Tag Archives: Happy 20th Anniversary InCity Times/CECELIA/INCITYTIMESWORCESTER.ORG!

1. City of Worcester garbage truck guy… 2. Lafayette Street auto body shop turns Lafayette Street into junkyard

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Two City of Worcester issues …

1. A few days ago: City of Worcester trash guy driving his huge city trash truck barrels into the Quinsigamond Village post office parking lot on Greenwood Street. The p.o. is closed. He leaves with his package, pictured below…and he tries to exit the parking lot by backing into Greenwood Street with his HUGE garbage truck, rather than drive the long way out. And he’s wearing his HIGH CRIME navy blue sweat shirt while on his City of Worcester job. Classy, City of Worcester, classy!

City of Worcester garbage truck guy

He tried to back his truck into busy Greenwood Street! But before that, he barreled through the Burlington/Price Chopper strip mall, in front of stores’ walk way filled with pedestrians and this street violinist who was entertaining shoppers:
This violinist was “plugged in”!

Beautiful music interrupted when garbage truck guy drives through the strip mall main road way, right by this violinist, with his multi-ton garbage truck! And a lot of pedestrians entering and exiting the strip mall’s stores!


2. Green Island’s Lafayette Street is zoned residential/industrial, but a teeny auto-body shop has no right to overrun Lafayette Street with their cars and trucks – the vehicles their guys are working on! Talked with a neighborhood resident last week: the person said the business’ cars are perpetually parked on Lafayette Street. He has no place to park his vehicle! And he’s a resident!

Lafayette Street ๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ข

Rosalie grew up on Lafayette Street. There used to be a small sign shop where the sprawling auto body shop is. The sign shop guys were polite and stayed in the shop with their work. Today: disrespect for the neighborhood – and the City of Worcester does nothing about it.

Worcester Building and Housing Code Dept is located on Meade Street, two blocks away from this dump, yet the City of Worcester doesn’t ticket them or anything. The City of Worcester allows this business to turn an entire street, with its three deckers filled with families + kids, into its personal junk yard. This auto-body shop needs to move to bigger digs – not make Lafayette Street an extension of its biz with 20 vehicles parked outside its doors. Would City of Worcester Code Director Amanda Wilson or City Manager Ed Augustus allow this vile sh*t show to happen in their neighborhoods? The noise pollution. The air pollution. The sheer ugliness of the scene. Nope. This disaster usually happens – is allowed – in poor and/or minority neighborhoods. Because the neighborhoods have no clout. Because the politicians, their friends and family don’t live there.

After we wrote about these guys the first time, they removed all their signs identifying their auto body shop. Pathetic.

Environmental justice now!


By Rosalie Tirella

Rose and her mom at Crompton Park, many years ago!

Mother’s Day…almost 10 years without a mom – my mom! Truth? The void hurts every day – not just on Mother’s Day. When I was a little girl I felt I had three moms! I felt so lucky! Three wonderful Polish women loved me – good, honest, resilient women nurtured me, encouraged me to read and write, be good and resilient, too. My aunt Mary, at the far left in the photo of the three St. Mary’s girls, was married to a school principal and made sure I got all the older books discontinued from my uncle’s school library: BORN FREE, Christmas song books with beautiful illustrations, books with illustrations of lambs on their cover – wreaths of flowers draped over their chubby necks. I thought the book title read: COME FLOWER ME! when it really read COME FOLLOW ME! (These days I like my first (mis)reading best.)

Rose’s Aunt Mary, far left.

My other aunt, pictured here seated on the roof of The Block during a coming home party for my uncle, her brother, during WW II, was the trail blazer. She got her driver’s license and bought herself a car. She left home and became head housekeeper for the Bishop of Springfield. My mom said Aunt Lilly was a speed demon on the highway – and liked to drive with her shoes off, her right naked foot on the gas pedal, her left naked foot commandeering the brake pedal.

Rose’s Aunt Lilly.

