May 2004

May 1, 2004

65 degrees at 9:41am. Sunny, warm, real nice. Shell at Breckwood is $1.77.

I have often noted that in grad school they put the emphasis on the interpretation of history, but actually the important thing in history is the collection of facts. Now I see in the Boston Globe a story by David Greenberg which says, "Bob Woodward's books are long on raw facts and short on argument, and that's exactly why we need them." Good going, Greenberg.

In 1971 the Philbin Stenographic School was at 77 Maple Street in Springfield. A handicapped man died when he fell out of the roller coaster (the big one, Superman Ride of Steel) at Six Flags today. For the second week Lisa Cignoli has surfaced on TV as a reporter for Real to Reel. This is Gay Pride Day in Northampton.

The Allards were scheduled to come over at four but they stood me up. Three or four times I went out to the street to see if they were coming but no sign of anyone. I sent the following note to the Allards at 33 Birchland Avenue: "I cleaned house. I bought food. I got out interesting things to show you, and you didn't keep your appointment. Your invitation is cancelled and will not be renewed. You won't get a copy of my new book as you have been uncivil to me. J. Wesley Miller."

Then I went out for a ride. 116 Birchland has a Lortie Realty For Sale sign out front. Went to Fleet Bank where someone was greeting people as they came in. Said it's a new bank policy. The video store had a lady out front in a yellow "Kill Bill" jumpsuit. A house is going up on the corner of Bay and Berkshire where Christmas trees were sold every year going back decades. Seems sometimes like every available patch of land is having a building installed on it. I bet I could sell my croquet court for a house!

Fred Whitney has a little cobalt blue car in his driveway, second time I've seen it. New car? New near Rep. Swan's office is Chelan's Exclusive Shoes. Is that the Chelan Jenkens who ran for mayor now selling shoes? I drove through Springfield Cemetery and photographed the chapel. That place on Taylor Street that sold ugly, boring greeting cards at one third off is boarded up.

On my way back I saw Durham Caldwell mowing his lawn with an old fashioned push/pull mower. Good exercise for him. I saw when I drove past the Allard's that their red car was in the driveway. When I got out of my car Colleen was outside and she gave me a hug. The little boy who was with her shot me with a water pistol despite Colleen yelling don't do that!

I called the Allard's and Mrs. Allard answered. When I didn't say anything she went, "Hello? Hello?"

I hung up.

May 4, 2004

Overcast all day, light rain in the afternoon. Citgo and Mobil are $1.81.

Bush didn't campaign on starting a war last time. He tricked us into voting for him and he's at it again.

Cooked up peas and potatoes and onions in milk for the first time since Mother departed. My neighbor Cressotti was climbing a ladder today getting leaves out of his gutters. He is a jovial gentleman. Sent Jack Briggs some poems and postcards.

TV22 online poll said that 62% feel less safe on the Six Flags rides after a person was killed the other day on the roller coaster. Person on WFCR said we need to "shift to an economy of people who think for a living." That is an insult to blue collar workers who most certainly do think on the job.

Tom Shea's wife Suzanne Strempek Shea was reading from her book "Shelf Life" at Edwards Books the other day. In the audience was Charlie Ryan and his wife Joan, Councilor Kateri Walsh, retired Judge Kent Smith and Kevin Noonan of the Open Pantry.

Former Bishop Dupre is in danger of being charged with obstruction of justice for trying to cover up his sex scandal. From the Republcan today: "Monsignor Richard S. Sniezyk said a good old boy network protected the abusive priests in the Springfield Diocese and that some priests believed it was alright to have sex with boys." The Catholic Church is the mafia's public relations department.

Went down to Mason Square this morning to look for posters. At Walgreen's a couple of blacks asked me for a ride to Mapledell Street but I declined. I stopped into the old Williams Spa, now called Stop and Buy or whatever, and somebody asked me for change. In all I got about a dozen posters. On the way home I stopped at Sixteen Acres Garden to look at their plants.

