Throughout the country and the world, the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic continues – and with no end in sight. Everyone has their opinion on what to do or not to do but, remember, there is no manual written on what to do next. We are all trying to figure this all out and hopefully listen to what health professionals are telling us on how to be safe.
When it comes to education, everyone has an opinion on how we should educate our students as we move forward. These last four months of the school year in Worcester – and America – were traumatic for our parents, students and teachers. Now everyone is trying to figure out how we educate our students for the coming school year. The new normal …
Chef Joey’s Gigi working on her math homework the previous school year. pics: J.C.
Whatever Worcester decides to do, it will have to be a new normal for our public schools. School districts everywhere are grappling with whether they continue with virtual learning, use a hybrid model (a combination of face to face instruction and online learning) or take a chance and go back to school full time – with many restrictions.
In Worcester, our school superintendent Maureen Binienda told the Worcester School Committee at a special July meeting that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has asked state school districts to prepare three plans for the new school year: One plan would be for students returning to school, the others are remote learning or the hybrid model which is a combination of both. The plans are due in August, with additional informational guidelines being sent out later this month.
📚DESE guidelines include the stipulations that all students in grade 2 and up wear a facial mask …
📗📘 … and there must be at least 3 feet of space between all students.
After a long discussion and looking at the school budget as presented by WPS Chief Financial Officer Brian Allen $12.7 million more would be needed for a reopening of our city schools.
Puzzle time at home after a dip in the pool!
🖊Our school district would be hampered by having only 20 students per school bus …
… additional materials including PPE – personal protective equipment – cleaning supplies, more custodial staff, school nurses, school bus monitors, childcare programs and technology equipment are all part of the cost increase.
The school committee, due to the cost and the safety factors, did not see this as a viable option and suggested that the hybrid model would make more sense. This model combines face to face instruction with online learning. Students may be in school one week, with another group of students coming in the second week. In the off-week students would be home doing on-line learning. This model can lend itself to individualized learning, collaboration via online discussions and several modes of interacting with course content for various learning styles.
Other ideas with this model could be having K to grade three come Monday and Wednesday and grades 4 to 6 come in to school on Tuesday and Thursday, with all students participating in distance learning on Friday.
There could also be many other combinations as well.
To assist in the planning, Superintendent Binienda will put together several teams to review all the options for our school district.
In the meantime, Superintendent Binienda will continue her quest for connectivity via online learning, as well as trying to get every student in the district a Chromebook. She has also sent out a survey to our parents for their input about the next school year and their experience with remote learning. Questions are asked about access to the Internet, student support at home, access to food, transportation to school and more.
Depending on updates to the COVID crisis these plans may change.
However, no matter what plan we adopt, it will not take the place of a normal school day, for there is no substitute for learning that takes place in a school setting. Personally, as a former WPS school principal (Belmont Community School), the shutdown must be especially difficult for our K to grades 3 children to overcome. These school years are the developmental periods in a child’s life and cannot be replicated by on-line learning.
There will have to be social distancing and mask-wearing at all school assemblies in WPS auditoriums and gyms this coming school year.
Many in education feel that due to the COVID slide and lack of summer learning, many students will return to school in the fall with around 70% learning gains in reading achievement and less than 50% in math.
Learning is at the core of any school, but learning also has social and emotional aspects – and that is another area that will have to be addressed. Yes, this will be a difficult school year for our students and our teachers, but rest assured: Worcester’s Superintendent Binienda, who is such a tireless worker, will do her utmost to have our students, with the assistance of their parents, succeed academically, emotionally and socially this coming school year!
One of our city’s high schools – North High. ICT file photo
Our Vernon Hill Elementary School on Providence Street.❤ CECELIA file pic
Disclaimer: I am not Italian, nor Catholic. I am simply a resident of Worcester, here since 1967.
So how do I feel about the vandalizing of the statue of Christopher Columbus outside Worcester’s Union Station?
Worcester is home to a great multitude of statues, military markers, war memorials and other statuary. We have seen the Burnside statue – or “Turtle Boy” – in downtown Worcester; the Major Taylor statue outside the Worcester Public Library … the Vietnam War memorial in Green Hill Park, the Korean War memorial, The World War II memorial at Brittan Square, the Citizens of Color World War II Honor Roll by Lincoln Square – all on public property.
The Citizens of Color World War II Honor Roll
We also have religious statuary on various religious properties and some statuary on private properties.
Worcester is replete with sculptures of all sorts, with different meanings and histories.
In my own home, I have a small replica of Michelangelo’s Moses and a brass Buddha, both gifts. My own religious tradition forbids making “graven images,” and so I have naturally looked at these as works of art, or expressions of the beliefs of others.
But I was also raised in the belief that we must respect what others value and that if these things represent imperfect or even evil lives and beliefs, it’s my job to try to educate people – or at least get them to see how others see them. It was never my assumption that if something offends me, I could simply decide to deface or destroy it.
The Christopher Columbus statue outside Worcester’s Union Station was recently defaced with a can of red paint. City workers power-washed it (almost) clean. Columbus statues, all over America have been toppled or defaced after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police and America’s ensuing reckoning with systemic racism and subjugation of peoples.
So, let us look at Christopher Columbus: for me, he was a historical figure who believed, against most of the people of his day, that the earth was round, and he could find a shorter way to India by water. Remember: it was the royal family of Spain, not Italy, that funded the voyage that led him to these shores. (That is why we still mistakenly call our indigenous peoples “Indians.”)
Voyages of explorations were common in those days – many triggered by the desire to get to the spices and other riches of Asia. Actually, we are not named Columbia, but America, after Amerigo Vespucci. So I am not sure what the defacing of Columbus really means, except that someone, or some group, feels a need to express hatred for whatever they think Columbus represents. I personally do not believe this is the way to express that, as there is no educational value to this behavior, and there are numerous better ways of opening conversations with the descendants of this particular historical figure. We might all find out that the genocidal behavior of the early settlers here was not peculiar to Italians, nor was it unusual for the time (or even for our time!).