My mother looked to her older sisters for help in raising me and my two kid sisters since she didn’t have much of a husband, no car and very few resources. My two aunties stepped up! Aunt Mary’s husband, my Uncle Mark, took us – my mom, me and my sisters – to all our pediatrician appointments on Lincoln Street. He was always so wonderful to my mom and full of good cheer for us kids. He told corny jokes and laughed and kidded with my mother in Polish and in English. He too was first generation …both his parents came to America from the “Old Country.”

My mother was the baby sister of the family – the meek one who was underweight as a little girl and hospitalized. Ma used to say: “I can still see Bapy peeking out from behind the hospital curtain, looking at me, so worried about me.” Bapy had also been a good mother.

Often times Ma was clueless about getting us through stomach aches or soothing us to sleep. That’s when Bapy – my fourth mother! – came to the rescue with her block of white lard. Schmarluz we used to call it. Bapy, Ma’s Polish immigrant mother and my grandmother, lived with us and had a million opinions (pontificating in Polish for everyone in Green Island to hear) and a million and one solutions to every problem known to mankind. Her mom died in Poland when Bapy was only five. Her father, whom she loved dearly, remarried. But Bapy’s stepmother was cruel: beating Bapy and making her do all the work on their farm in Poland – including raising her younger siblings.

Aunt Lilly, left, and Bapy

Bapy had a short fuse – but a big heart. Her love for all animals – my white hamster Joy, Mr. Ed the horse on TV, our cat Jimmy, later our dog Belle – was all encompassing. All our pets loved Bapy best, the dogs sleeping at her fat misshapen feet and the cat drowsing on the left arm of her beat-up old arm chair – parked at the head of the kitchen table where Bapy could see all the action of our poor little household.

Bapy would tear a piece of lard from that big block of lard and smear it all over my naked body – focusing on my stomach. What a relaxing, fragrant rubdown. My stomach ache went away and I smelled like a basted turkey.

Motherhood – the poor kind, sometimes the best kind …


Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the gorgeous forsythia. I have been snapping pictures of them wherever I go, getting out of my car to look at the butter-yellow flowerets up close.


Their yellow is so cheerful and full of zest…makes me smile. The flowers, running up and down strong slender branches are so touchable! A child could have her mother cut five or six branches for her teacher at school, wrap them in aluminum foil for a gift. For her desk, if the teacher has a pretty vase – and they always did when I was a little girl. The walk to school with the flower present, the wind blowing the child’s hair and forsythia, the child’s occasional caress. In the classroom her classmates’ poking them would not disturb the forsythia too much.


They are without fragrance, which makes me think: bush or flowering plant? I don’t know. I never bother to Google/ research flowers, as I want to experience them in the moment – the way a child would perceive them. I know that’s impossible, but I try. Too much information stored below my old cranium! I think lots of it is useless and detracts from the important stuff like the ecstacy of flowers.

I love all the forsythia I see on the road, but the abandoned forsythia bushes on the side of the road, by old stone walls where houses once stood – in city and country – these forsythia are the ones I love best! No one has bothered to crop their wild blond crowns with Home Depot hedge trimmers. Or doused them with fertilizer so they grow abnormally thick and fat. No, they are in a pretty natural state…and I love them when they grow wild and free, long slender branches reaching to the sky, the sunlight pouring through the same big spaces between the branches. The forsythia look like a crowd of rowdy concert goers – all arms raised, together, hoping to touch the kaleidescopic lights and meet YES band mates after the concert.

Rose’s favorite

They’ve struck a chord with me, that’s for sure. I’m remembering how they were all over the Green Island of my childhood – before it became all industrial wasteland or the Canal District, part 2. I remember how they signaled SPRING to me and how fun it was to walk down Lafayette or Grosvenor or Millbury streets and see them peeking out of backyards – or lining the grassy triangle of the City parking lot right outside the dry cleaners on Millbury Street. My mom worked at the dry cleaners for decades, as a counter girl, and I was always a little jealous of her view: loads of tall, yellow bushes just beaming sunshine on an already sunny person. My mom was a single working mom raising three girls and caring for her elderly mother, my Bapy, back home on Lafayette Street. She may have stumbled now and then beneath her heavy load but she was a happy person. She loved her mom and adored her three girls – the lights of her life. So often, after Prov Jr. High or even Lamartine Street School, I’d visit my mom at work and see her lugging piles of dirty laundry or working the old cash register on the Formica counter top or reaching into her vest pocket for her pen and little pad of white note paper to make a note. I’d look out at the forsythia, just a few yards away from Ma, and feel happy. It was springtime. My mother and the forsythia were spring!



