Tag Archives: Worcester

CRACKER JACK!

By Rosalie Tirella

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2022 Cracker Jack … pics: R.T.

I picked up a 3-pack of CRACKER JACK at the dollar store the other day. I was curious: had this snack classic, at the height of its wow-ness during World War II, changed since we Green Island kids scarfed it down on Lafayette Street, always a bit stale, having sat on the shelf of Eddy’s Penny Candy Store for a couple of months, but still pretty terrific. From popsicles, to Nutty Buddy ice cream cones, to cream-sickles (my mom’s favorite treat) to huge ropes of purple bubble gum that turned our lips a lurid indigo, Eddie had all the goodies – plus a few loaves of bread and bottles of Moxie, if you needed a meal. Moxie was/is a dark brown soda pop with zing to it that I liked a lot as a kid. Rose had MOXIE! My mother did, too, as she loved the soda pop and always had a bottle of it in our old refrigerator.

“Eddy’s” was located across the Lafayette Street three decker in which we lived and was the penny candy mecca of our neighborhood. Eddy had one side of his store dedicated to just penny candy. Hundreds of sour balls, malted balls, gum balls, candy canes, licorice twists, lollipops, little wax figurines filled with colored sugar water … all individually wrapped sitting in their own cubby waiting for you to say to Eddy: I’ll take that one, Eddy, and that kind, Eddy, and that one, Eddy! You never touched. You just pointed at the candy you wanted. The cubbies were built onto a huge brown table/stand, so as a little kid you looked over this sea of candy, each kind, in its own nook, and Eddy stood over you holding a little brown paper bag and picked out the candy you pointed to and dropped it into your wee paper bag. He did this not out of sanitary or health concerns but because he didn’t want us kids – most poor, many bold (boys and girls both) – to steal even one gum drop from him. I tried once – when I thought Eddy wasn’t looking. I thought I very smoothly placed my chubby little paw over a wrapped butter scotch … PUT THAT BACK! Eddy screamed at me, in front of all the other kids waiting their turn for candy. I looked up at his red twisted face and felt ashamed. Chastened. A sinner. THOU SHALT NOT STEAL was the Seventh Commandment! Would Eddy tell my mother I tried to STEAL the next time he saw her? I skulked out of Eddy’s and never tried to pilfer his penny candy again.

Eddy – an epileptic who often had his seizures in the back room of his store, which signaled to us kids: come back later to buy penny candy – wasn’t a kid person or even a candy and snack person. His little store at the bottom level of his mother’s three decker (he lived with his mother above the store) was a way to bring in some money – and set off store fire crackers in the middle of Lafayette Street, creating little pyrotechnics shows for himself and us kids. Eddy loved the pop sizzle pop of the fire crackers, and he always drew a crowd of us because we kids liked the smoke and noise and unpredictability of firecrackers and secretly hoped Eddy would have one of his “fits” in front of us while setting off his fireworks. Now that would be a terrific show!!

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Rose and kid sisters at Rocky Point – Rocky Point clam fritters better than Eddy’s stale Cracker Jacks!

Sometimes I’d go to Eddy’s and buy not firecrackers but a roll of “caps” and just bang out the red strip of caps with a stone, right in front of our house. With the dots of black fire cracker powder in the middle of the strip I knew exactly where to slam my stone and loved the smell of the cap powder once released. I had a cap gun that my mom bought for me at the Mart…a real Western John Wayne cowboy lookalike gun that you could feed a roll of caps into. You felt like a real cow girl shooting at the TV set or your kid sister! My cousin Ann had cowgirl boots, a cowgirl vest, a cowgirl hat and two cap guns to stick in her brown plastic holster that she wore around her fat waist. Ann was my Uncle Mark’s daughter and was spoiled. She wasn’t poor like me and my kid sisters – she was the daughter of a school principal and always got any toy she wanted. Uncle Mark called her his “Polish Princess” and never disappointed her …

My mother, a baseball fanatic, didn’t have the money to buy me cow girl outfits or even two cap guns, but she did teach me how to sing TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME, an old baseball tune that immortalized CRACKER JACK with its lyrics: “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack/I don’t care if I never get back!/It’s just root toot toot for the whole team … It’s a shame if they lose but It’s one! two! Three strikes you’re out!! at the old ball game!” This is the song my mom would whistle around our tenement when she was washing clothes over the big concrete basins in our kitchen – holdovers from the 1920s when the wife washed the laundry by hand in one bath tub and rinsed it in the adjacent one. Both concrete and ugly. When not in use there was a slab of concrete that went over it. I think my mom covered it with yellow daisy contact paper she bought at White’s Five and Ten on Millbury Street to make this industrial hunk look pretty. During birthday parties Ma would set out her buffet on this concrete slab with a pretty paper table cloth draped over the dark stone. I remember watching in trepidation as Ma fed pieces of wet laundry – tee shirt, apron, dress – in between the two big black hard rubber rollers that rolled and rolled …this squeezed out all the water in the articles of clothing, leaving Ma with flat-as-pancakes clothes for her to hang on our third floor clothes line, square and hanging from a metal pole from our back porch. I always worried she’d get her careworn fingers stuck between the big rollers and they’d get caught between the rollers and they’d be a horrible accident. But my mother was always sharp and ready for anything – except my father, who strode into our kitchen when he was in town to call my sweet mother, doing our laundry, “a dumb jackass” for working so hard. Didn’t she know they had invented the washer and dryer?! Didn’t she read the Sears and Roebuck catalog?!!

