5/16/13

January 2002

January 2, 2002

Sunny all morning, 32 degrees at 12:15pm.

Didn't open any sherry New Year's, but had several cups of eggnog plus some cashews and chips. I also changed the calendars and did a bit of picking up.

Former televangelist Jim Baker is 63 today. Kenneth J. Vacovec is President of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, "Lawyers Keeping the Promise of Justice." Expo head G. Wayne McCary has been inducted into the International Association of Fairs and Expositions Hall of Fame. Friendly's has been named 58th out of the top 500 franchises by Entrepreneur Magazine. Friendly's has 161 franchises and 393 company owned stores. They are also in the top half of the 100 fastest growing franchise organizations. I'm currently reading Gill Hale on Feng Shui, which talks a lot about gardens.

I called Ruth Johnson yesterday to wish her a Happy New Year. She said she was about to watch the parade after she clears off the table, no doubt said as a hint not to talk too long. I thanked her for her interest in Aunt Maria and she said my cousin Shirley "takes good care of her." That inspired me to call Western Mass Hospital. I got the nurse Teresa who told me that Aunt Maria is "okay, I'm getting her up right now." I said tell her that her nephew called and that I wish her a Happy New Year.

Also yesterday I watched the 113th Rose Bowl Parade featuring Grand Marshall Regis Philbin. It was hosted on NBC by Nancy O'Dell and weatherman Al Roker. My favorite float was the Burbank Jitterbugs with humorously personified insects, a wide variety of flowers and red and white spotted mushrooms. I also liked the Coast Guard float featuring a family of rabbits that they said reflects the "optimism, fun and imagination of America's indomitable spirit." The Goodyear blimp flew by with a digital sign on the bottom of it offering holiday greetings. There was a giant drum in the parade called The Big Boom and Ivory Soap had a float of a baby in a bathtub. The Dr. Pepper float featured the Rockin Rollers and another featured 46 different kinds of roses. It was a nice parade but I think shorter than last year and with fewer floats. As the parade becomes more slick and professional it is also becoming less interesting.

The Rooke brothers Greg and Chris do our neighborhood paper route. Today I went to Fancy That on Sumner Avenue and bought an antique green glass lamp for $300. The guy working there told me they do a lot of their business on the internet these days. He also told me that the antique shop on Boland Way may be closing soon. I received an invitation in the mail to the inauguration of Mayor Albano but don't intend to go. I also received a CD of patriotic music from Paul Caron for my contribution to his failed mayoral campaign. I called Karen Powell at her cell phone number. She sounded down, and reported that she had received nothing from Caron since the election.

Eamon called and said that Jim Landers is afraid he'll lose his job at STCC. Eamon said that toward the end of its days in use as a jail, York Street had constant problems with its boilers. Eamon also recalled how Tommy O'Connor had a printing press at one time and used to do printing for his own campaigns and others. Eamon says its insane that Springfield had 358 student suspensions last year, while the massive Boston School System had only 180. He claims that's proof that the Springfield School System is out of control. Eamon said it is sad how the few informed voters in Springfield are far outnumbered by an ignorant, misinformed majority.

Eamon said he's heard that there are problems at the Police Department with cops taking drugs from the evidence room. He said District Attorney Bennett has been informed but is trying to cover it up. Eamon said Springfield needs someone like Holyoke Police Chief Anthony Scott to come in and clean up the department. Finally Eamon said the FBI told him that it won't be long before the indictments come down, but that it has been delayed because Congressman Richard Neal contacted the Justice Department and asked that the unveiling of the indictments be put off until after the holidays out of consideration for the families of the accused.

January 4, 2002

Sunny and 26 degrees at 7am. Gas is $1.06 at Breckwood.

Osama bin Laden has released a New Year's message saying, "God willing, the end of America is near." A major earthquake has hit northern Afghanistan and adjacent Pakistan. God is Great, Praise be to Allah! Former President Clinton's dog Buddy was run over by a car. Why didn't Clinton have it on a leash? The Methodist Church has suffered financially in the post 9/11 recession. WFCR is celebrating Mozart's birthday all month. Springfield is 18th in AIDS cases in the nation. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has made cuts in AIDS funding. Melinda Phelps is leaving the Police Commission. The news says there will be more renovations at the City Library. I wish they would put a balcony up in Wellman Hall.

Dympna Minnock is Director of Development for the Irish American Partnership in Boston. Verizon worker Laurie Bertera of Agawam has a letter in the paper praising her co-worker Jason Corey for administering first aid to Medal of Honor winning Officer Carlo P. D'Amato when he was injured last year. Corey's role was completely omitted from Larry McDermott's article about the incident. M.P. Chevrette of South Hadley also has a letter urging people to continue to donate blood in the wake of 9/11.

The former SIS turned First Mass has been renamed again to Bank North because First Mass didn't catch on. The local Salvation Army kettle drive was down this year to $55,000 in donations from $61,000 last year. The news says there are concerns that kids on welfare aren't getting enough care for their teeth. I say why don't the parents teach their kids to brush their teeth? I recall that at Homer Street School we were taught proper teeth brushing with demonstrations. My my, it's another picture of Frances M. Gagnon in the paper today. Fancy that! This time it's because she has an antique Santa image that is identical to the one used by the U.S. Post Office for their annual Christmas stamp.

(click to enlarge)

Kelly has her Christmas lights still up. I dropped off some magazines at the Cohn's and left the Boston Herald at the Penniman's. I handed the magazines to Mrs. Cohn, who has lost her former cheerfulness. I noticed they now have a little flag of Israel propped up in the back window of their car like so many others have with American flags. Went down to the Quadrangle and got some free books, including Public Enemies by John Walsh and Son of a Grifter by Kent Walker. As I left I saw Guy McLain, who cheerfully greeted me. He didn't mention the porno poems I sent him. For lunch I went to Donovan's Pub in the Eastfield Mall for fish and chips. I got a big pile of fries, a really good filet of fish and some fresh but unexciting cole slaw. I also had water with a slice of lemon and a side order of onion rings. I ended up bringing most of the fries and onion rings home. On my way out of the mall I was given a freebie in the form of a plastic food container manufactured in Leominster, Massachusetts. As I drove off the parking lot was about full.

They say you can't kill music and you can't kill art, but Springfield has done a pretty good job. Eamon called and said he has two teddy bears sitting at opposite ends of his porch. Eamon claims that Springfield compares very poorly with Northampton, which is recognized as the number one small arts town in America. Northampton has more gourmet restaurants, art galleries, bookstores, fashion boutiques, museums and theaters than most cities many times its size. Eamon says that Springfield's city planners are just "spinning their wheels" as long as Springfield has third rate schools, high crime and a poor quality of life environment. Eamon said his cousin former Election Commissioner James "Deezer" Sullivan has hired former Mayor Ted Dimauro to sue the city regarding his discharge. I always found Deezer to be a friendly, efficient, totally satisfactory individual.

Eamon says that most people don't realize that Councilor Brian Santaniello and Mayor Albano are cousins. Eamon told me that he received a lovely thank you note for the money he sent to the family of murdered teacher Theodore Brown from Mrs. Joyce P. Brown of Russell Street. Eamon said that Jim Landers has a friend who is a retired Water Department employee who worked for the city for 30 years. He was passed over for a final promotion by Mayor Albano in favor of a political hack. Lander's friend knew every water valve in the city, so as revenge he destroyed a lot of important plans and records, took some expensive department tools and may have been responsible for the recent water main breaks at the New North School and on Main Street.

January 6, 2002

Overcast, 34 degrees at 9am.

I woke up in the middle of the night.

In Florida a 15 year old boy Chris Bishop flew a plane into a law office on the the 28th floor in an act meant to copy 9/11. The boy left a note expressing support for Osama bin Laden and once again there has been an incident where Bush and the Republicans were caught unprepared. WSPR said that magazines are having a hard time just like newspapers with advertising and subscriptions down. I have noticed that Redbook and and Better Homes and Gardens have shrunken. Barry Kreiger was on TV22 tonight reciting their new motto, "We Won't Waste Your Time." Or is Kreiger on TV40? Frankly I can't keep track of who's on what station, they are both so alike. There was an ad in the paper today from the firm of Cooley Shrair congratulating Atty. Mark D. Mason for being selected as one of the Ten Lawyers of the Year 2001 by the Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly. Atty. Mason is listed as a co-founder and past president of the Gay & Lesbian Civic Association of Greater Springfield.

