Heavily overcast at 7:30am, 36 degrees.
A big chunk of the White Cliffs of Dover fell into the sea yesterday. Zion's Herald, a once proud Methodist magazine, no longer exists. Karin Nauth was their Clerical Assistant in 1986. Linda L. Petrella is Director of the City Planning Department and Thomas J. McColgan is Director of Economic Development in Springfield. WFCR reported on widespread radiology reading malpractice in emergency rooms. Was that the problem when Mother went in pain to Mercy and they could find nothing wrong with her?
The Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is located in Beverly Hall on Garden Street. I now weigh 200 pounds on the button in bare feet. I should weigh no more than 180. This is not good. I called Hampden Savings Bank in West Springfield and Kim answered. I asked about insurance and she replied, "After the merger we decided we aren't going to be selling anymore insurance." I went, "Aw shucks, I've got to get some homeowner's and I was going to get it from you."
The sun came out at 10:15am, gone after 11, came out again at noon sharp but gone at 12:55. Gertrude M. Kern, a retired French teacher, has died at age 92. She was a Cathedral graduate who lived on Chestnut Street and retired in 1973 after teaching in the Springfield schools for 28 years. I had her for English in the 7th grade, Walter English for 8th and Rose A. Lynch in 9th grade. I cherish the letter of recommendation Walter English wrote me for a merit badge. I was present at his memorial service, it is an outrage that he never won a Pynchon Medal. I liked Kern less than I did my other Buckingham teachers. I recall having a little trouble with her but did okay in her class. It was in her class that we had the spelling bee that Mary Kay Gamel ultimately won. Kern was on the second floor of the new part of Buckingham, sort of underneath Miss Gay or Miss Conachie, looking over the courtyard and the gymnasium roof.
Made copies at CopyCat and put out the mail at Louis & Clark. I sent a letter recounting my unpleasant experience with Swift Premium: "Dear Brown 'n Serve Customer Relations - I took two of your sausage patties and placed them on a slice of Freihofer's Stone Ground 100% Whole Wheat Bread along with a gob of mustard and a thin slice of onion and put another slice of bread atop it and started eating. I soon found that it was too tough to chew. Whatever it is, whatever it was, it shouldn't have been!" We shall see what they say. I also dropped off a bag of coat hangers and magazines at the Acres Goodwill.
The mail brought letters from Lois Johnson, John Simpson of the OED and a thank you letter from the Wilbraham Selectboard which read in part,"We are very pleased to accept your gift of land in Wilbraham. We understand that you signed the necessary paperwork on January 24th. Time and time again, the residents of Wilbraham have expressed an interest in the preservation of open land as a way to protect the rural appearance of our growing community. The parcel you are donating is a true treasure. According to your wishes, it will be called Blanche and John's Fernbank Conservation Area."
Today I completed reading Paul Strathern's Wittgenstein in Ninety Minutes. Indeed, I have pretty much looked over all the books I've gotten lately. Wittgenstein was gay, often considered suicide and worked at demeaning jobs such as a gardener. He was raised in a strict environment like me, but I am not suicidal. He also lived in sparse living quarters, while I like to have a lot of stuff. As a teacher Wittgenstein was a pompous ass who grilled students mercilessly. I'm not like that, I'm much nicer.
An article in the paper by Bea O'Quinn Dewberry says that the Cecil Economic Development Report has been stalled once again. No doubt it will be held until Mayor Albano can use it in his re-election campaign. The news showed a meeting last night to determine the future of Forest Park Middle School and I saw Teresa Regina was there. Eamon called and said that downtown can't be an economic development engine for Springfield because it can't even support a small bookstore or a third rate factory discount outlet. He says there are rumors of even more closings at Tower Square, perhaps even Edwards Bookshop. I told him that wouldn't surprise me at all.
Groundhog Day. Heavily overcast, 34 degrees at 9:20am. Cumberland Farms gas station by OLSH is $1.43 per gallon.
The Groundhog saw his shadow, but his predictions are notoriously unreliable. Bill Clinton was on the news saying with a shiteating grin that his pardoning of fundraiser Mark Rich was "not political" and was granted "on the merits." Francis X. Spina is a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. Hollister Sturges, past Director at the Springfield Art Museums, was on CPTV reviewing the book Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era. Springfield has the highest infant mortality rate in the state. The Salvation Army has bought three Frank's Garden Center locations, including the one on Boston Road by Big Y. The Union-News Extra is the freebie paper that comes in a bag with supplements from places like Walmart and the supermarkets.
George Renfrew Fearebay was a jailbird who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with my grandmother Blanche Simpson Gleason. Florence Center wrote a history of the Tuesday Morning Music Club for their 75th anniversary in 1977. Jeanne Webster, the current President of the Club, lives on Leonard Street in Agawam. Mrs. Staniski once gave me a cute little tin container with Humpty Dumpty on the lid with horses and men staring at the fallen and broken Humpty. Father received his Real Estate Certificate in June 1979 from Western New England College. He completed the 36 hours necessary for the certificate through "Program 65" a senior citizen program.
We were supposed to have snow showers this afternoon, but got only a light dusting of very fluffy snow. Today I zipped up to the bookstore in Whately where Eugene Povirk was on duty. We had a nice chat about a variety of things but nothing special. Povirk said he hasn't heard from Moriarty at Elms and told me he gets his best radical literature out of NYC. I bought a Williams College discard copy of Thomas Brown's Viridarium Poeticum (1799) nicely rebound in brown cloth for only $35. Povirk also offered me The Papers of Justice William Allen (1897) which I had never seen before but declined. I did buy a book on the old Statehouse (1882), and a book on Quaker discipline (1808) which advises staying away from Freemasons. I also bought a 1921 Worcester Building Code booklet in mint condition. The sun was shining when I left at 12:25pm. How come when I drive 65mph on the highway everyone is still passing me? Does that mean as a driver I'm a wimp?
Passing the High School of Commerce at one o'clock sharp, I saw that the Commerce clock said only 12:55. I swung by Food Mart but bought nothing. A blue car drove through the red light at Breckwood. I dropped the Boston Herald off at the Penniman's and some magazines at Irving Cohn's. The mail today brought a notice from the Appellate Tax Board saying my hearing will be March 28th in the State Office Building. I also got a fine letter from Adam D. Blistein of the American Philological Association ending, "As you state, letters should be fun to read. When you get down to it, that is what philology means." I also got my check from Woronoco, but received no interest statement from Hampden. Tru-Green called in the middle of the news but I ignored them.
This is the 100th anniversary of the birth of violinist Jascha Heifetz. WFCR played an old recording of pianist Camille Saint-Saëns' Rondo Capriccio. I recall that Maurice Freedman loved that piece. He would smile standing by his piano, the keyboard of which was only a yard from the window of his studio, so that sunlight fell upon the sheet music. Then he would bend over and start playing the theme oh so delicately as he smiled, it was so obvious that he loved the piece. Eamon called and said he changed the tape on his answering machine. His latest editorial is about how expensive new school buildings will not improve education if you have bad teachers teaching a lousy curriculum, just as bricks and mortar economic development plans will not revive a dead downtown. I agreed with him that architecturally the current Basketball Hall of Fame is unimaginative.
Overcast, snow at noon, 30 degrees at 10am.
Don't anyone say I don't keep good records! I keep excellent records.
Over 16,000 believed killed in an earthquake in India. WFCR said rebuilding will be difficult because construction is one of the most corrupt industries in India. Southby's Auction House has been ordered to pay a $45 million fine for cheating their customers. Dwight Brouillard, Advertising Manager for the Springfield Newspapers, has died. Eamon often spoke of him. TV22 went on the air February 28, 1949. Elizabeth Barbara, Recording Secretary of the Massachusetts Society of the The Order of Founders and Patriots of America lived in Wayland, Mass in 1980. John C. Kornblum was Director of the Office of Central European Affairs in Washington D.C. in 1984. The Episcopal Diocese of Western Mass is located on Chestnut Street in Springfield.
Today I cooked up a large kettle of spinach and ate maybe half of it. It really cooks down in size. A coupon supplement to today's worthless Sunday Republican has an ad for the Lenox Express Ornament, the earliest ad for a Christmas product I can remember seeing. WFCR had an hour special voiced by Roger Cooper about the career of singer Leontyne Price. A wonderful quote from Price: "When we are performing, that is when we come closest to God in this life." WFCR also played Henri Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto Number 4 as performed by J. Heifetz in 1935. It is a piece meant to show what a violinist can do. Why did Heifetz play so fast? Because he could! Back in 1988 I bought an unusual little book Music for Violin and Viola at Johnson's and it was handy to have it around while listening today. I bought it because I knew it would be useful sometimes.
