December 1999

December 1, 1999

37 degrees at 2:40pm.

There is rioting and looting all over downtown Seattle in anti-globalization protests. Shannon O'Brien is our State Treasurer. Paula Berthiahume is Title Clerk for Ford Motor Credit Company in Southboro, Massachusetts. Dennis A. Hawes and Aimee L. Gladden are students at the High School of Commerce. Had Corn Flakes, grapefruit and a Hungry Man Chicken Dinner today.

My oil tank is 5/8ths full. Simple days have a way of becoming complicated. Out at nine and noticed the white car of the Cohn's housekeeper in their driveway. Next door at Cressotti's is a sign for Jenkins Residential Roofing. I got a copy of today's paper out of the trash can in front of Louis & Clark. From there I drove to Stop&Shop and got a few groceries on special. Then I went to the Eastfield Mall and asked at Sears whether they had body suits, but they had none. At Filene's the poinsettia tree is gone. As I was leaving, President Caprio walked past and pretended not to notice me. But after we had passed each other by about 30 feet I turned around and caught him turning and looking at me. Ha! As I headed back, I noticed that the parking lot of the Evangelical Covenant church was very full.

Home at 10:55am and found my shipment from Lawbook Exchange had arrived. The mail was here at 1pm for a change and the title certificate arrived for the car. I also got a copy of Elms Today which listed me as a donor but not Eamon. Socrates Babacus called and said Karen Powell told him that his signature was among those being challenged. Babacas thinks that Mayor Albano should be the subject of a recall petition. I called Fred Whitney but he said he couldn't talk because he was going to pick up his son at the airport where he is returning from Florida.

Eamon called and we discussed some of the stories in the paper, such as how only 20 people showing up for the public hearing for the Cecil masterplan. Eamon then wondered why Priscilla Ress hasn't been doing any of her consumer protection segments lately on TV. Eamon then recalled how when he took over the Andover Institute at 145 State Street, he was hired after a luncheon at The Fort with the Lipenis brothers of Boston. Eamon claims he "turned the whole place around" and I can believe it. Eamon says Mrs. Leroy Crenshaw told Karen Powell that Charlie Ryan wants all the stadium signatures verified.

Eamon then told me that his friend Gingras the teacher informed him that he was in Principal Winegar's office while Negroni was screaming over the phone that TV40 was investigating the absentee rates at Commerce and demanding that Winegar make no statement to the media. TV40 reporters tried to enter Commerce to do interviews with students and staff but were turned away at the door. Gingras says that Negroni never wants anybody in the school system talking to the media, and if they do he threatens them with losing their jobs. Eamon has been told that Negroni has plants throughout the system who fill him in on what's going on. Nader the Hatter's sister, who works at Sci-Tech, says everybody is scared, especially since Sci-Tech's attendance is as bad as at Commerce. Attendance is also poor at Putnam, although Central High is a little better with only 200 out per day.

December 2, 1999

Sunny, 28 degrees at 7:30am.

Last night Parliament voted to end British rule in Ireland. There was a conference in Worcester for educators from all over the state to discuss working character instruction into education. TV coverage showed Commissioner of Education David Driscoll and Roberta Schaefer, Vice Chair of the Board of Education. TV22 has revealed that Springfield has a new distinction - it is among the 10 metropolitan areas with the smoggiest air. The Crossroads Development Park is on Bobala Road in Holyoke.

The Food Mart on Springfield Street in Agawam is to be replaced by a Super Food Mart like we have here. A commercial on TV40 showed that Savers is offering 50% off this weekend on black leather motorcycle jackets. That is not characteristic of the products they normally carry. The news on TV57 showed a person in a biker jacket rioting in Seattle. They say the rioters are middle class youth worried about their future. Good for them.

Edwards Books in Baystate West is getting a lot of publicity because it is not doing well and trying hard to survive. This week they are having local authors in to sign their books. Friday, Barry Moser will sign autograph his illustrated Bible, Thursday Dick Garvey and Wayne Phaneuf will be in to autograph their history of the newspaper and today was Amy Lyon, author of In a Vermont Kitchen. Others slated to appear are Anita Shreve, Suzanne Strempek Shea and Michael White. I'm enjoying reading Tom Devine's Ogulewicz Chronicles. Eamon called and said he's been talking to Nader the Hatter in Florida. Szuch's husband has checked into a New York hospital for heart surgery.

I received a call today informing me that Aunt Maria is in the hospital and will be going into a nursing home. The call came from Sue Canus, an R.N. at Mercy Hospital, who said Aunt Maria was brought in at 3pm yesterday after a fall. She described Aunt Maria as "sitting upright but confused." She was found by Shirley lying on the floor who called for help. Police officers were involved. Aunt Maria will be taken tomorrow to to the Riverdale Gardens Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 42 Prospect Avenue in West Springfield.

So I left here and arrived at Mercy Hospital and was directed to Room 540. The nurse in charge, Sarah-Kate Fitzell, said Aunt Maria "just had a spill." I spoke to her doctor Gaziane, a small fellow, who said he and his partner Gary Jacobs are handling Aunt Maria's recovery. Gaziane described Aunt Maria suffering from "chronic dementia" which will only get worse. He said when she arrived at Mercy she was dehydrated and needs care in a nursing home for at least several weeks as she is "too weak" to return home.

I found Aunt Maria lying in her hospital bed and looked a mess. I almost cried to see her in such a condition. I couldn't help but recall how a few weeks earlier she had said in her parlor that she was happier than she had been in a long time. Aunt Maria managed to sit up and talk, although somewhat scatterbrained, about how lovely Mother was, that she didn't like my whiskers and was afraid that the hospital staff were out to get her. As I left I told nurse Fitzell that Aunt Maria can be paranoid and sometimes turns against those who are trying to help her. The nurse smiled and said she understands as earlier Aunt Maria had shouted at her, "You're trying to kill me!"

December 3, 1999

36 degrees at 7:15am.

The Visiting Nurse Association and Hospices of Western New England is having an Interfaith Memorial Service on December 14 at 50 Maple Street.

This was another busy day. Today I paid $12 for a scalping at the barber shop in the Acres. $10 plus a $2 tip. I wanted to make the queerest possible impression at the art show so I wore my orange suit and logger boots all day. I put out a lot of mail at Breckwood, including something to Donald Newhouse. I then drove down to the newspaper headquarters and left some papers for Robyn Newhouse, from which I've heard nothing lately. I parked on Salem and found a copy of the Wall Street Journal in a trash can by SIS.

From the paper I went to B. Moser's book signing where I was the first one there. Moses was seated at a table back by the children's section. I bought his book after ascertaining it was printed on acid free paper. Moser wrote in my inscription, "I believe Jesus was gay." I was surprised to see Atty. Berman come in wearing a loud tie. He was jovial but for some reason swore me not to tell anyone I saw him there. He didn't thank me for the copy of my book I gave him. I looked at Garvey and Phaneuf's History of the Springfield Newspapers, which is glossy with color pictures and a lot of hype about the paper in general and Springfield in particular.

Afterwards I got a deli-baloney sandwich at Subway, where there were lots of Latino customers who were very friendly. Down at Northgate I exchanged pleasantries with the liquor store owner and ran into Dan Carr. All of the businesses at Northgate are running except the medical center is gone and that's a biggie. There are Christmas lights all over downtown which create a Bright Lights wonderland effect which is quite lovely.

I then drove over to the TV57 Art Show opening and was fortunate to be able to park in the first space besides Hampden Savings Bank. The art show itself was at First Church and they gave me a program whose color was black instead of the pretty picture they've put on them in the past. A sign of hard times? Susan Tilton Pecora was the featured artist with her portraits of buildings in Deerfield. They had some Little Red Riding Hood pieces, but I didn't want them.

There were scanty snacks of crackers, cheese and I was offered wine but refused. Jack Briggs was casually dressed but Roy Scott wore a tuxedo. David Starr (without Peggy this year) wore his usual brown pants and tweed jacket. Starr disappeared early, perhaps having spotted me. There were no black people present. The eccentric rainbow lady I met at the Sacco Vanzetti meeting greeted me. Most of the art was mediocre. Pecora's stuff is great, but who wants a rural Congregationalist church on their wall?

I called Atty. R. Gendron and told him that Aunt Maria has been moved to Riverdale from Mercy. I told him Riverdale is on Prospect Street right over the Mass Pike, the last road before Holyoke. We discussed her estate and I told him that her estate is worth about a million. I said she mentioned leaving most of it to me, but also some to Thelma who brings her to church, Ruth, something to the church to repair its roof and some kind of a memorial to her husband George, who made her the money in the first place. He listened politely and told me his office is at 890 Springfield Street in Feeding Hills.

