Tag Archives: Worcester

New column from Chef Joey!🇮🇹😉

Back to School Snacks!

By Chef Joey

ICT_Yum Yums-edited
Chef Joey!


Having a 5-year-old (Gigi❤) …

Miss Gigi eating Papa’s home-cookin’! pics: Chef Joey

… I have created a snack space in my refrigerator. These snacks are usually what Gigi picks for herself from the fresh fruit section. Right now, it is cherries, bananas, grapes, oranges and apples. Right next to that are squeezable oranges – and the only drink option is water. Soda and juice is havoc on young teeth – not to mention sugar is not healthy for growing bones. The fiber and natural sugar in fruit is key to having a healthy child.

Frozen veggies sometimes contain more vitamins than veggies in your supermarket produce section! … And plenty of VEGAN options in your Trader Joes freezer aisle.

While your little one is sitting at the table doing lessons, …


… slice up an apple and squeeze a little lemon juice and toss the slices in there – it will stop the apple slices from turning brown. Have healthy snacks at the ready … even celery with peanut butter versus crackers with empty calories are a good snack with protein. Gogurt yogurt sticks frozen are a great snack too in moderation.

Joey’s fresh fruit bin

The bottom line is you can snack on carrot sticks for $2 for a couple of days, celery and peanut butter too … and a dish of raisins satiates a food craving. Use your intuition and take it back 50 years ago when there was not all this processed stuff in the grocery store! You will feel better and save more money than you thought possible.

Sweet potato sticks – healthier than French fries!

Since you are at home during the novel coronavirus pandemic use the time to bake your own cookies, quick simple, healthy – and a $2 bag of flour yields about 200 or more cookies and pancakes!

Here is a quick pancake mix that costs peanuts. Society makes us think we must buy it boxed – nope you make it fresh!



1 cup flour

1 tsp sugar

pinch salt

1 tsp baking powder in a bowl

Add 2 tbsp of oil and then ¼ cup of milk of your choice, for lighter milks (like almond etc.) add a bit more.

Add a beaten egg for extra protein and that’s it.

Make sure your pan is nice and hot and have it pre-greased with a high heat oil (like sunflower) rubbed with a paper towel. And there you have it! Instead of syrup, use fruit. This also works in a waffle maker.

Have fun, and you can turn the pancake mix into a home economics class!

Zucchini pancakes made by Chef Joe!

New column by Edith!📚📙🖋🐾🐾

Back to School!

By Edith Morgan

Edith and family on Edith’s 88th birthday! photo submitted.

After all the hand-wringing about how much our children are missing being out of school since March 2020 and how this hiatus will stunt their growth, we are finally going to resume some kind of schooling, first virtually, then in a ”hybrid” system (part on-line and part in person). Finally, when all is more or less back to “normal,” back in the old schoolhouse full time, though probably in smaller classes.

There has been incessant attention to the physical safety of students and staff and to making our school buildings and equipment as virus-free as possible.

Kids still need school supplies! Donate pens, notepads, scratch pads and more to the Friendly House, Girls Inc and SWNC! These nonprofits serve poor Worcester families. pics:R.T.

But somewhere in the rabid pursuit of the CORONA 19 virus, we seem to have lost sight of the main reason our children are in school: to become fully capable, well-functioning members of American society. That means acquiring the language, basic math and the basic knowhow to be a competent family member, a member of a neighborhood, of a city or town, a state and the United Sates of America.

For that, ability to read, understand, and use the English language fully and comfortably is absolutely basic.

A knowledge of basic math is vital, also, as we all become tax payers, workers, consumers, credit card users, savers and home buyers or renters.

So our graduates need to understand how our financial system works and to have practice in navigating the various forms in use – registration forms, license forms, contracts of all kinds (especially the tiny print designed often to evade responsibility or even mislead).

Not all our children have two parents who are adept at navigating these pitfalls, nor do the parents always have the time.