In the afternoon I headed out to The Old Meetinghouse at 450 Main Street in Wilbraham and parked behind the bank. Nancy (Keller) Nieske answered the door and we chatted. She said Mrs. Williams is fine but Coralie Gray isn't well. The place looks really nice. Nancy told me she grew up in Wilbraham and was present at the dedication of the tower on the mountain. She is thinking of moving to Reeds Landing. Left the Meetinghouse at 2:46. In North Wilbraham the antique shop is gone and the dentist at 2184 Wilbraham Road with a long brick house is building yet another addition. 1684 Wilbraham Road is where the post office was. It has been remodeled several times.

I stopped to buy $220 for letters and other artifacts from the Stusick estate from Gary Plant. Then I headed out to Stanton Auction. There were a lot of people there and Imler's father was in charge. I bought an organ stool for $60 because it reminded me of one Aunt Jennie had. I also bought a Knickerbocker icebox for $350. When I left my front wheel brushed against the curb and I got a flat tire. I fixed it in front of the Hampden Minimart, the first flat tire I've ever changed!

When I got back I was pulling dandelions in the front yard when Mrs. Allard pulled over in her red car. She rolled down the window and said she was sorry they couldn't come Saturday but they had a visitor. I told her she should have called but she said they couldn't do that. Mrs. Allard showed only crocodile tears of remorse, but I told her to forget it and said we could still be friends.

May 7, 2004

56 degrees at 11am. Overcast, Mobil is $1.79. Nice clumps of elderberry.

John Kerry said today "our moral authority is at an all time low." Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney are fascists!

The land I donated to Wilbraham consists of two parcels, one of which is at 47 Maynard Road, 3.5 acres and worth $17,500. The other is at 124 Maynard Road, 14,000 square feet and valued at $36,500.

Saw "Loomis Fargo" in Victorian lettering on an armored truck backed up to the Fleet ATM at Breckwood Plaza. Attorney Stanley R. Light has a little tabletop display at the Acres Fleet Bank. He has been a 16 Acres resident for 28 years. Fleet must be letting their commercial customers have in-bank displays.

At the Department of Youth Services Center on Tinkham Road there were four cop cars parked side by side. When I told Eamon he was delighted because he has been keeping track of where the cops waste their time and Tinkham Road is one of their special hangouts.

Dined on a veggie burger and salad at Ruby Tuesday's. They know who I am because the waitress said she'd take me to my favorite table and she did.

R. Bruce Fitzgerald has a Cadillac convertible and chauffeured Charlie Ryan in last year's St. Patrick's Day parade with Fitzgerald dressed in an Admiral's uniform since he is the city's Harbormaster. I told Eamon that he should be appointed Lamplighter, but he said he would rather be Fenceviewer. I said no; there are fences but no lamps so it is easier to be Lamplighter.

Eamon says he is disappointed that some of the old City Hall crew is still in control. Robert M. O'Brien the special financial adviser gets $100,000. Matthew Donnelan was advanced to Water Department head at $99,000 and Donna Williams is still aboard. CFO Mary Tzambazakus, who somehow has ties to Mary Hurley, also gets $99,000. People in Boston City Hall don't make that kind of money. Joe Burke is getting $172,000 while the State Commissioner of Education gets $127,000.

Homer Street is not an unkempt school but Principal Bobbie L. Rennix, who seems a pleasant and competent individual, is in trouble. One rumor is that she collapsed in Superintendent Burke's office when he said he might fire her.

A teacher at Commerce asked for an appointment with Mayor Ryan to tell him about the situation at Commerce and the Mayor refused saying, "Tell her I'm well aware of what's going on at Commerce and I don't have to meet with her." Yet Ryan listens to Pellerin-Duck and James O'Morton, who was a plaintiff in the ward representation lawsuit.

The Commerce janitors are mad. Back on the 31st the Principal of Commerce Dr. Ann Henry directed the custodians to go around and collect all unattended backpacks and bring them to a central place. No explanation was given by Dr. Henry even when they asked. Then after they had all the backpacks together they were told there might be an explosive device in one of the backpacks. The custodian's union lawyer John D. Connor says that was a contract violation that put the janitors in harm's way, and if he doesn't get a satisfactory response he's going to "contact all the news media." Of course Eamon has already gone ahead and contacted all the news media this afternoon.

May 10, 2004

Beautiful day all day.

What do you call an Egyptian belly dance? The Gaza strip.

