February 2005

February 1, 2005

19 degrees first thing, a sunny, lovely winter day.

This is National Bubblewrap Day. It is also Black History Month. The whites get the other eleven months and after all, February is the shortest month.

Named after a colonial governor, Dummer Academy is planning to change its name. Peter Jennings signed off from Iraq saying, "The war is far from over."

Longmeadow schools are using dress codes to forbid girls showing bare midriffs and boys showing their underwear.

In the mail today I got a tube that looked like a pipe bomb but it was an umbrella, my "free gift" from the Western Mass Regional Library System.

Control Board on TV scolded the City Council for voting 5-4 against the changes to save money on insurance. Kateri Walsh called it a "philosophical vote."

Headed downtown and parked on Eliot St. by the rectory and walked down the hill to the School Department. Left some stuff with Burke's secretary and gave Pat Walsh my items for the School Committee. Then down to Court Square where the first thing I noticed was that the water fountain had been vandalized. It is a big tall cast iron replica of a Bartholdi-type fountain, looks like some football player pushed against the section above the basin that catches the water and bent it by five or six degrees.

Then I went to City Hall and left a Springfield postcard for all department heads except for Pat Markey, with whom I have had difficulties in the past. Left one for all the staffers in Ryan's outer office and one for Bruce Fitzgerald. Barbara Garvey came in and I personally handed her a postcard. I gave City Clerk Metzger five extra cards. Out of City Hall I finally made my way to the Civic Center offices. I gave a postcard to Hurwitz's secretary and she gave me a glitzy Civic Center brochure. She was very friendly. Back to the car at 11:37 and decided not to stop at the Quadrangle.

Assistant to the Superintendent Dr. Mary E. Beach has an article in the Afro-Am Point of View newspaper regretting the use of "educationalese." That word is not in the dictionary, it is an impropriety concocted by some dumb educationist. Education degrees are the scum of the university. They don't know their own jargon, yet they make resolutions about and write essays about the jargon they don't even know. Dr. Beach should evaluate her own accountability and ask if it might be "soft discrimination" that got her where she is.

Chief Executive Officer John L. Doleva says the Basketball Hall of Fame had a operating loss of about $750,000 in 2004. Projections of up to 400,000 visitors have not been met, only 242,000 showed up. Three workers laid off.

The funeral for former Republican (Union-News) editor Carroll Robbins covered in the paper. D.A. Bennett, McDermott, Brian Long and Wayne Phaneuf reported to be in attendance. Councilor Vincent DiMonaco once told Eamon about having lunch with Robbins and David Starr at which Starr told them he didn't think Eamon was "good for Springfield." Eamon then offered to take all of them out for lunch to talk about it but Starr said he wasn't interested. Thus arose the enmity between Starr and Eamon.

February 3, 2005

A bright sunny, shadow-casting day. North Wilbraham Mobil is $1.95 per gallon.

Mrs. Staniski gave me a little bag of Goldfish Graham Snacks. Father loved graham crackers. Irving Cohn says his wife is getting worse but is in good humor. Ray Herschel says he went to UMass "and I teach there too."

I'm considering investing in nanotechnology, IBM is deeply into it and also Lucent which has the Bell Laboratories and lots of patents. As for my Mutual Fund, turns out I have to pay tax on the gains reported so it looks like I have more taxes to pay! Went at 3:30 to the Pine Point Library for additional tax forms, I saw Karen Powell working there but didn't have time to talk.

Went to the Wilbraham Town Offices and left Tonya some stuff in her department, left something for Beall on her desk and Pearsall met me at the counter and suggested I might end up in jail, perhaps Guantanamo.

Stopped into Kentucky Fried Chicken but their chicken is outrageously priced so I went to Stop & Shop and bought some dented cans of fruit and a nice package of chicken leg quarters on special for $1.99 per pound. In the produce aisle I ran into Mrs. Charles Ryan who was looking for a certain kind of grape. She said she wishes that Eamon wouldn't criticize her husband so much.

WFCR was talking about the making of the Quabbin Reservoir this morning with interviews with old-timers. Came across as something forced on us by Boston. There were local protests at the time, but Rev. Roland Sawyer told them that most wouldn't have to move, but that wasn't so. It was also done during the Depression when housing values were low so people weren't paid much for their property. Boston bastards.

Jim Polito on TV40 reported on a new study by the Brookings Institute which says there are "too many convention centers and not enough business," suggesting that the Springfield Civic Center renovation may be "a day late and a dollar short." Manager S. Hurwitz was interviewed and said we will succeed because of "our many entertainment and amusement spots and our many hotel rooms."

Marlene Znoy called, that means Povirk is hoping to get some money out of me for his winter sale, but I already have a house full of books.

Joseph Carvalho was appointed by Governor Romney to the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities.

Landers and I chatted a bit, he says the Athens Restaurant across from the Hippodrome that has been there for years will close this summer. Owner says they used to have a good business 6-9 mornings but so much has closed up downtown he doesn't even have that anymore.