I went and had breakfast at the Allen Street McDonald's and had trouble again. This time I ordered a pancake without sausages and paid for it. After sitting down, I found there were two pancakes inside, so I brought it back. They apologized, so I asked if I could have my meal for free because they made a mistake and gave me too much. They said no. Can I see the manager? I hoped for Tasha but got the chunky Latino Carlos who said he would give me a full refund in exchange for the food. He complained that this has happened with me before and I replied that it is not my fault. I asked for the address of the district office in Ludlow, he gave it to me and I departed with my piece of paper. Then to Louis & Clark to mail some stuff to Povirk, and finally I ended up at Angelo's and Arnold's Thrift Bakery. When I came home the mailman was just arriving wearing a grey fleece, which is unusual for him. Not much mail, however, here is a letterhead from a Bill Putnam Special Report (editorial) Eamon sent me. Such Putnam texts are rare, with many of the "objectionable" ones destroyed by TV22 after Putnam left.
I called the West Springfield Hampden branch and Sarah said their interest forms were sent out on the 31st. The incident at the Allen Street McDonald's reminded me of the time in August 1979 when I had trouble with Friendly's and Wendy Taylor banged the phone down in my ear. James Velis then called me at Aunt Maria's and said they would charge me with harassment if I called to complain again. I wondered what became of them, so I called Friendly's at 543-2400 and got Lynn in Public Relations. I asked about Wendy Taylor, but she said, "We have nobody here by that name." I then asked about James Velis and she replied, "He used to work here, I know because we get mail for him here sometimes. He must have left sometime before 1997, before I started working for the company." So the two of them who were so very rude to me are both gone.
Tonight I dined on hamburg and spaghetti. The plastic Mother put up for insulation in the breezeway has fallen down and I threw it away. The binding on my Harvard Alumni Directory is broken. I glued it up and hopefully it will give me no more trouble. While reading The Quaker Rules of Discipline today, I found a dead fly pressed in the gutter of pages 154-55, which is something I have never found in a book before. Sat for over three hours today in my head-harness at the dining room table; very restful.
Widely paced flakes of snow began falling at 11:58am, then began picking up rapidly. On TV they said the city is sending out 120 plows and 20 spreaders. Snow still briskly coming down at 10pm. On TV22 they asked someone from Greenfield what he liked about snowstorms and he replied, "The air gets cleaner." Congressman Neal was on the news commenting on Mayor Albano's announcement that he is seeking a 4th term, asserting that "Albano's best work is yet to come." Now that's what I call a snow job in a snowstorm!
Overcast, 34 degrees at 8:30am.
Israel is having an election. The plight of the Palestinians is a tragedy of the West's creation. Ronald Reagan is 90 and newsman Tom Brokow is 61. Bill Clinton gave a speech last night in Boca Raton for which he was paid $100,000. I wonder if anyone asked him about the pardon of tax cheat Mark Rich? The McNeil-Lehrer News Hour had a piece on the fall of Montgomery Ward, which will be all closed up in three months. The mistake they made was not moving into the malls like Sears did. Even Sears is closing 89 stores, probably hurt by places like Bernie's, which advertizes about services they provide like carrying off your old appliance, that Sears does not. On February 15, 1948 20 inches of snow fell.
WFCR has been on for 39 years, but Mother wouldn't listen to it. In 1980, Father sent a correction to the ACLU about an error in their newsletter, and the ACLU responded in their newsletter thusly: "John W. Miller has written to point out, quite correctly, that the quote used in the Query announcement in the last issue did not come from Alice in Wonderland but from Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll's sequel to the original book. Actually, after early publication as two separate stories, most editors combined both into a single volume entitled Alice in Wonderland."
Kelly had her backdoor light on all night so I could watch the snow coming down in its beam, often twisted by gusts of wind. It stopped about midnight, or exactly around twelve hours after it started. This morning I saw that the snow was high enough to cover the picnic table without a single wave, mound or other hint of its existence. For breakfast I had a ham and egg Hot Pocket, green tea and my pills. I called to see how Mrs. Staniski was doing and she said she has two feet of snow at her backdoor and will hire the man across the street and his son to shovel her out. Then I called Shirley, who said that Aunt Maria is fine. She remarked on how the valley north of Springfield always gets more snow. The news said they got three feet in New Hampshire. UMass, Hampshire, Holyoke, Springfield, and Berkshire Colleges are all closed, but Amherst College is open. Logan in Boston and Bradley were closed. The noon news said that only 60% of the city's streets were passable during the morning rush hour. Albano declared a state of emergency but lifted it at noon.
Going through some old things, I came upon my assignment book when studying under Maurice Freedman. I saw a Vivaldi Concerto listed which Mother hated though I liked it. I enjoyed all the musical material Freedman taught me. This would have been around 1954-55. I also found a copy of Standard Fantasias for Violin and Viola (1900) that Freedman gave me and which he considered to be a treasure. After I got into the Junior Symphony in the 9th grade, a lot of my time was dedicated to making sure I had this music down. At other times, I was involved in so many things that playing with Maurice Freedman in his studio an hour a week was the most practice I got. My lesson with Freedman cost $2.50 per week. Mother indicated that she had to scream to get me into the Junior Symphony, and although I was at the back of the First Violin section, I was a reliable stage manager for them and they made no mistake in choosing me. I had a nice relationship with Ben Snyder, and Staffanson wanted me to play viola but I declined. Helen Paquette, a fine violinist, took up the responsibility and did a good job.
I also came upon a letter from my Georgia friend Charles G. Vinson dated 1980, which said in part "The Center for Disease Control has already predicted an outbreak this summer of deugue fever (a mosquito borne disease also known as "break bone fever") no doubt something Jimmy Carter suffered from as a child and which helped to curdle his brain. Do you remember my prediction that his presidency would be an unalloyed disaster?" I also found an old note from Bob Gula in green ink telling me where Golden Age imagery is located in Tibillus.
The current Harvard Alumni Magazine has Derek Bok praising the "honesty and candor at Harvard." All alumni magazines are propaganda and none offer an independent or objective point of view. Harvard Alumni Magazine should do a piece "Interviews With Seven Harvard Alumni Doing Hard Time and How They Got There." Mayor Albano's phone number was 788-4461, but when I tried to call it today the operator's voice said it has changed to 739-3523. Chatted with Eamon who said that when Mayor Albano gave the Key to the City to Julie Harris he told her, "Don't expect any money or other compensation because this city is broke!"
35 degrees and sunny at 9:15am.
A 47 year old man named Robert Pickett has been arrested for firing a gun at the White House. They said Bush was exercising at the time and Cheney was seated at a desk working. In other words, Pa was working and Junior was playing. Julia Launer is Director of Education Technology for USA Video Interactive in Mystic, Connecticut. In 1952 I took clarinet lessons with good old Al Strohmann. Norman R. Prance was Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at WNEC in 1980. Prance reprimanded me for failing legal writing, which I flunked only because the professor didn't follow his own rules. Jeanne M. Jones worked for Monarch Capital Corporation in 1984. Today I found an undated photo of the Boston skyline taken from the Boston College library tower.
The morning after the storm I found over a foot of snow right up to the garage door and about 20 inches in the yard. Weatherman Tom Bevacqua said that overall Springfield got 22 inches, 25 inches in Agawam and only 19 at Westover. He said it was the biggest storm since 17 inches fell on March 31, 1996. I had long ago stored the snowblower on the hood of the '73 car, so I got it down and plugged it in and plowed down the middle of the driveway. The other side of Birchland had been plowed, so it would've been foolish for me to dig out to the street because they would only come along my side and bury my entrance again. The early snowfall was light and fluffy, the later stuff was heavier, but I could manage it okay. I spoke briefly with Mrs. Coburn, who was babysitting with her kid and a playmate. She said storms like this are hard on parents who need to find someone to look after their kids with school cancelled.
The mail was in the mailbox, most of it junk but one tax thing. No sign of the new Reminder. I saw Powers down the street, who always calls me J. Wesley, and he waved to me cheerfully through his iridescent blue sunglasses. The Allards were out shoveling, and mentioned that they are opposing the new daycare center. She said she also opposed the Sabis School (I didn't know she opposed that) and she said the boarded up windows on the portable classroom makes the neighborhood look like a slum. Across the street Bradley was out with his new wife and he introduced me to her. She is an older woman with white hair who has a 4-wheel drive with an Allentown sticker on the back. Carol is her name. I later sent them a copy of Aunt Jennie's Poems inscribed to Bill and Carol Bradley. Before I went back into the house, I photographed Sweet Pea and Honey Pot sitting atop a pile of snow by the lilac bush.