Sue Lavoie is the Vice President of the Eastern States Exposition. Neighbors Irving and Lenore Cohn has a new American flag flying from the pole in their front yard to go with the new Israeli flag on their car. Dropped off something for President Caprio with the black lady receptionist at WNEC then over to Louis & Clark to put out mail with Cindy. Louis & Clark has a new articulate black pharmacist with braided hair. They have a giant teddy bear for sale for $69. I think Eamon's panda is larger, but the one at Louis & Clark is still bigger than the one at Filene's. Next I drove down Breckwood to Boston Road and up to Bickford's for breakfast. The place was packed.

From there I headed over to Stop & Shop where I saw Lamnoureax but managed to avoid running into him and having to snub him. I bought only the specials and then headed downtown. The Hall of Fame looks finished from the outside and Peter Picknelly's new hotel is well along and the roof is going up. I parked in front of the old York Street Jail, which is looking really rundown, and took some pictures. Pepper's Bar and Grill is the name of the place with the round red awning on State as you go into the city. I arrived at the Quadrangle at 10:50 and I saw there is a hole in the middle of the grass where they are no doubt laying the foundation for the Seuss statues. In the library only a few books were placed out in the giveaway section. On the way back passing through Mason Square via Hancock, the Dunbar Community Center additon looks ultr-modern and the A.I.C. library was closed today.

When I got home the phone rang and when I picked it up there was no voice. So I reversed the call and I got a recorded message for Sprint. I left them a message, "Reaching to answer the phone, which was voiceless, I strained my back and I'm going to see about suing you." I then called Western Mass Hospital to ask about Aunt Maria and I got Mary Jo and inquired about how Mrs. Giroux is doing. She replied, "Your Aunt is doing just fine, and if you want to know more you'll have to ask her nearest relative." I replied, "I am the nearest relative!" However I let it go and wished Mary Jo a Happy New Year.

The mail came at five to noon and it included a brochure for the Springfield Newspapers that was an obvious play on post 9/11 insecurity. It was red, white and blue and said, "You'll feel better knowing the whole story." So I called editor McDermott and left a message on his answering machine. I said sorry Larry, but your readers would not feel better if they knew the whole story about what a bunch of crooks and imbeciles are running this city. I told him when I want the whole story I read the Valley Advocate and if McDermott really wants to know the whole story he should listen to Eamon O'Sullivan. I said Eamon is a lot smarter than you'll ever be, then I wished him a Happy New Year and hung up.

Eamon called to say that Jim Landers told him that Russ Denver is collecting 500 essays from people on why they love Springfield. I said of course I must contribute. Eamon said he spoke with Nader the Hatter this morning. Nader said it has been so chilly down there that he hasn't been able to go swimming and that he and Dorothee are going to an art show in Miami. Eamon said he is writing a letter to the Pulitzer Prize Committee urging them to give no awards to the Springfield Newspapers.

January 7, 2002

Overcast, an inch of snow on the ground. 36 degrees at 4pm.

Sen. Strom Thurmond turned 99 today. Chris Bishop, the kid that flew a plane into a building in Tampa, is being called "a loner" and "a troubled youth." H. Rap Brown, who once said, "Violence is necessary. Violence is as American as apple pie," is going on trial for a violent incident he was involved with in March 2000. The Supreme Court is taking up a case out of Lake Tahoe raising the question: Is regulation of property a taking without compensation? WFCR was interviewing Chuck Zerby, the author of The Devil's Details: A History of Footnotes (Invisible Cities Press). He seemed to think that footnotes began with the invention of printing but hasn't he ever heard of medieval glossatation? There were classical glossators as well. Crossing Over with John Edward, the talk to the dead show that comes on just before TV22 News at Five is such nonsense. It is amazing how easy it is to fool people.

Silly the Clown performed at this year's Festival of Trees put on by the Atheneum Society of Wilbraham. Springfield College is having a Summer Camp Job Fair on February 27 in Moses Hall. C&S Wholesale Grocers in Westfield is hiring warehouse selectors. The revamped train station Worcester opened in 1999 hoping to fill it with restaurants and shops and serve as a transportation center is apparently a flop. How does that reflect on the chances for Union Station in Springfield, which is not as nice as the one in Worcester? Even when identical projects fail elsewhere, Springfield still rushes blindly forward with a copycat version.

Mrs. Staniski and Ann went to NYC last weekend. I submitted my recommendation to the Pioneer Valley Girl Scouts that they give their 2002 Woman of Distinction Award to Maureen Turner. I wrote in part: "Maureen Turner has the guts and persistence to produce hard hitting investigatory journalism. She is a real lady but gets tough when it comes to exposing the messes throughout the valley. Her mother was a teacher in New York City and her father was a NYC cop. She's Irish-Catholic but went to the Quaker school Haverford and has a masters in journalism from North Carolina. Recently married, she now is an editor/reporter for the Valley Advocate where she is one of our valley's most precious female assets, who has the guts to tell things as they are rather than just going along to get along."

Eamon called and said that girls nowadays offer to give a blow job but resist real sex. He says the city's population has fallen from 180,000 to 150,000 since the 1960's because of primarily white families fleeing to the suburbs as the city has declined. Eamon says that there are too many details missing from Officer Carlo D'Amato's story of what happened the night he was attacked and that Larry McDermott needs to do a follow-up article. Eamon recalled how back when David Manning was Sheriff the jail had land in Agawam and they took truckloads of prisoners over there every day to work. John G. Curley succeeded him as Sheriff and made a garden behind the jail where the gym is now situated.

Judy Matt has announced that over 50,000 cars drove through Bright Nights at Forest Park this holiday season. The Mayor's inauguration was today. The TV news said over 2000 students were bused in from the public schools to watch. Albano looked tired and spoke as if he knows a storm is coming. I've been working on my essay for the Why I Love Springfield collection but can't find out where to send it. I called Margie at the Spirit of Springfield but she said try the Chamber Commerce but they also said no. Eamon said he thinks he read about it in The Reminder about a month ago. I won't complete it until I find where to send it but here's a sample of what I've written thus far:

New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger, my kind of Jew, has written that Springfield's new architecture of steel beams, cement pillars and glass boxes is "banal in the extreme." The credit goes to the our Democrat Party controlled city government composed of a City Council that seldom changes with 37 municipal departments, all with highly paid administrators. In just the last year our mayor was cited by the local judiciary for his circumspection in the Northgate Plaza matter, and presently the FBI and State Attorney General are preparing other citations for him and his associates. Our local Newhouse owned newspaper, with their flunky WASP editor out of an Arkansas cow college, can always be counted on to lend proactive support to the status-quo while the Spirit of Springfield spreads good feelings throughout the town.

January 9, 2002

Clear and sunny, 29 degrees at 8:45am.

Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's, has died. President Bush spoke at Boston Latin today and was introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy. Robert Reich has announced that he is running for Governor of Massachusetts. Bishop Law in Boston has announced a "zero tolerance" policy towards priestly sexual misconduct, saying that past cases "were handled in a manner that would not be acceptable under current policies." Weatherman Tom Bevacqua, whom I usually like, was so characteristic of TV news when he came on with a teaser asking, "Is arctic air on the way? I'll let you know when I get back." Then 22 minutes later he finally says, "Temperatures will not reflect arctic cold."

Had chopped onions, potatoes and beets for lunch. I buy too much food, especially veggies, and it goes bad. Went to Louis & Clark this morning to put out the mail and ran into Fred Whitney, whom I recognized from a distance by the part of his hair. We had a friendly chat. He said his wife is in constant pain and he's thinking of giving up his job with the Republican Party so that he can spend more time caring for her. We agreed that the Republicans probably won't win the governorship this year if Jane Swift is the candidate, even with Patrick Guerriero as her rather nice gay running mate. I said that Bush has handled post 9/11 better than I thought he would, and he smiled at that. However, Whitney said he isn't sure Bush can win re-election and that he still wishes that John McCain had won the nomination. I told him that Arabia is for the Arabs and we should get the hell out of there. He smiled but I don't think he agreed.

I went to the York Street Jail Open House today. I wore my boots, orange jumpsuit, biker jacket and spiked doggie collar and parked right in front of the Sheriff's house. There were about 30 people at the event, including Karen Powell and Sheila McElwaine, who was wearing leather gloves. They said they had just come from the Valley Press Club Luncheon featuring Chief Anthony Scott of Holyoke. Dick Provo was showing them around along with Heidi Holland and Stanley Krahala from Longmeadow.

