June 2003

June 2, 2003

61 degrees, clear, beautiful June day. Red clover is budding.

My lawnmower brakes for flowers.

William H. Baldwin Agency Realtors was located at 105 Columbus Avenue in Holyoke in 1972. Michael Jonnes is executive director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Kevin Rhodes is the musical director. Commercials for the Egyptian Exhibit at the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum are airing on WFCR. Roy Scott, former president of the belly-up Community Savings Bank is now the fundraiser in chief at Channel 57. I remember the Valley Advocate once did a story on him in which he was called "a good egg" which indeed he is.

Ed Greenbaum was on TV for organizing the Food of Israel festival this weekend. The cop who lives down on Ballard had a kid graduate from Sabis this year. Friday there was a car parked with graduation messages scrawled all over it and a long congratulations banner in front of their house.

Went to the open house this morning at 111 Inglewood (built in 1953) for sale by Carlson GMC Real Estate through petite realtor Peggy L. Pennington. The house presently belongs to a guy who lives alone and it is full of clutter with heaps of stuff in the basement. This is the house my parents almost bought instead of the one I now live in on Birchland Avenue. 111 Inglewood has virtually no backyard but has a modern kitchen. Otherwise much lived in and beat up; it no longer resembles it's original state.

Afterwards I got a copy of the Springfield Republican out of the Fitness In Training trashcan at the Breckwood Shops. When I got it home I discovered that it had two Home & Garden sections. That new press of yours is really something, Larry! Then I cleaned out the curio closet in the living room where I found my University of Wisconsin Bucky Badger Idea Button and my yellow Mensa membership pin. I also found a brand new CB radio, a busted GTE Solitaire II phone, an old heating pad in mint condition and a little RCA Victor radio with a note, "Not working since 1975."

Then the telephone repairman showed up responding to my complaint. He was a tall and articulate black gentleman named Christopher Winslow. He said my problem was a dropped wire and that he would have to install a new one. We went down cellar together and he replaced the wire, then left at 12:10. As he departed I served him two chocolates out of my box.

Next I headed out to Hampden to the Stanton Auction. The beautiful pencil-blown pitcher I tried to sell went for only twenty dollars. That is why I dislike glass, the prices are unreliable. An auction is not the place to sell good stuff for which you paid full price and want to get your money back. An auction may be the place to sell items in which the investment was low and the market has risen. An auction is best as a place to sell stuff you want to get rid of in one fell swoop and don't care what you get for it as long as you get something.

Connecticut is retiring 4,500 state workers to save $300 million. The work they did can now be done by computers. I remember when they used to claim that computers would create jobs! Mass Attorney General Thomas Reilly is calling for William Bulger to step down as president of UMass because of his ties to his fugitive brother Whitey. Three cheers for Tommy Reilly!

June 4, 2003

60 degrees, sunny.

Character is having the guts to do whatever has to be done regardless of the consequences.

Martha Stewart has been indicted. More bones have been found believed to belong to Molly Bish. Father Scahill in East Longmeadow is in trouble for saying that the church should not waste its energy opposing gay marriage when it has its own "poor behavior" problems to straighten out. I wonder what that windbag Richard Garvey has to say about the Catholic Church now?

Charles J. Kulikowski was the clerk of the District Court of Hampshire in Northampton in 1973. In a story today about a cheating ballplayer on TV40 Scott Coen made the remarkable statement that "everybody cuts corners." That's like what Irving Cohn down the street said the other day, that "everybody cheats" especially when it comes to money and that gold is the only thing in life you can rely on.

885 Grayson Drive is for sale for $104,000. There is lots of trash in front of Nichols. Now's the time to visit Randall's Farm and Greenhouse in Ludlow which is bursting with flowers and plants, so says their commercial on TV40. Sixteen Acres Garden Center is also advertising a lot. There is a yellow insert in the paper saying that starting July 1st you will have to buy $2 stickers to throw away extra trash bags, old refrigerators and appliances. I knew this was coming, but too bad it strikes just as I have all this trash from Aunt Maria's estate to throw away.

I think I saw a tiny mouse in the garage today. Had Swanson fish and macaroni for lunch. I cleaned out one of Mother's old dressers in the attic. The top drawer was filled with antique kitchen utensils, the middle drawer was filled with kitchen towels, including the cheese cloths Father brought home from Monarch that employees were periodically given to dust and polish their desks. In the bottom drawer were tablecloths and napkins. Alas, I did not find the pictures of Flora Bacon, Eleanor Virginia Johnson or Bertha Richardson.

Everything in the dresser is in incredibly good condition because Mother took good care of everything. That dresser has barely been touched since my parents moved here from Crest Street, serving as a kind of time capsule from the late 1950's. Some of the stuff was in bags, one from Rexall Drugs, whose design I remember so well, a Genton bag and a 1959 newspaper lining one of the drawers. Real rarities and worth money. Genton's Clothes had three stores, one on Riverdale Road in West Springfield, one in East Hartford and another in Pittsfield. Later through a business merger they became known as Yale-Genton.

Brought a load of stuff over to the Salvation Army, and while there I bought a 1975 orange Bordon milk crate for only 50 cents. I can resell it for twenty times that. When I got home today in the mail I got a postcard for a Bottaro-Skolnick sofa sale as well as an invitation to a Dan Kelly for City Council $100 per person event at the Colony Club on June 17th. I called the Colony Club and asked if there is a dress code and they replied that males must wear a jacket and tie.

Eamon called and said that the Newhouse's who own the Springfield Newspapers are among the 400 richest families in the country. He insists he won't run Charlie Ryan's office for him this year like he did in 1995 unless he gets paid. He said he was shocked when he looked at the campaign finance reports for Ryan's 95 campaign and saw that Ryan's daughter was getting $900 a week working for her dad, Joe Napolitan ran up nearly $50,000 in consulting fees and Darby O'Brien also got paid fifty grand to do public relations work. These people were almost never seen during the campaign, yet Eamon who was in the office every day was never offered a dime.

Supposedly Joe Napolitan is working behind the scenes to try to patch things up between Charlie and David Starr so Ryan can get an endorsement from the paper. Eamon also recalled how Linda Melconian got her start after graduating from Mount Holyoke with the help of Ella Grasso of Connecticut, who introduced her to Massachusetts Congressman Tip O'Neil. She eventually went to work in Tip's office in Washington and he helped her launch her political career locally. Eamon says Melconian can count on the old Boland gang backing her, including Neal, Catjakis and Billy Sullivan. Rumors are that even Paul Caron is with Melconian. But Eamon insists that because Ryan is the one who brought in the current Plan A Strong Mayor type of government that means he is just the one to exercise that power to fire all the incompetents.

June 5, 2003

59 degrees at 8am. We have had eight consecutive months of lower than average temperatures. Gas is $1.41 at the corner of Carew and East.

This is Robert F. Kennedy's assassination day. One hundred students graduating from the Harvard School of Government signed a petition saying that Governor M. Romney has not been in public service long enough to be their graduation speaker. Anthony Caprio is the President of Western New England College. Caprio is always smiling, he is a professional smiler. WFCR has lost $58,000 in funding they used to receive from UMass but they will still broadcast from the campus. The UMass Anti-War Coalition meets on Wednesday's in the Campus Center.

Attorney Howard D. Barger was at 225 High Street in Holyoke in 1969. The town of Wilbraham is negotiating the possible purchase of the 220 Acre Rice Fruit Farm on Main Street, according to the owner Jesse L. Rice. Ground was broken yesterday for a $900,000 facelift for the Barney Mausoleum in Forest Park. Among those present were State Senator Linda Melconian, Patricia Kish of the Department of Environmental Management, Francis H. Gagnon chair of the Historical Commission, Patrick Sullivan of the Park Commission and Rita Coppola-Wallace of the Park Department.