The shoveling was good exercise for me, but I was careful as I should be the older I get. Actually, the most difficult chore was lifting the snow blower off the hood of the car, it is quite heavy. I arrived indoors just in time to hear Haifetz doing a Tchaikowski Concerto. What a treat WFCR's commemoration of Heifetz's hundredth birthday has been with all the vintage recordings. Someone ID'd as Donald J. Rourke called, "Hello, is this Storrowtown?" Spoke on the phone with Belle-Rita Novak at 3:30pm. She said her home is heated with gas and she fears a big bill this month despite using her woodstove and wearing extra layers of clothing. Belle-Rita said the 1990 census showed only two percent of the X population was Oriental but she thinks it must be around 20% now. We both agreed that most Orientals are studious and hard working, but with a reputation for a lack of cleanliness. She said she is working on getting more grants for the X Farmer's Market, which will open on May 1st.
McNeil-Lehrer had a discussion about Ronald Reagan turning 90, where historian James Norton Smith described Reagan as "someone who would give you the shirt off his back." People used to use that phrase to describe Grandfather Miller. The paper says that Bill Clinton and Al Gore haven't spoken much lately, with Gore blaming Clinton's sex scandals for his defeat. Clinton said that Gore should have run on their administration's overall record. Ray Herschel was interviewing Mayor Albano on the news and asked about charges of too generous payraises being given to city employees, to which Albano replied, "People have to make a living, I don't have a problem with that."
Cloudy, 30 degrees at 7:15am.
The news says that 47 of Clinton's pardons did not get the normal Justice Department review. Ridiculous. In 1978 I wrote extensively about teaching grad school English in The Cappy Miller Report. Arnold Friedman was the Editor and Martin Zonis was the Promotions Manager at the Springfield Newspapers in 1979. Edward B. Doctoroff was Head of Circulation Services at Harvard College Library in 1986. Desiree's Book Club meets at 133 Parker Street in Indian Orchard. Their next book for discussion is The Last Precinct, a murder/mystery by Patricia Cornwell.
I often see kids skateboarding at the Five Town Mall, it seems to be a good place for it. I had an intense ringing in my ears early this morning at 3:45am. To concentrate on work I didn't listen to the radio this morning, but after the mail came I tuned in and listened to Heifetz and Podgorski do Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, recorded in 1960. This has been a wonderful week for violin music.
I got a call from Berkshire Service Experts in West Springfield, asking if I got the letter they sent me about getting a new furnace. I responded, "Yep, I threw it directly into the trash and don't call again!" Today I came across some material from the 1973 reopening of the Paramount as the Julia Sanderson Theater. I recall going there for the Grand Opening and seeing the Steere & Son organ to the left of the stage that had its own little elevator to move up and down on. I think it was white. The Paramount closed as a movie theater in 1966, put out of business in part by the opening of Showcase Cinemas in West Springfield. Now it has reopened with a new name The Hippodrome and Julia Sanderson is quite forgotten.
Drove out today around ten and saw the Cohn's driving down Wilbraham Road in their car. I went to Burger King and got a croissant with sausage and cheese for 99 cents with a coupon. Bill Bradley was there without his wife. Read the morning paper about Debbie Onslow of TV57, aged 60, resigning to go to a station in New York. Nothing about Friendly's and nothing about the rave concert. I checked for the new Valley Advocate at Louis & Clark but nothing, maybe they've been delayed by the snow. I mailed a copy of the Pulitzer nomination to Tom Vannah. The mail today had a card from New York saying that my nomination of the the Valley Advocate for a Pulitzer Prize has been received. I also got a letter from Stephen B. Collins at Colby College acknowledging my nomination of Maureen Turner, Tom Vannah and Stephanie Kraft for the Elijah P. Lovejoy Journalism Award. Both of them got the name wrong, putting a "The" in front of Valley Advocate. I'll have to straighten them out!
I watch TV40 because I like it better. They had a story tonight about how Friendly's Chief Financial Officer Paul Kelly resigned for "personal reasons" and stated that "last week Prestly Blake called for the Board of Directors to resign." They said that 80 Friendly's closed last year and another 50 are expected to close this year. They also had a story about how Mayor Albano and Hurwitz (who is getting fat) wanted the rave concert at the Civic Center but the Mass Convention Authority told them they can't hold the dance event. I switched to TV22 for the stocks, but although they showed the frame for the stocks, no numbers actually appeared. They repeatedly have this problem at TV22.
Cloudy, drizzly, 35 degrees at 8:15am.
I wonder if pure white is a form of violet?
The news says that Governor Paul Cellucci is to be named ambassador to Canada, which means he will be replaced by Lt. Governor Jane Swift, which will probably set up the Democrats for a whopping victory in the next election for governor. The President of the University of Vermont has resigned under pressure and in disgrace, maybe I helped to push her over the edge! The White River Paper Company was located in White River Junction, Vermont in 1980. My book The Reports of Sir Edward Coke in Verse was published in 1999.
I had Total with maple syrup for breakfast. I have been using syrup rather than sugar lately. I finished off the film in my camera by taking pictures of the insides of the china closets and the organ. The Union-News Extra was tossed by the mailbox this morning, no mail at noon. Today I went out to send a pile of mail at Louis & Clark. 56 Birchland, just below Penniman's, is being re-sided. Food Mart had a sale on Stouffer's frozen dinners. I went to Angelo's for fruit, then to the Goodwill in the X, where I bought a few used books. Stopped at Fancy That, where they quoted me $60 on a hollyhock painting I liked.
This afternoon I had the backdoor open and a piece of the crummy plastic Mother had put on the door blew off, having grown yellow and brittle. For supper tonight I had Stouffer's Chicken and Rice Dinner. I see that Bradley now has a forest green jeep with an Allentown College sticker on the back window. Formerly, he and his wife had a little blue car. Roger Mason, a descendent of Primus Mason of Mason Square, has formed an activist group. Mayor Albano has been rumored to be interested in running for Mass Secretary of State, but he told Lynn Barry he has no intention of seeking any other office. We shall see. NBC news says that Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburg is being taken down, yet another example of why Springfield was wise not to build a baseball stadium.
The news showed people picketing to save the Dr. Donahue house on Chestnut Street, which was donated to the Quadrangle in 1984. The Historical Commission voted not to tear it down, but Fran Gagnon signed giving them permission anyway. There's an article in the Valley Advocate by M. Turner about Gagnon and a similar controversy on Mulberry Street. Once again, TV22 showed the frame for the stock report to appear in but there were no numbers in it. When they came back from the commercials there was the usual small talk from the anchorpeople, but no apology.
Register of Deeds Donald Ashe was on TV saying that property values are up by 5% this year. Eamon says that is nonsense and complained that no one ever talks about the city's $230 million debt, which requires a $26 million dollar per year debt service. Eamon's latest phone editorial is a blistering attack on the Springfield Newspapers: "Mayor Albano and his Colony Club lunchmate David Starr are well met, both are willing to distort the facts to suit their own agenda at the taxpayer's expense, unlike real newspapers like the Valley Advocate and the Boston Globe. This deadly combination of a monopoly rag and the dishonest, career politicians has caused irreparable harm to this mismanaged, near junk bond rated city." That's excellent, I almost wish I had included Eamon's number in my nomination letter to the Pulitzer Prize Committee, but I was afraid that they would call when he had a racist or in some other way unsuitable tape on. Here is the letter I wrote them:
Dear Pulitzer Prize Committee:
I am sending you this letter and enclosed exhibits to nominate the Valley Advocate, in particular reporter Maureen Turner, Editor Tom Vannah and reporter Stephanie Kraft for a prize for extraordinary public service in the promotion of freedom of the press in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. The protocols of the discipline of Journalism are unfamiliar to me, as my fields are Roman poetry, Renaissance and 18th century English literature and artistic property law. I have published extensively in the antiquarian aspects of the relations between law and literature.
The Valley Advocate is a Western Mass institution which celebrated its quarter century on September 24, 1998. Never an underground paper, it has throughout its existence been a comprehensive arts and entertainment resource for the area and also a journal of progressive commentary. Springfield was once a great city, powered by the armory which Longfellow celebrated. Springfield was also a publishing center, and the Springfield Newspapers were everywhere respected. Many firsts occurred here. But pride cometh before a fall, and our population has sunk from about 175,000 a few decades ago to 145,000 now. And in virtually all competitive rankings, Springfield gets low scores: high crime, poor schools, near junk bond rating, and as one lace curtain Irishman with degrees from Amherst and Columbia recently editorialized on his telephone answering machine, "Outsiders and people in business don't consider Springfield a comeback or go-to destination city. Springfield's problems are complicated by a monopoly rag which fails to hold the career politicians accountable."
The Valley Advocate has always thought young about possibilities. The Springfield Newspapers think old about protecting their people, and there's not much left in Springfield for them except their jobs and retirement benefits! As the city hit bottom, there was a proposal to build a casino here, but the voters said no. The casino promoters then proposed a baseball stadium, and they proposed to locate it on the site of a strip mall of 1960's construction populated with mom and pop operations. Decent people were offended, and an indigenous movement named the Citizen's Action Network gathered an immense number of signatures in opposition. This occurred in 1999.
