October 2004

October 3, 2004

55 degrees, sun and clouds. Gas at Pride at 1225 Parker Street is $1.87.

Our politicians are overconfident.

I saw a white truck with "Bush is a War Criminal" painted in big black letters on it. Paul Swenxon is heading a staff of five Gov. Romney is sending to open a Massachusetts trade office in Shanghai. Good for Romney on that one. Watershops Pond is positively green. A fire at Laughing Brook completely destroyed a building but the Thornton Burgess house was not harmed. Hampden County D.A. William Bennett is the latest to sell their home in Springfield and move to Longmeadow. Wayne A. Budd says he will not run for U.S. Senate if John Kerry wins the presidency.

Got my first Iowa and Florida quarters today. Dean Florian, President of the Insurance Center of New England is quoted in BusinessWest, "When you take the best possible care of your customers, you take the best possible care of your business."

Pomeroy Commons is the name of a wonderful building directly across from Valero in Amherst. It is a pillared two level reproduction of a 19th century roadhouse/inn.

Boston Road Bernie's is now open, man said they opened September 22nd. People's Savings Bank branches are always in good neighborhoods, never where the troublesome clients live. Fettes Liquor Store across from the old Westinghouse is all boarded up. Big brown house on the corner of Mass. Avenue being demolished.

Donald A. MacIntosh, a bagpipe player from East Longmeadow, has died at 84. On October 3, 1979 a tornado destroyed many planes at the New England Air Museum down near Bradley airport.

Went downtown at 11:42 and saw Ed Lonergan with a backback walking down State Street toward the library where I suppose he was working today. Business Improvement District worker in uniform sweeping sidewalk at corner of Taylor and Main. Three cars parked in the Sullivan Visitor Info Center and a white Appleton Security car driving around.

Charges dropped against Michaelann Bewsee and Tory Field of ARISE for running an illegal needle exchange program provided they discontinue it. Wilfred Valliere of Springfield has a letter in the paper highly critical of Peter Picknelly for the "sweetheart deals" he's gotten from the city over the years.

Delivered to Rosemary Shea in the Superintendent's office a copy of the letter I sent to Mayor Ryan critical of Beth Ward. When she left TV40 she said she was leaving to form a public relations company with her husband and now she's been hired as a communications consultant in our already top-heavy education bureaucracy despite a hiring freeze that's supposed to be in effect. Also Antonette Pepe says Joe Burke didn't tell the school board about it when they were in executive session. Tom Ashe became so angry at Pepe at the meeting that curse words were used. Eventually Mayor Ryan walked out in disgust and the meeting ended.

Talked to Nader the Hatter who says he calls Eamon but Eamon doesn't call him back. I said I'm going to try to get us all together for lunch next month when Nader comes up from Florida. Eamon says a Homer Street School teacher rented out two 9 X 15 feet storage bins and filled them with stolen books, paper, electronic equipment and computers. He says this is only the tip of the iceberg, no one knows how much is going out the back door by teachers, principals, students and custodians.

Today is my 63rd birthday. When I was downtown I bought myself some postcards as a present.

October 6, 2004

Misty morning at 7:42. Gas $1.97 at Breckwood Shell.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." - Dr. Steve Sobel.

Peter Picknelly of Peter Pan bus company has died of an apparent heart attack while on vacation in Europe. Will have more to say later.

John Kerry says Bush has a secret troop call-up plan for after the election. Boston University students are founding a porn magazine with real student flesh called OINK. Harvard students have lately established an artistic porn mag called H-Bomb.

Mary Ellen Scott is the President of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield.

A memorial gathering is being held at the courthouse to honor former Mayor and Judge Frank H. Freedman who died in August. Chuck Heimann was my newspaper carrier for a number of years before I canceled and it is nice to see he has been named Carrier of the Month. There was a Dad and his kid delivering Reminders from a cart. When they got to my house there were no papers left but I said not to worry, I'll pick one up someplace. I told them I had a Shopping News route when I was a kid.

The State Treasurer's Abandoned Property List appeared in the paper and I noticed my name. So I called and spoke to someone named Emily and it turns out I have $550 coming from an old account. She will send forms.

New season of Watercooler begins tonight with regulars Fred Hurst, Paul Robbins and Chris Collins. Roy Scott and a wine expert are on tomorrow. Pellegrini & Seeley have a TV commercial showing a white colonial house in the middle of the screen and an ambulance comes screaming by. Then about 30 lawyers come chasing after it, men and women, all in business suits, some with briefcases. A voice asks, "Looking for a lawyer that doesn't run with the pack?" The Valley Advocate also has a new ad on TV40 about "the news no one else will print plus the most comprehensive listings of concerts, restaurants, movies and more." Attorney Patricia A. Barbalunga has an ad in the paper today.

The new Bishop will re-open the St. Francis Chapel downtown next month, and upstairs they'll have Catholic Charities and Latino ministries. I hope they bring back the first of the year talk by the Bishop in the basement.

