September 2003

September 3, 2003

67 degrees, wet out. Gas $1.77 at Breckwood Sunoco.

A Deerfield boy, 24 but still a boy, came home dead from Iraq today. Casualties build support for wars because we want to fight on for revenge and if we quit then they died for nothing.

WFCR said 80% of voters can't name any of the Democrats running for president but 58% think a Democrat will win. Joe Lucia ran the J.L. Machine Company at 189 Poplar Street in Agawam. Ernest F. Fritz was Senior Bank President at Westbank in 1990. Jerry Nardi of Springfield won The Republican's photo contest. West Hartford is having a cow parade sponsored by Guida's Milk.

Out at 9:15am and saw a helicopter touching down at Mass Mutual. Fred Whitney has a blue and white "Jacobson for City Council" sign up. The Alexander House is waiting for its foundation to be poured. I repeat that it is too crowded on its new site and too close to the brick house next door. Not raining but slightly misty all the way over to Maria's in Agawam. White hydrangeas along the left side of the driveway. I looked up and noticed that her chimney is falling apart. Spent most of my time there looking through the books in the front of the attic. Over Uncle George's room I found his toolbox and brought it home; it has old-fashioned oaken drawers with felt on the bottom.

Later the Robillard's arrived to check out some of the stuff. Mrs. Robillard has a wonderfully co-operative personality. They said they had just come from looking at an antique medicine cabinet in Brimfield that was in such bad shape they declined to buy it. They took some items and said they would come back next Monday to see what else I've unearthed.

Then Eamon showed up to pick up some items I put aside for him. He said he used to know a meat cutter named Al Giroux who used to work for Stop&Shop. Eamon had no interest in the old vinyl records. He told me he paid Eastern Tree Service $900 to take down a Maple in his backyard.

On the way back through West Springfield I noticed that the Burger King opposite the Big E is gone. Therefore I ate at the greasy McDonald's in nearby Century Center. The hum in my ear has increased to the point so that I could barely hear the girl who waited on me. Pet Supplies Plus and Hollywood Video are in the former Sears automotive department. I went into Bob's Discount Furniture to check out their bedroom sets and took a box of popcorn from their snack station by the fountain. On the way home going past Springfield College I noticed that the name "Loveland Chapel" has been taken off the building which is now called the "Child Development Center." I must investigate.

In an article in the paper today Springfield School Superintendent Joseph P. Burke is quoted as admitting, "It's been an uphill battle in fighting an established culture of not taking attendance of kids all that seriously." The kids don't show up for class and nobody cares.

September 6, 2003

67 degrees at 8:25am. Overcast all day.

Whatever happened to Fritz the Cat? The Economist is advertising on WFCR that they cover this and that and the last thing on their list is "the arts."

The PVTA has announced it will not run a shuttle bus to the Big E this year, but Peter Pan will. Keith Sikes, director and founder of The Valley Photo Center in Tower Square had his picture in the paper recently. The Library Commission will hold a public hearing in City Hall Room 222 with Patrick Markey, Chairperson of the LIbrary Commission on September 9th. Rumors are that Andrew Scibelli intends to step down as President of Springfield Technical Community College.

Ruth Benton of Wilbraham and formerly of Monarch Life Insurance has died at age 98. She was an acquaintance of Mother but they were not close.

Down the street today by Lucius the fireman's house a tree service crew was cutting down an old Oak. I stopped by and told an older guy that I'd appreciate it if they would come by and see me later about an estimate. Around 1:30 a little red truck with one Bill Kulle came by and I showed him the Maple I wanted cut. He said he would take it down for $725 dollars but he couldn't come do it for about three days. He said he would prefer payment in cash and I accepted his offer. The name of the firm is Wallace's Tree Service, "The Urban Lumber Jacks" from Hampden. Eamon said that was a good price.

Went to Aunt Maria's and worked in the attic. On the way back home I stopped at Antonio's Grinders at the foot of the hill. The parking lot was full except for one spot. I got the five dollar special, a baloney grinder with cheese, lettuce and onion. It was better than Subway and I got my first Missouri quarter in my change.

Today is Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Day and dammit, they always do it, Ray Herschel on TV40 at 5:30 leading off with a piece on the "economic impact" of the enshrinement ceremony. This is not about honor. It is not about history. It is not about sport. It is about money.

A James Ryan for City Council brochure arrived in the mail today. Eamon called and said Nader the Hatter is busy putting new products on the internet. Eamon said of the Hall of Fame, "A building is a building, but it takes people to pump life into it." Eamon told me there was a drug raid on Tacoma Street, but the suspects escaped by running through the backyard and into the park. Here is Eamon's latest answering machine message:

Springfield's dishonest career politicians are more interested in name recognition and getting re-elected than in solving the city's problems. They can ignore reality by talking in glittering generalities about a most liveable city, but you can be sure that outsiders are well aware of this city's bad schools, rampant crime, poor quality of life environment and bad city government under investigation for political corruption.

September 8, 2003

66 degrees in the breezeway, beautiful. Gas is $1.77 all around Six Corners.

War is a luxury we can't afford anymore when we can't even afford the responsibilities of peace.

George Bush addressed the nation at 8:30 last night for maybe fifteen minutes. He boasted that "we have killed hundreds of Saddam loyalists." Is this a genocide? The Supreme Court will hear presentations on the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill today.

Congressman Neal was on TV40 saying that Iraq is going to be "a long, dangerous and costly war." Dr. Sobel the self promoter has the better part of a page in the September issue of The Valley Business Outlook. Haven't seen Sobel in The Reminder lately.

