By Rosalie Tirella
… has been cooking the Thanksgiving dinners for Catholic Charities holiday meals for the elderly/disabled FOR ALMOST 15 YEARS?
That’s right! THOUSANDS OF MEALS! HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF FOOD PREP – HARD WORK AND HUSTLE IN THE HOT BROADWAY KITCHEN … FOR MORE THAN 15 YEARS. FOR FREE. VOLUNTEERING for Worcester. And Billy shuns the spotlight! Doesn’t want the recognition – just wants plenty of elbow room in the Broadway kitchen to prepare the hundreds of turkey meals for Worcester seniors, while his waitresses and cooks do the other work – serving the Broadway customers who come to this Worcester culinary landmark on 100 Water St. for the sweet ambiance as much as the amazing breakfasts, bottomless cups of coffee and homemade baked mac and cheese.
Billy is for family, church, friendship, silly jokes, smiles, bantering with customers, rescuing dogs …
… talking city politics with city pols!, giving the poor kids sitting at his counter big $2.50 homemade Broadway ice cream cones for a buck cuz that’s what the kids put down on his counter, while twirling around on those red vinyl Broadway seats and chatting Billy up. Everyone is smiling and laughing … Billy especially!
BILLY IS THE BEST! He is the best of what Worcester once stood for and still stands for in many quarters. Not the fake gentrifiers who use social media to catapult themselves into a kind of fake prominence with their mostly fake friends … and cheat along the way, ever so skillfully. They’re an affront to the Green Island that so many of us remember and love – the Green Island that was all about authenticity, modesty, being so good, so true outside the limelight for your neighborhood, for your city, for your husband or wife, for your kids. You just did a good thing. Period.
Thanksgiving time the Broadway is for remembering Worcester’s poor, Worcester’s forgotten – frail old folks who won’t be able to cook their own Thanksgiving feast and may not be going out to celebrate with family – or even have family with whom to break holiday bread.
Every year Billy and his family fill the gap! They get the call from the Bishop, and Billy and the wonderful Broadway folks step up and volunteer.
Every year about this time, if you walk into the Broadway, you’ll see Billy and his wife Betsy and their staff (most of them with the Broadway for years) running all around the big yet cozy kitchen pulling scores of basted and baked turkeys out of huge shiny silver ovens, with long doors, carving the turkeys up, spooning mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and veggies into the aluminum trays that scores of Elder Services of Worcester County volunteers will deliver to Worcester seniors. And the seniors get gravy … and dessert! Billy is focused, running up the tile floor to fetch a huge pot, a helper is stirring the gravy, big ladles and spoons are dipped into big pots and pans, the prep table in the center of the kitchen is overflowing with all things good and tasty … the place smells like heaven. After all, it’s the Bishop who provides the birds! But Billy provides everything else: the sides, the cooking, the work (all those pots, pans and utensils to wash!) Most of all, BEST OF ALL … THE LOVE.