Eamon has a wonderful new tape: "There are hundreds of kids absent each day in Springfield's Commerce, Sci-Tech and Putnam schools with hundreds more tardy. Many of those who do attend disappear around noontime. So how many kids are actually enrolled and attending classes on a regular basis? We're not talking about the 1200 who are assigned to those schools, but to those actually in attendance. Superintendent Negroni and his toady numbers man Mr. Howell say there are over 20,000 students in the system, but an actual head count would prove otherwise. This is a systemic problem that is out of control and calls for an investigation." Very good.

I chatted with Eamon later and he said a custodian he knows who has worked in the schools for 30 years told him that "things are a lot worse in the schools" than the public thinks. "Ten times worse," he was told, "people have no idea of how bad it is." Eamon says Negroni was investigated by the Education Department's Dispatcher General when he was down in the Bronx.

December 4, 1999

42 degrees on the breezeway at 7:15am.

WFCR news said this morning the World Trade Organization conference was "a failure and a fiasco." Good, I'm with labor on this one. Later NBC News had a story on Seattle and the jubilation of the protesters, focusing on several wearing black leather motorcycle jackets, which has truly become the uniform of choice for troublemakers. George K. Mazareas is the Director of the Massachusetts Economic Assistant Coordinating Council.

I wrote a letter today to Atty. Gendron about Aunt Maria's will and then mailed it at Louis & Clark. There were no papers in the trash. Coming back to the car, I ran into Bob Robinson, the Valley Advocate photographer, and when I asked if he got my pictures he sputtered and said he will look for them next time he is in the Advocate office. He was all smiles and he takes splendid pictures, but still strikes me as something of a dodger.

I keep telling myself that I am going to withdraw a bit from public activity, but I keep getting lured out by different adventures. I'm certainly not going to go to all the events in the coming year that I went to last year. Today I went to the Memorial Service at Byron's Funeral Home on Allen Street which they held for their clients who have died in the past year. I was surprised to find the place almost full with over a hundred people present. Many were not really dressed for a Memorial Service and there were only a few Latinos and no blacks.

They had a Christmas tree up in front with an ornament on it for each deceased person. As they read your relative's name from a roster, you could go up and take the ornament with their name on it. They served fruit punch and cookies and that was it. We also got a Norman Rockwell calendar with the Byron's logo on it and a booklet How to Deal With Grief in the Holiday Season. It was a nice event. On the way home I dropped off a big bag of reading material at the Cohn's and found Irving standing in his driveway wearing sweat pants. I told him he looks great, especially having just had an operation.

A letter from Atty. Alan Goodman came today saying there may be a case to be made against Ring Nursing Home but there's not enough money in it. The mail also brought the lab report from Dr. Mullan. I called for an update on Aunt Maria and nurse Kate informed me she lives across the street from me in the white house with blue trim at 1556 Wilbraham Road. She said I once came to her tag sale and bought a dollhouse. Kate said that Aunt Maria fractured her hip on the 2nd and "seems to be alert, she answered my questions appropriately. " The doctor wants her to sit up in a chair this afternoon. I asked Kate to tell my aunt that her nephew called.

Dined tonight on a Swanson Fish Filet Dinner. Eamon called this evening, and when I told him about the service he said he had never heard of such an event. Eamon says that Gingras the Commerce teacher is getting $52,000 per year. According to Eamon, Dr. Negroni buys the loyalty of his teachers with high salaries - Keep your mouth shut about what's going on and you'll be well paid.

December 4, 1999

Sunny, 48 degrees on the breezeway at 12:15pm.

Am I an Anal Compulsive Record-keeper? My best ideas come at night, but Arnold B. Kanter claims, "For many lawyers, bathroom time is their most productive and profound thinking time." Gail A. Seklecki is President of the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce.

Last night I slept for a while with my right ear on the pillow and when I awoke I had a very intense, high pitched ringing on that side. After about an hour it went away. Drove out at quarter to nine and bought a paper at Louis & Clark to read about the Cecil report community survey. First I stopped at the Acres Big Y and got two free boxes of Cream of Wheat with a coupon. Next I drove over to Carew and made copies at the convenience store on the corner of Nottingham Street and made copies of Devine's Ogulewicz Chronicles, which I left at Eamon's.

From there, I drove down to Mercy Hospital, where I found Aunt Maria still in the same room with various tubes attached, teeth out, looking pretty much a mess. I announced my presence and informed her that I had brought the morning paper. I told her that I loved her and cherished the memories of the many good times we had together. Nurse Kate arrived, a thin woman with a big smile, who said that Aunt Maria will be going to rehab tomorrow. She said a group from the church had already visited earlier today. I told Aunt Maria that while I won't visit regularly, I'll call to see how she is doing.

When I was leaving, I recalled how Nader the Hatter once told me that Mercy has good food, so I went to their cafeteria and had sausage links, eggs and fruit for $1.85. It's help yourself so you can get a nice portion. Then over to 223 Forest Park Avenue for the Forest Park 100 Year Old House Tour put on by the Forest Park Civic Association. I parked across from Steve Hay's house. Belle Rita Novak was helping with the registrations and I took her picture.

It was a lovely day for a house tour. I was wearing my full purple outfit featuring purple pants with cup, logger's boots, biker jacket, padlocked chain with dog tags and wearing an earring. A sight to behold, but all very neat and clean, just very queer. Many of the houses in Forest Park were already decorated for Christmas. They were selling copies of the Forest Park historical booklet with a map for $3 and I bought one.

The first house we visited was Hay's, which was in some respects the best one. It is a large house with a beautiful collection of bottles along the kitchen sink and a dollhouse on the second floor. There was a bad reproduction of a famous painting of Venice in the living room, real art was scarce. I ran into Fidele Malloy, who told me her father's name was Fidel. I also chatted with someone named Lavalle who said he works in healthcare. He goes power walking every morning and sometimes runs into Mayor Albano. Lavalle believes the city is bonding too much and that Springfield needs a radical change in leadership.

65 Bellevue is a house with steam radiators still in use. I told the owner her house is lovely as I left, and she said she remembered hearing me speak at the City Council adding, "You did a good job, you spoke well." 106 Magnolia had an ugly painting of some roses in a field of grey, while 36 Magnolia has an immense beech tree in the lot next door. Finally we arrived at former Mayor Charles V. Ryan's house, which I believe was built in 1906, and thereby is less than a hundred years old. Ryan was good natured and cordial to me, as was his wife Joan. I asked about a chair that was similar to the one Father got from Monarch and Ryan told me he got it from the family of Monarch President C.Y. Young. He also showed me a campaign button from his 1968 congressional campaign against Boland. "Everything in this house has a story behind it," Ryan said.

On the way home, I left a copy of Moser's Bible with Mrs. Cohm, who exclaimed that the illustrations are wonderful. Eamon called and confessed that he sent in five Cecil survey forms using fake names. He also told me that Negroni is sitting on the latest test scores to avoid embarrassment. He believes that only reforms instituted in the schools from the bottom up will work, not ones from the top down. My phone ID showed M. Stone called from 737-9855 asking, "Is this the kitchen?" Yes, I replied. "Marty?" they asked. "Not here now," I said and hung up.

December 5, 1999

Rainy, mild, 51 degrees at 8:30am.

James Peyser is Chairman of the Mass Board of Education and David Driscoll is Commissioner of the Mass Department of Education. I drove out and got the morning paper out of the trash can in front of Louis & Clark. Then I went across the street to Dunkin Donuts and bought a dozen donuts with a dollar off coupon. Next I drove over to Angelo's for mostly fruit and as I was leaving it was raining heavily.

Dined today on grapefruit, brown bread, pork chops, spaghetti and donuts. Mrs. Staniski's 90th birthday is Saturday the llth and her daughter Ann is taking Friday off to come home and be with her. I spoke on the phone today with Mrs. Cohn, who says the family was there yesterday afternoon. She told me they all looked at Moser's Bible and claimed that she herself has always been an admirer of Barry Moser's work and that she once visited his studio. I called about Aunt Maria and nurse Jean said that "she's doing well but a little confused." I asked if she will be leaving for the nursing home and Jean replied, "It could happen, but I haven't heard about it."

Eamon called and said the Basketball Hall of Fame is the poorest attended Hall of Fame of any major sport. Worse, the Ladies Basketball Hall of Fame just opened and is a big success in Tennesee. Eamon claims the Baseball Hall of Fame gets 475,000 visits per year, football gets 400,000 and the Springfield Hall doesn't even get 100,000 visitors per year. Eamon then recalled how he had two friends who sold their homes to live downtown in Chestnut Towers, Al Hirshorn the jeweler and Al Cyriac, a good friend of Mayor Tommy O'Connor who was in the wholesale lumber business. They didn't like it when welfare recipients with housing subsidies moved in on the same floor as them. Within two years they had moved out because "the goddamn place was ruined." Hirshorn sold a $400,000 house in Longmeadow to move there and Cyriac had given up a nice place in Wilbraham.