Big Y headquarters is at 2145 Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield. Betti Boggis is a customer service representative for Big Y. Judy Matt, President of Spirit of Springfield was featured in the Local Spotlight section of the paper. Her favorite quote is listed as, "Don't mistake kindness for weakness." Her favorite song is New York, New York. Really? The head of the Spirit of Springfield prefers New York?

Went to the Westfield Bank on Liberty which is opposite the main road into Liberty Plaza just a short way down the street from TV40. I cashed my Ford check there for $412. The Garrison house on the corner of Venture is for sale by owner. Drove up to Pioneer Auction in Sunderland today for the ephemera sale. As I drove past Amherst College it occurred to me that it was just as well that I wasn't accepted at Amherst because Mother would have been in constant contact and would have interfered with my studies and independence.

At the sale I bid on some historic Milton Bradley items but lost. I did spend $225 worth of postcards. On the way home I saw that a For Sale sign went up today in front of the Devine house on Breckwood. So when I got home I called Carlson BHG and they said the asking price for the Devine place is $79,000 for four bedrooms, one bath, a living room, the kitchen and a sun porch in back. That's not counting the two rooms finished off by Tom Devine and Jay Libardi in the cellar.

Ten area mobsters averted Federal trials by pleading guilty yesterday, including Anthony J. Delevo of Westfield and Baba Scibelli of Hampden. Also pleading guilty was former city employee Todd Illingsworth of Springfield, Emilio Fusco of Longmeadow and former civilian police dispatcher Ralph S. Santaniello.

June 6, 2003

60 degrees first thing, overcast. Gas at the Pond is $1.45.9 per gallon.

A coalition of Protestant and Jewish clergy are supporting same sex marriage as a civil, not a religious matter. First Lady Laura Bush announced library grants to 183 schools nationwide, including the William N. Deberry Magnet School in Mason Square. This grant comes as they are closing the Mason Square Library to sell it to the Urban League.

This morning I could hear a tree being cut down over Durham Caldwell's way. The little blue car next door sounds awful, like a lawnmower or a surly motorboat engine whenever they start it - put put, sputter, cough, stop, sputter, put put put. Mudry is having a tag sale for his three daughters. Shifted the typewriter on which I write this diary into the Pink Room (front bedroom) this afternoon.

Fernand R. Ducharme, John F. Moriarty, Neil J. Moriarty and Alphonse Turcotte had their law offices at 300 High Street in Holyoke in 1967. The law firm of Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury and Murphy at One Monarch Place was founded by Louis W. Doherty (1898-1990) Dudley B. Wallace (1900-1987) Frederick S. Pilsbury (1919-1996) and Robert E. Murphy.

Drove down to see Efrem Gordon today at 101 State Street. Salem Street was blocked off for construction so I had to park on Pearl Street by the Commons. When I got to his office Efrem was playfully looking at me from around his door and he invited me into his office immediately. Efrem's voice was a little hoarse but when Efrem speaks it is always you, You, YOU as in, "You'll have to break the will." Whenever he does something it is really I who have done it, he is merely the instrument of it being done.

Efrem said he met Gary Shannon's wife at the Home Show. We went over some papers together with Efrem using a fancy ornate magnifying glass with a bone handle. Then Efrem posed for some pictures with the understanding that they would not be published in his lifetime but would appear on a postcard if he predeceased me. When I left he offered me a ride back to my car on Pearl Street but I patted my tummy and said it would be good for me to walk.

On the walk back I stopped at the porn shop at Apremont Triangle, where the proprietor let me take all the leftover Springfield Gay Pride March posters, which are quite rare. He told me he was at a fun queer party down by the Connecticut River on Saturday but then the rain came and ruined it. Finally I went to the Telephone Worker's Credit Union for some checks and MacDonald was out front with his usual big grin and we chatted briefly. He told me he's a Scotsman and I suggested that the TWCU newsletter should print a historical timeline of the union sometime. On my way back I stopped at Stop&Shop but they were all out of Banquet Fried Chicken Dinners.

When I got home I found a message from Jeff at Copycat saying that my booklets on the history of the land I'm donating to Wilbraham are available. Although I only ordered 300 copies they gave me 335. I inscribed copies for both Jeff and Steve. Then I drove over to Mrs. Staniski's and inscribed booklets for her, Ann and Carol. In return Mrs. Staniski insisted on giving me some blueberry pie and some cookies. I also delivered a booklet to Irving Cohn, who asked me to return the book Gardening for Dummies to the 16 Acres Library for him.

Tonight ex-rep Paul Caron was on the news talking about a new consulting firm he's starting. He said one of his clients is Dunkin Donuts and he has arranged for them to adopt and care for the traffic triangle at the Acres center.

June 8, 2003

66 degrees at 9:30am. A miserably rainy day.

The most devastating event of my life was the collapse of Monarch Life Insurance because it was then that I realized I would never be able to live in the style I was expecting to live when I inherited the estate from my parents. I am not ashamed of the fact that I have produced no offspring to "carry on the line" because what matters is what you make of your life and how you make yourself socially useful, not how many children you produce.

On WFCR this morning there was talk of a superstition among NASA workers that a "galactic ghoul" tries to screw up interplanetary space projects. The Rains Came starring Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy is playing at the Eastfield Mall Cinema as part of their Golden Age of Hollywood series.

The SeniorNet Computer Learning Center on East Columbus Avenue is offering introductory computer courses. Ann Paquette of Landmark Realtors is selling the Edward Gallagher house at 1480 Wilbraham Road for $169,000. There was a parade on TV celebrating Greenfield's 250th anniversary. The next child to be born in Greenfield will be given a silver cup by a man named White who was given the cup when he was born 50 years ago. He said that Greenfield has "lost a lot of industry and stores" in the past fifty years.

Dr. Rodney J. Larson has his office in Agawam. Copy Cat Printing is at 479 Breckwood Boulevard. The Springfield Library and Museums Association is offering a "privileged peek" at their new renovations to the Main branch to those willing to pay $45. I will not participate. Nader the Hatter called and said he will not be coming to Massachusetts any time soon. He said he thinks Pioneer is an honest auction house but said he's had problems with Stanton.

The rain has forced Mudry to move his tag sale into the garage. The Jozephczyks haven't uncovered their pool yet. Despite the rain the cop on Ballard had the graduation party for his kid under a white and yellow canopy with white, maroon and silver balloons. A truck was parked in the driveway that said Mike Laser Productions. I stopped at the 16 Acres Library to return a book for Irving Cohn and picked up a copy of Quad Quarterly. There were none of the postcards I gave them of the library on display, perhaps because they thought I was using them to promote myself while also criticizing them. They dare not give me a platform from which to speak.

I went to the collectibles show at the Eastfield Mall. Matt DeRoma sold me some Revolutionary War commemorative medallions and a Benjamin Franklin firefighter medal for $150. Then I drove down to Walmart on Boston Road in a drenching rain to pick up my prints, alas the pictures I took of Efrem Gordon did not come out. Then I went to have a lunch of salad and a fruit dessert at Ruby Tuesday.

Came home and worked in the attic and was delighted to find various items related to the building of this house such as the business cards of the people who were the subcontractors. I also found a bag for Towers Self Service Department Store. Where was that? The Springdale Mall? When I came downstairs I discovered that someone had been trying to call. The caller ID said simply "Hampden County" so I called the number back. I got an Officer Patton at the Ludlow correctional facility who knew of no one trying to reach me. He checked with the shift commander Capt. Dotson and he too couldn't tell who was calling me from the jail. A pleasant exchange but an unsolved mystery.

Eamon called and said that Puerto Ricans are moving into Hungry Hill at a furious rate. He said that the Hispanic family at the corner of Tacoma and David keep their place up nice, but down the other end is a two family house with five families living in it, one of whom has a Mercedes Benz. They are selling drugs at all hours and smashing bottles in the street. He said there are now Puerto Ricans all the way down Newbury Street, right and left.

