By Rosalie Tirella
photos by Rosalie Tirella
Today, Palm Sunday, as I watched my pets play with each other, I thought of my Worcester gal pal Dorrie Maynard. Not because Dorrie had justed gifted my brats with the dog and kitty snacks they love so dearly, but because it is day #1 of Holy Week – the week before Easter – and Dorrie is, for me, the Easter Story told in 2017.
Let me begin at the beginning: When I first started InCity Times💗💗💗 years ago (can you believe it?!💗), I hit Highland Street in search of advertisers for my brandy new feisty rag. Back then Highland Street was THE artsy, sophisticated, cool, student hot spot of Worcester – a kaleidoscope of restaurants (high- and low-priced, classic and ethnic), funky shops, artist nooks, WPI and Becker student hangouts. I walked into each arresting store determined to sell some of the biz owners ads for my paper. Jewelry, clothing, futons, clam chowder, books, brunch, artists’ prints, bottles of wine … A stroll down just two blocks of Higland Street and you could procure it all! The businesses belonged in ICT!
Back then, Dorrie owned and ran the street’s funky vintage clothing and decor store – Treasures Unlimited. She had bought the little shop on the corner when it was the iconic Shakey Jake’s (as a college grad I used to go to Shakey’s for 1950 vintage boy shirts!) and kept the magic flowing as the new proprietor. Dorrie re-christened the space and brought her own artistic eyes and sensibilities to her biz: display cases, choice of goods, etc. It was all so beautiful! I loved to visit Dorrie just to see her new arrivals and displays!
At this time, when I first got to know her, Dorrie was at her peak gorgeousness: model-tall, willowy, beautiful face, soft blond hair … the kind of woman lots of women fear because of all that blatant loveliness. And let’s be honest: lots of beautiful women are off-putting/can be competitive, manipulative, narcissistic … . Once people get to know them, they hit the road, despite the Venus vibes!
Dorrie was the opposite. She was a goddess wrapped in hard-won truths and down-to-earthness. A regular person: hard-working, real, open, thoughtful, honest, no games. Never games! I could talk about anything with Dorrie – discuss family, men, personal challenges … and learn that I was not alone in my disappointments and victories. Life had been rough for Dorrie, starting in Rochester, New York, where she was born and raised, and yet here she was, on Highland Steet, awesome in every way. I immediately glommed on to Dorrie! (and her pals and little dog that she rescued and brought to the shop every day – always adorned in teeny silk scarf collars). Being a good woman who wanted to help out another good woman and maybe give her own biz an extra boost, Dorrie took out ads in ICT. Truth be told, I would have given the space away to Dorrie, so enamored of this cool chick was I.
So every couple of weeks, I’d traipse down funky Highland Street to visit and sell ads to my funky biz pals: the cool Tom Cat at Wormtown Trading (miss you/love you, Tom Cat!💚), the elegant and perfect Elizabeth of the Futon Company (ditto, Elizabeth!💚) and vintage artiste Dorrie Maynard.
Over the first year or two of our friendship I figured out Dorrie had some writerly gifts – and I wanted her to share them with ICT readers. I decided to take her under my zippy writer wings – nurture her talent as she had nurtured my biz.
Dorrie began writing InCity Times columns and then penned a cover story that really knocked my socks off: Dorrie getting pregnant as a kid and deciding to give her baby up for adoption. Then, years later, reconnecting with her son. Dorrie’s baby was all grown up! – and now he was looking for his birth Mom. Dorrie opened her home to her long lost son and shared the whole experience, honestly and gracefully, with ICT readers. Our troops loved the read! My respect for Dorrie blossomed.
Then we had a fight. I forget what it was about! It happened about seven years ago…I think it had something to do with dogs and cats and animal shelters. New to social media, Dorrie figured screw InCity Times, FB would be enough.
Obviously, it wasn’t because she’s back in the ICT fold writing good stuff. Animals, of course, brought us together again! About a half year ago – I forget who called whom – but we began to talk about Dorrie’s latest urban endeavor – feeding the cats and dogs of the homeless, very poor, even drug-addicted of Woo.
