Tag Archives: Shrewsbury

Au revoir, Spags-Building 19 in Shrewsbury!










Me in my Building 19 dress – cost me 6 bucks, it did!

By Rosalie Tirella

Yup. Cheap cheap cheap is gone cuz, well, cuz the people of Wusta and Shoesbury are/were too CHEAP to support even a Building 19! As one Spags-Building 19 clerk told me a few days ago, when they closed their doors for good: The locals wanted the old Spags prices at the Building 19 site. We just weren’t cheap enough! she said incredulously.

She added, looking exasperated: Since the store announced their closing (a few months ago) and items were discounted 10% – well, now, the place is hopping!

Yup! A few pennies or dollars make a HUGE difference to the savvy/cheapskate Woo buyer!

I, on the other hand, am frugal. Meaning I am working class and live within my means. I always shopped at B 19 – on Grafton Street and the Shrewsbury site because if you spent an hour or two just ever so closely looking at everything in the big warehouse spaces you could find really really good stuff, great brands, well made clothing and gear, CHEAP. Just like their advertisements said! I always got solid winter boots there – for a fraction of a dept. store price – and cotton sheet sets, cool draperies, basic and sometimes sexy underwear, mattresses, box springs, living room chairs, shoes, sandals, etc.  Two days ago (the Shrewsbury site’s last day open), I picked up some great pleather jackets for, like, $2 each. Not to mention 10 or 11 cute cotton tops for 17 cents and 22 cents each. They were closing up for good – stuff was 90% off. Though I heard one customer bitch: If it’s their last day, then everything should be 99% off! I looked at her and frowned. A few weeks ago, when the price of merchandise was cut 70%  I got a bunch of great dresses – for like $3 each. Cute and fun!

Still, the closing of the Shrewsbury B 19 store, like the old Grafton Street store, hurt me. Not cuz of the future missed bargains but cuz of the B 19 workers  – many of them middle-aged ladies working for slightly above minimum wage, dealing with cheapo Woo folks, organizing piles of stuff for hours and hours, haggling over pennies. Now, most of them are jobless. B 19 didn’t tell them of their closing until the last minute. They were, at the time I spoke to some clerks, offered no jobs at other B 19 stores. On Grafton Street, when that B 19 store closed a little more than a year ago, all the clerks looked dumbstruck when I visited. They were shell shocked, hurt … and all the poorer cuz of the closing. They got no vacation pay, no severance pay, job training, nothing. Out they all went. I remember my fave clerk – an older black lady. She had worked at B 19 for more than 15 years. She looked so sad, standing behind her customer service desk cash register. Some of her cohorts had gotten transferred to the B 19 in Shrewsbury.  She didn’t. I told her I was going to miss her and teared up. She looked heart broken!

Workers in the fast food industry and big box stores across Mass and America UNITE! Unionize! Agitate for an increase in the minimum wage! And tell your kids and grandkids to stay in school and get trained for a career that will catapult them into the middle class. I was raised by a single mom who worked 60 hours a week for minimum wage. It was hard!!! My mom was an outstanding, lovely clerk at a dry cleaners for more than 25 years. She never got a raise – even though she was a fantastic worker, never missed work, never took sick days and got 1 lousy week of vacation a year. When the new guy, years later, bought the dry cleaners, he was amazed that the previous owners had never given my mother a raise. He immediately hiked my mom’s salary.

Bosses exploit workers. They don’t care what their home life is or if their kids are hungry or wearing not so nice clothes. They will get what they can get.

Brutal minimum wage/low wage world!

Good buy, B 19 workers! You were the best! My heart goes with you!

Local author Ruth Cohen will be signing copies of her book!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

Local author Ruth Cohen will be signing copies of her book Saturday, February 5, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Stop and Shop Market on Route 9 in Shrewsbury. The title of her book is My Juvies. This local author is a woman who has had extensive experience with the juvenile justice system. The idea for this novel came from her years as director of a group home for juvenile offenders coupled with her love for solving mysteries.

