Halloween passed without incident around here. I put out my Lewis-Caulton sign today, did the dishes and read some of the material that has piled up on my kitchen table, a mountain of it. Then I called Tom Devine, who had asked me for copies of the pictures I took at the Simon for Mayor rally and told him I would drop them off before the end of the day and pick up the S&M books I lent him. He said he found the S&M volumes "disgusting" but agreed that Rich's book on the Marines is good. I then called Karen Powell and told her I will give them pictures of the rally.
So out to the Breckwood Shops and got the paper out of the trash, which included the four section 175th Anniversary insert. Then to Walmart at 8:45am, but was told their photo department doesn't open until 9am. I complained to Marta, a Latino at Customer Service, that I was given the wrong information as to when their photo department opened. She told me a dollar would be deducted from my photo bill for their error. I returned at nine and got my prints, which are just fine. I decided I would give the Powells 13 pictures, Robinson 5, Babacas 1, Branchini 2 and Devine 8. While at Walmart I ran into Donald C. Myers of Forest Park Antiques, who complemented me on my recent speech. I also bought a can of Spam for $1.78.
From there I went to the McDonald's on Boston Road and had a bacon and egg bagel with a coupon. Next I left a picture with Mrs. Babacas, then took the Powells their pictures, which I left with Karen, before leaving some housewares at the Goodwill. I left Devine's pictures on the back porch, where he had left my books on the table. He also left me a sample Kid's Voting ballot with pictures of the candidates on it. A black man next door was blowing leaves out of his hedge onto the Devine's driveway. Nobody appeared to be home at the Devine's at the time.
Called Peter Kessler and left a message. On his answering machine he has a sombre, snotty, businesslike recording. Hurwitz, very friendly, called from 787-6626 and said it took him a while to read my memos and thanked me for praising the downtown Visitor's Center, which will remain open even after the new one is finished. I called Devine and he said he got the pictures and will send me a print-out of how they look on his website.
The Citizen Action Network (CANE) has announced their endorsements, which include of course Simon the dog for Mayor, plus Bill Foley and Tim Ryan for City Council because "they have stood up against big money for the people of Springfield." They also endorsed non-incumbents Scott Santaniello, Carol Lewis-Caulton, Brenda Branchini and John Ryan, whom they said "will not be swayed by the powers that be." They also suggest voting for Tim Rooke and Angelo Puppolo as people "we have been able to work with in the past." They stressed that they do not support Brian Santaniello or Bud Williams because "they have shown total disregard for what the people say."
Here is Eamon's current phone tape: "Tuesday the voters of Springfield should vote to take back their city from the monopoly rag Union-Snooze, the arrogant, dishonest Albano Gang and the rubber stamp City Council and School Committee, including all the career hacks behind the baseball stadium. Don't forget to write in Simon the dog, but do not write in Albano's candidate Kateri Bennett Walsh, who is only running in an attempt to secure gainful employment."
Gas is $1.25 at Pride in the Acres. Election Day.
I'm reading George Ryley Scott's History of Corporeal Punishment. It makes it very clear that Catholics have used flagellation for sexual arousal for hundreds of years. The scheduled presentation by poet Maya Angelou at Symphony Hall has been cancelled due to the death of her brother Bailey J. Johnson. Nancy Zare of the Springfield College Holocaust Committee is seeking new members.
Up at 5:30am. I arrived at the Rebecca Johnson School at 6:25am and M. Anzalotti of Parker Street and Officer Joe Carelock (badge #85) of Surrey Road were already there. My precinct 4-A has 1,130 registered voters. Precinct 4-B also votes at Johnson. The warden in 4-B was Joseph Louis Jones of Pearl Street, the brother of Morris Jones. Joe believes the city is purposely trying to drive blacks and Latinos out of downtown, which he says is racist in nature and must be resisted. The day was eventful in many was and an unusually large number of issues came up. For instance, Kateri Walsh was running a sticker campaign and people were leaving the paper the stickers peel off of behind and I had to go around picking them up occasionally.
There were coffee and donuts when I arrived, but that is all the food we were offered all day. My aide Gloria Harris is wonderful and does most of the work, but doesn't like to be crossed in any way. Martha Edwards of Manilla Avenue is friendly, quiet and a good helper. Nan Arnold of Roosevelt Avenue was somewhat slow, but able to help. She can read, but may not know the letters in the alphabet because when someone gave her a street she had to go through all the pages to find it.
Thelma Williamson of McKnight is absolutely wonderful, the ideal worker. Thelma has a smile cemented on the smooth skin of her round face and the touch of white in her hair seems premature. Thelma is a remarkable person in addition to her nice personality. She has a degree in criminal justice from AIC and worked as a prison guard in Somers. She started her masters but never finished. Her son also has a degree in criminal justice from AIC and her husband drives an automated trash truck for the City of Springfield. He started as a lowly trash picker-upper and then graduated to truck driver. Officer Joe brought about ten magazines to read and as always he was helpful in a million ways.
There is always running around to be done for one thing or another. On my lunch break I went directly to Glickman and voted as #60. In the parking lot I saw a bumper sticker reading, "Bad Cop - No Donut!" I then went to the Five Town Mall and dined on a sub before going into Spag's, which has a warehouse type arrangement and some incredible bargains. They have a book section with tables and chairs but not many books. They did have the newspaper history book for sale, which has lots of credits in the front including Gormally, but no mention of F. Gagnon.
When I got back Deezer Sullivan came around and ordered that no signs were permitted outside the polling place unless someone was with them - no signs just stuck in the ground and abandoned. Later Anzalotti said he had never heard of such a policy and he has been working the polls for 55 years. Armando Dimauro first got him the job and he has always been grateful to him for that. Anzalotti also works part time bagging for Big Y because he needs the exercise. He informed me that Walgreens will be moving to Boston Road and the Acres Big Y will take over its space but it will still not be big enough to be called a World Class Market.
Today was also Kid's Voting Day, for which Tom Devine gave me a sample ballot, and their table was set up between the two precincts. At one point Durham Caldwell, wearing a Kid's Voting t-shirt, was supervising. A skinny, female photographer from the Union-News came along with Peter Goonan and wanted to speak to the warden. I informed him that I am a critic of his paper, but would tell him whatever he wanted to know. He asked about the turnout and I told him it was about average, although turnout in a minority neighborhood like this is often unfortunately low.
One of the special pleasures of working the polls is getting to see old friends. Darnell Williams came by and gave me an NAACP flyer. I hadn't seen him since we worked together on keeping Alden Street open to neighborhood traffic. I saw Michaelann Bewsee holding a sign for Carol Lewis-Caulton. Ed Lonergan came by to vote and said to me that Election Day is the only time all year that I do something remotely like an honest day's work. Ray Jordan came by and shook everybody's hand but paid little attention to me, so I reminded him that I am a fellow Harvard alumni. He then jovially came up and squeezed my hand. Candice Lopes also came by to vote. Victor and Fran Gagnon of Worthington Street voted in the early evening, as well as Ann Richmond of 156 Buckingham and Ted Crossett.