Didn’t Daddy know we were poor?

And so Ma whistled the CRACKER JACK song when she washed our clothes, tuning our peripatetic father out of the picture. A cozy, domestic picture my mother lovingly created for her three girls and Polish immigrant mother, Bapy.

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Rose, 10, standing before our washing basins in our Lafayette Street kitchen. The basins are covered up and ready for a CECELIA birthday party!

I always liked the free prize in my box of stale CRACKER JACK that I had bought at Eddy’s. Eddy couldn’t ruin the prize no matter how long the box stood on his rickety store shelf. Every box of Cracker Jack came with its own secret prize, usually at the bottom of your box of Cracker Jack. It was often a terrific glow-in-the-dark plastic ring, or a red whistle that really sang, or a little plastic magnifying glass that worked!, or a strip baseball tattoos – bat, mitt, ball – that I used to rub onto my forearm and wash off with warm, soapy water before I went to bed …There could also be a maze, with little silver balls that you tried to roll into an enclosed picture. The balls were the eyes of a cat, or a baseball in mid-flight over the pale green outfield of your little picture. Lots of kids bought their box of Cracker Jack just for the toy inside! And the box was colorful, festive, fun. You felt great carrying a box of Cracker Jack. You sparkled.

So here I am 60 years old, with my boxes of Cracker Jack. Ma is dead, so is White’s Five and Ten…the dollar store has stuff made in China, including their bags of penny candy. I open my dollar store Cracker Jack box tentatively. What a bust – for me – for any kid! The box is small and cheap looking. The CRACKER JACK history is touted for all to read …

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– but it’s not respected by its current manufacturer.

The Cracker Jack is BIOENGINEERED …

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Ick!

I taste it… tastes Ok. Not enough peanuts. The free toy is a small flat square piece of paper, no bigger than a postage stamp. Really nothing I want to explore. Same piece of crap free toy in all three CRACKER JACK boxes! No variety, no zip, courtesy of Frito Lay, a multi-billion dollar $$$ global corporation that could definitely afford to sell big beautiful boxes of yummy Cracker Jack, with glow-in-the-dark rings that boys and girls love to wear to bed, or red whistles that you can string on some red yarn and blow into them and pretend you’re a police officer busting in to catch the criminals: Frito Lay. Global capitalism.

John in Rose’s space: THE SUMMER SLIDE

“SUMMER SLIDE” CAN BE PREVENTED – WITH THE HELP OF PARENTS!

By John Monfredo, retired WPS principal and teacher and WSC member

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Mr. Monfredo. photo: R.T.

For years I have emphasized the importance of reading in the lives of our WPS children and spoke about the “summer slide.” The “slide” takes place during school summer vacation time due to our children not being engaged in learning activities.

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Read! photos submitted

Please remember that the summer slide is real! Our school professionals see the decline in reading and math achievement in our students when they return to school in the fall – just from being away from school for a few months! Often this happens with students who can least afford to lose the reading gains they’ve achieved during the school year, the kids who fall the farthest behind when they return to the classroom after a summer.

Research for years has stated the following: Children who don’t read during the summer risk losing up to three months of reading skills they achieved during the school year.

Without intervention, by the time these students, enter our high schools, the achievement gap widens. It’s even more important this year as we emerge from the Global Pandemic and already there has been a learning loss due to COVID.

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Make learning fun!

That’s one of the reasons why, through “Worcester: the City that Reads” my wife Annemarie, also a retired WPS teacher (Nelson Place), and I have collected over 1 million books. In 18 years! We did this for our children in Worcester; the books we’ve collected have gone to children in the community, children living in a families with financial challenges, kids who may lack books in their homes … This poses the greatest barrier to achieving literacy.

Families in need of additional books, please let me know! Email me at incitytimes@hotmail.com …We’ll provide your children with age-appropriate reading material!