Joey’s Gigi working on her homework. Chef Joey is an excellent Papa! pic: Joe C.

With our planet under great stress, a good understanding about the environment and our responsibility to that, should also be taught.


A clear understanding about how government functions at all levels, and each student’s responsibility in the scheme of things is important! Science – especially the scientific method and how hypotheses are formed, how evidence is collected, and how conclusions are reached, need to be emphasized throughout high school!

Needless to say, every branch of science has its own vocabulary, so that terms need to be carefully taught.

Our language has suffered a real degradation of meaning (as happened in Germany under the third Reich), and emotionally loaded words are bandied about without careful attention to their meaning. Our students should be taught to think critically about “alternative reality” as well as the 3 “P’s”: puffery, propaganda and prevarication!

Our kids will grow up totally surrounded by advertising, political pressure – and just plain lies. They must know how to identify these lies, while still maintaining their own opinions.

Our schools need to be the bulwark standing in defense of democracy. That means our students should be familiar with the Constitution, state and local laws, and customs. Democracy is fragile, and must be protected in each generation – it can not be merely handed down.

The achievement gap between minority and white students may widen, but with a life expectancy of 80+ years, that can be made up. I see many already working hard to close that gap. Technology is not sufficiently widely available in poorer homes, or in the homes of new arrivals, but much is being done to try to provide these tools.

But let us not fool ourselves into thinking that technology can or will solve the real problems facing America – skills and general information can be gotten, but those things that make for a full-adult and decent human being, an asset to this country, to family, neighborhood, city and state, can not be acquired from a screen. Parents, teachers, friends – all are role models, and they can not be replaced by a machine! Nor are they learned in large groups!

So it may be a blessing in disguise that we are forced to have smaller groups of students, enabling teachers and aides to better see when bullying and harassment occur. So, whatever form our children’s education takes, let us keep our eyes on our main duties, not the latest techy toy!



Movie Time!

By Rosalie Tirella

Funny. I’m watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in YOU’VE GOT MAIL. On my TV. This Nora Ephron rom-com from the 1990s (I love her Meg Ryan movies💚) is based on the Jimmy Stewart classic movie of the early 1940s, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER: guy meets girl through writing of letters/emails, falls in love … but no! The love of his life, the object of his bookish desire, can’t be the horrid woman he works with/against. She hates him, too! In fact, they go around crowing to each other about their secret pen-pals and how the Hanks/Stewart can’t hold a candle to their true love’s wit, erudition, compassion … It’s all in their letters/emails …

Finally, secret pen pals plan on meeting in person – in a coffee house. The gal will be at a cafe table reading a book – and displaying a rose, laid across the cafe table.

But the guy now knows the gal is from his work world, knows her identity, so in a love jest, he meets up with her, teasing her about her lover pen pal – making her furious but ultimately getting her to fall in love with him. Jimmy Stewart and the Jimmy Stewart of our day, Tom Hanks, are funny and charming in these scenes … and winsome, handsome.


Of course, our gals fall in love – want their secret writer/lover to be Hanks/Stewart!!! I will not give away the endings of both movies … But just now I cried, burst into tears while watching YOU’VE GOT MAIL. Not at the happy ending – but at Meg Ryan arguing with her current boyfriend in A CROWDED MOVIE THEATER! I cried at the old America, at HUNDREDS OF FILM LOVERS SITTING NEXT TO EACH OTHER, SHOULDER TO SHOULDER, enjoying – together!! – a movie! This is what made me cry! Our past life – before COVID 19, before facial masks and six feet apart and elbow bumps when greeting old friends. I cried like a baby over this scene, pre-global pandemic, arguably one of the most pedestrian scenes in the movie!

I miss all the casual closeness, the casual but deep intimacy, society’s grubby humanness … sharing germs – and laughs and tears – at a filled-to-capacity movie house.