Tom Devine's friend Jordan Williams also voted, I told him I would be giving Tom some of my pictures from the Simon rally. The Rev. J.P. Morgan voted just after the Gagnons, followed by former 16 Acres Librarian Dorothy J. Pelte. She told me she has been retired for seven years and was recently released from the hospital. Brenda Branchini came by with her clean cut teenager. Rosilyn Hodges, a black business student at AIC, expressed opinions about downtown similar to Eamon's, so I gave her his number. She said downtown has gone "nowhere but downhill" since Forbes & Wallace left. Marjorie Hurst was around and I told her about Eamon and his research into false attendance figures. She listened, but she is a known supporter of Negroni. Her ears perked up when I told her Eamon has copies of all the articles written by the New York Times about Negroni.
Young Ben Swan Jr. voted and I told him I was glad to meet him. I also had a good chat with Frank Buntin about what happened to the Mason Square Development Corporation. He said it became too political and lost its funding. Buntin complained that Mary Hurley kept trying to tell him what to do and he wouldn't go along with her advice. Buntin claimed his own salary was paid with private funds and that David Starr used to donate $10,000 per year but stopped because he felt they weren't accomplishing anything. Fred Whitney finally appeared when it was time to empty the ballot box and when we did so we found a 1998 ballot that had stuck to the top of the ballot box so we gave it to Officer Joe to give to Deezer Sullivan. We had to ask three voters to show ID's, William J. Pitty of Florida Street, Gilberto Padillo and Mariane Baez, both of Armory Street.
It had been predicted that there would be a light turnout but in my precinct it was about normal. The results of my precinct were for Mayor, 147 votes for Albano and 19 write-in votes for Simon the Dog. For School Committee McCollum got 154, Jose Tosado 121. Tom Ashe 104. For Council, Lewis-Caulton 158, Bud Williams 152, Bill Foley got 122, Brian Santaniello 109, Dom Sarno 99, Puppolo 97, Dan Kelly, 83, B. Garde 82, Tim Ryan 82, Scott Santaniello 80, T. Rooke 78, Brenda Branchini 64 (I'm so sorry she lost), John Ryan 58. When I arrived home I found that Bob Robinson had left a packet of photos but no note.
Sunny, nice day.
The Hartford Go Local Biz Expo will be held at the Hartford Civic Center on March 16, 2000. Today's paper has a picture taken yesterday by David Molnar of Karen Powell and "Simon the canine candidate" standing outside Marcus Kiley Middle School holding a sign with the names of the candidates endorsed by CANE. Of course, talking about the Simon candidacy and CANE's activism at this late date does the Powells no good.
I have brought in the plants for the winter and placed them in locations where they can get some sun. Sent out the mail at Louis & Clark, which included pictures for Robinson and a thank you note to The Hatter. Then I drove downtown and parked on Salem. First I stuck some pictures from the Simon rally in Brenda Branchini's mail slot. Then I delivered a note to Mark Russell Smith, saying he doesn't look like a real hippie. I left a copy of my book Coke in Verse in an orange bag with Berman's secretary. I also left something for Richard Garvey with the receptionist at the Springfield Newspapers.
Pieces are falling off the cheap wooden front they put on the Fuller Block in the '80's. I complained at the time that it wouldn't last and now it is deteriorating and the Masonic cornerstone in Freedman's old block is pretty much gone. Came through City Hall and went to the Election Office to tell the girls about my Election Day experiences and my recommendations for improvement. They promised to inform Commissioner Sullivan. Finally, at the Visitor's Center I had a friendly chat with the girl about the advantages of putting up posters with a staple gun. On the way home, I stopped at Burger King on State, but the line was so long I didn't stay. On the corner by the Motocycle Building, a city truck #3791 ran a red light.
I called Fred Whitney and told him all about Election Day at Precinct 4-A. He was friendly and appreciative and said he was grateful "to be able to get someone of your caliber." Yet he still hasn't written the recommendation I asked him for. Whitney also says he is campaigning to have the pay for precinct wardens raised to $12 per hour. According to him, at one time there was an age limit of 70 for working the polls, but it was shot down as age discrimination. Whitney also said he is furious that Scott Santaniello, whom the Republicans raised over $1,000 for, has announced following his Council defeat that he is switching to become a Democrat.
45 degrees at 7am this morning.
They are putting a new sign in front of Eastfield Mall, raspberry and pink with bright blue neon. It looks nice. The Monarch Credit Union merged with the Telephone Worker's Union in May of 1987.
The South Church tag sale was largely a dud, but I had good conversations with old and new friends while in line. Melinda McIntosh was first in line and I was fifth. Melinda buys mostly clothing, she said she took a vacation day to come to this sale. Melinda told me that a group of Russian ladies are being very greedy at sales recently. They walk up to the clothing rack and put their arms around everything and say "Mine!" Sometimes at an outdoor tag sale they will arrive three or four to a car and while one distracts you with questions or haggling, the others rob you blind.
Dan Myers of Forest Park Antiques came but didn't hang around long. Jim Serrafinis is my new bookseller acquaintance. He looks Jewish or Italian and has long hair in a pigtail. He was wearing the latest style youth wear and always wears shorts with neat socks above sporty boots. I spotted him reading a modern fiction catalog so I went over and said hi. He knew all about Oak Knoll (which to my shame I didn't until recently) and he sells books over the internet. Jim lives five minutes from South Church which puts him in Precinct 4-A. I got a few books but nothing exciting. I exchanged pleasantries with the elderly lady running the book section but I failed to tell her that Mother died, I should have. She delicately made it clear to me that she knew I was gay and didn't approve. Such people only inspire me to be even more extreme.
From the tag sale I went to the Notman service at Trinity. Donald Ogilvie Notman, formerly of Skyridge Lane in Springfield, died at a local nursing home at age 91. He was an underwriter at Monarch Life Insurance for 45 years and a member of Trinity Methodist Church in Springfield. He was also a past President of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Springfield Country Club. I signed the guest book and noticed fourteen people present and not many cars in the parking lot. I saw no one I recognized from Monarch nor anything Masonic.
I was quickly in and out, then headed up to Chicopee for the Commerce 99 event. Charles River Hospital West has a big renting/leasing sign in front from McDonough Real Estate Services. This year the business fair was the best it has ever been, a good show. A couple of people there remembered me from my appearance last year in my orange suit and asked why I was conservatively attired in black leather, so I had to explain that I had been to a funeral. I noted the absence of the Westover Development people. Sally Fuller and I exchanged greetings. The Springfield Newspapers were giving away 175th Anniversary candy bars. The person at the City Stage booth told me they have sold 3,000 season tickets this year.
From there, I went to my dentist Dr. Frontera, and read magazines while I waited. The dentist checked me out and declared my teeth okay. On the way home I stopped at Food Mart for some of their grocery specials. When I got home the phone was ringing and when I picked up it was a woman who asked, "Is this Paul?" When I told her she had the wrong number she hung up in my ear! I had so many snacks at the business fair that all I had for supper was a can of soup and a sandwich. TV22 had a feature this evening about former Valley Advocate writer Kitty Axelson-Berry, who now helps people to record their personal history.