Eamon called at 9:51. He said that he heard that Russell's Restaurant on Boston Road is closing. That has been a popular middle-class and elderly eating place for decades. Tommy Devine went over there a lot. Eamon is also disgusted that the Police Commission didn't come down harder on the officers who pulled the school official having a diabetic attack out of the window of his car rather than opening the door. Added that Antonette told him that the city will not be going into receivership. Finally Eamon told me he doesn't think I'm "appreciated." He says I'm "tinkering around the edges" and nobody cares. Probably true.

February 4, 2005

Overcast, 34 degrees on the breezeway, three inches of snow.

"Work is more fun than fun." - Noel Coward

Michael Meeropol of WNEC has an article in the paper calling the Bush Administration's Social Security reform plan "a scam."

When I arrived as a student at Harvard I found that there was another J. Wesley Miller enrolled there, a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy. We formed the two members of the J. Wesley Miller Club. I have a coded series of forms of my name which I use for different purposes and mailing lists: John Wesley Miller III (formal) J. Wesley Miller (regular) Jack Miller (informal) Jake Miller (porn mail) Joseph Miller (Catholic) and Jacob Miller (Jewish). Adele J. Conachie at Buckingham could scream a troublemaking kid into submission in five seconds with no touching. Dr. Walter H. English was my 8th grade English teacher at Buckingham. He was wonderful, everybody loved him and in later years he became Professor of Humanics (a balderdash term) at Springfield College. He was a fine, polished black gentleman with a sense of humor and broad interests.

I contrast him with Randolph Bromery, the black geologist we are supposed to revere. I don't like the way he treated the Rev. Ken Childs at Springfield College. Childs was the campus pastor and contributed to intellectual ferment. Bromery didn't like that and fired him. While moving out of his office Childs had a heart attack and died. Bromery had a bad attitude just like David Starr, and for that I shall always disesteem him.

The street upon which I live is an avenue of custom built small homes. The typical house has 5-7 rooms, a fireplace, one or two garages, lots of trees, manageable rather than large lots. My diary is in part a history of Birchland Avenue and its people.

I found a little bag of what looked like seeds, stems and colored pills in the snow by United Bank in 16 Acres. Parking lot was full, there is commerce, it just doesn't go downtown anymore. I always look into trash cans. Once a local property appraiser had all his papers out on the curb. I found in the pile a rare fat booklet issued by the Homebuilders Association giving a picture and floor plan of all the different housing developments that went up here in Sixteen Acres. On another occasion I found the papers of the head of the Technical High School Physics Department out on the curb.

Went over to Russell's Restaurant to get one of their menus, recall I had no luck getting a menu out of them several years back when Devine was living near there on Breckwood and used to go there a lot. I stopped by at 3:24 and a cultivated black man came to the door and said they were closed, only open now from 6-3, no evenings. But I did manage to get a Wilbraham Middle School Tsunami Relief Tag Sale poster, which is remarkable because it is an example of reverse flow postering. Ordinarily people in the city poster in the suburbs, but this is a rare instance of the suburbs postering in the city.

Nicholas A. Fyntrilakis has resigned from the School Committee due to conflicts of interest from his job at Mass Mutual. Antonette Pepe told Eamon that she suspects Pat Walsh intercepts her School Committee mail.

Intrigued by rumors about Advanced Energy Group Inc. which is supposedly doing a lot of wiring for the School Department. They are presently at 32 Hampden and School Committee member Thomas Ashe, who left a job as Director of Education at the Hall of Fame now works for them. Indeed when I called this morning pretending to be a wrong number Ashe answered the phone. Eamon heard something about Bill Fitzgerald, and Bill Murphy and perhaps even Burke's wife may be tied in. The 32 Hampden office was just set up in the last two months and is run by James M. Quinn. There is also an Universal Electric with interlocking directorates and James Quinn is the owner of both. Wonder if they have done electrical work for Albano and ex-rep Dennis Murphy, both of whom have new homes which would have needed electrical work. Quinn a supporter of both Mike Albano and Linda Melconian. Looking for rigged bids and kick-backs.

Gerald A. Phillips is volunteering in the kitchen at the Warming Place homeless shelter in the basement of 33 Chestnut Street.

February 5, 2005

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." - Albert Einstein.

Few people understand that a complaint is a gift.

Remember the good die young, and too many of them in Iraq, Vietnam and other foolishness.

The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation gave a million to the Red Cross for tsunami disaster relief.

The only flaw I have ever spotted in President Caprio of Western New England College is that he is a Columbia trained language professor who doesn't belong to the Modern Language Association.

The mail today brought a nice letter from Mayor Ryan:

Dear J. Wesley,

I've received your latest missive and the postcards you enclosed. Without a doubt, yours are the most colorful and informative letters I receive.