We then talked about the obituary in the paper for The Rev. Dr. Dorothy Spoerl, 93, who taught at A.I.C. from 1946 to 1957. Her classes were held in the big lecture room in Lee Hall. She had an adopted son Walter who was sort of the class dummy. Eamon recalled a time when Walter used a bow and arrow to impale a pigeon on the roof. It was still alive, so Dr. Spoerl climbed up the porch railing to rescue it, but Walter (who was a big fellow) failed to help her get back down and she fell and had to teach her classes wearing a cast on her foot. Young Walter had a dirty mouth because his mother felt children should be able to express themselves any way that wanted so swearing was okay. Dorothy Spoerl was an advocate of Free Love and appeared in an article on that topic in Life Magazine in the 1950's. She was also the subject of rumors that there were communists teaching at A.I.C. that included not only Spoerl but Whitelaw and Mather.

Eamon was a student in Sproel's Abnormal Psych class where she was always giving the class psychological tests. His friend Bobby Fitzgerald was diagnosed by her as being overly aggressive towards women. Daniel Patrick Murphy was also in the class and later become President of Hampden Chemical. Murphy had two brothers who were priests, with one becoming President of Merrimack College. Spoerl was anti-Catholic and let it show, saying that she considered all people raised Catholic to be victims of brainwashing. I told Eamon about how I was told by the Unitarian Universalist church historian that a professor at A.I.C. was a strong advocate for tearing down their beautiful State Street church and building a new one on Porter Lake Drive. As a doctor of divinity, we both agreed that who else could it have been if not Sproel?

December 6, 1999

Sun out but not for long, 54 degrees at 6:15pm.

Things are moving slowly around here, especially with Christmas coming up and I feel the flu coming on. Females in Training at the Breckwood Shops has an ad saying, "Merry Fitness!" Dr. Anthony P. Giannetti has a dental office at 275 Bicentennial Highway in Springfield. The McNally Brothers have an office in the same building. Shawn Jenks works for Map Display Inc. in Westfield.

I called Lovejoy and got his answering machine, but said nothing. I called Mercy and the RN Jean said Aunt Maria has been sent to Riverdale Gardens. She described her to me as "still confused when she left." So I called Riverdale Gardens and was told that Aunt Maria is in Rm. 115 and is confined to a wheelchair. I asked that she be told that I called and that I would be coming by.

So I drove over to Riverdale Gardens, which is lacking in the pretensions of elegance of some nursing homes. It is nice enough but shows some hints of tackiness. Aunt Maria can see a little greenery out her window and she has a roommate named Mary Dearden. I found Aunt Maria seated in a wheelchair wearing a rose robe and looking somewhat better and more normal. She immediately said to me, "Wesley, will you please go away? You're not supposed to be here. I do not want you coming near me. I know you'd like to have me killed!"

A nurse, Marilyn Rossi, appeared and asked me to speak with Debra Kratoul, the Unit Manager, and Ann Smidt, a social worker. They asked me to step into a private room and on our way there I caught them staring at my scalped hair and biker jacket. Debra said that Aunt Maria didn't want me coming to see her. I replied that it was fine with me, as I live twenty miles away and have other things to do. However, I explained that as her only living relative, I felt obliged to look over the place she is staying and assured them I would be making inquiries about the reputation of the nursing home. I promised not to harass my aunt with visits, but would call to inquire about her condition.

Channel 22 is asking people to drop off toys at their new station, and Jerry Franklin, President of CPTV, is suavely begging for thousand dollar gifts. I called the Unitarian Universalist Association and spoke to their Administrator Trisha, but she knew nothing about Dorothy Spoerl or any other A.I.C. professor pushing for their historic downtown church to be demolished. There are no plans to have a memorial service for Spoerl, so I dropped it at that.

December 8, 1999

Lovely day, 34 degrees at 8:45.

The latest space probe to Mars is a failure. In today's paper there is an obituary for Dr. William Baker, who was the Medical Director for Monarch from 1976 until 1990 when he moved to Merrill-Lynch. He was a member of Trinity Methodist Church. The Great New England Air Show will be held August 12-13 at Westover Air Reserve Base. The news says Riverside Park will be opening in early May as Six Flags New England. Russ Campbell is a store manager for Big Y Supermarket.

The current value of my Northwest Utilities stock holdings are $893.75. I have diminished hearing in my right ear today. Kelly has set up elaborate Christmas decorations around her house, including green lights and wreaths. I left the house late and stopped at Irving Cohn's. He was sitting in the family room which has a sofa, a somewhat large TV and a bookcase with cabinets beneath. I got back my Oak Knoll catalog, but nothing else I had lent him marked "return." I asked if he knew the name of a good urologist and Mrs. Cohn suggested Leonard Shaker, whom she described as "a local boy." The Cohn's are having Terry Deriso Barton over for supper and I could smell spices cooking already. There was a bag of trash by the door so I offered to take it out and she asked if I'd take the old newspapers out as well. When she thanked me she added, "I'm so glad Myra had good friends like you."

From the Cohn's I drove to La Fiorintina Bakery and bought $10 worth of fancy pastry filled with whipped cream plus strawberries dipped in chocolate. Then I drove to the Boston Road Big Y, thinking of buying some lobster, but the $18 cost was more than I wanted to pay so I settled for two orders of scallops. Next I went to Bickford's and bought two liver and onion dinners with mashed potatoes and butternut squash to go. It came with rolls but they forgot the butter.

When I arrived at Mrs. Staniski's a female neighbor was just leaving. Mrs. Stanisiki's place has always been impeccably clean, nothing like Aunt Maria. Even the inside of Mrs. Staniski's refrigerator is tidy. She has a little television in the kitchen and big one in the basement. I brought with me as a gift a sweater that Mother had bought at King's Department Store but had never worn. We had dinner at the kitchen table and then we opened the pastries and each had one. I told her the rest are for her and Ann to share over the weekend. At one point Mrs. Staniski recalled how miserable Aunt Maria had been on the trip to Madison. She also showed me a music box that was bought by her mother in the 1930's which was still in perfect condition, as good as new. She thanked me profusely and I told her she is a good Christian woman and I wished her a happy 90th birthday.

When I got home I called Shaker at Pioneer Valley Urology and made an appointment with his receptionist Debbie for January 24th. I called Shirley who told me she doesn't expect there to be anything left of Aunt Maria's estate if she lives much longer. Maybe she's hinting that I shouldn't expect anything. I replied that there are things in Aunt Maria's house that belong to me, including pictures and the spinning wheel. I also said the stuff in Uncle George's old shop are all mine, as well the boxes of books in the basement plus the old stove and the blue washing machine. She was noncommittal about I said.

I have heard nothing from Eamon in the last couple days. The MCAS test scores were released today, inspiring a bitter phone editorial from Eamon, "Springfield's dismal MCAS scores should mean the end for the social promotion, rudderless charlatan Superintendent Peter Negroni, who lacks the decency to resign while the inept, rubber stamp School Board lack the courage to fire him. We're stuck with this despicable villain, who talks a good game but fails to deliver. He produced the same failing results in District 12 in the Bronx. Since his arrival in 1989 to date not a single principal or teacher has been fired. I'm afraid our school system, lacking accountability, employee evaluation and supervision is doomed to a state takeover."

December 9, 1999

36 degrees and frosty at 8:45am.

The Powell's are having their fundraiser to help cover legal expenses in the Northgate fight, which are piling up even though Charlie Ryan is donating his time free of charge and Councilor Foley is helping as well. It will be held on December 16th at 7am at the John Boyle O'Reilly Club. On Days of Our Lives there was a scene with a young fellow in a biker jacket talking to his blonde girlfriend.

Went out this morning to Louis & Clark and mailed a check to Ford Associates. Then I went to the AAA office and found that they have moved from their digs behind Walker's on Cooley and Allen and moved into the front of what was Mikara's Nightclub. Mary-lou Irvine, a chubby and friendly lady (chubby people are often the friendliest) waited on me, taking the documents and saying she will bring them to the registry and will call when I can pick up the new plates. I was in and out very promptly.

After supper, Nader the Hatter called at 5:44pm, saying that he would be there in a half an hour but didn't arrive until a few minutes after seven. He said he had just been to visit a relative on Ashland named Daniel Donovan. Nader brought me a copy of a speech by President Clinton he was inspired by and I gave him a book on art collector I.S. Gardner plus a copy of the Ogulewicz Chronicles since he had never seen it. Nader says they are supposed to close the Grenada Street house on Monday, but there are still things to be done. His father is in bad shape, having lost all sense of time and he gets angry with people who disagree with him in any way. Nader is going to take the old man to see a neurologist in Connecticut after the first of the year.

I watched the fireman's funeral service in Worcester on TV. Eamon called and described the relationship between the School Committee and Dr. Negroni as "a rope a dope routine." We talked about the Worcester firefighter and Eamon believes the Chief should have never sent the men into the building. Then we talked about ways to revive the Riverfront and I suggested a replica of the Great Wall of China be built for pedestrians to walk over the expressway. Eamon said, "When you're dealing with a dumbed down, misinformed population like Springfield you can feed them all the crap you want and get away with it. If the newspaper would only do their job we wouldn't have these problems."