Eamon also said that the Pasqualini house on Newbury is for sale. Eamon has seen the inside and said the brick and mahogany woodwork is very impressive. In the 1920's Pasqualini was one of Springfield's most notorious bootleggers, and he built an underground tunnel connecting the house next door so that he could move his illegal liquor to safety in case of a raid. After prohibition he went respectable and sold booze legally through Liberty Package Store.

June 10, 2003

69 degrees at 8:32. Beautiful this morning.

Cheryl A. Slattery, Terry Cavanaugh and Thomas C. Aurigemma work for FleetBoston Financial. The UMass athletic program has been cut by over $2 million. I think a good idea would be to make up the cut by ending their football program. On the news they said there is an enormous backlog in small claims cases in Hampshire County. I called TV40 and spoke to Cara about the error Ray Herschel made last night using the word floundering for foundering when he said "rescue the city's floundering libraries." She thanked me.

Been going through more stuff in the attic. Found a roll of Owens-Corning fiberglass installation, some hooked rugs from the Crest Street hallways of my childhood plus a bunch of beat-up old stuff. A lot will go to the Salvation Army and my dumpster will be quite full this week! I have not found the dolls Dumbo, Mickey, Hankelina (a green, blue and white hanky tied to make a head and limbs) and Potsie the rubber tarantula spider. I suspect they may have been buried with Father. I threw something in at the end and I guess that was them.

This morning as planned Eamon came by in his dark green Cadillac. He followed me as we drove down Catalpa to the Russell's house. It is abandoned but with a lot of stuff left behind. Nice flowers and a peaceful environment, the overall appearance sort of gothic. Eamon said he's amazed by all the traffic in my neighborhood, and I pointed out that through here is the only way the suburbanites can get to Wilbraham. In addition WNEC and Sixteen Acres Garden draw traffic.

Then we drove out to 116 Pondview Drive which is a house of interest to Eamon because it was designed by his friend Parker the architect. Coming by Cherokee on the way over about a dozen black kids were waiting for the bus. 116 Pondview is on the highest rise on the lake side of the street, a big, expensive ranch house with a stone front. I showed him Carvalho's, a big dreamy light turquoise colored house with a small vehicle in the driveway. His lawn needs mowing. As we were leaving I told Eamon that I was going to put some items up for auction at Pioneer up in Sunderland and intended to stop by at Atkin's Farm on the way. He told me he went to Atkin's once with Jimmy Bloom and was amazed by all the merchandise for sale but said their prices are not cheap.

First Central Baptist Church has a digital sign announcing all their events and inviting people to attend. The Huke Lau has a sign saying, "Lobster Special 24.95." That is not a special price! At a traffic light a guy in a black vehicle next to me had a piss on Bin Laden image on the back. I rolled down my window and shouted, "Osama is a great man - America for Americans and Arabia for the Arabs!" He scowled.

I soon arrived at Atkin's Farm on West Street in Amherst, which has an assortment of wonderful merchandise of all sorts. It is far superior to Randall's. I bought a Bavarian pastry and consumed it there, not much jelly but lots of whipped cream. Sitting near me at a little round table with a cup of coffee was a man around my age reading Tacitus, yes Tacitus. Then I went to drop off for auction some items at Pioneer with Bruce Smebakken, including some really good postcards and a notebook once owned by the art director at Milton Bradley.

On the way back I saw someone in a silver Honda throw a cigarette into the street at the light in the center of Amherst. Back in Springfield I went to the Big Y World Class Market where I bought albacore tuna, asparagus and fruit in dented cans. Big Y has been using "where people come first" in their ads for some time but now Hampden Savings Bank also says "putting you first." It seems to be the current fad in advertising to talk about putting the customer first. Swung by Hillcrest Cemetery and saw a postal truck parked there. The prize Oak has an enormous branch dead, but I photographed it in such a way as to camouflage the problem and preserve the tree's special look.

Cohn left his garage door open overnight. Just as I got home a lady with three dogs on a leash was walking on my treebelt and one of the dogs went in my tiger lilies. I followed her in my car as she crossed Wilbraham Road and down Aldrew, over to Jeffrey and turned into Fenway. As she walked toward 60 Fenway I shouted out my window, "Don't water your dogs on my lawn!" and sped away.

June 11, 2003

69 degrees, an overcast day. Peonies coming out. Gas is $1.45 at Pride.

Went out today and made a donation to the Salvation Army, then went over to the Big Y where they were selling donuts two for 89 cents. Where Woronoco used to be in Big Y there is now a BCP bank. Big Y was promoting the Taste of Springfield with a "Taste of the Taste" consisting of samples of roast beef, fried chicken and Friendly's Ice Cream. Will there be free goodies like that at the real Taste?

Then I headed out to Wilbraham down Boston Road and there was a line of cars all the way from Stony Hill Road back up the hill to Horizon's! I stopped at the YMCA of Greater Springfield office at 85 Post Office Park in Wilbraham and spoke with Capital Campaign Director Scott M. Berg. He told me he has a masters degree from Springfield College, and that the local YMCA is in rough financial shape. However by refocusing on the suburbs they expect to become more successful. Next I visited my former land on Maynard Road, which looks about the same.

Down King Drive the mansion is finished in light grey-brown vinyl with white trim. Out front was a big sign saying, "It's a Girl! Welcome Home Kay Leigh." Then down to the Atheneum which is looking good and over to Wilbraham Town Hall which is beautiful enough to put on a postcard. It was raining by the time I reached Indian Orchard and parked in front of the Oldies From the Estate Shop owned by Bill and Beth Wallace, located where the Cat's Paw used to be at 45 Parker Street. I saw Leon Gaumond walking by. In the shop the guy who owns the liquor store across the street was visiting and talking about his birds. I saw nothing to buy and headed home.

Governor Mitt Romney sent me a fundraising letter, which I guess is my thank you for the memos I sent him. Still it is more of a formal thank you than I ever got from anything I did for Fred Whitney. Romney is a sensible Republican unlike the war hawk Republicans like Whitney. The letter began, "We can do better is the guiding principle that inspires the Romney-Healey Administration every day as we work to restore good government and rebuild Massachusetts."

I called Charlie Ryan at his Forest Park home. He told me that he had already talked to Eamon twice this morning. I urged Ryan to run for Mayor and said I would be glad to help him any way I could but that it might be best if I help behind the scenes as I might be a liability if visible. I told him that the city must reclaim the Mason Square Library and he agreed and thanked me for my call.

Today in the Mahogany Room at City Hall Senator Linda Melconian announced that she is running for Mayor of Springfield. All the establishment political figures were there, with media coverage featuring Congressman Richard Neal and Sheriff Michael Ashe. Jose Tosado was also shown. Melconian said on TV40 that she is running for mayor "to restore public confidence and financial health." She described the city as "a group of communities" and promised that she will better coordinate public services to "do more with less." Linda claimed that she has "never run away from the tough decisions" but she apparently has never run away from the crooks either, of which there were many at her event, including Michael J. Albano.

There was a brief interview with Charlie Ryan, who was shown touring a North End senior center with Representative Cheryl Rivera. Ray Herschel recalled to Ryan how he used the casino issue in 1995 to launch a mayoral campaign and asked Ryan whether he was using the library controversy to do so again. Ryan said he is seriously considering running but is still undecided. He said he will make his final decision in a few weeks based on "whether I feel I could make a significant difference."

Later I called William W. Turner of 116 Birchland and he answered with a grunt. I politely inquired whether he ever intends to get back to me and he barked, "About what?" I told him I left him a message and he said, "I didn't pay any attention to it, I'm all business, ok? Thank you!" and he slammed down the phone.