Called Stanton Auction and was amazed to learn I got just what I wanted, the huge cloisonne urn. I think it was used as an umbrella stand in some office. I told them I would use it as a cremation urn for myself and my ego. Also bought some Teddy Roosevelt postcards for $80.

Eamon and Jim Landers were here. Landers gave me three ripening tomatoes. Walked them around here, to Nichol's place and then to see Colleen. Landers is a chain smoker and lit up whenever we were outside. When they left I gave both of them a bottle of Bristol Creme.

Went downtown to the Community Foundation Investment Forum in Tower Square. They handle some of my charitable donations. On the way there I noticed that the brown house at the corner of Mass. Ave and Wilbraham Road is all torn down. Jack Hess said it belonged to AIC and most of those two family houses along Wilbraham Road were built to house workers for the Van Norman factory. The antique shop on Boland Way, previously a liquor store, is now an empty space.

Went up to the 23rd floor sporting my scalped 16 Acres Barbershop haircut, black jeans, purple shirt, lumberjack boots, black fleece, locked dog collar and biker jacket with buttons. No difficulty with anyone. When I first arrived I presented myself to Jessica the receptionist and was seated next to a distinguished woman in brown. She turned out to be Eleanor B. Rothman, Director of Smith's Comstock program. It turns out that lots of key people in the foundation are Smithies. Only 32 guests besides myself, no blacks. Food was appropriate, assorted drinks, mini-muffins and generously proportioned danish. Not many people eating but I did because I go to these things partly for the free meal. They passed out a program that had numerous errors involving hyphens and apostrophes. Speakers Michael J. Riley and Kent W. Faerber have fine public speaking skills and I had no trouble hearing them. However Tim Dempsey and Ralph Tate were barely audible.

October 10, 2004

Life is just a bowl of research opportunities.

Last night was the Vice-Presidential debate. I think Dick Cheney is a liar and a very dangerous man. John Edwards is articulate, youthful, intelligent and foreward thinking. Considering local politicians, Sen. Brian Lees does a fine job, ex-Rep Iris Holland did good work, and Mitt Romney is doing a great job. Three fine Republicans.

President Caprio of WNEC and I have been polite to each other, I gave him one of Beaumont Herman's books. I think he is doing a splendid job, indeed I feel Kalodner was a fine Dean and Donald Dunn at the library was super. A certain professor of law and education who bragged endlessly about all the advice he had given Kalodner was not.

M. Bewsee was on WFCR this morning talking about affordable housing. Article in the paper about Elaine Lavoie, one of my oldest tagsale friends. She wants to come to the Fernbank dedication in Wilbraham and is on the list. Good Polish person.

The worse the City Library gets the less reason I have to go there, even to snoop. Last week they were throwing away some old New Yorkers, which I took and later split between Mrs. Staniski, the 92 year old best friend of my late Mother, and the similarly aged Mr. Cohn down the street.

David Starr has not been good for Springfield. Old Bill Putnam once editorialized that if they sold any more out of the George Smith Museum at the Quadrangle there would be nothing left to see. What happened to that money?

I went to the 16 Acres Library for the dedication of a bench in honor of Constance Bynum. It is a lovely all metal long bench that has a plaque on it reading, "Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often." The librarians had arranged a number of chairs in a circle and invited people to sit, but I stood at the back because I wanted to be at the edge of things.

There were 38 people present, 27 were women and one was black. Councilor J. Tosado was there, and Mrs. Durham Caldwell in sandals with navy blue socks. Helen Boyle of the Library Committee was there. I spoke to her and noted that it's too bad the wooden benches at the Quadrangle are not as nice as the one being dedicated to Connie. To get rid of me she invited me to step into the Community Room for refreshments. All they had was a gallon of cider and a single box of Dunkin Donut's Muchkins. I ate nothing and departed to Hillcrest Cemetery, where I took some sunny fall foliage photos.

Announcement of Beth Ward's hiring by the School Department is in the paper. Antonette Pepe and Tim Collins of the teacher's union are objecting. Fyntrilakis supports Ward's hiring, and despite anyone's objections she is starting the job next week. Too many of our ex-TV personalities end up with wimpy PR jobs, the really good ones though migrate to Hartford, Albany or New York.

On TV they had a tacky program called "A Second Look: The Fabulous Fifties" with host Lynn Roginski. Lots of vintage home movies, way too much rock n' roll, dancing, dating and kid stuff. Ruth Loving talked about being a waitress at Forbes & Wallace for ten years. Mike Wallace showed off his vintage cars. Peter Picknelly posed with a bus and Kitty Broman spoke. Fran Gagnon was shown posing with a one-story slab house and describing it as characteristic of 16 Acres. Gagnon included her High School picture noting that she majored in bookkeeping and had a "personality full of rascality." Said she dipped a skirt in sugar water once to make it stay fluffed out and it melted all over her. Mentioned the opening of the Springfield Plaza and described the 50's in general as a "wonderful, euphoric state of mind."

