August 2003

August 2, 2003

74 degrees, raining all morning.

The Vatican says they are opposed to gay marriage because that would be "tantamount to approving immoral and deviant behavior." Hey, what have they been up to for centuries??

Richard A. Burr was the owner of Burr's Gas House in West Springfield in 1971. Joanne Slattery lived at 821 High Street in Holyoke in 1971. Springfield's Puerto Rican festival starts today. Governor Romney is questioning the wisdom of funding the Springfield Civic Center renovations. Good for him!

When I was a little kid Mother used to give me Cod Liver Oil from a small amber bottle with a dropper screwed into it. Auntie Maria never ate fish, but now there is talk that fish helps to prevent Alzheimer's.

Dressed outrageous today and nobody said a word. Wore my purple tights with purple jockey shorts, purple socks, logger boots, black t-shirt and doggie collar. I wore my biker jacket zipped and buckled. Got stuck behind a Lay's Potato Chip van on Parker which made a turn with no turn single and took their sweet time about it. No number on it to call if you don't like their driving. On the way to the Big Y I saw some surveyors going over the Russell's Restaurant property.

Mailman came down the street at 10:40. Came across a May 2002 article from the Sunday Republican by Pat Cahill called "Springfield's Love Affair With Sculpture" that had pictures of Saint-Gaudens, Miles Morgan, Hartley and Mosman statues, but no McKinley. The article was meant to puff up the unveiling of the Dr. Seuss statues, but there was no mention of Josiah Holland, the Springfield Dean of Letters, whom Seuss presumes to rival.

Bob Edwards on WFCR is on vacation until Labor Day. Found the Pride, Newsstand and Liquor store all out of Valley Advocates. Fortunately the video store had a few left. Their story on Linda Melconian by Mo Turner destroys her in a softer tone than the earlier Turner piece. No rhetoric, just a businesslike listing of the facts of Linda's career and the logical negative observations. Nothing by Tom Vannah, who must still be on vacation.

TV's Reel to Real had a piece on the Horace A. Moses Scout Reservation in Russell which was founded sixty years ago. Moses was described as "a leading philanthropist of his day" who was also the founder of Junior Achievement. They also had a segment about Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and a black lady Joan Brooks reported on prayer beads at United Church in Wilbraham. Eamon called and the Boston Globe reported today that Linda Melconian has the most bloated staff budget in the Senate. He called Mark Wiernacz at TV22 and asked him if he'd seen the article but he said TV22 "has never had a subscription to the Globe."

Tonight the phone rang and the identifier showed it was Charles L. Sibley calling from 525-6300. I answered and there was complete silence. "Now be courteous and admit you have the wrong number," I said. Still silence, then they hung up. So I called Sibley back and he answered, sounding like an old man. I said, "Don't you want to apologize for calling here as a wrong number?"

He replied, "Um, yes I do."

"Well then you have!" and I hung up.

August 5, 2003

Rain around 3am, gloomy and damp. I work best in such settings.

Music is the most uplifting thing in the world.

Valley Bank had branches in Agawam, Longmeadow, Springfield, West Springfield and Westfield in 1962. Safe Deposit Bank and Trust Company had thirteen offices in Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, Westfield, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Monson Palmer and Westover Air Force Base in 1967. Their motto was, "Serving the People of Hampden County." Ludlow Savings Bank had the motto, "The Better Way to Bank Since 1888." Community Savings Bank had branches in Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Feeding Hills, Hampden, Holyoke, Ludlow, Palmer, South Hadley and Springfield in 1978. Loretta Jackson was the manager of Albank at 187 Main Street, Indian Orchard in 1997.

Bill Dahlke the Mover was at 106 Oakland Street in Springfield in 1956. When they moved us from Crest Street to Birchland Avenue Mother accused them of stealing a set of casters, but they have since shown up under a chest of drawers in front of the double windows looking down on the breezeway and garage.

My parents bought me a set of American Peoples Encyclopedias when I was kid, which also came with an atlas and bible. We bought it in 1951 from F.J. St. Arnault through Sears and Roebuck in West Springfield. A good illustrated encyclopedia, the place for a first look; we got the green binding and they are still in good shape. I used the encyclopedia extensively (paraphrasing not plagiarizing) for my geography papers required at Buckingham Junior High School.

It was better than World Book, the most popular encyclopedia for kids, and sometimes better than Americana or Colliers. Not as good as Britannica, of course. I found the old International Encyclopedia in Rice Hall at the Quad most helpful because it was written before the world wars and had stuff that had since fallen out of encyclopedias. For example it had biographies of most of the presidents of Guatemala when I did my project book.

There was a wonderful program about the Spartans on 57 last night, a sort of review of my Greek History course with Harry Dell plus stuff he never taught us. I hope the East Longmeadow School Superintendent saw it.

The A-plus Minimart/Sunoco is all redone, nice and new. The girl admitted there is less merchandise but it is laid out in an extremely orderly fashion. However 16 Acres Pride has more and better stuff. Yesterday I went over to the Allen/Five Town Mall Big Y. The store was packed and I ordered fish and chips. Got a good helping but with a curious gob of burned black something stuck to one of my pieces of fish. I think it was a bit of batter left in the cooker until it burned to a frazzle. I also got yet another silver coin.