Slaves built the White House
Holding just white people responsible for slavery is really a very narrow view of history: it seems that we humans, every time we achieve power over our fellow humans, set about enslaving them. And many of our greatest monuments and works of art were created by the captives of the rulers: the pyramids were built by slave labor, the great cathedrals of Europe by serfs and peons, and I do not think the Great Wall of China was built by the Emperor’s own hands. Look anywhere in the world, and you will find the great creations commissioned by the rich and powerful, but not made by them.
We have only very gradually crept out of the grasp of the rich and powerful and the idea that all men (and lately, also women) are created equal. How many millennia did THAT take?
So, I do not believe in defacing or destroying what may be works of art, unless their creators see that they are inappropriate. I do not want to see a repeat of what my family left in Europe in 1933 – the book burnings, the vandalizing of Jewish stores, our synagogues and homes and, finally, the attempted extermination of those deemed “inferior.”
Let us think carefully about what history REALLY teaches.
“Turtle Boy” during the days of March For Our Lives!
Why are most Americans overweight, obese – even morbidly obese? OVER-EATING SUPER-SIZED MEALS! And not eating enough veggies and fruits; consuming way too much fat in meat, dairy products and even dessert! Too much sugar, too! A national disgrace! A national health crisis! … AMERICA: STOP SUPER-SIZING YOUR MEALS! EAT LESS!! EAT LESS MEAT! FILL UP ON FRUITS, VEGGIES AND VEGAN GOODNESS! – Rose T.
Summer is almost here, and that means sunshine, swimming pools and social-distance socializing within small groups! Throw a grill in the mix, and you’ve got a perfect BBQ!
But if you find yourself at a cookout with omnivorous friends, have no fear: You’re in a great place to spread awareness about living a cruelty-free lifestyle.
🌞1. Bring Your Favorite Mock Meats
Or make your own black bean veggie burger!
Most meat-eaters are unaware of how delicious vegan foods can be. Show them by bringing along your favorite grillable plant-based protein. There are loads of options at grocery stores, or you can get fancy and make your own.
🌞 2. Know the Facts
By bringing your own foods to the party, you’re already opening up the conversation. The next step is to know the facts. Be ready for the “standard” questions, such as:
What do you eat?
Where do you get your protein?
Don’t we need meat, eggs, and dairy products to be healthy?
Isn’t eating meat natural?
And our favorite:
If you were starving on a boat at sea and there was an animal on board, would you eat that animal?
Answers to these and all the other “frequently asked questions” can be found here.
🌞3. Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve
If bringing your own faux meat doesn’t do it, then a stylish and poignant T-shirt from the PETA Catalog will definitely get the conversation started. Check out our selection of animal rights tees to see if there’s something that speaks to you — so that you can speak to them.
❤ 4. Don’t Forget the Sides
Why stop at the burgers and dogs when there are so many delicious classic summer sides that you can veganize? Try PETA’s recipes for coleslaw, pasta salad, baked beans, potato salad, and chocolate pudding to get conversations going and mouths watering.
❤ 5. Set a Good Example
It’s important that we set a good example whenever we’re advocating for animals. We don’t want to give meat-eaters any excuse not to take us seriously, so beware of some common pitfalls:
Don’t accost people with your points. Try and work animal rights into the conversation subtly. People are generally curious and will ask about it.
Build people up! Instead of telling them how many animals they harm each year, tell them how many animals they could save (200 each year if they go vegan).
Leave the “meat is murder” talk out of it. This will likely start a heated argument, and you don’t want to be that vegan who ruined the party.
If the cook uses the same utensils to cook both meat and veggie options, don’t make a huge issue out of it. Remember: It’s not about personal purity. It’s about advocating for the animals who are suffering on factory farms.
Be yourself! You’re not talking to a group of strangers, you’re talking to friends. Appeal gently to them as individuals. For example, if you know that a family member is trying to get healthy, tell that person about the health benefits of going vegan. If a bacon-loving friend has a dog, tell that person that pigs are smarter than dogs.
❤Remember: You’re right. The facts, scientific studies, and ethics are on your side, so don’t get frustrated. Just by chatting casually about animals rights, you’re making a huge difference for animals.
Every interaction starts conversations, opens hearts, and changes minds. Even a few words can start people on the path to making the kind choice for themselves, the planet, and animals: going vegan. Good luck!
Ever want to make a pasta topping that doesn’t have tomatoes in it? Well, there are other options!
This quickie is simple. You need to take about four or five carrots, peel them and run them through your food processor or grate on a box grater …
Like a regular sauce, you add onion and some garlic to a sauce pan and sauté them down …
Add the carrots and a little water …
… and simmer with a cover. When the carrots are soft, add chickpeas or navy beans or any other kind of beans you like:
If you like, add a little salt and pepper. Voila! You have a great light summer sauce!
Instead of carrots, you can use zucchini …
… – or both! To really dress it up, just before you serve, add a handful of fresh, chopped basil. Enjoy!❤
GREEN ISLAND HOOP DREAMIN’
By Rosalie Tirella
I can’t wait for all this pandemic stuff to end … eventually … so the brandy new Crompton Park basketball courts can open up to Green Island kids and the city’s Crompton Park Summer Basketball League can start up again! …
The City of Worcester did a GREAT job: new courts, new hoops, new bleachers, benches, landscaping … outside: new sidewalks, trees …
The Endicott/Harding streets entrance to Crompton Park, left. Trees are being planted …❤
❤When we were kids growing up in Green Island, my younger sister Rita LOVED PLAYING HOOP! But the Crompton Park basketball courts – and league – were the boys’ business and young men’s, and the guys who hung out at Ben’s Cafe or the PNI on Lafayette Street – many tough, buzz-drunk and knife-carrying. I remember walking by the Crompton Park basketball court with Rita on the Endicott Street side. I was oblivious to the men, boys, sweaty, grunty pick up games, but Rita kept looking wistfully at the guys dribbling that b-ball and doing those fancy lay-up shots – which my kid sister could also execute, perfectly, with her own signature flourishes! – and taking those “free throws” from the court’s faded white lines – which my kid sister could also easily execute.