Former State Rep. Soco Catjakis had his home raided by the FBI yesterday. Catjakis was on the Board of Directors of the scandal plagued Springfield Housing Authority. Albano gave Catjakis about $130,000 in no-bid consulting contracts. Neither 22 nor 40 were on hand for the raid.

Crooked accountant and AIC professor Salvatore Anzalotti Jr. is selling his black Mercedes S430 for $39,500. The big article recently about hundreds of illegal tax breaks being given to politically connected people in Springfield (like James M. Santaniello, Joseph Pellegrino, Felix Tranghese and Thomas Valentine) mentions nothing about Mass Mutual, which over the years has received the biggest tax breaks of all. Charlie Ryan has been a legal counsel to them and it is highly likely that Ryan put together aspects of these special arrangements involving Mass Mutual. If so, the Control Board and public deserve to know this. I am a Ryan supporter but I certainly hope the FBI has debriefed him about his doubtless extensive knowledge of local crooks and shady types. Compared to them, a bunch of pot smoking hippies are rather pristine and refreshing.

Regarding the recent death of Peter Picknelly, I sent a letter to him on September 29th, less than a week before his death, with postal receipt so I know he got it. Maybe they faxed it to him on vacation and he died reading it:

My Dear Peter Picknelly:

All the publicity you've been getting lately is a reminder that we should straighten out our relationship. You think of yourself as a philanthropist. I too am extremely talented and practically everything I do is a gift to somebody. I believe it was I who told you that you were in Forbes Magazine, for which I expected nothing but a thank you note.

Today it is impossible to deny that from the Roman clergy on down Springfield is one of the dirtiest little cities in America. Of course I opposed the casino. But out of a sense of fair-mindedness when Carlo Marchetti gave me an anti-casino button I brought it up to your secretary's desk and left it there. Is that the reason you don't like me? Your security people have harassed me ever since.

At the time of the casino matter I once asked one of your employees what he thought of you and he replied, "If you ask him a question you'll get a straight answer." Yet you never told me not to come to your office before you started chasing me away. You should not assume that you are not suspected of various things which cannot be proved. Why haven't you opened the observation deck at the top of Monarch Tower? Are you afraid people will see you chasing your secretary around the desk? The day Mike Albano announced his candidacy for mayor in the City Council Chamber, you were seen peeking in from the Council office door. By what right were you in there?

I have as a kindness passed various bits of information to you, and always kept a record just as you had a record of Fred Whitney's use of your buses. My appraisal of you is that you have tried to do some good while also benefiting yourself, but don't frown on me, I haven't done anything to hurt you. To the extent that you and your buddies are up to things you shouldn't be, I hope you get caught red-handed, and take your fusty old building and chuck it.

Best to you,

J. Wesley Miller.

How Peter Picknelly would have responded to this letter is something that death has robbed me of ever knowing.

October 12, 2004

Sunny and 53 degrees. Gas $1.93 at Pride and Mobil in the Acres.

Guys are not re-enlisting in the National Guard here in Massachusetts because they figure a ticket to Iraq is inevitable if they do. I think Osama bin Ladin is probably dead; he had medical problems.

Political correspondent David Broder will be speaking Nov. 16 as part of the Springfield Public Forum. Joe Napolitan will be addressing the Valley Press Club at the Fort Restaurant next month. He was on the campaign staffs of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. Susan Strempek Shea has started selling her own jewelry, she is quite a self-promoter.

Paul Murray called and thanked me for the Indian Motocycle catalog. I told him about the weeding of the City Library and about the Westfield bookspill at Pioneer Auction. Murray says the book fair has been canceled for this fall. Only about 20 dealers were interested even though they had everything all lined up at STCC. Not enough trade, so we'll see no more book fairs in Springfield.

Landers is off to New Hampshire and he called Eamon to ask him to put out his trash because his wife doesn't get up early enough to put the trash out. Eamon agreed but was taken aback, he wouldn't think of asking anyone to put his trash out. Eamon says Mass Mutual was giving cash to politicians under the table going back to at least Charlie Ryan's first time as mayor back in the 60's. Eamon says he saw old man Ravosa on TV talking about Picknelly and he "doesn't look well."

Drove downtown at 9:25. There is now a Valero sign over the block along J.J. Liquors on State Street. At Mason Square about twenty youthful workers in orange tops were cleaning up the weeds growing out of the cracks along the center strip. Not by pulling the weeds out but by cutting them off with icescrapers! No extraction. There's also a large weed growing of the old Winchester Square firehouse chimney!

Byron's old funeral home lot (the Mcknight mansion) is grown up to weeds and looks awful. Left stuff for Mayor Ryan in his outer office and then left material for the City Council in their office. Grabbed two interesting posters in City Hall, one for an upcoming ARISE rally and another for the Farmer's Market at the X. Came through Tower Square and visited the new offices of Junior Achievement on the mezzanine. Commented on their painting of Horace Moses under glass (just a print deVillier said) and I told of the painting at Trinity which he didn't know about. Dropped off some stuff for Russell Denver and then back to the car at 11:06.