The Valley Advocate was on the side of the little people. Maureen Turner's essay "Squeeze Play: 10 Reasons Why Baseball in Springfield is a Bad Idea" published on August 26, 1999, was one of her best pieces and a key document in rallying support for opposition to the stadium and the land taking. The whole mess ended up in court with former Springfield Mayor Charles V. Ryan leading opposition to the eminent domain proceedings. Ryan is a Georgetown law graduate, and thirty years ago he might have been labeled as a little too ethnic Irishman. But life is a journey, and today Ryan is one of Springfield's most precious citizens. It was he who led the opposition, supported by a prominent Methodist clergywoman, to the casino, and it was Ryan who defeated the land taking in court. At eighty-five pages, it one of the longest Superior Court decisions anyone can remember, and I include a copy of it so there can be no doubt about what Judge Sweeney said.
It was the synergistic coming together of the resources of the Valley Advocate, with major stories and weekly news items, with the help of several distinguished professors including an expert in sports economics at Smith College, the legal work of Charlie Ryan and the grassroots efforts of the Citizen's Action Network that made the triumph possible. And against whom was it a triumph? Against the corrupt political machine run by the Democrat controlled city government and the Springfield Newspapers under the leadership of David Starr, working for the Newhouse Newspaper chain. The Valley Advocate has focused intensely on the ways money flows through our city government. Some people say the Springfield Newspapers don't do investigative journalism.
I remember as a child it being said that that it would not be good for Springfield if the Newhouses came, and it has not been. Since they came the Valley Advocate has emerged as the primary defender of freedom of the press and printer of the Truth. The Holyoke Transcript has folded and the Daily Hampshire Gazette operates under the shadow of an active Union-News office in Northampton. I enclose former Mayor Robert Markel's October 12, 1995 press release which states in part, "Springfield has only one newspaper and the publisher/editor of that newspaper has abdicated the traditional role of watchdog and is now part of the action." There is a chapter about David Starr in Meeker's Newspaperman (1983) see also Maier's Newhouse (1994) and Felsenthals's Citizen Newhouse (1998). The Springfield Newspapers have also been negatively reviewed by Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Dean Thomas Goldstein.
Because our Springfield Newspapers are unreliable as a newspaper of record, the Valley Advocate has been an extraordinary public service for over 25 years and the main defender of freedom of the press in these parts. Please, please give them a prize.
J. Wesley Miller III, Esq.
Clear blue sky, 27 degrees at 7am.
In Belfast, cops have raided a Protestant bomb factory. Lots of Catholic families have been bombed in the last few months. Sad. Another Clinton pardon is being questioned, this time it's a drug dealer whose father was a big donor to Democratic Party causes. The DNA code has been completely mapped and all humans, black, white, brown and yellow are 99.5% the same. Good. The government is proposing new housing subsidies to help the homeless, but don't they know that such subsidies will only drive the cost of housing higher? Arthur R. Gaudio of the University of Wyoming has been named Dean of the School of Law at WNEC. The Museum of Fine Arts is located at the Quadrangle on the corner of State and Chestnut Street in Springfield.
For breakfast I had a 99 cent sausage McMuffin. The level of business seems down at the Allen Street McDonald's. Around 10am I arrived at the photo place in the Breckwood Shoppes and gave them 126 negatives to print. The clerk told me she doesn't think that Walmart prints negatives anymore. Then over to Mailboxes Inc. to make copies. I looked into Subway but decided against eating there because the service was so terrible. For lunch I went to the Acres Burger King with a coupon and had a chicken sandwich for 99 cents. I stopped in at the Goodwill, but bought nothing. When I got back Nader the Hatter called and said he is working a lot on his computer. He said he would like to see my parent's Model T stored at Fernbank before I sell or give it away. He didn't know about Eamon's birthday tomorrow and said he will call him.
Today I came across some old letters, including a copy of a letter I sent to local historian Larry Gormally in 1983 congratulating him on his lecture to the 16 Acres AARP. Gormally never replied to my letter. I also found another copy of my 1981 article on Beaumont Herman, published in Lex Brevis. I also discovered a 1981 letter from Natalie Merlini of Morgan Square Apartments thanking me for the information I sent them on Miles Morgan. There was also a 1983 mention of my articles on George Walter Vincent Smith in the Just Folks column of the Springfield paper, plus a letter sent in 1984 to Yvette L. Bernard proposing I write a history of the Tuesday Morning Music Club that she never responded to.
Glass artist Josh Simpson is married to astronaut Cody Coleman. As a NASA astronaut, Coleman has orbited the planet and filmed and photographed Earth from space. As an artist, Simpson was inspired to create his intricate glass planets from early NASA photos from the 1960's and 70's. I am starting to watch TV30 and find the NBC coverage there better than on TV22. They said that StageWest is in debt again, but is expected to survive. The Pizzeria Uno downtown has been sold to some sucker who will put everything he has into it and will likely lose his shirt.
Sunny and 29 degrees at 9am.
American intellectual property rights are the nation's greatest trade asset.
New York lawyer and educator John M. Fargo was one of the people I consulted on fair practices in education while preparing my educational malpractice lawsuit against WNEC Law. Edward Sullivan of the Mass Board of Education has had his license to drive revoked five times since 1973 for drunk driving. In 1952 Father took a basic income tax preparation course with instructor Julie Moulton from H&R Block. A school lunch costs 50 cents at the Watson Elementary School in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1980. Robert B. Palmer was the Dean of Admissions at Springfield College in 1983.
ABC News had a story on Detroit, which has become all run down yet has modern sports facilities. Everywhere cities push for sports stadiums in order to provide money and power for the sports team owners and the politicians who accommodate them. In 1979 I got a certificate as an Honorary Irish Poet from Cork Distillary Company in Dublin. It says I am "entitled to all due deference, respect, courtesies, salutes, curtsies, hat doffings, bowing and scrapings customarily awarded an Irish poet wherever Paddy or Murphy's Irish Whiskey is served." I was foolish not to purchase a Poetic License around the same time.
Tall men with blond hair get the best jobs, according to a study. Had Stouffer's Lasagna for dinner today, yesterday I had Healthy Choice Beef Tips. On WFCR, the Mass Association of Realtors says that housing prices went up 18% in the past year. Statewide, the average house costs $288,000, but in the Springfield area it is only $130,000. TV22 had the same stock quotes today as yesterday, apparently no one updated them! The mail today brought dividend checks from Sovereign and Northeast Utilities.
I have stopped biting my fingernails and they are growing back. It would be interesting to know what makes my nail-biting go in cycles. I drove out to the Wilbraham Town Offices today, and when I left I took a bag of reading material over to the Cohn's. The cleaning lady was in the kitchen and told me the Cohn's are gone for a week. In Wilbraham I gave John Pearsall and the notary lady a photo of the Fernbank land transfer signing ceremony. Pearsall came out and thanked me. I told him that picture is for his private use, and another, better copy will be coming for the town's historic archives. The Secretary to the Selectmen was delighted by the picture I gave her and insisted on shaking my hand as I departed.
Next I went to Pride gas station in the Acres to make copies, and then into the Acres Burger King for a 99 cent breakfast sandwich (bun, egg patty, sausage patty). The Allards were there having breakfast with another couple and I said hi in passing. After Burger King I went to the photo place at the Breckwood Shops, who said they will print the photo of my Mt. Rainier painting for 55 cents. I really must compare their prices to Walmart soon. In the car radio they played Haydn's Drum Roll Symphony, which I have never heard of before. The new Reminder was here when I got home.
I called and sang Happy Birthday this morning onto Eamon's tape. The news says that school kids these days are carrying knapsacks with too many books in them, which causes the kids to develop sore backs. I think the worse the teaching gets, the more shit gets dumped on the kids and the more abused they are. In the old days we had fine teachers who led us by the hand through the books. This is all gone and has been replaced by bullshit discussion groups and either incompetent or no leadership from the teachers. It's too bad. The paper has a story about the big redevelopment project in Hartford, about which I once gave Gary Shepard some material for which he never thanked me. Mayor Albano is quoted as saying it is just the sort of thing for Springfield. This is a monkey see - monkey do kind of town.
Valentine's Day. Cloudy, 28 degrees at 7:15am.
Prime Minister Sharon is refusing to negotiate with the Palestinians until all violence ends. Greenspan says we're not in a recession. On the news, George Bush was shown addressing the military and saying that he's "willing to make the tough choices, that's why I got elected." It apparently hasn't sunk into Bush's head yet that he really wasn't elected. Yankee Candle is laying off 300 - 275 from Whately and Deerfield and 25 at a distribution center in Utah. Some people who were let go were hired less than a year ago. Today I came across a 1982 UMass Graduate School Fact Book. This is information that every University should share, as I originally advocated in my Cappy Miller articles.
