September 2002

September 2, 2002

Cloudy and 61 degrees at 7am. Red sky at sunset.

H.L. Bosworth lived at 97 Florida Street in 1924. Frank Laznovsky Heating and Plumbing Contractor had their headquarters on Clantoy Street in Springfield in 1924. October 5th is the annual Connecticut River clean-up day in all the states the river passes through. At Louis & Clark this morning I saw a bumpersticker in the parking lot saying, "I Brake for Butterflies." The Springfield and Holyoke Police Departments have signed a mutual aid pact to fight drugs. Chief Scott arrested 54 drug dealers in Holyoke last week.

Vacuumed the basement today. Yesterday morning I watched a program with a Baptist Minister Charles Stanley talking about what it means to be born again. Ended with a statement that it was a paid program "that does not necessarily reflect the views of WGGB TV40." A Boston Globe poll finds that 65% favor the ballot question to abolish bilingual education in Massachusetts. Also said that 49% favor the U.S. overthrowing Saddam Hussein with only 29% opposed. That's awful. On TV22 they reported that their online poll asked whether or not you intend to visit the new Basketball Hall of Fame and 61% said they do not.

Today I went to the official last day of the old Basketball Hall of Fame. The $100 million new Basketball Hall of Fame will open on September 28th. I arrived at the old Hall at 10:15 and counted 66 vehicles in the parking lot. The crowd seemed mostly young, multi-racial and casually dressed. For the last day they were charging the same entry fee they charged when the Hall opened in 1985 - $6 for adults and $4 for youngsters. They were also passing out Hall of Fame brochures as souvenirs that were identical to the ones they passed out on opening day in 1985.

I asked the ticket seller how many guests they got most days and he said between four and five hundred, which would be in line with Eamon's claim that the Hall gets less than 100,000 visitors a year. Leonard Collamore was there and was being treated like a celebrity. Collamore was a basketball star himself in his youth and I saw TV22 interviewing him and overheard him say, "This Hall brings back many wonderful memories." There was a small child with him, perhaps his grandkid.

I walked around and saw that the locker section is a memorial to the son of TV's Jim Vinick who died of cancer. A plaque said that The Vinick Locker Room is in memory of Jeffrey Marc Vinick (1963-1982). It said he played basketball, baseball and soccer and was involved with the Dana Farber Institute. Looking at the displays I noted that Vin Baker of the Seattle Sonics had the book "Malcolm X as They Knew Him" as part of his shrine. Good for Baker.

Upstairs they had a model of the new Hall on display. They also had an immense Waterford Crystal trophy that the UConn women's team won in 1994/95. In all the old Hall looked a bit rundown, as though they have been deferring maintenance in anticipation of moving to a new building. When I left the parking lot was packed.

On the way home I drove by Jeff the Framer and saw only his red van was in the parking lot. I noted near home that Mancuso has repaved his driveway and across the street at 1425 Wilbraham Road they have put up new vinyl siding. I stopped at the Cohn's to leave magazines and Mrs. Cohn was sitting at the kitchen table reading. Irving was in the living room with the lights off listening to Classical music. He returned to me Nader the Hatter's hat making manuscript and said, "It's good." That pleased me because Mr. Cohn is not afraid to belittle things he doesn't like. He said that Nader described hat blocking "quite well." When I left he called out, "Keep those magazines coming!"

Friendly's is getting bad publicity because they punished a waitress and made her quit for delivering a meal one minute late. Organizers are planning an event to honor Mayor Michael J. Albano for 30 years of public service. Albano began counting his years of public service in 1972 when he served as recreation leader for the Park and Recreation Department. Among those who have expressed a willingness to attend are Edward M. Kennedy, John F. Kerry and Richard E. Neal.

Eamon called and we talked about the Basketball Hall of Fame. We agreed that the riverwalk is a likely venue for muggings and the chain link fence along the railroad tracks could make it impossible for victims to escape their attackers. Eamon said it will be interesting to see what becomes of Tony Ravosa's claim that the city built the bike path over 960 feet of his property along the edge of the river without offering him any compensation. Eamon said that Springfield has the largest school budget it has ever had in its history yet it has a last place ranked school system in academic performance. Eamon then observed how odd it is that there are so many bad politicians and incompetent public employees in this small city saying, "The smaller the boat the bigger the rats."

September 4, 2002

65 degrees at 8am. Elderberries in ripe condition.

Dividends don't lie.

Nelson Mandela has accused President Bush of "introducing chaos into world affairs" with his constant talk of war. Pulitzer Prize winning author Joseph J. Ellis, who fabricated a Vietnam record, has completed a one year suspension and will return to teaching at Mount Holyoke College.

Whatever happened to the black character with the Afro haircut that used to appear in the comic Beetle Bailey? I am humiliated to admit it, but I paid no attention to my plum tree this summer and ignored it even during the terrible hot weather. Now it is bearing very little fruit. I apologize, plum tree.

Fifteen people were arrested downtown Sunday at 2am outside The Hot Club when a crowd of 150 people refused to disperse. The paper says that Polish cultural exchange students who were working at Six Flags in Agawam were forced to work more than eight hour shifts. Their Human Resources person said nobody complained but of course not, they were from an authoritarian state where you do not complain.

Consolidated Freightways is in bankruptcy, so 120 will lose their jobs in Chicopee. Fontaine Bros. will begin construction of the new Chicopee library in October. The 30th Mattoon Street Arts Festival will be September 7 and 8th. Classes begin at UMass tomorrow. The evening news said Ann Turner held a meeting to form a Western Mass chapter of Voice of the Faithful at St. Mary's in Northampton. Cardinal Law doesn't like them one bit!

I never got a thank you note for my condolence from Susan Levine Vadnais. I called Larry McDermott at the paper and left a message urging him to to start listing gay couples in their marriage section who make legal commitments. I also said he should consult with Eamon and me on a regular basis in order to take advantage of two of the finest minds in the city. Of course he did not return my call.

The retirement party for Election Commissioner James "Deezer" Sullivan will be September 20th at the American Legion Post 452 in Chicopee. Tickets can be purchased from Chris Collins or Bill Metzger. In Sunday's paper there was a for sale ad for 127 Lumas which is the home of Marshall and Sandra Moriarty. I called and got their son Brandon Moriarty who said he is 25 years old and majoring in film at Boston University. He told me they are moving to Palmer so I mentioned John Auchter and wished them well.

I left at 10:15 this morning and went to the Eastfield Mall to get my driver's license renewed at the Registry office there. The mall was passing out a useless free book by Roberta Shwartz Wennik Beyond Food Labels that tells the amount of fat and cholesterol in an enormous number of foods, but it is a flop because it should identify the vitamins and minerals as well, not just the fat and cholesterol. At the Registry I got number 265 which came up in just under one hour. I was waited on by a petite young black woman who said she likes working for the Registry.

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After getting my license I headed downtown and was the only one parked on Salem. I dropped off some papers for Atty. Berman and then visited Antiques on Boland Way at Baystate West where the owner is now getting around on crutches. The place was two-thirds empty and they are going out of business soon. Downtown increasingly resembles a ghost town. The Johnson's Bookstore building is still for sale and the 30's retro shop Form Reform at 300 Bridge Street is closed. Another little business that tried to make it downtown but fell flat on their face. I stopped at the porn shop at the Triangle. The whole building is being fixed up and the porn shop may be the most successful non-eatery business downtown.

