respect to recruiting more African American, Latino, Asian, and other minority group members into the ranks of the police department, he said, “I wasn’t as successful as I would have liked in this particular area.” “I did not have much luck,” he said, and added that it was “difficult to reach this goal in the environment of so much negative press involving the police, nationally,” and concluded that this “may have contributed to it” in local recruitment, adding that “for certain people (police work) is not an attractive job.

Still, Boykin was not deterred, as he made a point of saying in an optimistic and confident voice, that “People of color, in order to make change, have to be part of change,” Boykin is proud of having successfully recruited a new Asian- American into the ranks of the Worcester Police Department: Leon Ngo, who is currently completing his training to become a Worcester Police Department police officer.

As the new head of security for the Worcester Red Sox, Boykin was asked whom he most considers to be his hero. Without any hesitation, Boykin declared him to be “Muhammed Ali”, the late American boxing champion of the 1960’s and 70’s, because, he said, “he was “honest and not afraid to voice his opinion even when it was not wise for people of color to speak out.”

Boykin added that he’s always loved Ali’s famous quote that he “floated like a butterfly but stung like a bee”.

As for looking over his life, Boykin said that he “has no regrets,” but as the son of one of Lee Boykin’s coaches and mentors, I know that my father knew what he was doing when he spotted Lee’s talent and personal character. I cannot help but think that Lee would have given anything to have played in either professional or semi-professional baseball if it were not for his college injury,

Lee Boykin, because he has unquestionably been a leader in the Worcester community, a role model for young people, and an honorable influence in a diversifying police force that’s more reflective of Worcester’s changing demographics as a city.

As one spends time with him in his office, one cannot help but notice how Boykin so amicably and respectfully interacts with other members of his security staff, giving this news correspondent a rare mindset in the world today – a mindset that accepts the notion that whatever happened to him in the past undoubtedly happened for a reason, whether he personally agreed with what happened to him or not and that he is meant to influence and lead his colleagues by example. This is a very rare quality in many of our leaders, today.

Such exemplary leadership in our community and his dogged determination to do what’s right as a senior police officer in the WPD and now as Security Chief for the Worcester Red Sox creates a new forum for his honorable and hopeful influence as a man.

If my father could look down from the heavens above, I have absolutely no doubt that while smoking his trademark pipe, he would say in a very calm voice, “Lee, you came through for our team, again and I am very proud of you.”

Worcester should be very proud of all that Sgt. Lee Boykin has done in the past for our city, proud of all Lee will continue to do in the future, and rest safely that the Red Sox’s Polar Park is a safe place to enjoy our national pastime on a warm summer’s evening.

MOVIE REVIEW: HIS GIRL FRIDAY

By Rosalie Tirella

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Old school. ICT file photo: R.T.

Walter: “Is he as good as people say?”
Hildy: “He’s better!”
Walter: “Then what does he want with you?”

And so begins the classic Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell/Ralph Bellamy screwball comedy, HIS GIRL FRIDAY. Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is editor of a big NYC daily. He’s losing his star reporter and ex-wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) – whom he still loves – to Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), a sweet but drippy insurance salesman from Albany. You already know how this terrific flick is gonna end, who wins Hildy … but it’s a great yarn anyways, unfolding in a newsroom when newsrooms RULED. 1930s America. Yellow journalism. Crusading journalism. Unions. Communists. Unsanitary meat packing plants, the Great Depression. FDR. A time when American reporters were considered working class stiffs: hardboiled and street smart, social outcasts, small town mama’s boys. “What’s the story?” Walter barks at Hildy during a time when reporters had more in common with the milkman than the college educated or the politicians they chased down. America hung on every word of Lippmann and other star scribes. The newsroom was a white man’s world, too – this movie is a remake of THE FRONT PAGE, an excellent film made years earlier and starring Pat O’Brian as the reporter trying to escape his too demanding editor/job.

The jaunty way Grant wears his hat, the wonderful Underwood typewriters – no back spacing and deleting. Great writers just banged it all out first draft. Rewrite men. Reporters covered the story and called in their notes to the real writers … Hildy is a great reporter AND Walter’s best writer.

Which is another reason why Walter can’t let his beautiful ex-wife go. Which is another reason why Hildy is running away from him- into the arms of a man totally “beneath” her. Hildy’s way too smart, fast, funny and jaded for the nice, naive Bruce. Hildy is a female Walter Burns!

Still, Hildy and Bruce are getting married tomorrow; Hildy visits the newsroom one last time to say good bye to Walter and to beg him to let go: “STOP CALLING ME 10 TIMES A DAY!” she shouts over Walter’s rants, who shouts over hers. She begs him: Don’t hire another airplane to write in the sky: “HILDY,
DON’T BE HASTY! REMEMBER MY DIMPLE! Walter!”

