February 2003

February 2, 2003

34 degrees at 10:04am. Overcast all day. Gas $1.49. The Groundhog saw his shadow.

J.C. Penny is advertising its "Buy More Save More Sale: The more you buy the more you save!" Atty. Michael Shea is running commercials on TV22. I watched Real to Reel last night, "Your Window on the World." They promoted at the beginning an "in depth" story about the Basketball Hall of Fame, but as usual they made us wait through a lot of Catholic propaganda before the main story. Mike Graziano, President of the Catholic Communications Corporation of the Diocese of Springfield (Eamon says he's a Putnam grad) was on telling us how they have been covering stories "of interest to Catholics since 1985." Their communications empire consists of Real to Reel, Chalice of Salvation, The Catholic Observer, a daily televised Mass on AT&T Broadband 12A and the Open Window Bookstore in Chicopee. Ann Fitzgerald was the reporter.

That was followed by another story by reporter Terry Hegarty about a group of parishioners visiting Panama. Then there was yet another story about Father David Joyce of Our Lady of Hope and his increasingly Latino church. When the Hall of Fame segment finally came up it was a disappointment. Anna Giza interviewed Hall boss John Delevo for about two minutes. He admitted that the old Hall got around 125,000 visitors per year and they are hoping that the new one will get 400,000 visitors. They ended saying that this has been Catholic Schools Week "creating imagination, hope and dreams." What about learning? What about critical thinking? That is the meat and potatoes of education - imagination, hope and dreams are just the topping on the cake! Overall a dull show not worth watching.

This afternoon I went by 175 Poplar to spy on Aunt Maria's place. Her car is covered with snow but the driveway is plowed out. Why? Snow on the steps and a red van in Lucia's driveway. Then I went to the Agawam Town Offices to do research on the Giroux and Lucia properties. On the way back I saw that Gurdon Bill Park on the right side of Liberty just before Genessee Street has one of those flimsy iron fences the city has put around a lot of parks. A snow plow appears to have damaged it by pushing a lot of snow against it. A mess. I stopped by Mrs. Staniski's with some reading material. Elijah Street has deep ruts and was never properly plowed. Mrs. S. complained that her grandson who is going to UMass was home for the holidays and didn't even call her on the phone. When I left she gave me some cookies, candy and a hug.

Today I was on my way out when the phone rang and it was Eamon telling me of the Columbia disaster. I hung up and turned on the TV and saw that everyone had been killed and when the thing broke up it left a debris field of 100 miles long and ten miles wide. Humans have overextended themselves. Bush made a public statement, very sombre. Eamon says that most teachers were education majors because it is filled with gut courses and the easiest route to a college degree. He claims that many of our educators are the dumbest people in society and because they are poorly educated themselves they can't impart knowledge nor convey the love of learning.

February 3, 2003

35 degrees at 8:15am. Gas is $1.53 at the Pond, both stations.

Springfield has a Baa3 near junk bond rating. The rate of violent crime in Springfield (murder, rape, robbery and assault) is more than three times the national average. Property crimes (burglary, larceny, auto theft) are double the national average. John J. Duggan Middle School has 865 students. Thomas M. Balliet Elementary School has 287 students. Father received a certificate of appreciation for his years of campaign contributions from Republican Party Chairman Bill Brock in 1978.

Listened today to Paul Harvey on WHYN, whose segment is sponsored by Hillsdale College. Eamon called and reported that he just got word that at 8:30 this morning in a Building A science room at the High School of Commerce a girl was badly beaten. She was found lying helpless on the ground while a hundred students cheered on those who were beating her. The other day a kid was knocked unconscious by someone wearing brass knuckles. Eamon described the school as "totally out of control." I was so disgusted by what he told me that when Eamon hung up I called Commerce and got Pat, who told me that Principal Henry was unavailable. I asked her to please convey to Ms. Henry that she should resign her position as principal because it is dishonorable for her to receive a salary with the school so out of control. Pat assured me that she would tell the principal what I said. I then called Dr. Burke at the main office and told his secretary Judy to tell him that Ann Henry must be fired immediately.

The mail brought a letter from Northeast Utilities urging me to write my congressman to support the end of the tax on dividends. Verizon also sent a similar plea with their dividend check. Went for a drive downtown today and noticed there are two new houses at the bend on Alden. There's also a new iron fence around the President's House at Springfield College. Cedar Street is badly plowed. Going through downtown Springfield I noticed that Keyser's on the corner of State and Main looks closed. School was just getting out so traffic was clogged on State, made worse by a hole being dug by Baystate Gas by Byron's Funeral Home.

When I got home Eamon called back and told me that Anello Ravosa, brother of Tony the attorney, has died. Eamon knew him and considered him to be a remarkable and talented man. Eamon said that Anello was openly gay to an extent rare for his generation and he was "a real nice guy" who was the host at the old Harrison House, a fancy restaurant owned by Tony in the 1960's located downtown behind the old SIS by the Harrison Parking Garage. Anello was well educated but chose to work in the restaurant business with his brother because he loved interacting with people. When the Harrison House closed he continued to work for his brother at the Ravosa's Riverfront Restaurant. Tony and Anello's father was an independent milkman who had his own customers and refused to sell out to Mallory or Sealtest despite repeated offers. Eamon said his family never bought from Ravosa, but had an Irish milkman named Tom O'Connor, no relation to the mayor.

When Tony Ravosa married Claudette I. Brodacki of Chicopee in 1960 Eamon helped them get their first place at the Union Court. The Ravosa's at that time owned a little variety store in the Walnut/Hancock area and Tony began lawyering out of a storefront next door. Eamon said he "fooled around" with their younger sister Corena Ravosa when the Ravosa's lived on Colchester Street. Corena never got married and worked as a secretary for Tony. Their brother Carmino is an accomplished musician, a piano player who wrote music for Walt Disney. Even Tony the lawyer has musical talent. He once had a band and used to sing along with Anello at the Harrison House and Riverfront, loud, drunken singing but full of fun. Sometimes even Eamon used to get up and sing with the Ravosa band. So the death of Anello Ravosa made Eamon feel full of nostalgia tonight. He said after he talked to me he was going to call Tony and offer his condolences. I wish I could eavesdrop on that call, for I am sure it will be filled with rich reminiscing between Tony and Eamon about wild nights at the old Harrison House long ago.

February 4, 2003

39 degrees at 1:45pm. Bright, mild day.

The memorial for the Columbia astronauts was today. Richard Neal was on TV saying that after abandoning the supercollider program we can't afford to let this tragedy cause us to abandon the space program as well.

Weighed myself today - 198 pounds. I called the Rev. Karen Gutowski about getting information about the history of Liberty Church and told her answering machine to call me back. Father Lavigne is appealing his classification as a Level 3 sex offender, meaning he is considered the most likely to re-offend. If Lavigne doesn't fit that classification then who does?

I called Northeast Utilities to complain about the letter they sent urging me to contact my congressman in support of ending the tax on dividends. I spoke to a friendly Barbara Nieman and told her that I think it is unpatriotic to want a tax break during this time of impending war. Furthermore I told her that Northeast Utilities is a big pig corporation that has no respect for their small stockholders. She thanked me for sharing my views. I also sent a letter to John W. Diercksen, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations for Verizon saying pretty much the same thing.