Then I dropped off some film at In a Flash at the Breckwood Shops and came home and put out the trash. There is another colonialish house going up on Lemnos Lane. Raymond the tall oil burner man from Punderson came today for the annual check-up and he said mine is getting old and is less efficient than it should be. He said a new burner and boiler with a hot water unit would go for around $4,500. I told him I use less oil since Mother died and I'm saving money that way. He told me how he goes into the homes of people who are on fuel assistance and sees beer cans and cigarette butts all over the place. He thinks that they could save money for heat by giving up the booze and butts!

September 5, 2002

74 degrees and sunny at 2am.

George Gouzounis my Financial Consultant at A.G. Edwards & Sons has a new business card identifying him as being in the Sovereign Bank Building. His old one said Bank of Boston Building.

The new issue of The Reminder came midday today with a front page story about how Springfield Armory historian Richard Colton will be conducting tours of the second floor rifle room two days a month. The fee is $12. I decided to call Richard Colton (who is very soft-spoken) and politely told him that his fee is too high. I also told him how an early archivist at the Armory threw out too much stuff and he said "that was before the U.S. Park Service got involved." The Reminder also had an article about Randall's 40th Anniversary. I hope this reflects a new direction in The Reminder's coverage of local history - interviews with business owners on the history of their operations rather than articles by Fran Gagnon.

Went down to the Breckwood Shops to Louis & Clark and there seemed to be a lot of people at Females In Training. Then to the Boston Road Big Y for crangrape juice, milk and bagels. I drove out to Cat's Paw at 45 Parker Street in Indian Orchard which is closing on the 19th. Claudia says she can't stand being there any longer, but overall seemed quite cheery. Her husband Vincent was scraping cartoon figures off of the windows. A customer was there buying Depression-era glass. I informed Vince that I told Peter Picknelly about the Court Square Theater posters he has for sale and he smiled and thanked me. Before I left I bought some postcards of selected views of New Haven for $40.

When I got home I called down to the Quadrangle to see if they have any postcards of the Seuss sculptures. At first they connected me to Bunny Duckman who is the head of the bookshop in the Science Museum. She connected me to Marianne Gambino, who is the same lady who delivered the lecture on Dr. Seuss at a Friends of the Library meeting a few years back. She said they are "still in the process" of getting the licensing to make the postcards. Gambino said that visitors to the Quad "request postcards daily" but that the Seuss licensing people "are difficult to deal with." I said that's too bad and she replied, "Yes, it really is."

Eamon says that the Dr. Seuss sculptures at the Quad haven't increased attendance as much as they hoped and there is talk of relocating them to the new Basketball Hall of Fame. He said he heard this from a neighbor who is subcontracted to do the carpentry down there. He was told there was actually a formal meeting held to discuss the possibility. There is also concern about the lack of retail tenants committed to the Hall of Fame. Basketball legend Michael Jordan has a chain of steak restaurants and his business people came to Springfield some months back and concluded they definitely couldn't make money here.

Eamon recalled how years ago in a desperate move to save tenants Baystate West let Friendly's and Frederick's stay their last few years at no rent but they still couldn't make a profit and closed. Eamon has personally called Nike and L.L. Bean and they have assured him that they have no intention of coming to Springfield. Eamon concluded by saying that since the corruption investigation that nailed Buddy Cianci in Providence was called "The Plunder Dome Investigation" then the FBI probe to nail Mike Albano should be called "The Plunger Bowl Investigation."

September 6, 2002

Sunny and 63 degrees at 7am.

Religion is like body odor, it's hard to get rid of and it stinks.

The number of people who died last 11 September was 2819, but the media always says 3,000. This is the first of three days of National Days of Prayer and Remembrance leading up to the first anniversary of the attacks of September 11.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society "A National Center for Family and Local History" is located at 101 Newbury Street in Boston. Disgruntled Massachusetts college system professors (nine four year colleges and fifteen community colleges) are going to take a simultaneous coffee break at 10am today to protest not getting any payraises. Also there was blabbing on the news about the poor condition of the 122 year old Richardson Juvenile and Housing Court Building, but without noting that it was completely renovated just thirty years ago. How can it be in such poor condition unless the renovation work was of shoddy quality?

I drove past Aunt Maria's house in Agawam and the lawn looks freshly mowed. There was a red van and a white van parked over at Lucia's. Then I drove over to Ames which is going out of business. A big Ames truck was parked in front with their motto "Bagains by the Bagful" painted on it. Inside whole sections of the store were empty with wide open spaces. There was still some merchandise however, and I managed to find some good Wrangler jeans which I bought. I asked the woman in front of me at the checkout line whether she would miss the store and she replied yes, now she will have to go to the Walmart in Springfield. I'm surprised she didn't mention the Walmart in Westfield.

In any case, Agawam no longer has a general thrift store. The Super Food Mart nearby is also closed so that whole end of the shopping center is now dead. There is a new Walgreens across the street as well as Once Around Fine Used Furniture so the rest of the Walnut Street Extension is doing okay. For lunch I went to E.B.'s where I had a wonderful scallop dinner years ago. Therefore I ordered the Fresh Fried Sea Scallps for $9.50. I got a generous portion of scallops done in batter just like I did years ago. It was real nice. They still use checkered red and white tablecloths and the walls are covered with letters and pictures of big shot customers. They also had three Advocate Best of Carry-out Restaurant Awards. When I left I told the manager Charlene Moretti that their food is as good as ever and she thanked me and shook my hand.

Then I drove down to Agawam Town Hall where I got some magazines from a freebie pile. What a nice, neat town hall. Built in the 1950's, the fixtures are old but not in need of replacement. On the door to the Men's Room was a poster from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health - Division of Epidemiology and Immunization showing the four steps of washing your hands. The trouble is they only have a couple of computers to look things up on, but I was able to get on one and look up Aunt Maria's property, which I found has increased in value by $16,000 from the last time I checked. When I got home there was a van for Steamway Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning in front of Mudry's.

Eamon's latest phone answering machine message describes teachers and principals as "the most poorly educated people in our society" and accuses "those social tinkering educationists" of always saying "they need more money and personnel, yet Springfield receives an ever increasing budget and still we have an inferior school system which ranks 206 out of the 208 systems in Massachusetts."

From this week's Valley Advocate:

David Starr is the big boss at the Union-News. Starr is notorious for meddling in local politics, using his newspaper to dole out punishments or rewards. The Union-News President is also the Vice-Chairman of the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Board of Directors and has long wielded considerable influence in the Springfield art scene. Larry McDermott is the publisher of the Union-News. McDermott is widely viewed as even testier and more meddlesome than his boss, David Starr.

September 8, 2002

Lovely day, 62 degrees at 7am.

I have a wooden toy Noah's Ark from the 1940's and it has increased in value because today Noah's Ark is considered a high hip icon of multiculturalism. Douglas Perkins is the Museum Co-ordinator for the Middlebury College Museum of Art in Vermont. The Rev. Thomas Gough is the 23rd pastor of the historic Old First Church. He also teaches World Religions at Springfield College. Dianne Kidd works for Carlson Real Estate in Wilbraham.

On TV10 out of Albany I saw a program on the revolutionary environmental architect Nader Khalili. He is advocating geodesic dome style housing for the 900 million people in the world without shelter. They look real nice and are in harmony with nature. Khalili asked, "Have you ever seen anything nature created that's ugly? It's always beautiful." That's real wisdom. Fundamentalist Baptist Minister Charles F. Stanley was on TV40 again asking, "When we cry out to God why doesn't God answer?" He said it was because people are "void of faith and walking in evil." Stanley talks tough with the Bible in his hands.