Walter is an unstoppable locomotive … so when an alleged murderer escapes jail and is loose on the streets of their city, and election time is right around the corner, and the mayor is corrupt and the cops can be bought and the judge is a patsy … well, this is a story – the scoop – of a lifetime!

As the sweet Bruce and his dyspeptic mother are hoodwinked by Hildy and Walter – who “pays” Hildy by buying a huge life insurance policy from Bruce and making Hildy the sole beneficiary – Walter and Hildy fall deeper and deeper into the story…and love. The killer – wimpy Earl Williams – ends up in the city room hiding under a roll top desk, and his gal pal Molly Molloy leaps out of a window. Bruce ends up in jail after a friendly hooker pal of Walter’s seduces him … Bruce’s mother faints and is carried out of the newsroom by a good fella … Mayhem rules … All the better for the story. The story is everything.

I love this movie. It is glamorous but rough and true to city room rhythms: Cary Grant asks Rosalind Russell to read him her lead. The paper is first mentioned in paragraph 2 of her story. Walter scolds his pretty protégé. THE PAPER SHOULD BE IN THE FIRST GRAPH! What was she thinking?!

The old phones. The big manual typewriters. The roll top desks. The notepads. The lame jokes. Smoking in the newsroom. Drinks at lunch. The
competition. The wonderment at scintillating writing, raw talent …the adrenaline rush that comes with reporting a great story under deadline… newsroom fireworks, CARY GRANT!!! How can Hildy ever leave all this crazy magic to marry an insurance salesman from Albany?

Grant hovers over, almost pushes and pursues Russell in his newsroom, his kingdom. STAY FOR THE STORY!he yells to Hildy. What he means is: STAY FOR ME.

She does.

They kiss just once. Walter pretends to want to send Hildy to Albany with Bruce. She cries over the fact. I THOUGHT YOU DIDN’T LOVE ME! Hildy says.

DON’T BE A CHUMP! Walter says.

True love in a true newsroom.

https://youtu.be/Eom_iOkd0-I

What’s up with all those patients crossing the St. Vincent Nurses Picket Line?

By Chris Horton

When I was growing up in Chicago and New York, we talked politics around the dinner table, but the first time it got real and personal, I was 17 and I got a factory job through a placement agency. My dad mostly let us learn our own lessons and make our own mistakes, but this time he sat me down and told me very seriously that if I got there and there was a picket line, I was not under any circumstances to cross it!

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St. V’s Nurses strike – Worcester. CECELIA file photo

I was a bit shocked, but there was no doubting his meaning. That was a Red Line in our family – and in millions of other American families! Some of you Boomers at least should remember that! And all you younger folk with your daydreams of a simpler, more wholesome time “when rock and roll was young” and America seemed to be on the right track should know that spirit, that determination, was how we got that way, how we won the famous American Way of Life!

The St. Vincent hospital nurses have gone on strike over issues of understaffing resulting in unsafe conditions for patients and nurses having to make horrifying choices about whose needs to ignore. In doing this they have taken on one of the nation’s biggest hospital chains, Tenet, which has pulled out all stops to defeat this strike. Reportedly at one point Tenet had already spent $50 million on public relations, strikebreakers, security and police details, whereas meeting the nurses’ demands would only cost them $5 million a year.

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Plenty has been written about whether the nurses’ position is right or wrong, whether they should or shouldn’t be striking. I’m not going to get into that. As one of their standard picket lines says, “There’s Something Wrong in There, if the Nurses are Out Here!” And that’s good enough for me.

My question is: What are all those patients doing crossing the picket line to get medical services “in there”? St Vincent’s is claiming that patient count is UP since the strike started! Even if they are exaggerating, I’ve seen way too many patients crossing the line, and none of them even seem embarrassed! Why are’t they switching their care to UMass? Why aren’t they demanding their doctors get privileges there so they can be seen there? Or postponing non-urgent procedures until the strike is over?

And how can one of the grass roots candidates for Worcester City Council, a darling of the progressive left in Worcester, have her picture in Facebook smiling cheerfully in a hospital bed praising the wonderful St. Vincents staff – including, by the way, the scab nurses?

Like I said, I didn’t grow up in Worcester. But I know what living in a “union town” was like. Chicago and New York were Union Towns, and I lived and worked in Lowell, Greenfield, Holyoke and Athol back in the day. If the nurses had gone on strike back there back then, folks would have refused to cross the line and that would have brought the strike to a quick end! I can’t imagine it was much different in Worcester.