December 10, 1999

39 degrees at 10:43am.

Springfield has a warehouse like the one that burned in Worcester at 270 Liberty Street, although smaller. It has a Sitterly Mover sign on it so presently still in use. On the TV news, Sam Stonefield of Western New England School of Law was on with Steve Pierce in connection with an affordable housing conference at WNEC. Sisters of Providence has a Stop Smoking Support Group that meets every Monday at Mercy Hospital. J. Bernard Miller was Treasurer of Hearst Consolidated Publications in 1940.

A medical bill for Mother arrived in the mail today. I called and spoke to Margie and told her that Mrs. Miller is dead and this bill should have been presented many months before this. She replied that the hospital has 18 months to bill Medicare. I said that as a taxpayer I feel that is too long. The mail also brought a nice thank you note from Mrs. Stanisiki. I later called Nader the Hatter and told him I like the Clinton speech he gave me and I have filed it with my papers.

I wrote checks to cover the bills this morning and finished my reply to the Cecil master plan questionnaire. Then I went and made copies at CopyCat, left some reading material at Tom Devine's and then headed over to Eamon's. He has multicolored bulbs in candelabra in every window of the front porch and an x-mas stocking flag hanging by the front door. I knocked and Eamon came and offered a bag of things for me. He told me he just got a report from the Mauricio Gaston Institute at UMass on Latino Students in Massachusetts Public Schools and how they do on the MCAS tests compared to other ethnic groups. Eamon again remarked that the Moore's next door have an immense collection of antique weapons, maybe the biggest around.

From Eamon's I drove downtown and parked on Salem Street, then headed down to City Hall to pay the water bill. Afterwards, I walked over to Subway for a deli-baloney grinder. Coming through Tower Square I paused to see a calligraphy and poetry exhibit of which I never heard any promotion. There was a guest book in which I wrote "Fire Negroni!" and then departed before anyone noticed. I left downtown and went up to the Boston Road Walmart, to buy a deep maroon shade for the Oriental lamp at home. I ended up also stopping by the antique shop, which had an OPEN sign and the lights were on but the door was locked with no one inside. I wrote on their chalkboard, "You say you are open, but you are not - you lie!"

December 11, 1999

Cloudy to sunny, 40 degrees at 8am.

On TV last night, John McCain said American renewal should come "from the bottom up, not the top down." Great idea, but how do you make it work? TV22 is inviting people to take I-391 Exit 3 and they'll see their new station on Chicopee Street. Attorney Theodore C. Brown worked for Egan, Flanagan & Egan in 1986.

I put out the mail at Louis & Clark in the Breckwood Shops and got the newspaper out of their trash can. I also got the latest installment of Devine's Ogulewicz Chronicles in their free paper section on the floor by the door. Then I drove over to the gun show at the Better Living/Industrial Arts building in West Springfield. This gun show at the Expo grounds is the biggest gun exhibition around here and it was mobbed. I got there around 11am, two hours after it started, and there were two long lines waiting to get in. I saw about twenty National Guard members walk in for free, all dressed up in their boots and fatigues, very clean cut men. Admission was $7, but I got in for $6 with a coupon. That's still expensive considering what they charge for the Antique and Collectibles Show.

I got the sense as I looked around at the gun show clientele that for a lot them it is a vicarious event for a lot of guys who have been in the military and miss it. A good number of leather jackets around, some men had medals on them and two were in a wheelchair. There were a few wives there with their husbands, dads with their boys, blue collar people of the sort snobs look down upon. There was lots more than just guns, such as books on military history and dirty tricks, engravers and canning jars done up into scented candles. They had a novelist pushing his book, uniforms and all sorts of military gear, antique guns and power horns.

There was also table after table of knives. I bought a knife with a brass knuckle unit on it for $45 from Bill's Knives of Albany, New York, which he marked down from $65 when I informed him that brass knuckles are illegal in Massachusetts. I also bought a book, Rex Applegate's Kill of be Killed, just what I want to zero in on the details of fighting. There was a variety of anti-Clinton bumperstickers and funny money of various sorts and denominations, I took all varieties I saw. There were t-shirts with macho slogans, a few of which were anti-gay.

The show was a fine learning experience for anyone interested in all things military. I recall that Mother was fond of a little cap pistol she called Ambrose's gun. I saw one just like it selling for $30. I think gun shows are okay, crooks will always have guns so citizens should also have them. But those who use guns improperly should be punished, a father whose son is involved in a school shooting should be tried for murder along with the kid.

When I got home at 1:30pm I found that some Wisconsin Cheese and a tin of macadamia nuts had been left by Mrs. Staniski. I called to thank her, but no one answered so maybe Ann had taken her over to see Carol. In the mail I mistakenly got a flyer from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers that was addressed to Rick Hill, Hodge Manufacturing Company at 55 Fisk Avenue in Springfield. I wrote a critical comment on it about the the reliability of the postal service and remailed it. Later I got a wrong number from Mercolino's Bakery on Columbus Avenue asking, "Is this Sal?" I said no and he just hung up, so I called back and asked, "Why didn't you apologize for bothering me?" The guy went, "Yeah, yeah, look, I gotta business! Sorry!" Then he banged down the phone again.

December 12, 1999

37 degrees at 10am.

I do type at a furious pace and mistakes do get out, but I think I correct most of them and I always proofread numbers. Am reading my new military books. TV22, now in Chicopee, had a piece on Northgate tonight hosted by Dan Elias. It featured Angelo Puppolo, Karen Powell and Bill Foley. Puppolo suggested that just as people were skeptical at first of Bright Nights, it eventually turned out to be a success and Puppolo predicted that the same would be true of a baseball stadium.

I drove to Eastfield Mall and between the food court and the Santa pavilion I found a swinging concert underway by youthful Falcetti Music students performing for their parents and friends. Falcetti's is in where Ethan Allen was with the liquor store. There were lots of people at the mall but no lines at the cinema. At the food court McDonald's I had two cheeseburgers and a small order of fries. Wilson's Leather has opened a shop with biker jackets, more decorative than heavy duty. Outside there was a guy selling perfume at discount prices from a cart.

After I left the mall I went across to Stop&Shop to buy the specials and use their Men's Room. On the matter of public toilets in grocery stores, Food Mart has a real nice Men's Room at their new store at Five Town Plaza, Stop&Shop on Boston Road has a nice enough restroom, but Big Y World Class Market has only one unisex bathroom with one sink, one toilet and a lock on the door.

Dined on a Swanson Fish & Chips Dinner and cauliflower. Eamon called complained that he feels like a trashman every morning as he walks around the block picking up litter which he puts in his trashcan. He picks up lots of losing lottery tickets because of nearby Cal's Variety. He also noted the picture of David Starr in the paper posing with some arts group. Eamon also noted the retirement of newspaper ad manager Dwight Brouillard, who is stepping down after 45 years with the paper. Eamon doesn't think much of Brouillard, describing him as "a big, fat slob" who started out as a copy boy. Brouillard's wife was a public relations person at Valley/Baybank but was fired four years ago, according to Eamon's niece who worked there and told him.

Eamon also talked about how as a kid they had theater up in Liberty Heights that was run by a man called Butterball Autry. He was often made fun of and had a hard time getting the kids to behave. Sometimes he'd turn off the projector to lecture the kids, who responded with jeers and spitballs. Joe Garvey once brought a skunk into the theater in a box and set it free, they had to open the fire exits to let the screaming people out. Eamon also mentioned how theaters used to give away plates for free and sometimes during a film you would hear a dish someone dropped smashing on the floor.

Eamon then talked about Mae Florence Abby, who lived in a cute little Victorian house on the corner of Liberty and Newbury Street. The Abby's once owned all the land around there up to the Chicopee line. She was an English teacher at Van Sickle and an old maid. (As were many of my teachers such as Miss Darling, Miss Wall, Miss Bacon, Miss Wood, Miss Muzzy who later became Mrs. Greenwood, Miss Virginia Johnson who dyed her hair, Miss Schnappe, Miss Copley who later married the shop teacher, Miss Lynch, Miss Gay, Miss McConache, Miss Oliver, Miss Flaherty, Miss Terwillian at Classical, Miss Helen Flanagan, Miss Erma Battis the history teacher, Miss Theresa Boylan and perhaps others). Eamon described Miss Abbey as a good educator who had three brothers in the construction business. In her house she kept a 38 revolver in a safe and a grand piano she was reluctant to play but she was good and Eamon sometimes sang along. Eamon's mother knew her because the Abby's had built their house and held the mortgage. Tacoma Street was originally called Taft Street and went unpaved for a long time, but Eamon's mother lobbied former city official Benjamin Grout to pave it. I told him I remember hearing that name before.