By Rosalie Tirella

Respite this a.m. …


A reassuring respite with our Congressman Jim McGovern! This morning McGovern was a guest on the MSNBC MORNING JOE news TV show. And he was pure Worcester! Everyone else on the popular cable TV show looked so polished, lacquered and botoxed. Not a hair out of place. Every implant (boob and tooth) safe and secured. Designer eyeglass frames scintillating under the lights. But our Jim sweated sweat droplets under those hot TV lights! He looked different from the TV hosts and other guests. He looked real, “average” in the best sense of the word! Like my Uncle Stan used to look on a Sunday morning at church. Modest. Serious. Totally grounded in the day to day. America’s every man.

Congressman Jim McGovern๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Jim has just returned from his trip to Ukraine, part of a congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The group met with Ukraine President Zelensky – for THREE HOURS! – to show American support for the brave Zelensky and all Ukranians and to learn more about Ukraine’s needs – and dreams. A SOVEREIGN UKRAINE!!

Putin has murdered thousands of Ukranians and destroyed their country!

On MORNING JOE Jim repeated the Dems’ talking points, but he was passionate when he insisted on stopping the killing of Ukrainian children, babies, women, old people … stopping the rapes, the starvation, the leveling of modern-day Ukranian cities … When asked about his impressions of Ukraine President Zelensky, McGovern said he was very impressed with Zelensky, with his mastery of all the facets of this awful war started by the Psychotic Putin.

But it was Jim’s tee shirt that made me smile this morning, got to me. …
Jim: a human rights crusader for decades! pics: R.T.

That greyish tee shirt that peeked out from under his nondescript pale blue button-down shirt. A true undershirt. For all of America to admire! Because Jim wasn’t wearing a necktie, like all the other guys on MORNING JOE. Because didn’t care what he looked like on national television! It was all about alleviating Ukranians’ suffering. Jim’s whole TV outfit looked like a Mart special: average eyeglass frames (no contact lenses for McGovern!), nondescript (polyester-blend?) dark blue suit jacket; a pale blue, nondescript button-down shirt; and in place of a necktie, his drab tee shirt. Call it “sexy indifference.” More man than vain politician. More human being than vacuous TV show host. Kudos to Jim! He represented Worcester beautifully – the best part of all of us!โค๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚

The former St. Vincent’s nursing school … senior housing today?

By Rosalie Tirella

Vernon Hill: Can this part of the former St. Vincent’s nursing school provide Worcester seniors with much needed affordable housing? Pics: R.T.

The City of Worcester has dropped the homeless ball! Hope at least? Providence Street, on Vernon Hill – the Worcester Senior Center, which is now City of Worcester property (it used to be the St. Vincent’s Hospital nursing school) and a grossly underutilized HUGE SPACE with three seniors usually milling about and give City of Worcester staffers being useless and unhelpful.

Let’s make terrific use of THIS PART OF THE BUILDING, pictured. It’s slated to be CONVERTED INTO STUDIO APARTMENTS for seniors – affordable housing! Let’s do it ASAP! I see workers there, windows seems to have been changed out… Hopefully, the City is creating much needed affordable living space! Now! For older folks, not just for young families.