Henry L. Lenart was the President of the Polish National Credit Union in 1990. Jack A. Butterfield was the Chairman of the Springfield Unit of Shriner's Hospital on Carew Street in 1990.

Took some photos of the now doomed Maple in front of my house today. It is a beautiful tree that got too big for its space. While I was taking pictures Socrates Babacus pulled up and said he has been cleaning out his garage which is really packed with stuff. On my way to Maria's I noticed that the house on the corner of Talbot and North, formerly a pigpen, is all fixed up and has a Landmark for sale sign on it.

I arrived at Maria's today at 8:58 and worked in the back of the attic. Way down in an envelope I found an old dollar bill, a 1935 silver certificate! I've found no other cash so far. Then I felt much jubilation as I unearthed a 1937 receipt from Johnson's Bookstore! It is printed in green ink which was their usual style. My Uncle George learned about investing primarily from books he bought at Johnson's.

I also found an old ad for Genton Clothes at 1130 Riverdale Road, West Springfield. They are now called Yale-Genton and are located at 400 Riverdale Road. Aunt Maria and Uncle George and the Kochs took the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise around Manhattan Island on August 22, 1953. I came upon the substantial booklet that came with the cruise. When I finally left Maria's I stopped on the way home and bought the specials at Stop&Shop.

The other night Kenneth T. Jackson was on PBS talking about how at the time the World Trade Center was built NYC was in a "financial crisis" which the twin towers made worse because adding two new buildings that weren't needed flooded the market with extra square feet of retail space.

That is precisely what happened here in Springfield. Baystate West was the worst thing that happened to downtown Springfield because it emptied all the old surrounding office buildings as businesses abandoned them to move into Baystate West. The politicians also granted them special tax breaks to enable them to charge the lower rents to attract them. The same thing only worse happened when Monarch Place was built. The skyscrapers were supposed to revitalize the area but instead they ended up cannibalizing the rest of downtown, shrinking the central business district and thereby serving to hasten, rather than reverse Springfield's decline, to say nothing of the historic buildings that were destroyed to build them.

September 10, 2003

Sunny and cool, it felt like Fall but it's still Summer!

If you can't become a successful pig you can at least make life for the successful pig unpleasant. WFCR says Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has accused Dean of Vermont of "breaking with Israel."

The Boston Diocese has settled its sex abuse cases for $85 million to be dealt out to over 500 victims. The Catholic Church says the settlement will not be funded out of the contributions at Mass but where will the money be coming from? Do they have a goldmine somewhere or intend to start robbing banks?

John Ashcroft is in Boston defending the Patriot Act. Among those in the audience was Springfield Police Chief Paula Meara, who was a good little girl and said on TV that she hopes everyone will support the Patriot Act. Holyoke's Chief Scott was on saying that police departments in the valley are working together more now than ever before.

John Silber has been replaced at Boston University by Daniel S. Golden, formerly of NASA. Phillip Zea has returned to be head of Historic Deerfield after leaving in 1999. Lynda McCurdy Hotra is trustee. There will be a tour of the Chicopee National Bank Building (the Ravosa place) on Court Square on September 16th. It's a closed bid auction with bids due by September 26th. Emily Bader was on TV saying that the libraries Albano closed will soon reopen and they are hiring more library workers.

Departed for Agawam at 9am and I waved to the Ciantra's who were out for a morning walk. There is still a construction tie-up at the Orange Street intersection. Arrived at Maria's at 9:25. Vince Robillard soon arrived and took the 1920's writing desk from the attic and the antique egg basket. Robillard was accompanied by his wife's cousin Francis Johnson, who said he taught Claudia Robillard to drive back when they were both students at Minnechaug High School in Wilbraham.

Robillard says he prefers Pioneer Auction to Imler's. He thinks the Pioneer people are more honest. Bob Brunelle of Antique Stoves, an articulate and muscular Frenchman with tattoos stopped by. He said the antique iron stove in the basement is very rare but it's missing a piece so he won't take it, he only wants antiques stoves that can still be used and sold for rich people's cabins.

Before leaving I went to see Shirley Lucia who was raking and admiring the yellow roses by her garden. I told her that I am nearly through with the furniture and she said that the Methodist ladies might come to see if they want anything. I said she should invite the local historical society to come over but she didn't know if Agawam has one.

When I got home I noticed that Mr. Irving Cohn was out so I walked over to chat. He is always cheerful but said that old age is weighing heavily upon him. He went to his doctor yesterday who said at his age there isn't much to be done. He said he's sorry now that he neglected his health in his youth. His wife's brother died recently and Cohn said "it hit me harder than it did her." He did say that he is grateful for the good friends he has had throughout life, but now they are all dying.

I mentioned politics and Cohn said he is glad the members of Congress are all rich because that makes them less tempted by corruption. I told him about taking down my Maple and he said Cressotti is having a tree taken down by the side of his house. Mr. Cohn said he is especially proud of his daughter Rachel who is a writer of some kind. Before I left he asked me to bring his trash barrels in for him so I did.

September 13, 2003

The eleventh was the second anniversary of the attack on New York. 2792 lives were lost that day, but George Bush offers us nothing but endless war.

Joseph A. Nizmiec of 28 Parker Street was a wood dealer in 1942. G.A. Goodrow worked in the Accounts Payable Department of Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford in 1943. Western Mass Electric Company was located at 174 Brush Hill Avenue in West Springfield in 1971. Johnny Cash "The Man in Black" has died. I never cared much for his music. Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury has a risky strip today praising the virtues of masturbation. Good to see him still pushing the limits.

