Tag Archives: closing

The last dress …

How “fitting”! The last dress I picked up at Building 19 – this pretty sheath – has a busted zipper! No worries…  I paid a whopping $2.50 for it during Building 19-Spags’ final day close-out, MOVE IT ALL OUT sale. It’s a “sample” – worth much more than $2.50. Samples are very small sizes of very good clothing that most American woman have trouble squeezing themselves into. Sellers take samples to dept stores and show the stores’ buyers what’s new for the season. The buyers decide if they want to order the clothing for the store. Sometimes, at Building 19, the samples had teeny, inconspicuous stains on them or were slightly damaged – but still very wearable. This beauty, whose color is not faded (it’s the light hitting it in a cool way) is a size 8, which I don’t think I can pour myself into … yet. Maybe never. But, hey, I saw it, fell in love with it and brought it home. 

I may have the zipper repaired … or I may just keep it hanging on my bedroom closet door like this. Looking at it makes me happy and sad: pretty dress/all those great Building 19 workers now unemployed …  – R. Tirella

Au revoir, Spags-Building 19 in Shrewsbury!










Me in my Building 19 dress – cost me 6 bucks, it did!

By Rosalie Tirella

Yup. Cheap cheap cheap is gone cuz, well, cuz the people of Wusta and Shoesbury are/were too CHEAP to support even a Building 19! As one Spags-Building 19 clerk told me a few days ago, when they closed their doors for good: The locals wanted the old Spags prices at the Building 19 site. We just weren’t cheap enough! she said incredulously.

She added, looking exasperated: Since the store announced their closing (a few months ago) and items were discounted 10% – well, now, the place is hopping!

Yup! A few pennies or dollars make a HUGE difference to the savvy/cheapskate Woo buyer!

I, on the other hand, am frugal. Meaning I am working class and live within my means. I always shopped at B 19 – on Grafton Street and the Shrewsbury site because if you spent an hour or two just ever so closely looking at everything in the big warehouse spaces you could find really really good stuff, great brands, well made clothing and gear, CHEAP. Just like their advertisements said! I always got solid winter boots there – for a fraction of a dept. store price – and cotton sheet sets, cool draperies, basic and sometimes sexy underwear, mattresses, box springs, living room chairs, shoes, sandals, etc.  Two days ago (the Shrewsbury site’s last day open), I picked up some great pleather jackets for, like, $2 each. Not to mention 10 or 11 cute cotton tops for 17 cents and 22 cents each. They were closing up for good – stuff was 90% off. Though I heard one customer bitch: If it’s their last day, then everything should be 99% off! I looked at her and frowned. A few weeks ago, when the price of merchandise was cut 70%  I got a bunch of great dresses – for like $3 each. Cute and fun!

Still, the closing of the Shrewsbury B 19 store, like the old Grafton Street store, hurt me. Not cuz of the future missed bargains but cuz of the B 19 workers  – many of them middle-aged ladies working for slightly above minimum wage, dealing with cheapo Woo folks, organizing piles of stuff for hours and hours, haggling over pennies. Now, most of them are jobless. B 19 didn’t tell them of their closing until the last minute. They were, at the time I spoke to some clerks, offered no jobs at other B 19 stores. On Grafton Street, when that B 19 store closed a little more than a year ago, all the clerks looked dumbstruck when I visited. They were shell shocked, hurt … and all the poorer cuz of the closing. They got no vacation pay, no severance pay, job training, nothing. Out they all went. I remember my fave clerk – an older black lady. She had worked at B 19 for more than 15 years. She looked so sad, standing behind her customer service desk cash register. Some of her cohorts had gotten transferred to the B 19 in Shrewsbury.  She didn’t. I told her I was going to miss her and teared up. She looked heart broken!

Workers in the fast food industry and big box stores across Mass and America UNITE! Unionize! Agitate for an increase in the minimum wage! And tell your kids and grandkids to stay in school and get trained for a career that will catapult them into the middle class. I was raised by a single mom who worked 60 hours a week for minimum wage. It was hard!!! My mom was an outstanding, lovely clerk at a dry cleaners for more than 25 years. She never got a raise – even though she was a fantastic worker, never missed work, never took sick days and got 1 lousy week of vacation a year. When the new guy, years later, bought the dry cleaners, he was amazed that the previous owners had never given my mother a raise. He immediately hiked my mom’s salary.

