Tag Archives: InCity Times

✝️Bishop McManus and the Nativity School🙏… Worcester County’s hot🔥 housing market 🏡 and more …

Bishop McManus and the Nativity School

By Rosalie Tirella

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Jesus on the cross at the long gone Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. photo submitted

The Diocese of Worcester’s Bishop Robert McManus is in a pissing contest with the Nativity School in Worcester. The good Catholic Bishop is threatening to strip the good Catholic school (that mostly serves poor Black Worcester boys) of its Catholic status ASAP – which would stop it from performing holy mass or even sponsoring masses! This comes after the good, equally anal and vindicative Catholic Jesuit college, Holy Cross, banned, as punishment for the good Bishop’s petty actions against the Nativity School, Bishop McManus from this May’s graduation ceremony at Holy Cross. Where the good Bishop has – for years – proudly sat up on the Holy Cross dias dressed in all his fancy bishop vestments blessing and smiling beatifically on all the Holy Cross grads striding across the HC stage – filled with local, state and national dignitaries – to grab their diplomas. This after the good and holy Nativity School dug its heels in and refused to remove the BLM and gay pride flags flying outside the Nativity School (the old Lincoln House Girls Club on Lincoln Street).

This is why so many have fled and continue to flee the Catholic church.

It usually has nothing to do with Catholic gospel, the church music, God or Blessed Mary or Jesus and his beautiful THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST teachings. No, it’s often a result of the holier than thou, unforgiving style of self-righteous, unforgiving and proud bishops, priests, nuns, etc. The brass of the Catholic Church. The elementary school nuns who slapped the palm of your hand with a ruler if they thought you were “bad.” The priests who forbad your sweet, single, working mom from receiving Holy Communion because she was legally separated from your abusive, cheater, loser father – her husband. The Catholic kings and queens who often lorded it over the parish poor and dispossessed. For the misguided power play. The thrill of winning. Being RIGHT.

What does Jesus have to do with all this abusive, nasty crap? If Jesus were still preaching on earth, let’s say in Worcester, what would He say to all these Catholic knuckle-heads? The Bishop and Holy Cross poo-bas and even the Nativity School principal and board of directors?

What would Jesus think of this mess? All done in his name … all done in the name of the Catholic faith and being a “good” Catholic.

Bishop McManus is an old guy. My pal has to drive him to the furniture store to pick out a new mattress! The Bishop thinks BLM is radical! He’s just being an old out of touch guy. And you know the Catholic church’s stance on gay marriage etc. And Holy Cross SHOULD know better, but decided to hurt a clueless old man, the Bishop. The Nativity School is in the right but too cool and progressive for the old fart Bishop.

Maybe the Bishop and Nativity School principal should sit down together – at the Holy Cross student union cafe – and talk. Break bread. Make peace. Compromise.

This “unholy” mess brings all local Catholics down!

🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

Housing, Joe Petty, homelessness, rent control…

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Worcester’s affordable housing crisis has created Worcester’s homelessness problem. photo: R.T.

1. Based on the nepotism and pointlessness of Mayor Joseph Petty’s office – we’re talking office director Mary Orosko who doesn’t know how to email an attachment and never returns phone calls – and Petty political office head Dan Raiscot – who never returns phone calls either – why should I vote to send Joe Petty to Boston next election cycle? Why should he replace retired Harley Chandler? I’m voting for his opponent, the gal from the YWCA. She’s young, politically experienced and savvy and will (hopefully) advocate for women and girls once elected …

2. The landlord of the apartment I had my eyes on IN DUDLEY/WEBSTER! has raised the rent by $300 per month since last week!!! WHEN I FIRST SAW THE APT LISTING! For no reason whatsoever!! No special work was done on the crappy studio apartment! No add-ons added!! The unscrupulous landlord did this JUST because they could … TO GOUGE THE TENANT!! The housing and rental market IS OUT OF CONTROL in Massachusetts – TOO MANY HOMELESS PEOPLE, too many poorer blue collar tenants pushed out of units if the building is sold…or if the landlord feels like he or she can get away with it. … Our legislators in the STATE HOUSE in Boston need to enact rent control!!! Now!!! To stop homelessness, displacement, the degradation of blue collar neighborhoods …to stop landlords from being greedy a-holes!!! Our state legislators must step in and enact rent control! And build more affordable housing. Cities and towns must step in, too.

🌹🌹🌹… My old landlord Ken Buzzell sold the Blackstone River Road building where I lived plus his two other residential buildings across the yard for $1.2 million!!!!! Blackstone River Road!!!! He sold it all to a young guy …. The young guy is investing in Worcester three deckers all over city.

… Our state and city housing markets have no guardrails! Unscrupulous investors come in and buy old buildings/three deckers in our poorer neighborhoods, slap on some paint, do a few cosmetic tweaks … and raise the rent by hundreds of dollars!!! BECAUSE THEY CAN!!! Not only in the Canal District but all over WORCESTER and the SURROUNDING TOWNS – Worcester County!! Government must apply some pressure, brakes – poorer tenants are being gouged!! Enact the laws that will save … families…kids…seniors!!!

– Rosalie

Winners and losers

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose’s Bapy, right, and auntie, in their tenement, in The Block, during World War II.

It’s true: the “winners” (usually the rich white WASPs), write our history. When Blacks were making gains in the South, laws changed to keep them down – and rich white people everywhere who didn’t want social change started building these HUGE CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS – to Robert E. Lee and his cohorts – everywhere. Even though General Lee, surrendering at Appomattox, was for peace and healing for ALL Americans after the Civil War, the rich white folks built the big statues and wrote the history books that enshrined “the lost cause.” In misplaced nostalgia and lies. The white money people controlled the towns and the cities: the Confederate statues were erected – life-sized, marble, granite Confederate soldiers on their trusty steeds, swords drawn, Confederate uniforms without tatters or tears. These monstrosities were built right in front of state houses, city halls and town halls and schools. Schools and other public buildings were named after Civil War confederate “heroes” like Jefferson Davis and pompous dedications were held, with the local newspapers covering the events, the manufactured history, the omissions and falsehoods.

With Worcester’s Canal District coming into its own, we must admit it’s been molded and run and is OWNED by rich white men who have never given Green Islanders what we’ve begged for: a fully staffed bank branch, a pharmacy, a supermarket … And these men, we now see, have rewritten or omitted Green Island history. They’ve chosen to forget, to omit, during their recent ceremonies and monument dedications and mural painting, the Polish/Eastern European immigrant experience that defined Green Island/Kelley Square/Water+Green streets from the 1920s to at least the 1970s.

A whole half century defined by the Polish and Lithuanian churches and three decker and The Block tenants like my Polish mom and my Polish immigrant grandmother, Bapy, and grandfather Jaju. All the Jewish small businesses of Water and Green streets, the ethnically beautiful mom and pop stores of Millbury Street selling made-from- scratch pierogis, jars of pig knuckles and large links of freshly smoked kielbasa (Polish sausage). The dance halls of Millbury and Water streets and Green Street where all the kids of Green Island danced to Benny Goodman in the 1930s. Millbury Furniture. Whites five and ten with Mrs. White and her jet black, foot high bouffant hairdo. All missing from the Canal District scene. As if they – this part of Canal District history – never existed.

Maybe it was all too earthy. Too grubby. Too poor. Not the story Allen Fletcher and Ed Augustus never wanted to tell …

You want a Worcester public market? Un-curated? Natural and springing up organically from the people of the neighborhood? Take a walk down my old Millbury Street, the Millbury Street of 1940 – 1969, and be enthralled. Eat like a princess, buy yourself a pair of slippers at Lisbon’s, visit the tailor with his large cage filled with yellow and peach and white canaries sitting next to his sewing machine, so he’d have company as he sewed … THAT IS HISTORY. THAT scene, that experience, deserves its own tribute, its own monument.

The great thing about the old Millbury Street – now one long stretch of dirty, garbage-covered, homeless shelter – you saw the WONDERFUL and the real, when shop keepers yelled at their young help, Mrs. White pushed those new polyester curtains for your kitchen …on Green Street the neighborhood “wino” got that free submarine sandwich from Charlie or Izzy Golub at Green Street Market.

According to Allen Fletcher, Ed Augustus and the other monument erectors, Green Island’s history is all about the Irish canal leaders, the Pickett’s and the Tobias’s … Little parades have been held in their honor, plaques hammered in walls, a tiny water fall with a grassy yard built by the ball park…all honoring the history these rich white men want us to remember.

My Aunt Mary – Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal secretary in the White House🇺🇲🇺🇲

By Jim Coughlin

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Jim

My Aunt Mary – Mary Barelli-Gallagher – died recently (April 22, 2022) in Alexandria, Virginia, at the age of 95. She had lived a pretty amazing life for an American woman of her generation. She lived in that city, just outside of Washington, D.C, after being appointed as one of Senator John F. Kennedy’s very first staff appointments for his Senatorial office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C. This was after JFK defeated Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in November of 1952.

One of my aunt’s first tasks she was assigned by Senator Kennedy was translating incoming mail coming from Italian immigrants and constituents who wrote to his office in Italian. My aunt was amply qualified to do this for Senator Kennedy because at the Barelli home in Hyde Park, Boston, only Italian was spoken!

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Jim’s aunt grew very close to the Kennedys. photos submitted.

It all began when my late Aunt Mary worked at a paper company in downtown Boston where a former salesman, Kenneth P. O’Donnell (who happened to be from Worcester), had left to work for then Congressman John F. Kennedy’s senatorial campaign that year.

According to my aunt, O’Donnell recruited her to work for Kennedy shortly after Kennedy won the election. After Kennedy had ascended to the Presidency, he named Kenny O’Donnell as his Appointments Secretary, which by today’s political standards would be called “The President’s Chief of Staff.”

My Aunt Mary started working for Senator Kennedy in January of 1953. Since then, and until November 1963, my aunt worked at various times for a total of three members of the Kennedy family: John F. Kennedy; his wife, Jacqueline; and also for Jackie’s mother, Janet Auchincloss, on a part-time basis during the mid- 1950s.

After President Kennedy’s inauguration, my aunt began working as the Personal Secretary to his wife, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, in the family quarters of the White House. Aunt Mary held that position until President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963.

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America might have become a different country if the Kennedys had not been killed.

Aunt Mary later continued working for Mrs. Kennedy at her home in Washington, D.C, for about a year following the assassination, until the fall of 1964, when Mrs. Kennedy moved with her children to New York City.

During the Kennedy administration, my aunt never traveled publicly with the President or his wife on their official trips. However, the one time that she did was on November 22, 1963, the day of the President’s assassination in Dallas, Texas. Immediately after President Kennedy was rushed to the Parkland Hospital in Dallas, my aunt sat right next to Jacqueline as she kept a vigil immediately outside of the hospital’s Trauma Unit One. The ER doctors had told my aunt “not to change any of her expressions.”

Later, when the President’s casket was brought home to Andrew’s Air Force Base, just outside of Washington, D.C. in Maryland, when they were deplaning from Air Force One, my Aunt Mary was right next to Jacqueline Kennedy and the President’s younger brother, Robert F. Kennedy, who at the time was serving as Attorney General of the United States.

In happier times, on the President’s Inauguration Day on January 20, 1961, my aunt was the last one to see JFK out of his house in the Georgetown section of Washington, D C. when he was still “President-elect Kennedy.” Earlier that day, my aunt was in the room when still Senator Kennedy rehearsed his soon to be legendary inauguration address before heading out to the White House to meet with outgoing President Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower.

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Autographed to Aunt Mary

In August of 1962, my aunt had arranged with the President’s personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, for members of my immediate family to come down to Washington, D.C for a complete tour of the White House that was topped off with a private audience with the President in the West Sitting Room of the White House! While we were waiting for the President to arrive, we were all a little bit on edge. However, when a big brown door was opened, the President of the United States began walking towards us and he looked very rested, tanned and was brandishing a very big “Kennedy smile.” As he approached our family, my mother literally jumped up and screamed, “Mary, he is even more handsome than in his pictures!” My aunt later said, “she squirmed, embarrassed that he (JFK) might have heard – needlessly at that. He not only heard but obviously loved it.”

My older brother John was equally, if not more, complimentary to the President of the United States. He said, “I am not going to wash my hand (the one that “shook” Kennedy’s in their handshake) for a week.” At first, the President did not know what to say. It was almost as if he was caught off guard (if only for a second) by my brother’s great compliment. The President began to laugh and then he immediately flashed the most beautiful smile that one could ever imagine.

This interaction our family had with the most powerful man in the world has long remained as very powerfully charged memories amongst members of our family.

Also in this meeting, upon the President’s hearing that my mother, Eva, had married a fellow Irishman, it was now the President’s turn for a return compliment to our family. He quipped, “So another member of the family went off to marry an Irishman.”

My cousins Christopher and Gregory, who live in Alexandria, recently told me their lives were much connected and intertwined to the members of the Kennedy family, especially during the Kennedy administration. During that time at the White House when Caroline Kennedy’s childcare worker was of on Wednesdays, my cousins would be the childhood playmates for Caroline, either at the White House or at my aunt’s home in nearby Alexandria.

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A slice of American History🇺🇲

There is a little known fact that the President was allergic to animal fur. This made it necessary for the Kennedys to give Caroline Kennedy’s very much loved cat, “Tom Kitten,” to the Gallaghers. So Caroline would he happy to come and visit with the Gallaghers so she could spend time with Tom Kitten! In fact, the White House cat is buried in the back yard of my aunt’s home in Alexandria, Virginia.

My aunt very often said that her relationship with Jacqueline Kennedy “was like that of a sister.” In July of 1960, my aunt had traveled with the Senator and his wife to be with them at Democratic National Convention when he was competing for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Jacqueline Kennedy happened to walk into the Senator’s room and caught my aunt changing one of her daughter Caroline’s diapers. This made Jackie quip, “So, Mary, you are part of the family.”

My aunt once wrote about her long relationship with the Kennedys: ” … when I was a child, I never dreamed that I would work at the White House, walk with Presidents and be on a first-time basis with the First Lady of the United States. Jackie Kennedy was like a sister to me and neither time nor distance can erase the memories of the years we shared together.”

As I sit in my hotel room in Alexandria, Virginia, penning this tribute to my aunt for the CECELIA newspaper, Mary Barelli Gallagher preparing to later attend a Funeral Mass of the Resurrection at St. Mary’s Basicilia, (and later to take her to her final resting place), my aunt remains my hero, right alongside President John F. Kennedy and all the Kennedys.

My aunt’s association with the Kennedys has inspired me over my many years of being a researcher and lecturer on The Kennedy Presidency.

And, yes, to those who wonder what keeps me going with my unabated passion for a state holiday in the state of Massachusetts, it is the relationship that my aunt and my cousins and members of my family had with the 35th President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, JFK.

And as President Kennedy very often said, “God willing, that goal will be achieved.”

Can we save the planet with food?

By Rebecca Libauskas

Our planet, earth, is a living organism, and every one of us is a part of its body. But that body is burning up with fever.

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💙💙💙💙💙💙 art: PETA

The past four years have been the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This warming is an alarming trend, and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that a global average temperature increase of more than 2.7°F would be catastrophic. Experts predict that with an increase of this magnitude, extreme weather events will become more frequent and have permanent consequences for the environment. But this diagnosis isn’t just for some future planetary ailment — we already see the symptoms everywhere.

Scientists have observed severe hurricanes linked to warming oceans over the past few decades. And recent research suggests that increased heat and aridity are the main reasons for the more extensive and powerful fires out West. These phenomena are linked to human-caused climate change. But that’s not all.

New record highs in greenhouse-gas concentrations, sea-level rise and ocean acidification indicate that we are causing disastrous changes on land, in the ocean and in the air, according to the World Meteorological Organization. This is bad news for all species.

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What we eat matters!

What can we do? When we’re ill, we must take care of ourselves. Why not extend that same remedy to our planet? Raising animals in order to exploit or kill them for food is like drinking poison when we’re already in the ICU. Eliminating animal agriculture is “our best and most immediate chance to reverse the trajectory of climate change,” according to research published in the journal PLOS Climate.

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Go, Joe!

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of water and air pollution, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. It dominates a whopping 83% of all farmland and generates more than half of farming’s greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a University of Oxford study. Precious ecosystems are ruined and replaced by animal farms, whose products deliver only 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein. This system is not sustainable or healthy.

The Earth has finite land, water and energy resources, and raising animals for food exhausts them. Approximately 70 billion animals are raised each year for human consumption, and nearly 16% of global fresh water and a third of the grain produced worldwide are used to support them. But eating plants directly — instead of diverting them through animals — would be an ethical, sustainable, healthy solution.

A model developed by scientists from Stanford University and the University of California–Berkeley shows that a worldwide shift away from animal-based foods in the next 15 years would have the same beneficial effect as a 68% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions through the year 2100. Other experts and studies have reached similar conclusions: A study published in Science, for example, shows that producing protein from soybeans in the form of tofu creates only 4% of the emissions that raising and killing cows for meat does. And growing protein-packed peas and nuts creates less than 1%.

Embracing vegan foods would eliminate animal agriculture’s soil degradation, deforestation and greenhouse-gas emissions. This would help to stop the climate catastrophe while securing our global food supply. But time is of the essence — we can’t let a sick planet get sicker. For the sake of the Earth, we must act now.

Every human can have an immediate impact by ditching animal-derived foods and switching to healthy vegan options. There are plenty of delicious choices already on the market and more on the horizon. Plus, each of us can save the lives of nearly 200 animals every year simply by going vegan.

🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇


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Why should the 🚓WPD get drones if Worcester cops act like this?🚔🚓

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

This morning…

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Millbury Street…

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Several police cruisers spotted in the Canal District, on Millbury Street

June 8, 2022 … the a.m. … several Worcester PD police cruisers parked by the homeless persons sleeping nooks on Millbury Street in the Canal District…I stop to see …

My message to the several cops on the scene:
Worcester Police Officer Padavano (white cop facing camera, below), you’re so young and dunderheaded! Don’t ever disrespect a citizen who just asks you, an overpaid PUBLIC SERVANT: What happened on Millbury Street just now, officer?

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Padavano, right

What an ugly little person you are – and, of course, your fellow Worcester cops were just as vacuous – and threatening me with tickets if I don’t “move along.” Threats and more threats. THIS IS WHY WORCESTER NEEDS A CIVILIAN REVIEW BOARD! I hope and pray Acting Worcester City Manager Eric Batista can stand up to these City of Worcester cop-bullies!

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ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BE TRUSTED WITH DRONES!

I would never give Officer Padavano discretion when it comes to using drones – or grant that privilege to any of the Worcester cops I saw on Millbury Street this morning! Would these officers respect a homeless person needing privacy as he pees in the woods near one of several Worcester homeless encampments? Would photos be circulated – just for giggles? What do you think?

NO DRONES FOR THE WPD!!!

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That “attitude” on full display. But these guys have GUNS, TASERS, HANDCUFFS, PADDY WAGONS – EVERYTHING TO KILL OR TRAUMATIZE.

OPEN-DOOR POLICY!

By Rosalie Tirella

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Millbury’s Saint Brigid’s Church. photos: R.T.

Miracle of miracles! As I was driving through downtown Millbury this morning I spied a CHURCH WHOSE FRONT DOORS WERE … OPEN! St. Brigid’s Catholic Church on Main. The light beige brick church with the big crosses had its big dark wooden doors flung wide open, as if to say: Hey, everyone! Come on in! Cone on in and pray!!

The church (and its rectory) face a busy street with lots of cars and pedestrians zipping by, yet it welcomes all, invites all to step out of the hurly burly and calm down in, bask in the quiet, dimly lit, pew-lined church. To meditate. Focus on a friend or family member in prayer. Wish, hope, dream … This is true for today, Sunday; it was true for yesterday at Saint Brigid’s … even Friday its front doors were open and I wanted to walk in and take a peek. Any one could walk in to take a peek …to pray to God, Jesus, Mary … Saint Brigid (whoever that is – and as an old Catholic grrrl, I know my saints)!

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Heading to Sunday Mass

In Millbury this morning it was 1955 all over again – a time when churches of all ilks all over America opened their doors to one and all pretty much from dawn to dusk – so you could pop in to say a little prayer before work, visit at lunch-time, stop in after your work day, especially if it was trying and you prayed for inner strength – or terrific and you were grateful to God and wanted to thank him for the raise or promotion. It was a time when churches weren’t robbed with a-holes fleeing, running out the back door with gold-leaf candle sticks or chalices or Holy Communion platters … or even sound systems and microphones with stands. We Americans were unafraid of being gunned down by some sicko – murdered as we were about the sing a hymn. Together. We were not attached to our smart phone and too lazy to join a real community. We were all a bit more spiritual, less rapacious. Money wasn’t so important: families were happy with modest houses, modest cars, basic vacations once a year. There were more rosaries among our middle class than more boob jobs. I suspect there are now more Boob jobs. We have Botox treatments and so many other body-enhancing but soul-depleting “treatments.” Yet we all die.

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Saint Brigid’s rectory

My Polish immigrant grandmother, Bapy, loved going to our Lady of Czestochowa Church – our neighborhood church in Green Island. There was also St. Anthony’s at Kelley Square and St. John’s on Temple. You really had quite the Catholic menu – the strict Poles of St. Mary’s, the cool Father Frank, the street priest for the poor, at St. Anthony’s or …the Irish of St. John’s. She was a proud parishioner, as was my late mom, as was I – up until college of St. Mary’s. Bapy, though poor, filled her little parishioners envelope with quarters every Sunday. Ma dressed us girls like dolls and together we walked every Sunday morning to weekend Mass where she always sat us in the pew directly behind a beautiful, beautifully dressed young woman and her daughter. The daughter had Downs Syndrome but was also beautifully dressed and so close to her mom who so obviously loved her.

I left the Catholic church when Freud, Erickson and Jung filled my brain, pushing God out of it – or at least the way I had been trained to “see” and worship Him in our working class household.

Now I say: God is pure love.

But what does that mean?

Pure happiness? Pure joy? Is God when you’re with people you love? Animals you care for? Nature. Is it feeling close? Understood? Cared about?

I don’t know. I try to be a better person every day to every molecule of life that wafts by, but I really liked believing in God decades ago when I was young. I was more optimistic, less burdened. Belonging to a parish and knowing everybody in the pews was cool. And looking up behind us, in the balcony of our little Polish church, sat our little Polish organist, dwarfed by our huge church organ with many tall golden pipes. He played the church hymns so passionately. I struggled to keep up with him! Ma always sang off key, her face contorted in pain. Sing along with our little maestro who strode into St. Mary’s every mass with his winter over coat or light jacket dramatically draped over his small shoulders was pure hell! And yet didn’t Ma love it when he strode by her and bowed ever so slightly and said in Polish, Good evening Pani. And he’d smile at Ma and her three perfectly dressed little girls, with our ribbons all aflutter, our Communion pocket books white and sparkling, Ma’s work-hardened hands covered, softened in her pale pink gloves that were so demure… so soft to the touch, going up to her wrists.

Ma used to tell me how often Bapy went to church when she lived in the Block on Bigelow Street: every morning. Every morning. She put on her cute blue hat with the fake flowers tucked in the band and walked to church in her black no nonsense shoes. Winter, summer, fall, spring. Every day.

Ma went to church every week day with the nuns at St. Mary’s School – they walked down Richland Street, where their little brick school was, and crossed Ward Street and piously filed into St. Mary’s church. On Sundays she made the trek with Bapy.

During my Green Island girlhood, when Ma and us three kids would be running an errand and just for the heck of it Ma would say: Do you want to go to church, to light a candle? Our Lady of Czestochowa was a little gold painted church on Ward Street, 20 yards away from the yet widened I-290, but I loved visiting. It always looked so cute, surrounded by pink and red flowers, the stairs painted white …inside the smell of incense was intoxicating.

Yes! we kids would shout, and we’d walk down to our church – whose doors were always unlocked – and we’d kneel once we entered the main area, Ma gripping the back of the last pew for support as she got back up from kneeling and blessing herself after entering God’s house … Then we’d walk softly to the right of the marble altar …to a huge statue of the Virgin Mary – Ma’s fave saint!- and Ma would place a dollar bill in a box, take a long stick and touch its end to an already lit votive candle and it would flare up and Ma would take the flame band ever so carefully light a votive candle that was a bit closer to the statue, closer to Blessed Mother. Then we’d all kneel on the long pale red velvet kneeler, bless ourselves and quietly say a prayer. Each of us saying our own prayer to Jesus. Ma probably praying to make rent. Me probably praying for an A on my book report. My two sisters murmuring their Hail Mary’s, too little to ask for anything … just happy to be boppin’ along with Ma.

When church doors were open …
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Ma as a young lady. She loved going to church!

“Extended” traveling time!🚗🥿🥿

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose’s desk and living area at the Extended Stay motel in Westboro. pics: R.T.

To tip$ or not to tip, that is the question. As an older woman traveling alone (with Jett and Lilac, of course), an older white woman with not a lot of dough$ but not a lot of needs, either, (I travel with my own electric tea pot, tea cup and a box of green tea), tipping for me has become looking into the soul of the kid or old lady manning the motel’s front desk … not so much caring if the floor in my room requires slippers to be worn at all times (yes, all Extended Stay motel suites in Westboro) but if the overworked/underpaid housekeeper smiles when she or he gives me an extra soap or two – is genuinely nice to me. Human to human. So my tip has nothing to do with the motel per say … its carpets or coffee bar or bathtubs. Yes, I want it all clean and functional, but mostly the quality of my stay has to do with how the help makes me feel.