Eamon's latest tape: "In any profession except public education, pay raises and promotions are based on job progress, performance and the quality of the end product. Some of the dumbest people in our society are teachers, principals and superintendents. Teaching positions are lifetime appointments, sinecures, protected by labor unions and rubber stamp school boards. Based on the disgraceful MCAS results and his ten year record of failure, Superintendent Peter Negroni should be fired for incompetence and mismanagement."

December 13, 1999

34 degrees at 7:30am. No snowfall overnight.

I am typing this in the middle of the night. A diary is a lot of work even though I have never tried to make a fancy diary. I tell people considering being a lawyer that law school is a sham. At times today I had a twitch beneath my right eye. The United Way is holding a fundraising raffle that includes Delaney House gift certificates, Gus & Paul's VIP cards, free Interskate 91 tickets and an Ochoa Salon gift certificate.

Someone on the news was talking about "The New Urbanism." I recall when I used that term at the Cecil Group appearance at the Museum of Fine Arts Auditorium. I got sorta put down as not knowing what I was talking about. David Starr appears in the print advertisement for the Garvey/Phaneuf book History of the Springfield Newspapers. He is quoted as saying that "the history of our newspapers are the looking glass through which the events of the last 175 years can be examined, understood and appreciated."

This Multi-Fluid Liquid Paper is shit. Left at 7:30am and put out the mail at Breckwood, but first I stopped at the Cohn's to drop off some reading material. Poor Mrs. Cohn is now way bent over and speaks softly. I wonder if the Cohn's resent my feud with David Starr. I got today's paper out of the Louis & Clark trashcan, then to Walmart where I bought another lamp shade. I also made copies at Pride. I bought the clementines that were on sale at Food Mart, where I found a bottle of Egg Nogg with the wrong price on it so I got it for free. Next I drove over to Angelo's, where I got bananas, string beans, potatoes and onions. On the way to Angelo's I noted that the Devine's have their plastic Santa in the front window as they do every Christmas. I swung by Mrs. Staniski's but she was out.

From there I drove downtown to leave off material at the paper for Garvey, McDermott, Robin Newhouse and Phaneuf. I also left things with Hurwitz and Atty. Berman. It was just starting to rain when I got home. The mail came early and accidentally included a Dear Applicant postcard from the Pennsylvania School of Medicine for Michael Moynihan. I will put it in their mailbox tomorrow with the note, "You can count on the U.S. Postal Service to blow your most closely guarded secrets. Merry Christmas."

I called Oak Knoll and got Andy who said Bob told him the expensive book I wanted is already sold. I called Lovejoy and wished him a Merry Christmas. I tried calling Tom Devine, but the young woman Debbie said he was out. Nader the Hatter called and said his sister Kathy LaRose, who lives on Telbar Street, has called TV40 and suggested that Eamon be chosen as Dan Yorke's replacement now that he has a new job out of state. Nader urged me to call TV40 and do the same. Instead I called WNNZ in order to suggest that instead of hiring one person to replace Yorke on his radio show, they should have a rotating series of hosts that could include Eamon, Devine and even myself occasionally. I spoke first to Larry, who gave me Kevin Casey's voicemail with the admonishment to "be brief."

December 14, 1999

Peanuts creator Charles Schultz has colon cancer at 77 and will retire in January. Denis Budd is the Fire Chief in Worcester (who should resign). The paper says the Forest Park 100 Year Old House Tour raised over $4,500 for their Civic Association, according to Bill Malony, President of the Association. I must suggest to Marshall Moriarty that we do a similar event to raise money for the Sixteen Acres Civic Association.

I covered the air conditioner for the winter. Out at 9:15am and bought stamps and a paper at Louis & Clark. Today I had more trouble at Hampden Savings Bank, where nobody is reliable. I was told that the Insurance Lady is there once a week on this day at their Allen Street branch. So I arrived at 9:30am, and when I went inside there was a desk with their insurance brochures on it but nobody sitting at the desk. I asked Elizabeth behind the counter where the Insurance Lady was and she replied that she wasn't in today, but maybe I could find her at one of their other branches.

I told Elizabeth that it would be foolish of me to go from branch to branch searching for her when she was not here on the day she was supposed to be. I reminded her that she is being paid to deal with me, not I to deal with her, and that she is wasting my time. I told her in a nice, firm voice, so that the whole bank could hear, what I thought of their service failure. Elizabeth listened politely, rather than calling security to have me ejected. I then turned on my heel and marched out the door.

From there I drove over to the Forest Park postal station and mailed a check to Blackstone for the $500 Irish law book plus shipping. Blackstone is overpriced, but it is easier to get the books through them. I then swung by Mrs. Staniski's to see how she was and she gave me some magazines from Ann. She also said I was "wonderful" for treating her to a birthday dinner last week. Her wall is covered with cards she got for her 90th birthday. Someone gave her a dozen roses and she offered me one, although only four remained because she has been passing them out to friends. I told her to save her petals, I don't need a rose.

When I got home I called Hampden and as always Alexa answered and identified herself. She told me President Burton was in a meeting and his secretary was unavailable. I responded, "Everyone out? Are you running a bank or a country club?" She politely replied, "We're a bank." I told her I would settle for Burton's voicemail, which begins with the statement, "Your call is important," although he never gets back to me. I began by complaining that I had never been thanked for advising them to register their oil paintings. I then recounted some of the run ins I had with former WNEC President Beverly Miller in order to show Burton that I am not afraid of doing battle with people in high places. I also told him how current WNEC President Caprio has always avoided me, even refusing to be seated by me at the Economic Summit they had a few years ago, after I warned him that, "I have friends at the Valley Advocate."

Janet called from the U.S. Census Bureau and they need proof of my Social Security number as soon as possible "so I can process your application." Eamon called and said he is afraid the newspaper will start attacking City Councilor Bill Foley for supporting Northgate Plaza and opposing the stadium. Eamon feels that if Foley is attacked we must all publicly rally behind him.

Bill Foley and Bill Bennett 2014

December 15, 1999

Gloomy all day, 42 degrees at 8:45am.

Got up late this morning at 8:45am. Went out and found the trash gone. The Powers drove past in their little truck, maybe she is his secretary or bookkeeper. Got the newspaper out of the trashcan at Louis & Clark. It has a picture of Atty. Berman in it looking through a telescope. I also found an ARISE newsletter. No Valley Advocates had arrived yet. I drove downtown and parked on Salem. I poked my head into Hampden Savings Bank and the secretary was at her desk while Burton was in his curtained office with the door closed. Ennis got me an orange form with the hours of the Insurance Lady on it and I departed at 10:45am.

My next stop was Atty. Berman's, but Joanna said Berman is out of his office until next Wednesday. Then over to Posnik for the Market Place bidder's package. I swung by the courthouse, where I wished Judge Moran a Merry Christmas and waved at Kathy Flynn. Walking back from the courthouse, I found a pile of trash bags in front of Ravosa's. One was full of real estate appraisal periodicals and a book, Appraisal Classics 1935-1960 by Jerry Davis. I also took a binder of the minutes of the local appraisal society from 1961 prepared by James C. Brody for the Society of Residential Appraisers, Western Mass Chapter 104. Brody was the Chapter President. There was also some photos and construction costs for leading home builders, including many of the houses built here in the Acres, some dating back to my childhood. I got all this from only one bag of the Brody pile, doubtless there were other treasures, but I left everything else by the curbside.

I went over to AAA and got the new registration and plates for the car. Got the plates without any trouble at all and thanked everyone very politely. Then I drove up to the Eastfield Mall and had two 39 cent burgers and a medium fries at their McDonald's. The parking lot for the cinema was practically empty. Approaching home, I saw Bradley trudging down to WNEC with his large briefcase. The mail brought a Christmas card from the girl who delivers The Reminder - Krista Ambrose of 3 Ronald Circle in Wilbraham. When I got back I called Fred Whitney and reminded him how I asked him to send a recommendation to Harvard for me, but he said, "No, I'm getting old and I have to apologize for not doing it." I told him that I was now asking him that he not do it and wished him Merry Christmas.

Stuart Hurwitz called me today from 787-6625. Mr. Hurwitz has always been polite, but has been more so since I mentioned how I dislike how people fail to thank me for my memos. He said he read my memo on the Civic Center, for which he thanked me, but insisted that, "I firmly, honestly believe the refurbished Civic Center will be the economic engine that's going to revitalize downtown," adding that Springfield "has to start somewhere" if it hopes to revive itself. When I suggested painting a mural on the wall over and behind Joseph's Liquor on the corner of Chestnut and Mattoon, he thanked me for the suggestion and said he will look into it. I also told him I liked the calligraphy and poetry show at Tower Square. He didn't know anything about the status of the Arts Commission. Hurwitz said he appreciates my humor and I thanked him for calling and wished him Happy Holidays.

