By Rosalie Tirella

Rosalie, left, and her sis. Photo taken at UMass/Amherst.

Bought this double lp in the 1970s – BREAD, GREATEST HITS – because my beautiful talented cousin Jane bought it and I worshipped Jane – and she worshipped David Gates and BREAD. So she bought her double Bread album and I bought mine, the perfect little mimic/groupie, I was! Jane, a senior at the old Marion High School, seemed to be living the BREAD dream: tall and lithe, with dark hair that flowed down her back, she literally stopped traffic when she walked down the street. I was present during a few honking, near-accidents. Her parents called her their “Polish Princess” and said she was pretty and tall enough – 5 feet, seven inches was the required minimum height – to be a PROFESSIONAL model. Jane was always in love with a dreamy college boy and made a new conquest every week by just smiling at the guy. Even though she was only in high school, the handsome guys at WPI or at the bank she worked at on Saturday’s called her “beautiful” to her face and wilted in the presence of her loveliness. A lot of BREAD songs were about romance and the eternal swoon. I’m certain Jane saw herself in all the BREAD lyrics and melodies. I, on the other hand, had zero boys interested in me, and no guy ever sketched me by lamplight after calculus class.

Back then the music critics despised BREAD, calling the soft rock group as musically interesting as … white bread! A loaf of Wonder! Thankfully, I was too young to listen to critics so, even though my Green Island teen years were ghetto- and poverty-infused, more punk rock than soft rock, I still LOVED Bread. Their music was so heartfelt, so lovelorn, so wistful!! I used to play this album over and over again on my Emerson portable stereo system when I was a teen. Dreaming of boys … and horses … I STILL know all the words to all these BREAD hits! They were all so perfect for the teenaged girl on Lafayette Street, lying on her belly, imagining her own prince coming to rescue her from her old grey three decker and nagging Bapy. … I wondered what was true love? what did sex feel like? would the boy who would see me naked marry me? Would I grow up to be even half as pretty as my cousin Jane who was one of the SEWING STARS of the Winthrop House Girls Club? At the clubhouse, in sewing class, Jane used her Butterick patterns to sew beautiful vests and jackets with LININGS!! I could barely put together a little apron, the beginner’s sewing project I was eternally stuck on at the Girls Club!

One of Jane’s admirers just presented her with a sketch of her that he drew during his break from difficult engineering classes at WPI!! It’s a big portrait in pencil and looks just like Jane’s yearbook picture! Wow! Jane shows me the portrait, which she’s rolled up and secured with a rubber band. Her lips are drawn so voluptuously…I know the top – it’s from one of her maxi-dresses! We’re talking about boys – all Jane’s boys – in Jane’s bedroom. It is tiny but girly with its frilly white curtains and big bottle of Jean Nate Body Splash and bottle of green Herbal Essence shampoo. Jane drinks Nuform Milk to stay trim. I want to be Jane but know it’s hopeless. Still, I’m smart – do very well in school. A surprise to Jane’s parents, my aunt and uncle, who tell me I can get a job at the US post office after I graduate from Burncoat Senior High. Fat chance. My mother, CECELIA, wants me to go to college and write a book. She is singing her own love song to me …

Rosalie’s mom, left, and Bapy, circa WW II.


This “love” song was written by Gates for his father, who died several years earlier: