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Green Island Shopping Wagons … + more🍎

Green Island Shopping Wagons

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

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Ma off to the dry cleaners!

Cutline … above: Cecelia, Rose’s late mom, leaving for work, about to head down our backstairs to walk Lafayette … our old Philco TV in the background (we now have a color Zenith!), the casual resting spot for Ma’s laundry basket filled with damp just-washed clothes ready for our old clothesline, pictured, also.

Ma never owned a car but she did plenty of shopping – especially grocery – on Millbury and Water streets during their – and her💛 – heyday. Lots of Green Island women – single and married – did. Their vehicle of transport? The receptacle for all their goods and goodies? The trusty White’s Five and Ten “shopping wagon” – a steal at $10. Ten bucks for a foldable, relatively light weight, metal, portable shopping wagon. They must have had them in the shtetls of Eastern Europe because when I was a little girl growing up in Green Island I saw a bunch of them pulled by the married and single Polish and Lithuanian women of Green Island/Vernon Hill. For grocery shopping all along Millbury Street, maybe Water, too. Millbury was lined with scores of tiny mom and pop stores!

My mom’s White’s shopping wagon went clickety clack behind her as she walked down the cracked Millbury Street sidewalk in her beige, sensible work shoes – the Hush Puppies she had bought for herself at Lisbon’s Shoes – on Millbury Street.

My friend’s mother, who was married to a Pole who survived the Russian work camps after World War II (he did lose his hearing in one ear) was used to deprivation. She pulled her metal shopping wagon with a ram rod straight back, head held high, looking directly ahead, never turning her narrow face to catch some distraction, like a cool car or stray pup, never cracking a smile – even though she was a good, sweet person and an INCREDIBLE POLISH COOK – everything bought on Millbury Street, everything made from scratch, even her delicious egg noodles! She and her husband owned a few three decker’s in Green Island and Vernon Hill (where they lived with my school buddy, Barbara). Mrs. K made weekly walks to Millbury Street from her family’s Vernon Hill three decker apartment, her White’s Five and Ten shopping wagon behind her – pulled by her strong work hands, tightly held. Her husband had a truck but that was for his landlord business – he’d never think of giving his older wife a ride down or up the big hill for grocery shopping! Women’s work!

It was many years ago when Green Island/the Kelley Square area was a shopping mecca – for the local working class and poorer folks from the ‘hood but also for shoppers all over Worcester who came for the ethnic specialties at shops like the Bueller Brothers Market – sausages made from scratch – Polish sausage. Ma loved her kilbasa – boiled in water, sliced then placed between two pieces of pumpernickel, one piece of bread slathered with mustard. I loved my kilbasa sandwiches, too! Or the outsiders from the other Woo ‘hoods came to Widoffs or Lederman’s bakeries to buy a dozen or two of their freshly baked, pillowy, fragrant, warm bulkies … always given to us shoppers in brown paper bags. They’d be eaten up by the evening, so why plastic??? Hundreds of folks flooded these two bakeries after going to Mass or services on Sunday mornings – a Worcester tradition that was both homey and a little extravagant for us!

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The ol’ Water Street: the side of the now gone Weintraub’s Deli

My old neighborhood was home to grocery stores, fish markets, bakeries, Bueller Brothers, diners and dairy bars with takeout, the iconic Charles Restaurant and Messier’s also with takeout, the unforgettable Widoffs and Lederman’s, and a billion barrooms with a few flop houses thrown in for good measure. All shoppers rubbed shoulders in Green Island /Water Street! No one was elite on shopping days in my old neighborhood, now the gentrified Canal District where the local poor are disrespected and shut out of the activities. Nope, back then Ma pulled her shopping wagon filled with groceries before Charles Restaurant where she’d wave to some of the politicians who were going in for a famous Charles seafood lunch – they’d say, Hi, Cel! She was their counter girl at the dry cleaners where they brought in their suits to be cleaned and pressed. She smiled at her beloved customers – like the good hen admiring her cute chicks.

There was a young guy on Lafayette Street, several houses away from our old three decker, who had his own shopping wagon. He was severely crippled, his skinny legs sticks that were permanently bent like number 7s, yet he could walk wicked fast, at an angle, and with gusto! He was in his 30s but had a paper route just like the kids in our neighborhoods. He couldn’t carry the newspaper satchel on his crooked shoulders. So he had his newspapers in his own personal White’s shopping wagon – from which he grabbed his newspapers and flung them onto our back porches.

The late Tony Hmura’s mom lived in my ‘hood, too – on Scott Street. She was older – the same age as my Bapy. She looked a lot like her, too. I’d see her maybe once or twice a year walking home with her White’s shopping wagon filled with brown paper bags stuffed with groceries. But mostly Tony, who owned Leader Signs, or his sister, did the grocery shopping for their mom – using their cars.

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The always controversial Tony!

One older lady who worked in the envelope factory kept her White’s shopping wagon outside her back-door area. I could tell because she lived directly across from us – a tiny front yard separated the back porches of our two three deckers. Every Saturday night, as a little kid, I’d stand on our back porch and I could see Jenny sitting alone on her back-stairs, quiet, to herself (she didn’t even own a car!) nursing a beer. Jenny was in her late 4Os; she had lived alone her whole adult life … nursing a bottle of beer every Saturday night outside her apartment, on her wooden back stairs. Tight curly perm, no nonsense dusters from White’s … shopping every Saturday afternoon on Millbury Street. She was carless just like my mother, but Ma was happy: she lived with, was surrounded by, people and pets (the people: Bapy, Jaju, her three little girls, sometimes Daddy), plus the German Shepherd mix and Old English Sheep dog pup I talked her into adopting for me, AND later a tabby kitten, my pet hamster Joy and two newts which I kept in a big muddy aquarium in my bedroom. One escaped! and Ma found him emaciated by the toilet (his brother was so fat and healthy in the aquarium). Ma didn’t seem to mind all the work and grocery shopping … Everyone in our neighborhood knew Jenny, and she was always a quiet, polite neighbor. Years later, I see: a lonely woman, a life of “quiet desperation.” Alcoholism, too. I wish I could go back in time, give Jenny a big hug and invite her to our Lafayette Street three decker flat for one of my mothers’s raucous Sunday baked chicken dinners – with all the fixings! So delicious! If I only knew then what I understand now …

Finally, when we were older, teenagers, Ma gave her big shopping list and cash to my beautiful kid sister who dutifully took up the White’s shopping wagon and made the trek to Supreme’s, the fruit store, sometimes even Widoffs, every Thursday eve. The saint of our family, she shopped right after working in Boston! She grabbed Ma’s rickety old shopping wagon and still in her pretty secretary dress booked it down Lafayette Street waving to neighbors, smiling to all, saying Hello! I see her now, walking home, lugging a wagon full of food, looking a little tired … long day. I rush downstairs to help her carry up the bags of groceries. She is so pretty, yet her brown eyes seem so sad …

“She was gold,” my mother’s best gal pal once said to Ma.

Yes, she was …

🍂🍂🍂🍂🍂🍂🍂🍂🍂

FYI:

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🍂🍁🍂🍁🍂🍂🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁🍂

🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸today:

still have my ears on:
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🍂🍂🍂🍂 pics: R.T.

and this 💛:

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beautiful!!:

Saturday wrap-up✝️😢🐘

Yesterday: a heart-rending sight from the highway …
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The steeple of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel pulled apart with a vicious tenderness … the rest of the historic Italian-American church will meet its Maker soon enough …

All the law-suits, appeals to the Vatican, protests, marches, op-ed pieces, videos, notes to the editor, historic preservation society letters, prayers, hopes, dreams of Mauro DePasquale and other church congregants …

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… only delayed the demise – did nothing to stop the Catholic church, the Diocese of Worcester, from prostituting itself …
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… SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER! OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL CHURCH! For millions and millions of dollars, now that it’s located in the hottest district in the new trendy chi chi Worcester ‘hood.

On Mullbury Street, the East Side’s historic, gorgeous Italian American church used to sit amongst families and old Italian Nonnas praying on their rosary beads – not any more. It’s all distressed blue jeans, martini bars and sushi joints …

The church was a shrine to and symbol of the Italian Americans who built it – and WORCESTER’S iconic Shrewsbury Street before it became a foodie enclave. The church has been pimped out by its pastor – Monsignor Pedone. He was asleep at the wheel. So, of course, with no leadership, his flock falterrd, dwindled …

The church, along with its community center and little league baseball field, was – for most of the 20th century – a touch-stone to all of Worcester’s Italians and their progeny – “foreigners” to Woo’s WASPY ruling class. Nonetheless, we made Worcester our home and filled this city with exciting, tasty stuff: music, style, homemade Italian sausages and cheeses, big backyard gardens with grapes growing wildly on trellises … Our love of big families, community, food, our Catholic faith.

Now, a memory, along with the soon to be demolished Mt. Carmel church and its beautiful blue terra cotta mosaic that, when lit at night, showed Madonna holding tight her baby Jesus to all the floating cars on Interstate 290 E.

Well, here’s to more foodie joints, trendy clothing boutiques and student lofts!

Who gives a fuck?!

Not many.