Remember, the greatest gift is a passion for reading. As a society, we need to be reminded about that often and do something about it! Let’s look at just a few ideas parents and grandparents may want to consider this summer to assist children …help them avoid the “SUMMER SLIDE”:

First question … Have you enrolled your child in one of the many summer programs available in Worcester? The Worcester Public Schools have a host of programs – many elementary schools with transportation available. The program has started, so if you want to enroll your child, you need to move fast. If you need assistance, call the superintendent of WPSchools Office at 508-799-3115.

In addition, there are many social agencies in the city who can help: the United Way, YMCA, YWCA, Boys and Girls Club, and Rainbow Child Development…they have summer programs. Check it out!

Next, be sure to visit the Worcester Public Library! Just last week they started their summer literacy program. Our libraries are the best buy in this community – they are free and the library opens the door to learning.

Please sign up for lots of great opportunities at our main and branch public libraries!

Let’s look at other ideas that parents need to consider …

Devise a plan. Tell your child that reading and learning activities will be an important part of their summer. Assure them that they’ll still have lots of time for play.

Transform everyday activities into learning opportunities. Children can count change at the store, read directions for a family trip, check a map, write a shopping list or help calculate a recipe’s measurements – and measure cooking ingredients!

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Have children hone their math skills through baking/cooking … measuring and adding ingredients, halving recipes call for science/math skills. photo: PETA

Gather those activity books! Give children their own activity books with crossword puzzles or number games, customized for their specific age group. Set a “due date” to keep them on track, but let them work at their own pace. You can buy many of these coloring and activity books at the Dollar Tree stores for just $1.25. Also, they sell cute notebooks, sticker books, pens, crayons and more.

Reading aloud . Parents of toddlers, let me emphasize that reading aloud to young children is the most important way to get them started on the road to being successful readers. This summer, read to and with your child as often as possible. This is a way to spend time with your child – and if it’s convenient for you, read at bedtime. Twenty minutes of reading aloud will accomplish more than you can ever measure!

“The more I read,

The more I know…

20 minutes a day will help me grow.”

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Summer day trips to your local public library = fun! Books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, Kindles and more can be “checked out”!

Have reading material available. Keep books, magazines and newspapers in the home and be a reading role model. Be sure to obtain a library card for your child, and then visit the library and take books home.

Libraries also have movies and CD’s. A child who is a reluctant reader might be more interested in reading a book once he/she has seen the movie. Comic books are also a great way to get your child to read and build their vocabulary.

Cooking can be a reading activity … A good home activity is cooking with your child. This is one of the best ways to integrate math, reading and following directions. Let your child design the menu, too! Help your child put together their favorite recipes in their own special cookbook. A fun arts and crafts project!

Field Trips … How about a field trip to a local museum or park with walking trails… have your child keep a journal about your travels and have him or her write about it …

Vocabulary ideas …Another home idea … on the refrigerator door, place new words for the week each Sunday and have the use the words in conversations throughout the week.

Vacation time …If you are planning on taking a vacation this summer, you can turn it into a social studies activity. Ask your child to research the destination’s history, cuisine, popular attractions, etc. Also, once you reach your vacation destination you can schedule tours of famous landmarks and locations, which will increase your child’s social studies knowledge.

Family Reading Night …How about a Family Night each week? Bring out the popcorn and read a book. Try once in a while to get a book based on a movie. Then, show the movie and see if the book did follow the movie script. Many movies can be obtained at the Worcester Public Library.

Importance of summer writing… Be sure that your child has a diary in the summertime and have him write the highlights of his day each evening before going to bed. Other writing activities could be writing a letter to a friend or relative, or even writing to me! It’s important that your child writes often for the more he writes, just like reading, the better he will become with this skill. In addition, be sure to have your child write about their favorite book that they read this summer and send their essay to me – John Monfredo, 8 Cherokee Road Worcester, Ma. 01606. I will select the winning essays from grades K to three, grades four to six, and from seven up. The winners will be rewarded with new books. How is that for an incentive!

I hope that I’ve once again raised parents’ awareness of the importance of supporting your children’s learning in the summertime. I also hope I’ve provided some interesting and fun activities that can prevent the summer slide!

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Always have school supplies on hand so children can get creative during summer break! photo: R.T.

America! Worcester! Alarming new study shows it’s time to get serious about eating better!

By Heather Moore

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Vegan Rustic Stew. Many Americans don’t eat enough veggies, fruits and whole grains.

Fewer than 7% of Americans are in excellent cardiometabolic health, which is measured by evaluating a person’s weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol levels and signs of heart disease.

Tufts University researchers came to this sobering conclusion after assessing 55,000 people older than 20 between 1999 and 2018. The study’s lead author, Meghan O’Hearn, says it’s “deeply problematic” that less than 1 in 15 adults in one of the wealthiest nations in the world is in optimal cardiometabolic health. Not surprisingly, factors such as economic instability and systemic discrimination are linked to a higher risk of health problems.

