August 2005

August 3, 2005

I have quite a stockpile of stuff and if I were to live another fifty years I could complete a number of interesting projects.

Two tall thin guys with two tan cars at the impeccably gardened 1460 Wilbraham Road may be a gay couple. Suddenly there are signs for a lot of real estate brokers you never heard of before all over town. One is Richard Ravosa of Estate Realty, who I think is a nephew of Tony.

An old cop at Stop & Shop says Keough is singing like a canary. They're hiring a $60,000 PR person for the School Department with Wallace fund money. Is this for Beth Ward?

Belle Rita Novak was on TV very briefly saying that the Farmer's Market at the X, "has not been as successful as we'd like it to be." Things may change now that they're accepting food stamps. Eamon went to the downtown Farmer's Market at Steiger Park the other day and there were only four booths and some plastic chairs set up for the noontime music. Afterward he went to lunch with a lady friend at Lido's Restaurant which he described as "a filthy mess." Cost him $55 bucks.

The city has been plagued with months of senseless vandalism sprees and the other day they made some arrests. I'm dismayed to see that one of them is my neighbor Kevin McGee. At 2 p.m. I spotted the McGee kid sitting in a lawn chair in the garage eating a box lunch. I've known his Dad for some time and we're good friends. I told Kevin that his old man is very highly regarded around town.

When I asked Kevin what his interests are in school he said "basketball." I asked what he wants to be and he said a basketball coach. I told him that's good but you have to have something to go with it like a major in psychology or physiology. Sociology and political science are nice. Courses in business should be basic.

I couldn't come out and say it but if his only interest is basketball then his prospects are nearly zero. Instead I suggested that learning math isn't all that difficult if you do all the lessons as they come along and reminded him that there is no race discrimination when it comes to solving equations. I told him that math teachers are badly needed and it would be wonderful as a sideline for the math teacher to also be the school's basketball coach.

I could see that I wasn't reaching him and I started to get a little carried away. I said Birchland Avenue is an upper middle-class street, this is no ghetto, and there is a lot of talent on this street and if you feel you need help of any kind the expertise is here to lend it. I said I would help with English and maybe history. I found I was almost crying and apologized saying I'm not very strong, but we all love you and want you to succeed and if you need help you should ask for it. He said nothing but stared at his sneakers and so I left.

August 6, 2005

A humid 76 degrees this morning.

Dean Wilson of Amherst told our class that a liberal education "prepares you for nothing" and I was determined to get my money's worth. I had heard about all these great authors and I wanted to read them. The bullshitting papers that I had to write about them, sometimes squeezing lemon juice from grapes, was the price I had to pay. Too much imagination and theory has ruined literature.

Bought two cantaloupes at 800 Boston Road Big Y (Cooley Y is 300 Cooley). The first one is flavorless, no sweetness at all. Two enormous price increases for Springfield. Bulk trash pick-up has been $2 per sticker but effective September 1st it will be $12 per sticker. Before it goes up I am dumping the VCR and the rusty garden wheelbarrow. The second price increase is in parking fees: Double parking meter to 50 cents from 25 cents per hour and extend the parking fees a couple of hours into the evening. In a city like this the $12 pick-up fee is going to greatly increase the amount of junk illegally dumped around town. We should be eliminating parking fees downtown. There's nothing to go down and park for! Ryan has turned out to be a path of least resistance mayor, even when the results are absurd.

10:58am I chatted with Eamon. He said Bill Rice has left the Springfield Schools for Agawam, and up to 200 teachers may leave Springfield by September. Eamon said he has 23 nieces and nephews. His father had six children but never had a car. He walked to work or took a bus. Eamon says of his parents, "They had no business having so many children and wouldn't have except for the Catholic Church!"

Eamon said that throughout the 90's Ryan had uncommon access to former Mayor Albano but did nothing about the way the city was headed. Ryan's son Tim was on the Council, his son James was on the Park Commission and nephew Kevin Sears was on the Planning Board. Yet Ryan lacked the coattails to get James and Kevin on the Council in the last election.

Went to the Martin Luther King Center vigil against war in connection with the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. There were about 20 people in the vigil including me. I held up a "Get Out of Iraq" sign painted on red on white poster board. Michaelann B. had a pile of posters to use over and over, you select the one you want. The librarian marching next to me had one opposing the draft. She said she used to work for AIC but now works for the telephone company dealing with Spanish speaking customers. There was a photographer from the newspaper present and TV people. Three monks played fan drums.