Eamon called and complained that although the paper endorsed the write in candidacy of Kateri Walsh, they never printed how many write-in votes she got. I told him I heard on TV she got around 3,000 votes. Eamon alerted me that his friend James K. Tillotson has his picture in today's paper. Tillotson's brother John was the ad manager for the Springfield Newspapers for over 20 years, but was shipped off to their Pittsfield office where he had a stroke and died.
Jim Tillotson told Eamon that when he taught in the Springfield school system he worked briefly under Dr. Negroni and considered him to be "full of shit." Negroni was only his boss for one year, but Tillotson told him point blank that he was "interested in teaching the kids something, not protecting their self-esteem." He said Dr. Negroni replied, "So you're not going to be a team player?" Tillotson was Assistant Principal at Kennedy under Willard Wright when he retired.
Today is the 20th Anniversary of The Morning Edition program on National Public Radio. I'm reading Aramco and It's World (1981). A lavish book that was discarded by the Winchester Square Library, it is the best possible general book on Arabia (lots of maps) and should not have been junked. A good starting place to get to know the Mideast.
WFCR says State Auditor Joe DeNucci is complaining that too many defendants who can afford a lawyer are passing the costs on to the taxpayers and wants to cut back by insisting on better income verification. The news on TV22 had a story about a little boy like I was, Bret Couture, with glasses and a thin frame, who is being bullied as a sissy. The parents complained and Negroni responded personally and instituted a "Gentle Warrior" program that teaches kids how to fight back.
Bob Robinson is one of the people I am having difficulty documenting. The mail brought from Household Finances a misdelivered letter for Brian R. Woodward. Tom Devine sent me a print-out of his web page coverage of the Simon for Mayor rally. He used a number of my pictures, including the one of himself with Bob Powell, and had a delightfully clever write-up:
Simon Powell, the canine companion of activists Bob and Karen Powell, agreed to work like a dog in order to defeat Springfield Mayor Michael Albano, who was otherwise running unopposed. I personally attended the Simon for Mayor rally as the informal master of ceremonies, for which I arrived elegantly attired in a suit and tie usually reserved for Halloween, as we all stood in line and proudly shook the paw of the mayoral contender.
I also spoke in Simon's behalf as he barked out his campaign promises of a return to good government, an end to corruption, the liberation of the county dog pound, repealing the leash law and imposing a tax on cats. Afterwards, we all enjoyed a dog's lunch until the rally had to disperse amidst never substantiated rumors that the candidate had run off with a bitch in heat named Monica.
Amazingly Mayor Albano did respond to our rally, declaring the next morning on Bax and O'Brien that if dogs could vote they would support him over Simon in gratitude to Albano for the planned new Thomas J. O'Connor Animal Shelter.
Despite Simon's dogged campaigning, many voters felt that a canine mayor was redundant, Springfield having already gone to the dogs years ago. Although every dog has it's day, Election Day was not to be Simon's as the dog eat dog tactics of the Albano camp successfully smeared Simon as a real son of a bitch. Yet even in defeat, Simon the Mayoral Pooch was still able to garner over 600 write-in votes.
Did a load of laundry today. Went to Burger King with a coupon, earlier I perused the Valley Advocate at Louis & Clark. There appeared to be so little of interest in it this week that I didn't even take one. The news account of the hearings on the petitions showed Russ Denver saying he is "waiting with baited breath" for the decision of the court. Eamon called and said the paper is calling the Commerce 99 trade fair a big success. He also spoke with Karen Powell who told him she's happy their petitions are being accepted.
I received a speechless Unknown call at 11:36pm.
Lovely day, 52 degrees on the breezeway at 6:50am.
Australian politicians are telling President Clinton that he should stay out of their politics. WFCR is having another fund drive and also listed their fiction contest winners, but I heard no winner mentioned in the category of fantasy.
Worked on this diary this morning, then drove out about 9:30am to the library book sale at Forest Park. They have a large basement room that was laid out for the sale. Some of the books were definitely ones they'd recycled from previous sales. I saw none of the big shots from Friends of the Library. I did see Ed Lonergan, who told me they had to have a sale because "the stacks are sagging" under the weight of all their books. He said they donated some art books to Western New England College. I told Ed that I saw that that his dad had died and expressed condolences, for which he thanked me very much. Durham Caldwell was at the sale and has been a lot more polite to me since I told him I bought his book. He now calls me Wesley.
Jon Contavitch was once again doing all the lifting, at the end he carried my books up the steps and out to the curb, where I brought the car around from Food Mart where I had parked and picked them up. When I remarked to Contavitch that it appeared he was doing all the work he replied, "That's the story of my life." I got a few nice things, including two books I will give to Nader the Hatter, two to Zachary Cohn, two to Eamon O'Sullivan and one to Ann Staniski. The best thing I got was Primary Colors, inscribed to MassMutual executive Tom Wheeler.
From there I drove to Burger King to dine again on a coupon, and then to the Cohn's, where I gave Irving two free passes to the Antiquarian Book Fair in Boston for Zachary along with the books I got for him at the library sale. Mr. Cohn told me that Mr. Penniman has been taken to a nursing home because he got so bad his wife couldn't handle him. When I got home the Union-News Extra in a blue bag was draped over the mailbox, not hung on the hook.
I needed some 3x5 cards and turned up some old change of major cards from Colby with the names of some old friends and professors on them: Robert M. Whitelaw, Joanne Randel, William W. Allen the Classics Professor, Bob Crespi, John Alden Clark and others, the whole zoo. The signature of Literature Professor Archibald William Allen is rare because of the size of the department and the fact that he didn't teach there long. For fun I dialed Nader the Hatter's old number 734-6780 and got a message saying it has been "disconnected, no further information is available." I then called the Powells to tell them to see Devine's website for coverage of the Simon rally.
47 degrees on the breezeway this morning.
Cooked a cherry pie and dined on a Swanson Roast Beef Dinner. I also microwaved potatoes with pepper and margarine on it. Worked on this diary and read this morning. I drove over to the Firehouse Tavern on Mill Street for the Grand Opening of Jack Hess's car museum. They had cheese and eclairs, but I only had one hunk of cheese. I gave Mrs. Hess a $10 contribution, for which she offered me the book on the Knox car, but I told her I already had it and asked her to accept the money as a gift towards the museum.
Hess himself remembered me and we had a good chat. He told me he was waiting for Fran Gagnon to show up, which I think may have been a joke. I told him about the Moore Drop Forge medal I recently got. He talked about Neal's replica 1886 medal. I also spoke with Richard Stevens, an expert on the original Duryea automobile, who told me he is Jewish and had many unpleasant experiences as a youth growing up in Springfield. He and Hess were the hosts. At one point Hess told me that the interstate was put on this side of the river in part because Eddie Boland and his friends owned a lot of land in the North End. He also said the land where the new animal shelter is to be built was owned by numerous political figures over the years. Our conversation was most interesting.
From there I brought a few things over to Eamon. On the way I again noted that 924 Carew at the end of Nottingham has its cement wall damaged as if it had been rammed by a car. Next door to the cute little house at 9 Tacoma was a tag sale with some nice stuff. As I approached his house, Eamon was just getting back from walking his dog. I gave him a box of reading material and he gave me his.