Mother was baptized on March 1, 1925 by Rev. John R. Chaffee. Today I came across Father's essay about his June 1982 prostate operation. He was then 75 and had earlier prostate operations in 1974 when he was 68 and 1966 when he was 60. I also dumped Father's file on the Armstrong Insurance Investigation in the State of New York in 1905 that looked at abuses of life insurance companies operating in the state. Father was not a brilliant or even university grade scholar, but he did his homework. Father's motive was that he wanted to tell the insurance profession something about ethics and a mess like Armstrong deserves to be told again and again. Father was soft-headed and his product was thin, but his motives were pure. Because of Mother, Father could be too gentle, but he was a remarkably good man.
I went to the 16 Acres Burger King for a 99 cent Whopper with a coupon, where I saw Jean Masse come in dropping off copies of the Civic Association newsletter, so I asked her to sit down. She told me that Roger Dumais was actually quite ill when he asked her to be his vice-president, and she only agreed in order to help him out. Unfortunately, he died and she assumed the presidency, but she doesn't like it because she feels she's a better follower than a leader. She told me she misses Dumais, whom she said she used to be able to talk about the most private things. According to her, they are going to name the new Greenleaf gym after him. Jean told me she doesn't think much of the Springfield Union-News, so I gave her the number for Eamon's editorials so she could find out what's really going on with the paper.
I headed over to the Goodwill, where I often see a policeman standing around. When I left there were large snowflakes coming down, but it ended after fifteen minutes. When I got home, I brought out the dumpster for the Cohn's, whose morning paper was still hanging on the door. The Coburn home formerly owned by Potvin has a For Sale by Owner sign out front. When I got in I called Steve Clay at the Y and told him we should listen to the sports economics professor at Smith who says that a stadium for Springfield would be a mistake. On TV22 Dan Elias interviewed Claudia Robillard about antique toys, there was no sign of her husband Vince.
Governor Cellucci was formally nominated for Ambassador to Canada today. He will be replaced by Lt. Governor Jane Swift, who is pregnant with twins that are expected in June. There is a picture of Swift in the morning paper posing with Speaker Finneran, who has a big phony grin on him. He says we'll be surprised by how good Swift is, but that's tantamount to saying that up to now she hasn't impressed anybody. I have my doubts about her, but she may rise to the occasion. Albano was on the news saying that he hopes to bring more championship wrestling matches to the Civic Center since they sell a lot of tickets. Further proof of the dumbing down of Springfield.
A mild and lovely day, 37 degrees at 8:15am. Gas at the Acres Mobil is $1.39 per gallon.
Hyperhydrosis is (perfectly obvious, really) sweating profusely. Father was like that and my feet are. My parents celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on Septemeber 3, 1981. T.L. Gordon is the Marketing Director for the Orchard Valley Senior Living Center in Wilbraham.
The Telephone Credit Union newsletter came today and had nothing about what I sent them about their history, so I called Paul McDonald and he was friendlier than last time. He told me "we didn't have enough room" but he will print it next time. Then I called Claudia at Cat's Paw and told her that her performance on TV22 was excellent. She said Vince is in the hospital again because he had a bad dizzy spell, caused perhaps by his new cholesterol pills. She said she missed seeing herself on TV because she was visiting Vince in the hospital.
I called the Sixteen Acres Library and reached Norma the Head Librarian and told her I had some things for her. She said she had a story hour at ten, but I could come over anytime after eleven. I arrived at the library at 11:30 and spoke with Norma and another librarian named Karen. I gave them some pictures and a postcard of Billings Library. While I was there I looked at the morning paper, the only thing of interest was an article about Margaret Humbertson and a diary on the fugitive slave underground in Springfield.
From the library I went to Stop&Shop and bought a day old rotisserie chicken. Why pay more? Then I went across to the Eastfield Mall, where there were a lot of customers. Business is definitely up at the mall from what it was a year ago. I picked up a copy of the latest Valley Advocate at the Eastfield customer service office. After the mall, I stopped at the Breckwood photo place and got my pictures, which were done just right. Then to Angelo's where the pickings were slim but I managed to get some fruit.
I headed down Boston Road to go downtown for the first time in days. First I stopped at the main post office and sent some pictures of the Roosevelt organ to St. John the Divine. Then I went to the credit union, where the flashy dressing lady had a bouquet of Valentine carnations on her desk. I drove over to the Hampden Bank in West Springfield and asked if they're still selling insurance and she said not anymore. I said, "Sorry about that," and she replied with a smile, "We are too!" The interior of the bank is pink and pastel green, an odd combination. On the way home I poster bombed State Street, getting the most at the Mason Square Friendly's, which had posters all over it.
Bill Clinton is like the Springfield Democrats, he sees politics as a game where you just get all you can without any consideration for what is right or wrong. Fran Gagnon thinks that way and certainly Mayor Albano thinks that way. It's called being dishonorable. There are times when it's alright to fight for principle and of course principles differ. However, it is pretty clear that Clinton was just rewarding a big contributor when he pardoned Mark Rich. Last night on TV57 U.S. Pardon Attorney Margaret Love, a youngish woman, was on and said pardons should reflect trust, regularity, justice, mercifulness and be circumspect and fair. Eamon's phone editorial continues to discuss the city's $230 million debt and $30 million debt service.
Cloudy, 29 degrees at 7am.
The Marcos Shoe Museum has opened in the Philippines displaying Imelda's hundreds of shoes. Timothy McVeigh has declined to ask Bush for a pardon and will be executed on May 16th, the first federal execution in many years. Some people are saying that it should be televised. Mrs. Fixit, a regular short feature on TV40, looks and sounds like the money lady on public television. It seems nobody uses commemorative stamps anymore. I save every new stamp I get in my mail and hardly one in a hundred is commemorative. So we have stamps for use and stamps for collectors. Stamps have become just another racket.
I finally finished my Seasons Felicitations message, about six weeks late. No one has written congratulating me on my thing in the PMLA. At 9:50am I called Hampden Bank, asked for Tom Burton and got his voicemail. I said, "This is J. Wesley Miller referencing your letter of March 13, 2000 closing my account, in which you stated in the first paragraph, last sentence, "From this point further you should not receive any further mailings from Hampden Savings Bank or Hampden Insurance Agency with the exception of tax reporting documents on your certificate of deposit, account #03801951101. When will I get that tax reporting document you clearly implied that I will receive?" Of course because it was closed in January, there would have been less than $10 interest, so I should get no report. Still, it's another case of how what Burton says isn't really so.
I cooked up a squash I got on the bargain counter at Angelo's Fruit Mart. It had a tiny rotten spot on the edge of it but was just fine and I ate it with a Swanson Fish and Chips Dinner. It was briskly snowing when I brought in the mail at 1:20pm but it stopped around 2:30. I called Aunt Maria's at 3:06pm and Bonnie answered. She said cousin Shirley went over to Randolph to see Winnie Lowell. I asked what Aunt Maria said when she heard that I had given away the land in Wilbraham. According to Bonnie, Aunt Maria said that if that's what I wanted to do that's fine. I told her I have thick skin and asked whether she made any negative remarks about the land transfer and Bonnie insisted, "She doesn't talk about you."
I have always admired the architecture of the administration building at Springfield Technical Community College. Jeffrey Ciuffreda, vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, was on TV telling us why we supposedly need a convention center to go with the Civic Center. Eamon has a new phone editorial about what businessmen look for in selecting a place for a business (taxes, cost of government, crime rate, quality of schools) and Springfield, Boston and Massachusetts in general "don't stack up" because of the Big Dig and the "misuse of economic development and school funds," especially in Springfield. Eamon's editorials always use certain pet cliches such as "the monopoly rag Union-Snooze." He also likes to accuse people of "shifting ground and talking out of context with a distinct tendency to lie."
Lovely day, around 7:30am it was 35 degrees. Gas at Pride in the Acres is $1.39.
The U.S. bombed Iraq yesterday so Saddam will know that a Bush is back in charge, but it is a dangerous game because it creates ill will with the Arab world. WFCR says the recent snow has been good for Vermont, which has had a lackluster skiing season this year. There was a little snow this morning for me to shovel, but it was melted at the bottom and came up in sheets like fudge out of a pan. I went to get gas at Pride, then went into the Goodwill, where I was amazed to acquire an autographed copy of Governor Volpe's biography John Volpe: The Life of an Immigrant's Son by Kathleen Kilgore for a quarter! When I came home I saw the mailman down on Embassy Road. I took in the Cohn's newspaper and put it in their breezeway. I'm surprised that no one does that for them, isn't he buddies with Cressotti?