But the times were different back then. My sister and I knew that she was out of the games because she was a girl, a skinny girl, a quiet girl. Still, she found ways, as all athletic girls in the ‘hood found ways to celebrate their God-given talents. Rita was young and gifted: she found all the places in the city a girl, in the mid-1970s, could play hoop, could be brutally athletic, could run unabashedly, like a boy, and leap and yell and not care how she looked or sounded to the world. Not lady-like. But beautiful in her own beauty! … So Rita played hoop in my Uncle Mark’s driveway with our boy cousins. Uncle Mark had tarred the parking lot, nailed up a brand new basketball hoop with backboard above his garage door. Every holiday, many summer, spring and fall days Uncle Mark would leave his cozy Burncoat ranch and drive to our Lafayette Street three decker, and honk his car horn right under our tenement and Ma and us kids would run down the stairs, scramble into his big gold Elektra and drive off … so we could all hang out in his and his wife’s, our Aunt Mary’s, big back yard and have a hamburger and hotdog cook out, courtesy of Aunt Mary. Ma would sit at their big picnic table and chat with Aunt Mary as she made the feast. I would be on a blanket with my cousin Mary playing Barbies – my cousin had Barbie, Stacy, Skipper, Ken and three Barbie wardrobe cases filled with Barbie clothes and shoes. … Rita would play basketball with our two boy cousins. Both jocky. Whomp. Whomp. Whomp went the real, regulation sized basketball against the backboard. Whoah!! yelled my cousins and sister as their basketball game heated up. My Uncle Mark was an elementary school principal but had loved and played football in college and almost went pro at college graduation. But his life changed when he met and fell in love with my aunt, married her, had three kids with her, began teaching history, bought a teeny house in Burncoat and reveled in the Eisenhower American GI Dream. Uncle Mark loved to see ALL kids playing sports and running under hoops and nets. He always took the older balls from his school and gave them to us kids: scuffed up basketballs; pink, slightly deflated dodge balls; hard regulation sized brown footballs that could smash a window; and less than pristine (beige) volley balls … My sister coveted them all. Uncle Mark gave us our share … I see: Ma grabbing a football from Uncle Mark and smiling her pretty smile…I see het carrying it up our old stairs to our third floor apartment … where Rita slept with her fave Uncle Mark hand-me-down basketball!
Rita’s other second homes: the St. Mary’s high school gym with new basketball court and rows of polished wooden bleachers and shiny red and white painted line floor … and the Winthrop House Girls Club on Providence Street. Our Vernon Hill Girls Club had a big, beat-up basketball court that doubled as a roller-skating rink for us girls …free roller skates for us to use, a free p a system where we could play donated ROLLING STONE albums … Rita played hoop there or often roller skated along the perimeter to I CAN’T GET NO SATISFACTION.
I read my old TIGER BEAT or played Jacks with my cousin, Mary, Uncle Mark’s daughter, in the gym, off to the side, swaying to the Stones. I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE ROLLING STONES MUSIC then, in the corner, outside the painted foul lines, of the Girls Club basketball court, playing Jacks with my cousin.
Anywhere there was rope netting strung through a metal hoop there was my kid sister! Rita loved to run on the St. Mary’s basketball court, the Lamartine Street School cement schoolyard, Uncle Mark’s little driveway … loved to run. Period. She’d hang out at the Lamartine school yard and play Dodge ball or even soccer, not as popular back then, with our downstairs neighbor boys. Sometimes the boys would come up to our flat, to our screen door and rap on it loudly and ask Ma: CAN RITA COME OUT AND PLAY BASEBALL?
It was in the sandlot next door – with a gifted kid named RICH GEDMAN leading the show! Rich lived down the street from us and had his own hardscrabble childhood to overcome. The future Red Sox catcher was a good, quiet kid who could swing that bat and hit that ball over the roof of Val’s building a half block away!! My sister would run wicked fast after that home run! Rich liked Rita. He, like all the boys, never had much use for me – never asked Ma for me to come down and play baseball or softball. Sometimes whiffle ball, if they were desperate and needed a warm body on their team. I was the useless book worm. Rita could hit, field, throw, even pitch. I watched outside our third floor window sometimes but went back to my crafts or my writing.
Rita never walked anywhere in our ol’ Green Island. She ran to Whites, to Oscars, to Messiers Diner, to Petes Dairy Bar on Millbury Street. I always ran after her, struggled to keep up with my jock sister, my knee socks falling down around my ankles. Wait for me, Rita! I’d yell. She had so little body fat. I was mostly body fat.
Our mother, seeing all the uncorked Rita energy EVERY DAY in our house, in our dirt backyard, on the sandlot next door pushed Rita to try out for the St. Mary’s Girls JV and Varsity Basketball Teams. Junior and Senior High Teams. Rita did – and made the teams. She got: a cool red uniform, b-ball practices in the school gym, demanding coaches, home and away b-ball games – and her #1 rabid fan: Ma.
Our single, working-poor, over-worked mother would walk to the St. Marys gym on Richland Street after working all day as a counter girl at the Millbury Street dry cleaners to watch Rita play her home games. …
Still standing: Oscar’s, the dry cleaners where Ma worked.