A letter came today for Mother from the Springfield Symphony so I wrote on it "deceased" and sent it back. 122 Chestnut, a 99 unit apartment building, has an advertising flyer promoting it's close location to the Quadrangle. Rent is between $700 and $800 per month. The Quadrangle has announced that attendance this year is up 26,000 over last, which they attribute to the opening of the Dr. Seuss Memorial. They got 416,081 visitors so far this year compared to their previous best year of 387,116 in 1998. Still Eamon claims this increase was less than was hoped for.

The new Springfield Journal is out and Francis Gagnon has an article on artist Charles Sheldon and M. Dobbs has a piece on the entertainment district. Their masthead is unchanged and Joe Sibilia is still listed as a contributor although there is none of his poetry. Went to Louis & Clark to get the Union-News this morning. The paper has become a very thin, limp thing where the news is like a taco shell around the advertising that's stuffed inside.

Stopped over Mrs. Staniski's and Ann was on her way out in her new last year tan Honda Civic. She said she had just dug up two bushes in front of the house which had become unruly. Ann is playing in a wedding Saturday and then will visit her son up in Kittery. I thanked her for all the Harvard papers she gets me. Continuing into the city I noted that the lawn in front of Putnam High is really unkempt while the lawn in front of SciTech is nicely manicured. Why?

I arrived downtown and parked in front of the Marshall Center to attend the Mattoon Street Festival. People were freely walking around and overall there was a better grade of merchandise than the last time I was there. Stacia Filipiak was there playing her violin as well as teddy bear dealers Stonecraft Treasures of Granby. I chatted with photographer Daniel A. Brown who had excellent glossy images. He said he was "a Renaissance Man" who was once involved with that commune up around Greenfield that Tom Devine used to talk about. The lady was there from Panache Productions and the Mattoon historical organization was selling booklets for $5. At one point I encountered Judy Matt who nervously said hi and then hurried away. Judy is a problem.

When I got home Jennifer Hayes called from the Tom Birmingham for Governor headquarters in Boston and asked who I am supporting for governor in the primary. I told her I didn't like Mitt Romney and thought the Republicans are responsible for the Big Dig. However when I told her I was supporting Robert Reich in the primary she immediately hung up. Too bad because I would have liked to tell her that I think that Sen. Birmingham is too close to crooks like Billy Bulger. I also found it interesting that the call was coming from Boston, apparently Birmingham hasn't bothered to open an office in Springfield.

Nader the Hatter called from the home of Dorothee Szuch in Florida. I told him about Irving Cohn's praise for his hat making manuscript and he was pleased. Nader hopes to visit Massachusetts soon. Eamon called and said he too received a call from The Hatter. He also said Karen Powell called him for the first time in a while. She is helping to sell tickets for the retirement party for Eamon's cousin Deezer Sullivan and told Eamon she has heard that AIC accounting professor Salvator Anzalotti is in a lot of trouble and that more misery will soon befall the Asselins. Karen also said she has been in regular contact with Rose Marie Coughlin, who is becoming increasingly Republican.

Eamon recalled how back in the day he used to frequent all the local watering holes, especially during the years he was serving under Tommy O'Connor. In the barrooms of Springfield Eamon has heard and seen a lot. Eamon is a remarkable individual with a genuine yearning to perform civic good. He said most of the bars in Springfield are owned by crooks, ex-cons and con-men and always have been. Eamon and I also discussed the sentencing of Mayor Cianci to five years in prison. Eamon liked the way the judge described Cianci as "a crooked despot." Albano is next.

September 10, 2002

69 degrees in the breezeway at 7:30am. Record 91 degrees reported on the evening news.

Nothing is really new in the universe.

The airwaves are full of September 11th stuff, most of it a lot of sentimental bullshit. President Bush was at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro with the Japanese Prime Minister to see the Patriots play the Steelers. There were no festivities on the field at half-time, just a tribute to the 9/11 victims. St. Celia's Church on Main Street in Wilbraham is having a Community Ecumenical Service of Remembrance for the 9/11 victims featuring Chief Kenneth Willette of the Wilbraham Fire Department.

Defrosted the freezer today. I drove out to the Cat's Paw and they had only slightly cleaned the place out since I'd been there last. Claudia said they are both going to the Brimfield Antiques Fair tomorrow because the first day is always the busiest. Then Claudia will run their booth for the rest of the fair while Vincent continues to clear out their shop in the Orchard. I looked at their postcards but didn't buy any. I did find some old envelopes among the ephemera. For $3.25 I bought one from the Safe Deposit and Trust Company in Springfield, which later became Herbie Almgren's First Bank and then Shawmut. Today the building is the Community School of Music. I also bought a very ancient Monarch Life Insurance envelope for $2.00.

Called Karen Powell and we spoke for about ten minutes. She says she still speaks with Maureen Turner of the Valley Advocate from time to time but wouldn't share with me any gossip about her. We talked about the closed Burger King and how it is embarrassing that it couldn't survive. She called the vacant building "the shame of the Acres." I said I hope it gets graffiti painted all over it to make it stand out as the eyesore it is! Then I called Stuart Hurwitz who always takes my calls and said I hope he had a good summer. I reminded him that we last met at the dedication of the Seuss Memorial and I told him I've dined at his new Pizza Uno restaurant and had a good time there. I mentioned how there are lousy toilet facilities however, and he said he'd look into it. Hurwitz is always polite.

I got a color Shannon O'Brien for Governor flyer in the mail today. Eamon called and I told him about talking with Hurwitz and he told me a friend of his who used to have a novelty shop on Worthington Street told him that the new Pizza Uno is "doing a land office business." He said that Art Gingras is thinking that rather than move to Maine for retirement he will buy land in California. Eamon said that everyone he knows who spent much time in California eventually ended up living there. His friend Finestein the jeweler and his wife are also considering moving to California.

Eamon says he is thinking of selling his house and moving out of Springfield but he wouldn't move any further than the Berkshires. He said he is fed-up with Massachusetts politics and can't believe that no one has gone to jail over the Big Dig. Rose Marie Coughlin called him and was praising Mitt Romney. Eamon said he doesn't like any of the candidates for Governor and may not even bother to vote.

September 11, 2002

Heavily overcast, 76 at 10am. Gas $1.55 at Pride in the Acres.

Today is the one year anniversary of the terrorist attack. The local September 11 observance aired live on TV40 and showed Congressman Richard E. Neal and Fire Chief Gary G. Cassanelli leading the ceremony. About 700 were estimated to be in attendance. However TV57 is ignoring it and showing Sesame Street. On TV22 the pompous jock Rich Tettemer had a good line: "At the very least Sept. 11 teaches us that every second counts."

Former Boston Symphony conductor Seiji Ozawa is taking over as music director of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Latoya Fostor is the new black woman on TV22. The Democratic candidates for Governor had a debate and Robert Reich memorably said, "In Boston a friend is the kind of person who stabs you in the front!"

On my way into the bank this morning to cash my IBM and Honeywell check I ran into the former Johnson's Bookstore business department lady coming out (I last saw her at Sen. Lees' Senior Gathering) and she cheerfully asked what I'm doing these days. I told her I'm still buying books but have to go out of town to do it. Then I encountered Rev. Loesch coming into Louis & Clark who thanked me for my postcards. While at the Breckwood Shops I stopped in at Copy Cat to make copies. I have been going there since it was Wickles, even though their prices have always been too high. I like the good people on the staff however.