Thanks for the postcards, the compliments and for your expressions of support for what the Control Board is doing.


Charles V. Ryan

If it's true that Messrs. Gotterer and Kingston have at various points over the years been on the Mass Mutual payroll involved in doling out unreported illegal cash contributions to federal, state and local candidates and officials - how can I get in on the money?

I keep a record of everything I do, everywhere I go, and my observations on the changes. I have watched our libraries and museums especially carefully over the years. Also I live in 16 Acres and have grown up here and seen it change and recorded the changes. I have the Grand Opening sign for the Burger King that closed five years ago!

In my youth the arguably most distinguished surgeon in the city was one Stanley S. Stusick, a gentleman of Polish Catholic heritage who was known for his goodness. He attended Mother several times and she preferred the Ludlow hospital where his portrait eventually hung in the front lobby.

A pianist himself, Dr. Stusick married Alice Mikus of Chicopee, who had been a child prodigy and was Harpist in the Springfield and Hartford Symphonies. She had a sister Irene Mikus who graduated from the Elms and was best known for her promotion of bell ringing. And there was a brother, Karl Mikus, a graduate of Bay Path, known as "The Piano Man" who often performed with Irene. Once Irene performed in an assembly at Buckingham Junior High when I was there, playing, among other novelties, "The Flight of the Bumblebee" on the violin while holding it behind her back!

February 6, 2005

33 degrees, sunny, mild, clear blue sky.

All history is a series of anecdotes.

In Google We Trust.

Patriots won the Superbowl.

TV40 says fewer fans are showing up at Falcons hockey games this year.

Kids snowboarding on the gentle hill between Moss Road and the school. When I was a kid we sledded on the hill by the House of Good Shepard behind Mass Mutual.

Arrived at the Quadrangle at 11:23 and into the library. I looked at the freebie counter and they were tossing lots of Rolling Stone magazines and the Canadian newsmagazine Maclean's. Got the Rolling Stone on Allen Ginsberg and the Maclean's on the fate of the Dionne Quintuplets. Later to McDonald's and dined on a fish sandwich and a 99 cent salad which had five tomatoes in it!

My grandfather J. Wesley Miller, a Methodist minister, journalist and Democrat in the Vermont Legislature, kept a diary called All My Days for Jesus throughout his life until the eve of his death. My father was a Life Underwriter, with a serious hearing impairment, who left behind a history of the Monarch Life Insurance Credit Union. In my youth I wrote a history of Buckingham Junior High School, the history of music at Classical and a history of the Springfield Symphony. I have always been a facts orientated rather than an imaginative person. Mark Benbow, the finest English professor I ever had, told me that I am "simple and literal minded" to which I replied, "Yer damn tootin!"

We have Newhouse owned newspapers but our local alternative newspaper is the Valley Advocate, run by Tom Vannah, a Bates grad and Maureen Turner, a Haverford grad with a journalism degree from North Carolina. The clowns on the Newhouse paper don't have degrees like that. The staff of the Advocate and I are friends.

Springfield was once a great city. Today it is in the hands of a Commonwealth appointed Control Board which is trying to avoid putting the city into receivership. There is nothing left. Our City Council is the same old grandstanding stupid people who are really worse than a chamber of Student Government representatives. At least the FBI is trying to clean up our town.

February 8, 2005

32 degrees at 7:30, sunny. Gas at Watershops Pond is $1.89.

Everywhere people are coming up with bright ideas that aren't so bright.

Affordable Auto Glass has a commercial in which the manager says, "We do a lot of repeat business." Is he saying that a lot of people smash up their car more than once?

Went downtown and at the Peter Pan bus terminal they have a heated pond with goldfish in it along with the Statue of Liberty but not all the planting they formerly had. In the glass interior wall of the waiting room is a display of photos of Peter Picknelly and family at all stages. A photo with Mayor Albano and Police Chief Meara, Picknelly with mother, one with dad. Not heavy on bus pictures but family and social pictures.

There were three ARISE people standing in front of the Federal Building. One had a homeless sign, another held an anti-war sign and a couple of signs were stuck in the snow. I asked the mature lady at the desk of the downtown information desk if St. Francis is open again. She said she didn't know where it was. I said it's a thousand feet thataway! "We can't know everything," said she. Seems like everybody with a city service job is stupid and wants a raise. Walked over to St. Francis and the cross on the front is gone but it looks fixed up. Chapel was closed, but three Masses were posted for Ash Wednesday, Bishop officiating at noon.

In Tower Square I saw a man with a white t-shirt that said, "Geriatric Authority of Holyoke Gives Terrible Care."

Walked into Miller Picture Framing. Their left front window was smashed last night but they said nothing was stolen. Three of them working, dad Paul Hutchinson and sons Robert and James. Robert is married and the very personable James is gay. Wives sour and stifle men so gays are generally more youthful and friendly in attitude. Old man Hutchinson used to work for Mrs. Miller, then bought the business. It was located on Worthington, then Chestnut, then on Main Street near Johnson's Bookstore, now for many years on Bridge. I gave Jim three postcards and we talked about how dead downtown has become.