William A. Flynt is the Interim Director of Historic Deerfield. Donna Brown of the Better Business Bureau was on TV warning about scholarship scams. On the news the Police Department is laying off 76 cops and 35 civilian employees. Some plain clothes cops will be putting on uniforms and going back on the beat. Eamon has always said that Springfield is way overstaffed with cops. Eamon called and said that he was told that all toilet fixtures were ripped off the walls of one of the bathrooms in the newly renovated Commerce. He also said he was over to see Casey the Barber over on Liberty Street today, which he calls "the gossip shop."

Eamon recalled how Rep. Jimmy Grimaldi introduced him to Phillip Steward of Lane & Norton, who was involved with the government housing project across from the Expo in West Springfield. He had a lavish apartment in Union Court (from which he watched the burning of the Colony Club in 1966) and where he always had big parties. He bought the furniture for the place from Kavanaugh's star salesman Mario Zuccini, whose wife did the window displays at Steiger's. He further recalled Armand Impiamboto who was the city's largest non-mob controlled bookie. His father had been close to Skyball Scibelli so the mob let him operate uninhibited from the third floor of his mother's house on Loring Street. He had four telephones in his apartment, which was unheard of in those days. His sister lived on the first floor, his mother on the second floor and Armand on the third. He died around the age of 40 of stomach cancer.

Last night somebody rang Eamon's bell, banged on the door and tapped on the window, but Eamon ignored it. This morning Art Gingras called and yelled, "Why don't you answer your damn door?" It was Gingras and his wife who were knocking. Eamon explained to Gingras that Hungry Hill is now the kind of neighborhood where people don't dare to answer unexpected knocking at the door after dark.

February 5, 2003

26 degrees in Springfield at 8:30am. Gas in the Acres now $1.53 per gallon.

Colin Powell presented the case for a U.S. invasion of Iraq today. Powell gave an excellent presentation, better than Bush could ever do. The problem remains that Arabs are people too and we haven't learned how to respect the rights of Muslims and Arabs to be what they are and deal respectfully with them. There will always be terrorism and it's not going to go away if we lick Saddam. We have been arrogant for too long and it is catching up with us.

The price of a stamp is 37 cents. The ideal librarian is one who graduated from Mount Holyoke. I'm reading Philip Jenkins on The Next Christianity in Atlantic for October 2002 which Mrs. Staniski gave me. It's the perfect complement to Kaplan's The Coming Anarchy about religious fanaticism. Because democratic discourse has migrated to the internet, books have become elitist. In order to sell them publishers have to pander to the public with flattery like Tom Brokow's The Greatest Generation. The greatest? Ya coulda fooled me!

Dr. Norman Popkin had his office at 15 Mulberry Street in 1979. Marion L. Bairstow is the Marketing Director for Chester Village West. Stephen Mushenko has an advertisement in The Reminder for his insurance business that is so full of errors that I had to call him. He has a nice personality and I went over the ad with him line by line pointing out the mistakes. I said it would have been nice if The Reminder had bothered to proofread it for him and he thanked me for my corrections. Brian Hale was on the news tonight saying he wants to turn the old Bing Theater into a multi-use community arts center. Scott Hanson was also on saying the Bing would be a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. They also had a segment about artist Jim Allen's show at STCC. Weatherman Tom Bevacqua said that on this night in 1978 The Great Blizzard of '78 began. Bevacqua said he was in Woodbury, Connecticut at the time.

Went to United Cooperative Bank to deposit $750 and was waited on by Kerry Bohdanowicz, a young woman who said that what is nice about working at that bank is that everyone knows everybody else. She said her roommate is a teller at another bank and "they treat you like a number." Went to Pride to make copies and buy newspapers which came to $5.03, and the black girl on the register said forget the pennies but I said that is not necessary and gave her a nickle. She smiled.

Eamon called and his first cousin Eileen O'Connor has died. She was the daughter of his father's sister Nellie O'Connor. Eileen worked for the Springfield Newspapers for 47 years starting out in linotype. She was very close to Mary Gallagher who was Bowles' secretary. She never married and lived on the second floor of 38 Ledyard Street where Fred Magno and his wife Audrey and kids lived on the first floor. They looked after Eileen her last five years but she was in a nursing home for the last three months. Eamon sang at her funeral and the Magno's gave Eamon a few of Eileen's things, some beautiful picture books about Ireland and a photo of Eamon as a little boy wearing a sailor suit. He also got a painting of her dog Pete that Eamon loved as a kid.

John O'Brien of Bax & O'Brien on WAQY called Eamon and asked if they could broadcast some of his answering machine editorials and Eamon said sure, anytime. Eamon said TV reporter Jim Polito called him and said everybody is talking about how somebody threatened to burn down his house. Eamon told Polito that he doesn't care to comment right now and doesn't want to appear on TV. Polito asked a lot of questions about the history of Eamon putting political messages on his answering machine. Polito also told Eamon that he is originally from Worcester, which he said has no TV stations originating from there because the Worcester Telegram back in the 1950's wanted no competition from TV news so they bought both licenses allocated to Worcester and sat on them. Eventually they sold one to Providence and the other to Springfield to form Channel 40 and to this day Worcester has no local television station!

Mayor Michael J. Albano has formally announced that he will not be running for another term as Mayor of Springfield in order to devote his full time to fighting against what he calls "Romney's budget cuts." Eamon believes Albano is quitting because he's afraid he would be indicted in the middle of the campaign. Eamon speculated that with Senator Linda Melconian's career in Boston faltering she may want to run for mayor as Albano's chosen heir. He hopes that Charlie's son Timothy Ryan the City Councilor will run against her on a reform platform. However Eamon says that Tim Ryan appears to be reluctant to run, with Eamon complaining that the young Ryan doesn't seem to understand his duties as the obvious heir to his father's political legacy.

February 7, 2003

31 degrees at 2:39pm. Snowed all morning. Ronald Reagan is 92.

If we have a Department of Defense why do we need a Department of Homeland Security? Just more militarism.

Evening Appliance is at 45 McKinley Street in Feeding Hills. Ryan Drug had a store at 1060 Wilbraham Road in 1972. Dr. Reiner, Mother's ear man, was located at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of Springfield on Maple Street in 1980. Dr. Mark Radzicki worked at Forest Park Medical Associates on Sumner Avenue in 1986. Radzicki was Mother's doctor and he was located in the former Jane Alden ice cream shop opposite the entrance to Forest Park. He was eventually closed down for drug violations but Mother never had any problems with him. His wife runs the antique shop next to Fancy That.

The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Springfield has named Dr. Carol Leary, President of Bay Path College, Woman of the Year. Big Y has bought the Food Mart chain and will convert them to Big Y stores. This maddens me because I think Food Mart is superior to Big Y, which is more expensive and their in-house products are not as good. Food Mart subs were especially good, stuffed with meat and reasonably priced. I'll bet the Sixteen Acres Big Y will close now because it will not be needed with a Big Y taking over the Food Mart at Five Town Mall. Nuts to Big Y!

I called Wayne Phaneuf at the paper and left a message alerting him to numerous grammar errors in today's newspaper without saying who I was. TV anchor Latoya Foster doesn't part her hair neatly. Brenda Garton on TV22 said "be skeptical of a doctor who doesn't want you to get a second opinion." Brian Lapis was broadcasting from Bretton Woods. Eamon called and said he called Governor Romney's office and told the woman who answered that the State Department of Education is "a mismanagement basketcase overrun with consultants." Jim Landers also called Romney's office at Eamon's urging and told a staff member that Romney is doing a good job and thanking Romney for his interest in cleaning up Springfield.