… or to get a ride with another parent to an away game. Sometimes I would join my mother, but I wasn’t into sports. I got bored during the games, only tagged along because I had a crush on Rita’s teammate and friend’s big brother John. He often went to the games to watch his kid sister play b ball. I went to gawk at him: his tallness, his pretty eyes, his artistic/drawing abilities … his beautiful, thick wavy blond hair that brushed the tops of his shoulders.
But Ma was really engaged! She watched the score board with hawk eyes. Got up and cheered and cheered! After a 10 hour day at the dry cleaners! After her paltry snack and brown bag lunch at work … I can still see her: dumpling shaped, with slightly hunched shoulders from all that labor … getting up, standing on her bleacher seat!! TO CHEER AND SCREAM if Rita intercepted the other team’s pass and got the basketball and was now dribbling the basket ball up the court, going for that lay up. To score those precious two points to help WIN the game!!!
GO! GO! GO, Rita!! our little hunch- backed mother would scream. GO!!! Rita dribbled that b-ball like mad, in her own zone, hearing Ma just along the edges, I am sure. I see my gangly kid sister, knobby-kneed, running and bobbing and weaving in and out of enemy territory TO SCORE! I see Ma in her plum, beige or maroon polyester pants and long matching vests in the same drab colors, the ones that covered her middle-aged-lady tummy, the vests she bought at White’s – with their two big side pockets that held her work pens, scratch pad, receipt pad … and rosary.
I was a little embarrassed. My little mother, an inch over 5 feet tall, flecks of grey hair at the temples, was going bananas! In the bleachers! With the other kids! Ma’s arthritic, knotty knuckles raised in fists with the kids … pumping up and down in the humid, sweat-smelly gym. GO, RITA! GO, RITA!!! Ma screamed.🏀🏀🏀🏀 Our unforgettable mother, Cecelia, with her great, unbreakable heart CHEERING HER SCRAWNY JOCK DAUGHTER TO THE HEAVENS! Hoop lady. Prayer lady! I am next to her now, turn to see Ma whispering a Hail Mary for Rita and making a cross with her crooked right thumb on her thin lips. Hoop prayers. Hoop dreams for her beloved daughter … Ma …
Still standing but soon to be gentrified: Lafayette Street where Rose and her two kid sisters grew up.
Ma and toddler Rose, at Crompton Park: on the knoll, now gone, a ways from the b-ball court.
I am an American!! I can say that, not because I was born here (I was not), but because I have my citizenship papers to prove that I am legally an American citizen. For those who are born here and are granted that great privilege, this may not mean much; many take for granted what citizenship in America means. But for those few of us remaining who, like me, escaped Germany before World War II, having that recognition means a great deal!
One of the horrors visited upon those of us whose families fled Germany during or before Hitler took over was that he took away our citizenship, making us legally “non-persons” – unable to get visas and under the protection of no other government. We lived for decades in that state, and it was only by the greatest luck that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established a special immigration group (called “political refugees”) that we were able to get out of Europe and come to America. Many of us are eternally grateful not only for our lives here, but also for all the opportunities we have enjoyed in America. And we always remember the debt we owe!
I write this in a time of upheaval in our country, of change, and of uncertainly for many. But on this Fourth of July I am more mindful than ever for what we have here and ought to treasure as Americans. We have so many freedoms! We can move about freely, think and believe pretty much what we please, live in all sorts of places and ways and styles … and we worship our gods or nature in a thousand different ways. In America, there are few limits on how we dress, how we talk, what we do with the 24-hours a day we all have.
We take a lot of these “inalienable rights” for granted because we exercise them daily.
But for those of us who were not born with all this, there is always the constant awareness of how easily it can be lost.
So my own greatest duty as an American is to daily exercise all the responsibilities that go with being an American: I treasure and take care of my home, appreciate my neighbors, read my local newspaper, keep an eye on our elected officials, and vote in every election. I try to be a positive addition to America – this land that has sustained me for over 75 years!
We Americans have a lot of freedoms and rights, but there seems to be too little attention to our responsibilities. Many of us who came here brought our special knowledge and culture with us and shared what was worth saving and adopted new ways as we learned. Being an American means constantly improving, being open to new ideas, while also holding on to those concepts that work.
The majority of us, young and old, still hold to the values that characterize the best of America. But we are going through what I believe is a bad spell, a wrong turn of the ship of state, which seems to be showing signs of slowly righting itself. As a retired school teacher, I look to our young people, many of whom are seeking a better way to steer the ship of state, more in line with the values expressed in our “Declaration of Independence” – but which need to be redefined and revived.
In an imperfect world, full of imperfect humans, we still have all kinds of opportunities to turn from the crass materialism, egotism, abuse of our planet and unfairness of our economic and social systems! We can create “a more perfect union,” with liberty and equality for all!
To me, that is what it means to call myself an American.
OUR GREAT AMERICAN CHALLENGE
BY BILL COLEMAN
In his younger days, Bill painted American flags in public spaces all over Worcester! Here he is with a finished 🇺🇸
Our Declaration of Independence starts with a clear message to King George of Great Britain:
“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds that separated them from another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of Nature’s God entitled them a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
When the framers of our Declaration of Independence wrote these words, they were sending a clear message that the people of the fledgling America were no longer going to take injustices any more, from King George on down, and that self-determination would be the law of our their new land.
Today the George Floyd-inspired protests and protest movements are saying the same thing, with new generations of Americans tired, exhausted and frustrated with the lack of progress to eliminate the injustices of systemic racism – in our communities, schools, work places and federal, state and local governments.
We have had it!
Racial injustice from Police Brutality will no longer be an acceptable norm.
Young people have no tolerance for it or the patience to sit back and wait for their turn.
In August of 1963, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in his “I have a Dream” speech called on the American government to make things right for a previously enslaved people who were being denied voting rights, as well as accommodations in stores, restaurants, public transportation … access to good jobs, housing and quality education.
