Tag Archives: Rosalie Tirella’s blog

Riding down Endicott Street, into Millbury Street …

By Rosalie Tirella

… yesterday I saw this:

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And this:

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Across the way there was litter and garbage strewn all over the sidewalk, but I didn’t take a pic because there was a woman sitting on the front steps of the building practically in the middle of the trash heap … talking on her cell phone. As if this were all NORMAL, this flow of filth and refuse. As if it was OK to sit in the middle of garbage, chatting away while the maggots chomped on last night’s dinner… Families with strollers, with BABIES! in them, walk by garbage heaps outside the Millbury Street restaurant as if nothing could be more natural, pedestrian. Poor pedestrians! Poor babies with their tender immune systems!

Something is amiss here, Worcester. Something is more than amiss … Something has died, here, in the hood … Inner-city RENTERS used to care about the apartments they rented, the yards they had, the front stoops they sat on. No, they weren’t homeowners, but they felt responsible for their digs – and didn’t want their environs a shit hole and public health hazard. Yes, doors got busted in, fires were started, families didn’t have the best or even much furniture, but people lived in ok apartments with ok stuff. I saw many such flats as a youngster! When I was a kid growing up on these same streets I visited my friends’ houses for snacks, to hang out, to chat with their moms – apartments my Lamartine Street School pals’ parents rented on Lafayette, Lodi, Siegel, Grosvenor, Lunel, Scott streets, and they were clean and normal-looking Green Island flats. Poor but no garbage choking front stairs, no pizza boxes piled to the heavens …You got the feeling that this was their home. NEVER DID I FEEL LIKE I WAS WALKING THROUGH AN INNER CITY LANDFILL or visiting people in unsanitary places.

The City of Worcester has been doing the work. A DPW crew CLEANS THE CRAP UP when you call them to report the garbage. But within two or three hours, more shit is dumped in the exact same spot! Video cameras are installed. Video cameras are ripped down. Now I’m hearing the city doesn’t own too many video cameras – Worcester needs to buy more video cameras. People are fined $200 for being hogs!!! And yet their refuse keeps flowing.

We have a problem Worcester. It’s got to be WORKED.

District 4, Endicott Street: St. Mary’s Church parking area garbage-clogged, as usual

By Rosalie Tirella

Should this little Polish church on Ward Street, Our Lady of Czetchowa, run by the pastor who refuses to let the city install video cameras on church property to catch illegal dumpers, DUMPERS WHO DUMP BEDROOM SETS AND OFFICE FURNITURE AND MOUNTAINS OF GARBAGE, be re-christened:

OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL SLOB-INESS?

OUR LADY OF HOGS?

OUR LADY OF INNER-CITY BLUES?

Yesterday, while running errands, I saw this:

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The church parking lot walkway was littered with paper. To the right, the box spring mattress had been removed but the other crap remained.

As a kid growing up in Green Island, on Lafayette Street, my family belonged to this parish and my sisters attended St. Mary’s elementary school and jr/sr high school. I trudged to weekly catechism class at St. Mary’s, taking this path through a clean parking lot on whose edge sat a beautiful, open shrine to the Virgin Mary where you could light a candle and kneel and pray (it’s got bars now so people can’t steal the statues and candles) and to fastidious nuns who taught me my Catholic do’s and don’t. The neighborhood was poor and tough then (filled with blue collar bars and a few flop houses), but we kids and my mom, walking to St. Mary’s church or its parish school – and we walked everywhere cuz we didn’t have a car – found the walk to St. M’s … pleasant.

Especially on Sundays! We were going to church! To Jesus and to all his saints! To our church with the organ player from Poland whom I loved so much! He was short, not at all good looking, but did everything with such flair. He wore his long coat draped over his shoulders like a cape and walked past us parishioners dramatically, so his coat billowed in the breeze – just like a maestro! Once in church with my family, sitting in our church pew, I’d love to sneak a peek to the back of the church, the balcony where he played. You weren’t supposed to turn around in church – you were supposed to sit perfectly still in the pew, facing forward, looking straight ahead to the altar where the priest lead mass. But I loved to take furtive glances at the maestro who played the church organ with such flair! drama! passion! His little torso bent over the keyboard, reaching to the left, then to the right, his hands flying across the keyboard, his face sometimes looking up, to heaven, totally blissed out, into his music … his gig for God! While playing, he still wore his coat on his shoulders – like a cape! – like the little maestro he was! Our little church on Ward Street swelled with his music! I felt the whole world could hear his organ playing and the congregation accompanying him with our voices old and young, male and female. Singing on Sunday! A blast!

My mom and my two sisters and I always dressed up for Sunday mass, this special event. In springtime, my mom wore her pretty powder pink gloves – the ones that went to her wrist – to church. Sometimes my sisters and I wore our communion dresses, even after a few years had passed since we had made our First Holy Communion at St. Mary’s! (We also wore the dresses for class picture day! They were so pretty!) Here’s mine, hanging on the wall of one of my spare bedrooms today: a love song to my late mom and the Green Island of my childhood:

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WE NEVER SAW GARBAGE HEAPED ON ENDICOTT STREET OR IN THE CHURCH WALKWAY on the way to mass. NEVER DID OUR WALKS TO THE CHURCH or St. M’s school feel like strolls through a landfill. Never were we made to feel bad or sad about our little journey, like it must feel now for anyone who walks up Endicott Street.