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In Worcester: REC MOBILE FARMERS MARKETS VISIT MANY WORCESTER NEIGHBORHOODS. THEY SELL LOCAL PRDUCE AND MORE to Worcesterites who live in food deserts. They accept EBT, SNAP AND WIC CARDS…HALF OFF YOUR BILL WHEN YOU USE THEM! pic: R.T.

A similar study, involving American Heart Association (AHA) metrics—eating habits, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass and blood composition—shows that only 1 in 5 Americans have healthy hearts.

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There are lots of vegan and vegetarian options at TRADER JOE’S, PRICE CHOPPER, PRICE RITE and other supermarkets. Photo: PETA

This is terrible news, but there is a solution. Eating wholesome vegan foods instead of animal-derived ones can improve one’s overall health, including most, if not all, of the conditions evaluated by Tufts and the AHA.

Fruit, vegetables, grain, legumes and other vegan foods are cholesterol-free and high in fiber and other important nutrients. They’re also generally low in saturated fat, which is linked to viscous (thick) blood and high blood pressure. If you eat animal fat, you may have thicker blood, so your heart has to push harder just to keep the blood flowing.

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Buying farm fresh veggies and fruits at an REC MOBILE MARKET on Vernon Hill. photo: R.T.

When scientists with the University of Warwick in the U.K. compared seven different eating plans, they found that eating primarily vegan foods is the best way to lower blood pressure, which is thought to be the number one factor in strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. The researchers concluded that sticking with vegan foods could prevent nearly 5 million premature deaths a year.

According to vegan cardiologist Dr. Joel K. Kahn, author of Dead Execs Don’t Get Bonuses, between 80% and 90% of chronic health problems, including heart disease, can be prevented by exercising, refraining from smoking, getting enough sleep, managing stress and — most importantly — eating exclusively nutritious vegan foods.

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❤️🌱🌱🌱🌱

But choosing vegan foods over animal-based ones will not just improve your health — it will likely help you save money, too. Vegan foods tend to cost less, especially when you factor in the money you’ll save on hospital bills, medications and other healthcare costs by avoiding artery-clogging animal-based foods.

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Some easy peasy vegan cooking options.

Not only that, but eating vegan foods instead of meat, eggs and dairy can help combat the climate catastrophe, conserve much-needed resources and, best of all — save lots of animals. It’s a win-win situation!

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Vegan nachos. Try the plant-based IMPOSSIBLE BURGER the next time you make hamburgers, meatballs or tacos! IT’S TASTY AND ANIMAL-FREE! photo: PETA

PETA is working to make wholesome, affordable, versatile vegan foods available everywhere, including in food deserts. You can make a difference in your community by purchasing and enjoying healthy vegan foods and encouraging your family and friends to do the same.

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And when you eat no meat, you save – ANNUALLY! – the lives of 200 animals suffering in America’s factory farms! Photo: PETA

Hey, Domino!!!

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

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Who’s the king?!

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❤️

At the park. The guys are playing dominoes now. Not for money, they tell me, but TO BE KING! They all claim to be #1, and there is much slapping down of the plastic dominoes in a kind of sweet bravado! I am bugging them, I know, but keep asking them: Who’s the king? Who’s the king? The guy with the table, I think! One of the men points to his ample chest to tell me he’s the winner and then drops his cig on the grass to pat Lilac. Lilac frees herself from her collar and goes over to the cig. The man stamps his cigarette out on the grass and is distracted by who’s under their table. Then he says to me, Take off your glasses! I ignore him and ask, Where’s this game played? … ALL OVER THE WORLD! they shout! ALL OVER THE WORLD! Cuba! Puerto Rico! CUBA!

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♥️

Worcester, Massachusetts!

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All hands on deck!

These friends play every afternoon.
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Away now sitting on a patch of dry grass with my dogs under a tree, I can still hear their yips and shouts and the dominoes coming down hard on the plastic table or being mixed in the middle. I’m annoyed at this drought. The grass is brown and rough and scratches my calves. Jett rolls around on his back – a good scratching for his old back.

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Jett!!!

… It’s so refreshing to see something slow and social, a kind of jazzy board game, with folks talking across a table, ribbing each other, making eye contact, listening to their music, being happy together.

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🎶🎵❤️🎵

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🙂

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🙂

Beating the city heat in their local park.

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Lilac!!

Worcester ❤️!

Mr. Monfredo in Rose’s space!⚾🧢

The Kid from Green Island” – Richie Gedman – makes good! THE RED SOX HALL OF FAME!

By John Monfredo

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John Monfredo, this summer. John began his WPS teaching career at Lamartine Street School. He later went on to become principal of Belmont Community School. After retiring from our public schools, John ran for the Worcester School Committee and won. He served on the committee for many years. photos: R.T.