Back in the day, we had plenty of problems. The racism was off the charts, and life could still be raw. But we had a sense of the world getting better every year, and life certainly seemed to be getting fairer. And that didn’t happen because the DuPonts and the Rockefellers were such good sports or because our politicians were so wise and noble! It happened because working people had some power, in the only way we ever could or will. We stood up for each other, we stood by each other, we supported each others’ struggles, and we didn’t cross picket lines! Even if it meant a serious sacrifice sometimes!

You want some of that good stuff back? Then STOP CROSSING THAT DARN ST. VINCENT’S PICKET LINE! Tell your Doctors, and tell your neighbors and friends!

Those nurses are standing up for us! We need to stand up for them too!

🌹🌹🌹FAREWELL, SIR MORGAN’S COVE!🌹🌹🌹

By Rosalie Tirella

Photos taken yesterday, Green Street. Drove by my Sir Morgan’s Cove rock ‘n’ roll club for the last time. The wrecking ball slated to kill it this week. A victim, like me and all old Worcester, of gentrification.

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Sir Morgan’s Cove

A sad few minutes as I looked, for the last time, at Sir Morgan’s blank marquee, its missing light bulbs, its maroon-painted facade, now the big X slapped over its windows: CONDEMNED.

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The culture’s changed: the clubs and live bands of my teen years and 20s used to be everywhere; not anymore. Even pre-pandemic, people stopped going to clubs for music and bands. Deaf to America’s sounds, history … each other. Da*ned un-American, if you ask me.

Green Island was once filled with music clubs and bars where you could hear every sort of ear candy: punk, new wave (the Odds at the X – last exit on Millbury Street), oldies acts (at Steeple Bumpsteds on Millbury Street), Polka bands (at the PNA and PNI on Lafayette and Millbury streets ) and, of course, ROCK at Sir Morgan’s, our neighborhood’s crown jewel. … A short drive and you’d be at the Aboody’s El Morroco on Grafton Hill, and jazz artists from all over America were in the room to the left, in their suits, playing for people at tables drinking gin and tonics, grooving to the music from their chairs, a couple dancing close together just a few feet in front of the sax man, the stage light glinting off his sax. Magic time.

El Owner Joe Aboody would invite you into the El’s pristine kitchen (he was a friend of my mom’s) and lay out quite the spread on the little table for us, free and fresh: the El’s hummus, tabouli, stuffed grape leaves and Syrian bread. Joe, then Richy Aboody, would chat you up – making you feel special: How’s your mother? Have some more hummus! … The old Worcester. The heart of a city …

No, I didn’t see the Rolling Stones at Sir Morgan’s Cove, but a friend called me from Sir Morgan’s that day: YOU GOTTA COME DOWN, ROSE! I’M STARING AT MICK JAGGER! … I didn’t go. If it were the Beatles…I was a Beatles girl.

But I did see jazz great Buddy Rich at Sir Morgan’s. Decades ago. We sat four yards away from him, us young and him old – a skinny old guy wearing a toupee but still swinging and swiping at his kit with might – you could see his sinewy biceps …and his ecstasy…in a place we could never be.

All gone now. Sir Morgan’s. Buddy Rich beneath the stage lights. Buddy’s wide, toothy smile and how he closed his eyes as he played on that little stage, the sweat trickling down his temples, his toothy smile so wide and beautiful.

Police body cams for the Worcester Police Department: Let’s hear about it!

By Edith Morgan

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Edith

We have talked about it, and the City of Worcester has a plan. But, we the people, are still waiting for the Worcester City Council to schedule a public hearing about the program. That should be scheduled in cooperation by the Worcester Human Rights Commission and the Worcester Police Department. WPD Chief Steve Sargent MUST BE PRESENT!

Worcester City Councilor Khrystian King has been pushing to get the hearings under way, as Worcester is the last of
Massachusetts’ major cities to implement the program.

Hearings can be scheduled as soon as the two groups decide, and it has been suggested that there be one such hearing in each district.

Holding these hearings all over the city seems like a good move, as the general public really needs to be heard – and also to have their questions answered in a smaller setting than the media or the Worcester city council meetings.

The Massachusetts State Legislature is working on a set of regulations for the use of this new technology, but there is no reason to hold off hearings while the Legislature finalizes its work.

It would seem the ball is in the court of the WPD police department and th. CITY’S Human Rights Commission. Our city council subcommittee, headed by CC Kate Toomey and our City Manager, Ed Augustus, have done their part, and they are awaiting action by the other parties.

We as interested citizens and residents can get in touch with our district councilors and our legislators and demand we all speed the process!