Bumper sticker I saw on a New York car: Rugby = Elegant Violence. Eamon said that Mayor Albano was in New York City last week "with his so-called financial team" begging the rating agencies not to downgrade Springfield to junk bond status. Curiously Albano's announcement that he is not running for re-election got only a little article in the paper located in the corner of the page. Perhaps the paper is trying to limit the number of candidates by lowering awareness that the seat is now open. That way they can promote Melconian or whoever the machine candidate is as being inevitable before any other contenders can enter the field.

Albano was interviewed tonight on TV22 about the layoffs. With a shit eating grin Albano said, "I gotta run this city and Romney's policies are wrong for the city and wrong for the rest of Massachusetts." He also repeated the old canard, "As goes Springfield so goes the Pioneer Valley." There are 323 layoffs in all, including 76 police officers, 35 civilian workers, 25 DPW staff, 14 Department of Facilities Management crew members and 12 school nurses. Then they showed some angry people speaking against the layoffs at last night's City Council meeting, with Antonette Pepe shouting, "Don't blame these layoffs on Governor Romney, blame them on the mismanagement of the City of Springfield!" Eamon always praises Pepe as "one tough broad."

February 9, 2003

23 degrees in the breezeway. Sunny and clear.

TV 40's online poll says that 57% of their viewers support going to war with Iraq. The fools. The Dark Sky Association in Connecticut is trying to convince the legislature that the night sky is a natural resource that should be protected by shielding light fixtures and using lower wattage bulbs. I agree, but we really can't afford all the new light fixtures.

Dr. Paul Graves Sanderson was the doctor who brought me into the world. His office was at 10 Temple Street in Springfield at the time. I don't like doing business over the phone, I prefer to have written rather than telephonic exchanges. In the mail today I got as expected a rejection letter from Springfield College in response to my application for a job on their faculty as an Assistant Professor of English. The letter from Manager of Employment Allen Noble was surprisingly polite considering that my application was full of insults and sarcasm directed at Springfield College. I'll send Noble some pretty postcards as a reward for his courtesy.

The Food Mart out to Five Town Mall has been there for a long time, but for years it was on the other side of the road (Cooley Street) down the hill where there was also a Brooks Drugs and a pet store. Then they built a big new store in the mall where there had been a hardware store. It seemed so permanent but alas it has not lasted. It was my favorite shopping place for groceries. I recall that Agawam used to have a Food Mart but it closed, there was also one in Hungry Hill. Once upon a time there were A&P stores all around, with one in 16 Acres where the Goodwill Store is now.

Presently there is a Food Mart on Belmont Avenue that will close without being turned into a Big Y, which will be a disaster for Forest Park. The Sixteen Acres Big Y seems destined now to close, continuing our neighborhood's decline. The Big Y on Boston Road has never really done that well, it is a big store and I rarely see it crowded with customers. Stop&Shop up the road usually does better with long lines of people at the registers. I remember when there was a Big Y opposite Duggan Jr. High which is now a theater complex. With the Food Mart takeover the Big Y is getting too close to becoming a monopoly.

Eamon claims that the Springfield Newspapers routinely exaggerate the number of people who attend local events to make them seem more successful. He said the Tip Off Classic may have had 4500 in attendance but not the 7,300 reported. Also he claims only about three thousand attended the Balloon Parade this year, not the six thousand the Union-News said. Someone with a female sounding voice left a threatening message on Eamon's answering machine saying, "I have gossip about you Eddie Sullivan" and threatened to spread it around town. Eamon says he has no idea who it was or what they were talking about.

Went to Louis & Clark this afternoon to send out some mail and pick up the Valley Advocate. Sophia's Sports Bar next door appeared packed and the parking lot was full at 2:30pm. New England Archives had a commercial today on TV40. On the news Sy Becker said there have been major disturbances recently at the Yellow Jacket Lounge on State Street by AIC. The female bar owner was interviewed and said "the last three months this neighborhood has gone wild." The paper had a cartoon about Christopher Columbus in it that I was tempted to cut out and send to Leonard Collamore for the scrap book I assume he keeps of such things. After all, he once told Italian voters that Columbus is his hero and that he keeps a Columbus collection, although it seems no one has ever actually seen it.

February 10, 2003

30 degrees and overcast at 11:30am. Gas is $1.60 at Pride.

Scholars mark books with pencil, not ink.

Dr. George Chapin Steele had his offices on Upper Church Street in West Springfield in 1943. When Mother had her attack of shingles in the 1980's she saw Dr. Frederick C. Schwendenmann in Wilbraham. There was an armed robbery at the Blockbuster Video in the Longmeadow Shoppes.

Been working on the manuscript for the Fernbank booklet. Went to Louis & Clark and mailed letters to Gov. Romney and Dave Bartley on education reform. On the news Mayor Albano approved male nude dancing at the Xtatic night club but Councilor Tim Ryan was on saying there should be a moratorium on licensing such establishments. Barry Kreiger and Chelsea Sobel reported on a press conference today by Mayor Albano with Joe Carvalho by his side in the Aldermanic Chamber announcing library lay-offs and the closing of three branches! Fell asleep tonight during the 6 o'clock news during the sports section in which I have no interest. I didn't wake up until 8:15.

I remember that there was a market called Grower's Outlet in Winchester Square opposite Buckingham and also one where the Breckwood Shops are now. There may also have been one in the North End. There was a Stop&Shop across from Wesley Church in the Square and a First National next door to Wesley Church. Many years ago there was an A&P on State Street by Pine Point. There used to be an Edwards on the corner of Parker and Boston Road and where Price-Rite is now on Boston Road used to be a Shop-Rite. Davidsons was a little market next to Pederzoli's Drug Store on Wilbraham Road opposite Williams Spa. There used to be Kennedy's downtown and in Liberty Heights which sold wonderful peanut butter and cheese.

I called Eamon and he had just come in from visiting Casey the Barber. We began remembering old stores. Eamon mentioned Liberty Ice and Fuel at the foot of the hill just below the Springfield Plaza. He also recalled Charlie Cortelli who had a gun shop and when Eamon was a kid he used to get milkshakes at Valler's Confections and Variety Store. At the corner of Woodmont and Liberty the Granville brothers had their machine shop. On Penacook Street there was Mallagoutti's Market and on the corner of Liberty and Armory was Magni's Market and Drug Store. Where the vacant lot next to the Liberty Branch Library is now was an A&P store and at the intersection of Carew and Liberty opposite the Methodist Church was Maxi's Meat Market. Down Carew on the right was Leahy's Market and further up Carew Kakley's Flowers replaced the Carew Pharmacy.

Eamon said Jim Landers stopped by on his way home from his job at STCC and said he notices that the Black students mostly play computer games in the lab while the Oriental students are always doing research or writing papers. Eamon says the manager at the Liberty Stop&Shop Kathy Cathro told him that Big Y has been talking to them about buying their store. Eamon hears rumors that Albano may take a job with the cable company now that he's leaving office. Eamon joked that it's too bad that Albano, Ray Asselin and Gerry Phillips can't get their personal homes chosen as renovation projects on Bob Villa's This Old House. The taxpayer's might end up saving a lot of money!

February 11, 2003

Sunny. Gas in the Acres in $1.63 at Mobil.