I was fascinated! Dorrie was always great but she was never Mother Theresa. She was not the homeless population’s biggest champion. When she owned Treasures Unlimited she felt they brought Highland Street down, took a bite out of business and street attractiveness. And, I’ll be honest, Dorrie could be a bit of a party gal and, because she was so damned pretty, guys painted the town with her – always on their dime. Once, home from a trip to Las Vegas with her latest beau, she showed me a photo of herself go-go dancing in a huge cage. The red lights shining on the mini-skirted Dorrie looked lurid. Her go go boots were not thigh high but they may as well have been.
I never judged my friend because, like me, she was looking for true love. Just in all the shitty places.
Right before our fight, Dorrie had just been dumped by the guy I think she truly truly loved and wanted to marry: “Fred” a hippy carpenter/architecture maven. THE ONE. Tall, lanky, thick black hair that framed his lean handsome face and made me go: WHOA!!!!! every time I saw him. Fred was movie star hot. I once spied the two love birds talking together, leaning on the big farmers table in Dorrie’s kitchen: the lust and love between them were palpable. They looked so beautiful together!
I drove away thinking: She found THE guy. I was so happy for my friend! Then Fred fell in love with Dorrie’s best friend – get this – at a party Dorrie threw in her own home.
Oh, shit, I thought to myself when Dorrie told me the horrible news. Dorrie is deep and sensitive. I hoped she wouldn’t do anything crazy and rash the way I would…
She did: To make a long story short, Dorrie fell into about a half million$$ in cash and assets and quit her job and … well, the whole fucking shebang. She drowned her heartache in global travels! She hung out in Paris and Italy – alone or with a gal pal – where she drank the best champagne, slept in the finest hotels. Art. Food. The world was her oyster. For three years.
Then the half million$$ ran out – heart broken Dorrie burned through it all – to kill her heartache. Only she didn’t – she came home and now had nothing: no life with the dreamy Fred, no business, no future plans…no happiness. All that money, all those great cities with iconic architecture and amazing grub hadn’t made her happy!
Then, back living at her big wonderful Victorian home off Highland Street, no longer the busy owner of Treasures Unlimited, she adopted a couple of street pups – teenie toy dogs with runny eyes and matted fur. She also, a lapsed Catholic, made her way to St. Paul’s cathedral downtown. To help hand out food to the poor. She then hooked up with Abby’s House – a women’s shelter – and worked miracles with their thrift store. Made it sparkle! Just like Treasures Unlimited – all proceeds going to homeless women!
Dorrie began to feel happy again. Her life grew … meaningful. She began to work more closely with the homeless and the hungry. An animal lover, she began to work wth local animal shelters…Today her paid job is at Abby’s House where she serves homeless women. Then after work she drives all over the city of Worcester giving out free pet food and pet supplies to Woo’s neediest and most downtrodden. Many of them homeless or on the edge of homeless – still good dog and cat owners.
Dorrie in her SUV loaded to the roof with pet food and supplies … and love.
Dorrie outside the Mustard Seed in Piedmont, giving out free pet food and other goodies to the poor.
As a super dedicated volunteer of Central Mass Kibble Kitchen Dorrie dives into the ‘hood to hand out pet food to the high, the lost, the struggling, the working poor – anyone who owns a pet and needs food for their “baby.” Through her weekly pet stops at the Mustard Seed soup kitchen in Piedmont and the St. John’s church food distribution center on Temple Street, Dorrie has come to know and love hundreds of Worcester street and poor people – and their pets. They make her smile. She brings them joy. I have never seen my pal so happy and fullfilled! Some of her Kibble Kitchen “customers”:
Last week I spent an afternoon with Dorrie volunteering outside the Mustard Seed on Piedmont Street…
I saw the whole Dorrie Kibble Connection scene: the despair, the joy, the greed, the thankfulness, the crappy three deckers, the skinny men and women, the pale little kids, the strung out, the faces flushed from booze – or the cold, the tentativeness of men without jobs, family, home; the women in bedroom slippers and the happy pups who came out with their owners, trotted down Piedmont Street, little happy wiggle butts, to get their dog treats and new chew toys. The angry became less bellicose as soon as they saw Dorrie. Hello, Mama! tney said to her, cueing up for the pet food and supplies at the back of Dorrie’s big SUV – stuffed to the gills with bags of dog and cat food and pet supplies.