Watch this site!:
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And weep!

– text + photos by Rose Tirella

✝️✝️✝️✝️✝️✝️✝️✝️✝️✝️

❇️❇️❇️❇️❇️❇️❇️❇️

From PETA.ORG:

How to Tell Real Elephant Sanctuaries From Abusive Exhibitors

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Elephants in a nature park♥️. photos: PETA

Can you tell a real elephant sanctuary from an abusive sham?

For centuries, humans have been fascinated by elephants. The Earth’s largest land animals are among its most brilliant and most intriguing. Unfortunately, our fascination with them often leads to exploitation rather than reverence.

What’s Wrong With Elephant Rides?

As eyewitness investigations have repeatedly shown, elephants used for human entertainment are commonly stolen from their mothers and herds as babies and beaten mercilessly to break their spirits and make them fearful and submissive.

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Elephant with scars and wounds from bullhooks – their handlers’ tool of torture … hitting them behind the ears, on the feet and face, their most sensitive body parts.

Often, people who patronize camps that offer elephant rides see elephants with scars and handlers holding their ever-present bullhooks to make sure the animals know what will happen to them if they don’t obey.

But even if the abuse is carefully hidden, as it so often is at sham “sanctuaries,” all elephants used in direct-contact activities — including elephant bathing, painting, and shows — have been subjected to the malicious “crush” process to make them compliant.

Baby elephants are taken from their mothers and beaten over and over again just so tourists can ride them. If you ride elephants, you’re contributing to why they suffer!!

As travelers turn their backs on obviously cruel animal exhibitions, many facilities are now adding “sanctuary,” “refuge,” “rescue,” “orphanage,” and other compassionate-sounding descriptors onto their names. Unfortunately, these terms aren’t regulated in any way—and in far too many cases, the name is new but the abuse is the same.

What Goes on at Fake Elephant Sanctuaries?

Natasha Daly, a writer with National Geographic’s Wildlife Watch investigative reporting initiative, exposed extreme abuse of animals used for wildlife tourism in six countries:

“Phajaan is the traditional — and brutal — days- or weeks-long process of breaking a young elephant’s spirit. It has long been used in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia to tame wild elephants, which still account for many of the country’s captives. Under phajaan, elephants are bound with ropes, confined in tight wooden structures, starved, and beaten repeatedly with bullhooks, nails, and hammers until their will is crushed.”

How to Find a Real Elephant Sanctuary

True sanctuaries never buy, sell, trade, breed, exploit, or profit from elephants. They never use bullhooks or punish elephants in other ways (even out of tourists’ sight), and they don’t force animals who naturally avoid humans into close contact with them. They provide them with the companionship of members of their own species and large natural habitats that allow for normal forms of behavior, including knocking down trees, swimming in ponds, and foraging in forests. These facilities are often closed to the public except for on certain days — and when they do offer tours, they keep visitors at a comfortable distance so that they don’t disturb the animals. Visitors never touch the elephants, because these sanctuaries exist for the animals, not the tourists. The people who run them respect elephants and work to protect them.

Check to see if the elephant sanctuary you’re thinking of visiting is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Two in the U.S. are: The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and the Performing Animal Welfare Society in California.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (located in Hohenwald), is a true refuge where elephants rescued from circuses, ride operators, roadside zoos, and other abusive outfits can spend the rest of their lives in a spacious green habitat doing only what they choose to do. One of the residents is Nosey, a beautiful African elephant whom PETA fought to free from her abusive exhibitor for more than a decade. The elephants here are never forced into contact with humans, but lucky volunteers may spot them during their workdays. Even if you can’t get to Tennessee, you can watch the elephants go about their days there in peace, thanks to three solar-powered EleCams.

The Performing Animal Welfare Society in California

The Performing Animal Welfare Society was founded by the late animal advocate Pat Derby. Derby was an animal trainer who realized how much animals suffer for human entertainment and, after leaving show business, dedicated the rest of her life to saving them instead. During one of the sanctuary’s one- or two-day educational getaways, guests can tour the facility, learn about its work to rescue animals, and observe retired elephants — including Toka, Thika, and Maggie, all of whom PETA helped rescue — from a respectful distance. Those who do the two-day getaway also get to see charming Ben the Bear, who was rescued by PETA, enjoying his beautiful, spacious habitat with a pond.

The Global Sanctuary for Elephants in Brazil

In South America, five countries have already banned exhibitors from forcing elephants to perform. It’s great progress, but many elephants have nowhere to go for a peaceful retirement and specialized care. Enter the Global Sanctuary for Elephants. Based in Brazil, this team works to rescue, rehabilitate, and advocate for formerly abused elephants. The sanctuary isn’t open to the public, but ele-friends from all over the world can follow along on its Facebook page, where the team gives an inside look at the work of rescuing and caring for elephants, the struggles they face, and the individual personalities of the animals.

Watch Wild Elephants in Nature 24/7 on an EleCam

Africam offers free virtual safaris into the African wilderness, courtesy of discreet cameras placed in areas that the animals frequent, such as watering holes. If you miss an exciting moment, don’t worry — some of the best animal videos are saved and posted. Explore.org/LiveCams streams wild-animal video feeds from all over the world, including of elephants and many others.

Visit the Unbelievable Circus Roncalli in Germany!

Instead of depressed imprisoned animals, live human entertainers together with massive holographic animals are used in the breathtaking performances of Circus Roncalli to create an immersive, larger-than-life experience.

There is no excuse for whipping, hitting, jabbing or confining animals to tiny cages and making them perform confusing tricks when superior technology like this exists. Way to go Germany!

Want to Do More to Help Elephants?

You can host demonstrations, speak at city meetings, hand out leaflets at the circus … Please help!

🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘

FYI:

Connect with Worcester City Hall if you want changes in our city🌇! … + ANIMALS ARE NOT OUR PROPERTY – with zero rights! They are alive! They feel feelings! ANIMAL RIGHTS – like human/civil rights for all people! – now!

CALL CITY HALL!

By Dorrie Maynard

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Worcester City Hall, located on Main Street, in downtown Worcester♥️ file pic: Rose T.

While driving home the other day, I noticed that both sides of nearby Berkshire Street (off Highland), had new parking signs installed on both sides of the street that state: Only Residents Can Park on both sides of the street during certain times.

I was so excited I went
home and called the customer service department of the City of Worcester and asked them when my street would be done over in the same fashion.

They informed me that it isn’t scheduled to be done. When I asked Why??, I was told that a resident on Berkshire Street had put in a petition to the City of Worcester to make the changes. So I asked the City worker how I could do the same because, in snow emergencies during the winter, residents in my neighborhood are supposed to be able to park on “resident only”-parking on one side of the street. This means you have to have a resident sticker (your car is insured and you pay car excise taxes to the City of Worcester – this is the only way you can get a resident car
sticker).

We all know most of the students who live in the area do not have their vehicles insured or registered in the City of Worcester.

I was informed that all I had to do was submit a petition to the City, and they would in turn decide
if it would be able to be done. It is a bit of process: your petition has to be submitted with an original signature and then presented to the city and voted on.

But I am hoping and guessing that if it was done on one street over from me, there should be no reason for it to not be approved on my street. I have yet to submit the petition but knowing that I can do so is an awesome feeling! It gives me a sense of being able to get something accomplished!

Apparently, you can petition, contact the City of Worcester and fill out the appropriate paper-work to get just about anything done on our streets, sidewalks, city parks, property and rental apartments …
As long as it is done on the
appropriate form/s and submitted with an original signature.

I never knew – and I am willing to bet that some of other city property owners and residents didn’t know about this either!

In my petition, I am also requesting that a sign be placed at the end of my driveway stating
vehicles need to be parked 4 feet (or whatever the city law is) from the curb of my driveway. I
have come out several times and cars are parked over the curb – which does not allow me to be
able to swing out of my driveway – especially if there is another car parked right behind me on
the opposite side of the street.

One time, I called the City to report that a car was
blocking my driveway. They actually asked me if I needed to leave right then and there! Really!! You should be able to get out of your driveway 24/7! At the time I was taking care of an elderly friend, and I was on call 24/7. So yes, people do need access … all of us must be able to drive out of our driveways at any given time.

In conclusion: If you have an issue with the city and would like things to change, CONTACT CITY HALL! THEY WILL HELP YOU – OR POINT YOU to the right City Department. Call the City of Worcester customer service help line at 508-929-1300.

If you are not satisfied, reach out to the mayor’s office or the city manager’s office. These people are elected or hired city officials who are paid by us taxpayers. They should have the city’s people’s best interest at heart!

I think we are all looking forward to some positive changes in Worcester! It’s a grassroots effort!

Power To The People!!

🐴🐴🐴🐴🐴🐴🐴🐴

This Labor Day Spare a Thought for Those Whose Labor Never Ends!

By Jennifer O’Connor

Most of us look forward to the Labor Day holiday as a welcome day of rest. But horses who pull carriages, elephants forced to give rides, and ponies who plod in endless circles at country fairs never get a day off. For them and other working animals, every day is “labor” day.

While we’re relaxing by the pool or having a picnic this weekend, horses in cities across America are pulling heavy loads for hours on end. (editor’s note: SEE THE SPENCER FAIR!!)

FOR CITY CARRIAGE HORSES (editor’s note: or Worcester inner-city liquor store magnate Bob Largesse’s KELLEY SQUARE horse drawn carriage – he works them in HOT, HUMID SUMMER WEATHER!): Breathing in exhaust fumes while toiling day in and day out is debilitating and exhausting.

Constantly pounding the hard pavement can leave horses’ joints aching and sore. Horses love to run and graze in fields, socializing with the other members of their herds!! …

And horses aren’t immune to the sweltering heat: Just last month, a horse pulling a heavy carriage in New York City collapsed near Central Park and was observed by horrified onlookers struggling on the ground – still attached to the carriage!

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More caged tigers in America than in the wild! photos: PETA

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FREEDOM NOW!!!

Then there are the elephants trucked around the country on the summer fair circuit in fetid tractor-trailers just to give rides. (editor’s note: see the snakes, tiny baby tigers crammed into tiny cages at the Spencer Fair!) The elephants are controlled through dominance and fear — if they don’t obey, they know they will be hit or jabbed with a bullhook, a heavy baton with a sharp steel hook on one end (picture a fireplace poker).

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Big cats hauled in circus truck – many die from this hellish existence! They die from the heat/cold, intense stress! They break – kill their trainers, gawkers … then they are killed/”euthanized.”

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Bullhook used on elephant!!! – to hurt and terrify the innocent baby so she obeys her torturer!!!! NO WILD ANIMAL ACTS FOR WORCESTER!!! Please call our city councilors to demand – as we have for years – that such a City of Worcester ordinance is passed!

“Handlers” strike the elephants on the most sensitive parts of their bodies — behind the ears, on the face and feet — and they’re shameless about it. One eyewitness reported that an elephant in Ohio who was giving a ride with four children on her back was beaten with a bullhook until she screamed. Elephants are designed to wander over vast distances, and they love to swim and play in water! But the elephants used for rides typically spend their few nonworking hours in chains.

For exhibitors looking to make a quick buck, there are few animals easier to exploit for the task than ponies. Cheap to procure, they are hardy, stoic, calm and tremendously appealing to children. Intentionally or not, overly excited kids can be rough on ponies. They may hit or kick them or yank on their tails or manes. They can be left sore and chafed from the rough tugging on their halters all day long or from tack that’s ill-fitting or that has been improperly put on. And when the event is over, there’s little respite: They’re loaded into trucks and taken to the next venue.

Since the summer is prime earning time, horses, elephants and ponies spend days on end toiling in the scorching heat. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: Dolphins and orcas have to perform tricks in marine parks, monkeys are forced to ride dogs while strapped to their backs at fairgrounds, calves run for their lives in rodeos, often ending up slammed to the ground, Thoroughbreds drop dead on racetracks, tiger cubs are roughly handled for photo ops, and much more. These animals have few opportunities to interact with others of their own species or engage in the activities that give their lives meaning. Their days are miserable and exhausting.

Long after a fairgoer heads for home with a souvenir photo or a tourist takes a selfie of a carriage ride, animals are still working. Those who pay to take a ride or watch animals perform in tawdry shows are directly responsible for this misery.

Please, next time, give them a break — don’t buy a ticket.

*******


😢😢😢😢😢😢

🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶:

“Sail around the world in a dirty gondola …”

– Bob Dylan

🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

Slays me every time♥️♥️♥️:

Miss you, Ron Stultz – my “Unique Find”!

By Rosalie Tirella

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One of Ronny’s Unique Finds♥️. Rose visited (every week!) Ronny’s vintage/antique shop in Webster Square, Unique Finds. She visited the shop to check out Ron’s “new” lps and music section – and visit Ronny and his girlfriend – two of Rose’s favorite people. pics: Rose T.

Our readers expect in-city stories from us. So when we don’t write them, they email us notes like this one (yesterday, to me):

“I’m disappointed that you never covered Ron Stultz’s death. He died in the Worcester County Jail, although the jail says he had a medical emergency and they brought him to the hospital (where he died).”

A few hours later, after I emailed the person a response, I got this:

” … I don’t know the cause of death. I heard about it from someone else who was in jail back in May.”

I did a little Googling and found the obituary of my dear friend Ron Stultz, an InCity Times/CECELIA advertiser/booster, one of our website’s stars (for free) cuz we liked him and his store so much …
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Ronny’s store and its thousands of items (big pieces of furniture to ceramic dog tchotchkes) featured prominently on incitytimesworcester.org

… and a beautiful guy to know.

Ron was a music lover beyond compare – just like me … a comic-book super-hero expert, a WBCN radio station groupie (like me), a guitar stringer, a casual acquaintance of Lucinda Williams!! (in her early days❇️) …

♥️♥️♥️♥️

… a roving concert-goer, an Elvis fan, a STAX Records collector, a gifted carpenter, a great boyfriend to his “Mary” who must miss her soul-mate every day, a “better” dad who was mending fences with his now grown kids, an animal lover who always came up to my car to say hi to Jett and Lilac and pat their furbaby heads … a big, handsome, charming guy with tattoos up his big arms but whose smarts dazzled you more than the colored ink on his biceps ever could!

And a heroin addict.

Which I still struggle to believe – I always saw Ronny at his shop working on his biz: stringing guitars, moving vintage bureaus from one room to another, organizing the album bins, trying to do his books on his computer in his office. A guy for whom junk had been relegated to the junk heap years ago! A former heroin addict who did the detox route many times, who attended NA and AA meetings galore, did talk therapy, too, and now owned an overwhelmingly sprawling, lovely vintage and antiques shop. Ron was better now.

And yet the opioids brought him down! Jail time. Twice. Twice after his beloved antiques shop closed. They say he sold drugs, too, but I never saw this – and I popped into Unique Finds once, often twice, a week, at all hours, to visit Ron and Mary. How could this have been going on right under my nose? As I took photos of Ron’s albums, lamps, bookcases and cool camo jackets.

I couldn’t believe it when his shop was closed! Ronny gone! But now always telling me he had a new better spot for his shop – down the road in Leicester. I would text him and ask: When is Leicester happening? I can’t wait! But I got no reply. Ever.

So it was jail and, as my friend’s husband, another pal, could attest: in jail there are gangs, drugs, drug selling … So something happened to Ronny, the second time he was in. “An emergency” says the official record. For the record – to save Lou’s face! Plus the jail says Ron died at the hospital. His mates at jail said otherwise …

What a horrible way to die – in jail, away from Mary, away from his funky super hero helmets and Johnny Cash posters. Ron Stultz, son of the late and very rich Sonny Stultz, owner of Standard Auto junkyard up Vernon Hill (the biz is now run by Sonny’s daughter Dee – the late Ron’s kid sister). Ron Stultz, dead in jail, but a guy who exuded promise! at all times! … a guy who was born to wealthy parents, given a place at the table at Standard Auto but who squandered his chances – and drove his family crazy, and to despair. His motorcycle accident (as a kid) sent him down the opioid road, some say…his brain got used to that opioid high.

Ron Stultz: the family black sheep … the nonconformist … the brilliant and beautiful fuck up.

We’ve never been a big Martin Sexton fan but we LOVE this song.

The alleged “drug dealer” who hopped into his motorcycle and took off into the night! So well loved by me! I’m a black sheep,too! And loved by many non-drug-users! Because Ron was sunshine. Sweet. SOBER. Fun to be around, knowledgeable about music and musicians, easy to talk to … wise. Whenever I had man trouble or life conundrums, I found myself at Unique Finds, with Mary behind the main counter counting the sparse ones and fivers at their antique cash register and Ron playing with his music. Like a big 17 year old. Like the bad boy all us gals fall for in high school.

HI!!! we’d say to each other…And I’d run to Mary snd get a big hug from her. Then I’d start right in whining about all my problems. Mary, who knew me, I believe, in a former, groovier life, listened and said One day at a time, Rose. Or: you look good. Or sometimes she’d reach over to the necklace tree on the counter to her left and just hand me a pretty necklace to make me smile. Mary had/has long dyed black hair and is an older goth beauty. Her jangling bracelets and low cut blue jeans and black cut out tee-shirts complement her lovely black eye mascara. Ron’s sexy rock chick dream come true! Now Mary’s sexy bad boy, with his sweet, easy disposition gone! Gone forever! Just like my late great mom, the late crazy Tony Hmura, the late beautiful Amanda of Jan’s Kitchen on West Boylston Street and her wonderful, quiet, but slyly smart and funny dad, Bob. GONE! Without warning! Without a Goodbye!

Now I’ve lost Ronny Stultz – yet another love! A mystery. A charm. A treasure trove of rock n roll experience. Life … whatever that entails, whooshes by! and we cling to our rafts as they tumble and turn and are buried by tons of water – Niagra Falls! How do we all keep on keeping on?

I was surprised – but not really – at Ron’s sister Dee and her cousin, Deb, who works at Standard Auto full-time and co-runs the place with Dee: My dear Ronny’s obituary was so succinct – one sentence long! With no mention of relatives, work history, loves and losses … Worcester even! Worcester, Ron’s birthplace and hometown. There was so much wonderful stuff to say about your big brother, Dee! You didn’t say any of it! Like you were ashamed of him. Like you disowned your brother to protect Standard Auto and your middle-class reputation … for the money, too.

But you brother wasn’t a money person. Ron was a BAND person …
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Ron gave this pristine lp to Rose

Ron was a BRUCE person …
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Ronny gifted this Springsteen album to Rose

Ron was an Elvis person …
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Ron gave Rose this Elvis Christmas pocketbook one Christmas!

He was wild and free …

He was million times more than this on-line nothing you gave him:
“Ronald passed away on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Ronald was a resident of Massachusetts at the time of passing.”

And the wake and funeral were private. Ronny knew a ton of people! From all rungs of life’s ladder. Like me, he was a walking Charles Dickens novel – each character, no matter how low or high – sparkled! I – and many folks, I’m sure – would have liked to have said goodbye, old friend, to Ronny!

So now there are just the memories:

Ronny saying NO ROSE! to me as I made a grab for and he clutched ever more strongly to his wide hairy chest … an almost new COMPLETE STAX RECORDINGS MULTI CD BOX SET!!!

Ah, C’mon, Ronny! I said laughing, knowing I was never gonna get that STAX treasure chest.

NO, ROSE! Ronny said, smiling as I gingerly touched the box set’s cover and then walking to his lp section and handing me a so-so Johnny Cash album. (He knew it was so-so – that’s why he gave it to me!)

Or: Ronny sitting by Mary. Mary looking passed out, lying outstretched, in her desk chair and me screaming RONNY! RONNY! Something’s wrong with Mary!! and Ronny saying softly to me, It’s ok, Rose. She’s only sleeping …

Or Ronny bartering for an InCity Times ad when broke – usually for a couple of albums and a hug. Ronny was a big bear of a guy yet he gave the gentlest hugs! I always felt he was one of the most sensitive people I had ever come upon and that the world was too much for him…conspired against him.

Or: in Unique Finds … all the vintage gumball machines lined up in a row – painted fire engine red! Just like the ones I remember from my childhood. Maybe the actual ones from my ol’ Lafayette Street Freddy’s Penny Candy Store!

And all the toy fire engines – some the cool Tonka truck types, others big, metal and boxy from the 1960s – made for a little kid to hop into and pedal away in!

Or at the entrance of Unique Finds: this big – as big as an apartment washer or dryer – wild moon carny catch-all game that had stuffed animal prizes in it, plus little shutes that lit up and small multi-colored light bulbs. It whistled at ya, too!

Dee bought it and now, all clean and shiny, it sits in front of her work space at Standard Auto – all lit up!

Ronny was a magical Willy Wonka! And Dee knows it!

Today I see Ronny in his small Unique Finds office, rebuilding an old guitar that he rescued from some ol’ dump. He’s repairing it, giving it plenty of TLC … so much tenderness! … dusting it, varnishing it, recalibrating its frets, putting new strings on nice and taut and cutting the excess ends off.

Where did you learn to do that, Ronny? I ask my friend in wonderment as I watch his husky paws polish that old guitar.

I don’t know, Rose, Ronny says.

Just learned along the way, Ronny? I say, smiling, still watching my friend work.

Ronny gives me one of his sweet/sexy smiles – and a wink.

Miss you, Ron!

Love you, Ron and Mary!

Fourth of July column🇺🇸 … and more🎶

One of my favorite columns – by me!😉- R.T.

FOURTH OF JULY, GREEN ISLAND STYLE

By Rosalie Tirella

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Our childhood dog, Belle♥️, on our Green Island third-floor back porch, the setting of this story. pics: Rose T.

I’ve celebrated the Fourth on a blanket in Boston listening to the Boston Pops and guest vocalist Johnny Cash. I’ve celebrated the Fourth at East Park here in Worcester. Always a lovely time.

Last night I was thinking about my Green Island Fourth of July’s – the years when I was a kid and lived with my mother, father, sisters and grandmother in “the Island”:

I am a little kid – about 9 – and I am standing on our three decker’s back porch. Third floor. It is the afternoon and the sun is shining sweetly. I am looking at “Val,” the buxom middle-aged lady who lives across the way from our rickety three decker in her rickety six-unit building, on her third-floor porch. A big, weed-choked, empty lot lies between our buildings but that is all. The vegetation hasn’t kept Val from inserting herself into ours – everyone’s – lives.

She is wearing a negligee today – for the Fourth of July. I can see it from my back porch. She is on her back porch talking loudly. I swear I can see her bright red lips from my third floor porch! In 10 years I will have learned the word “slatternly,” and it will remind me of Val … but today I am a little kid so Val is just … Val.

Val is very drunk on this special national holiday – in a very happy, friendly way. She is talking with anyone who passes by her building, her ta ta’s damn near falling out of her negligee as she leans over her porch railing to chat up passersby who always chat back. I am standing on my porch, quiet as a mouse, not even smiling because I know Val can be scary sometimes. On a few occasions she has battled with my granny, called my granny, also feisty, a DP – Dumb Polack – during one of their shouting matches held across their back porches. DP, my mom tells me, really stands for Displaced Persons, what they sometimes called immigrants. Val is being mean when she yells DP at my granny, who doesn’t miss a beat and yells back: KISS MY ASSY! and turns her plump little dumpling shaped butt to Val – while standing on our back porch – and tap, taps her butt which is covered in those sweet all flannel nighties with little pink rose buds on them. Bapy – Polish for Granny – wore those flannel nighties year ’round – even in the summer.

Granny is not battling Val today. Granny is inside, sitting in her easy chair we have set up for her in the kitchen, at the head of the kitchen table, a place from which she candrink her cup of coffee, eat her egg sandwich and see and comment on all the household happenings. She has been sitting there my whole life! I love her with all my heart!

But I digress. Val is out on her porch today in her negligee because it is the Fourth of July, a special day – for her and America. Val has turned and gone inside her apartment, a flat that is also home to her wimpy boyfriend, gorgeous blond 18 year old daughter from another guy, and two huge attack dogs: a German Shepherd and Doberman. Both fierce. Both having chased me up a fence more than a few times. Val doesn’t believe in walking her dogs to do poop. She just lets them out, they rush down the three flights of stairs like noisy moose and shit and pee in the little front yard and rush back upstairs. Val has them trained to a tee.

Val has come out of her flat – this time she is carrying her portable record player. I am watching all this from my back porch – not saying a word, not even smiling. Just waiting … . Val puts her record player down, hooks it up to a bunch of extension cords and I see her going back in, cord in hand. Then she comes out with a record album – a big one. I am guessing it is the same one she played last year, has the songs which we – the entire Bigelow Street neighborhood – heard last Fourth of July: patriotic tunes. The kind you can – like Val – march around on your Green Island porch to. Later I would learn these songs were written by John Philip Sousa.

Val puts on her lp. Cranks it up! Da da da da da da de da da! La da da da de da da! Boy, this music is good! Very up beat! I am tapping my feet! I look across the way and see Val crack open another beer and take a sloppy swig and lie on her reclining beach chair on her porch. I can see her relaxing through the slats on her porch through the slats on my porch!

The music is great! Val is getting drunker. …

It is a few hours later and Val is singing – to the entire neighborhood! The folks in our hood are getting ramped up! People are coming out and throwing chairs and sofas and old tires into a big pile in the empty lot a few lots down from Val’s place, diagonally across the way from our three decker flat. I go in doors and crow to my mom: THEY ARE GETTING READY FOR THE BIG BONFIRE, MA! To myself: HOORAY!

My mom, careworn, grimaces. She doesn’t say a word, never voices her disapproval of Val. But I know she is not thrilled with the situation. Sometimes she is the one who will call the Worcester Fire department when the flames of the big bonfire grow too huge and lap up the July night air and orange sparks fill our Green Island night. The fire has never spread cuz the neighborhood kids and adults have kept it in check with big poles that they use to poke at it. But the flames still worried my mom …

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Rose’s mom, CECELIA♥️♥️, a few years before marriage to “Daddy” and Green Island life: at her favorite sister’s house in Woo’s Webster Square area for the Fourth, here seated with fave nephew and neice.

But the eve has just begun! I so want to be a part of the celebration and throw some of Bapy’s rags onto the bonfire! She has so many that she wraps her arms in for her arthritis. Old country ways/cures die hard in Green Island. … Bapy never really changes her clothes. Just gives herself sporadic sponge baths and peels off old rags and puts on new ones. She always smells fecund. I love her odor! I still miss her Bapy smell!! If only we could re-smell all the people we have loved through the years. The men I have been with, my late mom who held me to her heavy Heaven Scented perfumed breasts as a child and a teen, my Bapy’s immigrant odor, my long-gone dog Bailey’s gamey scent … .