I stopped in for a moment at Athen's Restaurant which Jim Landers said is closing. Used to do a good breakfast trade but now a greasy-walled room with a row of 50's style booths. Sidewalks covered with grime and litter and lottery tickets. Back to the car at 11:40. Home at 12:01.

Drove out again at 2:12 to Boston Road Pizza Uno to use a five dollar coupon expiring in a few days. Had beer, steak with rice and a side salad. The waitress remembered me from the time when Nader and Eamon and I dined there in the same booth. I gave her a five dollar tip and she gave me a survey to fill out for a $6 coupon, but it had to be done online. I stopped at the 16 Acres Library and when I went to sign for the use of the computer the male librarian (who has two hearing aides) said to me, "That's not necessary, you are very well known, Attorney Miller."

February 10, 2005

38 degrees, cloudy, snow expected tonight.

Don't be good. Be great.

Steve Chapman has a column in the paper on Ayn Rand in which he describes her as "celebrating sexual enjoyment as an end in itself."

Cal's Variety is for sale, the business, not the building. The rent is $600 a month and the take is $197,635 a year in lottery tickets of which they only get a small percentage. Electricity is $243 per month. Another $500 a month in various bills. It was originally selling for $64,000 but they lowered their price to $57,000.

The WNEC archivist is Evelyn Salz, UMass grad, married to Professor Henry Salz of STCC. They live in Longmeadow and have a daughter named Heidi.

Watercooler on 57 had a discussion of Social Security featuring Michael Meeropol of WNEC, John Rogers of AIC and Jack Sedgewick of UMass. Meeropol said the Bush plan "takes the security out of Social Security."

More developments regarding Tom Ashe and the companies Advanced Energy and Universal Electric. Eamon went down in person to 32 Hampden in the Whitcomb Building where they've only been located for a few months. Ashe was there in the back office and Eamon confronted him with what he knew. Ashe said to Eamon, "I don't know what you're doing down here or what you were told, but we don't have any contracts with the city or School Department. That's a damn lie!" So Eamon left.

But later that day in the bread aisle of Stop & Shop Eamon ran into Eddie Keating, son of the longtime chairman of the Police Commission who was originally appointed by Billy Sullivan. Eamon mentioned Universal Electric and Eddie replied, "Universal Electric? That's John and Mike Quinn's company. When I had a job at MCDI Mike Quinn used to spend a lot of time there doing electrical work." He said the Quinns hang around at the Blarney Stone, the narrow bar next to Kakley Florist on the corner of Carew and Newbury, which Eamon said used to be owned by Joe Berte and "Telephone Tom" Russell, who used to work for the phone company and if you needed telephone work, he could get all the pieces for free. The Quinns were raised on Phoenix Terrace and Mike Quinn went to Cathedral with Sheriff Ashe's son-in-law. Both of them now have expensive homes in Wilbraham. The Quinns also did a lot of the sign work for Ashe's School Committee campaign. Eamon says he's afraid that Tom Ashe is just like Phillips, Keough and Albano, a product of the corrupt Springfield system. Eamon closed by saying that Antonette Pepe of the School Committee is the only elected public official who has the interests of the taxpayers at heart and isn't a self-serving career politician.

February 12, 2005

32 degrees, high cloudiness with sunlight glowing through.

Arthur Miller died at 89.

Got a bill for $220 from the Bar Overseers and will pay that Monday. Got a paper and Billy's eight inch sub at Sunoco Minimart. It was several pieces of meat and a piece of hot pepper, no tomato nor lettuce nor onion but a silver-colored squeeze container of Italian dressing. There is a lot of waste with these subs, I've seen a whole pile of them in the trash can.

Cheryl Rivera's law partner is Laura Marino.

Eamon is very fond of haunted house stories and used to go around to ladies clubs delivering talks about them. Eamon has bought a new telephone answering machine for his messages and I called and it is operating.

The February 10th School Committee meeting was "a real doozer" according to Eamon, although not covered by either TV station or adequately by the paper. Marjorie Hurst and Ken Shea were absent due to illness. Eamon says what made it "unbelievable" was a shouting match when Antonette Pepe complained of staffers getting duplicate vacation time and unearned days off. Superintendent Burke and Tom Ashe were furious and said it was a personnel matter that belonged in closed session. Pepe "shouted her lungs off" that since it was general and not specific to individuals it was not closed session material. City Solicitor Fat Ass Fenton was there but useless. Mayor Ryan said, "You have a good question there" and let Pepe continue. Reporters have marching orders not to give Pepe any name recognition so all the article in the Republican talks about is welcoming new member Michael P. Rogers.