These issues are still here with us!
King George and his unfair orders and laws for the new Americans may have been the focal point for our American Revolution. Today it is racist attitudes and laws and images that make you feel that no progress has been made.
Black Lives Matter now more than ever! We can no longer and will no more accept the suggestions that “Things will change.” CHANGE MUST HAPPEN NOW.
Our prison system and the pipeline that feeds young lives to its institutions are broken and must be fixed. The waste of human brain power must be promoted and encouraged. For God’s sake, stop killing Black people in their homes for no reason!!
Worcester has had its George Floyd problems. Long standing prominent Black Worcester families can tell you their stories. Our Constitution gives us the right to assemble, protest, petition government and demand that we as a people change for the better. I believe: “Our greatest challenge is to open our hearts and our minds and stop the ugly growth of bigotry and hypocricy that continues to stop any progressive enhancements of our society.”
People of all races and ages: Keep on protesting! Keep on petitioning government at all levels … change laws, add new ones! A new and greater America, with all of its diverse people showing the way, can and will lead the world!
Worcester’s Birthday Cake 168 Years as a City. A city booster, Bill has helped coordinate lots of Worcester celebrations!
On Trump’s July Fourth Mount Rushmore Speech😓😓
By Rosalie Tirella
The real Trump
I just watched President Donald Trump bloviating at the iconic Mount Rushmore. Gave his Big Fourth of July speech that was totally removed from the America we are living in NOW: the global COVID 19 epicenter where nurses go into the emergency room wearing garbage bags and there is no testing or contact tracing or science; the George Floyd “lynching,” Americans of all colors demanding the restructuring of our militaristic police departments. … WE ARE IN PAIN. TRUMP IS OBLIVIOUS TO OUR PAIN. A chimp out of time. … And where does such a small man get such an inflated ego?! To put himself on the same stage as TR, Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson. No! Make that: to make them his backdrop!! … Teddy Roosevelt was a voracious reader and wrote book after book. Lincoln is one of our greatest writers and visionaries. He’d be the first to admit: Trump is a moron. A dangerous demagogue.
It was a kooky, hateful speech. The usual Trump verbal sh*t show. Trump crowed: per his new executive order, anyone who throws a can of paint at a Confederate general statue (built not to honor the generals but to shore up the KKK, Jim Crow segregation …) gets 10 years in prison! And the Trumpster added: NO ONE WILL EVER TEAR DOWN MOUNT RUSHMORE!!! Thanks for reassuring us, Donald! …To which one of the hundreds of non-mask-wearing audience members replied: BUILD THE WALL! BUILD THE WALL!! And the one voice ballooned into a racist threat chanted by all. Scary.
Our moron in chief struggled to spit out “totalitarian,” “Ulysses” and pronounced mayhem “may-HAM.” Well, the ham in the White House ended his twisted American hoohah history lesson with Neil Young’s ROCKIN’ IN THE FREE WORLD. Not knowing that Young stands against everything Trump and his base are for. After all, Young wrote “Southern Man,” and the song Trump blared was meant to be a kick in the teeth to President Bush 1 with his “thousand points of light” platitudes in an America of homeless guys near garbage cans, unwed, drug-addicted mothers with babies in their arms who will never get to go to school, grow up cool: Trump’s dystopian America of carnage and wasted human potential.
But first … This week: Our buddies from Vernon Hill spotted in downtown Worcester! These Blue lives matter to me! – Rose T.
And … I saw these homemade signs on a nearby Blackstone River Road apartment building … yesterday … speaking truth to power! I believe in my city! The second largest city in New England! City of immigrants! Beautifully diverse! Revived by all the new young progressive professionals getting good jobs here, patronizing our cool businesses, settling down in our neighborhoods. WANTING – demanding! – A BETTER WOO! The new America! … WORCESTER WILL GET IT RIGHT! A first step: THIS TUESDAY the WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL VOTED FOR BODY CAMERAS FOR THE POLICE OFFICERS OF THE WPD. This is a good thing – for everybody! Great, professional cops have nothing to fear by wearing the cameras, but our mediocre police officers will be reminded TO BRING THEIR BEST GAME TO THEIR JOBS. They – all – WPD police officers will act more prudently, more thoughtfully. And the public will feel – and be – safer. Yay!! text/pics: Rose
COVID curbs cruelty on the fair circuit
By Jennifer O’Connor
Right about now, the state and county fair season would normally be in full swing. For the elephants and camels who are forced to plod in endless circles; the tiger cubs torn from their mothers to be used as profitable photo props; and the cows, rabbits, chickens and other animals hauled around for 4-H and other “ag” displays, the coronavirus crisis has been a welcome reprieve.
From April through September, big cats, elephants, monkeys, kangaroos—basically every animal from alligators to zebras—are trucked around the country from one fair to the next. Day after day, animals spend their time caged or chained in stifling tractor-trailers or in cramped cages and display pens. After being poked, prodded, petted, raced, ridden and roughly handled by countless fairgoers in one location, the animals are loaded up to start the cycle all over again in another city. Fairgoers come for the day then go home, but for the animals, every miserable day is the same as the one before.
SAVE ALL WILD ANIMALS FROM COUNTY FAIRS…Trained bear cubs = tortured, terrified bear cubs!
BAN ALL EXOTIC ANIMAL ACTS FROM WORCESTER
Animals who naturally shun human contact are repeatedly forced to interact with the public. Weeks-old tiger cubs will never see their mother again or learn from her what it means to be a tiger. Elephants are whacked with bullhooks — heavy batons with a sharp steel hook on the end — to keep them in line. Bright, inquisitive bears become caricatures of their true selves when forced to perform headstands on command. At least one exhibitor even takes sea lions around the country. These ocean dwellers couldn’t be in a more alien environment.