The rooms, pictured, used to be dorm rooms for the female nursing students. All young girls…18, 19, 20 …many recent St. Mary’s High School graduates. The pretty Polish girls with their long hair braided and hanging down their straight slim backs. No nonsense. The Catholic girls were proud of learning at another Catholic institution – St. V’s nursing school. They didn’t wear scrubs – they wore nurse in training uniforms (sheaths – not even skirts). White shoes. White tites. They looked perfect. I remember watching them as a little girl, from the Winthrop House Girls Club, across the street: There they’d be … Three or four of them, walking together…serious, pretty, crossing Providence Street to to go to the hospital, St. Vincent’s, to train to help people, save lives. Back then it was THE career for smart girls! … It was all so beautiful and serious on Vernon Hill, years ago …
Millbury Street: many Worcester seniors and young people are homeless.

Rose on home and homelessness

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Home …

End-of-the-day slice of pizza at Highland Street’s BOOMERS PIZZA. It’s pepperoni. They ran out of plain slices. Jett and Lilac got (most of) the pepperoni slices๐Ÿ˜‰.

BOOMERS PIZZA on Highland Street has the best pizza!

… Seeing I didn’t grow up in a cottage, a stand alone house that my family owned, I’m not too keen on houses. They always seemed like such a big responsibility. Apartments I like – they’re in the thick of city life – city “personified.” But lately, because of my situation I think, I’ve become sentimental about HOME. I am very interested in houses and porches and front yards … and the people who live there …

Driving by this little white house in Oxford today made me almost cry. Totally unremarkable house but it MOVED me! Made me all emotional! Why?!

The Oxford house …

I think it was the front porch. The front porch with its ornate posts. Several posts with curly cue tops all lined up in a row. It felt vintage. It felt 1940s – mostly reminded me of the Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the scene outside Mrs. Bailey’s house – which looked a lot like this one in Oxford.

Ma and her grown son George Bailey, played by James Stewart, are outside, in front of their front porch. It’s night time and there’s a wedding reception/party going on inside – George’s younger brother Harry just got married to his college sweetheart and the whole town, Bedford Falls, is celebrating.

Except George. He is lagging behind Harry even though he’s a smarter, wiser, finer person. The scene is very sweet – Ma Bailey gently pushes George out of the front yard, playfully hinting that Mary, lovely and back home from college, would love a visit from him. Stewart says: shucks no, she’s not for me, Ma … Ma says, Why George, Mary lights up just like a fire-fly when she sees you!
She slaps his ol’ fedora on his handsome head and literally pushes him out the front gate. With gentleness and a good mother’s wisdom and love.

It’s such a quiet, intimate little scene full of whispers and smiles and a hug and a kiss, practically on the lips! All played out in front of a house that looks like this Oxford house – an average, unexceptional house. But it’s the backdrop to George and his mom’s love for each other. Which makes it a remarkable house. A home.


Homeless Crisis is Worcester

Today I had an interesting conversation with a staffer at Central Mass Housing Alliance on Salisbury Street. The staffer said CMHA meets all the time with City officials re: Worcester’s affordable housing crisis/homeless crisis. They meet with Mayor Joe Petty, City Manager Ed Augustus, district city councilors…over and over again. They repeatedly tell our city officials, as they give them CMHA reports: LOOK AT THESE STATS. PEOPLE ARE LIVING IN THEIR CARS. WORCESTER RENTS ARE ASTRONOMICAL. PLEASE DO SOMETHING!

She told me: The city officials are politely dismissive of her and the group. City poo-bas take CMHA reports and thank them for their reports. … That’s it. No empathy. No disbelief at the $2,000 rents. Not an iota of an idea or suggestion. No offerings of emergency help. Or just plain help. No game plan.

So many people sleeping on the sidewalks in Worcester!

Re: the tiny houses that were to be built for the homeless in Worcester, she said the City “has been holding the money for three years.” And not released it so CMHA and other housing leaders can hire contractors, architects, construction workers. … I assume she means the millions of dollars Worcester has received in federal and state COVID funds. Lying fallow as our city leaders lie to the papers about their plans to help the city’s workers/working poor who is are being pushed out of Worcester in droves.

A former city worker told me a few hours later, after I recounted the distressing conversation: They’ll never do anything. They’re looking to attract outsiders… It’s not about helping locals.