Inside the MLK Center itself (the janitor had not unlocked the men's room) they had about 20 or 30 chairs set up, a long table with vegetarian food on it and three tables of literature. I paid two dollars for a white button showing Bush dressed up like Osama reading, "Bush and Osama - Partners in Crime." Also got a copy of ARISE's creative writing anthology Words of the People. Very good, I like this poem by "Joushlyn W."

That damn witch, I hate her.
She a low down dirty hoe.
Why do she even bother?
She thinks she puts fear in my heart
I don't think so.
At least I know who to trust and not to trust.
Yeah, she sure burned her bridge completely down
Or shall I say broom.
Always totin' that nasty cat around.
She's better off with a dog
Like the dog she is.
That damn witch.

August 9, 2005

First thing this morning I called Colleen and asked if she wanted some blackberries and she was enthusiastic. I said for her and Sis to enjoy them and not feel she has to give me something. 12:24 pm over to the Boston Road Big Y and walked around curiously looking at things. It is amazing all the food products there are.

Women's sandals lately in the news are called flip-flops. So my boots must be clump-clomps.

Channel 57 ran Antiques Roadshow over and over again last night in the wee morning hours. They ran it at least three times yesterday. That's not really around-the-clock programming.

Bewsee of ARISE gives Tory Field a lot of credit for the Ward Representation lawsuit. She says the lawsuit has put ARISE $3,000 in debt.

Peter Jennings the ABC news anchor died. He seemed younger than 67 and was very clean and professional in his presentations.

Five churches in the North End have been vandalized in the last few days. Overnight a Tiffany window that was recently restored at St. George's was smashed. Plus we have a steady rhythm of shootings. City of Homes has become City of Homicides.

Eamon called tonight. I told him that the reason people have to die is because they get smart and figure out life and see how futile and phony and boring it is. Eamon said his brother Raymond the fire chief told him before he died in 1998 that the city would be kaput in five years. He was almost right, it was actually six years before Springfield went under the Control Board.

August 13, 2005

76 degrees at 7 am.

I owe Tom Shea a copy of Edwards which he gave a legitimate puff. I owe Maureen Turner a book or two. After all....

I remember as a kid we occasionally went to movies, preferably at the drive-in (Parkway out where Home Depot is now) more rarely to the Arcade, the Capitol or the Paramount. I recall that a fair sometimes set up at the intersection of Wilbraham Road and Lakeside at the top of the hill, where the new MassMutual back building has gone up. Mother took me on the Ferris wheel there one year. And whereas other kids had a nickle or more to spend on a Fudgicle or Popsicle on the way home from school each day (big business at Williams Spa or Pederzoli's) I never bought such stuff or even bubble gum for the baseball cards. We saved a lot of money in my childhood by cutting out the nonsense.

In college Dr. McBride was my French professor, he was the world's authority on Benjamin Franklin's time in France. I think he was gay. He had the most ornate collection of French antiques in his apartment. He said he had been married but his wife once threw a tantrum and smashed all the glass antiques. He told me I'd never get married - must have figured me out!

August 14, 2005

A torrential downpour with thunder and lightening at 2:41 and 2:57 a.m.

Do unto others before they do unto you.

The bank outlet at Boston Road Big Y is still closed, no new tenant ever found.

Drove to Stop & Shop and a short white business type jock in a silver Chevy 510SVE was unwrapping food item and dropped the wrapper on the pavement. I shouted at him, "Pick up your litter!" He just snarled and got in his vehicle and drove away.

In an article on Mullen, the new President of Elms College and his commitment to excellence, the paper had the headline, "College President Committed." Oh well, I prefer to read of a Catholic college president sent to the nuthouse rather than a Methodist one.

I feel that geography is very important and I think that postcards, then, are the best hobby because there are just a few pictures on stamps and even fewer pictures on coins and both are expensive, but with postcards the travel, the seeing and the learning never ends and it is wonderful. Important historical information can hang on a post card. Pictorially they often preserve the best image of a building that no longer exists. And what is most important in a postcard picture frequently is not the building in the middle but whatever is around the edges. The building may have survived, but the buildings seen around the edges may have been replaced.

My postcard collections began with two fat old albums inherited (about the only thing I inherited) from Grandmother Blanche Simpson Gleason Wilson who died in the Influenza Epidemic. From childhood on I have always collected postcards.