The DVDs and Video cassettes will do for now …


… but when things get better, when the vaccine comes out and I have been vaccinated and our COVID flick fades to black, I am driving to Northampton, to a real movie theater, a beautiful one – not a ghastly humungous mall cineplex in Worcester – and I am gonna buy a bucket of popcorn, a box of Jujus and sit smack dab in the middle of HUMANITY AND WATCH A MOVIE WITH A FULL HOUSE of my fellow humans. Laugh with them, snicker with them, gasp and tear up, too. While watching the movie. Together, with them!


It will all come back … eventually. This is just the middle of the movie we are all in now. There may be a Tom Hanks pandemic epic classic on the horizon!

That’s a Wrap! Republican National Convention column by Edith!🇺🇸🇺🇸

The 2020 RNC Convention Show

By Edith Morgan


I did not know what to call it: after a very brief and perfunctory convention that did the real business of a true party convention, but without any attempt at giving voice to other possible views or candidates within the party, with no platform (since whatever Trump decides in the moment will be it), the evening RNC SHOW began on Monday and ran for four days, through Thursday, August 28. At which time Donald Trump brazenly accepted the nomination, in front of the White House, the American people’shouse. That was merely the crowning, in-your-face portion of this show’s violations of the Hatch Act – Trump’s thumbing his nose at the public and its laws, to let us know that the laws do not apply to him or his family or cronies.

I found particularly offensive the naturalization ceremony, not only for its inappropriateness during a political campaign, but also because if the extended and unusually long and inclusive swearing–in, which included an oath to serve in the military or to do public service, etc… none of which are usually included in such a ceremony. It was, like the rest of the RNC SHOW, a carefully orchestrated rainbow of five persons, including a member of all those excluded by the Trump administration during real life at the White House.

I listened carefully to every word and watched gestures and facial expressions – and had to admire the speech writers for all these presentations, for their skill in creating this four-day long paen of praise for all Trump’s accomplishments, describing an America I could not recognize.

Of course the Trump family spoke in full force and could not say enough GREAT things about the great love, caring, empathy and generosity of dad or hubby President Trump. Every time I see the women of Trump, I am reminded of “The Stepford Wives.“

In this four-day performance of “unreal TV”!!, we were treated to a constant barrage of warnings about what the “Trojan horse Joe Biden” would cause to descend on us Americans: our cities, our economy, our families, our jobs, all in ruin. To be saved by another four years of Trump!!!

We are all going to be great again – again. Much lip service was given to the additional funding of military objectives, to promises to end our foreign wars, to bring our troops home, to getting our allies to pay for their own defenses, and to bringing jobs back, as well as to continue to cut taxes. Most of the claims of accomplishments can not stand close scrutiny, and even the first few media fact checks done around the time of the presentations proved that the entire RNC Zshow was a compendium of “ alternative facts.” It was all a well orchestrated show, a glossy show, featuring infinitely the carnival barker about whom it all revolved: Donald J. Trump.

We heard from Tiffany Trump, Eric Trump, Lara Trump, and finally Melania Trump, who advertised her “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign. Ha ha. Karen Pence, Larry Kudlow, Joni Ernst, Rep. Crenshaw, and Billy Graham’s granddaughter, as well as Kentucky’s Rand Paul – every one full of praise for what Trump has accomplished, invoking God and the flag, giving some standard American history and supporting the second Amendment – while properly demonizing the “Democrat –run cities” which were described as being overrun by rioters and looters. They supported, in various ways, a “law-and-order” regime and tried to scare suburban dwellers into fearing the invasion of low-cost housing. Read: Blacks and Other Minorities.

Occasional chants of “Four more years!!” erupted, but since most venues were virtual, that only happened at the two outdoor events, where there were many people, not masked and close together. What global pandemic?! All emphasized the duty to vote – and to give their Donald another four years.

Let’s not.

Farewell to Trump’s Kellyanne!

Farewell, Kellyanne Conway!