Maybe everyone here has grown used to the ugliness – and many add to it on hourly basis.

Soul-crushing.

Listening to one of my favorite albums now …

… Two of the perks of owning InCity Times is my WRITING and listening to way MORE music than any working adult has a right to! LOVE IT!   – R.T.

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Genius … It’s all here, in this round, sheet of vinyl: the recipe for WORLD PEACE, ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC AND RACIAL JUSTICE. …  2 songs from WHAT’S GOING ON, By Marvin Gaye …

I just threw out my leather huaraches

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I am really trying to wear 100% cruelty-free clothing, foot wear AND outer wear. (me, last week)

Pretty easy-breezy! You can do the same! Help stop the tortuous deaths of animals in the leather and wool industries!

CLICK HERE to get started!

Also, I’m trying to add more plants to my “Green” Island apartment …

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Here’s one of my kitchen windows this morning. Found the big guy, on the left, on the side of the road two years ago. He had four leaves. Now he’s got 13! … Found the bench on which the big guy sits on the side of the road a few weeks ago. It was an ugly rust color; I cleaned it up and painted it blue (of course).

My neighbor gave me the spider plant when it was two inches high and living in a teeny pot. I added other plants to the mix this spring … The big black and white dragon fly courtesy of the OIF.

Pretty!

I need more nature in my inner-city shack!

– pics and text by Rosalie Tirella

I visited the Worcester Animal Rescue League …

… at 139 Holden St. (Worcester), yesterday afternoon. They have so many adorable KITTENS looking for LOVING FOREVER HOMES! I had to snap some pics!

Stop by WARL today and cuddle these beauties!  Maybe take one home with you … .WARL is open to the public SEVEN days a week! – noon to 4 p.m. All cats (and dogs) up for adoption are spayed/neutered and vaccinated!

pics + text – R. Tirella

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Yesterday afternoon my friend Patty gave me a bunch of fresh veggies from her organic garden …

… on her farm. She made good on her promise to ” hook me up” with fresh produce from her farm all summer long! Here are the goodies in my kitschy kitchen this morning!

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Some of which I threw into a bowl for breakfast. The mint also went into my lemonade tea … deelish!

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A bagel rounded things off.

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I have so many good people in my life – people who worry about me/help me out! For instance this ICT website – incitytimesworcester.org – that you’re visiting … . It’s been redesigned, gussied up by the big sis of my ol’ Burncoat Senior High best gal pal! For free! As a gift for InCity Times 14th birthday! Thank you, Sally!!! You’re the best!!!

I am … blessed …

– Rosalie Tirella

Thoughts on the old Prov Junior High as WPS students head into their last week of school …

By Rosalie Tirella

As a child and teen I attended the  Worcester Public Schools, K – 12. In the mid 1970s I was a student at Providence Street Junior High School in Vernon Hill. Now the big, august brick building, with its grand, floor-to-ceiling, Depression-era WPA murals in the entrance hall, is Vernon Hill Elementary School. I walk my husky mix Jett there after school lets out. As Jett (on lead) and I (in ugly walking shoes!) trot around the building to get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather, I’ve had a chance to think about the old brick building – my favorite! school.

First, changing demographics be damned!, “Prov,” as the locals used to call it, should have stayed a junior high school. It was meant to be loved by 13 and 14 year old kids – students old enough to be WOWED by its early 20th century grandness: the auditorium’s ornate proscenium; the narrow mahogany paneled hallways that lead down to the old gymnasium with ceilings so high and from which thick knotted ropes used to hang, ropes we kids, in our “Prov” gym uniforms, would have to climb up during gym class; the hardwood floors in each classroom; the wood paneled library; the marble (?!) floor in front of the main door; the granite flowers and waves at the tops of the side entrances; the sharp looking granite columns on the side of the entrances that feel a little METROPOLIS art deco …

What I’m saying is: Providence Street Junior High School was built in such an exalted fashion! And the architecture informed the mood! Our principal Mr. Bohman always wore a crisp, dark suit ( in spring time light gray) and tie and white shirt. He was always serious but polite. Our wood paneled library filled with books and ” periodicals” – huge for a junior high library – was staffed by a lovely, full-time librarian, an older woman, who always wore ruffled, high collared blouses. Her eye glasses were connected to a dainty silver chain she wore around her neck. Her brown (dyed) hair pinned up in this high and flowing hairstyle.  Very Victorian! And she spoke in whispers! Even if you and she were the only people in the room! As if her library were hallowed ground! She was always neatening things up in between classes so the Prov library would be PERFECT for the next group of students. Most of us kids were poor! No one had a library or den in their three decker flat! Hell, I knew a kid whose family didn’t even have a sofa! Some of our parents couldn’t  read! Some of us couldn’t read! No matter! Mrs. Brosnihan, I think that was her name, kept her library beautiful and helped us choose books to read and looked us in the eyes and smiled as she helped us find books on dogs, horses or baseball in the library card catalog. She taught us how to do research for term papers using huge tomes called THE READERS GUIDE TO PERIODICAL LITERATURE. These guides, no pictures, dark green cloth covers, intimidated the hell out of me! Was I smart enough to use THE READERS GUIDE TO PERIODICAL LITERATURE to do my report?! I was in seventh grade all honors classes at Providence Street Junior High School, damn it! I WOULD CONQUER that readers guide AS THICK AND HEAVY AS The CINDER BLOCKS outside my family’s Lafayette Street tenement.