A few “customers” took too much stuff. But most were wonderful – took just the right amount of stuff: 5 cans of cat food for their cat, a small bag of dog chow for their small terrier mix, a harness for their pit bull, a collar for their princess pup…Dorrie’s love for these people and their pets, the elegant way she treated each and every one of her “customers” and the respect they showed her, was an inspiring sight to see in the ‘hood where so much sorrow and violence lurks. Tne good manners, the thank you’s, Dorrie’s love mixed with her saleswoman know-how. The little niceties provided by Dorrie. The little special touches. Here on Piedmont Street, with the police cruisers driving by!
Rose to Dorrie: You are blowing my mind, girl!! It’s like you’re running Treasures Unlimited in the ghetto! Aren’t you afraid someone is gonna pull a knife? One bad apple high on drugs, with a gun?
Dorrie to Rose: Rose a few of them are high on K. I swear sometimes I go home high just from standing next to them! It’s the K. But it is OK.
Rose: What the hell is K? My God, Dorrie, who are you?! … What if something bad happens?
Dorrie: No… I’m safe. They’d protect me. They love me. I give them what they need. And I give them the extras. They call me Mama – it’s a sign of respect…
Dorrie was right. After spending an afternoon outside the Mustard Seeed with her, watching her fit Chihuahuas with collars, give huge rawhide bones to families with pitbulls, talk about the fussy eating habits of one person’s cat, ask one lady how her pregnancy is going, give another lady a beautiful bed spread special for her – taken off Dorrie’s very own bed!!…
…listening to all the polite THANK YOU, DORRIE!s, SEE YOU NEXT WEEK, MAMA!s I became convinced that no harm will ever come to Dorrie on this inner-city street – a street rife with guns and heroin and people on the edge.
Jesus said: Love the dispossessed! … The first shall be last! And the last shall be first! …And the criminal and the homeless and the crazy and the downtrodden followed Jesus, and they loved and trusted him and talked of their worlds of pain and cried to be cured and Jesus made them well again and they threw palm fronds before the hooves of the mule on which he rode into tneir town preaching the Good News, a new way to live…LOVE ….that was/is the answer.
Jesus came to them for them and their histories and stories. Jesus offered them hope and compassion. Knew their lives were hard but didn’t play the blame game like society did. HE LOVED THEM. AND CAME FOR THEM. TO SOOTHE THEIR WANTING AND PAIN. Just like Dorrie does in Piedmont and on Temple Street …
… Dorrie is up to her neck in suffering…She is digging in her SUV (KIBBLE KITCHEN, a 501 C nonprofit, NEEDS A VAN!) for love, a big bag of high protein dog kibble! For one man’s pit bull – he always gives her a little gift back! – an old dog collar his pit bull has outgrown, a box of Entemann’s chocolate chip cookies. Dorrie loves their gifts. I see Dorrie’s smile, I see tne joy spread over her face! Her love radiates out of her finger tips and the points of her running sneaks!
I tell her as she digs in her van for bags of cat food and three cans of special cat food for some lady who lives in the hood – she brought an old empty baby carriage to load up – Dorrie, I don’t understand! You’ve changed! In such a big, deep way! In a way I can’t understand! But it is AWESOME!
Still, I am made slightly uncomfortable by the people outside the Mustard Seed. I am no Dorrie! She is serving them – like some high end Macy’s personal shopper! I wanna go home! Dorrie wants to interact with her precious customers. She knows what kind of pet food to give each person! She also gives folks goods they have requested: a pair of blue jeans, size 32. A pair of ear buds. She gave one homeless guy and friend her VERY OWN CAMPING TENT!!
Rose: What are you doing, Dorrie?! Giving away all your stuff!!
Jesus said: If you want to be with me, leave your house, mother, children, wife, husband. SHAKE THE DUST OFF YOUR FEET!