On Monday I received my new Social Security card. Lynn Barry on TV22 at 6 was shown at the Corn Fest at Cecchi Farm in Feeding Hills. They also showed the Melha Antique Car Festival and a performance of "Love's Labor Lost" in Forest Park. There was a lot going on today, including the food festival in Northampton and the jazz festival in Hartford. Billy Bulger has resigned as President of UMass. I hate him for a million reasons but I do agree that we should not hold him accountable for the crooked deeds of his brother Whitey.

August 8, 2003

On TV40 the weatherman said a clever phrase about all this humidity - BEWARE THE AIR!

World War II was a holy war and we were on the right side. Not so in Iraq. America will soon be precipitated into Third World status with fewer jobs and more babies.

In 1943 Mother worked as a waitress at the Colony Club at 50 Maple Street in Springfield. Was going through my parent's old checks last night and found one made out to Maurice Freedman for Father's Blackstone law course. The checks give the impression that in the 1940's my parents traded a lot with Montgomery Ward, Sears, Forbes&Wallace, Steiger's and Poole's. I am saving some of these checks for their historical value but throwing most of them away.

This morning I had a Western Sandwich, two fried eggs in olive oil on oatmeal bread while listening to WFCR. Maybe we should allow commercials on public radio and television. After all they talk about "sponsors and supporters" and such notices are in fact commercials.

Ann Mullen is the Development Officer at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts who is managing my charitable activities. The Lawrence School Superintendent Wilfredo T. Laboy has flunked the state literacy test three times. Holyoke has rejected 185 Somalian refugees so Mayor Albano has invited them to settle in Springfield. More than a thousand street lights have been turned off in Springfield by the Albano Administration to save money, according to Western Mass Electric.

Saw a cop car parked in front of 113 Catalpa Street. Stopped by the Ryan for Mayor headquarters where none other than former City Councilor Barbara Garvey was manning the reception desk and a bunch of old folks were seated along a table doing various chores. Then I went next door to Angelo's and Angelo himself was there, not quite as fat as he was and looking good. He said he is going to start having small flea markets using the old vegetable counters as stands and charging $50 per vendor. Next I walked over to Arnold's Bakery Thrift Shop and then drove over to the Pine Point Library, which was closed. By the Boston Road Big Y there is a big hole in the ground where Burger King was.

Eamon called and said Art Gingras is up in Lubec, Maine. Eamon's niece Maria Cavallo works at the Lahey Clinic in Lexington, Massachusetts. I told him that Efrem Gordon told me he has a bigshot relative working there. Eamon also said he called Boston University and spoke to John Silber, who called Eamon "a multidisciplinary generalist and ubiquitous gadfly." Silber also wondered why so many Hispanics come to Massachusetts, telling Eamon, "You'd think they'd go to states with warmer climates."

Eamon reported that he heard from Kevin Sears that Linda Melconian treats her staff badly and shows "a terrible mean-spirited temper." A good letter in the Valley Advocate this week from Carmencita Jones of Springfield, complaining of Melconian: "We pay property, income, excise and sales taxes. Why should our elected representatives feel that they can ignore their property tax bills?"

August 11, 2003

75 degrees, heavily overcast at 7am.

Attorney Harold F. Brunault had his office in the Hadley Falls Trust Building at 56 Suffolk Street in Holyoke in 1967. George A. LeFebvre was a South Hadley Falls realtor in 1968. Whitney C. Stiles was Vice President of Marketing at First Bank and Trust Company of Hampden County in 1969. I support Larry Flynt for Governor of California. Porn, politics, it's all the same.

I'm currently reading my antique 1829 copy of Joseph Blunt's Shipmaster's Assistant which has a section on custom houses. Did Melville and Hawthorne know this book?

The Hell's Angels are convening in New Hampshire. They claim their motto is, "Honor, Character, Courteous Conduct." Senator Brian Lees had his 14th Senior Forum last Friday. WFCR did a profile this morning of Rep. Ben Jones from the 6th District of Georgia. They also mentioned the anniversary of the Battle of Adrianople in 378, quite remarkable to hear that mentioned on the radio. Daniel Schorr was on describing Iraq as "a guerrilla war." The war and Bush are popular now, but I say these military adventures are always tar-babies.

Mother's best friend Mrs. Staniski called and said she didn't want to go anywhere today because it is too humid. I told her about the changes at the City Library and she said how she always loved the Periodicals Room. I told her it is now air conditioned. She said she hasn't seen Carol in three weeks although they talk on the phone. Meanwhile I have received no thank you card from Vickers or Penniman for my letters of condolence. No thank you from Filora Bacon either. Manners sure ain't what they used to be!

WGBY-TV was begging for money again tonight. Roy Scott described the station as "walking a financial tightrope" and at one point was joined by his "good friend from Holyoke Community College" Erica Broman. Scott made several errors of speech so I called WGBY and left a message complaining that Roy Scott was modeling bad English.