However, Natalia E. Arbulu, who did the story on the meeting and mentioned not a word about Pepe, has called her to sit down for an interview. See what happens. Maybe an article, or maybe just looking for gossip for the newspaper editors. Arbulu has done this to Pepe two or three times before, and Mary Ellen O'Shea used to do it as well, conduct an interview but no story comes out of it, just gathering information for use by the insiders.

As feared Pepe didn't get my mailing in her box at City Hall so I drove over to her house at 108 Kerry Drive, where she's lived for about five years, a corner ranch with garage and enclosed breezeway. A red truck in the driveway but nobody answered. I placed my envelope of stuff under the windshield wiper of the truck.

Today was Eamon's birthday. I got a rock concert on 57 with a noisy audience. I dialed Eamon's number, let him hear the crowd which I said had gathered for his birthday celebration, hit the gong, played Happy Birthday on my xylophone, hit the gong again, gave him another good earful of the crowd and hung up.

February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day. 34 degrees at 8am. Sunny and blue sky with an occasional puffy white cloud. Gas $1.83 at Pride in the Acres.

Listening to Classical Music is the most civilized way of getting high.

No word from Art Gingras for some time. Although retired he is still teaching Thursday evenings at AIC.

Went to an Open House at 245 Senator Street in the Acres. Built in 1990 the house has been fixed up cosmetically but the front steps are cracked and there is a deck that needs replacing. Inside things look beat-up despite having new wallpaper. It is stupid to have the living room on the second floor and the bedrooms on the first level with the garage. An unconventional house which arguably doesn't really work.

Nader the Hatter called. Told me that Eamon once told him that he has money salted away in Ireland. Nader said that with all the orange in the Gates art installation in NYC that I should be in it wearing my jumpsuit!

Had an interesting conversation with Evelyn Salz, Western New England College archivist. She said their operation is tiny and she only works ten hours a week, basically just keeping the college's records. She has a masters in English from UMass. She said they have no collections from the community, just stuff relating to WNEC. All they have by founder Beaumont A. Herman is his book. Why don't they have ten feet of his papers? She replied, "Because we haven't asked for them." They have no collection of faculty papers. Do they have a file of everybody who ever taught there? No, she said, although the Dean might.

Over the years I have corrected School Department English on many occasions. Negroni thanked me in writing, Stoddard thanked me in writing. I'd like to determine whether my mailing to Pepe was stolen or diverted and by whom, the obvious possibilities being Superintendent Burke and or Pat Walsh. Burke has failed to answer communications from me in the past. He should explain why he doesn't answer his mail.

Antonette Pepe is an old friend of Eamon's. She came out of the South End, used to visit Eamon in his little office in the Enterprise Building on Worthington Street. Her husband played football with Landers at Trade School. Pepe told Eamon that Mr. Gary Sheehan, the Business Administrator for the School Department tells the School Committee members that some information is not for them to see. She said there was a "big brawl" at Commerce two weeks ago but it didn't get in the paper.

Letter to International Leatherman Magazine - February 15, 2005


Calls for improved discipline in the schools have led inevitably to the widespread discussion of the adoption of school uniforms for youngsters. I write as one proud of my life in leather to endorse the conventional biker jacket as the ideal school uniform.

The biker jacket is just as classic a garment as the Harris tweed, and it is popular with a diverse spectrum of users which extends well beyond the biking community. It has many special advantages over virtually all other garments. It is, after all, unisex, equally popular with both men and women. Doubtless the simple fact that a properly fitted (snapped, zipped, and buckled up) biker jacket feels good has a lot to do with it.

It's an all-weather garment that can be worn constantly wherever one goes. It is heavy-duty, even tough, and can last for many years if properly maintained, but it is also slick and tidy, often informal but capable of being dressy - even formal with lapels and epaulets. The various fastened pockets make it immensely practical: lunch money can go here, pen/pencil and calculator there, homework papers and a sandwich in the inside pocket or even just held inside the jacket by the fastened belt.

I've never heard of anybody who once they tried one on didn't fall in love with their leather jacket, and it is unlikely that there will be student opposition to the mandating of this garment. What better discipline than that which is accepted and even adored? Any mother will love it because it is black and easy to clean; and black is a favorite color with many minority types as well.

Finally, with its epaulets, patch pockets and metallic snaps as well as its fitted form, the standard biker jacket is indeed more of a uniform than any other garment. To be properly suited up is to be ready to do one's darnedest in pursuing excellence in the face of any challenge, be it ten lines of Latin or ten laps around the playground, because, finally, a biker jacket is a state of the union of spirit, mind and body which is the contact sport of life, demonstrating that the wearer is ready to do whatever it takes.

J. Wesley Miller, Esq.
Springfield, Ma.

February 16, 2005

41 degrees at eleven, bright sun.

The original manuscript of the book On the Road by Jack Kerouac, which has sold over two million copies, is now touring museums all over the country.

Donald D'Amato is hard to get on the phone.

I got a Kennedy 50 cent piece in my change at Price-Rite on Boston Road.