I fell asleep sitting up while waiting for the mail. When I woke up the mail had come, including a letter from West Point saying they had no obituary of my cousin Col. Daniel M. Wilson, Class of 1928. Late in the afternoon I went to the Eastfield Mall Cinemas to see the much publicized film Hannibal. Admission was $5.50, popcorn was $3.50 and hot dogs were $2.75. There were lots of people in the theater. I didn't like the film, hardcore porn is one thing, but cutting off the top of a man's head and frying his brains is going a bit too far! I agree with USA Today that it was "a surprisingly dull and uninvolving movie."
I have finally mailed out my seasons felicitations letter to my relatives and friends. I wrote mostly about Wilbraham, but a few other things as well:
Felicitations to Relatives and friends:
As 2000 drew to a conclusion, I had several major projects on track to be completed by the holidays, but none was done on time, so following the precedent established by Grandfather Miller, I decided to wait until after the New Year to send out greetings. This enables me to report what is done and also to see who was writing to me because I was writing to them.
This year, 2001, is the 100th anniversary of the Monarch Life Insurance Company, for which my Father John W. Miller worked as Senior Underwriter for 42 years. What should be a joyful time is made melancholy because my family lost a bundle on the collapse of the parent company Monarch Capital. Today, Monarch staggers on in indefinite receivership, servicing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of old business and processing business for other companies on contract, but unable to write new business. Alas, they have no resources to squander on anniversary celebrations. Because of the special contents of this letter, I am sending copies to a wide pool of old acquaintances, even some at Monarch with whom I do not presume to resume correspondence. For the future, take note that I answer my mail, but I shall not pester those from whom I do not hear.
When Father died in 1985, everything happened so rapidly that we were unable to do all that we wanted to, although Father's beloved dolls Floppy and Ambrose were buried with him and a sketch of them appears on the gravestone. I took a more leisurely course with Mother's cremains so that I could arrange things in my own special way. Cousins Helen Miller and David Miller brought Aunt Martha Miller Bowen here on September 2, 2000 and we had a good reunion like in the old days. They transported Mother's cremains to Bethel, Vermont where they were very privately entombed at Fairview Cemetery at 1:30pm on September 7, 2000.
You may recall that Mother Blanche and Father John had a four acre camp on the Chicopee River in Wilbraham, upon which they bestowed much labor in building a cute little three room camp with porch and boathouse, and in due course even a garage with a window overlooking the river so that our 1935 Ford Tin Lizzy would have a room with a view and into which Lizzie was driven around 1956 after we moved to Birchland Avenue. The garage was nailed up and Lizzie has been there undisturbed ever since.
From a kit Father constructed a boat which was grey with a red bottom and he called it Naughty Two, as his first boat had been called the Naughty One. He built a stone outdoor fireplace, a balcony in a clump of oaks and planted lots of flowering plants. We had many happy times there in the 'thirties, 'forties and 'fifties, but they came to an end as the result of the construction of the Massachusetts Turnpike and its bridge across the Chicopee River only about a thousand feet away. What had been a quiet, natural setting was destined to become perpetually noisy from the tympanic thumping of autos and trucks passing over the bridge at all hours. The 1958 hurricane washed a foot of sand from the bridge construction over much of the camp, and Father got down on his belly and shoveled out under the sills of the buildings. We dug it all up and carted the sand to the edge of the lot and deposited it there as a berm.
We sort of got things back to normal, but while I was away at college and teaching in the 'sixties and 'seventies, the place was broken into a few times and even wrecked by vandals. As recently as about 1980 we put on a new roof, and then aged Father and I applied a last coat of red paint to the main building on the areas not covered by grey asbestos shingles. But the place continued to deteriorate beyond redemption. Therefore, I have presented the whole property, which has a long riverfront and is adjacent to an upper-middleclass subdivision, to the Town of Wilbraham as permanent conservation land to be called "Blanche and John's Fernbank."
The property will be cleaned up and restored to its natural state, carefully preserving the many varieties of ferns. Sometime in the future, there will be a formal dedication. This will be my last substantial act in honor of my Parents. The formal signing ceremony transferring the property occurred January 24, 2001 with my dolls Sweet Pea and Honeypot, successors to Floppy and Ambrose, flanking the official Fernbank sign painted many years ago by Father, who was of course a graduate of the Detroit School of Lettering and the International Correspondence School's Showcard Lettering program. I was there (with bells on) as was Wilbraham Town Planner John M. Pearsall and Pamela Beal, Secretary to the Wilbraham Town Manager and Notary of Record.
In other news, I had Father write his autobiography in his old age, and the manuscript is substantial and currently resides in the Miller-Wilson family papers at the University of Vermont. Just recently I have presented a copy of the lengthy section on the history of the Monarch Credit Union (of which Father was an officer for many years) to the Western Massachusetts Telephone Credit Union (into which the Monarch Credit Union was absorbed) where it will be permanently preserved. I am still collecting family memorabilia for transfer to the University of Vermont, and would especially like photos, letters, diaries and the like from all parties, especially something from the Lowell's and Haraden's.
My vita in Who's Who in America concludes with a brief quote, "The advancement of learning is my goal. Professionalism is the standard and nothing less will do." This I suspect led in the past year to my being invited to become a Fellow in the Wisdom Hall of Fame. The Modern Language Association of America celebrated the millennium with a special issue of PMLA, and I was one of two hundred invited to include a brief statement about the status of the profession of letters. Some of you will receive copies.
Keep in touch, and bless you all.
J. Wesley Miller III
Sunny all day, 26 degrees at 10:25am.
Bill Clinton had a piece in the New York Times today defending his pardons, waffling as he always does so well. Carole Simpson on ABC News said that 673,000 people went to jail under Clinton, the most under any president. Darby G. Livingston was a Certified Genealogical Record Searcher in Bennington, Vermont in 1979. This week the Springfield schools are on winter vacation. Ron from Tru-Green called offering me a special President's Day price, but I said I wanted to see if my flowers they killed last year come up first. He said he understood.
I went to the McDonald's on Boston Road and had a sausage breakfast sandwich and read the paper. Larry McDermott had a silly editorial where he implies that the supporters of the baseball stadium were enlightened visionaries, but thanks to the crass and ignorant populace the stadium is dead. Does he think by insulting the public he can get them to change their mind and say they want a stadium? From McDonald's I drove down to Wesley Church where I counted 41 cars in the parking lot. I found two posters in front of Friendly's and then drove back up to Angelo's where I did okay because he always puts a lot out for the Catholics getting out of OLSH across the street.
Then I decided to scoot over to the Goodwill at the X, where I bought a few books. Along the way I hit two open houses. 211 Dayton is an older six room house priced at $114,000, which I think is too much. There are two brand new rooms in the attic but no bath for them. 124 Gillette is a bargain, compact and cute with an odd L-shaped living room. There are crudely finished rooms upstairs that would be okay for kids. An older house but a bargain at $89,000. On Birchland the red Cadillac is back at Lucius' and there were no tracks in the snow at Cressotti's so I wonder if they are away. I put the paper in the Cohn's breezeway as well as a package for Mrs. Cohn marked FRAGILE from the Jewish woman's group. When I got home I had a can of Progresso Macaroni and Bean Soup that I got for 99 cents on sale. I hope I'm not eating too much cholesterol. I've been trying to eat an orange or a tomato every day.
Mrs. Staniski called and said she feared I have the flu because she hasn't heard from me. I told her I am fine and would drop off some bananas for her this afternoon. She told me that last week South Church was packed with mourners for the funeral of Delwin Lehman, a former minister to her husband John Staniski. After John died, Mrs. Staniski went to lunch with Lehman many times, and she said she is sadder over Lehman's death than over anybody since her husband died. I drove right over to Mrs. Staniski's and her driveway has been plowed but is very narrow. She gave me a copy of the Delwin R. Lehman obituary. She said she subscribes to the Sunday paper but not the daily. I offered her all my bananas but she only took a few, that's the kind of lady she is.
A picture in the paper shows Rep. Paul Caron looking very short standing next to Harvey Clay, the popular car salesman who is moving to Texas, after Caron presented him with a giant cowboy hat. Caron called Clay "a big guy with a big heart for his community" at a farewell party at the Basketball Hall of Fame. William T. Coffey of the Springfield Rotary Club bestowed an honor recently on retired Springfield Newspapers Publisher Richard C. Garvey for his "knowledge of all things historical in Western Massachusetts." Garvey was President of the Springfield Rotary in 1981 and 1982, but currently lives in Northampton. Although some of his history talks were good, I've always considered Garvey to be a pompous windbag with an overblown sense of his own importance.
36 degrees at 8:50am.
Actress drew Barrymore was a speaker at Harvard recently. Dined today on Swanson's Chicken ala King with Rice and some spinach I cooked up. My Woronoco stock continues to oh so slowly come down like air leaking out of a balloon.