Eamon said he had just mailed a letter to Larry McDermott, under a false name, of course, in which he called McDermott and David Starr "carpetbaggers from out of state." Eamon then discussed his cousin Jimmy Sullivan, who had a $50,000 job with the turnpike, retired with a 70% pension and then was hired the next day by the Basketball Hall of Fame. Jimmy's brother was former Mayor Billy Sullivan, whom Eamon described as "a big dunce." Jimmy was also on the Civic Center Commission.
I told Eamon about my talk with Hess at the museum and he agreed that Boland and Judge Daniel Keyes of Chicopee were heavily invested in land in the North End and the riverfront at the time the highway was built. Boland and Keyes also owned the land at the far end of Vernon Street that was erased by the highway which once had been two story storefronts. They also owned the land where Kresges was replaced by the Federal Courthouse. One of Boland's top political operatives was Tom Donahue, who had once been the local political reporter for the Springfield Newspapers. Eamon again recalled how Ted Dimauro told him that Boland's wife Mary got a $350,000 commission when the Tapley Street post office was transferred to the city.
On the way back home I stopped by the Evangelical Covenant Church, which had about 25 cars in the lot, and stopped just long enough to get the dedication program for their new sanctuary. I told them I couldn't stay for the ceremony, increasingly I am like Mayor Albano, who shows up at things just long enough to fulfill his own purposes and then leaves. I too am tired of sitting through bullshit events.
42 degrees at 7am and sunny.
New York City is a three hour drive from Springfield. Albany, New York is only 90 minutes away. The Springfield Marriott is located at the corner of Boland and Columbus Avenue.
For breakfast I had tomatoes on toast. Wrote checks and mailed them to the registry, Baystate Gas, Bell Atlantic, Ultramar, Punderson and Northeast Utilities. I then put the mail out at Louis & Clark before 9am, got today's paper out of the trash and made copies at CopyCat. Then over to Angelo's for fruit and veggies. Next I left off a bag of reading material for ex-rep Whitney on his back doorknob.
From there I went to the Evangelical Covenant Church on Plumtree where I found the church offices have relocated to the basement. I was cheerfully greeted by the Rev. Greg McCaslin, Assistant Pastor. I gave him my card, congratulated him on their new improvements and told him I was looking for Burt. He told me he was at a conference, so I told him to tell Burt that I think his thank you letter for the the photos I gave him is overdue. I added that if he sputters and grumbles, tell him I said, "That ye not be judged, judge not." At this I wished McCaslin well and departed with him looking somewhat taken aback.
I then went up into the new Sanctuary and looked around. They have pictures of all their former pastors on display, including one of John Lind (1952-1961) who had a son who was a nice fellow at school but not in any of my classes. Formerly they were the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church at 17 John Street, a structure in the North End. Next I went to the Family Care Medical Center and spoke with Judy. To get a blood test I have to pay $61 to the physician, $12 to draw the blood and $74 dollars to have the blood analyzed. I had difficulty getting those figures out of her until I told her I am a lawyer and entitled to know the costs before I contract to do anything.
I swung by the Eastfield Mall, where I found a dozen cars parked by the Showcase Eastfield Cinema. Walking through the mall I saw only a few meandering shoppers. They have put up their Christmas decorations. I never see them being put up, maybe they do it at night after it closes. All the palm trees that once decorated the mall are gone, they were a prominent feature of the mall when it first opened. I asked the customer service lady what became of them and she said they had to be removed because they had grown too tall.
From the mall I drove out to Cat's Paw, where things were popping. Vince was raking his front treebelt while inside Claudia was appraising a lot of glassware someone had just brought in before I arrived. It did not appear to be the most choice stuff. Jack Hess was there, buying a pitcher with an image of the Springfield Municipal Group on it with Gill's seal on the bottom. Hess told me an archivist at the Springfield Armory Museum told him that many historic items there have been stolen, probably by staff. Hess believes dishonesty at museums is a major problem. They had maybe 35 copies of Time for Springfield (1978) priced at a dollar each and I said I'd take two. I also bought a Hampden Savings penny bank and a kibbie chocolate spoon. It was fortunate that I happened to go there and both talk to Hess and get a few collectibles.
Coming home, I found the mailman at the corner of Talbot. Kelly was raking her lawn. Eamon called and told me he had just got off the phone with Dan Spellacy, who told him that Richard Cohen, who was just elected Mayor of Agawam, rented an apartment there just a few days before filing to run. His father is a golfing buddy of David Starr, whose paper endorsed Cohen for the Agawam mayoralty. Eamon also told me that he called Eric Bachrach at the Community Music School and asked him how many of their students are local. He replied that only 60% of the students are kids from Springfield. Eamon said Bachrach is from the Bronx and was brought up here by David Starr. Eamon confessed he recently sent an anonymous letter to Starr - he's sent quite a few to various people lately - criticizing a misleading article about the city's bond rating that made it sound better than it actually is.
Chilly last night.
WFCR had a story today featuring Scott Southworth of the University of Wisconsin complaining that students should not have to fund organizations they don't like through an activity fee. TV22 has a new woman on the air, feminine and lovely, named Sonia Baghdady. She does well. Peter Picknelly is still advertising his New Year's Eve party at the Sheraton. Marcus Printing is located in Holyoke and Metcalf Printing is in Northampton.
Drove out at 10:55am and got the paper out of the trash at Louis & Clark and then made copies. After that I dropped off the latest issue of U.S. News and World Report and some internet things at Devine's. Stopped at Walmart for Spam, chili and stuffing on special. Next I got some baked goods at Freihoffer's and later had a crispy chicken sandwich at McDonald's. Back home, I called Evangelical Covenant and asked for Aggie but got Sharon and I told her to remind Burt that he owes me a thank you note and she said she would. Unknown called and was again voiceless so I cried, "Speak thou fearful and rude knave!" The line went dead. I had answered with my usual very waspish good afternoon.
Eamon called and we talked about an unusual article that appeared in Sunday's paper. Eamon can't figure out how they happened to print it. It's about a Professor Sanders who wrote a study criticizing consultant reports that exaggerate the positive effects Civic Centers have on economic development. Eamon figures they printed it just to show that they were being objective at least once about the Civic Center expansion proposal, thereby avoiding criticism from people like Charlie Ryan, who often accuses the paper of printing only one side of the story. Eamon told me he has talked to Ryan about the Northgate lawsuit and Ryan says he's never seen such a mess. Eamon described Ryan as in his early 70's but in good health and he drives down to Boston on legal matters all the time.
Eamon recalled how the nuns used to "scare the living daylights out of us" with threats like, "Mr. Sullivan, I am going to put you down this ventilator shaft that goes straight to Hell!" He claimed they used to brainwash kids through fear. Eamon's father was a foreman at U.S. Tire in Chicopee for 37 years, but when he died his pension ended and his mother was forced to live on $600 per month Social Security. Eamon talked to Nader the Hatter, who is still in the area staying with his sister but will leave soon to bring more stuff down to Florida. The Hatter's father worked for Hamilton Standard for a long time and has a good pension with them.