I've had this car for some years, but one feature that never worked before is now working. Suddenly it has started honking at me if I start driving without my seat belt on. It has always made a dinging sound if the keys are in the ignition and the door is open. But this seat belt warning is something it just learned. Sy Becker was on TV today reporting on the Big E which he described as "a big time for big spenders." Another news story said that the five shootings in Albano's 'entertainment district" in the past few weeks has resulted in "business being down in the district" With all the violence is it any wonder that people are staying away?

Wallace's Tree Service came today to take down the Maple. They left such a nice flat cut on the stump that I put a little tablecloth on it and took a picture of Sweet Pea and Honey Pot having a picnic on it. I gave each of the tree cutters a bottle of Bristol Creme as a tip and the Black and Puerto Rican tree cutters seemed especially pleased. At one point I heard the white boss tell the Puerto Rican that it's okay if he made a mistake because Puerto Ricans are slow learners. I was amazed that the Puerto Rican said nothing in reply. When they left I saw Kelly's little boy playing in the sawdust and chips. I notice that Kelly gets the Boston Globe but not the Springfield Republican.

The station by the Lincoln-Mercury place formerly known as Mutual Ford is now a Shell where gas is $1.77 a gallon. Still going out to Feeding Hills every day to work on the estate. Maria has pipes in the attic with clothing on it, Mother must have gotten the idea from her. I came across an old white bathroom scale and weighed myself fully dressed - 195 pounds.

I still can't find Maria's fancy antique brass and wood camera or the autographed Noyes book. I was delighted to find a choice old black leather bag made with walrus skin. I also found two rolls of pennies and one of nickles. While I was there a Nelson W. St.Marie called expressing interest in buying Maria's car. I must contact The Johnson and Wales Culinary Archives and Museum to see if they want the antique stove in the cellar for their museum of cooking. Barbara Cook is the curator.

On the way back there was a traffic jam on the Buxton Bridge. I swung by Eamon's house to drop off some papers and there was a city dump truck parked across the street from his house. Eamon has a new Lincoln rocker and has an Irish leprechaun doll sitting in it. Eamon has been working on the School Committee campaign of Antonette Pepe whom he describes as "a real fighter."

Eamon said he was talking to someone who knows Tom Devine's sister, the one who works at Bonavita's Tavern. He was told that it is true about the tragic decline of Doyle the Twig Painter. They also told Eamon that Tom is happy living in Amherst and working at UMass. Eamon said that you can't get those UMass jobs unless a politician speaks up for you, and he said Devine talked like a reformer but he is "a hypocrite who sold out to cash in." I said, "But Eamon, why does this surprise you? That is the Springfield way."

September 14, 2003

Rained steadily. At the Pond (Alden) everybody is $1.75 per gallon.

It is the destiny of glass to be smashed. Gilbert and Barker Manufacturing Company was in West Springfield in 1944. Here is an incomplete list of major Springfield writers over the years:

Bibbers Dalton, Frank Faulkner, Tux Sullivan, Bill Putnam, Robert Parker, Timothy Leary, Clifton Johnson, James Gordon Gilkey, Tom Shea, Eamon T. O'Sullivan, Tom Vannah, Maureen Turner, Kris Hundley, Stephanie Kraft, Dr. Seuss, Josiah Gilbert Holland, Harry A. Wright, Mason A. Green, Henry M. Burt, Alfred M. Copeland, Horace Moses, J. Loring Brooks, Aella Greene, Lucy and Herbert Hyrick, William A.R. Chapin, Tom Devine, Wayne Phaneuf, Robert Holcomb, John R. Auchter, Howard N. Simpson, William C. Hill, John Francis Speight, Shera Cohen, Richard Muhlburger, Susan K. Downs, Paul Fein, Harold Flavin, William Orr, Rose A. Lynch, Joe Carvalho, Linda K. Fuller, Dr. John Alifano, John W. Spencer and Irving Townsend.

Up bright and early and cleaned house. Arrived at Auntie's at 11:15 to continue sifting through the estate. I was going through an old wardrobe when I came upon seven boxes of ammo for a .22 pistol. So when I left early to go to the Quail Run Estates retirement home picnic on Cardinal Drive off Cooper Street I stopped and dropped the ammo off at the Agawam Police Department. I was wearing my doggie collar with padlock and bright orange jumpsuit, which made the officer at the desk look at me askance, but he was polite and gave me a receipt.

It was still raining when I arrived at Quail Run and the parking lot was packed. The event was outdoors under large tents and a very low-key affair. Entertainment was very ably provided by a band. They even had a pony and a clown! Some people stared at me because of how I was dressed, but nobody looked disturbed.

For a picnic it was a really good feed, a scoop of potato salad, a cup of fruit, a wheat roll, sausage and pepper grinders and an ear of corn. They also had chocolate chip cookies and two kinds of brownies. There were no speeches, no sales pitches, no literature, just a picnic. Unfortunately among the guests were flies and bees trying to stay out of the rain.

When I left I noticed there is a place next door called The Atrium, which turned out to be a place for people with Alzheimer's and dementia. I don't think they'll be having a picnic! The Director of Admissions is Judy Pothul. Then I went over to the Feeding Hills Stop&Shop for the specials.

Bookseller Paul M. Murray of Wilbraham came by this afternoon. He is 58 years old and has two daughters. Murray told me he attended an experimental college in New Hampshire that no longer exists. By the time he came the rain had let up and Paul arrived on a white motorcycle wearing a black helmet. He was well-tanned and wearing a green tank top. His father was Samuel E. Murray (1906-89). He said his father used to go to Johnson's Bookstore all the time and once auctioned off five boxes of archives from the Farrar Alpaca Company of Holyoke. I told him I like Pioneer Auction best because sometimes you can get things for less then you bid but with Imler at Stantons you always pay full price. He nodded in agreement.

