Tag Archives: Green Island Grrrl

Pink Easter gloves

By Rosalie Tirella

My mom had a stroke a few years ago and since then she has a kind of dementia. Not the Alzheimer’s Disease kind that sends you (eventually) into a nursing home/Alzheimers’ unit – just the kind where you’re dottie enough to drive everyone around you crazy. You see, the stroke left my mother with very little short-term memory. Conversations about today are pointless. You tell her stuff a thousand times … and still she forgets.

Shame on me. I have stopped visiting her. I mean have stopped visiting WITH her. I am there at her cozy little studio apartment on the West Side every few days, but it’s pretty much to re-heat her Meals on Wheels, make her bed, check to see if she’s OK and that her homemaker and personal care attendant are on the ball. It feels more like a part-time job than a visit with Mom. Sometimes we end up in a kind of screaming match. “Please!” I say to my mother, “Don’t say a word! ‘Cause I’ll go crazy!! I’ve already told you this 20 times!”

Then I make her her precious HUGE cup of coffee and run out the door.

Gone is my best bud. In her place, a weak, disorganized 85-year-old lady.

I feel more guilty than proud. Proud of myself that, as her primary care giver, I have made it possible for my mom to continue living in her studio apartment with her cat and her big TV always turned on to a Red Sox game. If I were living away, in Boston, like my two sisters, she would not be able to continue to live in her apartment. I have promised myself (and my mom though she doesn’t know it) that my mother will not languish in a nursing home – the kind of institution that this dumpling shaped but strong-willed little woman would not – could not – thrive in. The Old Country (Poland) is where my mother’s mother, my grandmother “Bapy,” hailed from. No one put anyone away in the Old Country. Your old, dottie parents were supposed to live with you, turn your hair gray (and make you dottie!) until it was their time to meet their Maker. “God’s will be done,” folks said as they buried their ancient parents who ended up their children at the end. This phrase was always code, in our Polish/Italian household for: “Hooray! Finally! This albatross (insert problem/crisis) has been cut from our necks!”

My Bapy lived with us until she died. She was a holy terror – a 4-foot-5-inch tall woman who could go mano to mano with my hot tempered Italian father. Once she went into the pantry and came out with a huge carving knife to prove her point! So when she (finally) died, my mom cried and said: “God’s will be done.” Which meant Thank you, God, for taking this cantankerous old woman out of my little children’s lives. For the first time in my 14 years on earth, the Tirella household of Green Island was wonderfully quiet. For a few hours at a stretch even!

Easter is when I best remember my grandmother and my mother in their prime, two women who had brutal lives, and yet never missed attedning mass on Good Friday, Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday in their EASTER BONNETS! My mom even wore gloves! All the women did in the 1950s and early 1960s. I can still picture my mother’s Easter gloves: they were cotton and went to the middle of your wrist. Their color: the softest powder pink.

I used to wonder: Why doesn’t Daddy love Mummy when she wears the prettiest gloves? When she tries so hard to make everybody happy? When she walks with us to jack and Jill’s children’s store on Green Street to buy me and my two sisters the prettiest Easter dresses?

My father never went to church and would never dress up for Easter mass. He thought it – religion – was a stupid excuse concocted by my mother. In his ignorance, he had had a Marxist epiphany: Religion is the Opiate of the masses. My father got it. “You’re as simple as the day is long!” he used to scream at my mother, his face as red as a tomato, the veins in his forehead raised and pulsating. “Keep praying!” he yelled. Which meant: You can never know what a shitty life you and your little girls have: your minimum wage job at the dry cleaners, the 60-hour work week you put in, the lack of financial support from me, no car, no vacations … nothing! – because you are too busy dressing up for Jesus, singing for God, enjoying Catholicism!

As an atheist, my father could wallow in his pointless life and perspective.

Still, I can’t – will never – forget my mom’s pink Easter gloves! When I was a little girl, they used to make me so happy! My mom used to let me try them on. Someday, they’ll be yours she told me.

And the hats! My mom and grandmother were chruch going women in the 1940s and 1950s when everyone wore hats -just like they did in all those great Katherine Hepburn and Irene Dunne movies. American ladies – proper ladies – in their proper hats. Lace, feathers, geometric shapes that we so dramatic! Just watch Irene Dunne (with Cary Grant) in the 1940s classic film “The Awful Truth.” You’ll see what I mean!

I remember my grandmother’s Easter hat – a purple affair, with a few purplish berries and some maroonish netting to cover the eyes/top of your face. No matter how bad things got during the Great Depression or World War II my grandmother went to mass every day – walking down Lafayette Street, up Millbury Street to Richland Street, home of her parish, the little polish church, Our lady of Czetchova. In the spring and summer, and especially Easter week, she wore that hat. Maybe a decade ago my sister got a hold of Bapy’s Easter bonnet, composting with age. She took it and I hope has it tucked away safely in some box. Someday I plan to take anothe rlook at that Easter Bonnet!