In the "golden age" of the postcard just about everything and anything got on a card. Nowadays postcards are dead and while advertising cards have burgeoned and lots of things get on cards that way, generic drugstore cards are very routine. Here in Springfield the cards on sale are basically displayed on one stand with maybe twenty cards on it but the cards are usually one per town. For example, you get a Westfield card with the Atheneum on it, or for Springfield you get the Basketball Hall of Fame, Northampton has the Academy of Music and Holyoke shows off its City Hall.

Homer Street School was never on a postcard. I went to their 100th anniversary open house and it is essentially unchanged. The birdbath out front is no longer there. The Homer Street garden with its beautiful rose bushes are long gone.

I sometimes give postcards away, but the recipients have not always been grateful. I remember that Mrs. Pelto of the 16 Acres library once declined to send me a thank you note for a display I did of Easter postcards saying she "didn't have time." Years later she came voting at the polls where I was an official but I was pleasant to her. The following card of the original Lady of Hope Church in Hungry Hill I had a double of so I gave it to Moriarty of Elms for his archives and never really got a satisfactory thank you for it.

August 18, 2005

Heavily overcast this morning. Went out first thing and took blackberries and plums to Mrs. Mudry and she gave me two large tomatoes and a zuccini squash.

No getting around it, trashcans have always been one of my favorite databases. Yes, I have swiped info out of wastebaskets on a number of occasions.

Rixon called at 10:24. He will arrive Thursday shortly after nine. His wife can't come.

Peace vigil in Northampton last night. For years Charlie Ryan was adamantly opposed to Ward Representation and now he's for it, which shows you really can teach an old dog new tricks. Ward Representation will more closely reflect the diversity of people living in Wards 1-3-4 and 5 and not be dominated by the career politicians from Wards 6-7 and 8.

Visited Hess and his wife served us a pitcher of lemonade on a tray. Hess talked about missing historic items, says that the janitor who lived in Blake House before it was moved took stuff with him that later turned up for sale on the internet. He also said that Dorothy Mozley loaned a lot of stuff to people doing research for the bicentennial, but the material never came back.

Eamon called and said Charlie Ryan has been "anti-union all his life, has always backed bricks and mortar." Ryan is planning a fundraiser at St. Anthony's at $20 a ticket. I saw a Ryan for Mayor sign on Puritan Road and a yellow and black Ashe for Mayor sign in the window of the nails shop in the Acres. Ryan is now wearing high-cut Keds sneakers. My Aunt Lucille always wore them.

I found one of those itsy bitsy green plastic drug bags on Chestnut Street. They are everywhere.

Masonic Temple now has a for sale banner tied up over the front door in addition to the sign out front. It was built in 1923-26 by the A.E. Stevens Co. which also built the Municipal Group. Old Masons are spinning in their grave, you bet. Springfield Masonry dates back to 1817.

August 21, 2005

Beautiful blue sky and puffy clouds.

I had blackberry shortcake for breakfast. My weight is 205 lbs.

Received a mysterious phone call today from someone saying they are in Indiana and looking for a David Miller he knew in Chestnut Jr. High about 1956. He said he hasn't been back to Springfield in 45 years. He said he heard that the Irish and Italians are sharing power and they're all crooked. He said he graduated from Tech. I told him that Tech is no more but that he should write to Central High where they keep the old transcripts and ask if they have an address for his friend David Miller, who is no relative of mine.

On my identifier I saw that his phone number is 818-747-5195. The phonebook has 818 as a California number. Is something fishy here? Later I tried calling that number and I got a "call cannot be completed as dialed" message. So it was a phony call. What are they up to?

Princeton Review says Wisconsin is the top party school in the land and UMass is number nine. UMass is mad!

The Springfield fireman's union has delivered another no-confidence vote to their Chief Cassinelli, whom a female firefighter said on TV is good at the books but not practical realities.

Eamon called at 10:29 and says that Karen Powell hasn't called him for months. However today her name appeared on his identifier but she hung up without speaking. Eamon figures his current tape critical of Ryan "probably blew her off the deck." Eamon feels that Ryan has failed to implement enough reforms and has treated Police Chief Meara too generously after firing her.

Mayor Ryan has been sending emails to Jim Landers asking him to do things but Landers is ignoring him. Ryan has a selective memory - Landers did a lot of work for him but got no reward and Eamon did a lot of research for him but the last time he went to see Ryan he was turned away by Bruce Fitzgerald. Eamon asked me to call Powell and sound her out.