But it’s not just exotic species that suffer. Goldfish given away as prizes are more likely to end up flushed down the toilet than cherished. Ponies on turnstiles are so spent that they plod along on autopilot. Smart, sociable pigs may go unfed so that they’ll “race” for cookies.
Then there are the doomed animals in 4-H and Future Farmers of America programs, who are destined for one of two fates: sold at auction for slaughter or to be used as breeders. What does it say about society’s mindset when children are encouraged to participate in a program that ultimately means death for an animal they’ve befriended and whose trust they actively tried to win?
Many of these displays also put human health at risk. We know that the coronavirus originated in animals then jumped to humans. Multiple bacterial, viral and parasitic agents have been associated with animal contact, including salmonella, ringworm, campylobacter and rabies. Countless children and adults alike have been sickened with E. coli after even casual animal contact. The bacteria have been found on railings and bleachers and even in sawdust. Toddlers can transfer germs from their fingers onto their sippy cups or pacifiers or by sucking their thumbs. And like the coronavirus, E. coli can remain in the environment for extended periods of time. Hand sanitizer does nothing to prevent the spread of the germ via inhalation.
If the coronavirus crisis has taught us anything, it’s that traditions can and sometimes must change. Going forward, that mindset should also apply to the fair as we know it. It’s high time that cruel animal displays gave way to fresh and innovative exhibits that appeal to a generation concerned about animals and our planet.
Pic of Rose when Green Island celebrated July 4th with BONFIRES!
I’ve celebrated the Fourth on a blanket in Boston listening to the Boston Pops and guest vocalist Johnny Cash. I’ve celebrated the Fourth at East Park here in Worcester. Always a lovely time.
Last night I was thinking about my Green Island Fourth of July’s – the years when I was a kid and lived with my mother, father, sisters and grandmother in “the Island”:
I am a little kid – about 9 – and I am standing on our three decker’s back porch. Third floor. It is the afternoon and the sun is shining sweetly. I am looking at “Val,” the buxom middle-aged lady who lives across the way from our rickety three decker in her rickety six-unit building, on her third-floor porch. A big, weed-choked, empty lot lies between our buildings but that is all. The vegetation hasn’t kept Val from inserting herself into ours – everyone’s – lives.
She is wearing a negligee today – for the Fourth of July. I can see it from my back porch. She is on her back porch talking loudly. I swear I can see her bright red lips from my third floor porch! In 10 years I will have learned the word “slatternly,” and it will remind me of Val … but today I am a little kid so Val is just … Val.
AMERICA – ALWAYS #1 IN ROSE’S HEART
Val is very drunk on this special national holiday – in a very happy, friendly way. She is talking with anyone who passes by her building, her ta ta’s damn near falling out of her negligee as she leans over her porch railing to chat up passersby who always chat back. I am standing on my porch, quiet as a mouse, not even smiling because I know Val can be scary sometimes. On a few occasions she has battled with my granny, called my granny, also feisty, a DP – Dumb Polack – during one of their shouting matches held across their back porches. DP, my mom tells me, really stands for Displaced Persons, what they sometimes called immigrants. Val is being mean when she yells DP at my granny, who doesn’t miss a beat and yells back: KISS MY ASSY! and turns her plump little dumpling shaped butt to Val – while standing on our back porch – and tap, taps her butt which is covered in those sweet all flannel nighties with little pink rose buds on them. Bapy – Polish for Granny – wore those flannel nighties year ’round – even in the summer.
Granny is not battling Val today. Granny is inside, sitting in her easy chair we have set up for her in the kitchen, at the head of the kitchen table, a place from which she candrink her cup of coffee, eat her egg sandwich and see and comment on all the household happenings. She has been sitting there my whole life! I love her with all my heart!
But I digress. Val is out on her porch today in her negligee because it is the Fourth of July, a special day – for her and America. Val has turned and gone inside her apartment, a flat that is also home to her wimpy boyfriend, gorgeous blond 18 year old daughter from another guy, and two huge attack dogs: a German Shepherd and Doberman. Both fierce. Both having chased me up a fence more than a few times. Val doesn’t believe in walking her dogs to do poop. She just lets them out, they rush down the three flights of stairs like noisy moose and shit and pee in the little front yard and rush back upstairs. Val has them trained to a tee.
This ol’ Kodak Instamatic photo, taken by Rose when she was a kid, depicts her Green Island view from her third floor back porch. “Val”‘s building is on the right.
Val has come out of her flat – this time she is carrying her portable record player. I am watching all this from my back porch – not saying a word, not even smiling. Just waiting … . Val puts her record player down, hooks it up to a bunch of extension cords and I see her going back in, cord in hand. Then she comes out with a record album – a big one. I am guessing it is the same one she played last year, has the songs which we – the entire Bigelow Street neighborhood – heard last Fourth of July: patriotic tunes. The kind you can – like Val – march around on your Green Island porch to. Later I would learn these songs were written by John Philip Sousa.
Val puts on her lp. Cranks it up! Da da da da da da de da da! La da da da de da da! Boy, this music is good! Very up beat! I am tapping my feet! I look across the way and see Val crack open another beer and take a sloppy swig and lie on her reclining beach chair on her porch. I can see her relaxing through the slats on her porch through the slats on my porch!
The music is great! Val is getting drunker. …
It is a few hours later and Val is singing – to the entire neighborhood! The folks in our hood are getting ramped up! People are coming out and throwing chairs and sofas and old tires into a big pile in the empty lot a few lots down from Val’s place, diagonally across the way from our three decker flat. I go in doors and crow to my mom: THEY ARE GETTING READY FOR THE BIG BONFIRE, MA! To myself: HOORAY!