When we were little kids attending Lamartine Street School, Miss Loftus our first grade teacher had all us girls make Easter bonnets out of construction paper. The flowers that adorned our hats? Pink and yellow and blue tissue paper works of art that we folded and cut and placed on green-pipe cleaners, their stems. And then old Miss Loftus – a spinster whose life was teaching – would take out a record and play “In Your Easter Bonnet” for us and then she made us learn the song. Then we got to march around the classroom in our pretty Easter bonnets. The highlight for us kids? Parading all over the hallways of Lamartine Street School, marching down to the main office where the secretaries oohed and ahhed and smiled at all the poor little Green Island kids wearing their cute/funny creations.

I always felt loved by the adults at Lamartince Street Schoold – from the teachers, to the office secretaries, to our janitor (Mr. Grey, I think he was called). Easter at Lamartine Street School – always fun.

And now. Well, now, I have become (probably) as godless as my father, who died several years ago. I did not try to lose my faith or my God. I just did. My sisters are still great, church-going Catholic girls. Somehow, with my father, poverty, a stint at Clark University where I fell deeply in love with my first boyfriend a Catholic boy who renounced God after her took a class on Neitesche and existentialism, somehow all this caused God to fade from my life. Not the teachings of God – just HIS protection – someone to look to in times of trouble. If there is no God, who the hell has my back?!

How, I ask myself these days, when I really do need a God to lean on, when I am swimming in the deep end of mid-life and could use a life guard, how did I lose my religion? The Old Country Catholicism that made me feel so safe as a child and young girl?

Where is my Easter bonnet?

More on Christina Andrianopoulos!

By Rosalie Tirella

I have been reading the shit-storm that has engulfed Christina Andrianopoulos. When I first read about her, I thought, knowing what I know: keep out of it, Rose; you have enough to write about; have a bit of restraint. But I can’t resist! This is just too juicy!

Two funny Christina stories that just show you what kinda “star” this old gal is: I go out with a guy who is a contractor/carpenter. He told me this story about Christina, only he called her “the cunt.” Several years ago, Christina hired him to do some handyman work at her house. He did the work. Then she called him Christmas eve – the night of her big holiday party at her home. She asked him to come down and trim the door he had just put in. She had just installed new wall-to-wall carpeting, and the door wasn’t closing properly. He – wanting the cash – made a house call to Christina’s home on Christmas eve. He did the job. The door closed the right way. He gave her her bill.

He said Christina was rich and lived in a fine house and hung out with this old guy, also rich. He didn’t think she would balk at the price. She gave him some money, but she wouldn’t give him the rest. The balance? A whopping $50. She told him no way, Jose. Continue reading More on Christina Andrianopoulos!

The T & G editorials: let the sliming begin!

By Rosalie Tirella

Well, we all know that the Telegram and Gazette has always been a Republican paper – from its inception, when the tight-assed Booths and Stoddards ruled its pages – to the present, where its true colors show most blatantly on its op-ed pages, specifically its editorials. New editorial writer Chris Sinocola is much more conservative than Robert French (and not as good a writer). So, of course, the Obama-bashing is beginning in earnest.

Take this morning’s T & G editorial, the writer (Sinocola, I presume) starts the fear mongering. Oh my! President Barack Obama MAY begin to tax the middle class! We watched a few Sunday talk shows and a few guys answered a few questions re: taxes rather nebulously. Mon Dieu! Call the guards! Call the exorcist! Here we go! TAX TIME! Beware all you regular folks – Obama is out to screw you!

Not so fast, dink-puss Sinocola! In your op/ed piece there is NOT ONE IOTA of proof that President Obama is going to shift the $ burden on America’s middle class – the folks that make $40,000 – $100,000 a year. Obama himself has said so! Again and again and again. He hasn’t even rolled back the Bush tax cuts for the rich! He should have put the kibosh on the Bush law that gives big tax breaks to people who make over $250,000. Instead, he is going to let that law fade: in 2010 he will not re-sign that STUPID Bush law. InCity Times is asking Obama to reinstate the President Bill Clinton tax brackets. Continue reading The T & G editorials: let the sliming begin!

How dumb can they get?

By Rosalie Tirella

Why is it that we have a plethora of yahoos on the Worcester City Council? First there is City Councilor at Large Frederick “Ric” Rushton, whose trials and tribulations I chronicle in “Dope-o-rama” – ’cause he’s so dopey. Whether Rushton’s talking about the “vortex” in his brain or browbeating his council mates with a half-baked version of some historical event, Rushton never seems to get anything right.