Eamon called and said he doesn't think his father earned over $10,000 any year of his life. He praised the Premo Restaurant at 824 Worthington and says the old lady there prepares excellent salads. He also praised the Chinese restaurant at Liberty Plaza. Eamon recalled how Samuel Bowles never carried any money, so he always ate at Bowles Lunch because he owned the building and they wouldn't charge him. Eamon said that Bowles Lunch served a wonderful chicken pie. He also recalled the Spanish Villa bar and restaurant which used to be in the North End and which had excellent chili.

Eamon said he got a letter from Samuel E. Zoll, Chief Justice of the District Court, telling him to send his complaints about the courts to John S. Gay, Regional Co-ordinator of the Springfield District Court. Eamon said the article about him in the Valley Advocate has caused people to call him from all over, including Minnesota, St. Louis and Florida. Many callers suggest that he should change his message more often.

Eamon prefers Classico Spaghetti Sauce because it comes in a small jar that's just the right size for a single meal. He says he has a pair of Russian kids delivering the paper on his street, the boy runs up one side of the street and the girl runs up the other. He said he gave each of them a twenty dollar bill on Christmas. I told him about how I saw Barbara Garvey at the Ryan headquarters the other day. He said Garvey is very close to Charlie Ryan, who was her lawyer several years ago when she won a $1.1 million dollar lawsuit against Westfield State.

August 13, 2003

78 degrees, sticky, humid all day. It's rained so much lately that instead of the Dog Days it should be the Duck Days of Summer!

Keith E. Harvey was Assistant Treasurer at Hampden Savings in 1984. Lynn Coughlin was a Customer Service Representative at Hampden Savings in 1985. Michele Zimmerman was in charge of Deposit Services at Bank of New England West in 1985. Ann Marie Zalucki was Head Teller at the 16 Acres office of Community Bank in 1985.

I picked a half a cup of blackberries this morning. Mail came late and was delivered by the Saturday mailman who said he'd already done his other route. He said he gets paid time and a half for doing the second route. There are lots of For Sale signs around. Someone threw a Heineken bottle on my treebelt.

Linda Melconian was on TV and mispronounced the word "reputable." How appropriate! Eamon called and said he got a nice letter from Charlie Ryan thanking him for the work he's done so far in the campaign. He also said that his caller ID showed that School Superintendent Burke listened to his answering machine message today criticizing the sad situation at the High School of Commerce. He mentioned that Burke gets twenty free round trip plane tickets to Florida each year to visit his wife who refused to move to Springfield.

Eamon complained that the warranty on his green Cadillac is almost up. His car lists at $48,000 and they are offering to extend his warranty for $2,500 but he is refusing. He told me he got a phone call from Art Gingras who is up in Lubec, Maine. Gingras told him that Michael Crowley who used to own Tilly's is up there and so is Michael Rivers who used to work in the School Department but was eased out by Joe Burke.

Eamon said that Willette H. Johnson, principal of Kennedy Middle School on Berkshire Avenue arrives after 10am every day and leaves for the day around 1:30pm. She makes $95,000 a year and drives a new Lexis. Gingras said the principals may do as they like as there is no supervision or accountability, but he and his buddies can't say anything because they're deathly afraid of losing their jobs and cite Mike Rivers as an example of someone who got screwed for speaking out.

A highly embarrassing incident occurred in Springfield when a gun chase occurred at the Dr. Seuss Memorial downtown at the Quadrangle. According to the story in the paper by Buffy Spencer:

Shots rang out in the Quadrangle about 3:30pm yesterday, shocking visitors enjoying the peaceful environment of the Central Library and Museums. No one appears to have been injured. The intended victim ran into the library for cover. The shooter ran thorough an opening in the Quadrangle fence between Christ Church Cathedral and the Museum of Fine Arts and onto Chestnut Street, police said.

An accompanying editorial declared:

Incidents of gun related violence have escalated sharply this summer in Springfield. "We're getting the shootings of a city ten times our size," Detective Sargent Thomas M. Meleady said. This has to stop by whatever means and resources are necessary. Mayor Michael J. Albano should seek the assistance of the state police.

The irony is that one of the spectators to the shooting was Springfield Republican publisher Larry McDermott, who was visiting the Quad with family members at the time. He wrote a well-written column about his experience, but with no indication that he has any awareness of his own newspaper's role in Springfield's tragic decline.

Column in the Sunday Republican
by Publisher Larry McDermott

Suddenly, Cold Reality in the Realm of Seuss

There was no mistaking the sound of gunfire and the pistol in the man's right hand as he turned and sprinted past the Dr. Seuss sculptures while my stunned guests pressed themselves tightly against the words of "Oh The Places You'll Go."

It was a beautiful afternoon at the Quadrangle in Springfield. The sun was shining brightly and it was warm. Visiting me for a few days from Arizona were my sister, her husband and their 10 and 2 year old sons. We had just left the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and were beginning to explore the sculptures.

Perhaps it was curiosity, or the trained ear of a school teacher, but my sister glanced over to get a look at the two young men standing just a few feet away. She had heard the tone in the voice of the one doing the talking grow more agitated as the other turned and began walking away from him and toward the white tent and the Springfield Central Library. She continued to watch as the agitated one followed him.

Then his body language signaled to her that "something bad was about to happen."

In an instant, the gun was out of his pants and he was taking aim.