I agree. If CMHA is lobbying city leaders every week for more affordable housing…talking about the housing crisis in Worcester… giving city officials and city councilors reports with suggestions, and city leaders are smiling and exchanging pleasantries but doing nothing, then they’re telling us working people/poorer folks: WE DON’T GIVE A HOOT THAT RENTS ARE CLOSE TO $2000. FORGET RENT CONTROL. FORGET MORE HOUSING VOUCHERS. FORGET THE TINY HOME VILLAGES…. We’re gonna drag our feet on this issue until you go away, until the issues are forgotten, until the street folks perish.

Shame on Worcester’s mayor, city manager and city councilors.
Are Worcester’s city leaders ever gonna use the city’s millions$$ in federal COVID funds? The money was supposed to fund local projects that are meant to support a city or town’s poor and underrepresented communities!

Rose’s Green Island – in style?

By Rosalie Tirella

Back in the old neighborhood today. Some of my beloved “L” streets, the streets of my Green Island childhood, streets “closer to home” and infused with so many bitter and sweet memories – Lamartine, Lodi, Lunel, a bit of Lafayette – are changing. Bull dozed big time. They call it “gentrification.” We used to call it home! … Memories of a neighborhood teeming with poor kids, the kids society said wouldn’t amount to much, but many of us transcended hardscrabble lives to become more than a crime stat.

Lamartine … L. photos:R.T.

And there was so much to do – together! We Green Island kids and our dogs roamed these L streets, in packs, dogs unleashed, kids untethered, too! We played whiffle ball, dodge ball, marbles, red rover, double dutch jump rope, Chinese jump rope, soft ball. We had best friends we hung out with – had sleepovers at each other’s apartments. Our dogs got into occasional fights, as did the boys – and girls. One girl was raped. Another got pregnant. No judgments. Life flowed on. Tough as nails, this little Worcester neighborhood was.




These L streets were also filled with: walking to Lamartine Street School to play my accordion for Mr. Gilman, my fourth grade teacher. Mr. Gilman played a hot accordion and wanted us students to love the musical instrument as much as he did. The lessons were after school and free to all the kids in Lamartine, grades 4 through 6. … My kid sister played baseball with Rich Gedman! in the sandlot on the corner of Lafayette and Bigelow streets, right outside our third floor kitchen windows. Years before Rich became a pretty famous Red Sox player – and Woo Sox head batting coach. Rich lived a few houses up the street from us, with his parents and kid brother Paulie and little sister Danielle. He was a quiet kid, always polite to the grown-ups but, boy oh boy, could he whack the he*l outa those baseballs when the kids got together to play ball! Over the three decker roofs, two lots down, up into the clouds Gedman’s slugged balls flew. The other team’s outfielders always backed up when it was Rich’s turn to hit. As Rich finessed the sand beneath his feet with serious sneakers, waiting for that ball to come sailing by him, the other team’s outfielders ran almost all the way to Crompton Park, readying for Gedman to whack that ball a block away. If the bases were loaded, Rich’s teammates were already walking to home.




Green Island: to me, the finest, grittiest, saddest Worcester neighborhood of all.

Now our history is being turned into contactors’ dust, lattes abound and $2,500 apartments that few working people – let alone poor people – can afford to rent keep popping up in a neighborhood that I hardly recognize.

“Where do the children play?”

UMass nurse’s compassion – always in style!๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ™

By Rosalie Tirella

UMass Memorial health care, urgent care. Photos: R.T.