Steve Clay of the YMCA was on the news today speaking against the nude dancing permit for the Xtatic Lounge. He said that no one even notified him of the permit request even though the Y is a neighbor. Xtatic boasts that you would have to go to Montreal to get the kind of nude male entertainment they intend to offer. Speaking of queers, I was surprised to see in the latest issue of the Journal/Bravo a political column on this year's mayoral race written by Tom Devine. It opens with a nice summary of recent mayoral contests:

If there is a race that would be considered the Superbowl of Valley Politics then it would be the contest for Mayor of Springfield. Like some football Superbowls, the race for mayor can sometimes lack suspense, as in 1997 when incumbent Michael J. Albano was totally unopposed, or in 1999 when Albano's only opponent was a dog named Simon. The dog belonged to Bob and Karen Powell of the Citizen Action Network (CANE) and despite some complaints that the Powell's satirical campaign was disrespectful, the canine contender garnered over 600 votes on Election Day.

Yet when the candidates are well-matched the resulting campaigns can be real barn burners, as in 1995 when Albano narrowly defeated a comeback attempt by former Mayor Charles V. Ryan, or in 2001 when Albano faced a strong challenge from popular State Representative Paul Caron. So which will municipal election year 2003 turn out to be, a shocker or a snoozer?

Devine then goes on to describe the political prospects of the leading possible contenders, mentioning City Councilors Timothy Ryan, Angelo Puppolo, William Foley and Daniel Kelly. He also mentions School Committee members Tom Ashe and Kenneth Shea. Tom then appraises the possibility of a Republican challenger:

As for the Republicans their weak and fractious Springfield party has few potential contenders to offer, especially since the two local GOPers most often mentioned as mayoral candidates in the past, Attorney Marshall Moriarty and Western Mass Republican head Joe Ricco have both moved out of the city in the past year. Activist Charles Rucks and GOP City Committee chief Matt Ferri are considered possible mayoral timber, but neither is expected to run for mayor this year.

As usual Tom writes knowledgeably and with clarity, and I suspect it was G. Michael Dobbs that brought Devine onboard. But the Buendo brothers, publishers of Journal/Bravo, are friends with Albano and his circle, who won't be happy to see them giving Devine a platform and will probably complain. Also Tom himself may be unhappy once he realizes the type of people he is dealing with. Either way I predict that we will not see many of these columns.

Eamon called and said he went downtown today to pick up some eye drops at Baystate West and found the place nearly deserted except for a few customers at Dunkin Donuts. He was also complaining that some full time city employees with full benefits really have what should be considered part time jobs. Eamon added that Gingras' daughter had surgery recently for a back condition and that Eamon's caller ID showed that Paul Caron called his answering machine message twice today.

However the real big news was the article that appeared in the paper today about Stephen Burke, the firefighter who threatened to burn Eamon's house down. The article by Alicia Guide makes it sound like the whole matter is a farce, with Burke's lawyer Thomas Rooke (brother of Tim) dismissing the matter as "boys playing jokes on each other." Rooke goes on to condemn Eamon as "notorious for putting messages on his answering machine that ridicule the politics of Springfield." In other words, the newspaper is using this incident in an attempt to publicly dismiss Eamon as a crank. Eamon is furious but has yet to decide on his next course of action.

When he hung up I decided to call Karen Powell and discuss the article with her. She agreed that the paper was trying to humiliate Eamon. She also told me that she had just gotten off the phone with retired public official Rose Marie Coughlin, who now resides in East Longmeadow. She told Karen that as one of Eamon's old friends she had been contacted by the reporter but she refused to answer any questions. Coughlin described Thomas Rooke as a shady lawyer whose clients are mostly "a lot of lowlifes and sleazebags." On an unrelated matter Coughlin also revealed that she received a phone call from Linda Melconian, who left a message saying that she wanted to get together with Coughlin "to discuss the issues." Coughlin interpreted this as a clear indication that the Senator is preparing for a mayoral campaign. This call came before Albano announced his retirement, so did Albano give Melconian a private tip-off in advance that he wasn't running?

February 12, 2003

23 degrees at 8 this morning, overcast and occasional flurries.

Senator John Kerry had a prostate operation today. The operation was at John Hopkins and Kerry is expected to resume a full schedule in about six weeks. On TV22 last night they asked Puerto Rican Jose Rodriguez what he thought of bringing a casino to Holyoke and he said it will bring crime and prostitution. Then they asked respectable middle-class white lady Maura Squires and she talked about the money and business a casino would bring to the city. Good for Rodriguez! Governor Romney says he might consider accepting payments from Connecticut and Rhode Island to keep Massachusetts from legalizing casinos. Poor Peter Picknelly would be shut out! TV40 reported that businesses are skeptical about the latest valley economic report. It makes it sound like the valley is prospering and it isn't. WGGB-TV Channel 40 at 1300 Liberty Street grew out of WHYN radio, which originated in Holyoke in 1941. The television station was established in 1953.

Harold F. Worthley is the librarian historian at the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston. He received his doctorate at Harvard Divinity School and spoke in Springfield in the 1980's calling the Archdiocese "insufferable." Dr. Stanley S. Stusick had his office at 59 Maple Street in Springfield in 1963. Stusick was Mother's favorite surgeon and his daughters were friends of mine and of Ann Staniski through our interest in music. Rebecca from Catalina Research called and said they were "doing a survey about three products - Doritos, Cheez-its and Cheetos." I told her I never buy any of those products, they are too salty, too expensive and not nutritious. She hung up on me.

My cold is going away. I got my new postcards from the printer in the mail today, one is of the 16 Acres Library and the other is of Liberty Methodist Church. Beautiful cards, done right. I also got my Bank of Boston check and this thumbnail sketch of the history of Hungry Hill written by James C. O'Connell in 1985 that Eamon sent to me:

The Hungry Hill neighborhood developed later than others in Springfield. As late as the 1880's there were only a few scattered houses on the Hill, most of them farms. Development began to creep up the hill from the North End along Liberty and Franklin Streets, an area originally developed for large suburban estates. The first streets to be built up on Hungry Hill were Liberty, Armory, Stafford, Grover and Cleveland. In the 1890's those streets were already predominantly Irish. The street car lines on Liberty and Carew Streets stimulated further settlement of the area by the turn of the century. In 1902 the Armory Street School and the Armory Fire Station were built to serve the growing neighborhood. Four years later in 1906 Our Lady of Hope Church was established to serve the 800 Catholics living on the Hill.

Hungry Hill became the neighborhood we know today between 1910 and 1930. Rows of trademark two family houses went up on Mooreland, Parkside, Governor, Miller, Hastings and Clantoy Street. Bungalows were erected on Phoenix and Freeman Terraces. Single family Colonials were built on Chapin Terrace and Melha Avenue. The area grew so much that Our Lady of Hope Church had 7,700 parishioners by the 1930's.

I decided to call the pastor of Liberty Methodist Church Karen Gutowski and she was delighted to hear I had postcards of the church for her. She invited me to come visit at 3:30 this afternoon. When I arrived Rev. Gutowski admired the cards, but said she didn't know how much longer she could keep the church open. She said there were discussions underway to sell it to the Solid Rock Baptist Church or to consolidate with the Chicopee Falls Church. She said the attendance at Liberty is down to 55 or 60 each Sunday. I urged her not to throw out anything related to church history without letting me go through it for archival reasons. The congregation started as a mission meeting in a house at Cleveland and Liberty Streets in 1900. Five years later the mission built a church on the east corner of Liberty and Carew Street. On January 1, 1922 the congregation dedicated the present gothic structure.