Next I headed to Food Mart where I bought some Weight Watcher Smart Ones dinners, some Ocean Spray Cranberry-Raspberry juice, ten cans of Progresso soups and some Saltines, all with coupons. My rule is to only buy in quantity those items that are on special. Then I drove out to Hampden to Stanton's Auction. When I got there Peter Stanton Imler cordially greeted me and let me wander around. They have a little white house with black shutters for their office, which is full of books and manuals on antiques. There is really no place to sit. I asked if they have a brochure on their terms and Imler said no but their share is customarily 21%. He said they had a big painting auction last week. Toward the back corner of the lot was a booth with free food and they had lots of donuts. It was free because this is their 22nd anniversary.

From Stanton's I drove back to Wilbraham past the Burgess School onto Main Street and over to the post office, where I found a $10 gift certificate from Staples someone had tossed in the trash. Then I stopped at the Burger King by the old Westinghouse for two double burgers with a coupon. I stopped at Redbrick Books on Page Boulevard where old Mr. Fuller was out back. I ended up buying a book on gemmology by Oliver C. Ferrington Gems and Gem Minerals (1903) for $30. Finally I stopped at the Pine Point Library to ask a research question but the only person at the desk told me, "Sorry, I'm only a children's librarian."

Brian Colton from New England Archives called and I told him I wanted to do more to preserve my diaries. I told him I suspect the local political establishment is systematically destroying the historical records so I must preserve the true account of our local history by eventually putting my entire diary on microfilm.

Eamon called and said his sister has been visiting him practically every morning. He said that he loves to read the cartoon This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow in the Valley Advocate. Jim Landers is upgrading his computer credentials with free courses at STCC because he is a staff member. Landers bought his son a car but for some reason he hasn't taken it to school with him and it is just sitting in the garage. Eamon says that parents with children in the Springfield School System are putting their children's future at risk in a school system with the highest drop-out, suspension and truancy rates with an inferior education end-product despite the fact that Springfield spends one of the highest per pupil expenditures in Massachusetts.

September 14, 2002

60 degrees at 6:30am. Overcast with sunlight glowing around.

Richard Cohen has a great column in the paper entitled, "Government Failures Led to Terrorist Attack." Two people have died of West Nile disease in Massachusetts. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont was in the news wondering if the West Nile virus is an example of bio-terrorism. Pat Leahy is a good Democrat. Former Providence, Rhode Island Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci is hosting a talk radio show on WPRO with Steve Kass despite having to report to prison in December.

The Eastern States Exposition (Big E) opens today but I have no desire to go even though they have a special exhibit on Norman Rockwell this year. This week is the 25th anniversary of Thorne's Marketplace in Northampton. There is talk of raising the rates for substitute teachers in Springfield. The current rate is $70 per day, $85 dollars after 45 days. The state MCAS tests are out with only 28% passing at Putnam High and 48% at Commerce. 99% passed in Longmeadow.

Today's paper has on the Travel page a story about grand old hotels including the Mountain View in New Hampshire. Spear Street has Bud L. Williams signs all along it. Haven't seen many Swan signs around. Robert Reich is not campaigning because of Yom Kipper. Yesterday I stapled Reich's picture from the Valley Advocate to the telephone pole outside my house. I know Reich won't win but he is the best man.

I received a recorded message from Sen. John McCain urging me to vote for Kerry Healey for Lt. Governor. I also received a recorded message from Sen. Brian Lees urging me to vote for Dan Grabauskas for State Treasurer. I called Lees' office which was closed, but I identified myself and left a message that I cannot support Grabauskas because the previous Republican treasurer Joe Malone was a disaster. I told him I am generally disappointed in the Republican field this year.

The lawn at Foster Memorial Church is getting a landscaping makeover. I went to the Stanton Auction in Hampden today and parked in the back lot so I could drive out with no trouble. They had a lot of oriental rugs on the lawn, some quite ugly with lots of colors like orange and ivory with olive trim. The auction room was in a large garage with a booth in the back offering free donuts. The rostrum is in the middle with a light and a microphone stand. It was too hot inside and there was nothing I wanted except a little oak box that would've been perfect for Sweet Pea and Honey Pot to put their shot bottles in but I left without bidding on that or anything else. When I got home Jozephczyk waved to me as he was picking up twigs on his lawn.

Eamon claims his shoe size is an 8 but to me it looks like a 6. Eamon called today and said he was down to Orr Cadillac this morning for some free service under his warranty. His current phone editorial calls for the criminal prosecution of those involved with the Big Dig cost overruns. Eamon said that he sent a letter to Larry McDermott complaining about their editorials. He wrote:

Your biased op-ed page has indeed found a market of third grade intellect readers, but any respectable editor from an honest, responsible newspaper would say that while your paper may appear to be superficially correct to the ignorant and misinformed, to your few literate and perceptive readers your paper is intrinsically dishonest and more interested in the bottom line than in reporting news.

Of course the paper will never print it. Eamon told me that Cal's Variety has a yard high pile of return papers each week. We wondered whether the paper cheats on their circulation numbers. After Eamon hung up I decided to call McDermott myself and left him a message saying that since he claims to like things that are opinionated he should hire Eamon to write a regular column and invite me to write a piece on the Quadrangle and libraries.

September 17, 2002

Gently sprinkling after midnight. 72 degrees at 9am.

My right ankle has become somewhat swelled. I woke up in the middle of the night at 2:20am and turned on TV40 which had a test pattern on consisting of their logo with "Coverage You Can Count On" but no sound. Wendy Gordon is now Professor of Copyright Law at Boston University and was on WFCR talking about issues arising from the xeroxing of books.

Jacob Haskell and Charles Adams were grocers in Boston in 1884. G.C. Frissell ran a bakery in Merrick, Mass in 1885. John Haley and Frank Cutter sold trunks, satchels and traveling bags on Summer Street in Boston in 1885. Horace Parker and Edwin Holmes sold boots, shoes and rubbers in Boston in 1887. The Old Colony Iron Company that made nails, tack plates, wire rods, shovels and scoops was located in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1886. You can trace cultural history in the names of businesses. Nobody would name anything Old Colony now, but there was an Old Colony Trust and lots of others. Now we have Verizon and all the other cranky names for things.

The mail was late but brought a little note from Aunt Martha saying Maria's obituary appeared in the Bethel paper. Nobody else has sent me any condolence messages. Gordon N. Oakes Jr. remains unpunished for his unbridled greed, unsupportable risk and incomparable loss to stockholders caused by his mismanagement of Monarch Life Insurance Company.

Today is Primary Election Day. I received a recorded call from Mitt Romney urging me to vote. I drove out at 9:15am and stopped at the Breckwood Dunkin Donuts for an onion bagel with sausage and egg on it for $2.61. Then I headed over to Alfred M. Glickman Elementary School where I was voter number 43. I voted for Reich for Governor, wrote in Eamon for State Auditor, wrote in myself against the unopposed Richie Neal and voted for the retiring Paul Caron over C. Asselin. For District Attorney I wrote in the name of John Thompson.

As I left I took some school literature from the lobby to check for grammar errors and was suddenly approached by the Principal Kathleen G. Sullivan. She said she remembered me from when she worked at Central High and recalled me correcting the English on the school handouts there, which she said left Principal Richard Stoddard aghast. She also mentioned Eamon and said she dials his number to listen to his editorials all the time.

We stepped into her office and I noted the pretty Tiffany Lamp on her desk which she said was given to her by her mother. She also had prints of flowers on the wall and she told me Glickman had just received a $500 grant to put bushes and flowering plants in front of the school. I recalled how when I was a student at Homer Street we had a garden in a wire fence and she said she went to Homer too and remembers the fence and garden. A nice person, but her English stinks, as I realized when I read her school handouts later. When I came back from voting I ran into Mr. Lucius and his wife on their morning walk. He did all the talking, as she is a very quiet and cooperative woman.