Pow! Pow! Pow!

On my cell phone with my assistant getting the details on the news that another major retailer in the area (Lord & Taylor) was closing, I turned in the direction of the gunshots. The agitated one was running past Horton, then onto the sidewalk and down the alley, carrying the black pistol in his right hand and looking back over his shoulder in the direction of his intended victim, who had fled towards the library doors.

I told my assistant, who had heard the gunshots, that she should alert the newsroom while I called police. As I dialed 911, I could see my sister and her family, fear on their faces as they huddled behind the large chair in front of the sculpture of Ted Geisel's book, a wonderful story about life's struggles and how one must not give up. Horton, Sam I Am and The Cat in the Hat were frozen in time in all their whimsy and magic as the young man sprinted by, and my brother-in-law herded his family to safety, saying, "Get down! Get down!"

It was surrealism.

As I talked with the Springfield Police Department dispatcher, I headed in the direction the shooter had gone, dashing down an alleyway and slipping between the circled wagons the library and museums provided. Doing the same was a workman at the Quadrangle. My sister, in her school teacher voice, cautioned him, "Sir, please be careful." It made sense.

The first patrol car arrived right away, followed by two more one man cars. We began giving information to Patrolman Artie D.'Ambrosia. Detective Michael Carney, a friend, rolled up, alone in his car, then others arrived. As I showed them where the shooter had stood, we spotted four .22 caliber shell casing on the ground, and I knew that what I thought had been a revolver in the the shooter's hand was instead a semi-automatic pistol which ejects its spent casings. I was kicking myself for telling the dispatcher that I thought I had seen a revolver.

My 10 year old nephew was badly shaken. As his parents hustled him from the grounds to our vehicle, he turned his head, peering beneath their arms to look back in the direction the man had run. Later, Carney and Patrolman Eddie Van Zandt took time to reassure and comfort him, a gesture that proved more helpful than the words of parents or an uncle. Two more detectives arrived, and Carney had to leave to get to Juvenile Court where he had been headed when he responded to the call.

Joseph Carvalho, president and executive director of the Springfield Library and Museums Association, and members of his staff came over to show concern and reassure everyone. After my guest accepted the offer to take my truck and leave the downtown area, I sat down on one of the granite benches where the old Russian men often gather to talk. I was thankful that no one had been hit by stray bullets and that the shooter had not decided to turn his gun on any of us.

As the significance of all that had happened in less than a minute was being absorbed, a woman with a pre-school child, unaware of the events, walked onto the grounds and pointed out the Dr. Seuss sculptures. The child squealed with delight. A truck backed up to the grounds and people began unloading equipment for a musical performance by Joe Velez and Creacion that was scheduled to begin just a few hours after the shooting. One of the men unloading the truck whistled a lively tune.

An elderly man slowly made his way to the library. A block away, a police officer stood watch as street repair work continued. Just beyond the granite wagons surrounding the green, a slice of street life stood out in contrast to the bronze sculptures.

Life goes on.

The next morning I could still taste the sobering dose of reality as opinions, some not so new, ran through my head:

No amount of police can guarantee our safety, but we need more police on the streets of Springfield, especially along the Main Street corridor where the joint diseases of despair, crime and violence are growing faster by the week.

Those in charge of the city's government infrastructure should either lead with fervor every day or get the hell out of the way.

Children from all slices of life should be able to see and touch the message of Dr. Seuss and not be afraid.

Nobody's going to scare me away from enjoying one of my city's greatest treasures.

Maybe Ted Geisel knew, when he wrote "Oh the Places You'll Go" in 1990, that his city and its residents were in for some tough times, even on his serene Mulberry Street. There is this passage in his book:

I'm sorry to say so
But sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

August 15, 2003

Sunny this morning, 75 degrees on the breezeway. Gas at Pride is $1.49 per gallon. From Pride to Five Town Mall is 1.6 miles.

Cartoonist Gary Lawson is 53. Suburban Chevrolet of Southwick has a commercial that says, "Southwick is a great place to work and a great place to do business" without telling you until the end who they are and that they are peddling cars.

I was first identified as having a hearing problem at Classical High School in 1959 by Joseph H. Flaherty, Coordinator of Speech and Hearing Therapy. The Principal of Classical in 1959 was Joseph N. Rodeheaver. The Reminder has a notice of a Van Valkenburg family reunion to be held this month at the Best Western in West Springfield. A man named Van Valkenburg with a shop across from AIC was our barber for many years, a tall, thin, bald, Dutch looking man.

I hear that Maureen Turner is eight or even nine months pregnant. Good for her! There is a picture of a smug looking David Starr posing with Lyman Wood in the new BusinessWest. Starr is so good at sucking up to the bigshots. WGBY-TV had Elton John at the Royal Opera House doing a benefit for the Royal Academy of Music, where John attended and is establishing a scholarship. I can see what that lady meant when she said I look like him. He is chubby and was wearing a coat like a motorcycle jacket.

Ears ringing badly today. Have heard nothing from Blanche Allen Prichard to whom I sent a copy of the history of Fernbank in Wilbraham. She may be too feeble to write anymore. When I went out to get the mail two teenage boys were playing golf while walking down Birchland Avenue. One kid was teeing off in the middle of the street by the telephone pole and swatted the ball into my artichoke patch. I invited him on my property in a friendly way to get the ball and he did and they went golfing their way down the street.