My mom, careworn, grimaces. She doesn’t say a word, never voices her disapproval of Val. But I know she is not thrilled with the situation. Sometimes she is the one who will call the Worcester Fire department when the flames of the big bonfire grow too huge and lap up the July night air and orange sparks fill our Green Island night. The fire has never spread cuz the neighborhood kids and adults have kept it in check with big poles that they use to poke at it. But the flames still worried my mom …
But the eve has just begun! I so want to be a part of the celebration and throw some of Bapy’s rags onto the bonfire! She has so many that she wraps her arms in for her arthritis. Old country ways/cures die hard in Green Island. … Bapy never really changes her clothes. Just gives herself sporadic sponge baths and peels off old rags and puts on new ones. She always smells fecund. I love her odor! I still miss her Bapy smell!! If only we could re-smell all the people we have loved through the years. The men I have been with, my late mom who held me to her heavy Heaven Scented perfumed breasts as a child and a teen, my Bapy’s immigrant odor, my long-gone dog Bailey’s gamey scent … .
Anyways, the bonfire was being readied for the big night, but my mom would never let me join in the mayhem. It was all a little too wild for us. We were the good kids. My mom the perfect mom who worked so hard at the dry cleaners and went to church with her three girls every Sunday. My mom knew everyone in the hood and was always polite and talked with folks, etc – she was not a snob. But, she liked to tell her girls, she would never sit and have a cigarette with the ladies, like half the women in our hood did – visiting each other in each other’s tenements, gossiping about folks, bitching about cheating husbands and boyfriends. My mother was busy raising her girls as perfectly as she could, making sure they went to school every day and did all their homework and got all As and went to bed early and ate well. She had no time to wallow in her poverty – or her husband’s wild ways. She – we – transcended the shit.
So, there I was, stuck on our third-floor porch. An observer. My sisters would be home from Crompton Park soon. They would love this spectacle, too! Not as much as I did. But they would hang out on the porch, eating Freeze Pops, their lips ice blue from the sugared ice treat – and watch.
My father would disappear for the day. Celebrate in his own fashion, I guess. He was as crooked as some of the guys in the hood, but he played out his crookedness in other parts of Worcester. I suspect the East Side of town. What my mom and us kids didn’t know wouldn’t hurt us.
… It was dark out now and Val was singing up a storm and marching around her porch. La di da di da!!! Bang bang! Someone had lit the bonfire and everyone was gathered around it! Except for me and my kid sisters. We were on our back porch eating Freeze Pops, mesmerized by the flames – they must have been two stories high! The folks in the hood out did themselves this year! It was like something you would see in an old Western movie – the Indians roasting an elk on a spit they had set up over the flames. People’s faces orange from the glow of the flames. Very primitive and real.
“Come out here, Ma!” I yelled to my mother. “Ya should see how big the bonfire is this year!!”
My mother was indoors getting our clothes ready for the Fourth of July cook out we would be having at our Uncle Mark and Aunt Mary’s the next day. They lived in a a cute pink ranch house in the Burncoat area – a nicer part of town. My mom liked this part of the Fourth best of all. A day off she could celebrate with her favorite sister in her sister’s big back yard, my Uncle Mark grilling hamburgers and hot dogs on the big three legged grill he had stoked with those black brickettes he always doused with lighter fluid. Yum, yum, yum ! We were all pre-vegetarian in those days – ate meat, Nissaan white rolls and buns, potato chips, soda, Cheez-Its … the typical American BBQ 1960s fare. Heaven!
Ma would have none of it. She was busy making sandwiches for the cook out at Uncle Mark’s. She wanted us in bed early for tomorrow. We kids would have none of it. The flames were roaring! So was Val! Some jerk threw too many old tires on the bon fire, so now the air smelled awful! It was thick with gray smoke. We kids started coughing. Ma came out and took a look. Her mouth fell open. She looked at her three silly girls and frowned. I knew … She was calling 911.
In a matter of minutes the Worcester Fire Department had come and the fireman were hosing down the bon fire with their big hoses. The flames were doused out! Smoke was everywhere.
BOO! BOO! BOO! shouted all the kids and adults at the firemen. You could hear their laughs, too.
“Boo, Boo! Boo!!!” my sisters and I yelled from our back porch, laughing. “BOO! BOO!”
It had been, as usual, a fab Fourth of July!
Chuck Berry. AN AMERICAN ICON. A FOUNDING FATHER OF ROCK N ROLL. … When I was in college, my boyfriend at UMass was a professional lighting technician for rock bands. All kinds of musical shows. Jazz and folk, too. He did lights for many a Chuck Berry show. He said: Chuck always worked alone. Not too friendly. Always brought his own gear. Tough to work with … A MUSICAL GENIUS.
… My guy LOVED DOING LIGHTS FOR BILLY JOEL AND BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. He said they treated their crew – everybody – with total respect and love.
COVID-19 cases are rising in many parts of America as our states are relaxing lockdown measures … and we’re still months, if not years, away from a vaccine.
Health experts are still warning that a larger, second wave of COVID 19 infections could hit us later this year. But let’s not despair — we can still take steps to help stave off the virus and other health problems.
Eat more veggies to stay healthy! pics: Chef Joey
In addition to social distancing, hand-washing and wearing face masks, let’s eat more immune-boosting veggies, fruits and foods to stay healthy:
While wholesome vegan foods won’t cure COVID-19 if you become infected, they can help strengthen your immune system so you’re less susceptible to viruses in the first place. Corinne Bush, science director for the American Nutrition Association and a member of the Personalized Nutrition and COVID-19 Task Force, told The Washington Post that one of the best ways to bolster our immune systems is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and other plant foods are nutritional powerhouses — and they’re tasty, too. They’re cholesterol-free, low in saturated fat, rich in fiber and other nutrients, and have been shown to prevent — and, in some cases, reverse — chronic ailments, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
The American Cancer Society recently released new guidelines encouraging people to eat plant foods rather than red and processed meats. This is especially timely advice considering that research suggests that cancer patients and survivors who get COVID-19 are more likely to succumb to the virus than people who have never had cancer.