The Great Entrance Hall of the jail had a lovely wooden roof, balconies and four wooden pillars. There is a badly worn seal of Hampden County in the middle of the floor of the Great Hall. I soon encountered Sam Calvanese and Bob Bonavita, who were reserved at first but ultimately friendly. Katie from the Purchasing Department made each of us sign a release in case we got hurt on the premises. Some cells were locked, others not and some had the property of former occupants still in them such as a cereal dish and toothbrush. Francis Gagnon was there and I gave her a postcard for which she thanked me politely. She told me that the fence in front of the jail was once located at Court Square in the 1850's but was later moved to the jail. I asked Gagnon if she had ever seen a postcard of the jail but she said no. I informed her that I have several.

Soon Mayor Albano arrived, beaming brightly and being polite to everyone, including me. The Mayor said he loved my orange jumpsuit and said I "added life to the party." Ellen Chang from TV22 was there. Union-News Editor Wayne Phaneuf greeted me in a friendly way. Union-News photographer Michael S. Gordon was there snapping a lot of pictures. I introduced myself to newscaster Dave Madsen and he snarled something about "we've met before." Francis Gagnon delivered a speech on the history of the jail which was okay. She spoke of the last execution at the jail in 1898, where "everybody that was anybody" was invited and paper was put on the windows so that the uninvited couldn't look in. The Mayor also spoke briefly.

We went up to the attic area and there were rooms with windows and a sloping roof that might make good artist's studios. As we passed through the G cellblock on the 2nd floor of the Columbus Avenue side photographer Gordon took an individual photograph of everyone who passed through the entrance. When it was my turn I struck a charming pose but Gordon said, "I'm almost out of film," and didn't take my picture. However, Linda Petrello behind me did get photographed! We continued on to the woman's unit, which was open with no cells, just bunks. Down in the cellar was a library which contained mostly paperbacks. We were warned not not take any of the books as they are city property.

Finally we were escorted to the Sheriff's house, a nice three story building with no stained glass but with a central hallway and ornamental staircase. All of the rooms have been sub-divided to create office spaces, many with fancy black fireplaces. I chatted briefly with Albano by the stairs and mentioned how in the old days the prisoners used to work on a farm in Agawam. Albano said the jail used to own 70 acres there but the land now belongs to the City of Agawam. It was raining when I left after bidding adieu to Powell and McElwaine, and as I was walking through the archway I noticed trying to get by me was none other than Michael Gordon, the Springfield Newspapers photographer who had refused to take my picture. I turned and let him go by as I made a silly little bow and said, "Thank you for giving me the Starr treatment." He snorted with disgust but I had my revenge. Overall, I appraise the jail as being a gorgeous building, beautifully constructed to last by mostly Irish stonemasons.

In the TV news coverage tonight I was shown in some of the crowd shots. Francis Gagnon was interviewed and she suggested the jail be made into a bed and breakfast, which was originally my idea. Eamon called while I was listening to Mozart's 9th Piano Concerto and once again complained about how Carlo Marchetti of Springfield Central got a city retirement even though Springfield Central was not a city agency. Eamon told me he was talking to his friend Marty Cunningham, who was 32 years with the city water department. He told Eamon that there used to be a Water Department Trust Fund but former Mayor Markel changed things so that now water money goes into the General Fund. That allows the city to take money paid for water bills and spend it on other things. Cunningham also told Eamon that people that have retired at full benefits have been hired back as "consultants" such as John Lyons who gets $95,000 as a consultant but "doesn't do much of anything."

Eamon said he called the the Pulitzer Prize office and someone named Budd connected him with the boss Seymour Topping. He said he told Topping all about the Springfield Newspapers and said he would send them McDermott's article on Officer D'Amato as an example of poor journalism filled with factual omissions. Eamon said that one of the reasons that Paul Caron was so cocksure of winning the mayoralty was because he had such enthusiastic support from the Valley Advocate. But Eamon said the people who elected Albano don't read papers, recalling a study the Springfield Newspapers did years ago that showed that four our of five people in Mason Square and the North End never read a newspaper. Eamon said that newspaper circulation is down all over the city, with Cal's Variety returning unsold more than half the papers they receive. When I mentioned seeing the Mayor today Eamon said he remembered Albano's father the union leader as a "wiseguy wannabe" who always wore dark glasses.

January 10, 2002

37 degrees and sunny at 8am. Gas is $1.09 at Watershops Pond both sides.

New candidate for Governor Robert Reich says there is a vacuum of leadership in the state and I agree. Reich is probably the best man, especially compared to the mainstream Democrats or Jane Swift. I noticed for the first time today that Brenda Garton's medical reports on TV22 are sponsored by the Mercy Health Center.

Called about Aunt Maria and nurse Gerri said she is fine. I then called Philip Dromey directly at Economic Development and told him that a jail museum is a popular idea but wouldn't work for York Street. I said they should have long ago stuck a notice in the Journal of the National Trust because they would reach people all over the world who might have experience reusing jails, but those people would never be reached by their current marketing methods. Eamon said I shouldn't have bothered to contact the city planners because I am completely over their head. Besides, he said that they may already have a developer in mind with inside connections and all this search process may be just for show.

PaineWebber called today despite my telling them never to call me again. It was a young woman named Ann Lind who invited me to a free dinner at the Delaney House to discuss investment opportunities. I told her that A.G. Edwards is my broker and she replied that my name was supplied to her by her bosses Michael Ashe and Senior Vice President Mitch John. She asked what I do and I said I'm a lawyer who also deals in antiquities such as rare books. She asked what books, so I told her I have a first edition of John Brown's autobiography that tells of his days in Springfield. She asked who John Brown was and I told her he fought for the rights of blacks, to which she responded, "I'm not black, you know." I hung up on her. They always call during the supper news.

This morning there were no Valley Advocates at Louis & Clark. I drove down to the City Library and got some free books, including World War II: The Whole Story by Phillip Warner (1989). On the way back I swung by the Eastfield Mall and picked up the new Valley Advocate there. I walked through Penny's and Filene's and noticed that Last Minute Gifts is now empty. There are other empty shops by the water fountain. Then I went into Donovan's Irish Pub and ate corned beef and cabbage for $7.95 while I read the Advocate. They had an article critical of the city for not passing a new tax rate on time. The dinner was nice, eight slices of corned beef, best grade with virtually no fat. It came with red potatoes and carrots. Everything was just fine.

Eamon called and talked about how he used to drink at that place on Boston Road currently called the Country Inn, and said it used to be owned by the same family that owned the Lakeside Inn. He told me he would pick up girls there and take them in the motel in back. Eamon said he was hired to sing at the Country Inn a few times. It is currently being remodeled, and Eamon thinks it is mostly Keno that has kept the bar afloat in recent years. He also recalled how the Vanilla Tree had pretty black girls he would take upstairs into the Paramount Hotel. Eamon's phone editorial today was about 9/11:

As this nation grieves over the loss of innocent lives caused by senseless acts of hatred and violence, we must remember that revenge and war are the acts of little minds, a slow poison which has a devilish way of turning back on the perpetrators. We cannot be the policeman of the world nor install democracy where it is not desired, but we must have a foreign policy based on fairness, good will and impartiality of spirit and fairness toward all nations. To do less will only invite further acts of hatred and revenge.

January 12, 2002

Overcast and 37 degrees at 8am.

Today I was lying in my bed when the doorbell rang once. I remained silent and an hour later I went outside and there were footprints by the back gate.

Donald Rumsfeld is an evil genius. A big investigation of the Enron Corporation in Houston is underway, including friends of George Bush. The price of a postage stamp will increase to 37 cents in June. The Post Office is cutting 30,000 workers by attrition because people are switching to paying their bills online and it is hurting their business. A wing of the Holyoke Soldiers Home is being closed. On TV40 tonight Vincent Cleary, a retired professor of Classics at UMass, reviewed the new Lord of the Rings film negatively. He said it is too much like a violent video game, filled with one liners but with no character development. He said it is too long, has endless sword fighting and makes no appeal to the soul. He did say that the background scenery is lovely.

In 1922 Elizabeth D. Rice Bianciardi donated money to the Springfield Library to purchase Italian books. The public knows enough to buy the cheap used books at the Goodwill store at the X, but they don't seem to know about the totally free books offered at the City Library downtown. There is a Beatrice Dewberry story in the Union-News about a new engineering report showing that beyond the historic entrance way the York Street Jail is a dump and it would cost $10 million to restore the cell block areas. Eamon said the article shows that the city has been misrepresenting the building to developers as being in better shape than it really is.