At Tom Devine's old place at 106 Breckwood Boulevard the shrubs in front of the house have all been removed and the fence between the driveway and the backyard is gone. The sign on the lawn reads: Jones Town and Country - Mariaelena Garcia - and a sticker is by her name saying, "Sold Ours."

Got a red coin at the Big Y. Then went downtown to the Quadrangle but first I pulled into St. Michael's parking lot to take a picture of the Alexander House in its new location. Alexander House is now much closer to the street and too close to the brick house next door. There is not enough land around it. I saw Ann Burke chatting with a couple of guys. Then I went over to the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum and the tall black security guard Shawn Walker escorted me to Maggie Humbertson's humble office where Michelle Barker, a little lady, took my package of my parent's historic papers that I am donating.

Then I went over to the library to the Periodicals Room. What I've always thought was cool about the Periodicals Room is that it is the place where "problem patrons" like drunks and homeless people always go. Unfortunately the number of periodicals available there has shrunk dramatically. They no longer get even the Burlington Free Press, not to mention Argus Magazine. They also no longer have comfortable chairs that a problem patron can sink into and sleep for the day!

When I got back home I was reading in my copy of Leges Machiarum (1705) and had just finished the lengthy preface when I noticed that the clock was no longer working and the power was off. The clock said sixteen minutes before five. I waited patiently then finally called WMECO but it was busy. The electricity finally came back on at 6:10pm. 13,000 lost power in Springfield and 7,000 in Pittsfield. Found out later that the blackout covered most of the Northeast. On TV they gave assurances that it was not caused by terrorism, but even if it was they wouldn't tell us.

Eamon says it's an open question who is closer to bankruptcy - the City of Springfield or Linda Melconian. He wonders how Melconian paid for all the renovations to her Victorian home on Fort Pleasant Avenue. I told him I called Melconian headquarters in the middle of the night Saturday and left the message that she is incompetent to be mayor and lacks the temperament, as she demonstrated the time I tried to tell her about all that is wrong with the libraries and museums.

In the survey of faculty at Commerce every teacher surveyed identified tardiness as a problem. 96% said class cutting is a problem. 93% said students lack a focus on careers and other plans. 92% said absenteeism is a problem. 74% said students are verbally abusive to teachers. Principal Ann Henry stressed that the survey only states what teachers think, not necessarily what is really going on. She is in total denial.

August 19, 2003

81 degrees. Sunny, hot and humid.

Ann Arbour was the Senior Claims Consultant at Monarch Life Insurance Company in 1985. When Father died Mother was angry at Dr. Cuadra for not being more attentive during Father's final decline. She wrote him saying, "I especially resent your leaving a large plastic tube in the deceased's throat that disfigured the corpse."

I should think that pumping so much oil out of the ground would eventually occasion the collapsing of the Earth's crust and other dislocations. Solar is the way to go! Idi Amin has died. I have a funny paperback about him I bought from Johnson's Bookstore years ago when they used to have a table of hippie books.

Hartford's new slogan is: "New England's Rising Star!" Susan Goodman is now with NBC-30 in New Haven. Edith M. Chouinard, born in Bethel, Vermont but who lived in Palmer, Springfield and Brimfield, has died at 89. Lots of crime in Springfield last night. There was a stabbing outside the Alumni Club on Worthington Street and the North End McDonald's was held up.

Down by Gateway Village the newly installed traffic light has been uncovered and is blinking yellow all the time. I think the light is located too close to the Wilbraham/Bradley/Breckwood intersection. Went to the Big Y and bought a large jar of marmalade for 99 cents, a real bargain. Their coin lottery machine was not working so I missed out on a chance to win a coin. The wraparound porch on the house on the corner of Crest and Lakeside has been completely enclosed.

I drove down Maple and onto the road between Christ Church Cathedral and the Library and found a big gate closed telling me to go to the back lot. So how in the future will I be able to bring Mrs. Staniski to the library? For 100 years the boundary between the Quadrangle and Christ Church has been open and you could pass over it anywhere. Now there is a fence with a gate in it that is usually open but can be locked at any time. The Quad appears to be attempting to gain by adverse possession a right of way which has been well established for decades.

A young guy was pulling weeds on the Christ Church side of the fence and I asked if he worked for the church. He said no, he works for Lamoreaux Landscaping which is under contract to the Quadrangle to attend to their grounds. I went up to the Bishop's office and Joyce the Bishop's secretary agreed that the fence is a problem and suggested I write and complain to Dean James Munroe.

I then parked in the Quad's back lot and went to the library where I asked to see some old copies of Vanity Fair. The librarian pecked into the computer and I was astonished when she told me that none of the Springfield libraries get Vanity Fair. I also noticed that Miss Wickersham's office has become a woman's restroom accessed from Rice Hall, behind the elevator.