Eamon called and talked about how he used to have an office on the second floor of the Exeter Building on the corner of Worthington and Chestnut. It once had shops on the ground floor and a number of dentist offices above. Eamon recently went to see his friend Dick Serkin who runs Feinstein Leather, who told him the building has no heat. Word is the owner is in bankruptcy and the Santaniello people have taken over the mortgage and are thinking of demolishing the building to make more parking for the Mardi Gras. Serkin also heard that Absorbine Jr. might in some way be involved, so Eamon later called Tyler Young. He wasn't in, but Eamon knows his secretary Anita. She told him that the Young's have sold the Produce Building on the corner of Chestnut and Taylor to Safe Environment of Ludlow through their realtor Leon Reinolds. She hadn't heard anything about demolishing the Exeter Building.

December 16, 1999

Overcast, misty, wet out. 43 degrees at 7:35am when I got up.

A study out of Boston University finds that hospital costs in Massachusetts are 42% above the national average. NPR reports that an unpublished poem by Harriet Beecher Stowe has been discovered in Washington, Connecticut. St. Peter's Church in Great Barrington and Holy Family Parish at Mount Marie in Holyoke are presenting Advent and Christian Music from the Second Millennium. Edward T. Celatka of Chicopee and Harold J. Coleman of Springfield were Vice Presidents of the Society of Residential Appraisers in 1960.

My ears were stuffy all today, the right one ringing badly. Called Riverdale Gardens Rehab and Nursing at 8:30am and Sarah told me Aunt Maria is "doing okay this morning." She turned me over to Debbie who told me that Aunt Maria "will be here for Christmas but don't know about New Year's." Deb went on to say that my aunt is "confused at times, more lucid at others" and thinks "there may be some memory loss."

The big news is the obituary in yesterday's paper for my dear teacher Robert B. McCreech. I hauled the paper out of the trash yesterday but didn't read it until today. McCreech has appeared often in this diary. I last heard from him by a Christmas card last year. He lived in South Hadley and taught at Buckingham, Classical, Chestnut and Kiley. McCreech was also a longtime member of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Springfield near where Devine lives. The memorial mass will be held there. I called Sampson's Funeral Home and they said there will be no wake.

Robert McCreech was a fine gentleman, teacher and role model, a man of jovial stories told in perfect English. He taught by example, by coaching, by inspiration to excellence and never by criticism. He always pointed to the good and never to the bad. A true diplomat, he was politically correct before his time. He took our class to visit the United Nations because he shared its aspiration to love and peace. The following year he entertained some of us, such as John Coyle and Myra Cohn, with a tour of Boston. McCreech engaged in many undertakings of a positive nature and never said an evil word about anybody. He was a wonderful man, he really was.

When I left the house today I first brought a bag of magazines to the Cohn's, and next door the workmen are finishing Cressotti's new roof. Kelly has some very festive wreaths up. Next I headed to the auction at 9:15am. I parked on Salem and as I came by Hampden Savings I looked in the window and the Insurance Lady was not at her desk where she should be. I walked in and asked for the Insurance Lady and they said she was not in. I approached a professionally attired black woman named Jackie and asked her to give my card to President Burton and tell him I was here to see the Insurance Lady.

The auction was held in the narrow alley by Union Trust, where there used to be painted on the bricks, "While Brunton sleeps, Springfield rusts." Eamon says it dates back to when Tommy O'Connor ran against Daniel Brunton. It was here where the auction was held by David Mendel, who always performs nicely. There were only men there except for Ms. Best. Dan Elias of 22 there with a cameraman. I saw Kitty Broman walk by but she didn't stop. The Foley Company guy was there as was Peter Picknelly's broker. I saw Tom King of King & Newton and asked him if the Society of Residential Appraisers still exists and he said he has never heard of it.

A bald photographer from the Springfield paper was there taking lots of pictures and I'm probably in some of them. I was wearing my usual uniform without decorations. There was a man casually dressed in green who suddenly collapsed, but revived quickly before an ambulance could be called. He stood through the rest of the event with no problem. Bidding started at $800,000 and sold for $1,900,000. I'll have to wait to see in tomorrow's paper who bought it. Afterwards I walked to City Hall to take a piss and there was a bum passed out in one of the stalls. Then I went to Subway and Shkena made me one of those baloney deli sandwiches I like.

On my way back to the car I stopped at Hampden Savings Bank and this time I asked Ennis where the Insurance Lady was and she said she was out due to "a family emergency." I asked why they didn't tell me that earlier when I was there this morning and she replied, "We just found out about it." I was impeccably polite, no speeches, good or bad, and simply left the premises.

December 17, 1999

A lovely and sunny day, 43 degrees at 7am.

On WFCR this morning there was a long segment about the Northgate matter with several on air interviews with people like stadium expert Zimbalist, who called Albano's plan "not realistic" and said people buying hotdogs at the stadium will not revitalize the rest of downtown. The reporter was Karen Brown. Baystate Medical Center has a commercial saying they are "the first to offer prostate seeding implations" in the area. Richard K. Cassan, my friend at Colby, is now a lawyer in Vermont. In 1961 the Society of Residential Appraisers held a seminar with panelists James C. Brody of Springfield, Edward W. Shaw of Pittsfield, Richard A. Bowler of South Hadley plus John Woods and Floyd J. Rossi of Springfield. Fred R. O'Donnell of Westfield was the featured speaker.

Had a Hungry Man Chicken Pot Pie as my main meal of the day. Eamon called and said he chatted with the U.S. Inspector General's Office for a half hour with Chief Inspector Daniel O'Neil about the hundreds of students absent at Commerce every day. He exclaimed to Eamon, "You've got to be kidding" but later admitted that he had heard stories about attendance problems in the Springfield schools before.

Today was the memorial mass for Robert B. McCreech. On my way to Our Lady of Sacred Heart I stopped first at CopyCat and made some copies. Although I have been in many Catholic churches, this was my first time visiting OLSH, despite its nearby location. It is among the more modest Catholic churches in the city, built in the 1920's and only partially modernized. They have an old marble baptismal font, but the stations of the cross are new as is the tabernacle to the right. The altar itself is small with the organ to the left. Among the church publications I was able to grab was the Sacred Heart School flyer and the OLSH Teen Scene News.

Mr. Kelly was the the only Buckingham old timer there. Eamon always said that Henry Kelly, like Phil Sweeney, deserved to have been made Superintendent of Schools at some point but was always passed over. Eamon seems to know everyone, but he didn't know McCreech. There were about 60 people present, fewer than the turnout for Walter English. The attendees were mostly older, with only one black man present and a few Latinos. I overheard someone say that McCreech had been on a respirator since December 3rd. Bishop Dupre was there, but the principal celebrant was a tall priest from South Hadley, where McCreech had lived out the last years of his life. The priest described McCreech as "everyone's friend" who "never lost his old friends but just added new ones." He said as a teacher, McCreech "could get through to kids that everyone else thought were hopeless."

Following the Sacrament, there way a eulogy by English teacher Jim Boyle, consisting of primarily of anecdotes about McCreech. One great line was about McCreech's belief that, "Kids can't always explain what they mean and think, but they can't be fooled." The Bishop was the last to speak, with frequent mentioning of McCreech's community service and help in raising funds for the diocese. He also said that McCreech "was able to expound on any subject, just a wonderful person." I was sitting in the very back corner aisle and I got out quickly when it ended. The Bishop was standing by the door and greeted me cordially as he had at the Marshall Chapel event. I told him that McCreech had been my 7th grade teacher and Bishop Dupre responded that McCreech "was a truly remarkable gentleman."

December 18, 1999

35 degrees at 7:25am. Sunny, lovely day.

Before you spit, check which way the wind is blowing. Harry Neunder is Administrative Director of Continuing Education at WNEC. The house at 334 Maple Street is for sale.

The hum in my right ear continues. Put the mail out at Louis & Clark and made copies at Pride. In the free paper section of Louis & Clark I picked up a pink flyer by Tom Devine on the stadium controversy. They had no Valley Advocates at Louis & Clark nor Pride. I got broccoli at Angelo's and bought chicken at Stop&Shop. The new hardware store has new pavement in front of it. Mailman came at 2pm and not much mail, just a Christmas card from Corliss. No deliveries this week. Dined on chicken, zapped potatoes and Stovetop Stuffing.

I called Belle-Rita Novak and congratulated her on her forthcoming article in the Valley Advocate and of course wished her the best for the holidays. Then I called Hampden Savings and Alexis told me their Public Relations Director is Edward Kuchyp. Next I called the Hampden Insurance Agency and got Ginger, who was most cooperative. I told her of my problem seeing their Insurance Lady. Ginger replied, "I'm sorry to hear that, our representative Joann Gold had a death in the family." I said that's too bad, but they have posted hours and should have sent a replacement to which she replied, "You're right." She said Gold will be back next week "so there's still time to see her at the Allen Street branch on Tuesday." I told her I would be there in the morning because I get my days off to an early start.