I called Wayne Phaneuf at the paper and got his assistant Mary Ann. She said he wasn't in but offered to take a message. I told her to thank Wayne on my behalf for the courtesy he showed me the other day at the York Street Jail Open House. I also said to tell him that I was disappointed in the paper for not acknowledging in any way the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Monarch Life. Mary Ann remarked, "I thought it was out of business," so I told her all about its sad history since it merged with Fire & Marine to the managerial incompetence of its final days. Next I called Jim Landers to tell him about the Steven-Nelson Paper Company but his son Sean answered and said his dad wasn't home. I asked Sean how he is doing in school and he said he got a 3.84 average last semester and is on winter break until the 19th. I had Progresso beef with barley soup and a cheese sandwich for lunch. On ABC I saw a Wendy's commercial saying, "Today we remember our friend and founder Dave Thomas...Thanks Dave." On the news Dan Elias said that tourism continues to be hurt by 9/11.

I drove over to the Eastfield Mall and bought the latest People Magazine and then some orange t-shirts at Vibrations. A Vietnam vet organization called the Springfield Bilingual Veteran Outreach Center located at 233 Franklin Street had a booth set up in the mall area and was manned by Marshall R. Mudge. He is a big-shouldered guy who reminds me of Clyde Bowen. Mudge asked if I was opposed to the Vietnam War and I told him about the anti-war poster collection I started at the University of Wisconsin. He diplomatically noted that without opposition to the war at home it would have lasted longer and more American lives would have been lost. From the mall I went across the street to Stop & Shop where I exchanged greetings with Mrs. Cerrone's sister Addie Falk. I also ran into the little guy that runs Ford's Bookstore. There was some extremely slender asparagus, but I didn't buy any because it wasn't on sale. I bought some gummi candy made by a firm out of Brattleboro, Vermont called Yikes! There's a Frog in My Throat! The candies resemble little frogs.

Eamon called and remembered how as a young man at Van Sickle Junior High he took three semesters of printing with a nice man named John Mack, whose brother George Mack also taught printing at Trade. Eamon says that Mayor Albano is constantly surrounded by gangsters and thieves like Ardolino, Kingston, Keough, Catjakis and Phillips, all of whom belong on Wanted posters on the Post Office bulletin board.

January 14, 2002

30 degrees and raining at 8am. Dark clouds obscure the sun but not his (Apollo is masculine) light. Gas is $1.12 at Breckwood/Gateway.

In Ireland the Protestant Red Hand Defenders have killed a Catholic postal worker. Always changing, the world never changes, and religion is the worst thing on Earth. Priscella Drucker on WFCR is remarkable because she has impeccable pronunciation in a whole slew of languages. The Springfield Orchestra is having a big "family concert" this afternoon on an outer space theme and the Young People's Symphony is also performing.

A wrong number identified as J. O'Connor called asking for Janet. I called Western Mass Hospital and nurse Mary told me that Aunt Maria is "fine" and her minister was there today. I went to Louis & Clark this morning to mail letters to Jim Scripture, Cliff Hedges and Marshall Mudge. Then I bought bread at Arnold's and fruit at Angelo's. On the way back I was behind a fast moving white Chevy Corsica with a government license plate of STATE 1962. Before going home I swung by the United Bank in the Acres but it had just closed and I saw the bosslady driving away in a tan Honda Civic.

One of the free books I picked up at the City Library the other day was The Testaments of Francois Villon translated by John Herron Lepper (1926). It is a beautiful book with a notation indicating that it was bought by the City Library in 1929. There is the word "mutilated" written in old fashioned librarian cursive where someone very carefully cut out pages 81-84 so that the excision wouldn't be easily detected. On page 85 is stamped MUTILATED BY READER ABUSING THE FREEDOM ALLOWED IN USING THIS LIBRARY. There were other French books offered for free but they were very worn with brittle paper. Yes, there are books that deserve to be dumped.

Eamon has a t-shirt that says, "Stop Teenage Tobacco Addiction - Say No to Joe Camel." Eamon called when I was down in the cellar looking something up, so I called back and he said his answering machine is broken. That must warm the hearts of local politicians everywhere! Eamon was told by his neighbor that the city plowing trucks were out working for time and a half during the little snowstorm the other day that quickly melted away. What did they plow, water? Eamon said it is an outrage that the $180,000 security system Dr. Negroni bought for the schools was never installed. Eamon believes that the reason D.A. Bennett won't investigate corruption in Springfield is because so many friends and relatives of the Bennett and Walsh families are serving in the Albano Administration so his hands are tied.

Eamon claims that City Hall is buzzing with speculation about who will get slammed with indictments. Eamon says his spies told him that Mayor Albano, Anthony Ardolino, Francis Keough and Gerald Phillips were seen at The Fort restaurant the other night ordering a beer, a Manhattan, a martini and a scotch on the rocks with a twist. The waitress was overheard telling them that the drinks were on the house. They spoke most of the time in hushed tones but Albano was overheard saying that he wanted to leave early in order to catch the eleven o'clock news.

January 16, 2002

Overcast all day. 33 degrees at 3:06pm. Gas is $1.09 at the Pond.

In Springfield, Missouri President Bush said, "My biggest job is preventing the enemy from hitting us again." That is tantamount to admitting that he failed when they hit us the first time. As a Republican who talks of military preparedness he was not prepared. Robert Reich was at Gasoline Ally last night campaigning for governor. The new Reminder has a big story about Coralie Gray and her picture book history of Wilbraham. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported yesterday that it has reduced its staff by 11 full time employees and frozen wages because of a drop in revenue and profits. The Gazette's advertising revenue dropped by 7% in 2001, according to Editor James T. Foudy. David Starr would love to see the Gazette fail so that the Springfield Newspapers could take over their territory.

The Frederick H. Gillett Fund given by Lucy D. Gillett in 1936 to the City Library endowed the French collection. Wellman Hall in the City Library was named after Hiller C. Wellman, a librarian there from 1902 to 1948. In 1987 a small group of volunteers created the Edward & Janet Murrow Society to raise money for WGBY-TV. The Chairman is Dr. Raymond T. Jackson. The Lawyer's Service Center has relocated from Dedham to Norwood, Massachusetts. The Salvation Army has opened their first superstore in Westfield. There is supposed to be another one opening next to Big Y on Boston Road.

Last night I watched the game show The Chair and I think the questions are too difficult. My tax bill arrived today and my house is appraised at $91,800. That means my yearly tax is $859.36, which is okay. For lunch I had a broccoli and cheese hotpocket and a can of Campbell's White & Wild Rice Soup. Drove to United Co-operative and put a $1000 bond in my safety deposit box. Then I went to the Acres Newsstand and bought a copy of Newsweek magazine. Two cellars have been dug on the new street opposite Sixteen Acres Garden. Yesterday they were pulling green carpeting out of the Hispanic Baptist Church downtown, presumably installing new.

I called Mrs. Staniski and she said she doesn't have oil burner insurance. She said last summer they fixed her burner and charged $43 dollars but now it makes a humming sound. She got her tax bill and her house jumped in value from $55,900 to $65,400. I recommended she have a broker look at the place and explained to her about the appeal process. Then I called Western Mass Hospital and got nurse Gerri who said Aunt Maria is "stable, doing fine today." I said, "Well tell her I called and maybe she'll get angry." Gerri replied, "No, I always tell her when you call and she doesn't get angry."

Eamon called and said that he spoke with Nader the Hatter who complained of being stopped in the airport because he looks Arab. Eamon says his neighbor Harold Marsh told him that when his wife died a decade ago he had no money to pay the bills so the state made him sign over his house. He can live there but when he dies the state takes it. Eamon claimed that in the past Catholic priests who had money bribed their way out of sex scandals. A friend of Eamon's who is a health inspector told him that the Chinese smorgasbord place in West Springfield is one of the filthiest places in town. Eamon said his friend who owns Block Jewelers is having a hard time renting the space over his store at 299 Walnut Street in Agawam. He told Eamon that business is down and he had to layoff two employees, one who fixed clocks and another who set diamonds. He also told Eamon that his Christmas profits were cut by all the advertising he had to do just to bring in the customers. On Eamon's phone editorial today he introduced himself as, "The little man with the big voice bringing you the real news." He also describes Springfield as "this crime-ridden, most unliveable city."

January 18, 2002

36 degrees at noon. Fluffy snow fell last night. Gas is $1.11 per gallon at the Pond.

A house will always have a story as long as there are people in it.

Symbionese Liberation Army member Sara Jane Olson was convicted today after thirty years on the run. WFCR says that unemployed young males in poor countries often engage in violent revolutions just because they have nothing better to do. As Abbie Hoffman used to say, "Revolution for the hell of it!" Airports are now demanding that you show up for your flight two hours early. Gee, if you have to wait that long, why not take the train?