Anyways, the bonfire was being readied for the big night, but my mom would never let me join in the mayhem. It was all a little too wild for us. We were the good kids. My mom the perfect mom who worked so hard at the dry cleaners and went to church with her three girls every Sunday. My mom knew everyone in the hood and was always polite and talked with folks, etc – she was not a snob. But, she liked to tell her girls, she would never sit and have a cigarette with the ladies, like half the women in our hood did – visiting each other in each other’s tenements, gossiping about folks, bitching about cheating husbands and boyfriends. My mother was busy raising her girls as perfectly as she could, making sure they went to school every day and did all their homework and got all As and went to bed early and ate well. She had no time to wallow in her poverty – or her husband’s wild ways. She – we – transcended the shit.

So, there I was, stuck on our third-floor porch. An observer. My sisters would be home from Crompton Park soon. They would love this spectacle, too! Not as much as I did. But they would hang out on the porch, eating Freeze Pops, their lips ice blue from the sugared ice treat – and watch.

My father would disappear for the day. Celebrate in his own fashion, I guess. He was as crooked as some of the guys in the hood, but he played out his crookedness in other parts of Worcester. I suspect the East Side of town. What my mom and us kids didn’t know wouldn’t hurt us.

… It was dark out now and Val was singing up a storm and marching around her porch. La di da di da!!! Bang bang! Someone had lit the bonfire and everyone was gathered around it! Except for me and my kid sisters. We were on our back porch eating Freeze Pops, mesmerized by the flames – they must have been two stories high! The folks in the hood out did themselves this year! It was like something you would see in an old Western movie – the Indians roasting an elk on a spit they had set up over the flames. People’s faces orange from the glow of the flames. Very primitive and real.
“Come out here, Ma!” I yelled to my mother. “Ya should see how big the bonfire is this year!!”

My mother was indoors getting our clothes ready for the Fourth of July cook out we would be having at our Uncle Mark and Aunt Mary’s the next day. They lived in a a cute pink ranch house in the Burncoat area – a nicer part of town. My mom liked this part of the Fourth best of all. A day off she could celebrate with her favorite sister in her sister’s big back yard, my Uncle Mark grilling hamburgers and hot dogs on the big three legged grill he had stoked with those black brickettes he always doused with lighter fluid. Yum, yum, yum ! We were all pre-vegetarian in those days – ate meat, Nissaan white rolls and buns, potato chips, soda, Cheez-Its … the typical American BBQ 1960s fare. Heaven!

Ma would have none of it. She was busy making sandwiches for the cook out at Uncle Mark’s. She wanted us in bed early for tomorrow. We kids would have none of it. The flames were roaring! So was Val! Some jerk threw too many old tires on the bon fire, so now the air smelled awful! It was thick with gray smoke. We kids started coughing. Ma came out and took a look. Her mouth fell open. She looked at her three silly girls and frowned. I knew … She was calling 911.

In a matter of minutes the Worcester Fire Department had come and the fireman were hosing down the bon fire with their big hoses. The flames were doused out! Smoke was everywhere.

BOO! BOO! BOO! shouted all the kids and adults at the firemen. You could hear their laughs, too.

“Boo, Boo! Boo!!!” my sisters and I yelled from our back porch, laughing. “BOO! BOO!”

It had been, as usual, a fab Fourth of July!

🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶:

Listening to two American masterpieces today. Perfect for our Independence Day holiday! Try a listen…
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🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

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Grooved with this prophetic lp three consecutive times … # 4 coming up!


28 Million YouTube views!

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

Makes me shed a few tears:

Flying Spot and Kitty with your Samsonite can be deadly! … and more🐩

But first …

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Cece in our new home🏠♥️. pics: Rose T.

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🌇🌇🌇🌇♥️

🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱

from PETA, recipes and environmental news:

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

It’s being called a miracle: All 143 humans on board a military-chartered plane that crash-landed, skidding off the runway and into the St. Johns River in Florida, survived. That is miraculous, indeed, but not everyone on the flight made it off alive.

While passengers stood on the wing of the airplane, awaiting rescue, two cats and a dog were left in the cargo hold, which was filling up with water. Locked in travel crates, they probably panicked and paddled frantically to try to keep their heads above water, until their last remaining air pocket was engulfed and they drowned.

It’s a terrifying way to die. And it’s one more reason why no animal should ever be flown in a cargo hold. A fourth animal on this flight did make it out alive — a cat who had traveled in the cabin.

Plane crashes are relatively rare, but even on an uneventful flight, cargo holds pose a deadly danger to animals. And if there is an emergency and your animal companions are locked away with the luggage, your chances of saving them are close to zero.

Every year, cats, dogs, rabbits and other animals die in cargo holds because these areas are designed for luggage — not living beings. They typically aren’t ventilated or climate-controlled, which puts animals at risk of exposure to deadly temperature extremes. Delays are especially perilous: Much as a parked car can quickly turn into an oven, even on a mildly warm day, so, too, can a plane that’s parked on a tarmac. Cold temperatures are also a threat, both on the ground and in the air.

And it’s no surprise that when animals are flown with the luggage, they are often treated accordingly — as if they were nothing more than a tattered old suitcase. Anything that’s sent down a conveyor belt is subject to being bumped around, handled roughly and even damaged or lost — including animals.

A dog named Roast Beast, who was recently supposed to be flying from San Francisco to Raleigh, North Carolina, never arrived at his destination, leaving his guardian frantic with worry. “I’m miserable, I’m crying, I’m freaking out,” she said. “It’s horrible … I am upset because you’ve lost my dog and you’re treating [him] like lost baggage.” Airline employees apparently spent hours calling other airports before finally discovering that Roast Beast had accidentally been sent to Philadelphia.

Other animals have gotten out of their carriers during handling and become lost inside hangars or bolted across runways. Some are never seen again.

So how can travelers protect their animals? First, consider whether taking them along at all is a good idea. As much as you may want your animal companions with you all the time, try to look at it from their perspective: Will they enjoy the trip, or will they be stressed by flying and have to spend most of their time alone in an unfamiliar hotel room, while you’re out sightseeing? For many animals, staying in their own homes, with a trusted caretaker, is the safest and least stressful option.

If you have to fly with animals, check the airline’s policies and ensure that they can fly in the cabin with you. Use sturdy, well-ventilated carriers that will fit under the seat but are large enough for the animals to stand up and turn around in comfortably. If your animals are too large to fit under the seat, driving them to your destination (or going by boat if moving overseas) is safer than flying them in cargo.

As every seasoned traveler knows, checked baggage is no place for anything important, fragile or irreplaceable. Our animal companions are all of that—and much more.

🥞Cruelty-free, vegan yum yums🥞:

Cruelty-free AND better for your arteries than regular donuts🍩!:

🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕🐩🐈

FYI:

Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the monthly WORCESTER NAACP MEETING will be held on Thursday, May 30

– Edward G. Robinson

Worcester Unit, NAACP
4 East Central St., #484
Worcester, MA 01613

For more information visit:
www.worcesternaacp.org

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

Note, WPS superintendent and teaching staff:

Go, Mayor Pete!🇺🇸💙:

USA take note!!!!!!!!:

🎶🎵🎧🎼🎧🎧🎧🎵:

What’s for breakfast?!

text+pics: Rose T.

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Rose’s kitchen cupboards!

Imperial Bedroom
Elvis Costello

Such a literate, musical break-up/divorce album! I’ve owned this lp (and many of his early albums) ever since college, after my ol’ Burncoat High gal pal turned me on to Elvis Costello. During my early 20s he was pretty much the only guy I listened to. My gal was Joni Mitchell, also courtesy of my Burncoat buddy. Together, we saw Elvis in concert at “the Centrum” in Woo and stalked him at the old Marriott hotel nearby – where we met him! IN PERSON! Up close and personal!! Elvis Costello was not nerdy looking that night! He looked very sexy with his dyed dark black-blue hair in a high pompadour. He was my height. He was so lovely to us. His date was some tall, lithe, gorgeous model – she was holding a green drink. I’ll never forget. Elvis gave my friend his autograph. I was too busy going ape shit – pogoing up and down and SCREAMING: OH MY GOD!!!!! – to screw up the courage to ask him to autograph my concert ticket.

No regrets.😉

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Sunday thoughts and “Edna”

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Hanging with the mutts …
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… on this cold winter day, drinking the God-awful coffee I bought yesterday (on sale, of course). This makes the day feel all the colder.

Thinking how downtown Worcester is changing … fancy food, college kids/Millennials, entertainment districts … Not a retail store in sight – something the old Worcester downtown had in spades. Lived/loved it!!
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Above is the side of downtown’s Shacks building. It’s getting a do-over for the new businesses that will replace the building’s iconic, now shuttered, Shacks Men’s Store. So sad to see its retro yellow-gold gravel store-front torn down, along with that fabulous, jazzy “SHACKS” sign!

And then there was the shop – everyone just called it “Shacks” – a strictly men’s clothing and accessories store, a centerpiece of the 1950s/1960s male-centric, white Worcester downtown – a bygone era when ties, dress shirts and suit coats were worn by all our city guys who didn’t hammer, pull or push metal, wire or textile at our myriad factories. Woo teachers, lawyers, shop keepers and managers often bought their best duds at Shacks where shirts were custom-made to fit all male frames – with that Shacks panache! The Shacks male sales clerks, all nattily dressed in Shacks suits, were in absolute command! They flicked their measuring tapes down to the floor, lightly pressing them against their customers’ fat, short, skinny or stubby legs, now donning Shacks slacks. Should the trousers be shortened? Lengthened? Their waists let out for men whose physiques often resembled leading (and sexy!) actor Spencer Tracy’s body! Whatever it took to make the guys look perfect!