I was typing my diary at 3:20 when my neighbor Colleen Meade Moynihan came by with a lovely bouquet of orange lilies which I placed in a cut glass pitcher. We sat in the breezeway and talked a bit, she said she is not related to the Moynihan Jewelers of Ingleside, the one's who got the big SBA loan. She told me that Barry Gotterer is a "street smart opportunist" who worked as a writer for Sports Illustrated before being hired by Mass Mutual as a lobbyist. That's probably his link to Charlie Kingston, who was a basketball player and all around jock.

I showed her the mountain of Stusick family archives I've been working on spread all over the dining room table. Colleen thinks the collection is especially interesting because it's Polish and because it develops a series of inter-familial relations. We ate some fancy cookies and eclairs and then we had some sherry. When leaving Colleen insisted on hugging me on her way out the door as she always does.

October 13, 2004

53 degrees, maple tree looking wonderful but leaves are not falling.

I see that Holyoke's First Baptist Church, a little brick building on Route 5, has a banner up that they are celebrating their 200th birthday this year.

Jacques deVillier called and wanted to know how to see the painting at Trinity Church. I said go there anytime there's a tag sale. He also said he picked up a copy of Moses' book "Achievement is My Goal" on the internet for $15.

Lewis & Clark is no longer carrying the Valley Advocate and when I asked Tom the manager why he said they "make a mess" and besides their shelving now "belongs to" the Springfield Newspapers. Got my Advocate at the Pride station and thanked them for carrying it.

Today I attended the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts 2004 Annual Meeting and Luncheon. On the way there I stopped at the FBI office at 155 Brookdale to drop off some info. I noticed that there were a lot more cars in the parking lot than the last two times I dropped stuff off there. A toughguy in his thirties was coming out the door when I arrived and I handed my papers over to a blonde woman, said best wishes and departed. Passing the newspaper building I saw Wayne Phaneuf and three women standing outside.

Got on the interstate from the Liberty Heights ramp and arrived at the Log Cabin at 11:36. So as not to be too early I read the paper in the car before going in. I was attired in black sneakers, black jeans, black fleece, motorcycle jacket with buttons but no boots, hat or doggie collar. As I went in there was a band playing right by the door supplied by the Berkshire Hills Music Academy. There was a table set up by Fleet Bank that had a pile of cute little silver binoculars on them. Were they freebies or door prizes? I permitted my larcenous nature to prevail and just took one. As a Fleet Bank stockholder I guess I was as deserving of them as anyone.

I was seated at table 32 facing the stage and Roy Scott of 57 came along and though we knew each other from way back in the days of Heritage Bank, this was the first time we had a substantial conversation. He mentioned that he had recently returned from Madison, Wisconsin so I told him about the famous poster collection I assembled there. At table 17 Bill Putnam was seated with a shrunken looking Kitty Broman. Joining them shortly was David Starr and Carol A. Leary, whose hair seems a tad darker than formerly. Roy Scott was seated with Russ Peotter. Rev. Talbert Swan came by and I congratulated him on his book.

Seating themselves at my table were three Western New England College people, Beverly Dwight of Alumni relations, Assistant Dean Keith McKittrick and David M. Sterling, Director of Advancement, who wore a big gold WNEC button on his tan suit. I can only wonder what they thought about sitting next to a bum in a motorcycle jacket festooned with radical buttons! Actually McKittrick knew who I was and said he had heard from Donald Dunn that I have a rare law book collection worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I told them about the No Trespassing letter I received from former WNEC President Beverly Miller, assuring them there was no relation, of course.

We were served angel hair pasta with two rare slices of roast beef, a medley of broccoli carrots and cauliflower, and a fruit cup. I emptied mine and then drank the liquid out of the bottom, so much for table manners. We had forest green fabric napkins. For dessert we had cheesecake with strawberry topping.

At one o' clock the program commenced. Outgoing chair Robert S. Carroll was honored and Kent W. Faerber gave the annual report. Fleet Bank was honored for giving $700,000. I thought the program was of just the right length and was back in the car at 1:41.

Watercooler came on at 7:30pm with guests Chris Collins of WHMP and Paul Robbins, both of whom have been on too often. There was also a woman guest whose name I didn't get because Belle-Rita Novak called while she was being introduced. Belle-Rita said she is coming down to First Church for the concert Sunday and we'll see about going out to eat "maybe." She has been doing a lot of work clearing out her mother's house in Longmeadow. On TV at 8 Superintendent Joseph Burke was reciting a litany of problems in the school department which only repeated what Eamon has been saying for years. Burke is posing as a leader when in fact he has failed to lead and is an old buddy of Peter Negroni. Burke's job application letter was all about a "culture of learning" but now he wants to focus on character development. What would show character is if he had the guts to tell the world as Ryan and Markel and Eamon have that David Starr and his paper have been bad for Springfield.