In 1899 William Rice endowed the Caroline R. Rice Department of Theology at the Springfield Library. The Grand Opening of the new Basketball Hall of Fame is now scheduled for the last weekend in September. Hartford dedicated a new multi-level parking garage today. Academy Point is is a senior living community in Mystic, Connecticut. Got a letter in the mail today from Claudia Gilchrist thanking me for contributing to the Phyllis Franklin Fund. It included a list of donors but Heather Dubrow, Elaine Marka and Nellie McKay were the only ones I knew. Franklin was the Executive Director of the Modern Language Association from 1985-2002.

No plowing on the side streets, so a good morning to stay home. Lying on my cot facing the picture window at around 3:15am I saw a helicopter passing west to east in the sky. I assume it must have been going from New York to Boston. Who could that be? I went to Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers on Boston Road today for a 99 cent Caesar salad. There was a big line inside and cars were bumper to bumper at the drive-in. The salad was a gyp. The picture on the menu showed lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, but in reality it was nothing but lettuce, a middling of topping and grated cheese. It was 35 cents worth of food at best. A handicapped lady was going around asking people for their trays before they were done eating, and a male worker behind the counter also seemed mentally retarded. At Wendy's you can't see the food being prepared, which you can at McDonald's and Burger King.

From Wendy's I headed down to the Quadrangle and saw two vans from Holyoke Floor Covering in front of the Hispanic Baptist Church. The trash cans around the Quadrangle were close to overflowing. I did pick up a book they were discarding for Eamon: Rise of the American Navy 1776-1918. On the way home I stopped for an ice cream cone at Eastfield Mall and saw that the Springfield Park Department has an excellent display set up with pictures of the rose garden at Forest Park and other park facilities like Franconia golf course and the Cyr Arena. There was also info on other activities like rock climbing at Springfield College and programs at the Dunbar Community Center. It was a fine information booth with credit given to Shawn Phelan and Peter Blain. The Visitor Center downtown could learn something from them.

Tonight I watched the Channel 57 auction as I have for many years, and not much changes except Sally Fuller gets greyer. One change is that before they used to use chalkboards to post bids and later they used transparencies on an overhead projector. Now it is all computerized, and they made a point of stressing that the new computer technology was donated by Mass Mutual. Food was being provided for those answering phones by White Glove Caterers. Roy Scott and Martha Hoppin were hosting. At nine o'clock artist S.T. Pecora and station manager Russell J. Peotter dressed in a tuxedo took over. There was a number of good stuff offered including a hand-tinted reproduction of a twig painting by Pine Point's Richard Doyle, plus a wildflower triptych by Sally French that went for $170. There was also a nice painting of the oxbow in Northampton by Bartlett.

Eamon called and said the local access station ran an old rerun of the dedication of the Boland Elementary School. Dr. Negroni was shown and the Principal Catherine McCarthy read very ineptly from a statement she wrote. Eamon's latest message calls Mayor Albano "The Teflon Kid" because despite all his scandals nothing sticks to him. Eamon said he had never heard of Dr. Stanley Stusick until he met me. Eamon's cousin former Election Commissioner Deezer Sullivan lives on the corner of David Street in Hungry Hill. Eamon says Deezer's house is such a mess inside that in some spots you have to walk sideways to get around. Eamon told me he rarely hears from anyone at the Valley Advocate anymore, and wondered whether Tom Devine has "poisoned the well" at the Advocate against us. Eamon claims the level of paranoia in City Hall is rising in anticipation of the unveiling of the indictments. His spies told him that Brian Santaniello was overheard telling Peter Fenton that it is hard to know who to talk to "because you don't know who is wearing a bug."

January 19, 2002

Overcast, 28 degrees at 8:30am.

Acting Governor Jane Swift has announced that in mid-March the state will end free dental care for all poor people except children. The last issue of Hungry Hill Magazine was last February, just before the 25th St. Patrick's Day Parade. Rumor has it that there was a fight between editor F. Faulkner and the parade organizers over who would do the book on the history of the Holyoke parade. In any case, there was no March 2001 issue of the Hungry Hill Magazine and none since.

The Elizabeth Herbert Brown collection at the Springfield Library was endowed by Irene Herbert Brown. Pepper's Bar & Grill at 1146 State Street had a dance contest recently featuring Volume Force from NYC and food by Chef Junior. As a baby my parents used to push me in a light blue stroller with ivory trim and a wire across the front with colored beads on it. My tricycle was red. I went out to Food Mart today for an Italian grinder. They had two pre-made ones for sale at the same price; one weighed 8.3 ounces and the other weighted 9.1 ounces. Guess which one I bought? They were also passing out samples of finger rolls filled with egg salad.

Lately I go to sleep for maybe three hours and then have to get up to take a leak. This happens two or three times a night. At least getting up and down is good exercise! Fortunately, I no longer have the back pains I did a year ago. Today I went into the Eastfield Mall food court by the back way and saw someone I haven't seen in a long time. There used to be a short, stocky woman and her tall, handicapped son who walked with a cane and for many years could be seen around downtown Springfield. I always thought they lived lived at the Oxford on State because I always saw them get off the Wilbraham Road bus there. Anyway, today I saw the man walking in the mall without either his mother or his cane. I said hello and asked about his mother, and he replied that she had died a few years ago. I expressed my condolences and moved on without finding out his name. Still, I wanted to say something to him because he and his mother had been such fixtures downtown for so many years.

Richard O'Donnell of American Express Financial Counseling in Holyoke called, but I told him I am already associated with A.G. Edwards. I then asked him if he would like to buy some of my rare books and he laughed and said no thanks. That's the trick, turn their call into a sales opportunity for me! I tried to watch the second night of the TV-57 auction, but I fell asleep shortly after it started. Roy Scott was on at 8:00, but when I woke up at eleven Russ Peotter was wrapping things up with Gloria Russell, Martha Hoppin, Carla Santia and Betsy Sussman of the UMass Art Gallery. Sussman has a lovely smile and seems like an interesting person.

Eamon called and grumbled about how he once asked his relatives to take care of his mother so he could take a vacation to Ireland. Instead they urged him to put her in a nursing home, but he refused and cancelled the trip. Eamon says he's been talking to Art Gingras, who he said sounds totally disillusioned with teaching. Gingras told him that most of the teachers at Commerce are totally burned out and are "just going through the motions" until it's time to retire. Once again Eamon described the Springfield School System as "totally out of control."

Eamon also recalled how STCC founder Edmond P. Garvey was always concerned that he look his best, and in his later years he wore a girdle so that he would look like he was in better shape. Garvey was married to a former model who was much younger than him and when he got old she put him in the Holyoke Soldier's Home. That reminded him of how former D.A. Matty Ryan put his parents in the Municipal Hospital, although he could afford to do better for them. Eamon said that not caring for your parents in their old age is a major sin in Irish culture. Some of Eamon's lawyer friends have told him that Matty Ryan can still be seen every morning at the coffee shop/deli across the street from the courthouse, drinking coffee and reading the paper. He said no one ever sits down to join him, with Eamon saying, "Matty Ryan was once a powerful man sought after by all, but now he is old and friendless."

January 21, 2002

Four inches of snow fell last night. 31 degrees at 11:25am.

If times are good people have babies because the future looks bright. If times are bad people have babies to regrow the population. So good times or bad there are always more babies.

The Alan D. Nason Fund for History, Science and the Useful Arts was established at the Springfield Library in 1934. Pioneer Valley Urology is on Medical Center Drive in Springfield. Steve Cirillo was on WFCR this morning. They did Mozart's 19th Piano Concerto. Cirillo also played some stuff from Peter Harvey's Songs of World War II and one of them was "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." That was a phrase Father used sometimes when he was slightly stressed out and would mutter it under his breath. Today I came across the pretty blue souvenir ribbon that Father got for attending the stockholders Open House at the Grand Opening of the Western Mass Electric Company's generating plant in West Springfield in 1949.

I called Mrs. Staniski this morning who said she didn't go to church today. She was expecting her daughter Ann this afternoon. Ann has Martin Luther King Day off so she is staying overnight and returning to Cambridge tomorrow. I went out to shovel the snow at 10:30am and wore my bondage hood, which is a very good garment for shoveling snow and working outdoors in the winter. I have hung my little Swiss cowbell from the right side of my head harness and am calling it my ear-ring. I sometimes waved at cars going by, all but one waved back. Then I drove to Walmart to leave off the film with the York Street Jail Open House pictures on it to be developed. They had an enormous snow plow doing their parking lot. Then I went to the Eastfield Mall where they had three plows working. There were not many people in the food court, where I ordered a gyros sandwich for $4.73. I ate it at a leisurely pace and watched the people walk by.