I showed him around and he said he liked my stuff. He admired my Indian and he said he knows Nader the Hatter. Murray said my Peter Max poster "could be worth a good deal of money." Up in the attic he said my wooden puzzles would also bring good money. He refused all refreshments, saying he had ice cream with his daughter at Randall's before he came. As he was leaving I gave him a signed copy of my brochure on the history of Blanche and John's Fernbank, the land which I am donating to Wilbraham. Murray departed at 4:55 saying he will stop by Maria's soon to see what I have. There is something a little strange about him. Then again, we are all strange.

September 15, 2003

73 degrees at 11:15am. Sunoco is $1.75.

The Big E attendance at day's end was 198,999, up from 171,069 yesterday. In the old shows George Burns and Gracie Allen's neighbor was Blanche, something Mother remarked on but which I had forgotten until WFCR mentioned it today.

Paid every one of my bills today. Little bill payments went out at Louis&Clark on my way into the city. Their entryway bulletin board has a lot of posters on it and is the most significant posting place in the Pine Point/16 Acres area. My big bills were placed in the chute of the Main Post Office downtown.

Had to sit twice through the light at Gateway Village because classes were changing at WNEC. The Springfield Newspapers digital sign is promoting buckling your seatbelts. The top floor of the Paramount building has For Rent signs in the windows, one letter in each window. The antique shop on Boland Way is gone, it was once a liquor store. Drove past the Hall of Fame and they were repaving the road in front of Pizza Uno.

It was raining when I got to Maria's and I spent a few hours sifting through the stuff. I found an empty six pack of old green Coke bottles, a definite money maker. I also came across a 1990 letter from Assistant Tax Collector Ann Marie Hartmann featuring a beautiful image of the Agawam town seal. While I was there Joe Lucia came over. He limps now and looks weak. He is not at all aggressive like his wife. I thanked him for all he did for Aunt Maria in keeping her yard up in her years of decline.

Before going home I swung out to Wilbraham Center to check out Paul Murray's place. I recognized it as the house that James Brady McGuire lived in before he moved to Faculty Street. An immense two family house. Next door at 477 Main was Murray's dad's place, which behind it has a small well maintained barn painted red with white trim. If this is the barn he told me is stuffed full of books then it is not a very big barn.

Morris Jones has a commercial for City Council that boasts, "Morris Jones fought and won to keep Alden Street open." Eamon called and said he donates regularly to the Retired State, County and Municipal Employee Association of Massachusetts, "The Voice of the Retired Public Employee" whose president is Ralph White. He also told me about 25 Roy Street where a bootlegger once lived in a brick colonial with an ornate fence on the corner of Newbury Street. It has an underground tunnel through which liquor was smuggled during prohibition.

I called the Registrar of Deeds today and got Terry who transferred me to Loretta who put me through to Registrar Donald Ashe. I told him he should put Governor Romney's toll free number on his literature. He thanked me for my suggestion and asked whether I was a Republican. I said yes, but explained that I am a very liberal Republican who is disgusted with Bush. Ashe replied that if so I should switch to become a Democrat, but I replied that the local Democrats are corrupt and I don't want to be associated with them. He laughed and said thanks again for calling, but he did not say he would add Romney's number to his handouts.

September 16, 2003

End of rain. Gas at Breckwood Shell is $1.75.

Veterans are 9% of the population but 28% of the homeless population.

On Martha Stewart's show today a guy from Sunny Border Nurseries in Kensington, Connecticut talked about ferns and other evergreen plants. On WFCR this morning Julia Rothner did a major story about buying prescription drugs in Canada and Mayor Albano was interviewed. This issue is making Albano nationally famous!

Henry A. Kelly's obituary appeared in the paper today. He was 84. When I was at Buckingham Junior High in the '50's he was a teacher there. The last time I saw him was at McCreech's funeral and before then the last time was with Tillotson during the teacher's strike around 1980. He was a buddy of Gerry Foley.

I headed out at 10:20 this morning to go to Glickman and vote in today's primary. Only a few campaign signs in out front, but later I saw a lot of them outside the Church in the Acres and outside of Duggan. I noticed the principal peering at me from her office, perhaps fearful that I would take her school hand-outs and correct them for grammar. I smiled and waved. There was no free food and one person to check you in, one to check you out and one cop. I was voter number 35 and wrote in the names of all the rebels: Eamon O'Sullivan, Bob and Karen Powell, Belle-Rita Novak, Michaelann Bewsee, Tom Devine, Talbert Swan, Mitch Ogulewicz and myself. Eamon told me that whatever I do I shouldn't vote for Jennifer Murphy since her husband Peter is a Labor lawyer for the School Department who is "tied in with the Neal-Albano Gang."

After voting I headed downtown to tour Ravosa's place on Court Square, officially known as the Chicopee National Bank Building, which is up for auction at the end of the month. Of course I have no plans to bid, but they don't know that. I was a half hour early so I headed over to J.T.'s Sports Bar in the old Johnson's Bookstore building for lunch. I sat at a table by the wall and leafed through copies of the Globe and the Republican they had. On television Gen. Wesley Clark announced that he is running for president. I asked my waitress Shannon what she recommended and she said the salads are good at $4.99, so I had that and a piece of pizza. It was great and I gave her a $2 tip.

Then I headed over to the Civic Pub where I met as planned with John S. Williamson, Vice President of CB Richard Ellis of Hartford. He is a short, very friendly and accommodating man who said he would give me a tour of the property. He said the building is steam heated but we couldn't go down in the basement. We took the elevator to the second floor where Ravosa's law office is with diplomas and certificates on the wall. On the third floor was another modern but unused law office. It had brass chandeliers which I recognized as being from Ravosa's old club The Bar Association.