October 14, 2004

My Dear Roy Scott,

Many years ago the Valley Advocate said you are "a good egg" and that was a good assessment. In a world generously populated with dunces, clowns and pompous jackasses, you are a cordial, jolly, affable soul and when you slip are willing to laugh at yourself.

I am one of those who are critical of various things and even on some blacklists (David Starr's I imagine) and because we are people of more intelligence and stature than the people who have gone along to get along, we decline to measure things like the bigshots: What's in it fer me?

Enclosed is a pile of my stuff. I enclose two of my articles critical of the Quadrangle while on Starr's watch. I have written half a dozen critical articles on the Quadrangle, I just don't get puffed up in the media the way Francis Gagnon does.

Lately I have invested a substantial sum in obtaining the family memorabilia of Dr. Stanley and Alice Mikus Stusick after the last of them, Mary Alice, died off last fall. The Stusicks had many wonderful talents but were best known in one branch for being a harp trio while the aunt Irene Mikus ran the local (nationally noted) Bellringer group.

If you'd like to see more of my stuff sometime, you are hereby issued a standing invitation which means that it won't be repeated and it is for no specific date. I suspend entertaining with the first snowfall or Thanksgiving and I don't resume until 16 April. If you ever decide to come let me know and you will bring a pie and I will pour Bristol Creme.

Best wishes,

J. Wesley Miller

October 17, 2004

Heavily overcast, full color and leaves are falling.

The New York Times and the Boston Globe have endorsed John Kerry for President. Republican George Vasquez is running for State Representative against Cheryl Rivera.

Came across a postcard of the wax museum in Montreal which reminded me that when I was a kid my parents took me to Montreal on a bus tour that took us into Notre Dame and around the hill and one of the places we stopped was the wax museum.

Big demonstration against the Control Board and cutting salaries last night outside City Hall. I didn't go.

Eamon called complaining that Mayor Ryan has failed to remove a single department head for lack of progress or non-performance, even though he made a big deal of the Mass Mutual study which laid open all sorts of things that need fixing. Eamon told me that he tried to open up a line of communication with Peter Pickelly by sending him a couple of letters praising him as a man of vision, but never received a reply. Eamon then recalled how City Councilor Vinnie Dimonaco once spent half an hour listening to Superintendent Negroni and then interrupted him by shouting, "Dr. Negroni, you're full of shit!"

Where Angelo's used to be in Pine Point are signs up for an Apple Tree Market. Looks Oriental. Drove through St. Michael's and past Peter Picknelly's grave and there is a large floral wreath on the cross. The ground on the right of the cross is disturbed so that is where he must be buried.

Into the Connecticut Valley History Museum where Robert W. Moore told me that he used to be some kind of building operations manager at Monarch Place. Says he graduated from Cathedral in 1962 and worked for Monarch for 25 years. I also delivered some post-1950 Giroux stuff to Margaret Humbertson. I asked Humbertson to pull the clipping file on Fran Gagnon but not much in it. I told her I was thinking of doing a bibliography of Gagnon pictures in print. In the old days the papers were clipped daily, but I guess that's no longer the case because recent Gagnon articles were missing. Stopped at the City Library but just fiction on the discard shelf.

Then I went to see Leonard Solomon at the "Music at First" concert at First Church with Belle Rita Novak. I parked in front of Symphony Hall and Belle Rita came along and we sat on the left-hand side of the central aisle. The music was super as expected. Afterward Belle-Rita didn't want to go to dinner because she is on a Weight Watcher's program. She said it has been quite a chore cleaning out her mother's house but she wants to put it up for sale. Said her mother saved everything, even plastic lids (just like my mother) and the cellar was packed with junk. She said she just threw it all away.

Today at the Stop & Shop gas station the price is presently $1.94 per gallon. Inside the store I tried to get a flu shot but it was mobbed. I asked the drug store guy, "I'm 63, can I get a free shot?" He replied, "Not if you tell the truth about your age." I gave up and selected two bundles of leaf bags at $2.39 each and then was charged $2.69. I screamed and they gave me $3 to leave. There ought to be life after death so they can send everybody to hell.

October 20, 2004

Sun out at ten. Amy Carter is 37.

Fidel Castro has outlasted nine U.S. presidents. Strathmore Mill in Montague is for sale. Last night the longest baseball game in history won by the Red Sox, five hours and 49 minutes.

A Second Look hosted by Lynn Roginski tonight was about "Polish Life in Our Valley." Dull Watercooler had Chris Collins, Fred Hurst and Meagan Wilden talking about flu vaccine.