Then there’s City Councilor Joff Smith, who, when recently complaining about the Asian Long-Horned Beetle in sentences cobbled together with thumb tacks and dangling participles galore, took his moron-ness to an even higher level: During a recent city council meeting Smith said that some of his conversations with officials reminded him of “episodes of Scooby Doo.” Scooby Doo?!

For the uninitiated, Scooby Doo was a 1960s Saturday morning cartoon – the star of which was a goofy Great Dane named Scooby Doo. Scooby had all these silly adventures with four 20-something kids (they’re Joff’s age) – one of whom always yelled: “Scooby Doo, where are YOU?!” Continue reading How dumb can they get?

Cheers to WPI! (and don’t forget to credit Tony!)

By Rosalie Tirella

What a surprise! WPI, following the lead of the great Charles Monahan and his downtown college, has volunteered to make PILOT payments to the City of Worcester. More than $9 million over two decades! The money will be used to (re)open our flagship library on Salem Square. So now kids can go to the downtown Worcester Public Libray on Sundays or Mondays or Wednesday mornings (the times the library is now closed). InCity Times has been asking for this kind of commitment from Worcester’s private colleges for YEARS! And now, deep in the midst of a national, state and city financial meltdown, WPI has decided to do the right thing!

Thank you, WPI! Thank you, City Manager Mike O’Brien for brokering this ground-breaking agreement! Thank you (and we never thought we’d be writing this) District 2 City Councilor Phil Palmieri for hammering away at the colleges/nonprofits during city council meeting after city council meeting. City Councilor at Large Gary Rosen has also been wonderful, even suggesting that the colleges support our library system or open their libraries to Worcester families. And also thanks to District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller who was pro-PILOT (Payment in Lieu for Taxes) from the get-go – years back. Continue reading Cheers to WPI! (and don’t forget to credit Tony!)

Kudos (again) to the Worcester Animal Rescue League!

By Rosalie Tirella

The Worcester Animal Rescue League, hands down, is one of the fabbest institutions in Worcester. Fifteen years ago, when I got my first dog, Grace, from them the place was a cesspool. Dark, stinky, with about 10 kennels for stray/surrendered dogs (I remember the uncovered lightbulbs hanging in the kennels as the dogs’ only source of light) and little space for cats, companion animals were euthanized all the time. I rember one staffer saying during spring: It’s kitten season: we kill a ton of kittens. It was not so much an admission of cruelty as statement of cold hard facts. The place was small, underfunded, behind the times. I remember wanting to go home to think about adopting Grace. The WARL staffer said: Well, she’ll be put down tomorrow. She’s been here a week.  I adopted Grace on the spot.

Then, some years later, a miracle happens at WARL. In walks Dorren Currier, and the world changes for Worcester’s homeless companion animals! Dorren, who has been executive director of WARL for more than a decade, did a complete overhaul of what was then a dump. Not only that – this fomer college hospitality major – turned WARL into a fun, educational, inspirational place.

First: the lights went on so no dogs were kept in the dark. Then all the kennels torn down and new ones installed PLUS about another 100! That’s right! WARL expanded in a major way with offices, a surgery suite, beautiful kitchen area, dog washing area, and my God, you knew it. They even built a play area outside WARL so the pups (of all ages!) could frolic. Relationships were formed with area vets and Tufts Veterinary School. Surrendered puppies, pooches, old dogs, cats, guinea pigs, parrots, even teddy bear hamsters saw their furry lives turned around by the mighty WARL! No homeless animal was turned away – ever. And no one was put down.

Visit WARL today! You will never ever smell poop or urine in the kennels. The dogs are beautifully cared for, vet checked each Thursday, walked daily by WARL volunteers. The cats have a giant play room! To visit WARL is to be inspired by all the love. Money is always tight: So they have festivals and fairs to raise dough for all the lovely animals. They also take contributions of all types (not just monetary).

And now, something I have been dreaming of for years: WARL, in conjunction with the great folks at Tufts, is going into the inner-city and holding FREE RABIES/WELLNESS clinics in the City of Worcester’s six public housing complexes. Everyone knows that if you’re poor, you can’t afford veterinarians, who charge you $50 – $80 to walk in their office door. Typical bill: $150 – $200. Poor people need pets just like everyone else! But I digress! Back to the WHA FREE public housing clinics! They had one this Saturday at the high rise on Pleasant Street. Dogs and cats came in and were given free rabies and distemper vaccinations. They were also given general wellness check ups, and the cats were groomed, if necessary. Their nails also trimmed.

This is the Worcester I love! This is my city at its grandest! Go, WARL/Tufts, go!!!

For more info, please call WARL at 508.853.0030  Also, please visit … and make a donation