Bosses exploit workers. They don’t care what their home life is or if their kids are hungry or wearing not so nice clothes. They will get what they can get.

Brutal minimum wage/low wage world!

Good buy, B 19 workers! You were the best! My heart goes with you!

Au Revoir, Higgins Armory

By Paul M. Fontaine

I was very less than pleased to find out that the Higgins Armory Museum is closing.  I had been to the Higgins Armory many times as a child and as an adult. I had regarded the Higgins Armory as an old friend in the city of Worcester.  I particularly enjoyed walking through the Great Hall and browsing the museums’ well-stocked gift shop. My two favorite Higgins artifacts were a suit of Japanese samurai armor and a suit of French Cuirassier (heavy cavalry) Napoleonic armor.

Although the Higgins’ primary focus was on medieval arms and armor, it did branch out to cover other eras of military history.  One of my favorite non-medieval Higgins events was back in the 1992; the museum had a whole month of events and presentations to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War II. The Higgins armory would also have small special exhibits on the second floor. Once such exhibit that I remember fondly was a presentation comparing the medieval knight to the modern motorcycle rider.

The Higgins armory was a rare institution in that it offered both entertainment and education to its visitors. Every time I visited the armory, I learned something new about medieval armor and a little more about life in the Middle Ages. The museum also had a variety of programs during the summer and school vacations for children in school.

I had had a membership with the Higgins Armory on and off for several years during the 1990s.  I let it lapse for a couple of years. After reading in the Boston Globe that the museum had suffered a flood, I renewed my Higgins membership for a couple more years.  I tried to renew my membership after that but I was unable to. Although my membership benefited me with only a few programs the Higgins museum put on, I felt like I belonged to an important organization within the city of Worcester.

Sadly, that is all now coming to an end. The Museum was faced with a considerable financial debt and the Higgins board of directors has voted to close the museum permanently. It has been publicly stated that the Worcester Art Museum will open up a wing to house some of the Higgins’ artifacts. How many artifacts will be housed there and how big will the Higgins wing actually be? And how many pieces will be able to be presented in that wing?

I can’t see the Art Museum building another wing to house the Higgins pieces, because they clearly don’t have the space on their property to do so.  So they will have to create a new Higgins exhibit from existing WAM space.  How big will that exhibit actually be? And how will the WAM decide which pieces will be presented in the exhibit?

Then there is question of how much the Worcester city government could have actually done to help the museum stay in business.  The city always seems to offer tax increment financing on development deals that may initially appear profitable but have not turned out to be so.  Why couldn’t some kind of arrangement have been reached to keep the Higgins doors open?

The situation with the Higgins museum is indicative of the current problem in Worcester. This city is so intent on trying to be more like the larger, more cosmopolitan, cities in New England, but they neglect older  treasures within Worcester that have helped to define Worcester and set it apart from cities like Providence and Boston.

I have not been able to visit the Higgins Armory for the past several years, mostly due to personal finances, but I have always kept up on events that the Higgins Armory was sponsoring. I will try to visit the Higgins at least once more before it closes. Yes, I know the Worcester Art Museum will try to keep the Higgins legacy alive, but it just won’t be the same.

Au Revoir, Higgins Armory. You will be sorely missed.




Re-open the Providence Street Fire Station

By Sue Moynagh

It is hard to believe that the Providence Street Fire Station has been closed for almost three years. Back in 2008, some of us fought to keep it open because we were concerned about the safety of our neighborhood. The station was officially closed and reopened as a UMass Memorial Health Care EMS station in 2009.

What has happened since then? We have had a number of serious fires in the Union Hill/ Vernon Hill neighborhood, several on Arlington Street alone. Would it have made a difference if the station were still open? I think so. I also believe it is time to look at opening the fire station again.