When I got back I called editor McDermott and got his always polite secretary Anita who took my message that I think the paper should print the salaries of McDermott and David Starr. I told her I took a course in journalism in high school and since the paper prints the salaries of others they should be willing to reveal their own. She said she would "pass that along" and wished me a nice day.

Eamon called and said the local mailmen hide by parking at the end of his street or over on Ontario Street. He said that Father John Koonz who used to serve at Our Lady of Hope and is a friend of Eamon's cousin Father Callahan, is suspected of sexual deviancy involving minors. Father Koonz was also a friend of Ed Kennedy and Father O'Connor, who died young of a mysterious illness.

Eamon said he did not vote because he found the choices too depressing. Eamon said he's disgusted with the "taxpayer be damned" attitude of Massachusetts' "dishonest inept career politicians." He is also annoyed that his polling place has been changed from Liberty School to Van Sickle. Later on the news we learned that Shannon O'Brien won the Democrat nomination for governor over Birmingham and Reich. TV40 showed her with Ted Kennedy and her running mate Chris Gabrielli before a cheering crowd. They also showed disappointed supporters of Tom Birmingham at the Van Horn Spa downtown. Mitt Romney's choice for running mate Kerry Healey won handily over Jim Rappaport.

September 19, 2002

64 degrees at 7:30, sunny.

Foster Memorial Church is installing a lawn sprinkling system and Trinity Church has scaffolding up on the east front to put on a new roof. The original roof was slate, but will the new roof be slate? This evening a special event was held for the second anniversary of Donovan's Irish Pub in the Eastfield Mall but I didn't go.

I was working in the attic today and boy was Mother a prudent saver. Aunt Maria saved junk but Mother saved good and I am the same with all my books and collections. So my object in going through the attic is to toss junk that is worthless and save stuff of significance by giving it away, incorporating it into my diary or whatever. Today I found a bag of seven dollhouse rugs made by Aunt Jennie. I also came upon one of my childhood treasures, my Swiss music box. I got it for Christmas from my parents in the 1950's and it came in an ivory box. Also came upon a plastic soldier pin once given to me by Mrs. Betty Hayes who lived next door at 43 Crest Street before the Mahers. Such pins are now valuable.

Barb Lucia called from Bank of Western Mass and said my Federal Home Mortgage bond has been called and I'll be getting $60,300. Today at 10:12am I headed to Price Rite on Boston Road and bought two coconuts, two cantaloupes, a bag of oranges and some broccoli crowns. I also bought a large tub of Can't Believe It's Not Butter margarine for $1.19.

I went looking for postcards at Pioneer Auction this afternoon. It is about a thousand feet over the Amherst/Sunderland line on the left side of 116, a modern industrial building with a small parking lot. I recognized owner Bruce Smebakken as one of the postcard dealers I've dealt with at the Expo Antique Shows who has always given me a good deal. Pioneer has a modern, gallery like auction room with track lighting and tables of books in the back. There were a lot of books but none that I wanted. Alas they had no postcards of courthouses. My friend Robert T. Brown was there looking at old magazines. They have a glass case complex for small items and in the hallway is a display of framed auction posters. They have Longmeadow quality restrooms and overall it is a much more swanky place than Stanton's in Hampden.

Kathleen E. Grady is the Democratic candidate for State Representative in the 2nd Hampden District. Eamon called and said he always gives his mailman a present for Christmas and often offers him some soda in the summer. He said two giant dumpsters were filled with junk from the house at the corner of Tacoma and Liberty recently vacated by several Puerto Rican families. Eamon said he found some 1994 Union-News circulation figures. Their circulation then was 106,000 and now it is 92,000, a loss of 14,000 subscribers in eight years. They are building a new press but if this decline continues what will they print?

We talked about the primary election results and we both agreed that it was noble for R. Reich to rush over on election night to offer Shannon O'Brien his congratulations and endorsement. Eamon says he's pleased by how Bulger-boy Birmingham "got his clock cleaned." I asked about that phrase and he said it's an old navy term meaning "to be badly defeated." We mentioned how Rep. Ben Swan won re-election but at age 69 how many more times will he run? Eamon said he knows Swan's sister Delois Swan who lost a leg to diabetes and had a federally funded job in education.

Eamon's latest phone editorial says that of Springfield's public employees the only ones besides public safety who do any meaningful work are "some clerks and custodians." The rest are "going through the motions, killing time taking numerous breaks, two hour lunches and rarely putting in more than four hours work for eight hours pay, waiting for Friday, vacations and early retirement." He said this occurs on top of the "outright stealing, kickbacks, payoffs, influence peddling involving community development loans, liquor licenses, rigged bids and city contracts."

September 20, 2002

67 degrees at 7am. Virtually no color in the trees yet. Gas $1.55 at Sunoco.

Infatuation with sports perpetuates failure because too many get suckered into aspiring to become sports stars and not making something else of themselves they might succeed at.

George Pease lived in Chester, Massachusetts in 1885. A.A. Mills was a wholesale dealer in kerosine oil in Pittsfield in 1886. Irene M. Walinski of Monson has died at the age of 70. Her daughter Helen A. Walinski was the assistant principal when I substituted at Minnechaug in Wilbraham in the early 1980's. Attendance is down at the Big E this year because of the weather. Bernie's Appliance is having a 55th Anniversary sale. They never pick up the litter in front of their store in 16 Acres.

I drove back out to Pioneer Auction and bought some postcards and a book about Nantucket. It appears to be precisely 35 miles up there. It's 20 miles to Northampton on I-91 and the Route 9 turnoff, ten miles across the Hadley plains to 116, then five miles up to Pioneer right over the Amherst line. I arrived at 10:40 and outside there was a man from Pittsfield carrying boxes of books to his van. He said searching for rare books is like "panning for gold." I said that Pittsfield must be a good location to operate out of because of its proximity to the Albany market. However he said he deals mostly with Wilmington, Vermont.

Once inside Joe Savarese assisted me and was helpful in looking up prices. I asked if I could walk around and he said there is no previewing of shows so I didn't get to snoop on the big presentation room. I'll have to go in by the big truck door by mistake sometime. For Eamon I bought a John Boyle O'Reilly postcard and one of the S.S. James Longstreet in Cape Cod Bay dated 1978.

For $100 I bought a portion of the Mrs. Albert H. Barnes Postcard Collection. Interesting names and addresses appear on the back of the cards, such as one to Hayden F. Cleveland, 768 Belmont Avenue, Springfield dated 1923. Mrs. Barnes herself apparently lived in Wildemere Heights in Ashfield, Massachusetts. Also appearing are cards sent from Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Snow of Ashfield in 1945 and George Lesure of Ashfield in 1946. The complete set of this collection would have told an interesting story of an Ashfield social scene from the 1920's through the 1940's, but unfortunately what I bought is only a fragment and the whereabouts of the rest of the collection is unknown, probably broken up in order to sell the most rare cards individually for top dollar.

After I left and was going back down Route Nine I decided to stop at the Hampshire Mall. I recall that it was a special place when it first opened and architecturally it is still new. But many shops are vacant and such things as military recruitment centers are among the still occupied storefronts. I stopped in the food court to buy a broccoli and tomato pizza for $2.89. It was large but seemed like it may have been warmed over from yesterday. I asked the young fellow at the counter whether the mall ever comes alive and he said sometimes on weekends but otherwise mostly dead. There was a big information booth at the Hampshire Mall with nobody attending it but with lots of literature including a brochure about the Conte Wildlife Refuge. Arrived back in Springfield at 12:45 according to the digital clock over Boland Way. There were protestors across from Tower Square waving signs demanding an end to the drug war.