Eamon told me that weatherman John Quill has been divorced twice and is about to marry his third wife. Eamon doesn't think Quill owns any part of TV22, the company was always tightly held by Bill Putnam, Kitty, Putnam's parents and Joe Deliso. He said he'll ask Keith Silver about the company's current status the next time he sees him. Eamon recalled that Bill Putnam once told him that the only job he ever wanted in city government was Police Commissioner, but he never got it because they knew he would shake things up. Eamon says he was told that Putnam's mother begged him not to sell the TV station, but he couldn't resist the wonderful price Charlie Ryan negotiated for him.
Mild, springlike, 67 degrees at 3:55pm.
The Basketball Hall of Fame has a half page ad in the paper thanking "each and every one of the 7,648 fans who supported the Hall of Fame NBA game and activities on Thursday, October 8." Also in sports news, the head of the New Haven baseball team is using the reverse selling technique of saying what a bunch of losers his team has been down there so he wants to bring them up to Springfield. Also, the news said people are thinking of fixing up and reopening the Bing Theater. That's nice, but where are all the theater goers going to come from?
Saw birds flying South last night. I opened all the doors and a couple of windows because it was warmer outside than inside. I planned to read today, but never got to it, which happens too often. Dined today on my last pork chop, potatoes and brussel sprouts with two cups of tea. I walked a bag of magazines down to the Cohn's at 10am and hung them on the back doorknob because there was nobody home. I drove out and got the newspaper out of the Louis & Clark trash, then went over to Five Town Mall, where there were lots of people parked in front of Spag's and Food Mart. The mall was buzzing with activity although Mailboxes was closed. Then I drove past Eastfield Mall, where there were many cars parked outside the cinema.
Left home again at 4pm to attend the Chamber of Commerce After Five gathering. It was held at Westfield Bank and Baystate Hospital gave everybody little slinkies meant to be stress relievers. Prominently featured businesses included United Personnel Services, Baystate Blood Donor Center, AAA, Cocchi Marketing and, of course, Westfield Bank. The head woman at Westfield Bank came over (I was wearing my orange outfit and jacket) and we chatted about the Eagle coin pendant she was wearing. She said she has numerous Eagle dollar coins in a safety deposit box.
Mr. Parker, the advertising guy from East Longmeadow, told me he has put away his bike for the winter. After he asked me about my orange outfit, I in turn asked about his business. He candidly replied, "You know all that garbage that's inserted in the Sunday paper every week? Well, I print it." I also chatted with Walt Carroll from NPR about their fiction contest, but he was defensive and said that my entry must have been considered. I left at 6:05pm with the latest Chamber flyer, which has a Barry Moser woodcut on the cover.
Burnham Ward called looking for Storrowtown and banged down the phone without apology when she realized she had the wrong number. I called Karen Powell and congratulated her on the cover story about her in the Valley Advocate by Maureen Turner. Then I called Mark Wiernasz, the Assignment Editor at TV22 (the News Director is Mike Garreffi) and told him I got charged for all four calls I made to vote in their Northgate/stadium survey, meaning there was no attempt to block multiple calls from the same person, "making your survey even less scientific than I thought." "Thank you for your call," was all Wiernasz said in reply and then hung up!
Is Susan Goodman, a reporter on TV40, the daughter of Attorney Alan Goodman? TV40 says a survey shows that one out of three high schoolers don't know what continent Vietnam is on. Charlie Ryan's picture is on the front page of the paper, shown speaking before the Supreme Judicial Court yesterday. Ryan defended CANE and Judge Neil L. Lynch has taken the matter under advisement. Eamon has Judge Lynch's address and is writing to him.
Clear blue sky, cold last night.
Left at 8am for St. Cecelia's Tag Sale in Wilbraham. I was about 20th in line and Melinda McIntosh was first. Melinda told me that she considers Heather Haskall to be her "chief rival" at tag sales. The Polish lady from up Boston Road was there, cheerful, the first time I've seen her this year. The church was full of stuff. I looked in housewares where people had already grabbed the good stuff, but I still got a Turkish pot and a carved India box for $10. I also got a 1934 West Lynn Creamery crate.
In the book section I found two books with Rita Ewig bookplates in them. I also found a shipping label in one book addressed to the M.J. O'Malley Company in West Springfield from Mass Mutual. Another book had a brass bookplate with the Lord's Prayer on it. I bought a book on Arizona (1984) in mint condition, which I gave to Colleen by hanging it on her door handle when I got home. On the way back I got a few groceries at Stop & Shop. The mail was here at 2:30pm.
Eamon called and said he spoke to Nader the Hatter and his dad was up to Northampton. The doctor is confident he can help him after some tests. The house has been sold after they fixed the front porch. Eamon then told me he just hung up from talking with his teacher pal Gingras, who described the school system as "worse than ever." He told Eamon that things are especially bad at Commerce, with a nearly 50% absentee rate and students hanging out in the hallways while classes are in session. Gingras said Commerce has four security people, as well as six Assistant Principals, one of which, a black woman named Dr. Henry, makes $72,000 per year. Gingras told Eamon that as far as he can tell she doesn't do anything all day. Buddy Langford, whose former welfare agency had a funding scandal, now teaches two classes, each with only four or five students, for about $40,000 per year. According to Gingras, Langford "doesn't do a damn thing at all."
Commerce's new principle Jerome Winegar is hardly around, often away at meetings with Dr. Negroni. Gingras says Negroni holds meetings with the faculty and drones on and on and expects people to take notes. Once Negroni caught Winegar nodding off during his talk so Negroni sent a long memo to everyone about the importance of staying alert at meetings. Another time Negroni got mad at an obviously bored audience and shouted, "I've just about had it here! I've got two years to go and I don't care what happens!" Gingras claims that Negroni doesn't give a damn, he just came in, ripped the city off and will retire with a nice pension to Florida or Puerto Rico, perhaps even get another job with the government and further fatten his pension.
Overcast today, 49 degrees at 10am.
Rumors of Bill Clinton's sexual philandering date back to when he was Governor of Arkansas. The mail today included a nice letter from Professor Lynn H. Lees about Professor A.P. Watts of UPenn. Also a newsletter from the University of Vermont addressed to Mrs. Blanche W. Miller. Philip C. Haughey is President of the Friends of the Boston Irish Famine Memorial in Braintree. Wayne Turner is the Membership Chairman for the Tuesday Morning Music Club.
I drove out to St. Cecilia's again and got some more used books. A used book implicitly carries the recommendation of its previous owners, who thought it was worth having in the first place. On my way back to Springfield I noticed there was a good crowd parked at the Eastfield Mall. Then I bought a paper and made some copies at Louis & Clark, came through Angleo's and bought gas across the street at Cumberland Farms. I continued down to Main Street, where I fished a current Union-News out of a trash can in front of the Bank of Boston building. My letter to McDermott warning him of how easy it is to find free papers has apparently had no effect.