The paper today said that the owner of Angelo's Fruit Mart on Boston Road across from OLSH is retiring. He is Angelo G. DeNucci of 205 Forest Glen in West Springfield. Angelo has been in business for fifty years, starting with a fruit stand in Holyoke, then on Columbus Avenue in Springfield and finally at the Boston Road location of the former Wally's Fruits and Vegetables, which was run by Tom Devine's uncle. I decided to stop by this afternoon and speak with Angelo in person. He was on the phone when I got there so I did a little shopping first. Then we chatted and Angleo let me take his photograph. He told me that now that he is retiring the produce section of the store will be gradually phased out, but his son William will continue to run the garden shop so the business will not completely close. Angleo says his legs are giving out and he can't stand up all day as the business requires. He also expressed regret that he recently invested $30,000 in new computerized cash registers, but he thought he would be able to hang in there for a couple more years. I just hope that the phasing out of Angelo's doesn't hurt Arnold's, the discount bakery next door. Angelo DeNucci's retirement has caught everyone by surprise and Jerry Gretzinger had a story about it on TV40 tonight, with an interview with Angelo himself and customer Marie Kowalczyk of East Longmeadow.

Eamon claims that fear has gripped City Hall because of the FBI probe and that "the hands are closed and the game is over" for Mayor Albano, Tony Ardolino, Frankie Keough, Gerry Phillips and the rest of the "political outlaws, gangsters and thieves." On the phone today Eamon talked about how over-confidence caused Paul Caron to lose his race for mayor. He said that Rosemarie Coughlin and Jim Landers were "absolutely certain" of victory and that Leon Gaumond was "too spaced out" to see the political realities. Eamon said that Albano and Caron were both career politicians with no significant accomplishments on their records, and he recalled how Caron was the first state representative to endorse Albano when he first ran for mayor in 1995. Eamon said that Caron would have had more credibility as a reformer if he had spoken out against Albano all along.

January 22, 2002

42 degrees at 2:30pm.

Artsy fartsy former Steiger's marketing whiz John Donnellan is Holyoke Community College's Dean of Business or whatever, and seems to be TV22's regular go-to guy when they need an academic expert on marketing. They had him on the news tonight talking about K-Mart's financial troubles. Weatherman Nick Morganelli says we are in for a January thaw. Morganelli is okay, but Brian Lapis seems like a jerk. Jack Hess, the author of The History of East Longmeadow, gave a lecture at First Congregational Church recently on the evolution of the town's transportation system.

Dianne called for the Boston Globe and offered me a subscription through April for $1.75 per week. I told her how much I liked their paper, but declined. Went out today and saw footprints by the back gate and in front of the tree belt. Someone was walking around the house yesterday. Reeds Landing has a new TV commercial. Today is the 29th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. The news had Patricia Collins being interviewed in front of First Church for the annual candlelight vigil to mark the Roe v. Wade anniversary. She has been crusading for reproductive freedom since back when she was working at Johnson's Bookstore.

Eamon called and said he was up at the VA this morning at 8am getting an eye examination with Dr. Donnelly. The doctor told him to stop using Visine eye drops. Afterward, Eamon went walking around downtown Northampton and said comparing Hamp to Springfield is like comparing apples to oranges. He said that Northampton has some 50 retail shops downtown while Springfield has none to speak of. Northampton has over 25 fine restaurants, where Springfield has only The Fort and a few mediocre restaurants, some tacky bars, sleazy strip clubs and no family entertainment except hockey. He said Northampton's downtown attracts visitors, while Springfield's downtown frightens them away.

Eamon said that when he was in downtown Springfield last week he stopped by the military recruitment center in the Federal building and chatted with the Navy and Marine recruiters. They described recruiting in Springfield as "tough and slow" because 90% of those who come to sign up flunk the General Classification Test miserably. Sometimes they let a kid take it a second time, but most of them flunk it again. This makes it tough for the recruiters to meet their quotas. They told Eamon that even the Springfield recruits who do get into the military often end up flunking the training program for the field they signed up for, ending up as grunts to be sent to the front lines.

Eamon said that Commerce educator Arthur Gingras is teaching a course at American International College on Thursday nights to about 25 students. He told the class at the beginning of last semester that anyone who missed more than four of the sixteen classes would flunk the course. Near the end of last semester, two black female students came up to him at the beginning of class and said they had missed four classes but had to because their kids were sick. Gingras said he was sorry but rules are rules and the women angrily stalked out of the classroom. To Gingras' amazement, the class burst into applause and congratulated him for holding his ground against what everyone considered to be the two laziest students in the class.

Gingras told Eamon that at the High School of Commerce it is common at the end of each grading period for failing students, mostly minorities, to come to him begging for a passing grade. According to Gingras, AIC President H.J. Courniotes is the highest paid college president in the valley, surpassing even Amherst College and Smith. Courniotes is a millionaire who buys a brand new Cadillac every year. The faculty and administration would love to get rid of him, but Courniotes appointed all the trustees and they remain loyal to him so there is no way of forcing change.

January 24, 2002

Sunny and mild, 35 degrees at 7am. Gas at Pride in the Acres is $1.09.

If the teachers themselves are not well-read, then the students don't get pointed towards the right books.

President Bush has announced that the $300 billion dollar budget surplus originally projected for this year has been wiped out by the costs of 9/11. Governor Jane Swift says that Massachusetts is also facing a budget deficit. Post Office officials said last week that the terror attacks and the slowing economy have caused the largest drop in mail volume in history. The tourism industry is still poor since 9/11, with even Disneyland suffering. My parents went to Disney in Florida but I never had a desire to go there. Randolph Bromery, whom I have always held responsible for the death of Springfield College Professor Rev. Kenneth Childs, is back as President of Roxbury Community College.

The Fanny Hazard Bond endowed the Augustus G. Hazard Department of Industrial Art at the Springfield Library in 1895. Elroy E. Norton of Longmeadow, a former underwriter for Traveler's Insurance, has died at age 94. He and his wife Dorothy were former Wesley Church people, although his obituary makes no mention of that. Nobody wants to remember how shamefully all the whites fled that church when the blacks took over the Square. The Norton's were snobbish, but not as bad as the Herman's or the Gamel's. Their daughter Jean was in my class and played violin. She later went to Oberlin and now lives in Westfield. She used to dance at youth parties with Donald Hastings, who died young many years back. There was a picture of editor Wayne Phaneuf in the paper today. Candidate for Governor Tom Birmingham has a TV ad about "standing up for the working people."

The Reminder came today. It had a notice about the Storrs Library holding a book swap today in the Law Room put on by Lisa Stevens and Michelle Drennan. I might have gone if I'd heard of it earlier. I went out today at 10:45 and stuck the latest Hamilton catalog in Mudry's mailbox after the postman had gone. Mr. Allard came walking along and told me that the Dites had been visiting a month ago. I said that the next time they're in town to give me a ring as I would like to see them. Then I drove to Food Mart where I got six cans of Progresso Split Pea and Ham Soup at half price. Then I headed downtown and noticed on the way that Fancy That no longer has the glass lamp in their window and have replaced it with one with a ceramic base. I didn't stop to examine it. Watershops Pond looks low. Going down State I noticed how pretty that new place Pepper's is with its green, yellow and orange colors.

When I got to the Quadrangle the freebie book section of the City Library had been restocked and I took several, including a 1931 edition of Puritan's Progress and Arthur Schlesinger on The Disuniting of America (1992). Ed Lonergan was at the desk in Wellman Hall, and in Rice Hall I looked over their French and Spanish sections. From there I headed up to AIC and parked on Massachusetts Avenue while I went to the Shea Library for a few hours. There was a big red Cadillac parked outside the President's office, no doubt belonging to Couriotes. He has a white license plate on the front with the letters of his initials and the back plate reads 806-HMA. In the library I perused their wonderful French and Italian collections and read Balzac in translation. But it looks like they've dumped most of their German collection. I recall one of their librarians telling me once that they didn't know what to do with it. I looked around AIC for posters but the walls were bare.

I stopped briefly at the Springfield College library, but found their foreign language section inferior to AIC. I asked the librarian whether there was anything on campus honoring Randolph Bromery and she said not that she was aware of. On the way home I noticed that on Wilbraham Road across from Fenwick the two-family house by Mass Mutual where I used to deliver the Springfield Shopping News is being torn down. I stopped at Angelo's. They had nothing special, with everything the same and the fat man putting stuff on the shelves. Angelo's has always been a good place to buy bananas, so I bought some and two mangoes as well. Angelo's always has good quality fruit, especially compared to Stop & Shop, which often puts out garbage.