Eamon called and said that Springfield isn't too bad a place to live if you are on the Albano Administration payroll making $95,000 a year plus thousands more for so called consulting contracts. Eamon says community policing has not significantly reduced crime in Springfield nor addressed the underlying problems of organized crime and political corruption. He said that Providence and Springfield have a well deserved reputation for political corruption and the mayors of both cities have a lot in common.

September 22, 2002

70 degrees at 8am. A nice but warm day.

Lovely to look at
Delightful to hold
But if you break it
Then it is sold.

- Professor James D. Corliss, Amherst College

Religion is the reason we hate our neighbors. Ramsey Clark was in Iraq and said he thinks a U.S. attack would be a violation of morality and international law.

Today is Bruce Springsteen's birthday. Hartford had its Gay Pride Celebration in Bushnell Park. The daily lottery will now be available on Sundays as well as the rest of the week. McCory was on TV saying the Big E provides "education and recreation." I wonder if he knows that concept goes back to Horace? The Big E provides 1700 jobs. Today is Springfield Day at the Big E (tomorrow is Chicopee Day) with free tickets for school children provided they go after school.

Margaret Stagliarini is the IRA Supervisor and Beverly A. Walz is a Service Representative for the Western Mass Telephone Workers Credit Union. There was an obituary for Kathleen M. Moynihan (1925-2002) in the paper but I don't know if she was any relation to my mysterious neighbor Colleen. I agree with the sentiments of a letter in the paper from Keith Korbut, a founding member of the Duryea Transportation Society Museum. He said the Duryea Society had "hoped to be a part of the riverfront tourism complex as another stop for the people coming to see the new Basketball Hall of Fame." He added, "The Society has been struggling since 1993 to get the city to recognize its rich history in transportation - namely the first American automobile along with other inventions related to transportation."

I feel the old York Street jail should be made into a museum of some sort. The Duryea Museum is good but small and lacks really distinctive stuff like a trolly or a Wauseon railroad car. It does have pictures and a lot of little things but I suspect no one visited them over the Tavern and not getting into the York Street jail building is a disappointment after they worked so hard. Maybe they could take over the old Hall of Fame building?

I worked a while in the attic today and tossed out all of Mother's old make-up except for a couple of samples. While working I listened to WSPR and the music show hosted by Steve Cirillo. Mother had saved a plastic bag of six change purses, each with a penny inside. I also found two colored metallic tokens of a shamrock encircled by "Good Luck" with the green one reading "Ambrose Cubby Bear" and the other "Floppy Wabbit Esq." I am sticking them in my urn. Also found figurines of Benjamin Franklin and Ronald McDonald and some exquisitely beautiful dishes from Two Guys that Mother purchased and then stored away. I have completed my minimum objectives in the attic, even sponged down the stairs, but a lot of the clearing out remains to be done.

Dickie Nichols, now stooped over at the shoulders like Julia Child, was out on his rider mower picking up the lawn. Mudry also mowed his lawn this morning. Allard came along and we chatted. He said Bradley's jeep was stolen out of his driveway and the person across the street had the wheels stolen off their car. Arrived at Louis & Clark just as a mail truck was about to leave so I gave my letters personally to the driver of truck 0204054 at 4:06pm. My letters were for Gendron, Kerr, Johnson, Lucia, Michaud and Jendryzik. The parking lot was filled with cars and a big crowd was at Sophia's Sports Bar. I looked in the window and it was packed with WNEC kids standing around talking and drinking.

The new Springfield Journal is out with a Fran Gagnon article on the Big E but not on the front page. Gagnon has finally been cubbyholed. No Gormally and no more poetry by Sibilia. The much touted Connecticut Woman's All-Star Classic at the Civic Center had to be cancelled because the hockey ice under the basketball floor was sending up moisture that condensed on the floor and they couldn't keep the floor dry. Hurwitz was on the news saying, "I have no comfort level that the floor would be safe." It will be rescheduled but the whole incident is a major embarrassment for the Springfield Civic Center.

September 24, 2002

68 degrees at 1:10pm. Sunny, a beautiful day.

If wishes were horses
Beggars would ride.
If turd was plum pudding
I'd eat til I died.
If wishes were fishes
We'd all have a fry.

Al Gore is in the news criticizing Bush and Tony Blair, saying that foreign nations have "distrust and fear of U.S. foreign policy." The postal service has announced that there will be no more postal increases until 2004. Well, bully, that's only two years away! We used to go ten years between postal increases.

The Affiliated Chamber of Commerce of Greater Springfield held a breakfast at the Log Cabin and Richard Moriarty of Moriarty & Primack gave the Chamber Outlook speech for the 2002-2003 season. I don't recall ever seeing my Father run. I sometimes run to cross streets or catch buses so I can still run, sort of.

The big event today was taking the bus downtown to deposit my big check from my matured Federal Home Mortgage bond that came in the mail yesterday. I went out to the bus stop this morning at 6:45am and the moon was just sinking under the horizon as the sun was rising. A woman in a tan vehicle tooted her horn at me and waved as she headed towards the Acres. Who was she?

There were a lot of school buses on the road. When I got on the bus (the fare was 75 cents) there was already on the bus a black kid who got off at Duggan Middle School, a fat white working woman in a purple top, a fat young white fellow sitting in the very back corner and a slim Puerto Rican male sitting on the side. Then a white male got on and at Duggan a white woman with a kid carrying an enormous teddy bear got on. I told the woman that I have a teddy bear named Honey Pot and would never carry him around except for special occasions for fear he would get worn out and I couldn't endure that. She smiled and acknowledged that her child's teddy bear is getting worn.

At Truman Circle two black women got on and I noticed as we passed Watershops that gas is now $1.49. Riding down Wilbraham Road I recalled how I used to walk to and from Homer Street School every day and how rundown all the houses have become. A few have been kept up but most are indeed dumps. Eleven people (all black but two) got on at Fernbank and two blacks got on at Adams Park. Two got on the corner before the Motocycle apartment complex and fourteen plus the teddy bear got off at Commerce. I got off at 7:22 at the corner of State and Main where a cop was standing in the entranceway of the old Masonic Temple.

A brass plaque for Rousseau Bros Inc. has been embedded in new pavement by the Springfield Civic Center. On the Court Square Building a Birmingham for Governor sign is still in the third floor window. At the First Church corner on Court Square is a sign that says "Court House Barber Shop - Since 1892" with a red arrow pointing down Court House Walk. The Civic Pub has a sign on the front door: "No Public Restrooms." In a trash can along Main I found an issue of The Catholic Observer addressed to Anthony Ravosa.

In the old Five Cent Savings Bank building is a new City Jewelry and Young's Beauty Supply, both black businesses I guess. The banner in front of Sovereign Bank says "Totally Free Checking." The clock in front of the old Third National Bank now Harrison Place (owned by Picknelly) is being repaired with wires sticking out the top of the pole. I took a leak in Tower Square and their washroom sinks are now working. Do I get a thank you for calling the problem to their attention the last time I was there?

Gus & Paul's was open with a few customers but the Dunkin Donuts had over a dozen customers standing in line. Upstairs at the Picnic Court nothing was open yet. Edwards Books was open with one customer. Henry and Robert Tessier the architects are in where WNEC used to be. The antique place had some nice 50's and 60's furniture but their inventory is getting thin. Brickwork outside the Federal Building (where Neal's office is) is falling apart and graffiti has been sprayed on the building itself. The Springfield Parking Authority has a big sign out front saying "Happy Birthday! SPA is 20 Years Old!" The SPA was a creation of Gordon Oakes and has been a millstone around the neck of downtown to this day.