I told Williamson that I'm no fan of Peter Picknelly, but I think Picknelly would be the perfect owner for this building and he agreed. Then we took the elevator up to the top floor and into Anthony Ravosa's apartment. I've never seen a private residence downtown as wonderful as Ravosa's place. You walk out of the elevator and you are in a two-story cathedral like space that is very ornately decorated. To the left is a spiral staircase leading to a loft and a stained glass window with a sunset motif. It was too superb for words.

The living room has a huge television built into the wall and there is an ultra-modern gourmet kitchen with marble counters. We did not go into the bedrooms in back nor did we go up on the rooftop to see Mrs. Ravosa's famous garden. Yet there is no question that of downtown homes Ravosa's is the star attraction.

The whole apartment is a celebration of urban life, and what a complement it would have been to the vibrant city Springfield once was. Tony Ravosa has many flaws, but he loves life and he loves Springfield, and yet he was shunned by the dull, dim-witted mediocrities who run this city and who could never even pretend to match his vision. I walked over to the window with the sunset motif and pointed out to Williamson how through that majestic window you could see all of Springfield's major towers, including the courthouse, Court Square, First Church and even the Springfield Armory off in the distance.

I heard Williamson asking me, "Attorney Miller, are you alright?" Suddenly I realized that there were tears running down my face, so I took out my black handkerchief and wiped them away. Then we took the elevator back down to Main Street where I thanked Williamson for the tour and promised to send him some postcards. After we parted I started walking up State Street towards my car. Russ Denver was walking past the Civic Center and waved cheerfully but I was in no mood to stop and just kept walking.

The Ravosa's Court Square Complex

September 18, 2003

Clear blue sky today. 62 degrees. Six Corners gas still $1.75.

163 American soldiers killed in Iraq so far.

Richard Grasso has resigned as the head of the New York Stock Exchange. Staples headquarters is in Framingham, Massachusetts and its president is Ronald L. Sargent. New Hampshire is the fastest growing state in New England. The 16 Acres Library is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but the Pine Point Library is only open on Friday.

Kenneth Mills runs Gemini Lawn Care from Clydesdale Lane in Springfield. Donald Dunn from WNEC is now working at a law school in California. A $850,000 fund raising drive has been launched to fix up the Municipal Auditorium, now called Symphony Hall. A lot of the cushioned seats are ripped, paint is peeling everywhere, the drapes are ripped and the lavatories are, well. Give a certain amount and you get your name on a seat. Didn't they fix the place up a few years ago when they took out the organ?

Out at 7:15am. I passed by the Five Town Mall where the Balloon Platoon was decorating outside the Burlington Coat Factory which opens soon. There is a building, which I think used to be a gas station, in the little triangle of land at the intersection of Central, Pine and Florence which has been demolished, with the bricks piled up in the middle of the lot.

Arrived at Aunt Maria's at 7:45 and spent the day screening ephemera. I threw away two-thirds and brought home the rest. I found an old Spaghetti Warehouse menu and a Tapley Court brochure. Tapley School was designed by the same architect who built Wesley Methodist Church, and both were constructed with enormous roofs. I am also finding material to add to my portfolio of local banking forms from across the decades. Also came across a Carlisle's razor blades wrapper, it is the only Carlisle's in-house-brand I know of, but the fact that there is one suggests there may have been others. In any case a rare collector's item from a local business.

Paul Murray arrived at nine in a light blue wagon. He complained that his wife is saying he brings home too much junk and the barn and his cellar are packed. Paul said he is looking after his mother who is in her nineties. He told me he has two siblings, a younger sister and a 60 year old brother Peter Murray who graduated from Harvard. Murray said that Eugene Povirk is one of the few people he lets into his place to select books because he always pays top price. He looked at the antique stove in the cellar which I noticed says Home Crawford Royal on the oven door but he wasn't interested and left at ten.

On the way home I stopped at Angelo's Fruit Mart on Boston Road and Angelo's son said I could take some wooden skids for free but I insisted on giving him $5. Then I stopped next door at Arnold's and bought two loaves of raisin cinnamon bread for $1.10.

Got another mailing from Russ Whitney, CEO of Whitney Education Group inviting me to come to a real estate seminar at the Hotel Northampton. Whitney claims to have made a fortune in real estate and is now making even more of a fortune telling other people how to do it. Father Scahill of East Longmeadow claims that Bishop Dupre said at a meeting that former Bishop Christopher Weldon destroyed the personnel records of predator priest Father Lavigne, but Dupre is sputtering that he said no such thing.

A Ryan for Mayor brochure arrived in the mail today. Eamon called and said he is not going to Henry Kelly's funeral. He noted that Doris Lynch, the wife of Henry Lynch is in the obituaries. Eamon used to drink a lot with Harry, who served under Hyman Rickover, the head of the Springfield Armory. Antonette Pepe has come up with the campaign slogan, "Promoting Excellence in Public Education." The Springfield Republican has given her campaign nothing but negative coverage.

WFCR says "not a single lease" has been signed for the Adrien's Landing economic development project in Hartford, scheduled to be completed in 2005. They said, "Hartford remains a tough sell in a sluggish economy." So what about Springfield?

September 20, 2003

71 degrees at 8:45. Overcast and humid. Citgo on Parker is $1.71.

R.P. Childs Stamp Company was located at 1618 Main Street over Kresge's in downtown Springfield where the Federal Building is now. It was established in 1907 by Mr. Robert P. Childs, who operated the business until his retirement in 1948. The new owner, former employee Arthur M. Allen, ran the business until 1978, when it was taken over by Roland A. Stebbins. Joseph Carvalho was the supervisor of the Genealogy and Local History Department of the City Library in 1983.