Not very hospitable! Whenever I have gone to his house collecting for charity he has banged the door shut in my face. The same when I went there on a petition drive. That's the kind of person he is. I met his daughter once and she seemed plain and uninteresting. In my 1970 City Directory Turner is listed as Director of Placement at American International College and his wife Natalie is listed as a social worker in Storrs, Connecticut. In the 1984 Directory she is listed as a professor at the UConn School of Social Work. In the 1995 AIC Alumnus Directory William Turner is listed as a member of the Class of 1949 and is retired as head of placement and was the hockey coach! Mr. Turner strikes me as an authoritarian type with whom one does not argue and is lacking in personal interaction skills. I decided to send him a letter:

Dear Hockey Coach,

Your door was slammed in my face several times when I came to see you seeking charitable contributions and circulating petitions. Recently when I sought to interview you about the early days of Birchland Avenue you did it again. You seem socially insensitive, no gentleman nor a scholar.

Good Riddance!

J. Wesley Miller

June 13, 2003

73 degrees at 3:35pm. Humid out, Sunoco is $1.45 per gallon.

Leela John is a customer service representative for United Cooperative Bank. In the mail today I got a Bank of Boston interest check for only $82.37 and an A.G. Edwards check for $2,056.85. Mother would have insisted on staying inside on a humid day like this but I had too much to do. First I got my hair cut at Eastfield Mall and then I stopped at the Sunoco Minimart where the lady said they will be closing for six weeks for renovations but will still sell gas.

Mailed my bills out from one of the four mailboxes outside Parker Drug. Popped in and out of the Pine Point Library, then over to Mrs. Staniski's to return the plate on which she gave me a blueberry pie. She says she will be spending the weekend with Ann in Maine. Her lawn is closely mowed and the yellow rose bush is in full bloom. Then I headed downtown where Salem Street is still barricaded; perhaps they are doing something regarding the pipes that served the back section of Tech High which is now under demolition. Then I swung by the porn shop on Bridge Street now renamed Amazon.net just as they were changing shifts and I saw them making ledger entries - $1,639 taken in today!

Back home on television Tom Bevaqua gave the weather report from Stearns Square. Lesbian activist Holly Richardson was also on TV today speaking against building a new woman's jail which she called a waste of money when we need many other things more. Holly is a disciple of Michaelann Bewsee of ARISE.

There were ten circulars in today's paper and lots more ads. Larry McDermott must be doing something to increase business. Carroll Robbins retired as editor of the Springfield Union-News (now Republican) almost ten years ago. That concluded a career in the newspaper business that included jobs as City Hall reporter, political reporter and columnist, managing editor and editor of the afternoon Springfield Daily News and lastly of the merged morning Union-News. He used to live in East Forest Park but now lives in Reeds Landing retirement home and edits REEDer's Digest their quarterly newsletter.

Paul Ciglione called looking for Paul Caron. I told him our numbers are nearly the same and that he misdialed and in response Ciglione was very polite. I called Super One Stop Liquors at 1918 Wilbraham Road and asked for a quote on a case of Bristol Creme. Then I called Karen Powell and we agreed we would do whatever we could to get Charlie Ryan to run for mayor. She said she was never officially on the library reform committee, although she did go to some of their meetings. Karen stated that "without a doubt Charlie would be a better mayor than Melconian."

That inspired me to call Linda herself at her office where Pat answered. I asked if Linda was available and she said, "Yes she is" and put me on hold. After two minutes Wilfredo Rivera came on and said that Melconian "has someone with her and someone waiting" and asked if I would like to leave a message. I said yes, that my message to Linda is that if Charles V. Ryan enters the race then she should immediately call a press conference and withdraw her candidacy. She thanked me and said she would pass my message along to the Senator.

Eamon called and said his new nickname for Linda Melconian is "Linda Malfuntion." He said she is "hardly the brightest bulb in the Senate" and is "just another inept career politician." He claims it is "common knowledge at the Statehouse" that she mishandled the insurance reform legislation. He described her as "always at the public trough and never gainfully employed in the private sector" and that she is completely incompetent to solve Springfield's financial mismanagement problems.

Eamon added that the "City Clowncil" should vote to erect three statues honoring Mayor Albano in front of City Hall. One should show the Mayor shaking hands with himself, the second should show him shaking hands with Peter Picknelly on the Tinkerbell and the third should show him "shaking hands with Toots Starr and Twinkles McDermott in gratitude for their failing to hold him accountable." According to Eamon Davey Starr and his central planners have not gotten anything right with their downtown revitalization schemes and have learned nothing from the stupidity of their mistakes.

June 16, 2003

63 degrees and overcast. Gas at Cumberland Farms across from Angelo's is $1.43.

The elder George Bush turns 79 this week. Governor W.M. Romney spent about $7 million of his own money in last year's election. Both Romney and Attorney General T. Reilly are calling on Billy Bulger to resign the presidency of UMass. Denise Ouellette is Branch Operations Manager at United Cooperative Bank on Wilbraham Road. The Deady Bridge in Chicopee is being renovated, which will mean a mess whenever I go to Amherst over the mountain.

Today I attended the Black History celebration at the Al-Baqi Islamic Center in Springfield featuring local historian Mr. Rudy Banks of Bay Street. The event sounded different and special so I decided I'd go. The Mosque is in the old Oak Street School on the corner of Union and Oak. It was later renamed the Strickland School in memory of the School's first principal. Steep steps lead to an ancient interior complete with tin ceilings and radiator pipes around the walls.

I paid the $5 entry fee and was the first to sign the guest book. On the first floor on the left is their worship room, on the right is a classroom where they had exhibits of the local black history archives of Rudy Banks. I introduced myself to Mr. Banks who told me he is "over seventy" and has a daughter. He is a Navy vet and a retired master plumber.

Banks' collection of artifacts of local Black History is fabulous and unique, including lots of extremely rare postcards and an 1850 newspaper from the town of Hampden. Who knows what else he has at home? Banks told me he is not a Muslim himself and when I told him I knew Walter English he asked if I knew Reverend Cobb. He was also familiar with Smith and Povirk up in Whately.

Banks told me he is hopeful that the old Mason Square Fire Station can be turned into a museum to house his collection. He said the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum has asked him to give them his collection but he said only white people work there and he isn't confident that anyone at the Quadrangle knows much about Black History and fears that the collection "might be broken up and sold."

Before I left I asked if they had any publications for sale and they showed me Muslims in America by Amir Nashid Ali Muhammad which I bought for $10. I asked the man who sold me the book whether they had any anti-Muslim trouble and he said no although there have been some difficulties in West Springfield. I was impressed with the display, and later I called both Eamon and Charlie Ryan and told them that they should go see it.

On the way back I stopped at Siperstein's on Page Boulevard and bought a gallon of Elmer's Glueall and then to Lewis & Clark to mail out my nasty letter to William Turner and the postcards to Jack Fritsher. In the trash can in front of Figures and Fitness I found a copy of the Fairfield County Weekly, a sister publication of the Advocate in Stafford which listed (in this order) Maureen Turner and Tom Vannah as "Contributing Editors." I also found in the same trash can two copies of the Republican, one of which I gave to a guy sitting nearby in a truck from Colonial Carpentry of Belchertown.

This afternoon the Reverend Matthew Burt came to visit. He has been at the Evangelical Covenant Church on Plumtree Road for fourteen years. Rev. Burt told me that he was born in 1952 to a USAF officer in California and that he has lived in many places including Texas and Ohio. He is a graduate of John Brown University in Arkansas and the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. I served him Cona Coffee from Atkin's Farm and strawberry cookies from Stop&Shop.

The Reverend is a personable, youngish, unstuffy fellow who arrived wearing a red cap with his sunglasses perched atop it, loafers, slacks and a polo shirt. He said he doesn't think he is related to the Springfield Burts. I showed him the cellar, my publications and posters as well as the Stanley and Trent books. I strongly recommended Kaplan and Jenson and asked him not to tell others what he saw here. Reverend Burt is a good fellow and his church is lucky to have him as their pastor.