So I stopped at City Jake's Cafe and ordered breakfast for $2.89 consisting of two slices of buttered wheat toast, two scrambled eggs and a cup of tea. The owner/cook is impeccably polite and cheerful, moves fast and apparently is an avid fisherman from the wall decorations. When I left I saw a young Latino tying the laces of his bright red sneakers. I said, "Your shoes look real nice," and he looked puzzled but thanked me.

There were two chubby Puerto Rican women dressed in red standing in front of the Peter Pan bus terminal. Cop car #11 was pulled up in front with a white male cop in the driver's seat. Inside I inquired about the bus rates and for all bus tickets they want a picture ID and $20 for one-way to Boston and $10 for a round trip to Northampton. The Peter Pan memorabilia that was on the wall of the terminal McDonald's appears to have been stolen. There were more customers at the terminal's Dunkin Donuts than the McDonald's. The Terminal Garden is still there and kept up with a Statue of Liberty, a waterfall and flowers. Quite pretty. The whole inside of the terminal is various shades of green. There was an old poster behind glass for "Opening Day May 31 Dr. Seuss Memorial."

I left Peter Pan and went across the street to the Springfield Newspapers building. They have a video player inside showing work underway on their new press. They have a new reception desk with a pleasant black lady sitting behind it, the old cage with a hole in the window by the door is no longer in use. I stopped at the Telephone Worker's Credit Union to deposit my $60,000 check and then went back to wait for the bus in front of the bus terminal.

Suddenly I noticed Springfield Newspapers President David Starr coming along Main Street, no doubt on his way to his daily lunch at The Fort. He spotted me but quickly looked to the left to avoid making eye contact so I yelled out, "Hi there Dave! Have a nice lunch!" Starr looked over at me, smiled nervously and replied "Thank you" as he strode on by.

September 26, 2002

Heavily overcast and 64 degrees first thing.

War is not the answer. President Bush wants to put a Latino on the Supreme Court but liberal Hispanics are expressing fear that Bush would nominate "our Clarence Thomas."

Due to losses in its endowment, Boston University was the only major college to report a deficit in overall finances to the IRS this year. President John Silber said he would make cuts: "The budget has got at least $25 million of fat - just plain fat." The Valley Advocate has an article by Maureen Turner critical of both Mike Albano and Shannon O'Brien.

Today is the 70th birthday of Canadian composer Glenn Gould. The Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge, Massachusetts is having its Octoberfest Beer Dinner on October 11th. The bands "Seeking Homer" and "Suspect" are appearing at Fat Cats in Springfield tonight. A great Beetle Bailey today: General Halftrack is shown getting mad at his computer; then he is shown going to the closet where his old typewriter has been dumped and saying, "I miss you."

Mail came at 2:31 and I saw Kelly walking the little guy along the inside of the hedge. American Philological Association newsletter came and I see that Mary Kay Gamel made a gift in honor of Peter Westervelt. Dropped off reading material for the Penniman's, the Cohn's and Mrs. Staniski and then swung by the Pine Point Library and over to Angelo's Fruit and Vegetable Market. Then headed to the Boston Road Big Y where I bought some Marie Callender items. I like their products, with the Turkey with Gravy Complete Dinner being my favorite. However their lasagna doesn't have anywhere near enough tomato sauce so I always add some. Dined on Stouffer's veal cutlet dinner today, tomorrow will be LaChoy chicken chow mein.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein and the Libertarians are complaining that they didn't get invited to the debate between the candidates for Governor Tuesday night. They claimed they were told they would be included after the primary but were not. Acting Governor Jane Swift is balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly by cutting funding on home care even though nursing home care is ten times more expensive. This evening there is a invitation only reception at the new Basketball Hall of Fame so all the big shots can get a preview ahead of the riff-raff.

Eamon's latest phone editorial says we ought to have a funeral "for the glory that was once Springfield and what will never be again." Eamon called today and said he was up to the Veteran's Hospital in Leeds for a check-up yesterday. I told him about my trip downtown and to Picknelly's bus station and he expressed surprise when I told him that a round trip to Boston now costs $40. Eamon said that when he worked in the Boston office of the State Department of Education in 1972 a round trip ticket costs $17. Eamon said he is very concerned about the announced closing of Main Music, which he called "the worst retail and cultural blow to Springfield since the closing of Johnson's Bookstore." Eamon decided to call the store and find out the inside information.

The owner is Fred Borelli, and he told Eamon he is not relocating, he is just plain closing. He told Eamon that his CD sales were down 5% last year and another 7% in just the last six months. He described City Hall as insensitive to small businesses, and said the lack of free parking downtown is also a real problem. Borelli went on to say that he grew up with Mayor Albano but whenever they run into each other Albano never has much to say. He said he asked Albano recently what he would like to do if he doesn't seek re-election in 2003 and Albano told him that he wouldn't mind being the warden of the new woman's prison going up in Chicopee. Borelli described downtown as "dead" and said even the entertainment district "doesn't amount to anything except a couple of nights a week." In the news today Westvaco is closing two local factories and Aetna in Hartford is laying off 300. Soon there will be nothing left.

September 27, 2002

Senator E.M. Kennedy gave a speech today at The John Hopkins urging us to follow the lead of the United Nations rather than going to war in Iraq. He said the Bush Administration is saying "preemptive" "regime change" and "nation building" as code words for going to war.

Charles K. Chiode is the editor of Multihulls Magazine in Boston. The newspaper had a special section in it today on the opening of the Basketball Hall of Fame. I called United Cooperative Bank and spoke with Briggs' secretary Jen who confirmed for me that it is Mari Veroneau of Stapleton Road in their commercials. She didn't know if she also does ads for Balise. My newly printed postcards of Hillcrest Cemetery arrived today so I brought some to Hillcrest and presented a handful to Leonard W. Bergeron and Karen A. Cormier. Bergeron's face lit up with a wonderful smile as he thanked me.

The news says that the FBI has raided the Springfield Housing Authority and the home of State Rep. Christopher Asselin, the pompous son of SHA head Ray Asselin. TV40 even featured it ahead of its stories about the new Basketball Hall of Fame. Michael O'Reilly was on speaking for the FBI and Chris Asselin was shown saying that the raid "was without a doubt part of a conspiracy against the Asselin family." Eamon called TV22 to scold them for not carrying the story and Mark Wiernacz told him they would get right on it.

Eamon called today and said it's ridiculous the way Mayor Albano is blaming Governor Swift and the state legislature for the city's bleak financial condition. Albano refuses to admit that it is he and his hack political appointees who are to blame. Eamon also complained that after all the blah, blah, blah in the media about the opening of the new Hall of Fame no local station is covering the opening ceremonies! So I decided to call both 22 and 40 and told them that if they can cover the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Thanksgiving Balloon Parade then they can certainly cover the Hall of Fame opening, especially since many local residents who would have liked to attend were not invited or couldn't get tickets. They said I should call on Monday and tell the station manager, but of course I won't waste my time.

Eamon said that the biggest funeral he can remember in Springfield was for Samuel "Big Nose Sam" Cufari in 1983. He was the local crime boss before Skyball Scibelli. There were 20 cars of flowers and virtually every local politician state and local was there. There were so many people they couldn't get all the attendees into Mt. Carmel Church and there were people left outside on the sidewalk. The line of cars was so long it extended from Main Street to Mass Mutual. Eamon knew Cufari because he dined a lot at Mama Nardi's Happyland Restaurant on Page Boulevard where Eamon was sometimes hired to sing.