All teachers will tell you we never forget some former students – and relish in their success. As a relatively new fifth-grade teacher in the Worcester Public Schools – at the former Lamartine Street School – the same applies to me. One of my former students was Richie Gedman, star Red Sox catcher who just recently was elected with former players David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

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Photo of Rich Gedman when he was John’s student … on the cover of July CECELIA! On stands now!

The significance of this story is that “Geddy” grew up a “stone’s throw” from Polar Park … on Lafayette Street. He is now the batting coach for the Worcester Woo Sox who play at the ballpark a 10- minute walk from his childhood home. See, one can come home again! And you can be remembered by so many in your hometown – and Worcester County. As a matter of fact, the editor/owner/publisher of CECELIA/InCity Times, Rosalie Tirella, “Rose” was another standout student of mine at Lamartine Street School around the same time. She grew up close to where the Gedman’s lived.

Geddy was an outstanding athlete at Lamartine, and he was an outstanding and dominant player later as a student on the St. Peter-Marian High School baseball team. It was there that he caught the eye of many scouts as a pitcher and first baseman. He signed as an undrafted free agent right out of high school, in 1977, and was sent to the instructional league to learn the fine art of being a catcher.

The Red Sox saw the potential in Geddy and wanted to convert him into a catcher. That was what the Red Sox envisioned him to play – and he succeeded! Three years later he was brought up to the Red Sox. He made it to the big leagues, not only because of his ability but because he had the work ethic and drive to make it happen. According to “Geddy,” his greatest thrill was being called up from Pawtucket and putting on that Red Sox uniform!

Rich Gedman went in to have many great years in the 1980s hitting for power and average and played for the Red Sox for 11 years. He also received a number of honors during that time.

Some of the HIGHLIGHTS of his career include:

Twice named an All-Star … The Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year … Selected for the All-Star Team by UPI and The Sporting News … Caught Dennis Eckersley’s one-hitter … Set two AL records for putouts in a game (20) and in consecutive games, for that year Gedman was the battery mate for Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens when Clemens struck out 20 batters … Hit for the cycle and drove in seven runs against the Blue Jays … Reached base in all five at-bats of historic game 5 of the 1986 American Championship Series.

This included a two-run home run in the second inning and a hit by a pitch in the ninth inning that set up Dave Henderson’s dramatic two-out home run.

As one of his biggest supporters and fans, watching Rich’s career unfold, I was thrilled when he signed with the Red Sox! But I was more excited when he was named Rookie of the Year by Sporting News Magazine. I immediately went to see former Worcester Mayor Jordan Levy and requested that the City honor Rich Gedman – not only because he was named Rookie of the Year but because we were all proud of him as the All-American Boy from our city, Worcester! Levy loved the idea, and I was honored to be named chairman of the committee.

This, Worcester held a Rich Gedman Weekend! The festivities started with a banquet at St. Peter-Marian High School where Rich once attended school and played baseball. Paul X. Tivnan, county commissioner, and I served as masters of ceremonies.

At the dinner, the mayor presented Rich Gedman with the Key to the City and read a special proclamation stating his accomplishments. In addition, the Worcester Chamber of Commerce presented Rich with a special gift from its members. The weekend ended on Sunday with a parade in Rich’s honor. Rich rode proudly with his superstar wife, Sherry Aselton, best known for her own accomplishments (softball) at St. Peter-Marian, where they met. High school sweethearts.

The parade included marching bands, floats and T-shirts donated by Mac-Bens Sporting Goods Store …they read: “I’m a Richie Gedman Fan.” It also included a number of special guests, including then-Worcester City Manager Francis McGrath; Bill Norkaitis, Rich’s high school coach; Bob O’Coin, president of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce; Joe Morgan, manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox; and William Short, executive vice-president of the chamber, just to name a few of the guests.

As most teachers will tell you, we enjoy the interaction with our students. Rich was one of the students I had at my and my wife’s house many times, and he went to his first Red Sox game with me. When visiting my house, my wife Anne-Marie would bake him cookies to take home for him and his family. Growing up, Rich always spoke about the Red Sox and, like many youngsters, dreamed of playing for his hometown team. During Lamartine’s recess time, I remember seeing him playing ball and organizing all sorts of sports games in the schoolyard and after school. Other fond memories of Richie in the classroom: he did exceptionally well in school and was one of my leading actors in many of the reading plays that we put on for the school.

All who knew him and those who grew up in the old “Island” congratulate Richie on becoming a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame! And, in the now Canal District, the Woo Sox recently honored their batting coach with a “Rich Gedman Day” complete with “Geddy” bobbleheads for fans.