Peter Picknelly has bought the Bonanza bus line. I called Larry McDermott at the paper and got Anita, who told me McDermott was not available but asked if I would like to leave a message. I said yes, then told her that if Charlie Ryan becomes the next mayor then Eamon O'Sullivan will be one of his closest advisers so the paper should try to make amends with Eamon. I also told her that McDermott has been little more than "a pompous functionary" beneath David Starr and needs to assert himself.

June 18, 2003

63 degrees at 6:55am and overcast.

Paul McCartney is 61. Collector Galleries is at 11 Bridge Street in Northampton. Got a letter from my friend John Rixon today saying that he mixes soymilk with tofu in his cereal each day and it has lowered his cholesterol considerably. He says he may write an article about it.

Went downtown to Fiorintino's and parked by the Italian Social Club. I bought three cream puffs, three cupcakes and three strawberry cheesecakes. The Civic Pub, the bar on the first floor of the Ravosa building on Court Square has a "Under New Management" sign in the window. Back home at noon.

Antique dealers Vince and Claudia Robillard arrived at one o'clock in a brown Dodge Ram truck. They brought me a gift of an antique can of BAB-O soap and a BAB-O bank with the little girl icon on it. I thanked them profusely and since they are into antique toys I gave them a 1940's red sailboat and a white and green tugboat. I also gave them a signed copy of my booklet about the history of my former land holdings in Wilbraham. Vince Robillard thanked me but jokingly said he would prefer to have my comic books.

I served the Robillards cream puffs, peanuts and potato chips. Then I gave them the tour and they liked the Fire and Marine poster and strangely enough Herbert Kubley's lamp. They also admired my Tercentenary Map of the Commonwealth. Then we sat in the parlor and sipped Bristol Creme as we talked. Vince told me he was born in 1938 in Ottawa and is a Catholic. He said as a boy he went to Catholic schools and some of the friars did show an unhealthy interest in boys, but no one told their parents out of fear that they wouldn't be believed. He said the people at Immaculate Conception in Indian Orchard are mad because they gave money to fix up the school and now it's being closed.

In his youth Vince worked for a few years in Ottawa assembling shipments of comic books to stores. Now he wishes he had saved just one of each comic! Vince later lost his right index finger when he worked at a job stamping images of a maple leaf on products, making it impossible for him to type fast. He told me he still goes to Canada occasionally and said Toronto used to be an immaculate city but has become dirty since all the Russians moved in.

Locally he drove a bus for Trailways, although sometimes Peter Picknelly used to pay him "cash under the table" to drive Peter Pan buses whenever he was short-handed. Vince said Peter Picknelly's way of handling people is to "pay everybody off." He knew Mrs. Picknelly as well and said "she thought she was Queen Tut." Once she cut in line in front of him at the bus station cafeteria and was shocked when Vince told her to get back at the end of the line. He also knew Dr. Stanley Stusick who he said was well-loved because he gave a lot of free care to people.

We talked about recent auctions. Robillard complained that Imler at Stanton's Auctions in Hampden goes too slow and overcharges. When they left I gave Claudia a postcard of Little Red Riding Hood which she admired and I gave them both a bottle of Bristol Creme to take home with them but Vince forgot his.

The City Council will meet in ten days to finalize the takeover of the libraries. Joe Carvalho was on TV tonight blathering about the library in Mason Square. The sale of the Mason Square Library to the Urban League is another example of the Springfield Library and Museums Association double crossing their donors. There was George Walter Vincent Smith, there was Henry Lee and now Anne Curran. They are a dirty, rotten operation without any credibility or integrity.

Cheryl Rivera and Jose Claudio were on TV40 demanding more welfare programs for Hispanics. Then Mark Hyman's "The Point" came on and he complained that "some self-proclaimed Republicans in Massachusetts are wildly liberal." No doubt about that, and I'm one of them!

June 19, 2003

67 degrees.

Applications are now available to become the Miss Black Teen of Springfield from Sharonda Pickney-Turner or Lisa D. Richardson. The Farmer's Market at the corner of Main and Bridge Street is back, featuring flowers and plants from Rudy's Greenhouse of Westfield and Sunny Brook Farm of Agawam. Also includes live music, craft vendors and baked goods from Gus & Paul's.

Talib Kweli plus Pharoabe Monch are playing at the Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton on June 20th. I see in the paper that the Half Moon Bookstore on Pearl Street has been sold to High School of Commerce chemistry teacher David O. Ham by current owner Ira Glunts. I made a call to the author of the article Lori Stabile and left a message telling her how the Half Moon once sold me a book the Boston Athenaeum says is still theirs.

Today is Taste of Springfield Day! Actually it began yesterday in the rain; today was overcast but pretty much dry. On the way out I saw Cressotti putting up a stepladder to trim his hedges. I stopped and as always he greeted me with a big friendly smile. I asked about the grouch Mr. Turner and he said he just talked to "Bill" the other day. He said Turner has two or three kids and has lived here for forty years, although he is not a first settler. Mrs. Turner died about a decade ago.

On my way down Breckwood I saw the little green car was parked in the driveway at Devine's. Then briefly into the Pine Point Library before heading over to see Mrs. Staniski, who brought me some Goldenrod Peanut Butter Kisses and a pretty postcard of lighthouses from her trip to Maine with Ann. The Dearden place at 25 Crest Street is for sale by Christina Strohman. When I got downtown I parked on School Street in front of the first apartment house after the little park there. The visitor center at the Edwards side of the Science Museum is now under construction.

Walking around the Taste were girls passing out multi-flavored packs of Rolaids, the perfect complement to the food. Maybe they should have called it The Rolaids Taste of Springfield! There were also people passing out cute little cans of Freshly Ground New England Coffee Breakfast Blend. I was in full uniform with four ring collar. First Church was selling skimpy servings of strawberry shortcake for two dollars. The Taste is no bargain with prices at least the same as usual.

At one point I sat and rested in a folding chair at the edge of Court Square and chatted with Bill O'Leary from radio station 106.3 Smooth FM in Northampton. He is a tall, thin young fellow and we discussed photography. He told me he had just been to Paris and taken 1500 pictures, some of which he hoped to sell as postcards. I told him to be sure to register for copyright protection if he does.

Stopped into City Hall to use the restroom and I found a Taste of Springfield poster beside the elevator at the back of the ground floor. I never saw any others in my travels, not at Acres Drugs, Lewis & Clark, nor Big Y nor Stop&Shop. City Council President Dan Kelly walked by with someone and I overheard him saying that it would be good for the Quadrangle to go bankrupt so that the city could take it over.

Then I went to Jeff's Picture Framing at 1027 Columbus Avenue in Springfield. He has many bonsai plants in the window and a likeness of himself on the door. I asked Jeff how business is and he replied, "It sucks!" I asked how much it would cost to re-mat my Lushington the Lawyer print and he said $47.50.

Picked up a copy of the Chicopee Plus tabloid which is 28 pages and had a Jendrysik essay on the history of Chicopee Falls. They also list the names of all high school graduates. Why don't the Springfield Newspapers do this? On the evening news it said that John O'Brien of WAQY-102 is considering running for Mayor of Chicopee. I hope he runs and wins!

Maureen Turner has a great article this week in the Valley Advocate entitled, "Something Fishy at the Dog Pound." It is about how Kevin Mulcahy of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 63 is suing the city over a sweetheart deal given to Peter Picknelly's Monarch Enterprises to build a new dog pound on Cottage Street. Turner also has an article about how the Springfield Libraries and Museums Association tried to extort extra money from the city before handing over control of the libraries.

Ted Koppel TV advertisement: "In times like these thank goodness there's a Nightline." UMass President Bulger was granted immunity yesterday to testify before Congress but said nothing. Howie Carr managed to get a seat in the gallery right behind him and made faces for the TV cameras whenever he felt Bulger had told a lie. He had many opportunities to make funny faces!