We all know that good writing comes from your experience and Author Cohen is no exception. She was director of Anker House in Worcester and decided to write about the children at the boys’ group home. We wanted to show them as kids who needed to learn how to feel good about themselves. As she explained it, “Anker House was a program for boys who came to us from secure treatment with the hope that they would be rehabilitated so that they could return to society. They had come from various backgrounds and had gotten themselves involved in legal issues … in our program we taught them how to feel good about themselves and how to get on with their lives so that they could return to the community as productive citizens.”

The life of Elizabeth Green, director of the group home in My Juvies, closely parallels that of Ruth Cohen. The characters in her book are purely fictional. However, some of the situations are embellished compilations of actual events, with the exception of the mystery. This fiction novel depicts how boys from a juvenile justice program get themselves involved in robbery and murder. The boys come from various backgrounds. They have been sent to the group home to try to get their lives back on track and enter society as law abiding citizens. But, as boys sometimes do, they manage to wander off into an area that had been forbidden due to the derelicts who inhabit that area. That’s the beginning of the legal dilemma in which they find themselves and the rest of the group home.

As Author Cohen said in a telephone conversation, “My Juvies is a murder mystery involving boys from a juvenile justice program. The novel is pure fiction. However, the idea came from my experience as director of a group home for juvenile offenders. The boys in our program came from varied backgrounds. They had not learned how to get their needs met without becoming involved in destructive behavior. Thus, they became engaged in various forms of criminal activity, which eventually caught up with them and after serving time in secure treatment, they ended up in a rehab program such as Anker House.”

The characters in My Juvies start out misguided and cynical, but by learning how to work together and how to resolve issues in an amicable way, they gain respect for themselves and the justice system. Author Cohen acknowledged, “My initial goal in writing My Juvies was to show these boys as just kids. They had not been given the opportunity to learn how to set appropriate goals and how to recognize and how to maximize their potential.”

Author Cohen was born and grew up in Worcester and was educated in the Worcester Public Schools. She is the mother of three married children and the grandmother of six. Ruth is a licensed elementary school teacher and is a graduate of Worcester State College with a B.S. degree in elementary education and a M.E.D in Counselor Education. In addition, she has worked as a rehab specialist in facilities for people with mental illness diagnoses. Currently she is employed as a substitute teacher in the Shrewsbury and Northboro school system. When she is not “subbing,” she attends a current events group, the senior writer’s group and the senior bowing league and loves the Red Sox.

When asked about future stories, Author Cohen affirmed, “I am nearly finished with my second novel, which is not related to “My Juvies.” However, I am about halfway done with a sequel to My Juvies. So if you are looking for a good mystery and want to support a local author join me on February 5th for the book signing event of My Juvies.

Worcester County Food Pantry: feeding Worcester since 1982

By Jean McMurray, executive director, Worcester County Food Bank, with Liz Sheehan Castro, project manager, Hunger-Free & Healthy

As the door opened into the third floor apartment, the woman’s smile along with the warmth of her kitchen greeted me. I introduced myself and handed her a carefully covered meal while wishing her a Happy Thanksgiving. Before I turned to go back down the three flights of stairs I had just climbed, she offered me a Kennedy half-dollar as a tip in gratitude for the Thanksgiving dinner I had brought her. I declined the tip and thanked her explaining that I was a volunteer delivering meals for Catholic Charities. As I started down the back stairs, I felt relief knowing that this elder woman had a warm home, food, and people that cared about her.

She was one of the dozen or so people I would meet throughout the morning as I traveled city streets and neighborhoods delivering meals. Hours later as I sat down to enjoy a Thanksgiving Day dinner with my own family, the experience came with heightened awareness and appreciation for what I had as well as for the people I met who were enjoying their dinners and for those who cooked the wonderful meals and organized the volunteers. Continue reading Worcester County Food Pantry: feeding Worcester since 1982