We are all very proud of our “Green Island Boy”:

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Rich Gedman when he was a 5th grader at Lamartine Street School – here at one of Mr. Monfredo’s classroom reading stations.

Worcester’s “Main Middle” is asleep …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

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Denholm’s = dead-zone. Empty commercial buildings in Worcester’s Main Middle are the norm.

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Clean but barren …

This week: All dressed up, driving through WORCESTER’S MAIN MIDDLE to find businesses to sell CECELIA ads to. But it’s as dead as a door nail here! A handful of small biz folks and a million plants, benches, banners, murals, flower beds … Downtown Enhancements that beautify yet don’t seem to attract businesses to our Main Middle.

WORCESTER’S MAIN MIDDLE, the stretch of downtown Worcester’s Main Street that we ol’ Worcesterites used to flock to in our childhood and early teen years. The “happening” and fun part of the city where we all came together to shop, snack, worship God, window shop, people watch and so much more.

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Where are all the shoppers???

All gone. The stores and shoppes that drew thousands in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s – Marcus, Shack’s, Sylvia’s Dress Shop, the Mart, Lerner’s, American Supply, Denholm’s, Rovezzis, Ephraim’s Bookstore, Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, the Paris Cinema, lawyers’, dentist’ offices …music shops! Gone and not replaced. … I remember: My mom rented a pretty little violin for me from a music store on the second floor of, I think, the Commerce Building. A tone-deaf old lady with a gold front tooth gave piano lessons. Her husband rented and sold their musical instruments. Small accordions, tubas, violins, trumpets and clarinets were all displayed on high shelves. There were a few music rooms with upright pianos in them for people taking piano lessons from the gold-toothed old lady. … My mother was enthralled! Enthralled when we entered together and she made her tiny weekly rental payment on my pretty little violin. Her daughter Rosalie, a second grader at Lamartine Street School, played the violin she rented from these folks! Got weekly free lessons at Lamartine St. School from a very talented WPS music teacher! She was asked to be in the WPSchools orchestra by her teacher! I remember being bored with my violin and fascinated by the shop’s little red accordion with its rhinestone-studded C button – and also drawn to the store’s framed black and white photo of a big white rabbit wearing a bowler and fake-playing a piano … I think he was smoking a cigar …

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Downtown Worcester deceives the uninitiated, but then you see this store front – one of many – and you know the score.

What do little kids have to experience today as they traipse through Worcester’s Main Middle with their parents?! Where are their memories?! Where can they buy a cute Cinderella wrist watch or fidget impatiently as mom buys herself a tube of Elizabeth Arden classic red lipstick?

Main Middle is asleep – and this time we can’t blame City leaders for its refusal to wake up!

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Worcester City Hall, left, is located in the middle of a dead downtown Main Street.

Nice📚🥪📖

By Rosalie Tirella

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The site of the Golub brothers’ Green Street Market, now a parking lot. photos: R.T.

A few hours ago I got a phone call from a Richard something – I glanced at my cell phone quickly and picked up immediately, not noticing the last name on the menu bar … I was quick with a HELLO? because I thought it was a Worcester landlord about to offer me an apartment! I was wrong. Instead it was Richard Golub, famous New York City lawyer and famous crime thriller novelist calling me from NYC. To thank me for my column on his late dad Charlie Golub and Uncle Izzy! I wrote the piece a few months ago after driving by the little Green Street parking lot where once stood their little Green Street Market. I wrote about the always sweet, always quietly intelligent Golub brothers, proprietors of a Green Island landmark that deserved its own special historical marker, just like so many other spots in the now chi chi Canal District. Richard said his cousin sent him my story and he read it and liked it. “It was so warm, it brought me back … so nostalgic …”

He asked me how I was doing. I told him I slept in my car last night. “I’m basically homeless,” I said. I could tell he felt bad. Always a bit competitive, if not proud, I felt: Here is a successful writer and a loser writer. Someone whose novels made him millions $$ versus someone whose little community rag – filled with her stories and columns – made her homeless after 21 years. Richard sounded emotional when I told him of my fate, but then we both got excited about each other’s writing. We started talking shop, Richard in his fabulous New York City, maybe his penthouse. Me in my 2010 Ford Focus with the R rejection sticker plastered on the windshield. Richard told me he just finished writing a Worcester book.

Really? I said. Is it about Green Street, Green Island, the old neighborhood?!

A little bit. But mostly it’s about a girl I loved … she worked at Table Talk Pies.

Wow, I said, thinking: first love, good Jewish boy primed for college falling in love with a blue collar Green Island pie factory girl … What a yarn!

I’d love to read it! I said.

It’s coming out in six months. It hasn’t been published yet. I’ll send you the first chapter. What’s your email address, Rosalie?