Development of my gift of four acres of land on the Chicopee River to Wilbraham has moved forward slowly. The road is finished but they want to plant some trees and put up a sign. It will be called Blanche and John's Fernbank, after my parents.

Library called and said the Hooker volumes have arrived. So I finished reading my mail and went down to Pine Point. The brightly dressed lesbian librarian told me that my card is no longer valid. Then she tried again and said okay. Karen Powell was there and we exchanged greetings. No freebie books or magazines. Light on in Doyle's.

Used to be 1100 professors at UMass, now down to a paltry 865. So much government scholarship money makes it easy for colleges to raise prices because there is no immediate pain to students who can get all the loans they want.

Watercooler on 57 discussed "Peace in the Middle East." Host Susan Kaplan was dressed all in black with two guests: David Mednicoff, professor of Legal Studies at UMass; and Gary Lefort, professor of International Business at AIC.

Springfield now has thirteen FBI special agents working here, plus two secretaries helping out, which is more than in Boston. Father Shanley, the Boston pedophile priest, was sentenced to 10-15 years plus probation. Prosecutors wanted two consecutive life sentences.

Bob Markel, former Mayor of Springfield (1992-1996) was arrested over the weekend for drunken driving and released on bail. He was celebrating his selection as Ipswitch Town Manager.

Eamon called and said Deezer heard from City Clerk Metzger that Bruce Fitzgerald found Ryan's new aide Steve Pegram, age 32, dead on Dunmoreland Street. He had only recently been hired by Ryan, although Ryan had known him for a long time. Pegram was in charge of the Youth Division and a former football player at Central High. Also worked for Neal for awhile.

February 18, 2005

35 degrees with high cloudiness. Mobil is $1.85.

Margaret Truman is 81 today.

Meeropol to address the Sixteen Acres Civic Association on Social Security.

I am to be entombed in a vault on the second floor of the Hillcrest Park Cemetery Mauseleum. Here is a postcard of it:

Springfield Lincoln-Mercury sent me a notice, "Our records indicate your 1999 Ford Taurus S.E. is now due for its 5000 mile maintenance visit."

Home and Garden has a feature on Thomas D. Osborn the flooring craftsman. His wife is Francis G. Welson, a very high-toned woman who was Placement Director at WNEC Law when I was there. She is impeccable and he is tubby and bearded and slovenly. But he is an artist of quality.

Visited Jack Hess and it appears that he is building a collection of images which he puts into a homemade postcard format in an album he probably intends to give to the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum. Hess is making two cupolas for the guy across the street who is doing body work on his truck.

Paid half price for two three pound heart-shaped boxes of leftover Valentine's Day chocolates at Louis & Clark.

11:43 arrived at Ruby Tuesday's and was waited on by Lisa who says she is 31 and started working at Friendlys at age fifteen. She said they work their employees to death and she likes Ruby Tuesday's a lot better. In Doonesbury Zonker got a job at McFriendlys. At the salad bar I found a plate with a crack in it and told Lisa such plates should be retired from service. She agreed.

Mayor Ryan wants to slim down Springfield's absurd 37 municipal departments to eleven. Helen Caulton would be put in charge of libraries, health, elderly and vets! I called Phil Puccia and told him that Caulton has the responsibilities of a polymath but not the academic background of one. Caulton is unqualified to be in charge of four departments and her Cambridge College certificate is the height of absurdity.

My experience with Fran Gagnon and others (Mim Herwig, Mrs. Willard Hurst) has been that local historical bigshots use involvement with local history as a vehicle for self-promotion and are uninterested in outsiders nuzzling in on their preserve.

The shouting match between Burke, Ashe and Pepe at the School Committee meeting last week, which the rest of the media refused to cover, was written up in The Reminder in a piece by Sarah M. Corigliano. Well done.

Eamon called and said the murdered aide Pegram had a serious drinking problem and his body was found hog-tied and "totally naked." Cops are checking pawn shops for clues because Pegram's jewelry is missing.

Registrar of Deeds Donald Ashe will have his St. Patrick's Day Party at the John Boyle O'Reilly Club on March 9th. $20 per person. Eamon says that Donald Ashe belongs in prison for his real estate swindles with Ox McCarthy.

February 20, 2005

Sunny, clear sky, only 22 degrees on the breezeway this morning.

Malcolm X was assassinated 40 years ago today.

"The best hope for peace is the expansion of freedom." - G.W. Bush.

I often work in the middle of the night.

At the Boston Road Big Y they have an immense inflatable pink rabbit with a wagon of Easter eggs in front of him. Planning on going back and taking a picture.

Somebody has proposed that Election Days be declared holidays and I think that's a good idea.

Six thousand people in Connecticut had their credit card information stolen. And Congress has acted swiftly to make class action suits more difficult. It would be nice, really nice if these congressmen could be sued in every court in the nation.