Next I drove over the Memorial Bridge to go visit Aunt Maria. The lawn was covered with leaves. The mailman was just going by as I arrived so I brought it in to her, a large envelope from a Pauline Sosnovich of Royal Street in Agawam. Next door Joe was blowing leaves over on his lot, but I kept out of his view. I even parked the car out of sight. Inside I found all the lights on, Aunt Maria's room the usual mess with clothes all over the floor and bed. However, the living room was picked up, the kitchen had no dishes in the sink and there was a store bought pie in a box on the kitchen table.
I found Aunt Maria examining a long grocery tape while sitting in a chair in the living room. Her new large screen TV was on full blast. She didn't turn it off, but we were still able to talk. She was pleasant and didn't try to start a fight. I gave her a Freihoffer's cake and she said it would go well with her Meals on Wheels. I didn't see the cat and Uncle George's bedroom door was closed. The back door was also all closed up.
Aunt Maria's speech was rambling as she asked me, "Do you have a TV? Are you happy? Do you have any friends?" Later she recalled, "You were such a cute little kid, too bad you never had your own little kid." She described herself as "happy as a bug in a rug" adding, "I find I'm having an easy time dying." Her mind is declining, she even asked at one point if I lived in Springfield, but she is comfortable and her surroundings are reasonably neat and clean. I left at 2:59pm and got home at 3:33pm.
When I got back Mrs. Staniski called, wondering if I had the flu since I haven't been by. I told her I'm fine and will bring her some reading material soon. She said Ann won't be able to come until the day before Thanksgiving. Carol needs therapy for her knees. Socrates Babacas also called from 783-3598 and said he feels the stadium scam is dead. Babacas told me that Raipher Pellegrino is the son of a judge and Babacas doesn't think very much of him, claiming Pellegrino had to use his influence to become a judge because he couldn't make enough money in his law office. Raipher's mother is on the Police Commission.
Eamon called right after Babacas and told me he has been talking with A. Gingras some more about Commerce. Gingras described the school as "a study in total breakdown" and claimed that Jose Tosado is "totally taken in by Negroni because of their shared Latino background." The teachers have given up and no longer waste their time giving kids detention. The school has multiple administrators but most of them "don't do a damn thing." Each Principal works under a unique contract, but Eamon is finding it hard to get copies.
43 degrees and overcast at 8:15am.
Cat's Paw is located at 45 Parker Street in Indian Orchard. Paul J. Lapointe is President of the Massachusetts Twisters and Massachusetts Youth Indoor Soccer League.
Went to bed after midnight last night, then up at 8:15am, which is late for me. I headed out a 11:55am and made copies at Pride in the Acres. Then I drove down to the Duryea Museum and gave some copies of my history articles to Hess who is always cordial. They have now installed the original gas pump for the former Fire Station in the downstairs lobby.
Then out towards Indian Orchard, where I noticed on the way that Pizza Hut on Boston Road is closed, but a new one has opened where Jaycox was on Sumner Avenue. Red Lobster is also closed and up for sale. Their lobster prices were extremely high and they seemed interested in peddling everything else but lobster, especially shrimp. I went there once with my parents to dine, but we never went again because it was too expensive.
I stopped at the Eastfield Mall and found lots of cars parked around the cinema. The men's room is all fixed up, they must do their refurbishing work at night. Lowe's Hardware was taking job applications in the Food Court. I had two 49 cent burgers at their McDonald's. Across the road, Springdale Mall has been renamed Lowe's Plaza.
Left Eastfield about 1:25pm and headed to The Indian Orchard Mills. I paid two dollars to get in and they were serving crackers and cheese with a cash bar. David Bowerman, who did the sculpture I liked downtown, had two pieces on display but he himself wasn't around. Eamon told me once that Bowerman is a friend of Nader the Hatter. I especially liked Peter Barnett's sketches of Wales.
I had a good chat with Angel Pettis, who said she's a housewife who would rather do art than watch TV or read romances. She likes The Mills because of the company of the other artists. She also likes the old building with its antique features and how quiet it is, although she can sometimes hear people down the hall. She shares her studio with Julia Courtney, whose pieces I also admired.
In the gallery two guitarists, Joe Wilson and Victor Rosarie, were lightly strumming away. I had an interesting conversation with Ann Marie Kreybig, who said she would love to be an arts lawyer like me. Kreybig's son, a high school senior named Nicolas Manning, was playing Corelli on his violin. I spoke to the youth, who told me he is in the Amherst Orchestra this year. Kreybig's daughter, whose picture was on the door, is doing graduate work in Russian at Princeton, while another son is fluent in Latin and likes Greek history. A remarkable family.
It was raining as I drove from the Mills over to Trinity, where the parking lot was full so I parked in the street. I just ran in and grabbed a program, but a good crowd was there. When I got back home, I cooked up some brussel sprouts and dined on potatoes and onions. Eamon called and claimed that someone is replacing Michael Fay as Circulation head at the paper. Eamon also heard that Peter Picknelly has been buying a lot of land lately.
Overcast, windy, 37 degrees at 7:30am.
Dead men tell no tales, unless like me they kept a diary. A view of the inside of a library should be called "a bookscape." In an imperfect world the greatest source of imperfection is man. Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit is being performed at City Stage this month in honor of Coward's 100th birthday. Greniers Fine Photography is located at 850 High Street in Holyoke.
Temperatures are ten degrees below normal. I found a lot of clear glass in the street between my mailbox and Colleen. I swept it up. The decline of a neighborhood could be traced to the frequency of broken bottles in its streets, but ordinarily such trivial records are not kept. I went out at 8:15am and got the paper and the latest release by Tom Devine. I also got a copy of Moody's out of the trash. Then I brought a bag of things to Mrs. Staniski, who said she just got back from her morning walk. She had five bags of leaves sitting just inside her fence.
Got beets and broccoli and grapefruit at Angelo's. I also bought Hot Pockets with a coupon at Food Mart. I went to the 16 Acres Civic Association meeting to hear Pat Sullivan. The Association President Marshall Moriarty greeted me cordially. After Sullivan's talk on neighborhood improvements, I approached him and he told me he thought my TV appearance with Devine was "excellent." I told him that his Uncle Eamon is "one of the brightest minds in the city." When I got back The Reminder was hanging on my mailbox hook.
Ryder Truck called looking for Storrowtown. First I called Gale Research in California and they promised to send one of their posters that say, "Build Something Monumental - Your Library." I called Vannah at the Advocate but he wasn't in and their voicemail system is down. I called back later and got Vannah but he said he couldn't talk because he was racing to meet a 2pm deadline. He said he would call me back but never did. Then I called Charlie Ryan's office and left word that if he needs my legal help on Northgate I volunteer to do whatever I can. I also called Karen Powell about the essay by Richard Rodrigues "Old Neighborhoods and Baseball Stadiums." I told her it's about San Francisco, but some things in it are relevant to Springfield.
I called the Union-News and Kathy in the comptroller's office told me the paper's most recent circulation figures are accurate as of September. I then asked for Michael Fay and I was connected to a receptionist who said he is no longer with the company. I asked if they had a forwarding address for him, so she connected me to Fay's former secretary, who told me he is in Trenton, New Jersey but she doesn't have his phone number or address.