Gutowski offered me "the three minute tour." She is a friendly, pleasant person but perhaps not too learned. The place is filled with beautiful antique furniture made of golden oak from the 1890's and is probably from the original building. They have a fine tracker organ but it doesn't work. We admired the simplicity of the large windows with the sunlight pouring through and she remarked, "This is a blue collar church," and I replied, "Methodism is a blue collar religion." It is a solid if aging facility and it would be a pity to close it.

Eamon called and said he has not received any feedback on his answering machine regarding the article in the paper about the fireman and his arson threat. Eamon described Fire Department head Gary Cassanelli as "Porky Pig with a moustache." I said, "Oh, so what do I look like?" He instantly replied "a bowling ball with clodhoppers." Wonderful! Eamon said he used to call former Mayor Mary Hurley "Miss Piggy" to her face.

February 14, 2003

Cold last night, 15 degrees in the breezeway at 7am.

John Wesley's Ethics

Do all the good that you can
by all the means you can
in all the ways you can
in all the places you can
in all the times you can
to all you can
for ever so long as you can!

There is a splendid letter in the Boston Globe today against going to war by Paul H. Merry of Wellesley. On WSPR Stephen Walt of the Kennedy School said he is against war with Iraq and says George Bush is "a shoot first and ask questions later cowboy."

I collect images of unicorns and Noah's Ark. Unicorns are an emblem of chastity. Our neighbors on Crest Street were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Maher and their kids Beverly and Marly. I ran into Beverly working as a clerk at Sears at the Eastfield Mall in the 1980's and she said she was living on Berkshire Avenue. In the years when Father was working and I was away at school or teaching, Mother would go out and shop, especially to Two Guys Department Store on Boston Road in order to escape the boredom of being home alone.

The 16 Acres Library was built in 1965 and expanded in the year 2000. I called the 16 Acres Library today to find out their hours but nobody answered so I called the Main Branch downtown and a recorded message said, "All branches, except for the Pine Point Branch, will be closed for the week for reorganization." So much for that. The VA will close its offices on the third floor of the Federal Building and move to a new place on Bond Street rented to them by none other than Peter Picknelly! The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge is laying off seven workers because of declining attendance. What about the Basketball Hall of Fame?

Called Efrem Gordon but his receptionist said "He's over in court." She told me she would send me Dr. Rodney Larson's medical records. I thanked her and said, "It's been a pretty miserable winter" to which she replied, "Gracious, it's been awful!" I also left a Valentine's Day message for Melinda McIntosh. Then I drove out to the Pride station in the Acres and bought gas for $1.62 per gallon. I remember when gasoline was 29 cents a gallon! I drove over to the now doomed Food Mart in Five Town Mall. I met Mrs. Penniman there and we exchanged pleasantries. I did not mention her failure to send me a Christmas card. Big Y has already replaced the Food Mart bags with theirs. I spotted the manager and went over to him and said, "This has been a wonderful store." He put his arm around me and thanked me and said he really appreciated my saying that.

Dave Madsen made several grammar errors in tonight's news. The news had footage of people who are angry that the Forest Park Library is closing and were picketing in front of City Hall. I recognized Jennifer Markey in the crowd. Governor Romney has announced that he is ordering an audit be made of Springfield's finances and they will be comparing our expenses with what similar sized communities spend elsewhere. The Albano gang must love this development! Eamon's latest tape says: "5000 years ago Moses said pick up your shovel, load up your ass, mount your camel and I'll lead you to the promised land! 5000 years later Michael J. Albano said lay down your shovel, sit on your ass, light up a Camel because Springfield is the public employees promised land!"

Yesterday I pretended to be Sweet Pea and Honey Pot and I sang Happy Birthday onto Eamon's answering machine. Eamon called back and told me Jim Landers was over and dropped off a chocolate birthday cake for him. Landers told him that the paper is having a lot of problems installing their new press. I told Eamon about my visit to Liberty Church the other day and he agreed it is sad that it is probably closing. Eamon says Hungry Hill is no longer an Irish neighborhood because "it is being taken over by Hispanics, blacks and West Indians." Eamon said that Art Gingras' daughter is out of the hospital. Gingras also has a talented son who gets top grades, plays piano, guitar and saxophone and wants to go to Bowdoin. Eamon said he doesn't believe any of the figures on dropouts, suspensions, absences and truancy coming out of the School Department claiming "they lie about everything because if the public knew the truth there would be a taxpayer revolt!"

In the Valley Advocate this week there are several fine pieces attacking Albano and one noting that all jobs in the court system are political including the janitors. Eamon says that rumors are rampant that Tim Ryan will not run for mayor but that Andrew Scibelli of STCC will. Eamon also heard from a friend that used to be an executive at Monsanto who told him that the night before Albano announced he wasn't running he dined at Salvatore's on Boston Road with convicted felon Charles Kingston. Eamon was told that Kingston urged Albano to make City Councilor Dominic Sarno his chosen heir instead of Sen. Melconian. Eamon recalled that Kingston was the campaign manager for several campaigns of Rep. Tony Scibelli, so Eamon is surprised to hear that Kingston is not backing Tony's nephew Andrew Scibelli for mayor. Eamon says that the only explanation is that Kingston prefers Sarno over Scibelli because "Charlie Kingston owns Dom Sarno lock, stock and barrel."

City Councilor Dominic Sarno

February 16, 2003

19 degrees at 9am. Sunny and clear. Sunoco Minimart 1.64 per gallon.

Dr. Archer L. Hurd had his office at 20 Maple Street in 1957. I recall he had a green shaded banker's lamp on his nurse's desk and I think he eventually married the nurse. Attorney Howard D. Barger had his office at 225 High Street in the Holyoke National Bank Building in 1969. Dr. Norman E. Maxwell had his office on Main Street in Springfield in 1971. Dr. Benjamin Alport had his office at 120 Maple Street in 1974. Dr. Donald S. Rusiecki had his office at the Fairfield Mall Dental Health Center on Memorial Drive in Chicopee in 1986. Edmonds Opticians was at 160 Worthington Street in Springfield in 1990. The head of Friendly's has stepped down and the Blake brothers are cheering. I've been reading the Bob Steele book on Hartford. Overall it's not bad, but the captioning beneath the photos are really inadequate and don't identify everything in them.

I had a piece of pie and milk for breakfast this morning. Then I called ex-rep Fred Whitney who said he was glad to hear from me. Fred said his wife is not doing well, as she has to use a walker and can no longer climb stairs. His son with Parkinson's is facing another operation next month. We talked about the mayoral race and Whitney said he is "not happy at all" about the possibility of Andrew Scibelli becoming mayor. He said it was terrible the way Rep. Tony Scibelli "handed the presidency of STCC to his nephew on a silver platter" while other more qualified people were passed over. The family put pressure on Tony to get Andy a respectable job because they were afraid he was wasting his life living as a worthless playboy. Whitney said that a commercial artist he knows, Paul Flannery, wanted to suggest someone from Westfield for the job but Whitney told him not to bother as the STCC presidency was already "in the bag" for Scibelli. I told him how at the time I thought Leonard Collamore had a shot at the position because he was already serving as acting president but Whitney said he wasn't qualified. He said Collamore only had a Bachelor's Degree and "never deserved the status he got" but simply "parlayed a relationship with Charlie Ryan into an entire career." I told Whitney about how Charlie Kingston is promoting Dominic Sarno for mayor and he expressed surprise, saying that Kingston was "always close to the Scibelli family."