This is National POW-MIA Recognition Day. I have found that CBS-3 plays splendid documentaries in the middle of the night. Last night they had a great one about dam building in India. Got a form letter from Kent Williamson, Executive Director of the National Council of Teachers of English that addressed me as "Dr. J. Wesley Miller."

I don't like that some people who live voluntarily on the Cape Cod seacoast demand money from the taxpayers when their houses get washed away. They knew the risks when they bought the property. Called M. Humbertson at the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum and left a message that I would soon donate my essay "The History of Music at Classical High School" and my rebuttals to some of the historical essays of Richard Garvey.

I started the day by sitting in my garage sifting through some of Aunt Maria's newspaper clippings. I found one article from November 1997 by Carol Malley about plans to put a mural on the wall behind where the Hotel Charles was demolished. It never materialized, instead we got a playhouse replica of the Peter Pan trolly barn. Also found a letter to the editor by Central High English teacher Carol S. Brookmeyer from 1992.

While going through the clippings suddenly Mr. Cohn walked up the driveway. He was broken up and very upset and he told me that his son Zackary is dead. I tried to console him and reminded him he still has Mrs. Cohn and his other kids and many friends. Zack is the second child he has outlived and it is too bad. Then a woman in a beautiful dress drove up and took Mr. Cohn home in her car and thanked me as she left with him.

The last weekend of summer and the treebelt tree at the corner of Plumtree and South Branch Parkway is turning color. The Napolitan's have a Dom Sarno sign stuck in their Longhill Street lawn. Went to the opening of the Burlington Coat Factory at Five Town Mall. There was a cop parked by Leone's Restaurant, watching for speeders on Cooley. It wasn't a very grand opening, nobody handing out anything at the door. It's a really nice store, better than Bradlees. Lots of clothing, more variety than Penny's. A large leather department, but no biker jackets. Enormous baby department. Some African schlock, inexpensive reproductions. Cut glasswear, cheap silverware,the presentation of merchandise is as impeccable as Filene's.

Charlie Ryan is on the cover of the Valley Advocate this week. They have a long article by Maureen Turner praising him. Eamon called and said that the best recommendation he can make about Wesley Clark for President is that "he knows nothing about politics." Eamon says that Springfield's city government, with over 7,000 employees in 37 departments, is "a personnel mismanagement disaster." He pointed out that such numbers encourage hard to trace no-show jobs for the specially connected. The fact is no one really knows the exact number of people on the city payroll, and with everything being done by old-fashioned non-computer methods, the opportunities for corruption are endless.

September 23, 2003

First day of Fall. 58 degrees at 9:08. Absolutely lovely day. Gas is $1.75 at the Pond.

The foliage peak in the Berkshires is predicted for October 8th. Vice President Cheney is in Hartford. WFCR said this morning that "jobs are continuing to flow overseas." Wasn't H. Ross Perot correct?

F. C. Milroy was the Manager of the Insurance Department at A.G. Spaulding on Meadow Street in Chicopee in 1966. Kenneth Thornton was the Pastor of the Agawam Methodist Church in 1967. The attendance at the Big E so far is 490,060. When I attended Homer Street School in the 1940's there were only two black students in my class, Charles Howard and Wendell Johnson.

The woodwork on the Indian Motocycle Apartments needs repainting. I hear that the Indian Motocycle plant in California is closing. When they repainted the Fuller Block this summer they did so in deeper colors. Had a sausage muffin at McDonald's on Allen Street. Fred Whitney no longer has a lawn sign and the dead tree on the Springfield College president's lawn has been taken down.

Drove down Morris and #34 is a real cute little older cottage with shutters. STCC's Union Street lot was full and at the intersection of Pearl and School a city vehicle turned without signaling. The YMCA has a sign out front advertising Bingo on Sundays. The Insurance Center Building in West Springfield is now empty. The house on the corner of Lakeside is completed and looks good. There was a red and white HOOD blimp drifting over towards Southwick.

Arrived at Maria's and worked in the back. Found some Bicentennial soda cans, a 1941 local telephone book and a treatise on Mortuary Jurisprudence. Also came upon an old green drafting board from Technical High School. At 1:30 Joe Lucia started mowing the lawn, using a Simplicity 3410S Rider Mower which looks like a little tractor. Shortly after he left it became overcast like it might rain so I decided to leave. When I got home as I was getting out of the car the Mudry's drove by and waved. Mr. Allard was walking past and told me he saw the obituary for Zack Cohn in the paper.

Sarno for Council signs say he is "fair and honest." Eamon called and said that you used to see cops walking the streets in pairs but now all the cops are in cars. Bruce Fitzgerald, a former phone installer, is Charlie Ryan's campaign manager, which Eamon says is odd because you usually have "a bigshot for your manager." Eamon says that Fitzgerald is "only good for installing lawn signs." Fitzgerald's brother is a school principal and his son was the one who replaced Anthony Ardolino as Albano's aide after Ardolino was forced out. Eamon doesn't like the idea of any Albano people being involved with Charlie.

Eamon joked that Springfield should be renamed "Picknellopolis." He explained how Mass Mutual used to get around the campaign finance laws by giving bonuses to key employees with the understanding that they in turn would pass part of the bonus on to their favorite candidates. Eamon recalled the time that he was running for City Council and Mass Mutual sent two men to his house who then offered him an envelope full of cash right there in his living room.

September 25, 2003

56 degrees at 9:41am on the digital sign on The Democrat, I mean The Republican building. Daily Mart gas is $1.69.