I told him. Then Richard said he was mailing me something, too. What was my address? I told him I had no address at this point in time, but he could send me whatever he was sending me (one of his previously published crime thrillers, I supposed) to my p.o. box. We really struggled with this…me giving him my p.o. box, Richard telling me to slow down, me telling him I was driving and had a heart murmur, Richard telling me he had heart problems, too, as did local author Nicholas Gage. YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN, Rosalie, Richard said firmly.

I know, I said.

Still, I was getting excited: I know I’m nowhere near your level, I said … I’m old, 60 –

I’m 79! Richard piped in, his voice booming.

Well, I’m 60, I continued, and before it’s too late, I want to publish a book about my mother … about growing up in Green Island. Can you help?

Richard said he knew no publishers.

I thought: bull sh*t.

But we talked…we talked about the old neighborhood … Where was St. John’s Church? he wanted to know.

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Ash Street School is located behind the old Green Street Market site. Allen Fletcher bought the school 23+ years ago and now lives there with his tenants.

I miss your dad and uncle I said. They were saints, Richard said. Just like my mom, I said. She died 10 years ago. … and on and on we reminisced … about Kelley Square, Millbury Street and our good parents overflowing with sweetness and integrity.

Things took a turn for the worse when Richard said, I’m friends with Allen Fletcher.

Fletcher, I hissed. He’s the one who destroyed the old neighborhood! Then I told Richard, who said he never understood why Allen chose to buy and live in the old Ash Street School, I told Richard that if Allen hadn’t butted in and moved into our neighborhood with all the gentrifiers, then our neighborhood would have evolved into a cool Vietnamese neighborhood. It would have become, it was becoming before Fletcher “interloped,” Worcester’s Vietnam-town, with Vietnamese food, celebrations, homes, three deckers. Fletcher and co came to the ‘hood and the Vietnamese couldn’t compete $$$.

And so we chatted. Writer to writer. Green Islander to Green Islander. It was delicious.

Richard said he was mailing me my little something.

I said: DO YOU HAVE A WORCESTER APARTMENT YOU CAN RENT ME?

He said, No. That everyone he grew up with on Green Street and Worcester no longer lives here.

Then he said he’d give me a buzz next time he was in town, but he doesn’t come back to Worcester very often.

Then I said, email me your chapter! Then we said goodbye.

Nice.

Letter sent from ICT/CECELIA/JIM, our reporter, TO OUR WORCESTER CITY COUNCILORS:

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CECELIA columnist/reporter Jim Coughlin

Councilors,

There is a serious issue in the city that has been brought to our paper’s attention in recent days and weeks by a number of sources: the homeless and the heat.

It has been reported to us that the Worcester Senior Center has been closed and remains closed as a result of COVID 19, the Pandemic. According to our editor, Rose Tirella, the homeless shelter on Vernon Street at the site of the former Ascension Church is NOW closed as a result of the minister, Richie Gonzalez loosing the lease to operate the shelter.

Additionally, at the former shelter, there are huge piles of clothes in front of the building along with furniture. Within the past few days, a sign has been posted to the effect of, “We are no longer accepting donations.”

Also, the shelter in the basement of the rectory of St. John’s Church at 44 Temple Street that previously was used as a shelter in the cold weather if and only if the temperatures in the winter goes below 33 degrees is NOW closed.

As an aside issue, a real estate agent has privately told our editor that renting either a house or an apartment in the city have in many cases over the period of the last year year increased by over 50%.

The Director of the St. John’s Church daily meals at the church has recently been forced to resign as a direct result of allegations of sexual misconduct.

We are blessed with perhaps one of the best councils in the state of Massachusetts that truly reflects the diversity of many professions in Worcester. As you all know, among the ranks of the current Worcester City Council are lawyers, a social worker, a minister, a housing advocate specialist, a psychologist and a real estate agent.

These professionals, when they can put their minds and bodies to the task currently facing the homeless can be very effective in dealing with this current problem.

During the previous administration of former City Manager Ed Augustus when the homeless were creating problems for merchants in northern Worcester and throughout the city, he very ably assembled a task force of various kinds of health professionals to deal with them in the most effective and humane way possible.

As a direct result of CM Augustus’s efforts the problems that members of the city’s homeless population caused particularly on Lincoln Street have been solved to the satisfaction of members of the city council.

I am wondering if the current administration of Acting Worcester City Manager Eric Baptista has abandoned those previous efforts of the former City Manager in relationship to Worcester’s homeless community ?

The legacy of the Worcester City Council as a continuing body is, indeed a very good one for effective and meaningful public policies that work best for the entire city.

I would like to know what policies are currently in effect to deal with the current situation involving members of our homeless constituents in the city within the past few weeks as the temperatures have soared up to as high as the high 90’s and perhaps even as high as 100 degrees?