Latoya Foster on TV40 reports they are keeping the overnight warming place in Christ Church open thanks to a donation from Mercy Methodist Church on Sumner Avenue. I tried to listen to Mitch Ogulewicz on WARE radio but couldn't find the station. There is talk that Mayor Ryan's wife Joan may need a heart operation.

Edna Morrison of the Springfield Legion Band Post 21 was someone I interviewed in the 1950's for my history of the Springfield Symphony. I recall that she had an immense scrapbook about local music. Where is it now? Mrs. Ruth Eckberg of 75 Marsden Street was the Dean of voice teachers in the old days.

Generally I do the diary entry for the previous day in the morning before I go out. Saw Mr. Allard out mowing his lawn but I pretended not to notice. Had breakfast at Bickford's on Boston Road with a fruit bowl coupon. My waitress Muriel gave me white rather than the wheat toast I ordered, but I still gave her a tip. Lots of elderly folks were eating there.

Went to the Big Y and chatted with the manager Benjamin Cardwell. I bought some grapes and fruit slices candy, Mother loved Boston Fruit Slices. While at the Acres Mobil an elderly man with a tan car and a handicapped medallion came into the store and carried off every copy of The Reminder.

Stopped at a tag sale at 112 Fallston, an estate sale for someone named Podworski. Babacas' daughter was there and greeted me cheerfully. Bought a lovely wooden box for one dollar and offered my condolences. On my way back I saw the Caldwell's walking their dog down Ballard, she waved but he looked straight ahead.

In going through the Giroux estate I found a photo from around 1940 of the 175 Poplar Street house when they first moved in. The previous owners, who built the place, were Italians. You can see the white garage which is where George Giroux began his machine business. Martha and Albert Koch were German people who lived directly across the street. The old city directories say he was a cabinet maker for Hadley Furniture. They had no children and eventually retired to Florida. They were wonderful people who made me a birthday cake when I was six that had circus animals on it. Little things can mean a lot.

Called Plant but his sister Elaine Mattson answered and said Gary is out of town this weekend with his girlfriend. Mary Alice is barely cold in the grave and he already has a girlfriend? Eamon called and said Sandra Russell-Jacques of Russell's Restaurant gave Eamon a $100 gift challenge to donate to the Pioneer Valley Christian School and he gave $35. She has daughters in that school.

After supper I stopped by Jim Landers to see his printing press. A cool spring night, enroute I saw troublesome looking gangs of kids on Main Street down from Jefferson Avenue and up on State by the Third Baptist Church. Landers lives in a magnificent Tudor style home on Springfield Street with a beautiful floral wreath on the front door. I rang the doorbell and Landers welcomed me in cordially.

He showed me his new black refrigerator and stove and long green porcelain sink. He offered me a can of soda but I declined. He then took me out to his old two car garage. At the back is the precious Heidelberg press and he demonstrated for me some of its features. Landers sometimes uses it for little jobs such as printing tickets for small events at places like the Springfield Marconi Club or the Polish American Club in Feeding Hills. He also showed me his garden where he is growing tomatoes and peppers. I then exited around the side of the house. Landers is a wonderful soul but quite overweight and I worry about his health. It was dark when I got back at 8:48.

May 14, 2004

Lovely day. Cumberland Farms station opposite Angelo's is $1.91.

Ruth Gilchrist, a retired claims reviewer for Monarch Life Insurance, has died. The Spaghetti Freddy's downtown has closed over the weekend. I dined there once and liked it. Tower Square says others are interested in the space.

I have in 2004 donated $12,000 to the Community Fund of Western Mass, which is ultimately to handle the residuary assets of my will. Jeffrey Reynold's appraisal of the land I donated to Wilbraham is $55,000.

Saw a bike cop peddling towards the Acres on Parker Street. Arrived at the Wilbraham Post Office at 11:21. It is a wonderful posting place and I got a poster for the Pioneer Valley Christian School flower sale. I didn't see that poster on the Big Y board or at Lewis & Clark. The First Pioneer Valley Credit Union across from Home Depot is going up, an immense pretentious Williamburgish building out of place and unusable for other purposes.

The Mason Square Library is back. Nothing in the paper yet but the word is Mayor Ryan is going to kick the Urban League out of the Mason Square Library and find them another space. Father Scahill said on TV22 tonight, "The institutionalized church is as far from the heart and mind of Jesus Christ as can be imagined." Springfield Police Officer Vincent I. Savage was sentenced to 3-5 years in prison for selling cocaine while in uniform. Frankie Keough is the subject of a Valley Advocate story by Maureen Turner.