Eamon called and said he takes generic multi-vitamins he gets from Stop & Shop. He complained that the schedule of the Irish Cultural Center has been cut back to almost nothing. Eamon said he ran into Tony Ravosa downtown and they chatted briefly. Ravosa told him that he still owns the Chicopee Savings Building housing the Civic Pub, and Ravosa denied that the bar has any ties to the mob. Eamon says he continues to hear rumors that ex-Rep. Dennis Murphy is among those co-operating with the corruption probe. He also hears that the FBI has linked several local pols to prostitutes and "dating services." Eamon claims that some politicians are more afraid of those kinds of revelations than they are about ones involving financial impropriety.

January 25, 2002

Cloudy, 39 degrees at 7:30am. Gas is $1.11 at the Pond.

Benjamin Franklin is my favorite Founding Father. Since 9/11 cigarette sales are up 13%. Alan Greenspan says that we may be emerging from the recession. Cardinal Law has served in Boston since 1984. Listening to the news is a waste of time. The Leher Report had Bernard Goldberg on. He is the author of the best-selling book BIAS. He says that conservatives are continuously shortchanged by the media as conservative views are marginalized and liberal ones are presented as mainstream. Mark Shields and David Brooks were also on and Shields said that because of the Enron scandal Republicans now wish they had nominated John McCain instead of George Bush. Adam Stremko the weatherman is okay, B.Lapis comes on too strong and N. Morganelli says he went to Windham State north of St. Johnsbury, so he's okay.

Fred G. Christensen is the Senior Property Manager at Tower Square. I was filling in my calendar for spring and wanted to know the date of the business fair Market 2002, so I called the Chamber of Commerce. The woman who answered said she didn't know but the Convention and Visitors Bureau would and she would connect me. The next thing I knew I was talking to Carol, and I asked her when the spring business fair would be. She replied, "The Chamber of Commerce would know more about that than we would." Well, I recalled the Chamber and got Marge and summarized what had happened. She apologized and said she would transfer me to Laurie who is "in charge of all the events." However, all I got was her voicemail so I hung up. I couldn't believe their incompetence. The question I was asking was so simple, and the event coming up so soon, and of course they should know when it is so that clients and participants who call can get a quick answer without a lot of runaround.

A little later Hurwitz from the Convention and Visitors Bureau called and the first thing he did was tell me that the date of the fair was April 24th. However, he did insist that the fair is a Chamber of Commerce matter and not the CVB. I told Hurwitz that I respect him and have always considered him a fine gentleman, but I told him I feel that he is hairsplitting when he makes such a distinction between the agencies. I urged him to look at the situation from the perspective of a hypothetical client. I said the receptionist should have had the answer at the tip of her tongue or right at hand. I think at one point I irritated him by referring to "the idiots and pompous asses who run this city and their flunkies." I said everyone talks about teamwork these days so certainly the Chamber and CVB should be working as a team to get out such basic information as the date of the region's biggest business fair. Hurwitz replied, "In a perfect world maybe but...." and trailed off. We wished each other well and I told him not to worry, I won't call too frequently.

Practically no envelopes come with commemorative stamps anymore. The February issue of WGBY's Primetime Magazine came listing my contribution in their donors list on page 31. I never did receive their 36 page WGBY Gallery Collection booklet. When I left today I saw Dick Nichols waddling out to his mailbox and Mr. Lucius was walking down the street without his wife. I left papers in the Penniman's front door and delivered some magazines to the Cohn's. Everyone looked happy, even Mrs. Cohn was smiling, as Myra's daughter Marcie, her husband and the kids were all seated around the table. I put the magazines down and Marcie, a sweet, lovely young woman with long black hair and a somewhat rounder face than Myra, said she had heard of me and always wanted to meet me. I told her how much I admired Myra and what fine people her grandparents were and I found myself almost breaking into tears.

I then went to Angelo's where I got nothing but a copy of the Springfield Journal. A white panel Baystate Gas truck ran a red light at the OLSH intersection. I drove downtown, parked on Salem and walked down the hill. Coming out of the library was Francis Gagnon. I said, "Have a nice day, Mrs. Gagnon." She smiled and said hello politely. I stopped at the Chamber of Commerce and got their glitzy new brochure. For some reason they have a picture of the Amherst Town Hall on page 15 when Amherst is not even in the purview of the brochure. Interestingly, the brochure has ads in it but none from Peter Pan, Fleet, Mass Mutual or Baystate Gas! I went to the photo gallery in the old Valley Bank space and they had a nice display of international photographs. I went to the second level and Tessier the architecture now occupies the entire former WNEC suite and the WNNZ radio station studio is completely gone. The Avis Neigher Gallery is still there displaying African art.

Then I stopped at Channel 57 and got their auction catalog and a large wine tasting poster. I stopped at Westfield Savings and then to City Hall to pay my tax bill. I also looked up in the Clerk's Office the death date of my violin teacher Maurice Freedman. He died July 10, 1976 and his parent's names were Albert and Minnie. On the way back I noticed that on Arnold Street off Boston Road two lovely ranch houses have been built with single garages. Nice houses, but who wants all the school buses going by everyday? I also noticed that the closed Boston Road Burger King by the World Class Big Y is not boarded up the way the 16 Acres one is.

The political establishment in Springfield can't stand the Valley Advocate or people like Eamon and me because we are truthtellers. Eamon called and I told him about my encounter with Hurwitz, the Chamber and the CVB and Eamon said "this is not New York City" where so much is going on that they can't keep track of when things are happening. Eamon reported that Superintendent Burke has hired someone named Mary Elizabeth Beach to look into the handling of the $8.1 million Safe Schools grant.

Eamon said he was in Cal's Variety and the old man Pat Moore had a friend visiting from Midland, Texas who had not been to Springfield in twenty years. First thing he asked was, "What the hell happened to downtown Springfield?" Eamon recalled that when he announced he was going to Amherst College some people in Hungry Hill disapproved saying, "A boy from a good Irish family like you should go to St. Michael's!" Eamon wondered whether Mayor Albano is still a practicing Catholic since he never hears of anyone seeing him in church. He said if is still Catholic, Albano should go to his home church in Longmeadow to make a full confession of all he has done and then beg for forgiveness.

January 27, 2002

Nice day, sunny, 37 degrees at 7:30am.

Today is Mozart's birthday. Vice-President Cheney says the prisoners at Guantanamo are "really bad people" but I don't believe it. I think they are fine people but we have ruined even their honest attempts at capitalism by growing poppies and have angered them by pushing them around. On this date in 1801 Thomas Jefferson established the Library of Congress declaring, "I could not live without books." The John L. King Fund was established at the City Library in 1921. Violin repair expert and private collector Ron Midgett will offer a workshop "Meet the Violin" at the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum on February 16th.

Secundo Guidi called acknowledging the postcards I sent him. I called Western Mass Hospital today and got the nurse Christine. She said she would let me speak with Aunt Maria. When she put her on I said, "Hi there, this is Wesley! Do you like it there at the hospital?" Marie said one or two indecipherable words and then silence. The nurse came back on and said, "She doesn't talk much but she can hear." I called to see if the Visitor's Center downtown was open and got, "Good Morning. Visitor's Center. This is Sue." I said, "So, you're open today?" She said yes and I thanked her before hunging up.

I went out today and had pancakes without sausage at the Allen Street McDonald's. At the bottom of Schuyler next to Alden there is a big hole in what was a vacant lot. All the open lots are being filled with the cheapest houses they can squeeze into them. At Wesley Church in the Square I counted 37 cars in the lot. Monroe Street has white on blue signs on it reading "Taj Mahal Way." Negrill Restaurant at 829 State Street has a not very tall green, yellow and red sign with their phone number over the front. I guess they have been there for a while but I never noticed them before. The Tip Off Classic has an office in Tower Square where the Convention and Visitors Bureau was in the old days, just temporarily until the new Basketball Hall of Fame opens. This year the Tip Off Classic will be held on November 29 between Ohio State University and the University of Florida. Went to the Quadrangle and got some books they were discarding, including Bicycle Touring in the Pioneer Valley by Nancy Jane (1995).