The men in my old Green Island/Vernon Hill Union Hill neighborhood didn’t wear suits to work – they wore grease-, motor oil- and dye-stained overalls – a testament to their doin’ time at our factories for (thanks to the unions) good wages, security, health insurance and pensions. Sure, they were sweat shops, but they enabled the men, often immigrants or the sons of immigrants, to buy Upsala and Providence street’s grand three deckers and even Victorians – and live an American Dream … and look forward to easy, “professional” jobs for their kids.

Same, on a much smaller scale, for Spencer, a Worcester County town whose people have yet to recover from the closing of all their mills/factories doors:
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In blue-collar Spencer some of their old mills/factories still stand, with big X’s over their doors, windows: CONDEMNED. Big toxic cesspools owned by once prominent Spencer guys: the Saads, for instance. Many of the smaller neighborhood stores and schools that once served the long-gone workers still stand, condemned. Nothing but waste and despair now – tattoo shops, chop shops, liquor stores galore!
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The people of Spencer’s Chestnut/Maple street area are so downtrodden it hurts! All government mental- and physical-disability-check-receiving folks … sad, scary … sick …
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Outside you see crippled men walking haltingly, stoicly, with their shopping wagons filled with food, or grown men wearing floppy Bozo shoes – their soles coming off! They are slipping and sliding in the January slush.

This same pattern, but “citified,” as in faster, sharper, leaner, runs in Worcester’s older factory neighborhoods, which haven’t kept up with the other side of Park Ave or the burgeoning Canal District and Downtown neighborhoods: their once wonderful three deckers are now cut-up and owned by Section 8-desiring, money-grubbing absentee landlords and their Section 8 tenants. The scene: guns found in building entry ways, or right outside buildings; open heroin use – shooting up outdoors, in the early morning … and a growing homeless population. A population Worcester CM Ed Augustus and city leaders still can’t quite wrap their brains around. On the fringes of the gentrifying Canal District:

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Why are people in these city/rural neighborhoods brought down so low, when all this government assistance is supposed to bring them up?

Why is the system so broken/fucked up?! Why are our people so broken/fucked up?!

Besides EDUCATION, how can we make it better for ALL poor people RIGHT NOW? Guys dressed in rags, men dying! – not “living”! – in poverty?

*****

Edna

This makes me think of Edna, a Lafayette Street lady who seemed to transcend it all. A profile in courage. She worked with my mother at the Millbury Street dry cleaners, when I was a little girl growing up in Green Island.
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Rose, in 5th grade at Lamartinr Street School, jumping rope in the backyard of the Lafayette Street three decker where she lived with her Ma, Bapy, Jaju, kid sisters and peripatetic “Daddy.”

Edna was a composite of pretty much all of the conditions described above: crippled, she walked with a severe limp; she had difficulty speaking: you listened to her slow, vowel-swallowing voice carefully to understand her sentences; poor: she lived in half of a boarded-up store front on Lafayette Street, a five-minute walk away from our house.

And yet Edna was one of the loveliest people I have ever known! I can still picture her: strawberry-blond-dyed hair permed tight, with so many little round curls and ringlets framing her angular face; bright blue eyes; the small, see-through galoshes she wore over her shoes when she walked to work, often in the gutter because Lafayette Street was smoother than our cracked and crooked sidewalks. She used a cane.

Edna always wore big, sparkly costume jewelry clip-on earrings. She wore make up, too, sometimes applied a tad too heavily. And she always wore, over her work clothes, in fall and spring, a mid-calf brushing, perfectly clean, light grey raincoat. A-line to make it easier for her to walk.

Edna was always smiling! She loved my mother, who loved her, and she loved Ma’s “three little girls,” who ran to her in the dry cleaners to scream: HI, EDNA! WE’RE HERE!!! when we came to visit Ma after school to check in and for a few dollars to buy an after school snack at the kid-filled Pete’s Dairy Bar right down the street. A kids’ paradise filled with chocolate shakes, hamburgers, Cokes and french fries – and a wall of pinball machines! Half of St. Mary’s school hung out at Pete’s after classes, pop music wafting through the place!

HI, GIRLS! Edna said back at us, grinning from ear to ear, stepping away from her ironing board, her thick-corded industrial iron and big metal “pressers” – huge upright machines that you put shirts on to steam smooth. They exuded steam, radiated warmth. Edna worked in that, winter and summer. Edna would stop working for a few minutes when we kids visited her as if to drink in all that girly giddiness. Then she went straight back to work.

Edna was one of the dry cleaner’s “shirt pressers” way in back of the shop. She was one of the best “pressers” in Worcester – the dress shirts she ironed for customers, later covered in long, plastic bags by my mom, tied with a red twist, looked PERFECT after she had ironed and labored over them. Edna was fast, hobbling from machine to machine, and focused. She seldom sat down for breaks, even though her bony legs looked like they could snap at any moment. There was a metal folding chair set up for her a few feet away from her work station by the bosses, but she seldom used it. In summer time, even with the huge industrial metal fans in the dry cleaner’s windows working overtime and the big floor fans on the main floor humming, Edna worked hard, tomato-faced, a film of sweat dislodging her make-up. No matter. Edna was oblivious, on a mission. She hovered over her iron, her shirts …she worked her machines expertly. The shop’s Armenian owners were all about money, cheapskates, but they brought a familial flair to their small biz. Middle Eastern snacks were always handed out, jokes were shared, workers’ kids welcome. The owners always gave Edna a plate of hummous with Syrian bread cut into quarters during her stints. Water or juice, too. They knew a good thing when they had one. When it snowed or rained, the boss – or a worker – drove Edna home. She had her own radio by her side at work. At company Christmas parties at the old El Morrocco on Wall Street she sat with the owners who brought her her food and drink. She clapped her hands to the music as my mom and colleagues danced away on the dance floor. Edna ate heartily and sipped her wine. She was driven home like a queen. Her jaw contorted as she struggled to say a joke, get her words out, but you held her fine-boned hand and listened.

At some point during my childhood I got it into my head that Edna was an angel – golden, curly-haired, twinklin’ rhinestone earrings and that A-line, almost white coat of hers, just like the angel ornaments wore on our Christmas tree. I felt Christmasy when I saw Edna! Happy! Blessed! Walking up Lafayette Street, I’d slow down as I passed her ramshackle digs, hoping to catch a glimpse of her outside on her little wooden porch. But I never did.

I hoped to make her part of the old peoples club that I had put together for myself in my neighborhood: Old lady “Roxie” who wore highly polished black men’s lace shoes and white ankle socks. She’d had a stroke, so the left side of her mouth sagged. Still, Roxie smoked like a chimney and had the raspy voice of a gangster. Bitching about our neighborhood, with her cigarette dangling sideways out of her crooked mouth Roxie could have been a barkeep in an old Jimmy Cagney movie! I loved her! … Or this cute old couple on Endicott Street who sat on their front porch with their tiny beige and white chihuahua nesting in the old woman’s ample lap – the pup who always wore a pink rhinestone collar – and bitten a bunch of people. Or the other old couple whose building faced ours. The lady knit and sewed all sorts of pretty things. At the beginning of every season she sewed me and my sisters little cloth folk dolls with bonnets, aprons and soft faces. A doll for each season!

I adored all my old people …their faces, clothes, rants about our ‘hood, their perspectives – and walked over to their porches after school or on a Saturday morning to chat with each of them for about 10 minutes. Then I’d walk home happy!

Edna was never part of my seniors club. I did see her, just a few times, lugging her shopping wagon on Lafayette Street, going home, after grocery shopping. Her cart was half-filled with the groceries she had bought at Millbury Street’s Supreme Market. Her ungainly gait make me fear for her safety. But Edna never fell; I never even saw her stumble.

Edna probably – and should have – collected a disability check, yet she worked part-time (“under the table”) at the dry cleaners, at a hot, often physically demanding job. Why? Well … she liked her bosses, loved her co-workers, got to dress up for work – was the cutest dressed lady in the sprawling shop. She got out of her tiny apartment and … CONTRIBUTED.

She had friendships, fellowship. She saw life out of the tiniest lens but so did Emily Dickenson. Edna saw the feisty little brown sparrows in her little tree outside her place, the sun setting over I 290, where the back of the dry cleaners ended, her co-worker’s little kids, all silly and full of fun. She snacked on stuffed grape leaves and babaganouch! She took a job most people would scorn and turned it into an artform.

And yet now, when I drive by Edna’s old house (still standing!), half expecting to catch a glimpse of her in her light raincoat … why do I wipe away the tears under my big sunglasses?

Allen Fletcher’s Canal District project (or: size matters!)

Text + pics by Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday, driving through Main South, we spied this lounger lounging in the street:

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… and then this shell of a house, looking torched as hell:

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Just as crappy, Maple Street, Spencer, right on the cusp of Main Street/downtown Spencer:

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Its rickety fire escape looks especially treacherous against the bleak winter sky!