Pain is weariness leaving the body. Rep. Tom Delay has denounced "the hate speech of the American Left." UMass is cracking down on students who commit copyright infringements. In a Waterbury, Connecticut museum they have the skeleton of a slave that drowned in 1700, and some are saying it is time to give him a proper burial.

The Reminder came early. Headed to Aunt Maria's by the northern route. Drilex Environmental of West Boylston Mass is working down at 82 Birchland Avenue along with a little red truck belonging to Ducharme and Wheeler - Land Surveyors. The Mapps building where the Urban League was located before they stole the library is being gutted inside by Associated Building Wreckers.

At Maria's I found a 1971 newspaper clipping about the City Council campaign announcement of Mary K. Egan, now best known as Eddie Boland's widow. She was a Boston College Law School graduate who was 32 years old when she ran successfully for the Council. Other documents I found indicate that she worked for Egan & Flanagan in the Court Square Building, which consisted of James F. Egan, William C. Flanagan and George R. Shea. Aunt Maria always considered Mary Boland to be her lawyer, although she sometimes asked me for advice.

When I left I sneaked out a very heavy duty strong box marked March 23, 1988 - Maria's birthday! On the way home I was held up by a long freight train headed towards Westfield on the tracks behind the old Strathmore Paper Mill site. Once I got home I opened the strongbox and found it was full of historic photos, paperwork and other artifacts from the Giroux Machine Company. Some of it I will donate to the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum and some will be put up for auction to line my pockets.

Linda Melconian got the endorsement of the Central Labor Union which has 47,000 members in Western Mass and about 27,000 in Springfield. Eamon called and said that the newspaper was late again due to breakdowns with their new press. He said the clerk at Cal's Variety told him that most days they send back more copies of the paper than they sell. Eamon also recalled how he used to go to Ben Kalman's Music in the Round in the 1950's. He told me he was not going to Ryan's political rally tonight.

I arrived at Ryan's gathering at Saint Anthony's at 5:48. Ryan had an enormous turnout here when he ran in 1995. Back then the casino issue was hot, although many of those moralistic Catholic types who backed Ryan then have perhaps died off in the years since. Still the event was very well attended. I had no problem parking and outside the door a guy was playing Irish music on a little hand accordion. Just inside the door Mr. and Mrs. Ryan were standing and greeting everyone who entered. Ryan said to me, "I'm glad you could come." I told him he could put a sign on my lawn, which is one of the best locations in 16 Acres. Collecting the money was a very friendly Rose Marie Coughlin and Karen Powell.

All the predictable media people were there, except G.M. Dobbs of The Reminder. I noted his absence to Bob Powell, who told me that Dobbs "is on vacation this week." Bob was walking around taking pictures of everyone, perhaps an idea he got from me. The food was not as plentiful as the last time I was there for a Paul Caron event. Lots of veggies and fruit and the toothpicks had little flags on them. The ceiling was covered with red and blue Ryan for Mayor balloons.

There were a lot of young people present, but not many minorities. Mitch Ogulewicz, a big man with a big smile, was surrounded by female admirers. I overheard one of them ask Mitch why he hadn't sought the mayoralty this year as was speculated he might in the Valley Advocate. He replied, "Because a better man than me is running." Former Sealtest milkman and Museum of Fine Arts guard Jimmy Crowley was there and told me he lives on Dwight Road. Durham Caldwell and his wife were there, she in sandals and rose socks, and both were aloof as always. Leonard Collamore arrived in a light green shirt. I've known him for years yet he ignored me, but it is known he has a problem with queers.

Cheryl Rivera was there and gave me a big hug. I was wearing my orange jump suit with doggie collar and logger's boots. A short stocky man whom I recognized as a retired cop came up to me and asked, "What are you, some kind of terrorist?" I replied, "The Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism," and he shook his head and walked away. Someone else asked if I was a Shriner.

Marshall Moriarty was there, as was Kevin Sears. Laurel Rancitelli remembered me from when I signed her campaign papers. Antonette Pepe gave me her flyer and several of the Ryan kids were there. Mo Jones was in attendance with his brother the poll worker. Carol Lewis-Caulton came dressed in purple and Angelo Puppolo asked if he could put a sign on my lawn and I said yes. My loyalty to Puppolo is based on the courage he showed in dumping Albano and supporting Caron the last time around. Bruce Fitzgerald the campaign manager arrived late.

The formal program began at 6:30 with Raymond Berry, a good-looking black man, pointing out the dignitaries in the room, although he forgot Leonard Collamore. Ryan spoke well, pointing out that he will be 76 years old in a few weeks but insisting that he is "full of the Spirit of 76!" He added that regardless of age, "one's duty as a citizen never ends" and said he was glad to have a chance to serve the city in his retirement years.

Ryan then outlined a sensible plan of recovery for Springfield that left one wondering, "Why has Albano never done any of these things?" Unfortunately Ryan has not produced a plan in booklet form such as he did in 1995, which is now a valuable collectible but which the Springfield library system does not have a single copy of.

Charlie discussed how he has been going around City Hall meeting with department heads and described the fiscal situation he discovered as "far grimmer than I expected." He promised to crack down on tax delinquents, but was too much of an gentleman to mention Linda Melconian by name. At the end he shouted, "Working together we can take back this city!" In response there was wild cheering, whistling and stamping of feet, and we all left feeling that if elected Charlie Ryan really will save our dying city.

September 27, 2003

62 degrees at noon and overcast all day. Both gas stations at the Pond down to $1.68 per gallon.

America is too far gone to ever be returned to the better, simpler life of the 1950's. Those were good years because we had just won the war and the moral ethic was still strong. With Vietnam, a war we lost, things began to fall apart. We have propped ourselves up with technological advances and rationalized putting the moms to work as Women's Lib, but the fact is there are more expenses and everyone now has to work to pay all the bills.