As in: Wow, that young woman at the front desk is so positive about life (and extended stay – 1800 Computer Drive, Westboro)! The way she described the bonfire she and her boyfriend started last night outside their home…how lovely the cedar smelled…how happy it made her feel. Of course, I went out and bought this positive young woman a little tub of hand cream, pretty facial wipes and cute Memorial Day potholders – in case their bonfire got too hot!

At one motel, an Econo Lodge, the East Indian owners were brutal, but their cleaning staff was outstanding! I still miss those ladies! One housekeeper, an older woman, gave me magazines from her house! She said she did this because she saw the newspapers and notepad in my room. She was a reader, too! She also gave me a cute little green dog poop bag dispenser, complete with doggie bags. “You’re the only one here who cleans up after your dogs,” she said. Of course, every time I saw her I gave her $5. Every time.

Her colleague was also wonderful. I came into the Econo motel hungry. I asked her for a snack. She went into her and her husband’s room (like a lot of young help, they lived at their motel) and came out with the food they had: a Cup o Noodles, a can of Campbell’s chicken soup, and a Ramen noodle package. I microwaved the cup o noodles – the soup tasted like old sweat socks. I tipped this young woman every time our paths crossed. These ladies were so … human. So kind to my dogs … Their good hearts not burnished at some hotel conference, not angling for my dollars. They were just good people, most likely raised beautifully by a parent or aunt or grandparent. Raised carefully, not stupidly, the way the desk guy here at this Extended Stay motel suites in Westboro – Evan – tall and Igor-looking – sneers at me – or even yells at me when I ask for assistance. Amazing! I should say: Abusive! You ask him to close your stuck window, and he sighs and shakes his head as if it’s your fault his motel has stuck windows. Plus, noisy refrigerators and generators that make your room tremble.

Did Evan put me in this room on purpose? Some of the male “guests” and workers you see at these places are a bit … frightening. I was once at a motel where several police officers served an arrest warrant to the guy across the hall. I heard the click click click of their cocked guns, no doubt trained right on his door. The cops were pros: quietly they asked him: Will you come out? Or shall we come in and get you? He opened the door and left with them …

To have Evan, a staffer, represent the hospitality business with such surliness feels almost as criminal …

My hunt for a cute affordable apartment in Worcester … the dream…fades into the gentrified sunset of Worcester. This fact, after ONE YEAR of searching for home, has me stressed. Ten years ago I could get into a huge three bedroom flat in a Woo blue collar neighborhood with $200 bucks in the bank, $20 bucks in my back pocket, and my gamey smelling Nova Scotia retriever Bailey in the back seat of my jalopy. The old school Worcester landlord would look at this mess, this writer/newspaper editor and think: She’s poor. She’s alone. Look at that car. It’s just Rose and her dog. AND THEN HE’D RENT HIS APARTMENT TO ME BECAUSE HE FELT SORRY FOR ME. After 13 years of living in a terrific apartment on Perry Ave, the landlord, a retired Worcester police detective, said: It was just you and your dog, Rose. My wife and I felt bad …

Even at Blackstone River Road…home of thug tenants…but not such a bad landlord…Ken the landlord had a heart. Tommy the handyman once said, You know Rose, Kenny told me he rented to you because he felt sorry for you.

I believed Tommy. And I knew the old Worcester was disappearing forever as I smiled and offered him a cup of tea …
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Jett resting on his blankets at the Extended Stay motel.

Worcester Memorial Day🇺🇲 Weekend Thoughts🇺🇲 …

A REAL CITY – WORCESTER!

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose, at the dog park, earlier this Memorial Day. pics: R.T.

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Lilac, at the dog park.

I took offense recently when a Worcester politician told the papers: Finally! WORCESTER IS A REAL CITY!! He was talking about the shiny new Worcester: the touristy Woo, the city I can’t relate to: our new ball park built by Rhode Island contractors, the fancy restaurants I can never afford to patronize, the $10 artisan bread and $10 slices of pie I will never buy.

The Worcester pol was talking about our beer gardens and roof top bars and specialty lagers (and the shootings that go with them) and the hundreds of spoiled Boston kids moving into our new Soviet Union-style downtown apartment complexes – really, glorified dormitories – bankrolled by their moms and dads who can pay their $2,000 rents.

The politician was crowing about our day spas and bo bo teas and ridiculously expensive sweaters, pocketbooks and bras.

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The chi chi Canal District, home to overpriced clothing and toast … and Worcester’s new ball park.

We winced at the quote. For us, Worcester has always been a REAL CITY. A great city with grit and heart. The comings and goings of this real city – sometimes obstreperous, sometimes delicate – have always thrilled us! We love our immigrants from all over the world, our workers with their state college degrees, our old people, young couples, school teachers, children on swing sets, puppies and sea gulls and hospitals and teenagers and babies and city parks … artists and grand public junior high schools built during the Roosevelt presidency … state-of-the-art public high schools readying our students for Harvard and beyond…our straight folks, gay folks… We’ve got it all. We’ve always been a real city. But modest, wearing hand-me-down jackets, never bragging about bank accounts or vacation trips, leading with a big heart, being open, sometimes rude, usually opinionated, most often caring … unabashedly sentimental, friendly and proudly ethnic.