Eamon called and said his mother was hard of hearing but could hear fine on the phone. So do I. Eamon said he thinks the reason Landers is overweight is because he drinks so much soda pop, about a dozen cans a day. Eamon actually called Larry McDermott and left a message congratulating the paper for looking into the deployment of police department personnel. A lot are on permanent leave. Eamon called it "the usual lack of supervision and accountability." An anonymous caller left a message on Eamon's answering machine claiming that there are thousands of dollars missing from the School Department pension funds.

I put on my jock to make my crotch stick out and pulled on my purple tights and over them my purple briefs (that got me thrown out of Six Flags) and I laced on my lumberjack boots and buckled into my weightlifter's belt to hold my tummy in and my tights up. I pulled my purple t-shirt on and caught it on the tongue of the belt so it wouldn't hang down over my nice purple basket. I also strapped into my head harness with my bell earring and slipped into my motorcycle jacket. That was my uniform for the art show at the Indian Orchard Mills.

Arrived at 5:51 and backed into a space so I could drive right out. Took my camera with me and began photographing the mural in front of the old mill when a man standing by a truck called out to me, "You're disgusting!" I went over to him. "Hi," I said, "I'm Jack." He replied, "I'm offended by you." I asked him his name and he said Steve. We shook hands and he said, "Well, get going," and gestured towards the entrance. The admission was two dollars and the women at the entrance seemed amused by me. I told them my get-up was a work of performance art.

I took three cubes of cheese from a table and started looking around the Dane Exhibition Gallery. Soon I could see out of the corner of my eye a man approaching me but I pretended not to notice. He closed in on me with a security man behind him. He said he had received "several complaints" about me and I told him my appearance is a form of performance art. He insisted that this is his art gallery and he's sorry but he doesn't have room for the performing arts.

I told him, "Not the performing arts - performance art!" He replied that if I want to put on a show I can do it at some other time and place. I asked, "Are you telling me to leave?" He said no, but he was wondering if I could remove the thing on my head. I said no, it's part of my performance. I asked for his card and gave him mine. He turned out to be Charles N. Brush, president of the Indian Orchard Mills. I told him that I was not leaving because I was not making a disturbance and they backed off. I then admired the work of Peter Barnett and Lorrie Roussi and left at 7:01. This is however a notable incident in Springfield Art History.

May 17, 2004

A lovely day. Acres Mobil is up to $2.05.

This is National Bike Week. Bikes lessen air pollution, dependence on oil and traffic congestion. The Gold Club of Chicopee is opening May 20th on Shawinigan Drive. Wilbraham Town Meeting considers buying 150 Acres of the Rice Fruit Farm tonight. Mass Senior Action Council of Greater Springfield is fighting to save the Good Life Senior Center on East Columbus Avenue. Mustang Sally's in Monson has an Open Mic hosted by Tony Valley.

Byron's State Street funeral home is a disgrace, with the lawn grown up and dandelions all around. Stopped by the Liberty Church tag sale on their side lawn. The Liberty Church sidewalk is badly broken up and in need of repair. About twenty tables, a decent neighborhood sale, but all lower end stuff.

Then I headed down to the Spirit of Springfield Pancake Breakfast. Parked on Dwight Street opposite The Pub. I stopped in, there was a thin guy behind the bar but no customers. He said the current owner took over two years ago and fixed up the place inside and out. Then I walked down Worthington toward Main, and saw that Stearns Square has been reseeded and has a snow fence around it. The turtles on the monument are still missing, having been unbolted and carried off some years ago.

It was the same old pancake breakfast along Main Street. The City Library Association was passing out plastic slip covers to put your library card in. I ran into Petlock who says he is now 78 and seems to have a hard time walking. Though the serving of food was supposed to end at eleven there were still lines so they served for an extra hour.

Then I went over to the Freedom Credit Union to withdraw $600 and they asked me for identification. I asked to see the bank president but he wasn't in so I talked to the personable Senior Loan Officer Michael S. Ostrowski. I complained that a person with my size account should be recognized by all staff members and he apologized.