Still no Advocates at Lewis & Clark. At Big Y exchanged felicitations with good old Mr. McDonald, formerly of the Telephone Worker's Credit Union. Went to have my car serviced at Lincoln-Mercury, adjusting the coolant system, new wiper blades and air filter, all for $70. While I waited there was no morning paper and no one turned on the TV. However a big pile of Pennysavers had arrived in a plastic bag and I read one of them. Next I went downtown where I left off some stuff for Phil Puccia at the Little State House. On my way home I noticed that the Citgo at 1280 Parker Street was boarded up and so I pulled in. Big sign on the db mart convenience store said, "Store Closed." I went next door to the Land, Sea and Air Hobbies and the jovial manager said it was boarded up last Tuesday but there had been rumblings of it closing for some time.

Colleen says she's not getting a flu shot this year, Jack Hess says he's never had one. A.L. Cignoli called here looking for Paul Caron, very polite and apologetic about dialing the wrong number.

Eamon forgot to bring out Lander's trash for him the other morning. The cinema at Liberty Mall (Springfield Plaza) has little business, Eamon says there are rumors it will close just like the one opposite Duggan on Wilbraham Road. It seem the Eastfield Mall Cinema is doing okay. Eamon said that Councilor Kateri Walsh had a minor accident and so couldn't show up to support Bud Williams to pass needle exchange. Eamon says there's no question that Charlie Ryan wanted to be mayor for the second time but it's quite apparent that he has no strategy for solving the city's financial problems. Ryan says he's having a great time and if that's true then he doesn't know what the hell is going on.

Nader the Hatter called and said his brother's girlfriend has two kids in Commerce and the younger is in the International Baccalaureate Program. She complains that nobody can read and they're giving her nothing to do, no challenge. She was teamed with a boy to do a project and she did all the work, he did nothing, but he got an A the same as her because they were teamed. She said the advanced classes are filled with kids who flunked the courses the year before!

October 22, 2004

48 degrees, beautiful day. Leaves are coming down, they drip and trickle but do not pour.

Went to Whately and arrived at 10:48. The Antiquarian Book Center is now somewhat gussied up. The toilet works again, the entranceway is empty of books and they have a table inviting people to take from a bag of nice juicy apples. Down cellar is a new section of hand made wooden shelving. Eugene and Barbara were both there but she got away before I could get them both in a picture. Took two shots of Eugene behind the counter before I left after buying a book on John Boyle O'Reilly for $30 for Eamon. Brought it over to his house but he wasn't home so I left it by the door.

Later on the phone Eamon said he was home but I didn't knock loud enough. Eamon had to pick up Jim Landers at STCC because Landers' car is being checked out by Teta's Garage, where they do Rolls Royces, Jaguar's, everything. Landers told Eamon that the Dean at STCC, William Mansi, is a real jerk who used to be a football player at AIC and a pet of former STCC President Garvey. Eamon also joked that he'd like to print a postcard promoting Bondi's Island sewage plant as a tourist attraction.

Called Leonard Collamore today, who was a former politician and the acting president of STCC for a while. His wife answered and said he was at STCC teaching. I identified myself and asked if he was still collecting material related to Christopher Columbus. "Not really," she said, but when I said I have some items he may be interested in she became eager to take my name and number. She said she'd have him call me back but he did not. I've always suspected that when he said years ago that he had such a collection it was just to get Italian votes because nothing has ever been heard of it since.

Stopped by the 57 Auction Reception this afternoon dressed in my full troublemaker uniform. Arrived at 4:40 and no more than 75 people were there, no blacks. I had the Peggy Starr watercolor with me in hopes of getting her to pose for a photograph with her pastel. They had a wine and cheese table right there in the lobby and I had several hunks of cheese and a short plastic glass of champagne.

Roy Scott in a herringbone suit appeared and we had a friendly conversation. I mentioned I had brought a picture by Peggy Starr to photograph her with it and he said her and David would certainly be there. I gave Scott my Leatherman card and he laughed. So I walked around and one person asked, "Are you an artist?" Another asked, "Did you bring your bike, sir?" One man inquired, "Who has the key to unlock your dog collar?"

Finally I saw David and Peggy Starr enter the room surrounded by admirers and escorted by Roy Scott. I went over and bowed politely to Mrs. Starr and said I was J. Wesley Miller who had purchased one of her watercolors and wondered if I might photograph her with it. David Starr, whose back had been turned in conversation, spun around with a goblet of red wine in his hand and snapped, "I prefer not." I said sorry, I don't want to cause any difficulty and he curtly replied, "Thank you." I offered my hand but he refused to shake it. I had tried to be nice but was rebuffed and therefore waved good bye to Roy Scott and left.

When I got home I was amused to see in the paper a notice that the Armory-Quadrangle Civic Association will hold a tour of Springfield Cemetery on Halloween by Linda Levister showing the gravesites of some of Springfield's "scariest individuals." But David Starr isn't dead yet!

October 24, 2004

49 degrees and overcast at 8:55am. Farmer's Almanac says this will be a more wintry season than usual, but the stripes on the Woolly Caterpillar predicts the opposite.