I had a bowl of vegetable soup in the evening. Eamon called and we discussed theories of management style and I told him Donald Dunn at WNEC Law Library was a manager who had excellent rapport with everyone and never let his employees down. Eamon said a management style is developed through "recurrent patterns of behavior exhibited over time" and not any single trait. Eamon says Nader the Hatter left for Florida today. Eamon also said he got a form letter from Mayor Albano urging him to donate to the Basketball Hall of Fame so he stamped BULLSHIT on it and returned it in the prepaid envelope.
I told Eamon about my trip to The Mills in the Orchard and told him I suspect Heidi Coutu paints from postcards and photos. Eamon told me that Doyle the Twig Painter has his paintings reprinted in Holyoke in large quantities in black and white and then colors them with watercolors "almost like painting by numbers." Eamon told me he spoke with reporter Kevin Claffey on the phone, who told him that "Larry has claimed another scalp" with the departure of Fay. Claffey described McDermott as "not well liked" at the paper because David Starr makes him do all the dirty work.
Sunny but cold, 35 degrees at 7:30am.
MassLive.com has a new slogan, "MassLive Means Business." Southpaw, a seller of used, rare and out of print books, is located in Conway, Massachusetts. I saw Kelly putting out more bags of leaves as I drove out first thing and made copies and got the paper out of the Louis & Clark trashcan. Then I got $9 in groceries at the Boston Road Big Y, after which I got an egg and bagel with a coupon at the McDonald's across the street.
Mark Goldberg called from Bluestone, so I told him not to call again and he politely apologized. Robert Connally 782-4905 called wanting to make reservations for a luncheon at Storrowtown. I said I get a dozen wrong numbers a week for Storrowtown and have given up feeling I have an obligation to be polite and then I hung up! Next I called TV22 and asked for the news department and got Mark Wiernacz. I told him that Brenda Garton erroneously referred to "Presidents Hamilton and Lincoln" in last night's broadcast. He said nothing so I went, "Good afternoon?" He replied, "Good afternoon." I said, "You're supposed to thank me for calling," but he hung up in my ear!
Tom Vannah from the Valley Advocate called and was apologetic about not getting back to me earlier. He said one of their reporters interviewed Richard Garvey "in Northampton" and he told them that David Starr doesn't like to be corrected. Garvey also told them that he doesn't like the direction Starr has taken the paper. Vannah told me he graduated from Bates in 1982 and was editor of the school paper there.
Eamon called and said loafing cops use the back lot of the Quadrangle to hide-out. He informed me he has written a letter to Chief Meara saying that although her Police Department looks good on paper, it really isn't working and she should spend less time at seminars and public relations events and more time managing the department. Eamon says he's gotten lots of calls regarding his current answering machine tape:
In 1989 Springfield's inept, rubberstamp School Committee hired the slick charlatan Superintendent Peter Negroni from the last place ranked, worst performing School District 12 in the Bronx. Mayor Albano called him "the biggest change agent in the country." Ten years later, Springfield has one of the worst performing school systems in the state. The only changes we've seen are high absenteeism, drop out and suspension rates, the lowest test scores, the doubling of Mr. Negroni's outrageous salary and some fancy new buildings built for children who can neither read nor write.
I never find copies of the Wall Street Journal in the trash can outside the SIS Center anymore. The CANE fundraiser to defray the legal costs associated with defending the stadium petition drive, will be held at the Italian American Veteran's Club in East Longmeadow on November 21st. The event includes a ziti dinner.
Called Gay at Baypath 565-1000 and told her about Margaret Thatcher's article in Hinsdale's Imprimis. She thanked me graciously. Libby Medina called from the Census and reminded me of my appointment. She told me to bring my driver's license and Social Security card and two references. The mail included something from Staccia, the Judge's Chambers and a lovely cartoon from Eamon showing the Springfield Public Schools portrayed as a ship sinking like the Titanic.
I headed downtown and parked at the Quadrangle for the premiere of the film Telling Our Stories: Massachusetts Public Libraries, where I found a copy of today's paper in a nearby trashcan. The front of the Pynchon Building is dug up for pipes and drains to service the Seuss sculptures. The film's premiere was held at the Davis Auditorium in the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts. The door to the art museum opened at 5pm and we were allowed to wander around. We each got a nice booklet about the event. There was free wine, Perrier, all sorts of food such as ham, chicken, meatballs, tomato soup, grapes, kielbasa on crackers, roasted potatoes and cashews. There were about 125 people present from the count I made at 5:45pm.
I saw David Starr being interviewed by WSPR. Emily Bader and Marjorie Guess spoke, as well as the filmmaker Maribeth Edmonds. City Councilor Bill Foley was present. I chatted with several people, including Commissioner Cameron and told him to his face that I think making a movie about the libraries is a waste of time and they should have spent the money on books. I also told him about how the state's Equal Opportunity Office made a film three or four years ago that was premiered at a wine and cheese party at MassMutual with guest speaker Scott Harshbarger. However, state law changed soon afterwards, making the film inaccurate so it was never publicly released, a year of work and bundles of money spent for nothing. He hurried away but remarked in departing, "I respect your opinion."
As for the movie itself, it is very good technically though not very enjoyable. The film featured the Belding Memorial Library in Ashfield, Bradford M. Field Memorial Library in Leverett, the Mason Square Library in Springfield and others, including of course the Boston Public Library. Filmmaker Edmonds is not from Massachusetts but has done films for other state agencies. She seems like somebody who has political connections, her filming skills are competent but the movie's narration included a lot of gibberish. I can think of no useful function the film serves so I am right, it is a waste of money.
Nice day, 55 degrees at 4:35pm. Gas is $1.27 around town.
Amazed to hear Tom Brokow tell the world that conservative Hillsdale College President Roche has had a 19 year secret affair with his daughter-in-law. He has resigned as president of the college and William Bennett, the goodie-goodie former Secretary of Education, has severed his connection to the school he described as "deep in scandal." I told Eamon they could use a Leatherman for president. Also in the news, a McDonald's has opened at the Peter Pan bus station where the pizza parlor was. WFCR says their fundraiser is over with more than 2,700 listeners contributing. My old lockermate from WNEC Law, Jay Nathaniel Michelman, is now advertising in the phone book with his picture.
This evening at 5:15 the Bright Lights at Forest Park turned on to a countdown by Sy Becker. This is their fifth season. Judy Matt was on saying over a million cars have gone thru in the last four seasons. She claimed that most of their success is due to always adding new stuff each year. A $15 a ticket fundraiser to help meet the legal expenses of CANE's efforts for a citywide referendum on the proposal to build a baseball stadium at Northgate Plaza will be held Sunday from 4-7pm in East Longmeadow. Robert G. Lange is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Letters.
I typed some this morning and then got a big pile of mail ready to go out. I left at 9am, and saw that Ballard Street is being patched where you drive out of Ashland. At the Breckwood Shops I put out the mail with Jeanne at Louis & Clark. I made copies at Pride, then dropped off some reading material at Eamon's. I noticed that the Salvation Army is gone over on Belmont. Along Bay Street I found on the edge of the road near Central High an abandoned milk crate from Crowley Foods in Binghamtom, New York. It is maroon with solid sides and hand holes rather than lattice, like most other crates. I am beginning to have quite a collection of milk crates.