So it’s great to drive into what some people call Worcester’s Real Downtown, the Canal District, and see Allen Fletcher’s new building going up. Wicked fast, but sturdy looking – no corner-cutting for Fletcher.

Normally, the pic of his building would go here:
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But I don’t have one, so Cece is pinch-hitting for us. I do not have a photo of Allen’s building – even though I drive up Green Street every day to check on the progress/spy/snoop! Hmmmm, I wondered…Why don’t I have a picture of Allen’s construction project? And that is the problem/story: I take my photos driving my jalopy thru urban, rural spaces, and Fletcher’s market place cum small-biz-apartment building is JUST TOO BIG for me to take a good quick pic of as I drive by in my car. It just won’t “fit” into the lens! I’d just “shoot” a piece of it, as I zip by. So I don’t take the photo!

The feeling I get from his building, then, is: it’s TOO DAMN BIG FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD. … OVERWHELMING. The building is high quality, it will have decorative flags flapping in the wind, look attractive, with sun roof and all … but still … the adjacent buildings – even the Crompton builing, once a factory employing hundreds! – are DWARFED BY IT! All the old, original buildings of the neighborhood that surround Allen’s – even the old Crompton factory – seem appropriately sized, modest the way my old neighbohood once was. Even though they are very different – bars, three deckers, garages, eateries – all the buildings on Green Street “fit” beautifully together. Those old buildings feel part of a pattern that keeps Green, Water and Harding streets sunny, airy and people friendly.

Yes, the rounded part of Allen’s new building that juts into Kelley Square is cool and will probably be where the window goes to the new “diner” he is also putting into this multi-faceted project. (Wow! Look up close and personal at Kelley Square crazy traffic!) But the beautiful, tres cool, HUGE Crompton mural is pretty much blocked from view, gets no sunlight due to being in the shadow of Allen’s building. And his building, future home to almost 50 market-rate apartments, throws shade on everything, it seems!

Why such an in-your-face edifice for the Waspy, understated, low-talker Fletcher?

I think Allen thinks what we all think: No matter how trendy or yummy, many of the businesses in the Canal District are just hanging on by a thread. There are just not enough upper-income people living nearby, in the surrounding ‘hoods, to really support the businesses there. The locals aren’t gonna – can’t! – spring for $5 lil’ tarts or $10 slices of toast. So by Allen importing a bunch of rich$$-people, stuffing them into his new apartments, many of the Canal District’s chi chi shops and restaurants may get more customers – captive customers, so to speak. The CD stores, eateries and bars won’t be hanging on by a thread any longer, on life support until the opening home game of the Woo Sox – stadium to be built practically across the street from Allen’s new digs!

Many small businesses in the Canal District open to great fanfare, then close up a year or two later. Sometimes bitterly.

Will Allen’s game-plan work? Turn his urban dream into a bustling, thriving city NEIGHBORHOOD for years and years to come? Allen is 70+ years old and I’m sure he wants his adopted ‘hood to be part of his Woo legacy. But it won’t be around forever, if its stores and bars, etc are always closing.

So…INJECT 200 OR 300 NEW RESIDENTS into the area! In one big Allen building! That’s the ticket!! THE NEW RESIDENTS WILL HAVE TO PATRONIZE THE BUSINESSES AROUND THEM! They are, after all, right next door, or 2, 3, 4 doors down! Right below them, even!

… Not so fast, Fletch! First: Your rich tenants are going to have wheels. Unlike me, my late mom and all the poor folks who once shopped the shops of a very different Water, Green and Millbury streets, THEY ARE GONNA HAVE CARS. Most likely one per person. And they will have MONEY. All this = CHOICES. Options that Ma, my grandmother, me and all the poor Green Island/Kelley Square slobs NEVER had! Do you like the $ten dollar toast next door? No? Well, let’s hop into our Volvo and drive to that cool breakfast nook on the other side of the city. What? You think the shabby chic used furniture next door is too expensive for what it is? Then let’s drive to the used furniture emporium across Park Ave!

Also: We Polish, Eastern European immigrant Green Islanders had our religions, strong religious traditions, families and even neighborhood schools (Lamartine, Millbury) that rooted us to our three or four main streets. Millbury, Green, Water and Harding streets formed the hub of our wheel of life. Our churches, synagogues, clubs, delis, FAMILIES were all here. Lovely! Horrible!

Not so for Allen Fletcher’s Canal District – more gentrified than the gentleman my Jaju, my beloved grandfather from Poland, was!! More surface than depth. More white than multi-ethnic.

Yeah, my ol’ Water Street and Green Street were part of a ghetto, but look at the area today: Pot shops, pot medicine shops, pot smoking lounges, hookah bars, hookah equipment-selling stores so you can inhale at home instead of at hookah bars. Desserts for the upper-middle class, the homely cupcake gone with the homilies of my old Polish priests! A hookah bar where my once beloved White’s Five and Ten Store was located, with the regal Mrs. White and her two-foot-high, jet-black-dyed bee-hive hair-do greeting you so professionally and politely at the door – even though you were poor and only came in to chat with her! Visit a friend!

All gone.

Now it’s all mary jane and “on-trend” food – supersized because people are fat-salt-sugar-addicted, clothing, crap! See and be seen! Post your boob-flaunting tunic on Instagram or post a million photos of your … gross-looking, super-sized MEAL!! … the one you just overpaid for in the restaurant next door, your boob-flaunting shirt in the background.

Insane!

This is why Donald Trump is PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!

Could a Harry Truman run for President – and win – today? Be adored by the country the way Truman was when America was more like my old Green Street? Adored, Truman was, for being the opposite of the Canal District!: modest, unfashionable, high-school educated, totally comfortable being an “average” guy … BUT RISING TO GREATNESS because he was AMERICA’S President! Because of what was in his brave, unbreakable heart! Trump has shrunk the presidency, like the gentrifiers have shrunk my old Green Street and Green Island.

We hope Allen’s plan works. We hope he brings in the critical number of people the Canal District needs to survive for decades. But we also hope he creates something different from what is there now. We hope for a Fletcher urban space that is truly DIVERSE, MULTI-ETHNIC, OPEN-TO-ALL – ESPECIALLY TO THE POOR and minimum wage folks. The BEST part of my old neighborhood!
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Green Island family gathering: Rose’s Jaju, Bapy, mom, cousins and aunties

Tuesday wrap-up: the Sorrow of the SA parking lot … but first: Forgot to post this little gem …

… written by one of our young writers! New Woo Voices! Yeah!
– R.T.

Victorian holiday

By Rosa Tremaine

Holiday Season is in full swing. Lights are twinkling, trees are up, and the seasonal aisle at Walmart is full of chocolate; yet some of the things that we often think of as being quintessentially Christmassy only really became popular in America around 150 years ago.

Christmas trees and gift-giving had been part of English culture since the late 1700s when Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, brought these Teutonic traditions with her from Northern Germany. Author and 18th-Century expert Nancy Bilyeau says that Queen Charlotte in 1800 “threw a memorable party at Windsor for the kingdom’s leading families, showing off an entire tree […] Before long, anybody who was anybody wanted a Christmas tree.”

America, however, was still having trouble with the idea of Christmas celebrations. New England struggled to break away from its Puritan origins, and this holiday, with its ancient traditions of drinking and jollification, just had too much of a pagan and Anglican flavor for some die-hard New Englanders.

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Christmas was not even a recognized holiday in Massachusetts until Senator Dewey introduced a bill to that effect in 1856. This did not mean, of course, that nobody in Massachusetts celebrated Christmas until 1856 – on the contrary, in 1835 Harriet Martineau, a Unitarian social theorist from Norwich in England, wrote of a Christmas tree in Charles Follen’s Boston home in the course of her travels to America: “I have little doubt the Christmas tree will become one of the most flourishing exotics of New England.” She was quite right. During the reign of Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert from 1837 onward, Christmas with all its associated trappings became extremely fashionable in both England and America.

In 1850, Godey’s Lady’s Book (a popular women’s magazine in 19th-Century America) reproduced a picture from the London Illustrated Times showing the royal family around a German-style table tree loaded with decorations, candles, and gifts. The making of gifts to give at Christmas became a popular pastime for American women, and was promoted in various women’s magazines along with ideas on things to make: mittens and slippers were an obvious crowd-pleaser in the middle of a cold New England winter, but other commonly made items included embroidered handkerchiefs and painted trinket boxes.

Letters from this time period between members of the Worcester Salisbury family mention gift-giving and delightful dinner parties as part of family Christmas traditions as well as the more sober religious angle of seasonal sermons and church servies. Plum pudding, roasted turkey or goose dinners, and bowls of punch or mulled wine were already established Christmas treats in England by the 1800s, but carol singing and greetings cards were respectively revived and invented by the Victorians.

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Slowly but surely, the festive season began to evolve into something that we would recognize today. Popular books such as A Christmas Carol and The Night Before Christmas anchored the holiday more firmly into the hearts of the American people, and it became a highly important time of year for family bonding and for children. Charity was also an integral part of a Victorian-era Christmas – the idea of giving to those in need without any expectation of return fit in very nicely with 19th-Century Christian sensibilities, but naturally a person can be generous and thoughtful whatever their religious beliefs and background.