By Edith Morgan


I have always wanted to be a fly on the wall at the Conways’ home: George and Kelleyanne, both devout Catholics and conservative Republicans with what appear to be very similar religious and political beliefs – yet seemingly on such completely opposing paths to how they express them. Kellyanne has been a totally faithful defender and spokesperson for President Donald Trump and, I believe, the brains behind a witless, unprincipled and ever lying presidency – and the coiner of some really interesting new “concepts” in political doublespeak.

She has uniquely survived the many purges and sudden replacements in the Oval Office and has consistently flown above the name-calling, labeling and misogyny of President Trump. And then there is her husband, George Conway, still a true conservative Republican but one of Trump’s most vocal and vociferous and perhaps most effective critics. George is co-founder of the Lincoln Project and behind the group’s – made up of all anti-Trump Republicans – scathing anti-Trump political ads:

He has trumpeted psychologists’ assessment of Trump’s mental health: dangerous narcissist:

His wife, Kellyanne, originated, among others, the concept of “alternative facts” – as though we have two realities and it is just a matter of opinion as to what is “real.”

Interesting that husband and wife should both decide at this time that their family needs them at home now. Perhaps precipitated by the Conways’ teenaged daughter’s rebellion and open criticism? Or do they smell an oncoming defeat and are fleeing the sinking Trump ship?

That gives us time to ponder the interesting similarities that my father used to comment about in 1933 about the degradation of the German language under Hitler and the uses of distortion and propaganda to pull the wool over eyes of even educated German citizens.

I am sure there will be more on this topic – the news has been overshadowed by the RNC “convention” and the oncoming nasty weather about to hit the Gulf Coast. Stay tuned …

Edith on Day #1 of the Republican National Convention🖋🖋

The RNC – Day One!

By Edith Morgan

Edith loves gardening – and politics! file pic: Rose T.

Last night’s evening Trump show/RNConvention – Trump is speaking on ALL 4 NIGHTS – was smooth and well orchestrated – and reminded me a lot of the previous week’s Democratic Convention. The Republicans got all their business out of the way earlier, during the day, so most people were at work and did not really see that quick work!

Those of us who think it is important to have a Party Platform stating what your political party STANDS FOR were disappointed – but not really surprised. The Republican Party has become the Trump party, so there is no need to write down what it stands for: They are whatever Trump decides in the moment.

It all went off very smoothly, considering that the venue had to be changed a couple of times. The entire event was short on truth and factual information and perhaps more significant for what it omitted than for what it mentioned. It was a two-hour praise-fest for all that Trump claims to have accomplished – all in the face of the realities out there. Speaker after speaker lauded the great economy – the greatest ever, due entirely to the efforts of our dear leader. No reference to the huge unemployment numbers, the small business failures, the eviction surge, and the number of Americans using soup kitchens and food pantries.

Since everyone but two or three speakers were pre-taped, all spoke their pieces flawlessly and within the time limit. It was a well orchestrated show, with a good assortment of individuals representing different parts of our nation.

Donald Trump appeared in a segment at the White House with various health providers who praised his rapid and complete support of their efforts to help COVID19 victims. No mention of the U.S.’s place as the having the greatest number of deaths or the ongoing spikes as we open up everything! Unencumbered by the reality out there, they praised
Trump and gushed appropriately over his handling of the pandemic. Trump repeatedly referred to COVID 19 as the “China Virus.”

On display for all the world to watch: There was the father of “Meadow,” a Parkland school shooting victim and the couple who brandished guns before peaceful BLM protesters and threatened to shoot the protesters walking down their street, and, of course, the teacher, the small business owner and the RNC chair McDaniel, all of whom in one way or another reiterated the slogan “The best is yet to come” and tried to make Trump out be a great and compassionate friend to them.