The Giroux home on 360 Pine Street in Feeding Hills was a tiny, poor house. I was there once, it had a dirt basement. Eventually Maria fixed it up and sold it.

D'Amato answering machine says "no one here to answer your call now." So I left the statement, "Your phraseology is condescending. The situation is rather that there is no one there to "get the message." At 3:05 today someone with a firm, businesslike, authoritative young male voice said this call "requires your immediate attention." Then requests that you push one of the buttons on your touchtone phone. I have a rotary phone.

Arrived at Stanton's Auction in Hampden at 1:40. A rather blah lot of stuff with a couple of obnoxious cobalt porcelain palace urns and a lot of antique but awkward stuff. Lots of paintings nobody would even hang in a funeral parlor. Bought a Hampden Ale figure of a man playing an accordion standing atop a keg of beer. Rare, never seen one before. Chatted a bit with Pete Imler.

Alan Dershowitz was on Nightline saying that college presidents are too intellectually timid and should be more thought provoking. I am sending WNEC President Caprio and Kalodner at the law school tombstone postcards inscribed, "What would Dershowitz say about your institution?"

February 21, 2005

Springfield was a postcard publishing center around 1900.

Linda K. Fuller of Wilbraham has completed a book on national holidays throughout the world.

There are all kinds of writing. Some for fine scholarly publications, some for casual but correct writing, some for casual but correct conversation (which is different from writing) and so on down to bad English. Some things you can do in one sort of writing that you can't do in another.

Barbara Garvey re-elected as chair of the Board of Library Commissioners, Vera O'Connor, secretary and Rudy Ruggeri as vice-chair.

G.M. Dobbs has an article in The Reminder questioning the handicapped accessibility at the Quadrangle. Dobbs' accompanying photo of the Quad reminds me of the 2002 dedication of the Seuss sculptures, the most glorious happening that has happened to Springfield in many years. Springfield is pretty much a dead city (even the Basketball Hall of Fame has a leaky roof) but the Seuss sculptures are something very special.

The boss of our local Newhouse owned newspaper David Starr deserves the credit for bringing it all about. I have criticized Starr in the past on numerous occasions and shall continue to do so, but in this case I must give credit where credit is due. I gave $500 towards the sculptures, but in my view the fundraising campaign was a flop because not enough bigshots were on the list of donors, although many of them were still invited to a fancy dinner.

The dedication was really a two day event, with the formal ceremonies the first day and then a come down and see it celebration on the next day. I attended with Mrs. John Staniski and Dr. John Rixon.

February 22, 2005

30 degrees, overcast.

Today is really George Washington's birthday.

In the heat of the battle the soldier must focus on destroying the enemy.

Top Social Security benefit is $20,000, bottom is $4,000. Mine is $5,400.

Letters mailed at 10:14 to the Smithsonian, Phaneuf, Morgan Stanley, Gormally at BusinessWest, Drysdale and Steve Clay.

Senator Stephen Buoniconti of West Springfield has been made chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Service. Seen as a boost to public employee unions.

It was the political ineptitude of E.P. Boland that led to Springfield losing the Springfield Armory. The Boston Globe once called Boland "a cipher."

Cecilia Gross was interviewed by Karen Brown this morning. She works at STCC and since the 1980's has been developing Springfield's Black American Heritage Trail. Said William Pynchon's house was where Tilly's is now and Peter Swinick, an indentured servant, was Springfield's first black resident. He had a family pew in First Church. The first black church was where the Civic Center is now, and Gross wants to put a tablet there. Never heard of her before.

News at noon on 22 said Mayor Ryan said Keough's homeless shelter better get some new directors if he's going to fund it. Mary Rose Coughlan is Chair of the Board so I called her and left a message that she should resign and be replaced by such neglected talent as Michaelann Bewsee, Yusuf Mohammad or Talbert Swan.

I called the Mayor's Office and spoke to Barbara Garvey. She said the Library and Museums had agreed to keep the boundary open between St. Michael's Cathedral and the Quadrangle, but they committed a "betrayal of their agreement" by putting up a fence. I told her that "fighting David Starr is worse than City Hall" and she burst into laughter and wished me good afternoon.

Went to the Acres Library and returned my books to the librarian that always wears immense rhinestone earrings. I gave her a postcard of the library and she beamed brightly. Then read today's paper, which reported that Marcia Baribeau's mother died. Marcia was a loud little girl at Homer Street School and once invited our class to a birthday party at her place, an old house set back from Benton Street.

Karen Powell was working at the 16 Acres branch today. I gave her an envelope of stuff, and she told me how she hates Michelle Webber who runs the Mayor's Office. Michelle is the polished type where Karen is a down in the trenches activist. Powell praised Ryan as "a fine, mellow gentleman who is doing the best he can in an impossible situation."

February 25, 2005

Sunny, high stratus clouds, 25 degrees this morning. Shell (Breckwood) $1.89.

Bush lied, thousands died.