Jesus was one unique dude – the powers that be in Jerusalem saw him swimming in poor/crazy people, society’s rejects, and thought he was totally bonkers! An enabler and rabble rouser. But when Jesus preached to the thousands they CHANGED. At the end, the crowds that came to see him were HUGE – thousands gathered at his feet. That’s why the Roman’s crucified him, they feared this weird guy who owned nothing – not even the robe on his back – was changing their world, their society. They would lose their grip on power and wealth.
Jesus said: Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me…
Dorrie gives a poor lady an extra bag of cat food for her kitten. She has so much to give…the donations come to her and Kibble Kitchen by the scores …bags and bags of Purina cat and dog chow keep on coming …
Did you know at Christmas time Dorrie made 30 “Blessing Bags” for the homeless and poor who meet her every Wed at the Mustard Seed/Kibble Connection? Dorrie’s mom helped her pay for the new blankets, new hats, mittens, scarves, boxes of cookies, bars of soap, bottles of shampoo and conditioner, pairs of socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc that Dorrie lovingly put into each holiday gift bag. She gave to the Piedmont folks who no one remembers during the holidays – many have no family.
They have Dorrie!
So do I! Last week she made me a special blessing bag: She filled it with cherry jam and high-end chi chi soaps I love …
… and facial moisturizers, too, knowing I can’t splurge on cosmetics and facial care products even though I covet them! She gave my pets – Jett, Lilac and Cece – beautiful gifts, too!
Jett, before eating some high end dog food Auntie Dorrie gave him and Lilac.
When Dorrie met Cece …
… she was moved. She said I was giving all my rescued critters “a good life.” I felt so proud!
At the end of my little trip to the Mustard Seed, I turned to Dorrie, looking a bit anxious because folks outside the soup kitchen were starting to get boistrous. Dorrie was busy, all smiles, in her Dorrie Zone, still passing out pet stuff to street people!
Dorrie! I shouted. It’s getting late!! Let’s not push our luck…I wanna go home!
Dorrie looked at me and began to pack things away…
Once in her SUV, driving down Pleasant Street, she said: It always feels so good to get home…to my clean bed.
Funny, after Dorrie drove me home and I collapsed on my big bed with my dogs, I felt, for the first time in a long time, GRATEFUL. Despite my problems and challenges.
I still cannot wrap my brain around my friend’s transformation. Lots of her friends don’t understand her epiphany and her new life. Her mom calls her Mother Tneresa and tells her she finally, in middle age, found her TRUE CALLING. But she worries about her daughter’s safety. So do I. Hundreds of thankful, nice and polite people at the Mustard Seed and St. John’s food pantry … but all it takes is one high on drugs crazy guy. One rapist. One knife blade. One bullet.
Dorrie couldn’t care less what we all think and say of her mission, her new loves, her goals, her looks … She is beyond it…this world we greedy losers jockey through…For what end?????
This Palm Sunday I see my friend walking with Jesus, not a casual follower, a woman who came to hear him preach. No. I see Dorrie walking side by side with Jesus, one of his apostles…the Mary Magdalene to his Peter and Paul…the beautiful party girl who lay with the rich men and pleasured so many…and now it is different.
Jesus and Dorrie are both so good looking and fearless! I am in awe as I watch them walk handin hand through Webster Square, to Coes Pond. Jesus dips his toe in the water and reaches out for Dorrie’s slender hand. Dorrie takes it again, her other hand is waving free against the sunset. Then Jesus and Dorrie do a little hippy dance by the water, kinda sexy too as Jesus dips her…Dorrie’s blond hair is wet. No matter! Appearances mean nothing! They don’t have a stitch of self-consciousness – or a stitch of clothing on! Tney threw their clothes off on the shore of Coes Pond. Now they are skinny dippin’ wiggling under water, over and under the cool currents like a couple of little kids! Or fish!
Then Jesus stands up in the water and places his high-arched foot on the pond’s surface and stands upon on it. He looks around, 360 degrees. Dorrie wants in! Beautiful in her nakedness, she gets up onto the surface too, and Jesus and Dorrie walk on the water. They are holding hands. They are both laughing …
Happy Palm Sunday!!!