A number of speakers also reiterated how parents having a choice of schools for their children was the way to go. Several speakers drew dire pictures of what a Biden presidency would be like, with anarchists, socialists, radicals of every stripe, running rampant through our suburbs. Donald, JR., the president’s son, gave a loud, terrifying speech painting a country on the verge, lauding his father’s accomplishments. And former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley also repeated the party line, mentioning how she had removed the Dixie flag peacefully and with the cooperation of her citizens and praising Trump for finally moving our Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

Tim Scott was the final speaker – an impassioned speech by a Black American who had succeeded in rising to the U.S. Senate from very humble beginnings. I am waiting for days two to four – but I have a feeling it will be the same paeans of praise and unreal descriptions of reality, name-calling and puffery!

Stay tuned! (I am still looking to hear from those Republicans who know better, who really care for what their party used to be, and who really share decent values with most Americans …)

Grafton Hill: school column by Chef Joey!🍎📚 …+ more!

Goodbye, St. Stephens School! We will miss you!

By Joey Cancelmo

Chef Joey

We all know that sinking feeling when you learn something shocking, a feeling in the pit of your stomach that leaves you with a deep sense of loss.

This happened to us with the closing of Saint Stephen’s School on Grafton Hill. The school email, followed by an automated telephone call announced that due to low enrollment, the Catholic school, one of the city’s last “parish” schools, would have to close its doors. Forever.

For my family, St. Stephen’s was more than a school! When we first took our little daughter Gigi to an open house there, we met her future teacher – who had also been a student there. The experience was remarkable. The gleaming hardwood floors, the large chalk boards adorned with alphabet letters and pictures, the tiny desks, and mostly the feeling of security.

It is a big step for new parents: school for your little one … your child is off to an education! The school you chose for him or her is a BIG decision that can impact another person’s life. The wonderful energy that radiated throughout the St. Stephen’s building was part of the attraction – and the sense of security you feel when you are with people you love, like family.

We were told the little brick school was like a small family, and we would be included. When that first September rolled around, it was true – we had a young lady – Gigi – who came to us as a Foster Child, and we took her in as our own. We started the education process with a “day family” to keep Gigi safe and to teach her the social aspects that will be the foundation of her future.

This started at the school three years ago: our little girl in a maroon school uniform and a classroom full of children who were going to navigate the next 10 years together, before us having to choose the right high school. Well, we already did that: Notre Dame topped our list.

Two years of Pre-K for Gigi, leading to this year’s entrance into Kindergarten and a new style uniform crashed to a halt, leaving an empty hole in our hearts.

The closing impacted so many: We immediately felt bad for all the teachers, administration, the principal Mrs. M, all the volunteer parents and after-school program staff – the list is quite huge.

Worcester Public School students will be learning at home, REMOTELY, until 2021. file photo: R.T.

So with the new school year rolling closer, and now with the uncertainty of how classes will be taught in America and Worcester and actually visiting a new school to see if we can find the “connection” – it is all an arduous task, to say the least.

Education as we have come to know it has to make an about-face! I remember as a youngster watching the Jetson’s cartoon show on TV. I watched George Jetson and family communicate through their TVs and computers and ZOOMING! from their disk-shaped home nestled amongst the stars and planets. I think that pop imagery from my 1960’s childhood is now fact!


Edith on watching the Democratic🇺🇸 Convention🇺🇸

My Democratic Convention Notes

By Edith Morgan

Edith is politically active in Worcester and state politics!🇺🇸🇺🇸

After two evenings of watching the Democratic Convention on TV, in its new virtual form, I felt somewhat more optimistic about the future of our country. There has been so much doom and glom lately; it was great to see people who had overcome terrible trials and were facing new ones, but were still hopeful and full of vigor about their future! They were also realistic about what it would take to get back on their feet.