On the way home I noticed that the door to the former Sims Drugstore where Paul Caron had his mayoral campaign headquarters was open, but it was dark inside and as I drove past I couldn't see what was going on. My next stop was the Melconian for Mayor headquarters. All the lights were on, but the door was locked. Through the window I could see a basket of buttons, flyers, stickers and voter registration forms on a table. There was a handwritten sign on the window saying "Back at 1:15" but it was already 1:25. I waited in my car until 2:00 and then left, no one having returned.

August 21, 2003

73 degrees at 9:30pm. Gas is going up - Sunoco Breckwood is $1.59.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has described himself as a "moderate Republican" in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller and Colin Powell. I am a liberal Republican. Connecticut towns are spraying against a population explosion of mosquitoes. State Bowl candle-pin bowling alley closed today. It has been sold to nearby Mass Mutual which will probably tear it down and use the land for a future project. Friday used to be Senior Discount Day at State Bowl.

Attorney Horace N. Fuller had his offices in Westfield in 1975. Denise White was the Life Policy Service Manager at Monarch Life Insurance Company in 1985. Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe's clambake was today but I didn't know it until it was too late. How did everybody else find out about it but not me? Dick Bragg of 12 Emily Street in Springfield is selling "Spelling Talk" a program designed to help all non-readers to read. Springfield claims that it is "The City That Reads" but they don't mention that we only read Dr. Seuss.

Manny's 25th Anniversary Tent Sale now in progress. Called Mrs. Staniski and we chatted about the renovations at the City Library. I told her to drink a lot of water in this heat and to call me if she needs anything. Headed down to the Quadrangle at 12:45pm. A pushy bus PVTA plate 399 sped by me on Boston Road even though I was going exactly 35 mph. I passed it on the next light and then it sped by me again. I could call the PVTA but I won't. Adams playground has a new wading pool with a spray fountain in the middle. Good idea, a place for kids to get wet but not deep enough to drown in. The former Urban League building is all boarded up but the lights were on in the former Mason Square Library.

At the Quad Boulanger's Plumbing and Heating was doing work there and a vehicle for Advanced Printing of West Springfield was parked in front of Blake House. At the library I got some good stuff from the free book section, including Eastman's Index to Fairy Tales with a Rumrill bookplate in it. I also got Emily McGully's Speak Up Blanche! about a timid little white sheep and her brown bear friends. It's too bad Mother couldn't have seen it. I have always saved books with a Blanche of any sort.

WSPR said today that Massachusetts has the highest rate of of heroin use in the USA with purity rates of 60% compared to 40% nationally. The newspaper column Community Voices has an interview with Leon Gaumond, the former chief of staff for Rep. Paul Caron. Gaumond is now Executive Director for East Longmeadow, which is primarily one of those vague government jobs where you serve as a "liaison" between various departments. He is very friendly but you never know who is trustworthy among these professional politician types. Gaumond strikes me as a tough big city Democrat who is now infiltrating innocent little East Longmeadow.

Got a letter from Social Security today saying I will start getting $431 per month starting December 10, 2003. I haven't heard much from Eamon lately and his phone message hasn't changed in days. I stopped into Ryan's headquarters around noon and there was no one there that I knew. They have lots of handouts now and one printout from Tom Devine's website was at the bottom of the pile so I was lucky to see it. Devine tells some bad news about the health of Doyle the Twig Painter and I'm sorry to hear about it.

An Excerpt From
Tommy Devine's Online Journal
August 2003

Doyle the Twig Painter once had to visit a nutritionist in order to develop a diet that would help to control his diabetes. The nutritionist kept saying don't eat this and don't eat that, eliminating one by one all of his favorite foods, until finally Doyle had heard enough. "Look," he said, "let's just simplify it and say that if it tastes good, spit it out!"

It's a general truism that the better something tastes, the worse it is likely to be for you. One never hears that potato chips, Twinkies and fried foods are good for you, only the blandest vegetables and most tasteless recipes. Vegetarians are masochists who have found a socially acceptable way to torment themselves, and since all those vegetables are supposed to make you live longer, it has the advantage (from a masochist's perspective) of prolonging their suffering!

Not me, I think eating is one of life's great pleasures, and while I don't intend to be a damn fool and live on chili-dogs and fried chicken, I'm not going on any guilt trip over eating the things I like when I want to eat them. Hey baby, there will be plenty of time to go on a fast when we're in the grave.

Poor Doyle, however, probably should have followed his nutritionist's advice. He's been in the hospital for months now, and a few weeks ago they had to cut his toes off. When your diabetes reaches the point where they have to start cutting off body parts, that's usually the worst of all possible signs. Richard Doyle is only 60.

Every summer for over thirty years Doyle has sat on the sidewalk on Boston Road painting pictures. Everyone in Springfield is saying that it doesn't seem like summer this year without seeing Doyle on the sidewalk, with his big umbrella and all those contraptions for listening to taped books, music and of course Rush Limbaugh. His pipe and a frosty cocktail were also usually by his side. Artists don't have to work like the average person does, which is why all the smartest people are artists.

Some people describe me as an artist - a con artist.

It isn't so much the amputations that have Dole sounding down these days when I talk to him on the phone at the Veteran's Hospital in New Haven where he's staying. The diabetes is now starting to attack his eyes, and today Doyle is facing the prospect of enduring every painter's most unspeakable nightmare - to go blind.