June 21, 2003

66 degrees at 8am. Overcast but dry day. Summer Solstice began at 3:10pm.

Albacore tuna has four times as much mercury in it as light tuna. The new Harry Potter book is about to be released. The Springfield Library Summer Reading Club still exists. Peter Pan offers service to Six Flags from June 24th to August 31st. Local Springfield resident Tom Ryan is doing ads for Hoffman Lexus in East Hartford.

Headed out early and made copies at Pride but the copier jammed so the cute little black lady came and fixed it. Eastern Avenue School, now called Bridge Academy is all fixed up with the ventilator towers reconstructed with period ornamental work. I parked by Mary Betera's Advanced Physical Therapy on Union Street and I dropped some papers off at Efrem Gordon's. He told me that Gary Shannon is going on vacation and I said, "Tell him to buy a ticket to the Bermuda Triangle!" On the way out I ran into Attorney Marshall Moriarty. He commented that my leather outfit looks dreary on a summer day and I told him, "I always dress to depress."

Then I went to have breakfast at Kyser's: potatoes, sausage, scrambled eggs and two slices of wheat toast. It was $3.75 and I left a fifty cent tip. Next I stopped by Grapevine Liquors where Okun's was to check their price for a case of Bristol Creme. It is a big splashy store where Ralph Capua is the manager and Antonio S. Teixeira is the wine man. They charged $161 for a case which is too high since I can get it for $150 at One Stop Liquors. On the corner of State and Main the ground floor still has the A.G. Edwards sign up but they are long gone. The Christian Science Reading Room is cleaned out. I got a National Nutrition Month poster from the Southwest Community Health Center, a social service agency on Main Street.

Finally I headed over to the Mason Square Library which was open for its last day after being sold to the Urban League. I parked in the lot and was surprised when I entered to encounter Karen Powell. She said that the loss of this branch means the hours of all the other branches will have to be rethought, although there will be a small library remaining where the reading program is now located. I told her I have pictures of the houses that were demolished to build the Mason Square Library. We gossiped a bit and Powell informed me that her husband Bob says that Peter Picknelly gets his Rolls Royce serviced by a mechanic named Robeson on St. James Avenue. Then I said good bye and went outside to take some pictures of the building on its last day as a library.

When I got home I read the paper and saw that Judy Matt was mentioned in Cries and Whispers because of the Taste of Springfield being rained out. I called Eamon but only got his phone message, which ended with the statement:

The monopoly rag Non Union Shopping Snooze have a good thing going in this city with its dumbed down population of non-readers who are spoon fed whatever little news that might get from the two ineffective Ken and Barbie TV weather stations.

The Springfield Republican had an editorial today questioning Charlie Ryan's motives in the library debate:

It is reasonable to expect some people to be curious about the timing of the libraries issue and Ryan's involvement. Was he waiting for the right issue to come along and serve as his launching pad back to political office? Did he exploit the issue? Or was it a simple and admirable case of a former mayor who was living comfortably in retirement stepping up to help his fellow citizens fight for a good cause? Time will tell.

In other words, in their view Ryan should not run for mayor in order to prove that he has no ulterior motives. So if he does run they can then accuse him of "exploiting" the issue for his own personal gain. I called Charlie Ryan about the editorial and told him not to be intimidated by the paper into not running. He assured me he will make his decision on his own terms. I told him I have no sympathy for any library workers who have to be fired because I said most of them are political hires who never spoke out about anything and are now paying the price for their cowardice.

June 23, 2003

64 degrees, lightning and thunder.

I do this diary by keeping a running set of notes throughout the day of what happens and then type them up at night when I have a pile of stuff to organize into a diary entry.

Vermont Governor Howard Dean kicked off his presidential campaign on Church Street, which is the main street in Burlington, with the Unitarian-Universalist Church in the background. Dean said that we need a foreign policy "about America leading the world, not America against the world." A new restaurant opened at the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend.

Peggy Baker is the Director of the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Kerry Bohdanowicz is the Senior Teller at United Cooperative Bank on Wilbraham Road. This morning TV weatherman Rick Sluben said we are "stuck with rain for the rest of the day." Working in the attic I came across an old bottle of Listerine with the contents evaporated to a little grey fluid at the bottom, plus Father's old brown top coat with a note in it, "Dry cleaned April, 1971."

I went out at 1:53 with it raining lightly, and going down Breckwood Boulevard I saw that there is a SOLD sign on the Devine house. It's hard to believe, but after all these decades the last of the Devines are leaving Pine Point. I stopped at the Boston Road McDonald's for a Fishwich and then went to Walmart and mailed some Fernbank history booklets to Charles V. Ryan and all the major officials of Wilbraham.

Next I drove down to Charlie Ryan's house and on the way saw that they are almost finished working on the slate roof on Trinity Church. There was a blue vehicle in Ryan's driveway but no one came to the door when I knocked so I left my papers for him by the back door.

Then I went over to the Sumner Avenue Goodwill Store which was well-stocked but had nothing I wanted. I also checked the Coin Exchange but nothing there either. In my change today I got my first Maine and Alabama quarters. On the way back I stopped at Winn Liquors across from Duggan and they had on display a huge ten foot tall Captain Morgan figure. I should have had my picture taken with it.

When I got back I ran into Mrs. Penninman who said her husband is now permanently in a nursing home. We talked politics and both of us agreed that George Bush is an idiot. I told her about all the bad things Charlie Ryan is discovering regarding the city's finances and she said, "Welcome to the real world!" I told her that Eamon has been so busy with Charlie Ryan these days that I'm not hearing much from him.

A really big system of storms went through in the early evening. Channel 40 went off the air at 6:03 but came back at 6:18. At one point there was so much rain you couldn't even see the trees behind Allard's. Inspecting the cellar I found that a small leak had occurred near my best Springbok Jigsaw Puzzles, although only one of a child's map of America was seriously damaged. I rushed the puzzles to safety in a higher location. The rain stopped and then the sun came out just before sunset, a calm and scenic end to a rainy day.

June 25, 2003

98 degrees in the center of the city. Racist Lester Maddox has died.

Steve and Barb Bajurny of Southwick own a black cherry red 1934 Ford Tudor. The Wilbraham Nature and Cultural Center is starting its summer concert series at Fountain Park with Ann Kelleher and Dan Kane doing Broadway standards. Donald R. Chase of West Springfield has been placed on the Board of Trustees of Western New England College. He is the President and CEO of Westbank.

Peter S. Punderson is head of Community Oil Company in East Longmeadow. The Lone Ranger was my favorite cowboy when I was a kid, which is why I have named my wooden Indian Tonto. I also liked the Cisco Kid who I watched on TV every Sunday when we got home from church while Mother was cooking dinner. I remember it was sponsored by Cott Quality Beverages.

Kelly has her umbrella up. Maureen Coyle has died at 89. She was the mother of my late friend James P. Coyle and Atty. Kevin B. Coyle of East Longmeadow. I went to the wake today at Byron's on Allen Street. I wrote in the guest book about how Jimmy was one of my best friends along with Robert B. McCreech throughout Buckingham and Classical, and how Mrs. Coyle had a friendly, outgoing yet tactful personality. Mrs. Coyle's coffin was mahogany or walnut and was covered with red roses. I soon left having seen no one I knew except Aldridge, who thanked me for coming.

June is Strawberry Month at Randall's. I drove out there to get some at $2.98 a quart and on the way I noted how the Stusick apartment complex in the Indian Orchard center is looking seedier all the time. Eastfield Mall's Children's Summer Theater starts June 28th with Dan Butterworth's Marionette Show.