It has been more than three years since we saw so much real empathy, warmth, love, compassion and just a general showing of caring for those who do not always entirely agree with one another.
I was particularly taken with the warm friendship between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and the late US Senator John McCain, who was treated so shamefully by his own party. Biden understands and can truthfully commiserate with what the McCains have suffered, as he has gone through the deaths of his first wife and child years ago and the cancer fight with his own late, beloved son, Beau.

The second evening of the convention seemed to be a reaffirmation of the old-time values we profess to believe in and to practice. The very evident love and respect between Dr. Jill Biden and her husband Joe was heartwarming, for its genuineness and permanence. It stands in stark contrast to the serial misogynist Donald Trump, now in the White House, the serial monogamist and faithless mate.

I got the feeling that many Americans are looking for relief from the incessant hatred and above all, the constant lying, courtesy of Trump and the base he gins up with his hatred and his scores of evil schemes to steal the presidency. The change many thought we were promised was all in the wrong direction. Now it is time to right the ship of state and try to undo the damage done to our institutions before too many more of us die or sink …

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Go, Ms. Harris, go!

While ”compromise” seems to have become a dirty word, I get a strong feeling that America will get things done under a Biden presidency, that ideas from many sources will be given a real hearing, and that neither Joe or Kamala Harris, the VP nominee and Joe’s running mate, would use their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of the American taxpayers.

I was particularly struck by the great diversity of those reporting their votes, from not only our states, but also all the territories. Having each give some background and history really brought home to me how very varied our great country is and has always been. But in the end, we are all Americans!

The votes for Bernie Sanders were interesting – let us hope that Bernie’s willingness to work with Joe will translate to cooperation from his supporters. Biden has already moved somewhat in their direction and will listen and work out compromises. They are one in their understanding of the great danger our country finds itself in with Trump in the White House and will rise above their differences to clean up this mess we are in. As soon as possible!!

The truly riveting speech by Michelle Obama was in a class by itself. It is no wonder she is one of the most admired women in the world:


Farewell, St. Mary’s School!

By Rosalie Tirella

So, it’s the end of St. Mary’s, the little red brick Polish elementary school on Richland Street, near the now Peanut-shaped Kelley Square! …

Kelley Square: now a shadow of her former glorious self!

Its tough as nails pastor from Poland made the announcement to parents and students in the middle of the pandemic. The final blow for a school struggling to pay teachers, bills, administrators … The same fate befell St. Stephen’s parish school later this summer.

Rose’s Polish immigrant grandparents used St. Mary’s schools and church as a life resource, support system and spiritual anchor for decades.

How my old Green Island Polish neighborhood has changed! Now it is Yes! to the Red Sox AAA team, $10 slices of artisan toast and trendy boohoo tea. And it’s No! to the genuine immigrant experience, Catholicism’s wonderful, oppressive teachings … the St. Mary’s elementary school filled with cute, round-faced Polish kids, the big concrete cross jutting over the school’s no-nonsense double front doors, St. Mary’s once cracker-jack boys high school varsity baseball and basketball teams, Monday evening St. Mary’s catechism classes for public school kids like me, with strict parents like my Mom.

Along with its attached junior and senior high schools – the teeny elementary school built almost a century ago – Worcester will no longer have a good little Catholic school to anchor and calm down what’s pretty much become an inner-city drug neighborhood. As the WPD Swat Team busts down the doors of Ward Street and Perry Ave apartments looking for baggies of heroin and AK 47’s, St. Mary’s school and small junior and senior high school buildings – add-ons from the early 1960s when the kids of Polish immigrants had grown up and assimilated into Worcester life and THEIR kids could aspire to college or high-end office work in Worcester’s many banks and insurance companies – will bid Worcester a quiet adieu. The neat brick buildings, with shiny hardwood floors and high old school ceilings (some decorative), will probably be snapped up by some Boston developer to be converted into chi chi Canal District condominiums. And so goes gentrification …

I believe my old neighborhood’s transformation is a reflection of Donald Trump’s America: It’s all about money and spending it on STUFF to impress yourself and others. It’s all about STUFF. Acquiring the best STUFF – and selling the rest of your STUFF to make MONEY. And now the trendy boo boo tea has arrived and, as always, the millennial pubs/barrooms with their expensive, glorified pub food, beckon. Places to see and be seen.