UMass nurse magic … As I’ve searched for a safe place to sleep in my car (certainly not Abby’s House or St. Paul’s Church – the places you’d expect to be safe havens), I came upon the UMass Memorial health care Plantation Street campus. Figured I’d park there at nites and snooze and no one would notice the difference! A safe nook! … Well, they did notice. Over the phone one UMass urgent care nurse said, after I explained our plight, YOU DON’T BELONG HERE! … Another UMass staffer, a security guard inside urgent care, said: NO ZZZZs here – even though I’m COVID-vaccinated, -boosted, flu-shotted and shingles-vaccinated AND GETTING my 2ND COVID BOOSTER VACCINE ON THE EXACT DATE I’M ALLOWED TO. Showering at the YWCA was hurtful after the front desk lady said: GET HERE EARLIER !! …so the old lady dues paying regulars don’t have to mix with a homeless woman, I assumed. I said to her: THANKS FOR TREATING ME LIKE A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN, YWCA SALEM SQUARE! I thought the YW was were supposed to support all women … and combat these feelings and prejudices!

UMass at night – a safe haven!

But I BELIEVE IN WORCESTER’S YOUTH! The kids at McDonald’s are so polite and friendly, giving me that extra big cup of water for my pups. Giving me that extra cup of hot water for tea. I tip them a buck when I can, which is often!

And last night at UMass I spoke to a young nurse in red blue jeans who I wished was my daughter. She looked to be about 25. She was slim, athletic, smart – and compassionate. I told her what I was going through, the voucher, the crumby Connecticut apartment, my pups, and she said: THE RENTS ARE CRAZY IN WORCESTER! THAT’S WHY WE MOVED OUT OF WORCESTER! No, you need your dogs! Then she said: Wait here by the desk. I have things for you.

The minutes dragged on. I wondered did this nice nurse forget about me – move on to triage someone with a greater emergency.

โ™ฅ๏ธ nurse’s love for all people who need care!



But 10 minutes later this young UMass nurse came out, a bounce in her step, wavy black hair bobbing, her COVID mask secure …she came to me with a huge plastic bag filled not just with the basics like shampoo, hand sanitizer and soap but a true gift! With lots of goodies to make me smile! As if she had thought about me – as if she cared and wanted to keep me healthy, as well as safe. My blessings bag had a big tube of petroleum jelly in it, along with a bottle of body wash, a big tube of body cream, a UMass eye mask for sleeping in relative darkness, eat plugs to make things quieter, four pairs of socks, two tooth brushes, two tubes of toothpaste, gargle rinse containers, a plastic foot pan and four face cloths. And to top it off, this nurse gave me a light hospital blanket WHICH SHE WARMED UP IN THE HOSPITAL WARMER OVEN! Beyond saving me a trip to the dollar store, this young totally in the moment UMass nurse bestowed upon me grace, kindness and human love. …My eyes welled up in the UMass urgent care area.

Back in my car with my goodies taking up the whole front seat, I thought of my late mom and her tears! Ten years ago, as I visited her every day in her studio apartment, to care for her – for four years! – to visit her, to bring her her McDonald’s coffee and cheeseburger and apple pie …to make sure all was well…to listen to her worries…or to confer with her elder care provided homemakers and CNAs or her meals on wheels folks… sometimes Ma would cry so softly, her little round shoulders trembling as I hugged her goodbye for the day.

I’d say: Ma, why are you crying?

My mother was not a cry baby. I saw her cry twice in my Green Island childhood and youth – and never at her seniors complex. She said: My Rosalie, you don’t know what it means to have a daughter!

I felt that way last night at UMass urgent care when that young UMass nurse ran out from her hospital triage room to hand me my gift… helped this old lady. I experienced daughter-hood – from the other side.

Thoughtfulness always wins the day!

Always pay it forward!
In 10 or 20 years, it could be you!

Worcester, Palm Sunday

By Rosalie Tirella

Under the Green Street bridge, Palm Sunday. photo: R.T.