Case in point: 1:30 p.m, today, on Foster Street, at the Korean War Memorial Plaza. A beauty of a plaza near our downtown, with statues of a little boy and soldier, flags atop flag poles, a granite tombstone with dedication, a granite wall with dates to remember, history to honor.

The Korean War Memorial Plaza was totally paid for by Worcester champion and insurance sales czar Frank Carroll. Frank’s a parishioner of St. John’s Church on Temple Street and built the stately St. Francis food pantry, dining room and prep kitchen next to the church. Thousands of hungry people have been fed at St. Francis thanks to the generosity of Frank Carroll, an ally of St. John’s pastor, Father John Madden. He’s my priest, too! I call him “Padre”!

This afternoon I was at the edges of the City of Worcester’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at the plaza Frank C built … honoring our city’s fallen heroes on Memorial Day. Worcester Police Officer Sean Lovely was there, playing his ubiquitous bag pipes like he does at all City of Worcester events and ceremonies. His music was wistful, beautiful. There were Worcester veterans in their uniforms saluting our flag and their fallen brothers. There were wreaths to be silently, solemnly laid and a good-sized crowd gathered around to watch, to bear witness: to say, WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU. The Worcester soldiers – kids – who died in the Korean War.

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Everyone there basked in Officer Lovely’s lovely music and the beauty of the plaza and their memories of our men in uniform. The vets were wearing their summer whites, so crisp and bright and perfect. The crippled Vietnam vet made his way to the ceremony, his tough guy leather vest sporting a logo of a club and people important to him. He was perfect, too. A Worcester cop stood at attention as he made sure the crowd was safe and the ceremony unfolded with dignity.

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The real Worcester. My real city.

2014 Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Sailors of the Year
Honoring America’s military men and women. File photo.

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THE PBS MEMORIAL DAY TV SPECIAL

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The PBS tv special was excellent!

I got to watch last night the always patriotic, classy and moving PBS Memorial Day TV special honoring our US military vets🇺🇸 and fallen heroes🇺🇸. The television special, filled with songs, stories, US military bands and singers, speeches, real battle video clips, hugs and standing ovations for our veterans – the young, old, wheel-chair-bound and walker-dependent who are present in the audience – had me wiping away the tears. Our vets🇺🇸 were seated in the front rows of this outdoor concert venue in DC, complete with grateful and diverse audience: they all looked beautiful. The tv special may screen again on PBS today … definitely on-line. Actor Gary Sinese (of Forest Gump fame and many WW II tv/film specials) has dedicated his life to honoring our vets and American history. He has been hosting this PBS special – accompanied by guest US military generals and American actors and Broadway luminaries and singers of all races and ages – for more than 30 years. The soldiers are wearing their dress uniforms – their chests sparkle with their medals that shine under the spotlights; their ribbons flutter in the wind. Gary wears a suit. The female guests wear gorgeous, tasteful evening gowns, and the male guest speakers or singers wear suits. Dignity. Respect.

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Retelling our American history, honoring our fallen war heroes.

… I’ve watched lots of these annual PBS Memorial Day tv specials, sad but ultimately proud🇺🇸. Quality TV for the family. We need more American TV like this show – not the soft porn, violent, loud, in-your-face, gross-out TV that pollutes our living rooms every night, dragging our culture even further down – sadly, often reflecting it.

– Rosalie

BUTTERCUPS

By Rosalie Tirella

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Buttercups at the dog park. Photos: R.T.

Yellow is my favorite color, so cheerful, fun and inviting. Wild flowers are my favorite flowers, better than the ostentatious beauties you find at the florist’s, trapped in plastic vases or ugly bricks of foam, dyed, cropped, cut … some even invented in scientists’ laboratories!

So these are my favorite days, my yellow wildflower days, with nature literally right outside my car door!! Spring time, not judging me, but sighing “Goodbye, Rosalie!” as the forsythia fade, leaving their branches dark and naked and the clumps of buttercups thin out and the dandelions’ yellow Afros turn grey then blow away …

Summer’s at all our fingertips now, the way the buttercups were caressing my old hands yesterday at the dog park. Or popping out between my toes as I sat on my blue and white checkered blanket watching Lilac play. …

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There was a faint dusting of buttercup pollen on Lilac’s nose from sticking her face in the buttercups. I know my girl: she’s a hunter. Lilac was not smelling wildflowers, she was hunting for mice and moles and earth worms and snakes. To eat them! We people can’t smell a buttercup very well, but I bet a dog knows the buttercup aroma wafting beneath his belly. A dog’s nose – Lilac’s nose – unlike the noses belonging to us humans – has millions and millions of olfactory cells, receptors that smell a little buttercup quite nicely I bet. It must be fun to be a dog in spring!

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Lilac.

I picked a buttercup yesterday to admire its beauty more closely. One of its small yellow petals fell on my thigh, wilting almost as soon as it landed on my skin. It was that delicate.

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Aren’t we all buttercup petals?