Dined on a can of Progresso Corn Chowder, very nice. Victoria Rozkuszka of Indian Orchard has died at age 90.

Ann Staniski sent me a nice note describing the rededication of the Widener Library at Harvard. Says I should have been there.

Eamon says Springfield has become so bland it should be called Tapioca City. Watercooler again featured chubby Chris Collins and Paul Robbins. They have become tiresome.

Belle-Rita Novak called and said she can't make the First Church benefit concert because she is working at a synagogue tag sale that day. Told me she never shops at Walmart because, "Walmart is in the business of putting people out of business." Also said she is loyal to neighborhood stores and never shops at big grocery outlets like Big Y or Stop & Shop. I told her I would take her out to eat for her birthday when she is no longer so busy with her mother's house.

Went to the ARISE headquarters on Rifle Street where a black fellow told me Michaelann was washing up but would be available shortly. When Bewsee came out I congratulated her on all the publicity she's been getting lately and called her "one tough little lady." We headed down to South Church for the fundraising bazaar in the community hall. When we got there they were still setting up, including hanging the ARISE banner up front with a red sunrise in a field of yellow. I bought seven buttons at $2 each, mostly anti-Bush, and two ARISE t-shirts for $17. When I left I saw that an Open Pantry food van was parked nearby and people were lined up for helpings.

Headed up towards Amherst where I saw some wonderful fall foliage in South Hadley. There was a tool sale of some kind on the Amherst green. Parked in the Haigis Mall circle at UMass for free. They lock doors now that were not formerly, but I still got into Herter Hall, Bartlett Hall and the Student Union where I gathered posters off the bulletin boards. There is now a little garden by the Fine Arts Center, a gift of the class of 1954. The library has some kind of construction work going on outside. Then I went to downtown Amherst and pulled down a few posters around there.

In all I got about 25 good posters from my trip to UMass and downtown Amherst. Best one was a poster reading, "WARNING: Bad Dope! Don't buy dope on Cabot Street in Holyoke. It's Lethal. Five people in their twenties have ODed from it this week." Also got one promoting a "Drummers Against Bush" rally on the Amherst Common. A showing of Michael Moore's Farenheit 911 is being put on this week by a group called "Take Back UMass."

October 27, 2004

49 degrees at 7am. North Wilbraham gas is $2.09.

Bill Clinton appeared in public in Philadelphia for the first time since his heart surgery to stump for Kerry.

The city cut down a tree on my street and I counted the rings. There were about 75 meaning the tree was born around 1930. Took some pictures of the woods behind the old Nichol's place, which I expect will be bulldozed next year to build a new house.

Hess called and said he has made 25 cupolas so far this year, a little behind this time last year but still good business. Administration building at AIC is Adams Hall, formerly Adams Library.

Watercooler had only two guests discussing the Electoral College with Kaplan; "media consultant" Paul Robbins and Professor Jerry Mileur, a friendly, white-haired man. Sy Becker did a story on TV about the violence after hours in Springfield when the bars close in "this so-called entertainment district." Are you manifesting a bad attitude Sy? What would Davey Starr say?

Dined at the new Quiznos on Boston Road using a coupon. Had a small sub stuffed with thick pieces of chicken and beef. Place is new but could easily deteriorate into a dump.

Big fire on the same same side as the church on Dresden Street this morning, cop-cared off on the Wilbraham Road end. Went to Fleet Bank and the greeter told me she has been working at the bank for thirteen years. She said she has "learned a lot of things about people from watching them in the bank." I told her that she must have noticed then that I always take something from the free candy bowl! Then off to the Stanton Auction where my Lake George painting brought $1900. Robillard was there and paid $2500 for an antique toy airplane. Also spotted Wayne Phaneuf from the paper sitting six rows back. I've seen him there before, but today we didn't say anything to each other.

Eamon called and remembered the day when he was running the Charlie Ryan campaign headquarters on Sumner Avenue in 1995 and two guys from Boston came in representing former Mayor Kevin White and asked to see Ryan so they could deliver a large brown envelope. Eamon said that Ryan wasn't there but they could leave the envelope with him. "No, no, no!" they said, "We can only deliver this to Atty. Ryan personally." Eamon said he would have loved to know what was in that envelope, perhaps money from the Boston Irish Mafia.

Mary A. Kingston, widow of former State Representative William J. Kingston and mother of Charlie Kingston, has died at the age of 90. Her maiden name was Tranghese, same as the mobster Felix Tranghese and I wonder if there's any connection. When Charlie Kingston was convicted on tax charges he avoided federal prison by saying he had cancer, but he's been plenty healthy ever since then.