Palm Sunday. I remember walking under the now garishly lit Green Street tunnel as a little Green Island Grrrl a week or two before Palm Sunday. Decades ago … We were on our way to that icon of Worcester’s consumer-working class, The Mart department store: me, my mom and my two kid sisters. To buy us kids Easter Dresses! Yay!!! The Mart!! Wowza! Our mother often tried to buy us the best Easter dresses at Jack and Jill’s children’s clothing store on Green Street – and their pretty straw Easter bonnets with blue and white ribbon wrapped around their rims were to die for – but if it was a lean year – and it often was on Lafayette Street – we kids were taken to the Mart for our Easter dresses. They were not the beautiful dresses like the little girl mannequins wore in the Jack and Jill’s storefront window, the ones my mom wanted to buy for us, the pale yellow and pink dresses with butterfly decals sewn on them, all sparkly and robbins egg blue … but The Mart had a small pet section – aquariums filled with little mice, hamsters and gerbils and the cages, boxes of food and fun “supplies” for them like metal wheels that your little rodent jumped into to get some exercise. The mice and other small pets were right across the aisle from an excellent toy section filled with Barbie dolls, GI Joe dolls, packets of Sea Monkeys and baseball mitts. We kids longed for pet mice (which I got in grade 5) and baseball bats and balls (which my sister got in grade 3) and Skipper dolls (which my other sister got in grade 2).

The Mart’s dresses always looked a little rough and cheaply made from shiny polyester. Their pants hung from my skinny kid sisters’ bums, and their pants waistband – wide elastic – made the front of my pants pucker around my chubby stomach. I remember one day, as a sixth grader at Lamartine Street School, I wore my Easter pants outfit to school. I didn’t want to, but my mom made me wear this new outfit she liked. By then I knew the Mart fashion book was not on my classmates’ playbook. Sure enough, the kids began to mock me in the school yard, as soon as I entered: You’re wearing welfare clothes! Ha! Welfare! Welfare! My kid sisters had been transferred to St. Mary’s because my mom felt they were being bullied, so they just wore their school uniforms and missed the … pain. Well, I was ashamed of my outfit – it did suck – but I never told my mom. Back then kids never told their parents anything. You had to try to figure things out back home, as you were playing with your little pet mouse (Gigi) or listening to your Partridge Family record. You loved your mouse and your mom who bought you your ugly Easter pants outfit. You felt your friends’ moms weren’t as smart or special as your mom, who was very very busy at the dry cleaners and working hard at home so you you could eat and have a nice bedroom on whose walls you could hang your David Cassidy posters. So you shut your mouth … you averaged things out and felt … grateful. The opposite of the little kids who will now walk under the garishly lit Green Island tunnel to head to the baseball stadium. They jump out of their parents’ SUV and walk the several yards to the game … and all is well, I guess.

But back then, our Green Street tunnel walk was an adventure! Past Jack and Jill’s with their cute kids-wear, the fire trap ATLAS FABRIC shop where Worcester’s pro sewers got all their material for draperies, lined vests, aprons and wedding gowns … past Molly’s, the alcoholic hairdresser who cut your hair poorly and gave Ma her tight brillo pad curly “perms” in between sneaking out back for a few swigs from her pint of Muscatel …THEN THE GLORIOUS NOTRE DAME church…the first thing we saw that signaled we were in for something special in downtown Worcester – where now these Soviet Union-style apartment complexes stand, as you can see in my photo here. Today you see these cement debacles for rich kids instead of the glorious, hand-built-by-immigrants church – a monument, a tribute to Worcester’s French-Canadian working class, to their God, to trying to do right, to hope … to pray, to be charitable.

Notre Dame church was what we kids and our mom always saw at the end of the Green Street tunnel, after our 25-minute trek from our Lafayette Street apartment. It was so beautiful. It felt like Heaven … long, elegant steeples glinting in the sun, the huge gold Virgin Mary statue – Notre Dame, Our Lady – standing before its entrance saying hello to us, the church’s arches, framing its front doors, one arch over another over another reaching up into the sky. … Now that I look back, I think our poor little family purposely walked by Notre Dame church’s high entry way to see those high arches, to be physically close to this beautiful home of God, to brush the cheek of our Blessed Mother with our chafed hands.

Now? A red, blue and green carnival light show for this Worcester Palm Sunday! A pulsating show for the masses designed to shoo away the homeless that used to sleep there at night – Jesus’s people, if you’ve read the Bible.