Chatted with Colleen Moynihan when I got back. She said she "wants to get involved" in local politics. She stopped into the Mayor's Office and asked for the city's annual report but Ryan's aides didn't know what she was talking about. She said she was alarmed by the story in the paper about the city's finances and said there appeared to be "a lack of accountability."

Art Gingras intends to retire from Commerce in December. He has two kids, one a senior in high school and the other at UMass. He will get a pension of around $42,000. He also paints houses with Commerce science teacher William Rice, and he did a Victorian house last year for $6,000.

Dr. Shiun-fen Tsai of Commerce sent a letter to the paper describing the bad situation at Commerce. She later thought better of it and took it back from the paper, but Eamon had a copy and gave it to Tom Devine, who put it on his website. Principal Ann Henry was furious and accused Dr. Tsai of giving it to Devine but she denied it in writing, saying she had "no idea" how the letter got published online.

Eamon called and remembered some local details from the 1962 Senate race between Eddie McCormack and Ted Kennedy. McCormack said to Kennedy in the debate, "If your name were Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy your candidacy would be a joke." Eamon said he met McCormack at a Kimball Hotel room reception. Eamon claimed the Kennedy people were throwing a lot of money around, buying votes with twenties to win the loyalty of local union workers. On election day the Kennedy's brought some of their Boston operatives to Springfield, men who monitored the polls using walkie-talkies. Rep. Eddie Boland and Donald Dowd of West Springfield were heavily involved in the campaign. Eamon said he once rode a bus to Boston with Dowd and when he tried to get him to talk about politics Dowd would change the subject to the weather.

May 19, 2004

Jim Landers bought his son a $1300 video camera. Artist Peter Barnett is a graduate of Amherst College and has a studio in the Indian Orchard Mills complex.

Thanks to the I-91 bypass roadway outsiders can go through Springfield without seeing anything on their way to Yankee Candle. Four of the last seven Springfield mayors were lawyers: Ryan, Freedman, Dimauro and Hurley. Under Mayor Albano the city debt went from $150 million to $400 million and the debt service cost from $13 million to $35 million.

Dr. Seuss was born in Springfield but he left in 1927 for New York City. He entered the Army in 1943 and then settled permanently in California. He last visited Springfield in 1986, five years before his death. Seuss contributed most of his drawings and a good deal of money to the Theodore Seuss Geisel Library at the University of California at San Diego.

Arrived at the Friendlys stockholder meeting at their Wilbraham headquarters at 9:23. I was dressed in black head to toe, doggie collar with padlocks and motorcycle jacket. They had breakfast food laid out and I helped myself, then took a seat in the fifth row. The sound was better than at previous meetings. During the stockholder's questions segment I stood up and said, "Hi, I'm J. Wesley Miller and I bought into this company so I could get a free breakfast once a year." The audience chuckled. I suggested that Friendlys should serve more vegetables, and cited Ruby Tuesday as a chain with a good variety. John Cutter, the President and CEO, said they are moving in that direction and have added broccoli to their menu for the first time. Lyman Wood and one of the Blake brothers were there. Meeting in general was a bore so I left at 11:03.

Mayor Ryan has formally appointed his unpaid financial advisers, among them Robert A. Klupa, Clodo Concepcion and Madeline Landau who is from Mass Mutual. Barry Gotterer, Charlie Kingston and John Abbott could co-write a book on backroom wheeling and dealing by Mass Mutual. Which city politicians accepted cash-filled envelopes under the guise of political campaign contributions? Years ago Mass Mutual received generous tax concessions on their downtown Baystate West property.

Eamon blames Charlie Ryan as the driving force behind Springfield Central and downtown redevelopment failures like the Civic Center, Courthouse, Baystate West and the I-91 bypass. He says he only hopes Ryan has learned from his mistakes. Eamon is critical of Ryan's appointments, saying that the Chief of Staff has no resume to speak of with minimal education and experience, a Melconian supporter was chosen for Community Development Director and Rep. Cheryl Rivera has too much influence. Eamon says he would like to know what Michael Denney, the son-in-law of Barbara Rivera, knows about the mismanagement of funds in the New North Citizens Council's Child Care Program.