C. Kingston was the campaign manager for Ted Dimauro and the last Albano mayoral campaign. Back in the 1970's when Dimauro ran for mayor Eamon did a lot of research for the campaign and at one point Eamon was chatting with Dimauro and Dimauro started praising Kingston for all the research he was doing for him. It turned out that Kingston was taking Eamon's work and passing it off to Dimauro as his own! Eamon said that Dimauro told him that later on he caught Kingston taking money that was given him for the campaign and putting it in his own pocket! Yet that did not stop Mayor Dimauro from giving Kingston a job collecting outstanding taxes for a commission. No matter what he did nobody could touch Charlie Kingston, he had something on everybody.

October 30, 2004

45 degrees, clear blue sky, full color, chilly. Gas at the Peter Pan station downtown is $2.06.

The Red Sox won the World Series (I watched it) for the first time since 1918. Eugene Povirk told me that he was "infused with the wine of the sweet, most unlikely of scenarios, the Red Sox victory."

Average American male is now five feet, nine inches tall, average female five feet, four inches and they weigh 25% more than 40 years ago.

Mrs. Penniman told me today that 101 Birchland has been sold. I noticed the other day that Franconia Golf Course has those new all metal benches like the Acres Library. Bob Powell had another yellow insert for his auto repair service in the paper this week. I tried to call Gormally at BusinessWest but got the runaround.

New rates starting at the Quadrangle: $10 for adults, $7 for seniors. Eamon says that Mayor Ryan embarrassed himself the other night on TV by being critical of Secretary of Finance Kriss and Commissioner of Revenue LeBovidge. Eamon called it "an amateurish, unprofessional diatribe." He also says Ryan should upgrade his wardrobe.

Henry Courniotes is finally stepping down as President of A.I.C. after 35 years. TV showed him sitting at a long table with a microphone in front of him and flags on either side, looking like the emperor of a banana republic. I must write to him.

Memorial Bridge is festooned with flags, two on each flag pole. Arrived at the Eastern States Exposition Antiques and Collectibles Show In West Springfield at 9:38. Parking was five dollars and admission was six dollars for a total of eleven dollars - too high. I was wearing boots with pants tucked in, jacket with my radical buttons, locked doggie collar plus my biker cap with ARISE button in the middle of it. Overall fewer freebies, no popcorn, no lobster bisque. Fewer booths, this antiques show is slowly dying.

Jack Hess was there looking at postcards. Brian of New England Archives was there, but I didn't complain about the last microfilm job they did and just gave him some postcards. Marcus had calendars but no other freebies, Hitchcock Press also had calendars while Hadley passed out lovely Boston Garden cards. Insurance Center of New England had a big exhibit. I won a five dollar Holyoke Mall gift certificate for spinning a wheel. G. Michael Dobbs was there and appears to have put on weight. Nobody at the Turley Publications table so I slid one of my cards under one of their publications to be found when they return. Ran into a lot of old acquaintances, one guy introduced himself and said he has my picture from the Valley Advocate hanging up.

First I bought some postcard sleeves; I got 4700 of them for forty dollars. Then I paid five dollars for a five-sided Chinese coin from the Tang Dynasty. Finally I saw D. Schimke. He had for sale a print he had acquired at auction of the Lewis Orr etching "Springfield Municipal Group" for $400. I immediately said, "Sold!" It used to hang in the Forbes Library in Northampton, I remember seeing it years ago among a row of prints in the stacks. On the back it has a Forbes Library sticker saying it was a gift of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and one of fifty. Inscribed in the lower left: "This proof pulled by the artist for the Forbes Library."

This is for me an incredible acquisition. The image is the highest realization in 20th century art of Springfield's turn of the century civic aspirations as realized in the completion of the Municipal Group. It is a real status symbol appropriate for governmental, corporate and otherwise big-shot offices. Just in front of me was young Picknelly, but he didn't look like he knew what he was doing. He should have bought the the Orr etching, I'll bet his family never owned one. I left soon after, and on my way back I stopped at Olive Oil's and had a Reuben sandwich. Cost eight bucks and I gave the waitress a two dollar tip.

No one at the antiques show made any negative comments or complaints about my garb, although a uniformed officer scrutinized and then followed me for a while, but did nothing. A lot of young people seem to think I look cool. The old folks are at worst amused, with one man in a business suit looking like he wished he dared.

To AIC President Henry Courniotes
Dated October 31, 2004.

My Dear Harry,

You have been badly embarrassed by Salvatore Anzalotti (with whom my father studied at WNEC while doing a Real Estate certificate) and frankly there are tales about matters not brought before the court: people who got credit for continuing education accounting courses they never attended, close friendship with Morris Kirby who did time for tax problems, and more. Bush says you support a terrorist and you're a terrorist. You're buddies with felon Anzalotti: What does that make you?

AIC did Springfield a great disservice by not promoting the merger of the several sixth rate local colleges into a University of Springfield. In fifty years STCC will be the great school in this city while AIC will probably be the first to fail because it has much but nothing special. Johnson's Bookstore failed while bookstores in Northampton thrive because we do not have the faculties and students who are learned enough about books to sustain them.

Yours truly,

J. Wesley Miller.

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