Oil tank is just above three-eighths full.

I think there must be things about my childhood that explain my biting my fingernails. Really doesn't matter, like Popeye I am what I am.

Dave Madsen on the news tonight described convention centers as "money pits." Gerry Phillips trial is supposed to end today.

Povirk sent me a 1937 Spanish Civil War postcard with the note, "Dear J. Wesley, Thanks for the order and the new cards. My favorites are of you in the orange jumpsuit and the celestial harpists. My best, Eugene."

Jack Hess called and said he just bought The History of Classical High but it has crummy pictures. I told him about William C. Hill's Telling Tales Out of School, which he had never heard of. Said a 90 year old lady who worked at Highland for 40 years had Willimantic Beer memorabilia for sale, a thousand dollars for the whole lot, price negotiable. Hess checked it out and said it was only worth $200. No sale.

Photographed the dinky little addition going onto the back of the D'Amore Library at WNEC. Is this an addition or an outhouse?

Parked on Chestnut Street in front of the old YMCA because very crowded down at the Quadrangle today, the last day of school vacation and a Science Workshop on bugs attracting a lot of kids. Aristocratic volunteers included Mrs. Wheeler in black slacks and athletic shoes. Looking up to the ceiling I noticed that the globes of the light fixtures are full of dirt.

Later at the Connecticut Valley History Museum my friend Bob Moore said he graduated from Cathedral in 1960 but that yearbook has been stolen from the museum's shelf. A new feature is a computer where you can type what you think of the Quad and get a free gift. I wrote the suggestion that they get rid of David Starr, Gagnon and Wallace. Free gift turned out to be an entry in a monthly raffle. Finally in the Smith museum there was no piano on the second floor and no Samurai swords on the inside wall. I asked Dibble the guard guy where the swords are and he said, "They're in storage." Place looks really thinned out.

February 27, 2005

32 degrees and four inches of snow in the morning. UMass closed, Hampshire open at ten.

Nice guys furnish laughs.

Today is Chopin's birthday.

Lisa Cignoli did a story on Real to Reel about the Globetrotters.

At Stop & Shop I bought day old pastry and 99 cent grapes and two dented cans of fruit at 80 cents each. At 3:55 a cute little red-headed boy with a blue pail full of papers came along and gave me The Reminder.

My neighbor Mrs. Gilbert Vickers drove by and stopped and rolled down her window to say good-bye. I said she has a wonderful smile and she said her smile is all that's left! She is selling her house and moving nearby to the Reeds Landing retirement community.

Someone called and asked if I was open for dinner. I replied, "No, not really." "Is this Storrowtown? "No." Sorry about that," said he. Another wrong number from the Steve Brewer Company looking for Paul Caron.

I am a liberal Republican, a real fiscal conservative, and my listing in Who's Who continues to list my activism awards from The Baystate Objectivist in 1993, 1994 and 1995 where I am described as "almost always right."

Only partial convictions in the Phillips trial. Phillips father was Cornelius Phillips, who served under Governor Furcolo and was involved in the Chicopee National Bank fraud case.

Eamon says that Edward Pedrick of East Springfield had a lot of fireworks stored in his garage and almost blew up the neighborhood, but the fact that they were such powerful explosives never got into the papers. Similarly, it looks like aide Steve Pegram's use of cocaine may not get in the papers. Phil Puccia called Eamon and talked for 25 minutes. He said the city won't go into receivership but the Control Board has practically all the powers of a receiver and will be around for a long time.

February 28, 2005

"History is bunk." - Henry Ford.

I have eleven ancestors who fought in the American Revolution.

When the priest gives you the sacrament, where is the last place he had his hands?

I come across as a Teddy bear until somebody irritates me. I don't pick fights, I just let people be themselves. Some people find me "disagreeable" when I complain. My answer to that is, "You're getting paid for dealing with me, I'm not getting paid to deal with you, and you are wasting my time."

My dear friend E. Povirk up in Whately is the pre-eminent dealer in radical materials and has told me how interest in "street literature" has heated up in the past few years.

My New England poster collection (as opposed to my Vermont and Wisconsin collections) technically go back to 1970 when I started collecting in Springfield and Amherst when I was home from college on holidays. I have the poster for the rally for which Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter were busted, copious coverage of their trial in Northampton, stuff on the Clamshell Alliance and all the other local radical movements that have come along.

I cut the University of Vermont out of my will because they advertised they would pay an income for life to anyone who would give them property worth $5,000 or more, but when I offered them the old family farm of 100 acres they admitted it was property but, well, they didn't want it. I then declared that Vermont was out of my will and my Mary Waller collections wouldn't be going there either! As a donor I expect my ass to be licked.

Don't send my boy to Harvard, a dying mother said.
Don't send my boy to Eli Yale, I'd rather he be dead.
Oh send my boy to Old Vermont!
'Tis better than Cornell.
Rather than to Princeton, I'd want my boy in Hell!

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