Eamon called and said his niece who works at the Bank of Western Mass went to the Eastfield Mall cinema last night and there was only three or four other people in the theater. Eamon also talked about Gerry Fortier, who was a principal at Chestnut (as H. Kelly was) and who would have made a good Superintendent in Springfield but ended up in charge of the Southwick/Tolland School District. Fortier told Eamon years ago that lots of historic documents stored in the bowels of Springfield City Hall were damaged by water.

Eamon then mentioned the story in the paper about Mayor Albano deciding not to go ahead with the rebuilding of the Elias Brookings School. Eamon claims the reason Albano dropped the plan is because the city is already overextended on school construction debt. Eamon described the neighborhood around Brookings as being relatively lower middle class and therefore "isn't poor enough or rich enough to have any power." We discussed the string of anti-Bill Foley articles that have been appearing in the newspaper. "That's their typical routine," Eamon said. Unknown called at 3:57pm.

December 19, 1999

30 degrees at 8:15 this morning.

At Colby, the football bonfires were sort of like a haystack of stuff heaped up, not a wooden structure. Lisa A. Hallee, Class of 1981, is the Colby Alumni Fund Committee Chair for 1999. In May of 1961 the Society of Residential Appraisers held a seminar at the Storrowtown Tavern in West Springfield featuring cost expert Jerry Knowles of Maine. Francis J. Bory of Chicopee was the Secretary of the Society of Residential Appraisers in 1961.

I have practically no trouble with my right kneecap when wearing my lumberjack boots, which tells me that ankle control is an important factor with my knee problem. Brought my beloved dolls Sweet Pea and Honey Pot up to the living room for Christmas. For lunch I bought cheeseburgers and fries at the Eastfield Mall's McDonald's. The Crew store is now open in where Peerless once was and more recently Cherry Webb. I walked around the mall and lingered a bit in Penny's.

There is a story in the paper today with an immense picture of Jerome Radin reading a psychology book at the City Library and he is quoted as saying that the Springfield Library system is second only to Boston and far superior to Worcester. Actually, Worcester has a number of fine libraries and as a research library our main branch has been decimated. I called the Riverdale Gardens Nursing Home and asked Marilyn about Aunt Maria. She told me "she's calm, ate a good lunch and is now watching TV." I asked if she's had any visitors and she replied that her neighbor Shirley came today. I told her to tell Aunt Maria that her nephew called and she said she would.

Eamon called and said he had a conversation today with an old friend who has been with the Department of Education for 24 years. He told Eamon that corruption is rampant in the public schools. His friend also told him that the higher ups in the Department were frightened of Eamon when he worked there. In 1980, when he was working in Boston at 182 Tremont, he and Harold McNulty went to see the Commissioner's aides John Carney and William Crowley. They informed Eamon that he would not be put in charge of any of the six regional offices because he was considered disruptive.

"John Carney shot me down!" Eamon cried, adding, "I always knew they didn't like me." Eamon then vowed that he will have his revenge some day. At times he was so disgusted with the Education Department that he wanted to quit several times but his mother talked him out of it. Before hanging up Eamon pointed out that Cries & Whispers has a tidbit on Bill Putnam marrying Kitty Broman. Eamon recalled how years ago he took some apples over to Putnam at WWLP, which was a maze of hallways and stairs leading to Bill's office at the top, and when he got there Kitty was coming out of his office in a bathrobe and Putnam was pulling up his pants.

December 20, 1999

29 degrees at 7:45am. John Quill says the freezing weather will end today.

Today the Vermont Supreme Court held that gay couples are entitled to the rights and benefits of married couples. A water main break has closed Main Street from Boland Way to Court Street. Clement Pin, Sidney Baron, Harold Grinspoon and Al Spongeon became members of The Society of Residential Appraisers on April 12, 1961.

My left ear is stuffy today. Did a load of laundry. More adventures with Hampden Bank, alas. Left at 8:45. I bought gas at Alden, which has gone down from $1.31 to $1.28. There was a Santa standing on one of the triangles at the X, waving at people. When I got to Longmeadow I found that the Hampden branch doesn't open until 10am. I arrived at 9:42am, it had been raining since 9:31. A tan van was parked out front, other cars arrived and the teller ladies went in. At two minutes before ten a female customer and myself entered and waited in the entrance way for the bank to open. I slipped but did not fall on their sidewalk, I should have allowed myself to fall and then asked for $15,000.

They opened the door at 10:02 according to the bank clock on the far wall. I let the lady go first and then asked the Assistant Manager Sue Gosselin where the Insurance Lady was. "She's not here," she replied and then asked the tellers, "Do you know where she is?" They didn't. I pulled out my card and told Gosselin to tell Tom Burton that the Insurance Lady wasn't there when I came. On my way home I had a twenty foot skid on Plumtree near the church and thereafter drove home at only 25mph. Imagine, endangering my car just to be disappointed again in finding what a bunch of jackasses the Hampden operation is.

Coming down Birchland, Mrs. Penniman was backing out but I told her the roads were terrible so she decided not to go out. When I got home Mrs. Staniski was parked opposite my driveway poised to deliver a tin of 21 cookies to me. She declined my invitation to come in. My shipment arrived from Oak Knoll, including the 1840 book Librorum Prohibitorum with the 1554 index. I immediately called Hampden and left a memorable message for Burton, repeating my demand for a written apology. I told him that if he is going to deal with Protestants, his business should exude the Protestant work ethic even if he himself wasn't privileged to have been brought up with it. I summarized the events of the day, including calling over the weekend and denounced his bank for its "exceptional service, exceptional because it has been horrendous, service which has far exceeded my expectations for terribleness."

Dined on Swanson's Fish and Chips Dinner and the last of the scallops. On the evening news Nick Morganelli said there were "lots of collisions" all over the valley today. During the broadcast Yankee, New England and Pilgrim candles were all advertising for Christmas. What a racket, increasingly the masses are being sold fancy little pieces of junk at fancy prices instead of truly nice things. On the Leher News Hour a lady doing a special report from Haiti said, "Institutions are not brick and mortar. Institutions are people."

December 21, 1999

Misty and 40 degrees at 9:15am.

TV40 says only 9% of doctors tell their patients enough information for them to make an informed decision. Locally, Salvation Army kettle donations are down 10%. Chris and Greg Rooke are the paperboys delivering the Sunday Republican to my neighborhood. John F. Nitcavic worked at Products Engineering and Manufacturing Company at 420 Dwight Street in Holyoke in 1961. Berard & Sons was located at 61 Harmon Avenue in Springfield in 1961.

Cleaned house and spent some time reading the newspapers I got out of the trash recently. Barry Simpson, the guy over to Kelly's, subscribes to U.S. News and World Report. As I put out the trash today, Bradley was coming by with his briefcase and a large folder with student work in it. I told him that as a scientist he should know that folder was insufficient to hold that many papers so I made him wait until I got a plastic bag for which he thanked me and I wished him Merry Christmas. The incident reminded me of the other day when I saw by the courthouse there was a lawyer carrying a large case file in his hand as if there was no possibility that a high wind might come along and the papers scattered all over the street.

I drove out at 11:15am and stopped at Louis & Clark, then to Walmart for assorted light sockets, got nuts at Job Lot and then to Eastfield Mall for the weekly freebie. No one had New Year's cards at a reasonable price, so I'm going to send letters this year. When I got back I called Hampden Savings on Allen Street and asked Carolyn if the Insurance Lady was there and after waiting for a couple minutes the Insurance Lady came on and said she would be there until one, after which she would be going downtown to a Christmas party. I told her sarcastically that the Pilgrim Candle commercial says, "It's an experience you're sure to remember." Same goes for Hampden Bank."

I called Edith Michaud, who told me both her brother and sister died of medical malpractice. She said she went to see Aunt Maria a week ago with her church friend Louise because she didn't want to go alone "because of Maria's attitude." It turned out that Aunt Maria was very pleasant and Edith told my Aunt "I love you and I always have." When she was leaving Shirley and Joe were just arriving. I asked her about the nursing home and she replied, "I've never heard anything against it." I then told her about Aunt Maria accusing me of murder and she said, "If Maria where herself she wouldn't say these bad things. I feel for you because I know you were close to her." I thanked her for all she has done for my aunt in the past year and wished her happy holidays.

Next I called Ruth Johnson, who said she has been visiting Aunt Maria daily. At one point she said that Mother "babied her" by sending stuff whenever she needed it and giving her money. She doesn't think that Aunt Maria will ever be able to come home because she's incontinent. I told her I used to take Mother to the toilet in her wheelchair whenever she needed to go so that needn't be a barrier with the right help. I thanked her and wished her the season's best. Eamon called later and scoffed at the editorial in the paper about Springfield being "a city of readers" with no mention of Johnson's going out of business. I read Eamon the 1.5 million circulations statistic from the 1960 Library Directory, along with the 900,000 figure in the latest one, proof of how local reading has slipped significantly.