The Worcester Public Schools and Mr. Monfredo and U.S. history

By Rosalie Tirella

American slaves and owners. In Mr. Monfredo’s 5th grade classroom, we students learned the truth!

I’m watching the new Ken Burns pbs documentary on Benjamin Franklin tonight! Are you? Passionate about American history! The catalyst for my love dates back to when I was a Worcester Public Schools student decades ago at Lamartine Street School. I learned a lot of American history there – for instance, the genocide of the American Indians, the horrors of slavery. All at the long gone Lamartine on Meade Street, now the City of Worcester Code Dept … in my fifth grade classroom – Mr. John Monfredo’s classroom! Our former Worcester School Committee member and ol’ Belmont Community School principal was a young teacher back then, right out of teacher’s college – 50 years ago! And he was excellent! Cutting-edge! Our sixth grade teacher, Mr. Chickarian (sp?) was cool, too. I still remember seeing my 6th grade classmate, Mary, reading BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE for her book report! She was super smart. It was the ’70s, and the times were different, more open, less racist…there was no MCAS test, FOX NEWS … no Eric Trump, no cancel culture. We were a more humane, open America. Our teachers weren’t afraid of teaching the truth to our public school students.

132657-Indian-Doctress-Molly-Geet-Marge-Bruchac-Credit-John-Ferrarone (1)
At OSV. An interpretor – a doctress! Mr. Monfredo took his entire class to Old Sturbridge Village at least once every school year. A fun class field trip where we students piled into a big ol’ WPS yellow school bus for a bumpy, giddy ride to Sturbridge, to a living museum, an early New England village in action. I loved seeing the artisans plying their trades in real time!

Things got boring and flat at Worcester’s Burncoat Senior High School, years later – when they should have gotten really exciting and cool. Our 11th grade history teacher, quiet and polite (I forgot his name), had us memorize all these dates and facts out of a big blue boring US history text book. No fun. Bleh. Meh. I don’t remember a thing! We kids forgot it all as soon as the chapter tests were given to us by our serious, low-key teacher, always in blue suit in tie …

black history
Black history is American history! We learned that in Mr. Monfredo’s classroom!

Mr. Monfredo wore colored velvet vests to go with his cool suits! He was so handsome – all of us girls had crushes on him! In Mr. Monfredo’s class he let us choose and read books outside our history text book, to go down that special path that intrigued us … We did art projects to accompany our book reports … we drew and painted and watched videos on slavery or American Indian crafts … and we discussed the texts, the information in an open and honest way. Still my fave history class!

Amanda Gorman photographed in LA on January 29, 2020.
Amanda Gorman photographed in LA on January 29, 2020.
I know Mr. Monfredo would have had us students reading and reciting the young Gorman’s poems.

Mr. Monfredo was years ahead of his time – his school was located in my neighborhood, Green Island, one of Worcester’s poorest neighborhoods. He had Lamartine declared WORCESTER’S first inner-city school – which made us impoverished students and our families eligible for all sorts of federal and state educational programs, materials etc. He tailored classes for all kids … kids like me and Mary, kids like the older boys who were practically teens but were “kept back” and were struggling to read our class books and uninterested in class work and maybe a bit “rough.” They went to special WPS programs for part of the day and came back for art, music, movies, plays etc. I mean, everything we should be doing now for our WPS students TODAY, John Monfredo and many of the Lamartine teachers were doing a half century ago, with support from Mr. McFeely, our school principal and, I assume, WPS administration. Our WPS teachers were grand! They had no MCAS to teach to, they were given the freedom to close the classroom door and run their own classrooms, they collaborated, they were creative, they worked with families, many African American and Puerto Rican … they were EXCITED to teach us poor kids, many of whom would go on to be the first person in their families to go on to college (like me, for instance!)


Ridiculous squabbles. At the expense of ALL WPS students.

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970:  Photo of Maya Angelou  Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Maya Angelou Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
We read I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS IN MRS. NEDWICKS PROVIDENCE STREET JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL’S Honors English class. Our Worcester Public Schools were grand!