After hanging up with Whitney I went out to Food Mart to buy some Canadian honey and where I ran into another ex-rep Paul Caron, who has gotten pretty chubby. He was in a camel-hair colored jacket and gave me a big smile and a wave as he wished me a belated Happy New Year but kept moving out the door. When I got home I called Councilor Angelo Puppolo to see what he may know about Sarno's relationship with Kingston but he didn't answer so I left a message. Never heard back. Next I called the local historian Donald D'Amato. He told me that he has had adjunct teaching positions at both AIC and WNEC but wasn't too impressed with the faculty at either school. I told him how all the written versions of the editorials by Bill Putnam at TV22 are missing and D'Amato said he doubts Putnam would have discarded them himself. D'Amato said he doesn't think much of the Quadrangle and once advised one of his friends not to donate his prints of Springfield to them. He laughed when I told him of the error on the Springfield Cemetery Titanic tablet and agreed "they'll never fix it." He also told me that the congregation at South Church is getting pretty old and may be ready to fold.

Eamon called and said he tried to call Larry McDermott at the paper to complain about the article they printed about the arson threat against his house but McDermott slammed down the phone as soon as he recognized Eamon's voice. The paper has an article in today's paper comparing Springfield's spending with Worcester. It is devastating, showing how although Worcester has over 20,000 more residents than Springfield it spends considerably less than us in every category. Spending has absolutely exploded under Albano, with the General Fund going from $273 million when Albano took office to over $400 million today. Why did the paper wait until we were deep in trouble before printing this information, instead of earlier when we could have prevented it? And of course they do this only after Governor Romney said he was going to do a study making similar comparisons. This is blow with the wind, go with the flow journalism.

Eamon says Tim Ryan is unlikely to run for mayor and may not even run for his city council seat again because he wants to spend more time with his five kids. Mayor Albano has challenged Governor Romney to a public debate over the city's finances, which Romney immediately turned down. Albano was simply looking for an opportunity to grandstand and deflect blame for the fiscal crisis that has occurred on his watch, so Romney was wise to refuse. Eamon says that it was planned in advance for Dan Kelly to become City Council President so that "in case the Mayor got led away in handcuffs the Albano Gang would still be firmly in charge." Eamon said that if Albano gets indicted he will probably offer to turn state's evidence in return for immunity. Eamon believes "Mike Albano would double-cross anybody to save his own ass."

February 17, 2003

Snowing steady at 1pm. 18 degrees in the breezeway. Tom Bevacqua on TV40 said we will get 15-20 inches by noon tomorrow. They already had 35 inches in New Jersey.

Realtor Rom N. Thabeault had his office at 13 New Broadway in Westfield in 1973. Efrem Gordon called and I thanked him for sending Dr. Larsen's papers. Gordon said his son is home but is going back to NYC tomorrow if the weather will allow. Efrem himself will be going away the week of the 25th. Then Arthur Gingras called and said he may be interested in acquiring the Ford LTD. I said I'd like him to have it if he wants it. Gingras told me that at Commerce last week a kid whacked a teacher in the head and Principal Henry only gave him a five day suspension. He said it's an outrage the way the local media is refusing to cover the situation in the schools in general and in Commerce in particular. He recalled how when he was a kid going to school in Agawam he once damaged one of the school's microscopes and the principal gave him a slap right across the face. Gingras says he can't wait to retire and then he will probably move to California. He says he has pretty much recovered from his prostate operation but still gets tired easily. We discussed poetry a bit and Gingras said that the worst English poet was William Topaz McGonagall. I suggested Stephen Duck (1705–1756).

It was just starting to snow when I drove out at 7:30am to get the Boston Globe which has a story about East Longmeadow's Father James Scahill, who demanded that the church stop supporting Fr. Richard Lavigne financially. From the article by Douglas Belkin:

The Rev. James J. Scahill garnered sustained applause from the pews at St. Michael's Parish after reading aloud from a letter he wrote to Bishop Thomas L. Dupre condemning Dupre's handling of the convicted priest.... Lavigne was arrested in 1991 and charged with five counts of sexual abuse. He pleaded guilty in 1992 to molesting two boys, the other charges were dropped. He was sentenced to a rehabilitation facility for several months then placed on ten years probation. In the 1990's the diocese settled suits for $1.4 million with 17 men who accused Lavigne of abusing them when they were minors....Though the diocese began the process of defrocking Lavigne about two months ago, it will continue to pay him $1,000 a month and cover an $8,000 medical and dental package, Scahill said.

When I called Eamon and told him about the article he surprised me by saying he doesn't think Lavigne will ever be tried for the murder of Danny Croteau, saying, "Lavigne had too many political friends." Eamon said that the FBI now has Gerald Phillips' computer in their possession. He said that kickbacks, payoffs, rigged bids, influence peddling and cash filled envelopes under the guise of campaign contributions are the normal way of conducting business at City Hall. Eamon says that Phillips, Asselin and Pellegrino are classic examples of what power can do when given to "dishonest, inept career politicians and their hack appointees."

February 20, 2003

23 degrees at 7:30am.

Things are finally cleaned up and back to normal after all the snow. 27 inches in Boston and 15 inches in Longmeadow. Lots of places were closed. The courts were closed and non-essential state employees were told not to come to work. Bradley was open but only 8 flights left out of the normal 40. Springfield now has a half million dollar deficit in its snow removal account. The homeless shelters were full in Springfield and Northampton. Yale-Genton cancelled their big President's Day Sale that normally draws over 600 customers. There are giant dunes of snow in the Fleet parking lot. My picnic table is engulfed in snow and the birdbath is totally covered with a cone of snow. Miller's Law of Snow: The angle of repose for a pile of snow varies inversely with the weight of the snow - light snow makes a steeper pile.

Attorney Andrew P. Gotis had his office at 1570 Main Street in Springfield in 1968. Miss Nancy Albert was Assistant Treasurer for United Co-Operative Bank in 1972. Deborah M. Cerboneschi, a former violinist for the Springfield Symphony, has died at age 97. Donald R. Friary, outgoing director and secretary of Historic Deerfield, plans to remain with the institution to conduct research into the history of Old Deerfield. A&P Super Food Mart sells pepperoni pizzas for $10.99. I finally went out to shovel the driveway and to my surprise Mudry had plowed the whole drive although not the walkway to the mailbox. Fortunately the mailman never came. Jozephczyk came over and gave me his newspapers, which was nice of him.

The Union-News is starting to print high school honor rolls for the first time in many years. The Reminder started doing it so now they feel they must do it too. On WFCR Marvin Kalb, a Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School said new FCC rules will bring in "a new era of media consolidation" and pointed to the last time merger rules were relaxed in 1996 and Clear Channel bought up most of the local radio stations. Local news and programming suffered as a result and local talk radio hosts were replaced by nationally syndicated programs like Rush Limbaugh. Also on WFCR a lady was giving advice on writing resumes and she said we are taught to be modest but don't be, talk yourself up and be pushy to sell yourself. That was a problem for me when I was young, Mother taught me not to be pushy.