The mail brought a postcard from Norway sent by Maureen, but the corner was torn off and it was delivered in one of those silly "sorry we ruined your mail but here it is" bags. I also received a note from Atty. Berman about an extremely rare bankruptcy title. Today I drove down to AIC for the Tuesday Morning Music Club's Junior Extension concert. It was not well attended by the regular club members, but was packed with relatives and friends of the performers. Bill Bradley and his new wife were there, he said he is not a club member but somebody gave him free tickets. Neither he nor his wife are musicians. There were no blacks in the audience.
The music was mostly piano, without a single violin. As always, Mrs. Ehrenberg greeted me very friendly and we had a nice chat. We both agreed what a fine concert it was. She said the children were taught by the respected piano teacher Galina Gertsenzon. I had Ehrenberg point her out to me and she is a large, businesslike woman. My only complaint about the concert was that the flute duet by Erin and Megan Wilson was lacking in power and they performed off scores while everyone else had their pieces memorized. I liked Leonid Makarov doing Beethoven best of all. Ultimately, the show was a recital by Galina Gertsenzon's students.
Afterwards, I stopped by the Goodwill in the Acres and I remarked to Patty what a nice display they had of green items, including a teddy with a green pot for a hat. Patty suddenly exclaimed, "Oh my God! The green vase is gone!" I asked if they suffer much from inventory shrinkage and she replied sadly, "An awful lot." I though to myself that the place is rarely so crowded that they shouldn't be able to monitor theft, but I said nothing. From there I went to the Eastfield Mall where there were cars parked near the cinema and lots of people wandering around the shops. The temporary shops that were set up for Christmas are all gone, and there are some empty storefronts by Penny's.
I went to the Eastfield office and got a free pillbox with a coupon that I pulled out of the trash at AIC. It was very pretty, with cherubic pictures on it. I looked at the coming attractions at the cinemas but most of the films are for kids. The theater has received complaints about kids getting in to see the grisly Hannibal by buying a ticket for a kid's film showing down the same hallway, then ducking into Hannibal. Some kids also see multiple films for the price of one by leaving after seeing one film and slipping into another that's just starting. Nothing is foolproof, and absolutely nothing is kidproof.
When I got home there was a black Mitsubishi, license plate #8542BD, in the Cohn's driveway. I never received a thank you from the Nader family for the card I sent them when their mother died. WFCR was telling about a group of activists opposing renewing the license of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. They call themselves the Citizen Action Network just like the Powells, but they abbreviate it CAN as in can-do, unlike the Powells who abbreviate their group CANE. I decided to call them and Bob Powell answered. I told him about the Vermont group, but he only said "right" and "okay" and didn't even thank me for calling. Bob has never been into thank-you rituals.
Sunny and breezy, 41 degrees at noon. Washington's real birthday.
The Smithsonian is trying to buy a portrait of George Washington from the British for $20 million. Jimmy Carter has called Clinton's pardon of Mark Rich "disgraceful." Miss Know-it-all Hillary Rodham Clinton claims she didn't know anything about it. She always seems to know what not to know about. The Clinton's are white trash. New England Fidelity Insurance Company, placed in receivership by the state insurance commission last fall, is expected to shut down for good on February 28. The company was founded in West Springfield in 1997 by U. Francis Florian. Kline's Fish Market in Westfield is closing, but their mayor says he isn't worried because the new Stop&Shop will help revive downtown. The Raven's Eye Bookshop is located on Cape Cod. Exterior Improvements is owned by Jared Rowe, a Springfield resident for 20 years.
The mail brought the latest mailing from The Judge's Chamber. I also got a free sample copy of Rolling Stone with a big article in it about Wellesley girls and how they have sex with professors, kitchen workers and the campus cops. Very candid and believable. They also suggest that being at an all woman's college promotes lesbianism. TV22 has started a Wednesday feature on collectibles, and this week they went to the Clock Mill and showed us three not particularly interesting clocks. The segment is an obvious rip-off of Antique Roadshow. They will appraise old jewelry next week. Dave Madsen goofed on TV40 when he said, "Robert Frost said good walls make good neighbors." That's fences, Dave, fences!
The New York Review of Books sent me an offer to subscribe where you affix a little sticker saying, "Yes! I'm an intellectual and proud of it. Start my subscription immediately!" Instead, I wrote "No! I'm a jerk so give somebody else the chance to be an intellectual." I'm reading Pope John-Paul's Vatican picture book and have learned some new things, although the book isn't very philosophical. The Boston Herald has a new design as of the 15th, and today's edition had an article about John Drysdale being inducted into the Community Newspaper Hall of Fame. It mentions "he began his career by volunteering at the Springfield Union in Massachusetts and worked for the Boston dailies." I decided to call the Springfield Newspapers to make sure they saw the article and got Kathy who said that David Starr is "off today" so I told her about the article. When I finished there was a long pause of silence so I asked, "Are you going to thank me for calling?" She replied, "Um, yes, thank you" and that was that.
WFCR had a piece on about the fight over historic homes on Mulberry Street, and Francis Gagnon of the Historical Commission was on saying, "It's not the Commission's role to respond to community input." Francis Gagnon has forgotten who she is and has actually convinced herself she is somebody. I called Wanda at the Mayor's Office and told her to alert Albano to Gagnon's latest display of arrogance. Eamon has a wonderful new tape on about McDermott's crafty and evasive editorial blaming the public's stupidity for the failure of the baseball stadium scheme. Too bad the Pulitzer people couldn't hear it, but I didn't give them Eamon's number because I was afraid they would listen when he had something racist on and that would have made a bad impression. Eamon's tape goes:
Toots Starr, a Newhouse advertising junkie from Longmeadow, and his toady scribe Twinkletoes McDermott from Wilbraham, blame city activists and taxpayers for killing the Northgate Plaza baseball stadium. But it was Judge Sweeney, based on the facts, record and the law, who ruled in favor of the opposition. Judge Sweeney had the intelligence, perception and commonsense to recognize this scam, an illegal imminent domain proceeding not for a public purpose but in fact just a limited use baseball stadium benefiting a few of Mayor Albano's cronies at the public's expense."
That is a very fine summary of the whole issue.
Sunny, gentle breeze, 22 degrees at 7:30am. Beautiful skiing weather.
President Bush was on TV complaining about China. Bush sometimes talks in incomplete and not perfectly logical sentences. You can still tell what he means, but his English is weak whenever he has to think on his feet. Buckingham teacher Gertrude M. Kern graduated from Cathedral High School in 1925. Royster C. Hedgepeth, who was a champion fundraiser for UMass, has been hired to raise money for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
We got two inches of snow overnight. I can remember a number of winters when the ground was bare most of the winter, but this has not been one of them. Starting at 7pm I spent the entire night in my bondage hood, and I was in my head harness under the hood until 1am. It got rather uncomfortable, but I am training myself to be a slave, if not to somebody else, then to myself. I padlocked my collar with a bell and dogtag, and I am now wearing my collar everywhere. Doubtless I am nuts, but 2000 is here and we have to experiment with all sorts of possibilities.
The mail brought a nice thank you note from Chris Farquahar, but nothing special otherwise. I got a WNEC promotional flyer from President Caprio and a letter from Nick Nikolaidis. A letter I sent to the Kennedy Library came back enclosed in a damaged mail bag. I can't believe it, two in one week! My phone ID says Secundo C. Guidi called, although sometimes the information provided by my phone identifier is not always accurate. Went out at 11:35am and shoveled the little bit of snow. The Republican Extra in the purple bag was lying by the mailbox. Up against the garage door with snow on it was my book from the Lawbook Exchange. I drove down to the Breckwood Shops to get the Valley Advocate and the Union-News. I wore my head harness all the way there but took it off before going into Louis & Clark. The clerk asked me about the bell on my collar.
From there, I crossed the street and got an onion bagel for 99 cents with a coupon at Dunkin Donuts. Next I went down to Mason Square and counted exactly ten cars in the parking lot of Wesley Church, not bad for a Saturday. Then to the AIC library to do research of various sorts. I drove out to Spag's to look at their Images of America history books. When I got back to Birchland, I left the Boston Herald at the Penniman's. The For Sale sign is gone at the Coburn's.
Dined tonight on a Swanson Macaroni and Cheese entrée with spinach and tomatoes. Springfield has paid $75,000 to settle the police brutality case involving Jeffrey Asher. Under Albano, the city has had to settle a number of legal messes. Today I received an invitation to Mike Albano's 2001 Re-election Campaign Kick-off at Elegant Affairs on March 8th with tickets going for $125 per person. I'm told that Albano's fundraisers are usually very brief affairs and I of course will not be going. I recall being told that Albano sometimes has fundraisers where there is nothing but a basket to put your contribution envelope in and some coffee and donuts. Drop off your money, have a cup of coffee and a donut and leave. These events are often attended by city employees and others who dare not refuse to contribute.