To heck with the Virgin Mary, God the Father, short, sadistic St. Mary’s junior high nuns (my two kid sisters, St. Mary’s students grades 5 through 12, knew a few). Goodbye to St. Mary’s high school’s pretty good cheer leader squad, May Day Virgin Mary processions to our Lady of Czechtohowa church down the hill on Ward Street. The holy parade began at the St. Mary’s schools on Richland, students from grades 1 to 12 lined up in pairs. It was led by the prettiest high school senior girl – usually blond haired, lithe and fresh as the delicate crown of flowers she wore! My late mother, a student at St. Mary’s until grade 8, when she had to go to work as a housekeeper for the Bishop of Springfield, remembered the holy songs they sang in Polish during the walk down the hill. She sang them to me: awful. Lugubrious. Like many Polish church hymns. Plus, my mother couldn’t carry a note. Like I said: God awful!! The female students, grades 1 to 12, dressed in their grey, red plaid modest school uniforms, skirts below the knees, and all the boys, even the adorable but sloppy six year olds, in navy blue slacks, white shirts and red ties … all following this vision of perfectly virginal young womanhood. A paen to purity!!! A symbol of love of God!!

St. Mary’s schools were filled with statues of the Infant of Prague (like this one – Rose’s) and the saints – in all classrooms and hallways.

The schools’s teachers – all nuns in my mom and sisters’s school days – the classes were not as advanced as the best Worcester Public Schools classes, my educational petri dish, grades K through 12!! … but the St. Mary’s kids were all good kids – weren’t tough like the WPS kids I swam with – and the classes were solid, a good foundation for Worcester State College. The St. Mary’s classes, in the beginning, were bilingual, taught in English and Polish … the Three R’s were taught in clean, perfectly hushed classrooms. Memorization was a must, perfect penmanship expected, lots of reading about the saints – and America! You were taught to revere American history and to read lots of American poetry, my mom once said. The nuns honored Jesus – and Longfellow and Whitman. Ma once showed me her 8th grade English black and white comp book – yes, she saved it. In it, in her crisp penmanship, English sentences were diagrammed, verbs conjugated and “CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN!” was written out in her American Poetry section. All the students in Ma’s class had to copy the poem carefully into their comp books, as Sister Justine wrote the stanzas on the blackboard for them. Then they had to go home, memorize the poem, and the next day, stand up by their desks and recite the it in front of the entire class. For a grade. Best reciter got a special First Place rosary from Sister Justine!

Rose’s mom, left, and auntie were St. Mary’s school students until grade 8. Then they went to work as housekeepers, during the Great Depression, to help support the family.

The funnest part of the St. Mary’s experience – for me, my kid sisters and half the St. M’s school population? The walk down Richland and Endicott streets after school was let out to Pete’s Dairy Bar, at the corner of Endicott and Millbury streets. A kind of Green Island Happy Day’s hangout bar, with rock n roll music playing on the juke box, kids slamming the sides of the big pinball machines by the windows – for a quarter, hot fudge sundaes and hamburgers, French fries and Cokes brought to your booth – or you could eat your burger at the counter and banter with the miiddle-aged owner-soda jerk. After school, for more than an hour, as kids waited for their parents to pick them up or buses or just to hang out with their friends, Pete’s Dairy Bar, on a great school day, was swarming with kids – 50 or 60 kids in uniforms, neckties loosened, the first few blouse buttons unbuttoned. St. M’s kids, all laughing, joking, a little rowdy, letting off steam – and sipping their root beer floats or Cokes. I was one of those kids, after a day at Providence Street Junior High, meeting up with my St. Mary’s kid sisters … and seeing their friends, kids with names like Barbara, Mary, Joannie, Joseph, Francis, Paul. … All good kids who graced Pete’s …