December 22, 1999

36 degrees at 8:45am with light flurries.

A policeman was brutally killed in Holyoke today according to Priscilla Ress, who was wearing black leather as she reported from the scene.

I've wondered when somebody would get to this, California is considering letting people vote on the internet. Very unusual situation in the local hospitals, Mercy says all their hospital beds are full for the first time in 20 years and they are exporting patients to Worcester and Hartford. An epidemic of some sort? The hole in Main Street from the break in the main is fifteen feet deep and service is out from City Hall to the County Courthouse. William G. Carellas is owner of Carellas Insurance Agency on Union Street in West Springfield.

I always prefer to do business in writing both because of my difficulty hearing over the phone and to prevent anyone from shifting terms and positions. Dined at noon on a bowl of tomato soup. Stopped by Devine's, and Tom gave the most recent three installments of The Ogulewicz Chronicles. I then went to Angelo's at 2pm and bought a muskmelon on discount and a can of corn chowder. Nader the Hatter stopped over today with his dad in Szuch's Connecticut registered jeep and gave me Myron Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare and The Closing of the American Mind by Alan Bloom. I thanked them and wished them well.

Bravo newspaper is selling its entire theater library of scripts and theater texts, some over 100 years old. Eamon has sent a scathing letter to the newspaper insisting that "the evidence of the failure of Mr. Negroni to educate the children of Springfield is overwhelming." He is using the fake names Michael and Tilly Preston and claiming they are retired teachers. He has sent the same fake letter to Driscoll, Peyser, Silber and Paul Cellucci. Eamon has promised to give me one of his business cards from Silber and Governor Cellucci. He just got a letter from John Silber, in which he described Eamon's latest letter on the situation in Springfield as "brilliant." Silber lamented to Eamon that he's afraid that the Springfield's schools may be "beyond the point of no return."

Eamon complained that he tried to get some navy gear from Navy Support in New London and they had trouble verifying that he was ever in the Navy. "Nobody can get anything right," he groaned. Eamon predicts it will be a month before the hole in Main Street is fixed. He said he spent 45 minutes this morning in the office of his friend Deputy Chief Spellacy, who told Eamon he will be retiring in March. Spellacy also complained to Eamon that Chief Meara doesn't communicate with him very well. She goes to a lot of meetings in Boston and elsewhere and never tells him when she is going until the last minute.

December 23, 1999

Cloudy, 33 degrees at noon.

The former Friendly's Ice Cream on State Street opposite the Christian Science Church is freshly boarded up, as is the one on Bay Street next to the bank. The former Arthur Johnson Photo Studio on Sumner Avenue at last has a new tenant, some school of dance. Robert J. Paquette, a very nice man, is the Operations Manager for Punderson Oil in Springfield. Father contributed $245 to the Monarch Employee Group Life Insurance Program in 1957.

Throughout the course of the day, I started coming down with a cold, despite getting a free flu shot in Chicopee this fall. Recently there has been a shortage of hospital beds around here, I wonder if they made the vaccine for the wrong strain of flu this year? In the afternoon I started to have a sore throuat, when I told Eamon about it later he said he stops a cold as soon as it starts by drinking shots of Jack Daniels "as necessary." My illness caused me to miss the ABC 20/20 special on obsessive/compulsives who can't throw anything out. That's Aunt Maria, Mother to some extent and even me. But it was really Maria. Put out my mail at Louis & Clark and got the premier edition of Elevation Magazine out of their trash.

When the mailman came we exchanged Christmas pleasantries. No mention of the certified letter. I had a good dinner of chicken, stuffing, potato and cranberry sauce. Eamon called and said he knows for a fact that brand new computers were carried off in their boxes at Sci-Tech when it opened. He heard that Principal Green was so disgusted with the theft and coverup that he left. Eamon also spoke with former Superintendent Tom Donahue who agreed that the system is playing games with the attendance figures but wouldn't comment on whether there is cheating on the MCAS tests. People tell Eamon that the schools cheat by doing "preparation reviews" where they basically tell the kids the answers in advance. "Even then," Eamon exclaimed, "the scores are abysmal!"

Eamon and Donahue also talked about the schools who recently received awards for improving student scores. Kensington Avenue was one of them and Eamon said their Principal Tim Beckworth is "a big blowhard." The principals at the other winning schools, Daniel Warwick of Glenwood and John Fitzgerald at Talmadge are "inside players" who go along with Dr. Negroni to get ahead. They also use their insider status to get their friends and relatives jobs in the school system. "Those who oppose Negroni get nothing." Unknown rang nine times.

December 27, 1999

A trace of snow on the driveway.

They are saying that the Millennium is shaping up as one of the slowest New Year's in a decade because people are staying home in case there are problems. The Hartford Ballet shut down last summer after 27 years and now has reconstructed itself as "Dance Connecticut" and will be less stuffy and try new things. Belle Rita Novak has a letter in the Valley Advocate saying that she "loved Maureen Turner's article about efforts to clean up Springfield's X neighborhood."

Feeling too ill to converse, I left the phone mostly off the hook in recent days. Dined primarily on liquids. I've moved the cot into the kitchen and am basically living in the kitchen. Christmas Eve was a rough night, but I did less coughing on Christmas Day. After leaving Christmas greetings with Eamon, I took my phone back off the hook. By nightfall I had improved enough to have a Swanson Veal Parmigiana Dinner.

Brought the mail in at 2pm and waved to Mr. Wilson and his helper going by. Received no Christmas cards this year. I finished reading Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare, a fine book I got as a gift from Nader the Hatter. I made a call to Law Technology News complaining that they only cover people who advertise and therefore are not comprehensive and not worth perusing.

At 9:50pm I chatted with Eamon. He says even though his sister is a nurse, she never gets flu shots. Officer Spellacy's dad was a motorcycle cop who got killed chasing a robber. Spellacy's youngest son just got a $60,000 per year job with Raytheon, while another is with the Secret Service. Neither has been in the military. Eamon says Spellacy's wife teaches at Bowles and when she heard of the Principals at Kensington etc. winning test improvement awards, she instantly exclaimed, "They're cheating!"

December 30, 1999

Sunny and cold out, 25 degrees at 8:45am.

Clayton Moore, TV's Lone Ranger, has died at the age of 85. Posters are in the news as several states, including Vermont, are mandating that posters be put up informing students of the penalties for various offenses. The Columbus Exhibition chair was still in the window of Antiques on Boland Way the last time I was down there. I don't think Collamore moves very quickly on Columbus stuff, but who knows? Leonard Collamore's son, a failed politician, has been in the news advocating for a football stadium for Springfield, probably just trying to get a leg-up on the action.

Out a nine and found a bag from Mrs. Staniski hanging on the fence. It included Harvard tabloids from Ann and a box of Mediquil Cold Remedy. I went to Angelo's and bought a lovely pecan pie for a dollar, so there was no need to go to the bakery thrift shop. I briefly appeared in some old footage aired on TV22 today, old City Council meeting footage showing me sitting next to Dr. Mullan taking notes. It ran during a story about Judge Constance Sweeney consolidating all the Northgate related legal actions.

Maybe, just maybe, I am well enough for things to get back to normal. There was a power outage today from 9:13 to 9;50am. Went over some paper's relating to Mother's estate. The mail brought confirmation of my Blackstone purchases from Jordan Luttrell. I also got an invitation to Mayor Albano's inaugural and a Northeast Utilities dividend check.

Called down to the Cohn's to see if they were okay. I called Hurwitz and told his wife about Harvard Magazine's Urban Planning issue, which I also shared with Atty. Berman's secretary. Shera Cohen of the Bravo newspaper called about the theater material for sale and wanted to know what I can offer. She said there are only a few items from before 1900, which she wants to sell separately. We had a pleasant chat, but I told her I have a cold and am not prepared to make an offer until the new year.

Eamon called and said a relative of his just bought a brownstone in Boston. Eamon is critical of the efforts by Albano and Hurwitz to get more money for the Civic Center. He then told me that Mrs. Napolitan is a Nelen from the Kavanaugh Furniture family. They have a son that has had drug problems, he hung around with "the addicts who ran The Little Gallery framing shop on Worthington." Eamon claims the son now "mopes around the mansion on Longhill" and doesn't appear to have a job. Eamon recalled that on Election Night in 1995 Joe Napolitan came up to him at Ryan's headquarters and sarcastically asked him, "Hey there, Eddie, still coming up with all those smart ideas?" Eamon shot back, "I've come up with a lot more than you ever did!"

Eamon then recounted the time when Charlie Ryan came over Eamon's house, and Eamon's mother snapped at Ryan (who had fired Eamon back in the 60's) "I hope if you win this time you'll treat Edward better than you did before!" Eamon's mother always called him Edward. In response, Ryan politely beat a hasty exit.