I found another rare bag in the attic, this time a clear one with red printing from Peter Olsen's Olsen Orchard on Old Westfield Road in Granville. I remember going there, you had to drive up a hill to get to the farm. When we first moved here the attic was tidy with shelves and bins. It got filled. Mother was always buying and storing things that she might need some day - bedding, clothing, table cloths, plastic bags with no logo and shower curtains. Mother lacked the ability to discriminate between what should be saved and what should not be. For years the stuff piled up but now I am clearing it out and delivering most of it to the Salvation Army.

This week The Reminder has a picture of Linda Melconian at her announcement rally posing with her husband Andrew J. Scibelli. It is the first time I've seen a picture of him. Also in the Reminder G. Michael Dobbs had this to say as part of his weekly editorial:

Have you been driving north on Interstate 91 lately? Have you noticed that the time and temperature sign on The Republican building never agrees with the time and temperature displayed on the Peter Pan Bus Lines billboard? The two edifices are about a city block away from each other, but there appears to be a rift in time and space there. Does that mean if you cross the street from the bus station to The Republican building that you actually pass through some sort of dimensional vortex?

I called Dobbs and left him a message about how the Court Square area clocks are always out of sync. I then called McDermott at the Republican and left a message praising their recent photography such as the Williston library shot and their panoramic view of Wilbraham. I added that Larry should stop putting people down when they offer the paper suggestions. Joe Carvalho was on TV saying that they may have to fire more staff unless the City Council gives the Quad more money. The TV news had a story on the school equipment thefts at Homer Street, but there was nothing about it in the paper.

June 27, 2003

Black-eyed Susans budding. A very hot day.

Senators Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel were on 57 saying there are not enough troops to stabilize Iraq. The name of the school teacher from Homer Street who allegedly stole school supplies is Mary E. Lantz of 29 Trillium Street who has been a teacher since 1997. This morning I called Mrs. Staniski and she said she is spending the day in the basement where it is cooler and where she is watching TV. "Thanks so much for calling," she said. "It means so much just to be able to talk to somebody."

Dick Collins is the President and CEO of United Cooperative Bank. There is a two full columns obituary in the paper today for Dr. Omar T. Pace. He was involved in the operation on my arm back in 1985. I inscribed a copy of the Fernbank booklet for Ellen Abernathy and Bob Jozefczyk. I also walked over to deliver one to Nichols, but no one answered the bell so I slipped it inside the door.

The Breckwood Sunoco remodeling project is underway. Went downtown and noticed they are fixing up the Armory Gateway at the corner of Byers and painting the iron gate. I intended to circle over to the Quadrangle when at the corner of Apremont Triangle just about opposite the porn shop I came upon an old lady being attacked by a chubby man in a blue t-shirt. She was resisting and then ran into the street right in front of me! The attacker grabbed her and twisted her arm but then he saw me and ran away.

I rolled down my window as she staggered over to my car. Another person came running over and identified himself as Steve Murphy and asked if he could help. The woman told us her name was Ann Frankl and she lives in St. Luke's Home. She gave her age as seventy and said she was unharmed and still had her wallet. Suddenly a cop car appeared and I honked my horn and we all waved our hands but the cop car just rolled by without stopping. Therefore Murphy stayed with Ms. Frankl while I drove the short distance to the police station.

When I ran inside I saw that there was a woman with a couple of kids already talking at the main window. Rather than wait I boldly ran upstairs and into the hallway, but all the doors were closed and appeared to require swipe-card access. Therefore I banged on one of the doors and an officer came out who said his name was Carter. He politely told me to go downstairs and talk to the cop at the window.

So I headed back downstairs where the lady with the kids was still at the window. Then I went over to the traffic desk where an officer was seated behind a terminal. I told him my story and he told me to write it down on a form he had. I asked the officer for his name but he refused to give it, although he was wearing a gold badge with the number three on it. After I filled out the form I left and returned to the scene of the crime but Frankl and Murphy were no where in sight. Perhaps he had given her a ride home. I was no longer interested in going to the Quadrangle so I went straight home instead. At the corner of Oak I noticed a security man standing outside the Fleet ATM.

Sue C. Root is retiring as Director of Springfield's World Affairs Council. She will be replaced by Cynthia D. Melcher of Palmer, according to board head Ken R. Furst. Root is a friend of my neighbor Colleen Moynihan going back to when President Reagan came to Springfield to address the group.

The Valley Advocate has a great article by Maureen Turner about aspects of the library controversy not covered by the rest of the media. The article began, "The sun was shining at the start of the Springfield City Council's city library budget hearing on Monday. Then Councilor Bill Foley started talking and the skies darkened."

Foley was booed by the audience for being critical of the new library budget, the first under city control, even though "the budget includes expanded services, including the reopening of three library branches closed by the Springfield Library and Museum Association earlier this year" and is doing so with a budget 22 percent less than the SLMA used to spend. Charles V. Ryan told Foley that the SLMA always had enough money to keep the branches open but chose instead to spend it on other uses like staff salaries. So the public went without so that the fat cat insiders could line their pockets with another round of pay raises.

June 28, 2003

76 degrees on the breezeway at noon. Humid.

Fantastic news! RYAN IS RUNNING!!!

Eamon was informed of Charlie's decision this morning at a meeting in Ryan's kitchen with Karen Powell and Rose Marie Coughlin also present. Ryan's son Timothy just didn't have "the fire in his belly" to run and so the Old Man agreed to come out of retirement for the sake of the city. The decision will be made public in a few days, perhaps at a rally outside City Hall, Eamon will let me know where and when. Larry McDermott at the paper has been informed and will meet privately with Ryan next week, when Charlie will make a personal appeal for fair coverage. Eamon, Powell and Coughlin are expected to play major roles in the campaign, with overall supervision of the campaign by Joe Napolitan.

I told Eamon about the mugging I witnessed and he said I should have run over the robber with my car. Eamon says the FBI has assigned him a new "handler" to consult with him about any local political history questions the Feds may have. When Eamon asked the agent how the corruption investigation is going he said "very well" and predicted Eamon would be "very pleased" when the indictments come down.

I mentioned to Eamon about how I heard the principal of Putnam (Trade) on TV saying a replacement school is necessary but I seem to recall Putnam getting a renovation several years back when the Thurston Munson murals in the dining room were effaced. Eamon recalled that sometime around 1986 Mayor Neal had a $26 million addition put on. Public officials always forget what they got in the past when they want more.

My dentist Dr. Gianetti now works only three days a week. Elizabeth A. Porada was an attorney at 76 Gothic Street in Northampton in 1974. John Salema, president of Dunkin Donuts has agreed with Springfield Park Superintendent Patrick Sullivan, Clodo Concepcion, president of the Sixteen Acres Civic Association and Jean Masse to take over responsibility for maintaining the two traffic islands at the intersection of Parker Street and Wilbraham Road, which is considered the gateway to Sixteen Acres.

There are two new houses on Arnold Avenue opposite the bus barn. Liz Sommer, assistant curator of art at the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, has announced there will have an exhibit this summer called Feelin' Groovy: Rock n' Roll Graphics 1966-70. Yet no one contacted me although it is well known that I have an extensive collection of hippie artifacts from both the University of Wisconsin and the Amherst/Northampton area which I would have been happy to display if asked.

Up at 5:45 and cooked up a kettle of peas and potatoes in milk, one of my favorite dishes. There were three old ladies walking down Wilbraham Road when I left the house today. I went downtown and parked on Dwight Street where I saw work was underway on the lobby of the Judge's Chambers. Walking past the Quadrangle I saw that they are putting up a fancy black metal fence with 1880's scrollwork decorations around the parking lot. The gate was open leading to the back of St. Michael's and a truck for Boulanger's Plumbing and Heating of Easthampton was parked in front of the Science Museum.

On Main Street I saw TV finance guy Jim Vinick walking along carrying a brown leather briefcase. I stopped by Efrem Gordon's office to drop off some stuff and on my way out I was greeted by an elderly man coming in who joked, "Why are you here? You don't seem like someone in trouble, you look like an honest man!" I replied, "Yes I am honest, and that's what gets me into so much trouble!"