The “old dog” and “small dog” side of the dog park has been allowed to “grow out.” So the grass stays unmowed, and Lilac and I play fetch in a mini field of beautiful buttercups. Jett, who has always turned his snout up at silly dog games, prefers to sit amid the buttercups and the dandelions, watching what could be the last spring flutter by him. He is 15 years old, deaf, a bit confused in the fields, looking for me to wave COME, JETT! or a loping Lilac to run back to him to lead and herd him back home – to me.

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Jett amid the buttercups.

I remembered yesterday the buttercups of my Green Island girlhood: a few tall handfuls growing at the base of the stockade fence. Our landlord was having an affair with our downstairs neighbor. He had fixed up the old yard for her: put up a new tall fence, stuck a bird bath in the middle of our dirt yard and built a little open shed for his three deckers garbage cans, several that, in the summer heat, attracted little white maggots that I used to run to and examine as closely as I did the buttercups by our stockade fence.

But it was the buttercups that I picked and brought upstairs to my mother, sometimes running them under her pretty chin to make it a faded yellow. She was always very busy so I quickly put them into the old Sanka jar I had filled with tap water in our bathroom. Our third floor tenement was my little life science center: jars of earthworms I had dug up in the field across the way, buttercups and dandelions in washed now empty jars of Sanka instant coffee that I had filled with water. Gifts from my Polish immigrant grandmother who lived with us. Bapy. Bapy drank about a million cups of Sanka a day – Ma made her extra cups and kept them on the stove. Bapy would heat her cups of Sanka by placing the cups in a little saucepan of boiling water that was always on the rear burner of the gas stove. As kids we couldn’t walk through the kitchen without old Bapy yelling from her floppy old easy chair set at the head of our old green painted kitchen table by our mother so Bapy could be in the thick of family life, butting in at every turn: Rosie!! SANKA!…Mary!!! SANKA!!! Trina!! SANKA!!! CECELIA! SANKA!! Then my sisters and I dutifully, sometimes grudgingly, walked over to Bapy’s coffee dribbled, boiled egg stained place mat and grab her old coffee stained coffee cup and place it in the pan of now cool water and turn the gas flame on beneath the whole grungy set up to make the water boil to heat up Bapy’s cup of coffee. So we had a ton of empty Sanka jars around our house.

Sometimes I’d give my Bapy a little SANKA jar full of the yellow buttercups I had picked in our backyard. She’d take it, hold it up to her crinkly old face, then proudly set it before her cup of Sanka and plate of boiled egg and say: Jenkua, Rosa! with gusto!! Thank you, my Rosalie! Bapy, 78 and worn out from life, was riddled with arthritis and claw-like feet. She had grown up on a farm in Poland – ran it as the oldest daughter of a dad who had remarried a wicked lady who made the young baby run the farm and raise her younger siblings. My Bapy did it all, so she knew everything about raising children, goats and cows and crops of vegetables … and she loved flowers! Bapy had a long hard life that was full of worry and strife in Green Island. At the end she had no teeth and hardly ever smiled. She stumped around the house, often cursing to herself in Polish at our ner do well father, Daddy!! RED DEVIL!! DOG’S BLOOD! she’d yell in Polish whenever she saw our handsome, womanizer Daddy waltz through the front door (I’m sure she knew my father’s true colors from the instant she met him). But, for us kids, all kids, she always had a nickel or quarter in her threadbare little change purse she sat on, hidden under the seat cushion on her easy chair. And was a big – the best!!! – hugger. So she grabbed me and pulled me to her flat old breasts and hugged me hard, for a few seconds, to thank me for the buttercups. That was my beloved Bapy: a pain in the neck but, ultimately, the Polish Queen of Green Island Buttercups!
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Lafayette Street: Bapy sitting in her easy chair at the head of our kitchen table. Her three granddaughters are celebrating Rose’s birthday.

Jett👑💕

By Rosalie Tirella

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Jett👑👑👑👑

Da KING👑✨⭐! My JETT👑! I was at the Worcester Animal Rescue League yesterday. The staffer we’ve known for almost two decades walked up to my old boy🐾💕, sitting with Lilac in the back seat of my car, his tail AND butt wagging at the sight of his beloved Rushelle and she said to Jett, more than to me: THIS IS THE PERFECT DOG.

Jett. Perfect.

I said, Yes!

Perfect, she said again.

And I nodded in proud appreciation.

Rushelle said: I just went into our files. I was the one who did the adoption. I did Jett’s adoption 15 years ago. (I adopted Jett from WARL) Then we both smiled at each other, masks on, but the corners of our eyes crinkling up in happiness. And it all felt so beautifully wistful, the way life should unfold: in love, in respect. In seeing beauty in an old Husky mix with a fatty bump on his side, deafness in both ears, dementia closing in. Yes, Jett was perfect.

Jett was mine because of WARL/Rushelle. He’s been loved by me – and the WARL staffers – for 15 years. We’ve made the journey together, our long and winding road of caring 💕

I said to Rushelle, tears behind my big sunglasses: What am I gonna do when I lose Jett? He’s my favorite dog!
Then: I’M DOING THIS ALL FOR JETT! I admitted this crazy fact aloud for the first time in a year: on the road for weeks and weeks!!, in motels!!, hotels!!, in friends of friends digs, loping through dog parks at dawn, digging under farms fences at dusk. JETT – AND LILAC – AND ME … MAKING MEMORIES. Family.💕

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Jett at the dog park at dawn.