Holmes Texaco Service Station was at 828 Springfield Street in Feeding Hills in 1942. I turned on the furnace for the first time last night. All my projects are percolating along. Jeff my framer now has a crackled pet rock on his windowsill with two tiny plastic eyes peering out of a crack in it. My hearing is definitely deteriorating, especially when people talk without facing me.

Steve "Fitz" Fitzgerald is a salesman at Family Ford on Fuller Road in Chicopee. Larry W. Lungarini is a sales representative at Sarat Ford in Agawam. Brian Grady works at Balise Ford on Route 20 in Wilbraham. Jim Orlowski is a Sales Consultant at Springfield Lincoln-Mercury on Bay Street and he graduated from UMass in 73 in business. He said he has been selling cars for seventeen years. Linda McQuade is the Lincoln-Mercury Business Manager.

Went car shopping today. Drove out to Family Ford whose salesman came across as a real jock who wanted top dollar for everything. Went to Balise in Wilbraham but they had no blue cars. At Sarat they had a baby blue ThunderBird with an opera window for $45,000 and a blue Taurus. Their salesman gave me a cone of popcorn. I'm becoming more inclined to buy something from Lincoln-Mercury

Not a word in the paper about Ryan's rally. Someone in a silver car came by and put up my Ryan for Mayor sign today. Eamon called and said he got a Ryan sign and I noticed that Durham Caldwell got one too. Jim Landers is doing a lot of free work for the Ryan campaign. Eamon's latest message demands the firing of Ann Henry of Commerce for "poor performance."

The Allard's were having a tag sale today and I walked over. For $75 dollars I bought a Papal Blessing dated 1926 for Dr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Mitchell and family with a picture of the Pope on the bottom. Helen Caulton, the City Health Commissioner, was there telling Mrs. Allard that she should vote for Linda Melconian. Mrs. Allard replied that she hadn't decided who to vote for, and I chirped in that Melconian should release her credit card balance. Commissioner Caulton said that's private and anyway it means nothing about how Linda would handle the city's budget. She also hinted that Melconian's husband may have something to do with her financial problems.

September 29, 2003

59 degrees when I got home. Overcast then sun.

Mother always imposed on Father to make things. She always had some contraption she wanted constructed and Father always did her bidding and weathered her constant nagging that he do things her way.

Jobs get done one step at a time, whether requiring the labor of many or one. People are joining the military because there are too few other jobs, and that's just the way the government likes it. A Vermont nuke was shut down because of a steam pipe leak.

TV22 showed how there was a beautiful rainbow over the Big E grounds late this morning. This is the 40th anniversary of the Newman Center at UMass. Ralph J. Crandall is the Executive Director of the New England Genealogical Society.

Mrs. Helen Holmes was head of the Real Estate Department at Westfield Savings Bank in 1966. John J. Beltrandi ran Beltrandi Real Estate Insurance on Walnut Street in Agawam in 1967. The Gerena Elementary School in the Brightwood neighborhood opened in 1974 with Mary Dryden as the first principal. Christopher St. Clair called today on behalf of Traveler's Insurance to try to sell me something. I told him that my time is worth $100 per hour with a minimum fee of $50. He quickly hung up.

I went to visit Mrs. Staniski today and found her pulling weeds around her hatchway door. We chatted about the old days and Mrs. Staniski recalled what a snob the wife of the famous Dr. Stanley Stusick was, once breaking up a relationship between her daughter Mary Alice and a suitor because he was from Christ Church and refusing to let her daughters come over to 90 Elijah Street to play because she considered the Staniski's too low class.

From there I went to Kappy's on Boston Road over by where K-Mart and Stop&Shop used to be. In the old days you could drive from Kappy's lot over to what is now the Raymour & Flanagan lot, but now they have a gate. I also drove out to Wilbraham where I saw that Lakeside Restaurant is all closed up but not boarded up. The Town of Wilbraham is now hard at work on the Maynard Road portion of the land I donated to them, with heavy equipment grading and digging storm drains while the high knoll has been cut in half.

There is an article in this morning's paper digging up the fact that back in the 1960's Mayor Ryan called in the National Guard because of the fear of violence by civil rights protesters and pointing out that no black person has ever worked in Ryan's law offices. Charlie defended himself by saying that he has always supported civil rights for all and he was never the partner in charge of hiring at the law firm.

WFCR said that vampire author Ann Rice puts distinctive messages on her answering machine sort of like Eamon does. Eamon called this afternoon and we discussed my search for a new car. He recommended Mastriani on Liberty Street opposite the funeral home. Landers recently bought a used Subaru from them and Eamon claims Mastriani has "an excellent reputation." I hate to go to the trouble of buying a new car but my old Ford is rusting out on the back passenger side. I get my cars inspected at Lynsdale Garage on Warehouse Street in Springfield by Robert Vedovelli.

Eamon was curious about 68 Ingersoll Grove, a Tudor Revival brick house two doors down from the former Gill residence with fantastic woodwork inside. He thought Judge Eileen Griffin owned it. I didn't know but later I checked my 1936 Directory and it was once owned by Ernest Byron the funeral director. Here is Eamon's latest phone message:

One of Linda Melconian's biggest supporters, Congressman Dick Neal, likes to say that "perception is reality in politics." I wonder how bad Linda's credibility has to get before Neal has the courage to tell her that her mayoral campaign is an exercise in futility? Melconian should also resign her State Senate seat after her upcoming mayoral loss to avoid an embarrassing defeat next year if she seeks re-election to the Senate.

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