There are still a great many questions to be answered: this program involves a sizable expenditure for the initial purchase of the equipment, but it also involves continued expenditures for maintenance. The hearings should clear up any question the public has about the efficacy of this program – what is it supposed to help, and what do the statistics from other communities using it show?

There is quite a lot of information on Wikipedia, for those who want to delve more deeply into this area. There are several versions of these body cameras, and there are also cameras that can be mounted on police vehicles. And there is the question of when the filming should start, and what should be recorded. And who will get to review the film and how soon after the event …

The quality of the pictures that aIl have seen thus far has not been great, and the scope is narrow enough so that it is hard to get the whole picture of any event. The reason that the George Floyd murder was so unequivocal and clear is that it was photographed by a very steady hand, for the entire event, and from a sufficient distance so that the entire event, bystanders and all, was included.

It would be ideal if every encounter that involves police violence could be so well documented, but body cams will come nowhere near this. Will the expense of this new technology give us enough good information to meet our objectives? To the Worcester public hearings to find out!

Joe Biden: A President🇺🇸 for US (U.S.) all!🇺🇸

By Edith Morgan

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Edith🌸🌸🌸

President Joe Biden’s address to Congress and America: not everyone was there. The hallowed chamber was mostly empty, as everyone was seated the mandatory six feet from everyone else. But at least all the important parts of our federal government were there, presided over – for the first time in our history! – by two women, one of them a woman of color. Vice-President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood side by side at the dais and watched the others come in. Among the special guests were the spouses of the President and the Vice President. Chief Justice John Roberts represented the Supreme Court, and a sparse number of Senators and Representatives took their places on each side: stony faced Republicans and jovial Democrats and, of course, the indomitable Independent, Bernie Sanders.

The contents of Biden’s speech were no surprise, as copies had been distributed to all before the event – although I suspect that not everyone in that great hall had really read and digested its contents. I got the message throughout that “America is back” and that our allies and friends all over the world have breathed a sigh of relief, tempered by the often unasked question “For how long?” But at least we have mended fences, reached out to friend and foe, and made clear what our values and goals are now, as of January 20.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11827661ae) US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 March 2021. Biden Remarks on Boulder Shootings, Washington, USA - 23 Mar 2021
Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 2021.

Biden spoke directly to the American people and offered detailed plans for a near and far future designed to achieve some lofty goals. The polls indicate that the majority of Americans outside Washington D.C. agree with the plans.
Overall, each initiative is designed to get all of us vaccinated (we are rapidly getting there), make sure that we eliminate childhood hunger and poverty, and give every child in America a good start in life by offering free, public pre-school. The plan also calls for community college for all and puts into the hands of parents enough money to enable them to buy food and essentials for their families. The entire package is designed to rebuild the decimated middle class, restore its powers and, in that way, rebuild our economy that has tumbled so badly under the twin weights of the pandemic and the previous administration.

Biden addressed the question sure to be asked: how do we pay for all of this? By closing tax loop holes in the existing tax structure and making the very rich and corporations pay their fair share. Biden explained that the Trump tax cuts to the very rich simply put trillions of dollars into the pockets of those who already had more than enough money and added to the huge deficit.

The cameras panned over the attendees periodically and registered the stone-faced disapproval of Republicans, while the other side often stood and applauded. At one point the camera picked up a very tanned Republican Senator Ted Cruz – dozing off during the speech. There were frequent takes of Mitch McConnell and GOP Chair Kevin McCarthy, both sitting unmoved and unresponsive.

Thus far, President Biden has more than kept his promises to all Americans and has even exceeded his goals in the number of citizens vaccinated. He has proved that he has the momentum and vision to accomplish much of what he promised, and he has found ways of doing so without the reactive participation of the Trump Republican Party. His appointees appear to be cleaning up the Justice Department, and his Cabinet members are turning around or undoing the damage done during the past administration.

It is certainly very comforting to hear that our own tax money will come back to us to begin the enormous task of removing the devastating inequities in our economic system, while still going forward and staying competitive with the rest of the industrial world. Maybe the historians who predicted that this would be the century of China will have to take a second look! Biden forcefully reminded China that while we would cooperate where possible, there would be consequences for their violations of human rights and for their disregard for property and patent rights.

While he made no direct allusion to our border problems, he did recognize that there is a need to address the horrendous problems of violence, graft and poverty in the countries to the south of us, from where many of the refugees flee to the relative safety of the U.S.

President Biden’s first 100 days have gone well – millions and millions of us vaccinated against COVID, decorum and respect restored to the White House … We, the People, seem to be watching and approving. Slow and steady, and always with his hand on the pulse of the public, Joe Biden can accomplish much – without bombast and egomania. I, for one, have heaved a huge sigh of relief!