The Salisbury Mansion in Worcester still brings to life the nostalgia and magic of a Victorian Christmas each year, with candlelight tours and beautiful, era-appropriate decorations, giving a buzz of much-needed warmth and light as the nights draw in and the weather slips into a wintry chill. No matter what traditions you hold dear, spending time with family and friends over the holiday is a great way to strengthen relationships and prepare together for what the new year may bring.

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This New Year don’t forget … to help the planet! Eat less meat!

PETA recipe:

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GREEN SALSA TOFU ENCHILADAS!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbsp. oil

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 block extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into strips

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. chipotle adobo sauce (optional)

6 yellow corn tortillas

1/2 cup mild green salsa

1 Tbsp. sour cream (optional)

1 Tbsp. vegan cheese (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, tofu, garlic, cumin and salt.

Add the chipotle adobo sauce, if desired.

Cook for 5 minutes, or until the tofu is slightly golden.

Warm the tortillas on a separate pan or in the microwave — that way, they’re easier to work with.

Place a tortilla on a plate and fill with 3 tablespoonfuls of the tofu mixture.

Roll the tortilla with the filling and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Heat the green salsa and pour over the enchiladas.

You can top these with sour cream or vegan cheese! Enjoy!

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AND, finally …

What Happened Here, at Worcester’s Cambridge Street Salvation Army Headquarters/Family Store?

Text and photos by Rosalie T.

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Our city needs to know! SO IT CAN STRENGTHEN THE SAFETY NET FOR OUR HOMELESS. Especially during winter days when the thermometer reads 11 F! 11! So much colder than freezing, 32 F!

The authorities have filed the dead woman away – found her recent death on that 11 F morning “Inconclusive.” They dismiss her personhood: We do not know how this woman died and do not really care, they seem to say.

Guess how she died, Mr. Medical Examiner!!
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The 1-word description authorities have slapped on this heart-wrenching holiday story is the word that describes the City of Worcester’s help for the homeless!

To a T!

INCONCLUSIVE – No real CITY OF WORCESTER game plan. Just a lot of platitudes from City Manager Ed Augustus: blah, blah, blah, blah. We are sick of this bull shit. Caring Worcesterites know better!
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As Woo gentrifies, we will see more of this. When we were just Utility Closet of New England Worcester we DID NOT CARE FOR OUR WEAKEST brothers and sisters – even back then! With the PIP’s closing, the replacement Queen Street shelter does not do it! We need more services! The amazing Father John Madden has opened up the basement area of his St. John’s church on Temple Street to a grassroots homeless shelter and he feeds the homeless and poor, too. Without him, there’d be more dead women found among the Salvation Army donation bins looking for blankets, sweaters, warmth …

We guess, since there were no guns found, no stab wounds, no signs of rape, sexual assault that the dead woman was homeless in a city that doesn’t properly care for its homeless.

Right around Christmas – she was searching for a present – a warm blanket. Maybe a thick, cozy hoodie. Or boots. Among the good stuff left by good people as they move on or pare down their lives. To simplify is GOOD!

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I am moving and have brought big white plastic bags of winter garb, and boots … and some shelves, end tables to this exact spot. On weekdays and early weekend mornings there are Salvation Army volunteeers to help you unload your stuff – guys in recovery working the SArmy program. They look grizzled, rough cuz of all their hard luck, living, but they are always NICE, GRACIOUS EVEN!

Do not believe the haters who want to degrade this helping blueprint: good people all around – donors, the guys, the stuff… and, yes, the people on the fringes who, after hours, pick thru the donations looking for stuff to stay warm … feel human. From my several trips dropping stuff off, I can say the donations are always clean, sturdy, useful … the SA guys helpful and efficient – they do a great job of sorting goods, moving stuff into the big SA trucks or placing items into donation bins, even covering stuff up with tarps, if it looks like rain and there is no room for the donated goods in the many white SA bins or big SA trucks.

Yes, after hours, donations do pile up, but it is all cleared up and organized within 24 hours. I have seen this!

Thousands of good donations – from small dolls to big desks – are given to the needy by the good people of Worcester. And maybe the old SA donations lot is a GOOD place where the city’s homeless can congregate … for safety (well lit area), furniture for their nooks in the woods or secret city spaces … or maybe to find a mattress to sleep on. Rest. Peace in the SA lot.

The dead woman found amid the Salvation Army donations did nothing shameful: she tried to make it through a frigid Worcester night with only the clothes on her back.

The shame is on City Manager Ed Augustus and our city “leaders.”

Thanksgiving musings on pot – not the kind you’re cooking your turnip in!

Pics and text by Rosalie Tirella

Jett. He’s a walks-in-city-parks kinda pup:

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Don’t worry, Jett! We’re moving back to the city next month! A December move – brutal, but necessary.

Yep, the potheads have arrived in rural Worcester County. BY THE THOUSANDS!

PATHETIC.

As of this week, you can legally buy your weed (like a trip to Walmart) in Leicester … and hook up with your opioid-epidemic in Spencer! There’s so much that needs to happen in Leicester and Spencer: a REAL food hub like they have in Greenfield for the towns’ hungry/food insecure; a health clinic for downtown Spencer; a medical plan to combat Spencer’s opioid crisis … more polling places so it is easier for the towns’ historically disenfranchised to VOTE – their interests.

But NO!!!! EVERYBODY MUST GET STONED!

Screw my fave winter veggies that you can buy just up the road from the pot shoppe: beets, squash, taters! Forget about local farming…It is about the drabbest, blobbiest, most out-of-shape losers invading, converging on our beautiful countryside…
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… parking their cars at the farms along Rt 9, skipping the produce beautifully displayed in barns … but our flinty, savvy farmers charging $5 per pot-buyer car. And they ALL made a killing!!!

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Opening mary jane day, I was STUCK IN TRAFFIC on Rt 9!!!
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So different from my usual commute to the Spencer ghetto – the wizz home, with the bully townie truck drivers on my ass flashing their “high” beams. Speed up, Rose!

This will be a different kind of “high” for Leicester and rural Central Massachusetts. Leicester has about six cops (all nice/smart) – five of them were at the newly opened pot shop, directing traffic, keeping all the weed buyers who were hiking up Rt 9 in the cold rain to buy the lung-destroying, brain-fuzzing, penis-wilting shit safe. What a waste of talent/resources! Sure, the towns where the legal pot stores-complexes are located – Noho and Leicester – can rake in as much as 20% of the complexes’ profits and, no, the pot stores canNOT sell to anyone younger than 21.

But a kid’s cool brilliant brain is still developing at 21, according to the pediatricians – until about 25 years. Some early-20 brains cannot handle the chemicals in their joints and bongs! They’ll have a bad trip!!!!! And: what about the weed buyers sharing their shit, once home, with their younger brothers and sisters???!

I sound like my late mother!!!

It was the early 1980s. I was 20 years old and living in a commune in northern New England, becoming a vegetarian, singing wildly off-key to banjo players, chasing chickens …

Every Sunday afternoon my distraught mother would call me up at the farm and SCREAM into the telephone receiver: “ROSALIE, ARE YOU SMOKING POT?????!!!!!! I KNOW YOU’RE SMOKING POT!!!!!!!”

She felt she had lost me.

No, Ma, I wasn’t SMOKING POT. I was group-showering with gorgeous hippie guys, wearing blue jeans I hadn’t washed in three weeks, making miso and tofu (firm and soft!) casseroles … dropping out of college/life … skipping the books … but NO, Ma! I was not smoking pot!!!!!

I was wallowing in better stuff – unlike these Leicester weed losers (I will exempt the tall, skinny, long-haired guy loping up Rt 9 – he was wearing a terrific lime green suit covered with dark green pot leaves. Loved the pattern! I took a pic of him in his great outfit but it didn’t come out) who invaded the country not to hike, visit the winter farmers markets, attend a country church craft fair or to speak their piece at Town Meeting – or even buy a fuckin’ Christmas tree for the holidays! The first day that is what I thought: all the cars and people were here for a special event. I felt warm and toasty. Hopeful about small-town America … COMMUNITY.

Boy, was I wrong!

It seemed all of Massachusetts, New England, had made the Homeric trek to Leicester – just before Thanksgiving … braved the freezing cold, walked into the wild wet wind to get their little brown paper gift bags (they look like “gift” bags you’d get at the Hallmark Store) filled with buds, brownies and cigs…weed in all its manifestatioms.

What a stupid country I live in! What a blobby, flabby populace populates Mass! So depressing to look at!
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I can’t believe pot – the shit that used to be underground – and the excuse America used to incarcerate millions of black and brown men and John Lennon – is now purchased in pretty Leicester. Sanctioned by Red-Trump country. Protected by almost an entire small-town police department. Made to seem safe, OK – a Thanksgiving treat! – for the kiddies.

No thanks. I’ll skip the moron show. I’ll have my treat – a slice of Pumpkin Pie – at B-Law’s Diner, just down the road, on Rt. 9.
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From now on, we’ll be seeing a different kind of regular in this neck o the woods…