Worcester’s small parish schools did gangbusters in the early 20th century when fresh off the boat Polish immigrants like my Bapy and Jaju – who couldn’t speak a word of English – pretty much ran to their neighborhood’s ethnic Catholic churches and parish schools for HELP. They needed clothes, food, jobs, schooling for their kids – as well as a sacred place to pray to their God in their native tongues. As the decades wore on, the schools mission modernized but not by much. You still prayed before and during school. You made your first holy communion with your classmates, you studied hard and were respectful to your teachers. Worcester had a bunch of these church-parish school duos, all over the city: St. Stephen’s on the East Side for the Italians, St. Casmir’s in Vernon Hil for the Lithuanians, St. Peter’s in Main South for the Irish. A terrific immigrant support system and America rah rah!! machine!! You learned: SPEAK ENGLISH! WORK HARD! HONOR YOUR ELDERS! GOD IS GREAT! AMERICA IS GREAT! BE A SUCCESS IN AMERICA! STRIVE! ALWAYS STRIVE!

Now, all a memory.

Now, you brush the hair from your pandemic forehead and behold: all the homeless young people congregating and sleeping under the Green Street bridge, the sweet 15-year-old Ward Street kid meeting his man … he is so beautifully pale, ethereal. He is so sweet to your two dogs while sitting on the curbstone waiting for his man. You go home – and cry for him. The pretty Madonnas in bathtubs in front yards all along Ward Street, Perry Ave, Sterling Street – all gone. Most of the three deckers there don’t even have curtains on their windows …

Homeless youth under the Green Street bridge.

New column by Joey! 🍎Memories around foods and people I love

Text and photos by Chef Joey

ICT_Yum Yums-edited
Chef Joey has a HUGE side-yard garden!

Summertime is for fun, frolics and fresh, local veggies. We always hear of the best farm stand for corn, have our favorite farmers markets, or even our own potted herbs and plants for the extra fresh taste available at our fingertips.

Joey’s tomatoes …

The funny part is those of us who have gardens know that it is an explosion of whatever matures first. At my house, it was lettuce then zucchini, followed by squash and cucumbers. We are now on the tomato boom – cherries being the number one producer.

The beets are maturing nicely, as is the cabbage, and this is the time of year to keep an eye on these slower growing items because friends like squirrels woodchucks and chipmunks that had no interest due to other delicious woodland snacks are all of a sudden thinking: wow!! how did I miss this?! … So that not no secure door has to be corrected and the small gaps fixed to endure the final stages of the growing season …

In Joey’s garden …

Of course, with gardens and veggies come traditions, too: stuffed squash comes to mind, sautéed eggplant, basil soup – it’s really a veggie soup with carrots potatoes and green beans with a whole lot of basil – in French it’s called “Soupe au Pistou.”

My grandmother used to make an Italian Frittata that had more than 8 eggs in it! Then it dawned on me she grew up on a farm and they had to use all those chickens’s eggs up!

Chef Joey has a green thumb!

Another time I had a friend who cut a tiny slice on the end of her roast. I asked her why. She said her grandmother did it, so she did. The grandmother was arriving a little later that day … She said triumphantly, “I remember that day. I was entertaining a larger number of guests, and I did not have a pan big enough to hold the roast. So I had to cut the end off and cook it next to the roast!” That was one tradition that got cancelled fast.

It is not about the preparation. I know some people who only enjoy “julienne” style carrots (cut in even matchstick pieces for uniform cooking). Potatoes cut this way are called fries – who knew?! Bottom line is: Cook things the way you want and eat healthy. My mother always said when we complained hunger pains as kids, would you find that in the forest? So berries, fruits and large doses of water generally cured our hunger pains. I do the same thing with my 5-year-old now – that tradition is a keeper.

Joey’s Gigi!