So I called Karen and she was "on another line" but called back sixteen minutes later. She said she doesn't like the tax rollback petition drive by Peter Paul Nicolai that Eamon is also involved with. I told Karen about my relationship with the 16 Acres Civic Association (of which she is no longer a board member) and what I think of Concepcion. I told her I would support Ryan and we agreed that Maureen Turner's article on the Mayor in the Valley Advocate was splendid! Later Eamon called and we chatted about my conversation with Karen and he suggested that I keep in touch with the Powells.

August 22, 2005

Somebody left a bag of shit in an orange newspaper bag in front of my house.

Past weekend was the Wilbraham Peach Festival and the fifth annual Carnival for Caribbean Peoples in Springfield. Rolling Stones tour in Boston. Mick Jagger is 62 now.

Channel 57 says they have to raise $100,000 by the end of August. A group is forming called Cop Watch to monitor the doings of police cracking down on prostitutes and drug dealing. Hope to ensure cop professionalism.

There is a very personable black man named Richard Little who has an impeccably tidy and cute hat shop called The Brim and Crown in the Boland Building a couple of doors down from Mike Curran of A-1 Antiques. We talked about Nader the Hatter and about Mr. Posey. I told him that Nader is now in Florida.

Then to downtown. The foundation of the new courthouse on State Street is well along. Also, I wonder if they are putting lead on some of the St. Michael's roof where there was either copper or slate. Some of the reflections coming off the work look like new lead. Scaffolding still up all over the place.

Passed the McGee kid on his bike when I came home. We waved to each other.

August 23, 2005

I purchased the King William the III print. Curran says it came out of an old house. The 1981 "Springfield Renaissance" print on the other hand came from Jim McNamara whose Dad owned the Tic Toc now the Pour House, the old man was Tom McNamara. Eamon knew them all. Tom is dead, Jim is still alive.

At Stop and Shop on Liberty gas is $2.53.

The mailman was here unusually early.

The vote of no confidence in Fire Chief Gary Cassinelli was 81%.

Eamon called talking about a Burlington priest who was batted about from place to place but never defrocked. I asked Eamon why if a priest gets cute with a little red-headed kid why the other priests don't tell on him to the authorities and get it stopped? It's not done said Eamon. "They do not make derogatory remarks about fellow priests, it was made clear to me years ago by my cousin Father Edward M. Callahan."

In other conversation Eamon says the III in Francis G. Keough III "is bullshit" since he is an adopted son.

August 25, 2005

Gas at Island Pond is $2.55

How August has fled, but I have been doing a lot.

Out to grand opening of Boston Road Dunkin' Donuts. They had kids outside dressed up in latte and donut suits. I went in and bought a single donut for 80 cents and at that price I didn't feel like leaving a tip. The Hurst's have a fancy new newspaper office out on Boston Road opposite Price Rite. Painted sort of maroon with white trim.

Yesterday there were two men distributing anti-homosexual literature at the corner of Main and Boland. "No Civil Unions" their t-shirts said.

Economic Development Director Thomas McColgan has resigned amidst reports that he is a subject of the corruption probe. He is a close friend of Raipher Pellegrino.

Burke is on the media saying "the schools will be staffed with qualified professionals."

My friend John Rixon came for a visit. He sat right behind me in J.B. McGuire's 12th grade homeroom at Classical High and has been a friend ever since. He arrived about 9:45 this morning and we discussed the current state of Springfield. John recalled how he was living across from AIC in the '60's during the time that Mayor Ryan called out the National Guard due to race riots. John said the little grocery store where he used to buy bread and milk was burned.

I proposed we visit Forest Park and John very much liked the idea because the park was John's childhood neighborhood and he hasn't been back in there "for forty years." We got to Forest Park and admission was only $2 and the place was beautiful and John really appreciated it. I took his picture by the gazebo. John remembered the vista that used to lead to a "V" hedge at the far end of the lake and into the Stockade.

August 26, 2005

Gas is now ten times what it was when I was a child.

George Bush addressed the nation and said service in the military is the noblest thing you can do. So when do his twin daughters enlist?

Although he promotes himself as a "labor leader" I notice that Clodo Concepcion does not have a union label on his campaign literature.

The Pepe's have a cottage somewhere in Vermont and go up there every weekend. Feds looking into Mass Mutual head O'Connell. Eamon is currently interested that so many of the financial women in City Hall are former employees of Mass Mutual or CIGNA (a Mass Mutual subsidiary).