What if Doyle ends up in a nursing home, blind and confined to a wheelchair? Do I have what it takes to play like Chief Broom in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and put a pillow over his face? I've concluded that no, I ain't spending the rest of my life in prison to perform an act of mercy for nobody! Still, it is possible to live too long, and it's a shame that modern medicine doesn't acknowledge that.

It may be that in two or three weeks Doyle will be able to return, for the first time this summer, to his gallery in Pine Point. He is being equipped with specially made shoes to compensate for the missing toes. You use your toes a great deal to balance yourself when you walk, something that's not obvious until you lose them. He hopes to get back in time to go out on the sidewalk for at least a couple weeks before the fall winds blow. He would also like to return to his teaching job at American International College, if possible.

Of course there is no cure for diabetes, and Doyle's condition can only deteriorate or at best be temporarily maintained. It can't get any better, but he still intends to enjoy himself as best he can with whatever time he has left. So if you see him on the sidewalk in September, stop by and say hello. If nothing else it will be educational. You may think that you have problems, but when you understand what someone like Doyle the Twig Painter is facing, you may realize that you haven't got a fuckin clue what a problem is.

August 24, 2003

73 degrees at 7am. Sunny. Gas has shot up in the last few days - $1.89 in Hartford.

Body building, sports among friends, athletic teams and war are all different levels of the same culture - the culture of muscle over mind. All the arts and sciences involve creativity, imagination and innovation.

Judd & Parson & Parker sold general insurance at 95 State Street in 1952. Harold A. Erickson was the Assistant Treasurer at Valley Bank in 1959. Joseph Quesnel lived in Granby in 1967. Carolyn Hodge worked at Shawmut First Bank in 1986. She is now at Hampden Savings on Allen Street. Kathy Neilson is an Associate Partner for Keller Williams Realty in Longmeadow.

Gail Robinson worked in Life Policy Services at Monarch Life Insurance Company in 1986. My father had occasional trouble at Monarch because there was a John Hayman Miller also working there as Actuarial Vice President in an office in the back western corner of the building at 1250 State Street. Once at a company Christmas party his kid and me got a gift toy mixed up. Another time someone accidentally sent Father a silver cocktail shaker and Father immediately sent a thank you letter to settle the matter! Father had good relations with this other Miller, although it is inconceivable that Father could have bad relations with anyone. There was also a John Homer Miller who was Pastor of Hope Congregational Church.

It was four years ago around this time that I was thrown out of Six Flags by Brian Kokotajio for wearing my purple underpants over my orange jumpsuit. Maybe I'll wear my purple underpants over there again sometime but I'm too busy to fool with them now. I do still wear the purple undies outside my jumpsuit sometimes, I did so just a couple of weeks ago and no one said a word.

Newspaper says Storrowtown Tavern renovations won't be ready for the Big E this year. Went to the Big Y for fish and chips. They were passing out free samples of Italian bread and chocolate covered granola today. I got a silver coin. I stopped at the open house at 26 Macomber, a nice residence of a young family "moving to the country."

Went to the Quadrangle and they were demolishing what Eamon confirmed was the boiler house for St. Michael's Cathedral. They had a large area of the Quadrangle parking lot taped off. The demolition was churning up clouds of black dust and the poor workmen were not wearing protective masks. What would OSHA say? The building is right next to the Science Museum and I bet the Quad would like that land so they could expand Tolman Hall. I spotted McLain walking behind the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum dressed in brown.

Books from the Mason Square Library are starting to appear in the discard section at the Central Library. I found one with a 1943 bookplate, but where was the branch located then? That was before the Annie Curran bequeath built the building next to Wesley Church in 1955. I think it may have been located in a storefront somewhere. I also saw a bookplate reading "The Samuel and Rhodes Colton Booth Fund - Endowed by Mary Booth." There were others saying they were donated by Mass Mutual. The Springfield libraries have not applied bookplates for a decade at least. I recall when I was at Harvard whenever they rebounded a book they would also replace the bookplate. That is the proper way to do things.

Eamon says if he gets too old to keep up his house he would like to move to Reeds Landing. Eamon was interviewed for three hours yesterday by a journalist from Germany named Martin Reishke about his answering machine activism. That Valley Advocate article about Eamon is sure getting around!

Casey the Barber told Eamon that former Mayor Billy Sullivan was in for a haircut recently and told him he is supporting Linda Melconian. Sullivan says he is certain she will win. Billy Christofori, the finance guy for Sheriff Ashe, was also in. Christofori said that he too is supporting Melconian, even though he said that he considers her "a real airhead."

August 27, 2003

67 degrees at 7am. Overcast. Gas is $1.73 at both pumps at the Pond.

Geraldine Ferraro is 68 today. Judge Judy "America's Ultimate Truth Machine" is on weekdays at 4 on TV22.

Carol A. Eaton was a clerk for the Wilbraham Board of Assessors in 1985. Phillip Zea is the President of Historic Deerfield. The new tenant of the W.F. Young building at 111 Lyman Street is Custom Packaging Incorporated. Hedge trimmer Michael T. O'Malley was over Colleen's this morning. His truck had a bumpersticker on it that says, "Yes, This is My Truck - No, I Won't Help You Move."