Eamon claims that Charlie Ryan was impressed at first with Brian Santaniello but lost interest after he was hauled in front of the Grand Jury. Antonette Pepe told Eamon she has been going on the Tony Gill Radio Show regularly for the past few months. Tony Gill is a black man who used to work for the Mayor of Boston. She said Tom Devine used to be in the studio a lot when she started but not recently. She would like to know what he does for a living and why he doesn't drive. She said Tom has a splendid attitude and would have been considered for a post in the Ryan Administration if he hadn't moved to Amherst.

May 21, 2004

Very misty and cool to start, sun came out at 9:15. Gas is $2.03 at the Cady Street Cumberland Farms in Ludlow. I no longer fill up ever.

Richard Ianello is advertising his legal services. Professor Jefferson Hunter of the English Department at Smith College is giving film reviews on WFCR.

The nice island of grass along Wilbraham Road that was planted when the street was repaved under Mayor Neal has been completely destroyed, I think either by winter salt (which never happened before) or by some misapplied chemicals. I rather incline towards the latter because the destruction is so uniform in its width and consistency. So now there will be crabgrass there. We have had no street sweepers down Birchland this year.

Arrived at Tassanari's in Ludlow at 11:04 and an immense smile spread over his face as I walked in as if he was glad to see me back. He said he can bind my Simkin's Letters (1791) in two weeks for $45. As I left his kid's jazzy red car pulled into one of the garage door openings. The Novick one story block is being completely redone, I didn't stop at Oldies.

Hess called and said he wants a photo of Dr. Stusick. I said no problem. Eamon says they were working on the Tacoma Street telephone poles this morning and his power was off. The firefighter who threatened to burn Eamon's house down, Stephen F. Burke, had his five day suspension upheld by the Springfield Fire Commission. The article in the paper did not mention Eamon by name.

Today I got a reply to my letter to the Bishop defending Scahill:

Dear Mr. Miller,

On Monday, May 17, Fr. James Scahill and myself were able to sit down together and talk at length and pray together. We both came away from the meeting with a greater understanding and a conscious decision to go forward together. Each of us has a similar determination to help victims and for both of us that is overreaching.

The past is the past and cannot be changed, but we look to the future.

Please pray that our efforts on behalf of those who have been hurt will provide some real measure of healing.

In Christ,

Most Reverend Timothy A. McDonnell
Bishop of Springfield.

I also got a letter from Melinda C. McIntosh in Hadley:

Dear J. Wesley,

Your letters and phone calls are making me very uncomfortable. I'm afraid that I have given you the wrong impression, because I have no interest in having a relationship with you.

I must ask you never to contact me again.


May 24, 2004

Heavily overcast this morning, 68 degrees, white clover is everywhere and blooming.

From Bill Allen's tagsale at 1553 Plumtree I got the book Latin America by Preston E. James (1959). WFCR cited a study claiming that the sons of lesbian moms are less sexually active. That could be me, my Mother may have been a lesbian. My parents gave me no training in sexual matters.

Spaghetti Freddy's in Tower Square is auctioning off their furniture and kitchen supplies. An expanded Lewis & Clark Medical Equipment Store is opening on East Street in Springfield. Eamon says that Cal's Variety has been broken into again with cigarettes and lottery tickets stolen. The Liberty Plaza Liquor Store was broken into by a hole made in the cement block wall. They left a crowbar behind.

Former State Rep. Fred Whitney had a letter in the paper today condemning Councilors Dom Sarno, Angelo Puppolo, Bill Foley, Dan Kelly and Kateri Walsh for voting against ward representation. It's Whitney's same old tune but I agree with it. Said Whitney: "Let's face it, the majority of our Springfield Councilors are resisting a fair and progressive election system just to protect their political positions." I gave him a call and his wife answered, sounding a bit under the weather and then Fred came on and we had a good chat. I congratulated him on his letter and then asked him whether he knew Dr. Stusick. He said no but that he had heard of him. I asked about music and Whitney said he has been serving as choirmaster at his Presbyterian Church. He talked about a dance band he had back in college and said that locally the best singer he ever had was a soloist named Fred Peng who worked for Monsanto. Whitney also said his son with Parkinson's is doing better.

Eamon called and said a state takeover of Springfield would be "the next logical step" because what good would a bailout like Ryan wants do if the same old team of failed players and the same old municipal organization model is in place?