When I got home I called Sue Davison at the Quad and told her I hadn't seen their annual report and she promised to send me one. She also told me that Ed Lonergan still works in the Central Library. Next I called Charlie Ryan's house to congratulate him on his decision to run but he wasn't in so instead I spoke to his wife Joan Ryan. I told her to pass along my encouragement and to thank Charlie for sending me the report on the Springfield Library and Museum Association that he wrote. I told her I thought it was excellent, and she said Charlie will be pleased that I said that, and then she thanked me for calling.

Excerpts from the Interim Report of
The City Council Library Study Committee
by Charles V. Ryan

On February 10, 2003 the Springfield Library and Museums Association (hereinafter called SMLA) announced that it was firing 42 employees and closing the Forest Park, East Springfield and Liberty branch libraries because of being informed that its budget was being reduced by $200,000 for the balance of fiscal year 2003. The closing of the three branches was done without any notice to or consultation with the City Council or any of Springfield's citizens.

Several protest gatherings took place followed by a City Council meeting on March 9, 2003 at which time the Council unanimously passed an order by a 9-0 vote creating the City Council Library Study Committee and charging the committee with the responsibility of studying the feasibility of the City taking over the operation of the library system from the SLMA.

On April 9th the SLMA board of trustees culminated several months of secret negotiations with the Urban League for the transfer of the Mason Square branch library property. Once again, no notice was given to or consultation had with either the City Council or the citizens of Springfield. The shocking news of this clandestine arrangement has caused this committee to file this interim report on an emergency basis.

Over the years the City Council has been generous to the SLMA. It is clear that this Council and its predecessors feel that our system of one central library and nine branches in various neighborhoods of this 31 square mile city is essential and must be maintained and supported. By the budgetary decisions of the City Council, Springfield's taxpayers have given $124,386,384 to the SLMA over the past twenty years, with $72,492,327 of it allocated during the most recent ten years.

An examination of the financial statements of the SLMA over the last seven fiscal years indicates that in each one of those seven years the revenues of SLMA exceeded expenses. Indeed, the aggregate amount of surpluses over said seven years was $18,090,301. This astonishing and welcome piece of good news is further accentuated when one realizes that the $18 million result was achieved even though one of the "expenses" deducted from revenues was the non-cash expense of depreciation. This so-called expense totaled $8,526,106 even though there were no out of pocket payments reflecting the depreciation amounts. In other words, if the depreciation item were not deducted as an expense, the SLMA would have had a seven year accumulated surplus of excess revenues of $26,616,407.

More good news in a tough economy is found by noting that SLMA's financial statements in that same seven years reflected a gain in their net assets from $18,176,257 in 1996 to $57,123,545 in 2002. Most organizations, whether business or non-profit, would be delighted with a tripling of their net assets over that particular seven year period of time. And yet, the mere reduction of $200,000 in February has resulted in a steamroller being activated which has already (in two short months) claimed 4 branch libraries as victims and shortly threatens three more branches in the immediate future.

The initial response of Mr. Joseph Carvalho to our specific requests for information was extremely disappointing. We were expecting and hoping for the kind of assistance and cooperation from Mr. Carvalho and his staff that he had promised in his public statements. To date it has not been forthcoming. The willingness of the SLMA to produce information is so limited it can be termed grudging. From a substantive point of view it is inadequate and does not furnish to the Committee the information necessary to responsibly carry out the Council's charge to us. We hope for a change in attitude on the part of Mr. Carvalho.

On April 5, 1952 a resident of the Mason Square neighborhood, Annie G. Curran, died. She left the residue of a substantial estate in her will to the City Library Association of Springfield (the SLMA is the acknowledged successor to that association) "to use for the purposes of establishing and maintaining a branch library to be located on State Street in the vicinity of Winchester Square" (Winchester Square was renamed Mason Square about 25 years ago). The size of the residue was about one million dollars. The cost of building the branch library in 1955 was approximately $250,000. For the 48 years said branch has been in existence the primary supporter of it from a financial point of view has been the City with supplemental assistance coming from the SLMA with monies from the Curran Fund.

In 1998 the SLMA came to the City Council and represented to it that $1.2 million was needed for capital improvements to renovate the Mason Square library, that the various improvements set forth were necessary to ensure that the job of providing library services could be carried out effectively in the years ahead. The changes that were delineated were substantial and fundamental and clearly would extend the life of the facility in a first class manner for well over another fifty years. SLMA asked the City Council to bond $575,000 for these expenses and said that it would take the balance of the funds out of the Annie Curran fund and its own plant fund. SLMA knew that the City bonds would have to be repaid by Springfield taxpayers over a 20 year period. The building was closed during renovations and only reopened a year and a half ago in October, 2001.

On April 9,2003 the SLMA board of trustees voted to close the Mason Square branch library and sell the land and building to the Urban League on June 1, 2003 for $700,000. The closing and sale of the Mason Square Library, a major policy decision to be sure, was negotiated secretly between the SLMA and the Urban League. There was no notice, input, request for consultation or participation by the City Council, the City Council Study Committee, neighborhood groups or citizens of the City. Indeed, the clandestine nature of this was carried to such extremes that the chairman of the SLMA Board of Trustees, Donald D'Amour, the SLMA President, Joseph Carvalho, and the SLMA Library Director, Emily Bader, in attending a meeting of the SLMA Library Advisory Committee two hours before the full Board of Trustees was to vote on the Urban League deal, refused to give any information whatsoever about the upcoming vote even though they were strenuously questioned about it by two advisory committee members who said they had heard rumors of a sale to the Urban League.

Their refusal to divulge or consult with its own advisory committee occurred in spite of the fact that the Advisory Committee was created some years ago by the Board of Trustees for the specific purpose of giving advice to the Board of Trustees. The next day, after the fact, Emily Bader confessed to members of the Advisory committee that she had been going to inform the Advisory Committee about the Urban League deal the preceding day but did not do so because it appeared to her that Donald D'Amour did not want the matter disclosed to the Advisory Committee.

For a city that loves its libraries the way Springfield does, the last two months have been a nightmare with the sudden announcements of branch closings and, in the case of Mason Square, the actual sale of a facility which has primarily been maintained for 48 years with the dollars of Springfield's taxpayers. These closings were the result of decisions made by an out-of-town board of trustees (only 8 of its 32 members are Springfield residents) in closed sessions where the rule is that no member can divulge what happened in the meetings other than the chairman (Mr. D'Amour) or the President (Mr. Carvalho). There is no public input sought or allowed. There is no press coverage allowed in the meetings. This claustrophobic veil of secrecy exists even though roughly 85% of SLMA's funding comes from public funds.

SLMA has never had its business decisions or its judgements challenged. The fact that its meetings are private and unreported, along with the unique relationship it has had with the Springfield Newspapers, have served to cast its activities in a warm, feel good light. But perhaps it is time for a more penetrating analysis as to whether or not they are effective managers. It is clear right now that staff moral is very low, that 4 branches are down and 3 additional branches in significant danger.

The accumulated surpluses of the last seven years and the tripling of assets should have given the SLMA enough strength to weather our present "rainy days." If in fact they were so close to the edge that a $200,000 reduction would cause a total of 4 branches to drop by the wayside, and a potential knockout of 3 more, they should never have asked the City Council for the millions in bonds to renovate the branches in question. Seemingly, all that was accomplished was to spend a lot of money we did not have to put the buildings in first class condition so we could close them and eventually sell them.

Therefore our prime recommendation as of this moment is to enact an ordinance which would create a municipal library department. We recommend further that the City Council pass a resolution which objects in the strongest possible terms to the closing of the Mason Square Library and the transfer to the Urban League. The resolution should also condemn the secrecy of the process and the breach of the SLMA's fiduciary duty to the City.


Charles V. Ryan
Chairman of the Committee

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