By Rosalie Tirella

This summer: the upper part of Lafayette Street is a bit more residential than the strip that runs into Millbury Street. That section is car-clogged thanks to an autobody shop run amok. Pic: R.T.

My beloved Green Island Grrrl – as in Girl – street: Lafayette Street. The street I grew up on years ago before it all became the Canal District. My Ma’s street. And Bapy’s. And my kid sisters’. And Rich Gedman’s childhood stamping grounds, too! A five-minute walk to the old Lamartine Street School from our three decker; a 10-minute walk to Millbury Street and its scores of mom and pop shops. Today – I should have snapped a few photos as City workers slapped lime green warning stickers on a ribbon of cars – Lafayette Street has become the personal street of an African autobody business that treats the street like its personal garage/junkyard. These guys have taken over half of Lafayette Street – a pretty long city street! Literally! The neighborhood has the look and feel of a chop shop on steroids, thanks to these morons.

Yes, Lafayette was always zoned residential and industrial but this is nuts: every day 30 or so
cars – in varying degrees of disrepair – all illegally parked onto Scott Street, too – hog every square inch of Lafayette Street streetscape. Engines rev. Car doors open into the middle of the street. Smashed Caddy’s wait in the wings on Scott Street. To drive down Lafayette Street is to think like a trapeze artist whose tight rope is frayed…all the African car guys and their customers walk boldly in the street going from car to car chatting and you drive down your tight rope …fuming.

They talk cars, you quietly curse in your vehicle and wonder why the City of Worcester – Code is on Meade, the next street over – enables these neighborhood polluters and defilers. The source of the street’s ugliness, noise … selfishness.

I grew up on Lafayette Street – it’s what inspired me to start InCity Times two decades ago. Memory upon memory…the people, the pets, the shops, the school teachers…the collective unconscious for so many Eastern European immigrants and their offspring…our ghetto…our American story, rich and instructive and inspiring.

Today? Forget it, kids! You can’t even walk down your own street because the African business guys – immigrants with no respect for other newcomers? – are so greedy, so oblivious, they’ve trashed an entire city street! Its residents deemed worthless by guys who’d brook none of this is their “nicer” Worcester neighborhoods.

The physical company is located in a small two-bay garage – what used to be the old Murhall Sign shop of my childhood. Decades ago it was always neat and self-contained (work never even spilling out onto the sidewalk!) with the sign guys – three or so – going about their work inside. We kids walked to school or church and sheepishly looked inside as their big garage doors were always rolled open. The guys inside quietly went about their sign making- the lettering easy to read – the font basic and often fire engine red. Murhall, along with Leader Sign, was one of the first sign companies in the city. Tony Hmura of Leader knew and respected the Murhall guys.

Now it’s all dirty, noisy…the new workers and their customers are bold. They’re dismissive of the laws, common courtesy and common sense – most important, the people in the neighborhood! They think they own Lafayette Street – a public thoroughfare! They’re living proof of an America dumb-downed, greedy and garish.

Enter Donald Trump.