Of which there were zero at Prov. No cinder blocks! … No dry wall, either.  No particle board, no plastic, no Styrofoam! Just WPA murals, marble, real wood and plenty of it! In the floors, the walls … stained and, I believe, polished and waxed often enough!

HEAVEN! Inspiring to be in such environs! Providence Street Junior High made you feel like you wanted to be wicked excellent because you were engulfed in wicked excellence, courtesy of the City of Worcester! Providence Street Junior High was telling us working class kids our education mattered, that you were supposed to read, write, strive and excel even if you were poor, your parents worked in the factories or do the math you were doing in Mr. Bejune’s math class. Mr. Bejune! Another Prov gem! It was at Prov that I decided YES! I would go to college!

I did, too! First one in my family!

Prov was a place where the kids or grand kids of immigrants (me, for instance!) could feel … like true Americans! This relatively new country to my family (my grandparents hailed from Italy and Poland) was good. Sure, my grand dad sweated blood in those Dudley mills during summertime, but I chubby Rosie could go on to college and study to become a teacher and have summers off!

America had high hopes for kids who were thought of as nothing more than human sod busters in Europe. We were coming from no-opportunity countries to an EQUAL-opportunity country.

I still believe in the promise that is America!

Back then, back at Prov, we had promises made to us by our teachers, the adults who visited us, city leaders, and we had promises to keep too. That Providence Street Junior High School, with its grand front steps, its chemistry labs and life science teachers in lab coats, wanted us to do ALL our homework, kick ass for that book report, study are hearts out because Providence Street Junior High School was a special place and we were so very lucky to attend such a special school.

We had a music teacher, Miss Avedikian. She, no taller than 4′ 10″, would give these bone crushing bear hugs to you! To everyone! To these huge Amazon girls who’d maybe been kept back a few times and to these big lost looking 9th grade boys who were known school and neighborhood troublemakers but who nonetheless lumbered over to Miss Avedikian  for their hugs – maybe the only hug they’d get that day!

Did I tell you how wonderful the teachers at Prov were?!

Any ways, Miss Avedikian adored us all and had half the student body in the school chorus! A couple of hundred kids at least! If you could breathe you were in her chorus! What a thrill! To come home to my mother and to tell her: Ma! I made the Prov chorus and we’re gonna have a spring recital! You’re gonna be there – right?! Right, Ma?!!

I wanted to show off my beautiful big school to my single mom who worked 60 hours a week at the dry cleaners for minimum wage and came home to our tired looking tenement late, made supper and after clean up was snoring in front of the TV set by 8:30. She was that exhausted! My mom had a beautiful smile but she rarely smiled. I wanted her to smile! To sit in the grand old Prov auditorium in one of her two special occasion dresses – the cocoa dress with white trim or the yellow dress with black trim – and be proud of her daughter and her beautiful school! I longed to see her beam with happiness!

I still remember Ma’s dresses: both were of the same style –  sleeveless, knee-skimming, sorta crepe like and they always – always-  smelled like HEAVEN SCENT perfume, the stuff you’d buy at the drug store.  And whenever something special at school was going on Ma’d wear one of her nice dresses to the event, with demure gold wristwatch she wore on special days. With her pretty figure, her fine dark brown hair curled, her Elizabeth Arden classic red lipstick, her Heaven Scent and her light pink iridescent snap-on earring my mother was a knockout!  And she’d smile! She’d smile watching  me sing in the Prov auditorium, with its wooden seats all connected, making concentric circles out from the big stage with its  heavy velvet curtains and the portrait of President George Washington on one side and the portrait of President Abraham Lincoln on the other.

At the end of our concerts Miss Avadikian always asked parents and guests to rise and sing some patriotic song with the Providence Street Junior High School Chorus. What a sight to behold and listen to! My mom, along with 300 or so other blue collar moms and dads and uncles and friends, plus us kids, belting out IT’S A GRAND OLD FLAG!

Some of the dads got out of the factories early that day and wore their dark blue work shirts and pants to the concert. I always thought they looked serious … respectful. (My dad was always a no-show.)

And then we’d file out of the auditorium, with a bigger kid, usually a boy from the ninth grade, carrying a huge American flag before him. His hair might have been in his eyes because in the mid 1970s all the guys wore their hair long or longish, usually with bangs, but he’d do ok, make his way down the main aisle alright, the rest of us, mixes of Poles, Puerto Ricans, Blacks, Italians, Lithuanians, Germans, Swedes, a bit of Irish following him (careful! Don’t let the flag’s corner touch the floor!) singing the best we could.