Next I went to the Visitor's Center and got one of their brochures. The motorcycle is gone and the stuff hanging from the ceiling has changed. The plane is still there but they had no Sunday Republicans for sale. They were selling postcards of the Springfield skyline at dusk, but there was no Monarch Place in it, meaning the picture is twenty years old! On the way back I stopped at Angelo's and bought cantaloupes and broccoli. Angelo was there talking with an elderly French couple. Now that Angelo is retiring he is being treated like somebody special, and that he is indeed. I swung by the Eastfield Mall and ended up buying a t-shirt at Vibrations based on the Metallica album And Justice for All. In the food court I found a Springfield paper deserted on a table. Then I went to an Open House at 36 Lumae Street. It was being shown by Chris McMahon of Teamwork Realty of East Longmeadow. The house was built in 1950, a Cape style home selling for $104,000. It has nice wood paneling in the attic and a big yard, but it has no garage and no fireplace.

Eamon called and said Landers is afraid of being laid off from his job at Springfield Technical Community College. He is taking small computer installation jobs around Boston so he will have something to fall back on. Eamon mailed a strong letter to Cardinal Law today urging him to resign. Eamon's spies tell him that gay priests dine regularly at The Fort on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. Some were overheard planning a vacation to Bermuda. Eamon says you can't expect citizens to take pride in their city when the mayor lacks honor and the city government is under investigation for corruption. As a former School Committeeman, Mayor Albano should know that there is more to quality education than bricks and mortar. Fancy new school buildings may make everyone feel better, but the academic environment is not conducive to learning and the children can't read or write.

January 29, 2002

Cloudy, 35 degrees at 7:30am.

Respond to love with love.

A New York Times poll over the weekend finds 67% think President Bush has something to hide in the Enron affair. A task force on health care in Massachusetts says we could save money by discouraging emergency room use and encouraging people to go to doctor's offices instead. Mother loved going to Ludlow Hospital. Beth Ward on her TV40 Healthcast said that biopsies miss up to 35% of all cancers. TV57 is showing the logo "Stay Curious - PBS." On WFCR Barbie Schnlick (good Yankee name) of Brattleboro, Vermont read an excellent essay about noisy kids at the next table at a restaurant. Miss Cleo, the psychic card reader who advertises on TV all the time, is under attack from the State Attorney General for fraud.

The think tank MassInc reports that half the inmates released from prison in Massachusetts wind up back in jail. Aaron Fuerstein of the Malden Mills, who treated the workers so well when they had that terrible fire in 1995, now has a contract to make garments for the Army. Nightline tonight was about pedophile priests and they credited the Boston Globe for petitioning a judge to release the church files that revealed the extent of the problem. Frances Gagnon has always snarled about the anti-Catholicism of Protestants. I wonder what she thinks of these sex scandals? Bill Maher's program Politically Incorrect is no longer on after Nightline. I wonder if that has anything to do with his "unpatriotic" comments after 9/11? I guess there are limits to how politically incorrect you can be.

John Driscoll has a picture in the Reminder this week of Sally Fuller, Community Relations Officer for United Cooperative Bank, giving a $1,000 check to Norma Couture, Supervisor of the Sixteen Acres Branch Library, to be used to buy children's books. Worcester has voted to use English only ballots at the polls. The Publick House Historic Inn & Country Lodge in Sturbridge is joining with Wachusett Brewing Company to put on a "New Orleans Style Celebration" on February 8th.

My Grandfather Miller was fond of Tennyson, but I know little else about him. I watched Stephen King's Rose Red on ABC last night. It was high gothic/paranormal nonsense. Contemporary literature and especially contemporary film with its manifold special effects have rendered the classics of literature positively boring. They also role model violent behavior and encourage belief in magic such as with Harry Potter. I think it is disgusting that our society is into so much psychic nonsense. At one point in Rose Red a giant chandelier fell down, they always have to have a lot of smashing. There was also a commercial promoting the movie Black Hawk Down, which is just more smashing of a different kind. Rose Red is just a fancier version of the Blair Witch Project. There is an article in the paper about retired Westfield State College Professor Wallace L. Goldstein and his new book A Fresh Look at American English - A Weird and Wonderful Language. It seems very commercial and I wonder about its level of scholarship. Also in the paper I got coupon for a free Three Musketteers candy bar. M&M's are holding a contest to add a new color. I certainly favor purple.

I wrote to Wayne McCary at the Big E and praised him for the improvements he has made over the years. I said I hope the fair will never lose its agricultural roots because city youth in the valley need to see and learn about farm animals, as I did growing up from visiting my cousins in Vermont. I called Donna Ellsworth in Development at the Quadrangle but got her voicemail. Finally I called Attorney Berman and we exchanged pleasantries. He said he is assembling a genealogy of his family and I gave him advice on how to do the research. At noon I had a ham sandwich plus some Progresso Chicken With Rice Soup. The way Progresso has been offering bargains it's apparent that Progresso wants Campbell's ass.

Eamon called and remembered the time he called City Treasurer Donna Williams office and couldn't get the same number twice about the city's debt. Finally he called the Mass Department of Revenue who told him that Springfield's direct debt is $350 million with a $24 million dollar debt service. Eamon pointed out that Springfield has never been considered a contender for the prestigious All American City Awards. If this is such a great comeback city like Mayor Albano claims it is, then why not? Eamon said it's no wonder crime is so high in Springfield saying, "Crime is contagious and when the government becomes a lawbreaker it breeds contempt for the law."

January 31, 2002

Damp, overcast, 47 degrees at 8:45am.

President Bush spoke on television last night about "an axis of evil" consisting of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Cardinal Law has delivered the names of ten pedophile priests to the Suffolk County District Attorney. The Tuesday Morning Music Club will have a concert at the Esther Griswold Theater at AIC on February 5th. John Fox of HBO will be appearing at Rascal's Comedy Club at the Springfield Sheraton on February 21st. My favorite form of humor is wit, which differs from most humor in being purely intellectual. Certified Public Accountant Peter B. Plumb has offices in Whittensville and Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

Channel 57 got less money out of me this year than they usually do. This year I also bought a Josh Simpson planet and book from them. Daren Winckel is Director of Annual Giving at WGBY. Bill Moyers is on TV57 on Friday's at 9pm. WFCR is celebrating the birthday of Franz Schubert (1797-1828). A lot of those old time geniuses didn't live very long! Chris Luvakis of Springfield called for Dean Whittier peddling Triple A municipal bonds from Greenfield and Belchertown that are FDIC insured. I said I already have a broker, so please don't call again. I also got a phone call from Jay Thompson in Portland, Maine offering me a Verizon phone package. I refused but we chatted a bit and he said he collects dictionaries and old science books. I called Barb Smith at the Antiquarian Bookshop in Whately, who told me there are no special law books for sale just now. She said she recognized my voice from my previous calls. Everybody recognizes my voice.

I dropped off the Boston Herald for Mrs. Penniman and handed it to her through the car window as she was out in her yard. Swung by Friendly's in the Acres, where I showed manager Robin all the dirt around the clock base. The Friendly's ice cream cone coupons expire as of March 31st, so they are no good for the summer when you would want them most. The J.C. Penny free portrait coupons are good until May 31st. Arriving at the Boston Road Big Y there was a man in a small truck with an enormous flag on a pole attached to the back. Obviously a patriotism nut, so I asked him if he was a vet. He said no, he tried to join the navy but was rejected because he is colorblind. He also said he has a P.O.W. flag he flies sometimes. At Big Y I bought the specials and ran into ex-cop Bobby Brown. We talked about genealogy and I suggested some organizations he could contact. Also stopped at Arnold's and then left a bag of reading material at Mrs. Staniski's. The mail came at 2:35pm along with the Union-News Extra in a cranberry bag with the Big Y specials inside. The mail included a campaign letter from Chris Asselin saying, "He's Your Man." I called Caron's office and Gaumond answered, and when I told him about the mailing he said, "I've got a copy right here."

Francis G. Keough, Director of the Worthington Street Shelter, has married his longtime girlfriend Sharon Daggett at St. Peter's Church in Westfield. Daggett is the sister of Olympic gold medalist Tim Daggett and Keough was one of Springfield's youngest City Council presidents when he was elected to that post in 1990 at age 30. Eamon called and said he has not been feeling well these days. He was moving some mahogany tables up to his attic when he hurt his leg. His sister insisted he go up to the VA in Northampton to have it looked at, but the doctor said it was no problem and gave him a painkiller. Eamon recalled how when the Municipal Garage was built on Harrison everyone said it was fine. However, the politically connected contractor left out the metal in a lot of the supports to pad his profits and the whole thing was found to be in danger of collapsing. It had to be demolished and so became a vacant lot, although Gordon Oakes was going to build a tower there before the fall of Monarch. Eamon said his brother in law Paul Cavallo is a retired principal from Agawam who now teaches remedial English at STCC despite getting a $60,000 pension. His brother Jimmy Cavallo was the principal of Ludlow High School, which has one of the worst test scores outside of Springfield.

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