A dead raccoon was found in the filter of the Springfield water system.

Mayor Ryan had a fundraiser last night at El Pilon, a very clean little foreign restaurant across from Our Lady of Hope. When I walked in a white lady was at a table blocking the way between the front and back areas. I pulled out my checkbook and not knowing the admission fee asked if $20 would do and she replied, "That's great!" Only later did I realize that the suggested price was $50.

Ryan had not yet arrived. At no point was there more than twenty-seven people, including the restaurant help and the Ryan staffers. Most present were people of ethnic connection. Everybody was friendly and we all shook hands. First I spoke to three attentive white ladies from Longmeadow about the city libraries. Then I met a Council candidate named Navazio who is a slender, clean-cut and articulate Navy vet who I feel I will vote for. Another candidate named Santiago is a chunky Tech graduate who says he's worked at the state prison for twenty years. Not so sure about him.

Ryan arrived and when he saw me in my troublemaker uniform (ARISE cap, jacket with buttons) he burst into a cackle. Mayor Sullivan of Holyoke also put in an appearance. I chatted with Mayor Ryan's aide but I don't know if the woman with him was his wife Judy or his girlfriend Sylvia.

There was food: Big tubs of salsa, flats of celery, little carrots, broccoli, cheese dips and small samples of deep fried chicken. I ate some of the food and was joined by a man with a cane, Michael Denny of New North, who said his wife is on the Library Commission. The bar must have been cash because no one was drinking much. I whispered to Mayor Sullivan, "This district used to be called Hungry Hill, but they've renamed it San Juan Hill." He laughed.

Eventually they had a small program. Several times the MC said, "Mr. Mayor, this is your home!" Ryan spoke briefly and said, "How beautiful Springfield is with its mosaic of nationalities, it is the American dream being played out over and over again." He called the Albano Administration "just plain bad." Shortly after he spoke Ryan had to skip out to attend a school committee meeting. I was home by 7:55.

August 29 2005.

Heavily overcast this morning, 76 degrees.

Fights make more interesting reading than Methodist Sunday School picnic programs ever will.

In 1922/23 my Mother worked for Edward S. French of the Boston and Maine Central Rail Road.

The former Springfield Lincoln-Mercury building at 1355 Boston Road, vacant for three years, is being demolished. Palmer Grange building, built in 1848, is for sale. Wilbraham Grange Hall in trouble too.

WNEC business dean Stanley Kowalski is stepping down and returning to teaching. A.I.C. = Almost In College.

John Y. Hess of East Longmeadow has the largest collection of Springfield postcards. I have a policy of not bidding against him. I won about 2,000 Springfield cards and I also collect the surrounding towns, especially Wilbraham.

Called Pearsall the Wilbraham Town Planner and asked him when the dedication will be of the land I donated to the town in my parent's name. He said he anticipates that work on the property would be done by next summer. I told him I'm getting more radical all the time and if I'm in the state penitentiary next year we can have the dedication by conference call.

Chatted with Eamon in the afternoon. He says that the Spfld newspapers have been calling him regularly for the last several weeks for info since he has been criticizing Ryan, but they never quote him. Eamon also says that School Superintendent Burke called his message today and swore at him while adding, "That's what you get for voting for Charlie Ryan!"

Eamon said the school committee was concerned about the creation of unnecessary jobs in public relations and communications. He says Burke never informs the committee of anything. Antonette Pepe especially has problems getting information while others get information with less trouble. Mayor Ryan said straight out: "These are elected officials and they are entitled to all information."

I had to go to Lewis & Clark to make copies. That's where I found some Clodo Concepcion campaign lit. Then over to the Pine Point Library with only three cars in the parking lot. I went in and looked at the site for the International Leather Association.

Channel 22 reported that somebody died and Charlie Ryan is now the oldest mayor in the USA. 22 also reports that the new Civic Center doesn't have proper handicapped access facilities. The former one had them added but they were ripped out in the renovations. So there's another million?

22 has not had Big Y (or anybody else) sponsored Backyard Barbecues this summer. You could fill out an application form (it helped to have a swimming pool and a pretty garden and a half dozen or so hungry neighbors) and Big Y would supply the food. Somebody from Big Y would do the cooking and Sy Becker would do the talking. None of them this year. It's hard to remember things that no longer exist, and we often don't remark on things that are new.

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