Ray Herschel on TV40 had City Councilor Dominic Sarno on talking about the libraries and Sarno claimed that the city had never considered selling library branches before, but of course they sold the lovely Memorial Square Branch. Herschel also interviewed Paul Sears and Charles V. Ryan who were complaining about the library closings. After the news I called Charlie Ryan and shared with him some historical information that might be helpful in his efforts to save the Forest Park Branch. He was very friendly and what was interesting was that when I happened to refer to Francis Gagnon as "our expert on local history" he interjected "and everything else." So Ryan too considers Gagnon to be an annoying Miss Know-it-all.

Next I called the 16 Acres Library and asked to speak with Norma Couture but was told she has been "laid off." The new person in charge is Jean Canosa-Albano. I then tried to call Joe Carvalho who wasn't in but his secretary JoAnne said he would call me back. Never heard from him. Finally I called Westfield State College and spoke with Jean Julian. I asked her whether their search to fill the vacancy in their college presidency was a political process, and if so was it true that the position was being held open for Senator Linda Melconian to make up her mind whether or not she wants it? There was a long silence, then a click and I was disconnected.

February 22, 2003

27 degrees at 7:45am.

Tricia Nixon Cox in 57. Today I found my mind singing this song from my childhood.

I've got a garden
all my own
So far nothing
in it has grown.
But when I go there
someday I'll see
hundreds of flowers
looking at me.

There has been an enormous fire at The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island where a band, Great White, set off pyrotechnics that caught on fire some sound proofing tiles. Dan Elias and Patti Smith were broadcasting live from the scene. Dan Yorke is also covering it for his station in Rhode Island and appeared briefly on TV40 for the first time since he left in 1999. There are 95 dead and counting with 187 hospitalized. Great White was scheduled to play the Webster Theater in Hartford next week. Similar past tragedies in this region were the Coconut Grove fire in Boston in 1942 and the Ringling Brothers Circus fire in Hartford in 1944. Local insider Stuart Hurwitz was at that circus as a kid and barely escaped the flames.

On TV40 the weathermen are Tom Bevacqua, Jason Russell and Dan Brown. Rick Sluben is the new weatherman on TV22. Minister Yusuf Mohammad was on the news saying that now that minorities are the majority in Springfield it is time for them to take over the positions of leadership. Talbert Swan also appeared and agreed that blacks deserve to have more power in Springfield. I agree with them, and I furthermore consider the current so-called Black leaders in Springfield government to be weak and ineffective.

Drove out to Eamon's to drop off some things. Near Craig Bradley's I passed a homeless man pulling two shopping carts full of his possessions. I should have photographed him. Arrived at Eamon's at 11:13. Tacoma Street is well cleared of snow. Eamon showed me his scrapbooks from his time as a child performer and said he gave another couple hundred bucks to the Bosler Humane Society in Baldwinville, Massachusetts. He dedicated it to "For Fitzy - My Best Black Pug." Eamon gave me a loaf of bread from Tougias Bakery at 883 Liberty Street and some of Mrs. Fields individually wrapped cookies. After I left I went up to Burger King and bought a burger and fries with a coupon. As I was leaving Fred Whitney and his son the musician were just coming in and we exchanged pleasantries.

Nader the Hatter called and I told him about the library closings and the Big Y takeover of Food Mart. Nader said he had a cousin that was married to a Big Y manager and she told him that in the early days of Big Y D'Amour's sister and other relatives used to clip coupons so they could submit them to manufacturers for reimbursement when in fact nothing had been sold. He said a surprising amount of money was generated this way. Then Leonard Collamore called and thanked me for the Columbus cartoon I sent him for his alleged collection. He told me he has been away in Florida recently and as always he seemed friendly and and interested in what I had to say, but I think he's a faker.

There were a couple of letters in the paper today highly critical of the library closings by Marlene Trahan and Maureen Posner. More than 100 people gathered Tuesday night to protests the closing of the Forest Park Branch Library. Among the speakers shown on TV was Charles V. Ryan and Wilfred Valliere. I decided to call Valliere of 174 Pineywoods and I congratulated him on the work he is doing on behalf of the libraries. He said he wants to lead a convoy of protesters down to the Storrs Library in Longmeadow because the newspaper omitted that library when they listed nearby libraries that residents might use if their library was closed. Obviously David Starr doesn't want any riff-raff from Springfield's closed libraries coming over to use Longmeadow's. To aid him in his activism I gave him Starr's personal address and telephone number to do with as he wishes.

I tried again to get in touch with Westfield State and this time got Brooks who transferred me to to Tina who very politely and professionally said that "there is nothing whatsoever" to the rumors that they are holding the position of college president open until Linda Melconian decides whether she wants that job or to run for Mayor of Springfield. However when I asked if they were accepting applications for the position she said "not yet but soon." The D. Edward Wells Credit Union, a primarily Black institution in Mason Square, has been taken over by the government due to an array of financial improprieties. In the past all the local politicians have fallen all over themselves praising this institution and its officers so this could prove embarrassing in many quarters. The Wells Credit Union was supposed to be of special service to the Black community but it appears it was actually a den of thieves.

February 23, 2003

Flashes of lightning at 2:15am. 37 degrees at dawn. Gas $1.63 at the corner of Wilbraham and Alden.

I recall that in 1954 I was delivering the Shopping News and was bitten by a large dog belonging to the residents of 44 Ina Street. I remember the dog's owners gave me a pup tent in compensation, just what you would think a kid would want except that I was not that kind of kid. The tent tied up with string is in the basement to this day.

Dr. Joseph C. Creed of Longmeadow, who was on the staff of Baystate Medical Center for 50 years, has died at age 80. My neighbor down the end of Birchland Avenue Gilbert T. Vickers has died at age 84. He was a professor in the Music Department at Springfield College for 32 years. Joan Freme, the widow of Classical guidance councilor John Freme (who died in 1984) has died at age 76. Lucy M. Jozefezyk, a long time resident of Chicopee, has died at age 84. Avril Palazzi is a realtor in East Longmeadow. Alvin Paige was on Real to Reel last night. Old Mr. Arthur H. Petluck, who I first met at Monarch stockholders meetings, was in the paper today shown meeting House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran at a Chamber of Commerce event in Holyoke. Larry McDermott's latest column is titled, "Editors like umpires call 'em like they see 'em." So I called down to the paper and got his answering machine and left the message that his column was wrong. I said, "You should know this Larry, but editors call 'em as their publishers and advertisers see 'em!"

Drove over to the Dunkin Donuts across from the Breckwood Shops and got an onion bagel with egg, sausage and cheese with a coupon. Then over to Food Mart where I bought some Master Choice Clover Honey and chatted with the managers Bob Farrell and Steve McGuire. Then I stopped at an Open House at 672 Alden Street. Built in 1959 it is ultra-modern and was once owned by Mr. Bushey who was the head of science at Technical High School. He's dead now and his son lives in Agawam. The house is positioned so that the big windows look directly out over Lake Massasoit and straight down the inlet that reaches way back almost to Duggan. It is a view worth adding $10,000 to the normal value of the house. There is a garage on the lower level and a fireplace in the Wilbraham Road corner of the house.