This afternoon Professor Eugene D. Hill of Mt. Holyoke College and Heidi Holder, Associate Professor arrived at 12:45 and rang my back doorbell to look at the Stusick stuff. They came in a sporty red car, nice and shiny. Hill gifted me with a copy of his new book with William Kerrigan, The Wit to Know: Essays on English Renaissance Literature. I took a picture of them and they took a picture of me. Before I showed them any of the Stusick material we sat on the breezeway and I served them grapes, cheese and iced tea.

Hill told me that about 1970 somebody went through the Williston Library and walked off with all the books published before 1700. Holder told me she is working on a book about the biographies of the major English dramatists. Hill's doctorate is from Princeton and hers is from UMass. She talked about the educational fad of "teaching composition without teaching composition." No readings, just write your own feelings and no grades. Students share their manuscript with another student who shares their view of it. I said it sounds like mixing muck with mud. She said the teacher is not supposed to correct grammar, and that this sort of teaching is strictly enforced at UMass! Heidi Holder is a sweet demure woman as I had hoped Melinda McIntosh would turn out to be.

I then showed them some 1978 posters I had gathered in the Amherst area. Hill mentioned that he had seen the article about me in the Valley Advocate. I showed them my statue of Milton and my autographed portrait of Calvin Coolidge. They liked my Peter Max Peace Corp poster. I also introduced them to Sweet Pea and Honey Pot and I caught Holder admiring Mother's bric-a-brac.

They then examined the Stusick memorabilia, but expressed doubt over whether Mount Holyoke would be interested in acquiring it. He said Mt. Holyoke is more focused on the works of their own alumni. They said I should offer the Stusick material to the Josten Library at Smith College which is interested in the performing arts. Hill then asked if I would like to come to a Sunday brunch at Mt. Holyoke in the fall and I said that would be nice. As they left he said he couldn't believe he was in Springfield, that this wasn't the kind of neighborhood he associated with Springfield.

May 26, 2004

Very chilly all day. Gas is $2.07 at Lincoln/Mercury formerly Mutual Ford.

Bernie Sanders has cancelled his campaign kick-off scheduled for tonight because of two Vermonters who just got killed in Iraq. Wally Swist is a former manager at Johnson's Bookstore who is now living in Robert Francis' cabin in Amherst. He read five of his poems on WFCR this morning which in my view were really good stuff. I especially liked his poem "Breaking Open Garlic." I recall that shortly after he left Johnson's he published a book of poetry and I have it around here someplace.

Among the business files of my Uncle George Giroux are the names of employees Stanislaw Partyka of Chicopee, a lathe operator born in Poland, and Edwin Kolek of 31 Ames Avenue in Chicopee. Andrew B. Wallace was the President of Forbes & Wallace in 1966. The Basketball Hall of Fame complex is getting a new ice cream shoppe. Eamon says Mrs. Ryan is in the hospital for heart trouble but he doesn't know which one.

Arrived downtown at 11:04. Homeless campers still on the St. Michael's Cathedral lawn. I walked over and spoke to a woman named Lynn who said she once had a six-figure job but now she's out on the street. Went next door to the library where the freebie racks had Mass tourist brochures and lots of magazines. I took some New Yorker mags for Mr. Cohn.

Then over to Burger King and got two Whoppers for the price of one with a coupon. When I got back Mrs. Penniman was out weeding the flowers around her mailbox. Colleen had quite a mess of cardboard by her recycling box. I called and told her she should tie up the cardboard and show some respect for the trashmen!

I called Byron's Funeral Home and complained about the weeds growing around 684 State Street and they said, "We don't own it anymore, we sold it over a year ago." I said well it's your trademark building and the deed of sale should have had a clause in it that the purchaser must keep the place looking good. I said that in the eyes of the community you aren't keeping your place up! They hung up on me.

Chris Collins of WHMP in Northampton and local media consultant Paul Robbins were the guests on Watercooler last night. Host Susan Kaplan said, "There is a long history of hope being dashed in this city and who dashes it? The media."

Eamon called and said that when Tommy O'Connor was mayor he tried repeatedly to get information from Monsanto about what chemicals they were dumping, but to no avail. Monsanto had designated employees who did volunteer work for the city and that was supposed to make them the good guys. Eamon's brother in law Charles Hagerty died at age 52 of cancer after thirty years with Monsanto. Eamon said almost everyone he knew who worked for Monsanto died of cancer.