When the station closed, there were no immediate problems. In 2010, however, there were two major fires in the Vernon Hill neighborhood, less than a week apart. On September 16 of that year, a fire broke out at a three- decker onWest Upsala Street. The heat from that fire scorched neighboring buildings and cars, and, since then, the building has been demolished and a new house occupies the site. On September 22, another fire occurred on Lund Street.

Responding fire trucks were delayed at both fires.

This year, there has been a run of major fires, starting with 56 Upsala Street on July 25. Arlington Street runs parallel to Providence Street and serious fires occurred right behind the old fire station. Recently, a fire claimed the life of firefighter Jon Davies at 49 Arlington Street. Adjacent to that site is another fire- damaged building at 51 Arlington Street. Both buildings are marked with the “X” that identifies buildings that are no longer safe to enter in event of another fire. Both buildings are behind the old Providence Street fire station.

On December 26, a fire broke out at 71 Harrison Street in the evening around 6:00 p.m. This house is very close to my home, so I also heard the arrival of fire trucks around 4:00 a.m. the next morning, when the fire broke out again. I decided it was time to voice my concerns about the need for added fire protection in this part of the city.

The Union Hill/ Vernon Hill section of the city has many old buildings, many over a century old. Some have been upgraded and are well- maintained by landlords. Unfortunately, many are not kept up and some are empty of tenants. You can see the dry- rotted wood on porches when you walk by. You can often hear smoke alarms beeping because the batteries are running down. Some of the tenants don’t care about disposal of trash or storage of flammable materials, or may not know how to do these things properly. These conditions can contribute to rapid spread of fire throughout a building, and it is essential that fire fighters are able to respond as quickly as possible when these fires occur.

Every minute counts – especially when lives are at stake.

There is another issue which could also impact the movement of emergency vehicles into the neighborhood. Because of the CSX railroad expansion on lower Grafton Street, part of Coral Street will be closed to two way traffic. This route is important for access of fire trucks to the Union Hill neighborhood. Making Coral Street one- way to traffic may not make much difference in moderate weather and under light traffic conditions, but how will trucks from the Franklin Street station maneuver on ice- coated streets, around downed tree limbs and through stalled traffic in severe winter conditions?

If the Franklin Street station trucks cannot respond to a fire, trucks from the station at McKeon Road are often summoned to these fires. If the trains are crossing McKeon Road, traffic can stop for almost an hour, and emergency vehicles obviously cannot respond by this route. This happens often enough to be a source of concern. We need a fire station in the neighborhood where these fires occur.

I hope that the city officials reconsider re-opening the Providence Street Fire Station, and also the necessity of keeping Coral Street open to two- way traffic. These fires have demonstrated the need for additional protection in the Union Hill/ Vernon Hill area, as well as prompt response and easy access when fires occur. Let’s not wait for another tragedy to wake up and take action.

From A.J. Wright to its working-class customers and staff: Happy Holidays and don’t let the door hit you on the way out

By Warren Pepicelli, manager of the New England Joint Board


On behalf of our 821 New England Joint Board members employed at the A.J. Wright distribution center in Fall River, Massachusetts, whose jobs will be eliminated – and thinking as well of the thousands of A.J. Wright retail and distribution employs around the country who are receiving the devastating news in the midst of the holiday season — I want to express my anger and the anger of our Joint Board and of UNITE HERE at a system that considers only the interests of stockholders seeking maximum profit, even as the needs of American workers and consumers are dealt with after the fact, as a kind of collateral damage.

The union has been meeting all day with our members in the Fall River area – including hundreds of workers commuting to this facility from Rhode Island, as well as from Southeastern Massachusetts – and assuring them of our commitment to negotiate the best possible terms for their futures that can be obtained in this tragic situation. Continue reading From A.J. Wright to its working-class customers and staff: Happy Holidays and don’t let the door hit you on the way out

Call for Action: Close the PIP now!

Date: Monday, October 4
Time: 11:00 am
Place: Sidewalk in front of 701 Main Street, Worcester

District 4 City Councilor Barbara G. Haller and Chairman of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety William T. Breault are holding a press conference to call attention to the unacceptable delay in closing the People in Peril (PIP) Shelter at 701 Main Street. Neighbors of the shelter are expected to attend and add their voices to a call to end the delay and close the PIP.