When I got back I called Eamon and told him about what Nader told me about Big Y and their coupon scams years ago. Eamon recalled hearing once from a former meat department employee that they take steaks that are about to expire and grind them in with the fresh hamburger. But Eamon says he doubts that Big Y is the only one that does those tricks, that they are probably "standard trade practices." Still, the steak you refused to buy today because it didn't look fresh may be in the hamburger you buy tomorrow. Eamon told me his spies told him that Mayor Albano and Anthony Ardolino had lunch the other day at the Red Rose Pizza downtown with Val Barsom and Dennis Murphy. Spies are also reporting that Barsom was seen recently in a bar with Larry McDermott.

February 25, 2003

Sunny, 29 degrees on the breezeway first thing. Gas at Cumberland Farms across from Angelo's is only $1.59.

Jim Keefe is the Fleet Loan Officer at Monarch Place. Mary Alice (Hough) Rogers, Membership Director at WGBY, has died at age 55. She was the most wonderful, sweet, pleasant, friendly, soft-spoken fundsbegger that TV57 ever had. I can't think of enough words of praise, she is certainly an example of how the good die young.

Springfield is indeed a paradise of potholes right now. Drove down to Smith & Reynold's at 84 Maple Street and parked on Union. The brick and pillars showplace on the corner is a mess, with the porch railings rotting out. A real shame. I went inside and Jeffrey T. Reynolds was not in but I gave my papers to his secretary Norma Gagney. Stopped at Price-Rite on the way home and then coming down Breckwood I saw three mail trucks parked at Dunkin Donuts. When I got home I found in the mail a thank you letter from Karen E. Gutowski for the postcards I made of Liberty United Methodist Church. She said "the photograph on the cards is beautiful" which it is. Ordinarily you drive by and Liberty seems a dingy, older building but I got it at just the right angle with the sun hitting the tree.

The Boston Herald says that Governor Romney wants to reorganize higher education and get rid of Bulger at UMass. The Governor suggested that perhaps UMass could be "spun off as an independent entity." Romney said on the radio this morning that, "It is time to declare that the road to Taxachusetts is a dead end street!" He said that "every speck of waste and inefficiency must go" and that cities and towns must focus on their core functions. Romney has also said he supports the Quinn Bill that increases the pay for cops that get degrees but Eamon has said in the past that the program is a farce and that many cops are given degrees without even going to the classes. However Romney did say that standards should be raised. Former Providence Mayor and Mike Albano pal Vincent Cianci is holding a fundraiser to create a foundation to preserve his mayoral papers while he goes to prison for corruption. The arrogance! I wonder if Albano will attend?

I called Yusef Muhammad and got Sister Desiree and told her to give Yusef the message that he should consider running for mayor. About twenty minutes later Yusef called back and I told him I should like to see him run for mayor because he has a fine presence, speaks perfectly, is one of unquestioned rectitude and is obviously running his operation successfully. He is soft-spoken and very humbly thanked me. I mentioned that I know Walter H. English, whom he said he didn't know, and Chelan Jenkins, whom he did. I added that I would like to see running besides himself the Rev. John Wesley and Rev. Talbert Swan. I also told him about my collection of over a thousand posters relating to Springfield's Black community.

Then Eamon called and I told him about my phone call to Minister Mohammad. Eamon said he is not impressed with him and said he should never be mayor. Eamon described how he once sent Yusef a set of statistics revealing the high absentee rate at Commerce and information detailing the incompetence of several Black principals in the Springfield School System. Eamon suggested that if the Minister really wanted to help the Black community he could work to help remove these incompetents and replace them with role models the students could genuinely admire. He never heard back, even though Eamon had specifically asked for the return of the Commerce absentee rate documents which had come from an insider source and could not be replaced.

February 28, 2003

19 degrees in the breezeway at 6:50am.

The Farmer's Almanac predicted we would have a cold winter and they were correct! One easy and effective way to evaluate a college is to read the student newspaper. It is one piece of literature not produced by the Admissions Office.

Ralph Nader says we want to go to war in Iraq for the oil. President Bush says Jesus changed his heart. Now if He would only change his mind! Johnny Cash is 71. The death of Mr. Rogers (1928-2003) is getting a lot of publicity. He became a Presbyterian minister in 1974 and never apologized for what some called his wimpy personality. Michael Metelica Rapunzel, leader of the Renaissance Community which had communes at various sites in Western Mass has died in eastern New York where he had been working as an ambulance technician. He was 52. I was only dimly aware of Rapunzel's exploits but I recall that Tom Devine knew him in some capacity.

Dr. Richard S. Luftman worked at Baystate Eye Care on Congress Street in Springfield in 1986. Terry D. Ryan worked at Baystate Eye Care in 1988. Friendly's stock 6.38 at noon. Why is it going up? There is a Senior Drop In program every Thursday at the Evangelical Church located at the corner of Plumtree and Bradley. WSPR said that photographer Margaret Burke White who died in 1971 "never cropped her photos in the darkroom but composed in the camera." I try to do that but of course you can't get it perfect. Erica Broman, Vice President of Institutional Development at Holyoke Community College was on WFCR to comment on Mitt Romney's plan to consolidate institutions. She said if there is central control it will spoil their relationships with the local communities and businesses. Romney is also complaining that the Massachusetts court system is packed with patronage hires. Ten people are dead in a suspicious fire at the Greenwood Health Center in the Park Hill neighborhood of Hartford.

Holyoke senior citizens are permitted to to work off $100 of their city taxes in community service, but I'll bet it's not worth it once you consider you have to dress up, drive there and so on. I called the UMass Alumni Association today and spoke with Ann Marie who told me that Gordon Oakes is a graduate of the College of Food and Natural Resources. Then I called Wilbraham Monson Academy and Judy connected me with Rita Carey Director of Communications. She said that the school mascot used to be The Coachman but the students voted to change it to The Titans because a coachman is a male and there were both male and female titans. Library Associate Karen Jordan sent me a nice thank-you note for the postcards I donated to the 16 Acres Branch.

Went to Louis & Clark for the Boston Globe and ran into Kelly holding the kid in her arms. I gave a cheerful hello to her and a "How are you sir?" to the child. While I was there I mailed out letters to the Vermont Symphony, to Martha, to Gutowski, to Albano, to Silber and to Paul Murray. Then swung by Mrs. Staniski's whose street was not well plowed. She is always glad to see me and said that Arthur is engaged to the girl from Argentina. Mrs. Staniski likes the girl. Then I stopped at the Pine Point Library and got Dale Carnegie on Public Speaking off the freebie rack for the poems in it. Then I had lunch at the Boston Road McDonald's before heading home.

Eamon's latest tape says that the Albano Adminstration's theme song should be changed from "Send in the Clowns" to "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." Eamon went to see his doctor in Northampton today and said she is just back from visiting her family in China. Eamon told me that he got a visit from an FBI agent yesterday seeking information about the real estate holdings of ex-rep Soco Catjakis. They are intrigued by a suspicious pattern of fires involving properties related to Catjakis dating back to 1972 when there was a fire in a warehouse Soco owned on Birnie or Plainfield. The city ended up buying the land. There was also a Dollar Store owned by Soco's son that burned. Eamon said he told the agent about the Quick Cleaners on the corner of Armory and Carew that was owned by a friend of Socco's and also burned. Eamon's brother Ray Sullivan the late Fire Chief told Eamon that Soco came to his office with some bogus insurance papers relating to the fire which he wanted Chief Sullivan to sign. Eamon's brother angrily refused and threw Soco out of his office. Chief Sullivan then called D.A. Matty Ryan and told him about the incident and said he suspected arson. However Ryan never did anything about it because Matty is one of Soco's best friends.

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