I drove into the city and parked at the Quadrangle. I went in and looked at the Benton paintings carefully, then into W.V.Smith and looked at the textiles of India display. I also dropped off a letter for Bader in Periodicals and then walked down the hill, where I found today's paper in a trash receptacle. Before going home, I stopped at the Boston Road McDonald's and bought two fish sandwiches for $2.22.
Belle Rita Novak called and told me she has written a letter to the editor about a liquor store in her neighborhood. She agreed to meet me at First Church for the concert. Eamon called and said of thin women, "The closer to the bone the sweeter the meat." We discussed the deadly collapse of the bonfire at Texas A&M. Eamon described it as the biggest gung-ho jock school in the nation and 70% of all military officers are Texas A&M alumni. Eamon says he has sent a letter to the Education Commissioner urging him to audit all figures coming out of the Springfield school system because they are fraudulent.
Talked to Tom Devine and he says that the Valley Advocate is moving to Easthampton in March because their owner doesn't want pay the rent at their Hatfield mill location with a waterfall, which they also consider to be too remote. He told me my pictures of the Simon for Mayor rally got lots of hits. Devine asked if I was going to the Powell's fundraiser and I said no because I will be going to hear Bishop Marshall speak at St. Michael's. As for the news that Dan Yorke is leaving for a job in Rhode Island, Tom said it was a shame and he hopes it's just a ploy to get the station to pay him more money. He noted that Yorke is the only local talk show that lets the Powells come on. I told Tom to tell Yorke that he has always had my respect and I wish him well.
Overcast but very mild, 50 degrees at 7:30am.
A football player and a wrestler at Heidelberg College were arrested and expelled from school after being accused of videotaping themselves raping an unconscious woman and then showing the tape to other students.
In the middle of the night I completed eight sonnets. I spent most of today reading and writing. At 9:30am I left for my census exam. Everywhere on the way I saw people doing outdoor work. I had been told that my experience on past censuses was an adequate reference, but was told when I got there that they'd still like two more, so I gave them Stuart Graham and William Metzger, the WNEC Law professor who wrote on my Harvard form that I could use more education.
The test was given from 11:05 to 11:35 and I was out by 11:40am. The test was delayed five minutes because a Latino woman had to go to the toilet. While waiting, I cracked everyone up by asking if we could use calculators. From the exam I went to Dick's in West Springfield and bought a jock and cup and then dined at the Old Country Buffet, which is now the Hometown Buffet. I had the chicken dinner for $6.60 total.
Eamon called and said he just got off the phone with Jim Tillotson, who told him that he gets paid $70,000 by the school department, another salary from his elected post in Chicopee and a third salary administering G.E.D. tests to inmates at the jail. Tillotson expects his retirement pension will be worth at least $50,000 per year. Eamon also told me that Gingras called and said he has a class where 25% of the students are totally illiterate. No one at Commerce will tell you what the exact enrollment is and if you continue to ask you get reported to Negroni.
The funding for schools is based on the enrollment and Gingras suspects that the official numbers are inflated to get more money for the Springfield schools. Commerce is overstaffed, with some teachers having very few students. Buddy Langford has two students in one class and three in another. Some of those hired are political hacks, and Eamon claims that the Sheriff's Department is the same way. As an example, Eamon mentioned disbarred lawyer Daniel O'Malley, who works a job evaluating inmates. The mobster Jake Nettis has a son who has a big job at the county jail, and Al Bruno's son also has a jailhouse job.
Very mild, sun out, 55 degrees at 11:30am.
Tom Reilly is the Massachusetts Attorney General. Thomas J. Amidon, class of 1961, is President of the University of Vermont Alumni Association. I had a hum in my right ear part of the morning. At 10am I drove over to McDonald's and got hotcakes without sausages for $1.35. As I left the house there was an ambulance backed up to the chocolate colored house at 90 Birchland. On the way over to McDonald's I saw there was a large congregation gathered at Evangelical Covenant Church with around 40 cars in the parking lot. McDonald's was packed.
From there I headed downtown in my black jeans outfit and went to St. Michael's to hear the Bishop. I got their current ephemera and sat in the back pew on the left hand side. There were about 65 people there and the music was just dreamy. I had to leave 3/4 through however to meet Belle-Rita Novak at First Church for the concert. Belle-Rita says she likes Gershwin. Rev. Loeach was at the concert, turned and waved to Belle-Rita and then gave me an enormous smile when he realized we were together. The church has a new painting, a restored antique oval of Little Red Riding Hood, given by Jean Sessions of 29 Porter Drive, Agawam. We looked at a First Church picture book and it showed Fred Whitney's son, the Webers and John Sessions.
Following the concert, Belle-Rita invited me to her house for supper. I brought along two small bottles of Harvey's Bristol Creme. She said she doesn't drink but would serve them to guests. At one point she mentioned that she had an Uncle Emmanuel Miller on her mother's side. We had a wonderful repast of cheese and crackers, a tasty, tossed salad, bread, and a chicken and noodle casserole that was nicely flavored. We talked politics, she is mostly disappointed with what is going on in the city. On her walks she has found abandoned trash bags around and sometimes searches inside them for something with an address and then returns the bags by dropping them on the owner's doorstep. Belle-Rita is no nonsense.
I mentioned seeing the crowd at Evangelical Covenant and she described them as "extremely conservative." Belle-Rita noted that each week at the X Farmer's Market she gives a free table each week to a community group, and recently it was Mrs. Goad from Trinity, whom she thinks has a good way with people. She also revealed that she worked for two years at Brightwood Hardware and praised Community Feed in East Longmeadow. Belle-Rita suggested that the Tuesday Morning Music Club should invite a class from Homer Street School to each of their concerts since they are right by American International College. What a splendid idea! I bought an X Farmer's Market bag for $10 and departed. When I got home, Mrs. Penniman was out and said that her husband is "not doing too good."
Eamon claimed that he tried to join the Marines but they rejected him for having bad eyesight. He also announced that "someone" had leaked him some official attendance figures for the High School of Commerce. They show what Eamon called "shocking" levels of absenteeism, with attendance ranging from a high of 57% November 18th to as low as 37% on November 10th. Easmon said no one is checking or verifying any statistics, so they could be even worse. With the enrollment that low, the teachers have nothing to do and charging the taxpayers for kids that never show up is "getting money under false pretenses."
Eamon moaned that schools today pay too much attention to "silly ass computers" in order to keep the kids occupied and amused. He recalled that when he attended Glenwood there were seven teachers and a custodian. "Now there are 41 people there," Eamon exclaimed, "including teachers, supervisors, aides, it's unbelievable!" I told him that when I taught at Warner School all the teachers parked in the front or back of the school. Now they've paved over part of the playground and lawn to provide parking for all the staff. Eamon has tried to interest President Silber in these issues, but he says it should be handled by the local school board. Eamon has also sent the same material to Vannah at the Advocate but he has never done anything with it.