By Ronald O’Clair
Ten years ago, InCity Times Editor/Owner Rosalie first launched this bi-weekly publication on a shoestring budget with just a glimmer of hope in her beautiful heart that she would last out the year, never mind find herself now about to celebrate her 10-year anniversary as one of Worcester’s home-grown entrepreneurs.
They all thought she would have been gone long ago.
I went to junior high school with Rosalie being in the same graduating class up at Providence Street Junior High School, which was then the school that served those living in the Green Island, Vernon Hill and Quinsigamond sections of Worcester. I had a longer trek up to the school house that still stands today under the name of the Vernon Hill School. I was just on this side of the railroad tracks that began where Princeton & Lewis Streets terminate, and those that lived across the tracks where Grand Street gets cut off by those same tracks, well they got the pleasure of riding a bus to school every day.
Rosalie and I went our separate ways after junior high; we connected later when she started InCity Times, and I started to try to publish my findings on a deaf public, with mostly closed avenues for the average citizen to have what they think is important published in papers. Rosalie stands out as a Worcester original, like many before us, those that were born and raised here, educated here, and refused to give up the hope that Worcester will provide another great contribution to the world based on our proven ability to do so. Rosalie is the only woman I know with the guts of a man’s in the publishing world of Worcester – a woman who is not afraid to print the truth.
Anyways, Happy B-day, ICT! Now for my column:
All my life it seems that if there was any luck to be had, it would be had by someone else, as I am without a speck of doubt the unluckiest guy I know. In fact as the old saying goes, if it were not for bad luck, I’d not have had any at all. I’d walk to school from the area of the Four Corners, (where Cambridge & Southbridge Streets meet) and stop along the way at my father’s gasoline station: John’s Texaco, 544 Millbury St., Worcester.
I would love to see my divorced father, and spent the most time I could there with him as he taught me the trade that has served me well all of my days from that time to this. Due to his instruction, and patient fatherly manner, I was able to absorb the benefit of his many years of acquired automotive repair ability, and how to properly use, and care for the tools of the trade with which he made his living.
Lifelong lessons passed down father to son, just like in the olden days of learning a trade by apprenticeship that have gone by now, probably never to return. In the short period of my life when I actually had parents, having been orphaned totally by the age of 18, I must say that I had to have had either very exceptional ones, or the other parent’s kids just don’t pay attention or something, and end up disappointing their parents in the end.
Maybe it is true that we are all different, and I just was able to grasp and understand the instruction given by both my own parents as to why a person behaves a certain way in public, takes pains to be kind, polite and considerate of other people’s feelings, and also how to present themselves to strangers who then get an impression on how the parents are, based on the overt behavior exhibited by their children when engaged in a public venture.
I wanted to impress on people how truly good and upstanding my parents, God rest their souls, were by showing them that I knew how to behave myself when out and about unsupervised.
Rosalie wanted an article to compliment her decade long quest to provide much needed social commentary of a thought provoking nature, that somehow tied in to the InCity times roots, the Green Island neighborhood that she loved since childhood, has lived in all her life, and has been the source and inspiration of many of her pieces, her slice of lives, all a glimmer into her upbringing here in beautiful downtown Worcester as “Duddie” Massad would claim in his car sales commercials for Diamond Chevrolet, and most people would try to find reason why they thought he was looking through a warped lens or something, as they could not see the beauty as Rosalie or I could, and do.
For the tenth anniversary issue of the InCity Times, Rosalie wants me to write a story about the time in my life when my poor mother had another of her nervous breakdowns due to the crap that life kept handing out in heaping portions on the O’Clair family, and I sparked Rosalie’s interest with the tidbit on the telephone about how my sister Dorothy Leota Banach, her husband Anthony Joseph Banach III , and their first child, Laura Jean Banach briefly resided on the third floor of what I call Worcester’s leaning tower of Piza, the three-decker that at that time housed Yanover’s package store in the bottom, and tenants in the dilapidated remnants of what was once a fine example of the type of unique architecture that has helped Worcester retain its uniqueness all these years.
I was looking at the childhood memory of the place from a ten year olds eyes in my memory, and since talking further with my sister about that time in her life, she let me know that they only stayed there briefly due to the deplorable weatherization of the unit, where the breeze would blow through the ill fitting windowpanes, and she was NOT spending a winter in it, so she moved on to Florence street when fall came on that year of 1971.
My eldest niece Laura Jean Banach, and yes, my favorite niece due to having her in my life the longest, attended Millbury Street School around the corner from the Yanover house for her kindergarten year, so I am confident that it was the summer of ’71 that I have my memories of staying there and going up to the Pete’s Dairy bar then located in its first ever for me location at the corner of Millbury Street where it intersects Endicott Street.
Pete’s Dairy bar was an institution in the fabric of the life on Green Island, and what I remember best about it was the tuna grinders, the best I have ever tasted, that we used to get there while my sister lived on the swaying third floor of that building that should have been condemned then, and still sways today in a high wind.
It is a miracle that a gust of wind has not blown it over yet. Drive on down to see it, before it falls down on its own, and looking at it from in front on the Millbury Street side, see how far it leans over to the right. Then imagine living there in 1971 when the owner still dared to rent it out.
It was not for me at age 10 to remember all those details, but I do. I always have had the ability to recall everything I deemed important enough to file away in the vault my mind has become for the day when I would need to make it available to the reading public.
I was one of those kids who always and consistently pestered all of the adults around me with question after question, until they simply had had enough, and would tell me to stop asking questions and go and play or something, to which I of course would say, why?
I can’t help the simple fact that I was born this way, I never forget anything if I choose to file it away in my mind, and Rosalie can’t help being Rosalie either.
I’m like a “Rainman/ Rambo” with an attitude, and Rosalie to me is like the” Little engine that could” two products of our Worcester upbringing and childhood who will not give up the fight easily for what we scratched out for ourselves from this society full of ingrates we call the Worcester of today.
Everybody, and I mean everybody in the “in crowd, good ole’ boy inner circle” hoity toity circles predicted Rosalie would be a “Flash in the pan” irritation to them that would be run out of business on a rail, and the world of publishing in Worcester could go back to ignoring the plight of the masses as long as they took care of their connected cronies.
THANK GOD FOR ROSALIE, CONGRATULATIONS ON MAKING IT A WHOLE DECADE!
You are the best Editor (and the only) I have ever had! I love you Rosalie, Worcester should love you Rosalie. We need your alternative newspaper in beautiful downtown Worcester.
From ground zero, Ronald L. O’Clair. 25 July 2011