Nader the Hatter called and said he is coming up from Florida to visit relatives in Connecticut and hopes to come up to Springfield on Wednesday. New teardrop lamp posts on the north side of the Buxton Bridge have been painted green. I drove over to Aunt Maria's in Agawam today and got the key to the house from Shirley Lucia who was quite pleasant. She invited me in but I stayed in the entryway. She said her husband Joe is having trouble with his hip but still gets around. Then she gave me the keys and I said we'll deal with Maria's car later.

Eamon arrived on time and was amazed by what a mess the house was. I took home the antique spinning wheel and the Regulator clock. I also took some postcards dating back to 1933 and I gave Eamon a historic antique Westinghouse souvenir. Then I took Eamon out to eat at the Hometown Buffet in West Springfield. He said he thinks Jim Landers looks younger now that he's shaved off his mustache. We also talked about how Peter Picknelly's boat The Tinkerbell was arsoned while moored up in Holyoke. Eamon quipped, "So the bell tolls for The Tinkerbell!" Eamon only ordered a piece of chocolate cake but left an enormous tip, he can be quite generous at times.

Next I swung by Ryan headquarters. On the way there I noted there is an enormous Ryan for Mayor sign on the corner of Benton and State Street. Upon entering Ryan's I was surprised to see Tom Devine sitting near the door and chatting with a very pregnant looking Mo Turner of the Valley Advocate. I went up to Devine and told him I was sorry to hear about his mother's death but he refused to speak to me. Turner's head was turned away, whether on purpose or by chance I couldn't tell. Perhaps she was hoping I wouldn't recognize her.

Then I went to the Wilbraham Post Office where I saw the lady that runs the Fancy That antique shop. She told me she recently sold a clock she originally bought at a tag sale for fifty bucks for $3,500 at Stanton Auction. The always friendly postal clerk Paul told me that the building going up in their parking lot is a new branch of the Monson Savings Bank.

On the way back coming along Parker Street a blue Mercury in front of me filled with Hispanic teenagers kept throwing junk food wrappers out the window as they drove along. I honked at them each time they littered and when I turned onto Wilbraham Road they leaned on the horn and everybody in the car stuck their arm out the window and gave me the finger.

August 30, 2003

73 degrees on the breezeway at 8:45. Cloudy and humid. At Six Corners Sunoco gas is $1.77. Opposite the gate to St. Michael's Cemetery it is a preposterous $1.85.

Politics divides men but food brings them together.

Yvonne Goulet lived at 52 Lafayette Street in Aldenville in 1972. Honore J. Billy was Assistant Vice President at Shawmut First Bank in 1984. A Mr. John Aucella called today looking for Paul Caron (our numbers are similar) and when I said they had the wrong number they hung up with no apology. A Melissa Walden called from the Gallop Poll and asked me about where I get my investment information from. I told her Forbes and of course the Wall Street Journal and also mentioned National Public Radio. I told her that just because I'm a conservative investor does not mean I'm a political conservative and I told her what I think of Bush. She giggled nervously and thanked me for my time before hanging up.

At Maria's today I came upon three Maxfield Parrish prints. On the back it said, "To Maria from George - 1930." All three were in pristine art deco frames. I also came upon an antique silver set that was rather greasy. Mother always washed dishes twice, once in soap and warm water, then dunked in very hot water. I also discovered a stash of S&H Green Stamps and piles of paperback novels in the closet with some Agawam Public Library discards. There was also a bottle of vodka and a shot of Amaretto. I found a plaque entitled "I Hate Housework" followed by the following poem:

Although you'll find our house a mess,
Come in, sit down, converse,
It doesn't always look this way,
Some days it's even worse!

Finally I found a little tan leather pouch containing a Pratt and Whitney five year employee pin and a rare set of five and ten year pins for F.W. Sickles. I'm undecided whether to give them to the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum or auction them off for top dollar.

Nader the Hatter is back in town and staying with his brother Gary, who is 54 and lives at the corner of Evergreen Circle and Oakland in Wilbraham with a dog named Ruby. So after getting back from Maria's I drove out there to pick up The Hatter and had a nice chat with his brother, who graduated from AIC and used to work at Monsanto. Ruby is a very cute little light brown dog.

After we left I brought Nader over to my house so I could show him the spinning wheel and clock I brought home the other day from Maria's. He said that spinning wheels always bring a good price and told me the clock is worth at least $800. Then Eamon arrived as planned and the three of us headed out to Pizzeria Uno on Boston Road. We sat in the last booth by the windows and were waited on by Andrea.

We all had steak smothered in onions and rice pilaf with mixed veggies. Eamon had a bottle of Budweiser, Nader had iced tea and I had water with lemon. We had a good time. Eamon told us that an FBI agent was over his house for two hours yesterday asking about Gerald Phillips and wanting to know everything Eamon could tell him about the Springfield police force. Eamon also told us that Mayor Albano has a son who needs to take two types of insulin every day. No wonder Albano supports cheap medicine from Canada! Our meal came to $46 and Eamon insisted on paying for everything. Afterwards Eamon drove off and I brought Nader on a few errands and then back to his brother's.

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