In 2007, the City Manager’s Task Force on Homelessness released its Three Year Plan to End Homelessness in Worcester, under the co-chairmanship of former Mayor Jordan Levy and former City Manager Jeff Mulford. The task force crafted a consensus strategy of homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing with wraparound services. The City Council’s unanimous support resulted in City Manager Michael O’Brien’s setting an administrative goal to close the PIP in 2009. Continue reading Call for Action: Close the PIP now!

An Open Letter to the Worcester Community

Autumn 2009

The announcement over two years ago that the City [of Worcester] wanted to close our nine pools angered many in our community. Maybe it upset you. We organized families, teenagers and friends from all Worcester neighborhoods, naming ourselves “Save Our Poolz.” From that beginning, Save Our Poolz worked to teach our leaders how important Worcester’s pools were to our children, families and neighborhoods. We surveyed over 600 neighbors who overwhelmingly (94%) said they wanted pools, not spray facilities. We talked to other cites. We talked to people who build pools. We believe, as so many Worcester residents do, that Worcester’s pools and parks are extremely important and Worcester needed to develop a plan to save them. Continue reading An Open Letter to the Worcester Community

Let’s read into this

By Rosalie Tirella

Here it is, our city library’s 150’th birthday, and what do the citizens of Worcester get? The Worcester Public Library, probably the only public library system in a second-tier city without a branch library system (check out Springfield’s and Hartford’s – much poorer cities – they have several branch libraries in their neighborhoods!), will close its doors on Sundays and Mondays. Of course it’s only the main branch at Salem Square. It would have to be the downtown facility, which was renovated and expanded with a breathtakingly beautiful facade several years ago. Ironically, the newer WPL gets its doors shut more often than when it was a leaky, ’60s throw back with pukey carpeting! How pathetic! The Main library lost (due to lay-offs) 8 librarians and two other staffers. So close its doors we must – on Monday and Sundays, a day when many working parents can accompany their kids to library for fun/homework activities.

Of course, the Greendale Branch library wasn’t touched. Why? Because the upper-middle class/yuppie types who use it (and need its resources less than the poorer folks who use the downtown library) would throw a fit! They would be calling Tim Murray to bitch. They would be whining to City Manager Mike O’Brien. They would – voters every one of them – threaten the politicians with their “throw the bums out” phone calls.

So what do we lose? For two days, Worcester’s flagship library is closed. Closed to the public so that any one who wants to learn about Worcester cannot access the library’s fantastic Worcester room and all its Worcester books, newspaper clippings, etc. If you are a Main South kid – a really smart kid whose parents can’t afford Interent access – and you want to do research for your history term paper at YOUR library on Sunday, forget it. The computers are down because the library is shut down. If you are an immigrant who is looking for a job – or job skills – forget coming to the library to go on line to look at job data bases. That’s all at the freakin’ Greendale Branch!!!

This city oughta be ashamed of itself. Years ago, when my grandparents came over from Poland, they had kids, and like any immigrant family, they wanted to be Americans and succeed in America – and learn, learn, learn. My Uncle Mark used to tell us when he was a little kid in the 1930s, his family couldn’t afford the newspapers. But he was smart – he wanted to go to college. So every day my uncle would walk to the Cambridge Street Branch of the Worcester Public Library to read the newspaper. Every day!! He went on to Fordam University and a couple of masters degrees. His dad was a factory worker and couldn’t speak much English.

The American Dream! What is Worcester telling the world when it closes its first-class main library that – and we shouldn’t be ashamed of this fact – is a short walk from the PIP, poor inner-city neighborhoods, working-class neighborhoods – and chooses to instead keep the status quo in a teeny branch library in the Burncoat/Greendale neighborhood? The Greendale Branch is not losing any librarians (and they are a snooty, unfriendly lot – nothing like the heros of our main branch!). Why shouldn’t they share some of the pain?  Why? Because that would mean our city leaders would have to have a sense of fair play.