Ripe bananas make great b-bread.
Overall, people with chronic diseases are more vulnerable to COVID-19, which is worrisome since approximately 133 million Americans — more than 40% of the U.S. population — suffer from at least one chronic disease.
Health experts encourage everyone to eat foods that contain flavonoids — nutrients found in citrus fruits, berries, apples, broccoli, legumes and other plant foods—to help protect against the novel coronavirus and other pathogens. While we can’t prevent or cure COVID-19 with produce, we can maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce our risk for chronic illnesses that would make us more susceptible to it.
Unfortunately, some people aren’t buying produce now that they need it the most, because prices have gone up, likely because of an initial surge in demand (as restaurants closed and more people began buying fruits and vegetables to prepare at home). Retail experts predict that higher farm labor costs are also driving up the cost of fresh produce.
No one wants to pay extra, especially since so many of us are unemployed or seeing our savings take a nosedive—or both. But we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by skimping on important nutrients and buying cheap fast food or processed junk food.
Vegan foods—such as beans, rice, tofu and pasta—still tend to cost less than animal-derived foods. The price of tofu, for example, currently averages about $2.66 per pound. Not bad for a versatile food that’s associated with lower rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other conditions.
A pre-pandemic study involving more than 1,000 people around the nation found that meat-eaters spend an average of $23 more per week on groceries than those who don’t eat meat. In the long run, I suspect they spend a lot more if you factor in the medical bills you can rack up if you eat unhealthy animal-based foods.
Last year, researchers at Tufts University suggested subsidizing fruits and vegetables, saying they could prevent millions of cases of chronic disease and save more than $100 billion in healthcare costs. Food is powerful medicine, according to the researchers, who say it should be treated as a key element in healthcare.
Perhaps now, the pandemic will force us to revisit that idea or at least give us all the impetus to eat more produce and other healthy vegan foods. Because, while fruits and veggies won’t stop the novel coronavirus, eating healthy can certainly help bolster our defenses against it.
On Thursday evening, I watched a special meeting of the Worcester Board of Health, but because I am not very “tech-savvy” I found it rather difficult to follow the discussion, the voting and the conclusions of the Board. So far, my exposure to these “virtual” get-togethers via ZOOM have not been overly successful: not seeing those who choose to participate by phone and the peculiar color and demeanor of those whom you CAN see, is rather “off-putting.” We miss so much when we are not in a room together! But to the best of my ability, I will summarize what took place:
Edith Claros, the vice-chair of the City of Worcester Board of Health presided; the meeting focused on racism, the Worcester Police Dept and alleged police brutality in our city.
The virtual meeting was carried on the city’s government channel, #192, and because we are all distancing from one another, it was coming to us via ZOOM. The first hour was mostly given over to Board Chairman David Fort, who explained why racism is a public health problem and that solutions to reducing it means we must promote equitable access to all in all aspects of society. He then presented some data and asked to address our problems here in Worcester. It seems that his main focus was problems with policing in Worcester. (I think this emphasis no doubt had much to do with
the protests and the general context of the George Floyd murder and the aftermath.)
This City meeting was not open to public comment, and the Board will meet again on July 13 to take up publicly the matters that were discussed at this meeting.
Very briefly, here is my summary of the 12 points in David Fort’s presentation:
🛑1. Acknowledge that racism and bigotry permeate our society
🛑2. Adopt the POST (Peace Officer Standards Training ) system statewide, certify our Worcester police officers and enable de-certification for misdemeanor or abuse by an officer
🛑3. Develop a plan to identify police officers with racist/bigoted views
🛑4. Educate/retrain police officers so identified
🛑5. Be transparent and fair in investigating police officers so identified
🛑6. Commit to work with a Community Police Misconduct Review Board
🛑7. Require all WPD police officers to take anti-bias workshops at least twice each year
🛑8. Develop healthy, non-violent relationships with members of the Black community and other communities suffering police brutality and misconduct
🛑9. Adopt clear statutory limits re: use of force (including chokeholds and other deadly tactics)
🛑10. Adopt Civil Service Exam Review – adopt the Peace Officer Exam/Advisory Board
🛑11. Training and the implementation of de-escalation models
🛑12. Establish consistent and regular updates on progress and recommendations to the Worcester Board of Health
There was a discussion about numerous programs already implemented by the Worcester Police Department. It was mentioned that Worcester has had gun buybacks, 50 crime watch groups, etc. The question of budgeting for the new programs was not addressed, as the Worcester Board of Health has no jurisdiction over city budget matters.
Several doctors present added to the consensus that this really is a health problem, and they agreed with points made. But there was some who considered the presentation “inflammatory” – one member of the board said if we as a city are to have a conversation, this language might cause regression in already existing city programs.
We can learn from each other. I have always believed, and experience backs me up, that “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
It was decided that Board of Health Chairman David Fort, Edith Claros, the Board’s vice chair, and someone from the Worcester Police Department would meet to discuss all these proposals and ideas before July 13.
Since this proposal had not yet been shared with the Worcester Police Dept, there was discussion about getting a copy to the WPD to study before the small meeting … and, of course, by July 13, it would be available to all.
Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent
I have lived in Worcester since 1967, have had Vietnamese, Cambodian, Ethiopian and white foster children during those years. I have neighbors from the Dominican Republic, Albania, Peru, other far-away places. We all get along, and they are friendly and helpful (I am pushing 90 years of age). I have always believed and practiced the “Golden Rule” and found that 99.9% of the time, others respond in kind. I certainly agree wholeheartedly that opening a dialogue with the police, working on commonly agreed to goals and treating one another with respect go a very long way toward solving problems.