35 degrees at 2pm, light precipitation all day.
Protesters in Mexico wore white jumpsuits for "the forgotten people of the world" which they described as Indians, immigrants and homosexuals. The Miami Herald has recounted all the ballots in Florida and after it was all over Gore gained only 49 votes, so Bush really did win Florida and therefore the election after all. It must be true if a liberal paper like the Miami Herald came to that conclusion. The latest issue of Harvard Magazine has a notice that Arthur Goldschmidt has retired. I recall him as tall, jovial and broadminded. Howard I. Kolodner was the Dean of Western New England College School of Law in 1982. Friendly's stock is down to 2.09 and Woronoco continues to fall.
There was an inch of icy snow on the roads this morning so I stayed in and didn't go to McDonald's to eat and read the Springfield paper. I hope Larry McDermott didn't write anything too ridiculous this week! This has been a nice winter, not harsh, just enough to encourage me to hunker down and get something done instead of just running around. Had Total cereal with syrup on it for breakfast and a bottle of green tea. I called Mary Alice Stusick and told her about the harp bibliography in the Hamilton catalog. She thanked me for the note I sent her and said her husband Gary would like to look at my rare books. He graduated from WNEC and was a sergeant in the Army for eight years. I said I would ask them over for tea in the spring and drop off some reading material for her sometime in the next few days. Next I called WFCR and told Joan that they have been mispronouncing several foreign phrases, to which she replied, "Ok, thank you, I'll tell them."
By the time I left at 10:30am the inch of snow had melted so I didn't have to shovel. I bought the paper and it turns out there was nothing in it except a story about the remodeling of the Springfield Park Department Offices, complete with two pictures no less. I also mailed a memo to Wayne Kempton the Episcopal archivist. From there I headed over to Angelo's and got a loaf of Melba Thin Jewish Rye, which I very much like, and day old jelly donuts at 15 cents each. Next I headed down to AIC, where I came through the Martin Luther King Community Center. I tried to take down a poster but someone came out and said they were saving it for their office.
In the AIC Library I asked to use the microfilm printer in order to print something from the April 22, 1926 Bethel Courier about the granite used for St. John the Divine. I got three copies, the bare minimum I needed, but then it stopped working and neither the student attendant nor the librarian were able to fix it. I then asked the Reference Librarian why I couldn't find the National Union Catalog, and she said they threw it out a few weeks ago. When I got back I left some magazines at the Cohn's, the lights were on but there was no sign of them. Tonight I had a Stouffer's Beef Stroganoff entrée with the Melba rye and butter.
I've been reading Public Religion in America Today (1997) by Martin E. Marty and Edith L. Blumhofer and it is incredible bullshit by elitist professors who have accomplished next to nothing yet get nice salaries. Waterbury, Connecticut is $50 million in debt and they are blaming it on extravagant pay and perks for city employees. I've received no notification that the Pulitzer Prize people have cashed the $50 check I sent with my nomination of the Valley Advocate. Eamon's latest editorial is about the Asher police brutality payout and the problem with "rogue cops" in Springfield.
Sun and clouds, 32 degrees at 7:15am.
Seattle has had its biggest earthquake since the 1940's. The media is saying that the Bush Administration has brought a new civility to Washington after the divisive Clinton years. Bush was on TV saying that "All our citizens are equal and must be treated equally." That sounds okay but reveals a flaw. Equal and equally are parallel but not the same word, if he used the word "must" then it implies they are not. I doubt that's what Bush meant to say. If everyone is to be treated equal than I want to drive a submarine or a battleship! The legalization of marijuana for medicinal use is being debated by the Vermont legislature. It deserves to pass because everybody should be able to smoke whatever they want. I recall how in 1983 John M. Thompson represented Christine and David Nissenbaum in a case where they argued that they were using marijuana as a religious sacrament.
Ella Grasso ran G.Fox and then became Governor of Connecticut. She once sent me a nice letter. At the April 26, 1980 Wilbraham Town Meeting Father delivered his report entitled What's Best for Wilbraham. Ann Zaccio worked for the Law Department of The Hartford Insurance Company in 1982. Daniel L. Roberts was in charge of Planned Giving at Colby College in Maine in 1982. I came across a letter today from James K. Hall, Chief of Freedom of Information requests, informing me in 1982 that there is no record of me ever having been investigated by the FBI. Ecolo-Bag garden and leaf bags are made by Dano in Stamford, Connecticut.
Was up working in the middle of the night from midnight until three, going through my business papers and writing letters. Time is my enemy and I have to press ahead with whatever I can do before I die. I'm not afraid to die, but I hope I can put together around 300 pages of key manuscripts that I can publish in book form and blow the whistle on all the folks who have screwed me in one way or another. Very few have such a luxury, and I do hope that I complete that final form of vengeance, my only compensation for all that I have been unjustly denied.
The mail was on time and included two postcards, both addressed to KMart Preferred Customer (that's me!) but one was meant for 22 Jeffrey Road so I wrote "mis-delivered" on it and put it back in the mailbox. I drove down to Mary Alice Stusick's place and parked across the street because her driveway was unshoveled. There are two abandoned cars on the property and the mailbox is dented. Even the porch was crowded with junk, tool boxes and their contents were strewn about and there is a large plastic pipe dumped on the ground. Her husband Gary Plant must have seen me coming because he came out on the porch in brown plastic sandals and we exchanged felicitations. I gave him some stuff including the Hamilton harp book for Mary Alice and I told him I would invite them for tea in the spring. He said he would prefer coffee so I asked about Bristol Crème, but he said he doesn't drink. I replied, "Coffee it is then, see you in May or June."
From there I went to the Sixteen Acres Library, but when I asked for last Sunday's paper they said they don't get it. When I asked why she replied, "Because we aren't open on Sunday!" I cashed a check for $50 at Fleet in the Acres, formerly Bank of Boston when it opened, then over to the First Baptist Church of Agawam for their tag sale. The sale was not very interesting, but I did see a picture hanging in the church, not for sale, that was fascinating. It is huge, maybe 15 feet wide and ten feet high. It was obviously very old, showing a river twisting through a valley and some hills in the background. It is unsigned but I estimate its date at around 1840. I asked one of the church ladies about it. She said the painter is unknown and nobody has ever looked into its history. She said the church is over 200 years old and the painting used to hang in the sanctuary. Now it hangs in a sort of alcove on the inside wall in an area that is poorly lighted. I told her the church should contact the Smithsonian to help them identify it.
When I left I drove past Aunt Maria's place and there were two cars in the driveway. Atty Gendron's office is down the road towards Food Mart about a half a mile from Aunt Maria's on the right hand side. Coming back to Springfield I noticed that the roof is on the new Basketball Hall of Fame. The building so far looks awful and not particularly inviting. It's just a Quonset hut, an airplane hanger without a runway. This project is really just about jobs for the construction workers who vote Democrat and keep the crooks in office. The current building Lee Williams put up in the 1980's is a lovely period structure, but the new Hall of Fame design is a disgrace. When I got home I called Carol Collins of the Urban Investment Strategy Team and made reservations for the Evan Dobelle lecture. I told Carol I consider Dobelle to be an excellent speaker and she was pleased to hear it. Today was the day that New England Fidelity was to go out of business, but I called their number and they had the same old tape about pressing 5 for a quote on auto or homeowner's insurance. Finally, I called Belle-Rita Novak and she has a tape on saying that she is gone from February 27 to March 14th, so I left word about the Dobelle event.
Thomas' English Muffins has a TV ad featuring a guy in a leather jacket. TV22's antique segment this week featured Janie Casal of Red Lady on antique jewelry. Phillip Johnston, Democratic State Chairman, was on TV discussing the legacy of Bill Clinton. On TV22 Marianne Ward said that the average price of a single family home in Massachusetts is up from $261,000 to $295,000. Marie Lyons, a local judge, has become the target of 17 ethics complaints. Beth Cohen of WNEC Law was on discussing the charges very impartially. Lyons is accused of discriminating against men and cutting people off while improperly applying the law. She is defending herself by saying that the court is backlogged and she has to cut people off to keep things on track.
Albano was on TV boasting that the city is tearing down 15 houses "taking out unsightly and dangerous buildings and improving the quality of life in Springfield." Yes, Mr. Mayor, but whose fault is it that the properties have become blighted in the first place? Eamon's current answering machine editorial goes, "There are at least 30 dangerous and pathologically unfit rogue cops in the Springfield Police Department with long records of police brutality and other illegal activities unbecoming a police officer, working in our mismanaged department which lacks accountability, supervision, discipline, and regular personnel evaluations. These rogue cops are protected by the Blue Code of Silence and a phony internal investigation unit. These despicable villains are abusing their authority and ripping off the taxpayers while enjoying a high quality life environment by living in Hampden, Wilbraham and other suburban communities."