Respectfully Submitted,

James P. Coughlin

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Homeless on Millbury Street, Worcester. Winter is brutal, but the New England heat is oppressive during summer time. The City of Worcester had no plans put in place to help the homeless during last week’s heat wave.

Two “L” words …

Leo …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

This morning: “Leo”‘s digs on Greenwood Street overflowing with crap:

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😢

The stuff that was strewn all over the sidewalk in front of his house is gone, but there’s still a bunch of refuse on his lawn, which is a foot tall. Not all Leo’s fault – a morbidly obese guy in a wheelchair. He called Vo Robert, director of St. Paul’s Elder Outreach, to ask for some help with mowing his lawn. A church volunteer, perhaps? She said “no.” She told me later, We don’t do that type of help.

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Greenwood garbage…

So here’s summer and poor Leo – whom I saw in his electric wheelchair last week on Greenwood Street wearing just a pair of white briefs – very tiny whitey tightys – is overwhelmed with keeping up his house – both inside and out. Lee Hall, head housing inspector for the City of Worcester Code Department, said the City is on the case, but court doesn’t work for Leo. A friendly visit may do the trick. Meanwhile, Leo, a Worcester native and senior who lived with his mom his entire life, until she died, is stuck. If you are old or special needs or homeless, America’s/Worcester’s social safety net feels … nonexistent. Good people suffer. Alone? Old and poor with a big old house? Need help but have no family? In America – unlike in Canada, New Zealand, Finland or much of Western Europe – you’re left to dangle in the wind. Poor Leo.

Lock 50

The Canal District restaurants…like LOCK 50…HOW DO THEY SURVIVE?

I drive down Water Street lunch time, suppertime…weekends…I never see any customers inside any of the restaurants… enjoying dinner or lunch! What gives? I mean, I see a customer here and there but surely not enough to be successful – stay open. 21 years of visiting Worcester restaurants and selling ads to eateries for ICT and CECELIA…I can tell if a place is gonna make it. Most of these Water Street overpriced pubs, restaurants don’t look like they’re going to remain open for years like the old Charles restaurant on Millbury Street, or Messier’s on Millbury Street or the Broadway on Water Street. YOU NEED WAVES OF DINERS…much more than a full house on a Saturday night.

Which makes me angry that Tim Murray and the Chamber of Commerce poo bas are pushing for really poor folks to use EBT cards to buy restaurant food! Every Price C Chopper and Price Rite and supermarket in Worcester sell READY MADE SANDWICHES, CUPS OF FRUIT, CUPS OF YOGURT, PINTS OF POTATO SALAD – READY MADE. FOR A LOT LESS $$$ MONEY. Why spend all your measly snap benefits at a restaurant? BAD IDEA. Just another way to exploit poor people, Tim Murray!

Tim, check out Bon Jovi and the cool restaurants he and his wife have established for the homeless, poor …and middle class diners in New Jersey! Very cool. Pay as much as you can for your terrific restaurant quality meal. Got no dough? Still get the great meal but do some volunteer work in the restaurant. Regular customers pay full price …

That’s how you help the homeless and poor, Worcester Chamber of Commerce.

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LOCK 50 …

St. John’s Church Food for the Poor carries on …✝️

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

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St. John’s Church is located on Temple Street …

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… and its food pantry, fully equipped kitchen and dining room where a big breakfast is served daily are all housed in this state of the art building. Free veggies and fruit giveaway every Saturday morning!

We pray for a penitent Bill Riley and look to the future as St. John’s Church’s Father John Madden – pastor extraordinaire – and his staff/volunteers march on and continue to feed Worcester’s hungry at the St. Francis Food for the Poor complex on Temple Street, right by the iconic Green Island church. This early morning I saw so many people! Most were homeless. All were poor. I saw lots of people leaving the building, with it cheerful awnings facing pedestrians and gold cross offering salvation, after having eaten a big breakfast at St. Francis’s. Some carried plastic food bags filled with bread and such as they walked out of the building. …

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🙏☀️✝️

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🙏✝️

I saw single folks, couples, a mom and dad with little child. Community. Across the parking lot I saw people lined up to take a refreshing shower in the mobile shower, parked to the side of St. John’s:

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🙏🙏🙏☀️

God’s work. God’s love.

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✝️

Reflected in all …

Once I saw a young guy, a contractor, leave his big truck and run into the rectory and tell Father Madden: here, for all the good work you do. It was a $150 check. The contractor was on his lunch break – and had admired all the good things happening at St. John’s every time he drove by the church.

Today? Well, today, it’s a beautiful day and hope rises like the sun did at 5 a and … for believers, Jesus, a few millennia ago. The Food for the Poor truck and van head out of Kelley Square to pick up donations for tomorrow …
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Hitting the road for Worcester’s hungry …