Eamon also reminisced about George Simmons, a local jewelry dealer who got into trouble with the mob in the 1960's. Simons had three safes in his home and every day he walked over a route in Springfield that took him to visit and trade with all the downtown jewelry dealers. He sometimes would sell out of his house by appointment. One day some gangsters out of Providence made arrangements to come over. When they arrived Simons wife served coffee and the safes were opened so that he could show them his jewelry. They were all casually chatting when suddenly the mobsters jumped up, tied up Simons and his wife, cleaned out the three safes and departed. They made quite a haul because Simons sold larger diamonds and had better grade jewelry than any other dealer in Springfield. Some say that Simons refused to offer the mob discount prices for his jewelry, which is why they decided to take it all for free.

September 28, 2002

Misty at 6:45am. Gas is $1.39 at Breckwood Sunoco.

The Public gets what it deserves.

A new commercial for Tower Square/Baystate West: "While in Springfield check out Tower Square! There's something for everyone - something for you!" There was also a great commercial for Harley Davidson on TV last night. It shows an old man sitting on a porch talking about how he always dreamed of getting a Harley and talking about the great aspects of riding such as the wind blowing in his face. Then somebody asks about his bike and he replies that he never got it, instead he spent the money on aluminum siding for his house! In general commercials are improving, becoming more like European commercials which have always been better than the American stuff.

Hillcrest Cemetery, Mausoleum and Crematory was established in 1924. Northampton Mayor Mary Clare Higgins' hair was dyed purple yesterday, the result of a promise Higgins had made to the Pride Zone if the drop in center could raise $10,000. The Tuesday Morning Music Club, the oldest musical organization in Springfield will celebrate its 100th Anniversary with a piano concert by The Long Duo in the Griswold Theater of Performing Arts at American International College. Dick Nichols was out working on his shrubs today.

Headed out to the Pioneer Auction this afternoon. On Breckwood Boulevard there was a DIVORCE SALE sign on somebody's lawn, a new kind of tag sale! The ride out to Pioneer was pleasant and soothing to the soul. The sale they were having had no catalog and included bells without handles, antique kerosine lamps and old tools (they had a hay rake just like Mother's). What caught my eye however was a beautiful wooden Indian. I asked the auctioneer in a light blue shirt about it and he said it's a 20th century Indian whose base has been replaced which detracts from its value. Such Indians range in value from two to seven thousand dollars, but I figured this one to be low end so I bid $2,200. I also bid on a box of gravestone rubbings and an old black and gold sign reading, "Springfield Union Sold Here." I ended up with the winning bid only on the Indian, which they will be delivering to my house in the coming days.

On my way out I paid $1.25 for a piece of blueberry crumb cake. Going home I took the back road turning off in Hadley for South Hadley and took 33 to Chicopee Falls. As I drove through Springfield I drove past Jeff the Framer who had no customers. Going past the new Hall of Fame I saw they had a big tent set up in the parking lot. There are McDonald's and Rebock trademarks on the outside south side of the Hall. There were pink breast cancer awareness ribbons along Wilbraham Road. The total distance back is approximately 62 miles. The mail was very late today and I got a charming letter from Shirley Lucia about Gendron and Ruth. Also got the Autumn Springfield Library and Museums Quarterly with the widow of Dr. Seuss on the cover.

Eamon called and said the paper has an article today about how the Business Improvement District is going to spend $80,000 to fix up the Harrison and Main Triangle that I have complained in the past about having too many weeds in it. We both agree the work can be done for less than $5,000, which means some politically connected contractor is going to make a pretty profit. Eamon said he heard attendance at the grand opening of the Basketball Hall of Fame was well below expectations.

The Asselin scandal is all over the paper. Albano should be embarrassed by it, this kind of publicity is not good for economic development. State Representative Christopher Asselin said, "I fully believe this is a political vendetta." Asselin won his seat in the 9th Hampden District in 2000 after he unseated incumbent Jack J. Keough (cousin of Frankie).

Another major scandal is breaking as Kathleen B. Pellegrino (mother of Raipher) has been exposed as officially retiring from the Springfield Parking Authority but continuing to work so that she can collect two salaries. An outrageous example of greedy double dipping! Amazingly she was on the news insisting she is a victim of sexism, claiming that male city employees have double-dipped for years and never been criticized. When the reporter asked if she thought the practice was fair to the taxpayers, it was obvious from the surprised expression on her face that the interests of the public had never occurred to her before.

September 30, 2002

WFCR said 57 degrees in Amherst at 7:06am.

Life's a jest
And all things show it
I thought so once
And now I know it!

Bob Buckeye is the Special Collections Librarian at Middlebury College in Vermont. The Black Lantern Antiques and Country Store Museum is in Charlemont, Massachusetts. Pawn shops are increasingly relying on eBay to tell them how much to pay for stuff and what to sell it for. Mother kept a portable TV in the kitchen that was never used and is still in mint condition. I have absolutely no use for it so I put it in the trash. Too bad.

When I looked outside this morning I found a Harvard bag left by my door with magazines and cookies in it indicating that Mrs. Staniski had been by. Then Atty. E. Berman called and asked me if my lawsuit is something I am pressing as a matter of principle. When I replied yes he said, "If you're going to do something do it right and get competent council, somebody with experience breaking wills." I asked who that might be and he replied, "Go see Efrem Gordon this afternoon, I will call and tell him I am sending you."

But first I drove out to Stanton's Auction by Tinkham and Stony Hill Road. Part of the fence is down in front of the Stusick place. Stanton had lots of oriental rugs for sale, an iron stove and an antique coffee grinder, but nothing I wanted to bid on. Then I drove downtown and parked in front of the Baptist Church on Salem Street and walked down the hill to Berman's office to pick up the legal papers I gave him and left him one of my new Hillcrest Cemetery postcards.

Next I cut through City Hall and went to Attorney Gordon's office, which is in the front corner window of the 4th floor of 101 State Street. The office itself is full of antique furniture, statues, oil paintings and dim lighting that gives the office the air of a museum. After a short wait Efrem let me in to see him. He is a very old man, incredibly polite, a real gentleman in every sense. We discussed my case and he told me to go home and "list every fact in sight" about the case and bring it to him tomorrow. He agreed to take the case for a $10,000 deposit. On the way back coming up Hillman I saw a book lying in the middle of the Chestnut intersection. I pulled over and picked it up, it was I'm Not Really Here by Tim Allen (1996). A couple of cops parked nearby saw me so I went over to show it to them. They said look inside and see if there's any money in it so I gave it a good shake but alas, nothing.

When I got home Eamon called and said that a city truck drove down his street carrying a load of leaves and when they parked by his house a lot of the leaves fell into the street. Eamon went out to complain and the driver said, "Don't worry about it, the wind will take care of it." He will call the DPW and complain. Eamon said that only 14,000 people have come to the new Basketball Hall of Fame since it opened on Wednesday, about half of the 25,000 they originally estimated.

I told Eamon about Efrem and Eamon said he's known Gordon since the 1980's and agreed he is an incredible gentleman. Eamon said he is also one of the most respected lawyers in the city who collects antique cars and who used to have a place in Hampden where the garage was bigger than his house.

Rep. Christopher P. Asselin was recently promoting his brother James at the Statehouse, hoping to get his suddenly unemployed sibling a job. Jimmy Asselin lost his job in June after it was revealed that he and his sidekick James F. Krzystofik were siphoning consulting fees and luxurious travel expenses from a taxpayer funded program they oversaw that came to be known as "The Jimmy Fund." Jimmy Asselin has also been seeking consulting jobs with local non-profit agencies.