May 28, 2004

67 degrees. Sunny, beautiful vacation weather.

Springfield Library at 220 State Street is having "Author's Night" June 10, 2004 featuring Michael C. White and Suzanne Strempek Shea. For Sale sign still up at the old Turner place at 116 Birchland.

Called Jim Madigan the producer of Watercooler and complained about the same personalities appearing all the time. I said it was a case of the station permitting itself to be used for the self-promotion of a limited group of people. I mentioned failed bank president Roy Scott, Linda Fuller and Jack Briggs, nice enough people but they have built a public image through the exploitation of their association with the station. I said there are a thousand interesting people in this valley and there should be a rule of only one appearance and then on to someone else. Madigan replied that they wanted to have Tom Vannah on last night but he was unavailable. He then thanked me very politely for my call.

Went to the Acres Pride to make copies and the cops were all around. I asked the clerk and he said Bernies was robbed by someone on foot. Drove out to Fernbank/Maynard Road but nothing going on, no machinery in sight. Took the back way to Indian Orchard, where I tried to get some shots of the Stusick oblisk. I parked in front of Oldies but there was a bad combination of sunlight and shadows. Continuing on to Ludlow, half of the Ludlow Bridge was closed but congestion not bad. Stopped at the Ludlow Burger King and got a chicken sandwich. I asked for a slice of onion so they took off the tomato!

Out of Burger King at 12:21 and walked over to Big Y Ludlow. They have a "Little Y" playground for kids. Then I went to see J.Y. Hess' newest cupola. We wheeled it into the sunlight so I could take some pictures. I remarked that if I had kids I'd buy a cupola for a play house. Hess also has a collection of millstones and sharpening wheels. Jack Hess is quite a phenomenon.

Governor Romney's Zip Code is Belmont 02178. No resolution in sight for Springfield's finances. The Boston Globe said the city was headed for receivership but Mitt Romney and Eric Kriss denied it. I called Larry Alexander McDermott and said that the Globe article, despite its error on receivership, still had more information on Springfield's finances than his paper did.

May 31, 2004

55 degrees, overcast but lightening up later. Too chilly for this time of year.

Rumsfield on WFCR was saying "freedom is worth fighting for." So put on your flack jacket Rummy and pick up your gun and get over there! WFCR played Beethoven's 3rd which is lovely but long.

Landers is making frosted brownies. Mother came down with the shingles on August 11, 1983. Caring for her prevented me from going to Bethel to do research on the granite company. I'm reminded of two acts of ingratitude: Never got a thank you from the Boland family for the photos I sent them of the Eddie Boland statue dedication. Also never received a thank you from St. Michael's for the postcards I sent.

Eamon called and said the Quebec Team cops have been pulled from the schools and put back on the street. He says the amount of sick time taken by teachers is even worse than the time taken by cops. Eamon left a message telling Editor McDermott to look into the number of accidents involving cruisers and the resulting disability claims. Also said Mayor Ryan is trying to blackmail the state into giving the city more money by pointing out that if Springfield fails the state's bond rating will be hurt resulting in higher borrowing costs for the whole state.

So this is Memorial Day and mid-afternoon I went for a drive. Drove down Tinkham Road and saw that Sampson's Funeral Home had their water sprinklers on. The DYS facility kids were playing basketball in a very secure outdoor cage. The former Pulaski Hall is now the Parker Street Pub and Keno outlet. I stopped at the Stusick monument and found the light better for photographs than the other day. The tablet reads:

Dr. Stanley S. Stusick
Fellow of the American College of Surgeons
Veteran of Two World Wars
Baystate Medical President and Senior Surgeon
Ludlow Hospital Chief of Staff
Served in many positions at Wing Memorial Hospital, Mary Lane Hospital, Wesson Women's and Springfield Hospital.
Sponsored by The One Hundred Club - The Stusick Family

I drove over to Hillcrest Cemetery and there were a good number of cars and people around, but no carillon music. Pulled up in front of the mausoleum, got out and found the door locked. Office also closed. So no music and no mausoleum entry at Hillcrest on Memorial Day.

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