Published Opinion Columns
by Janice Williams

Parkway/West Roxbury Transcript- Artful Gift
6/2/99 11,500 words later, a fond farewell
5/19/99 Explore Boston's Museums
5/5/99 Concession stand comes of age
4/21/99 Spring-cleaning mother earth
4/6/99 Visions of food fame
3/24/99 Rewarding Community Service
3/10/99 Art is in bloom
2/23/99 It's about discipline, dance and teamwork
2/10/99 A garden of childhood memories
1/26/99 The public library, palace for the people
1/12/99 A manicure and new outlook on life
12/30/98 A real sense of community
12/15/98 Teens meet our expectations, good or bad
12/2/98 Art for more than art's sake
11/8/98 Managing the hectic holidays
11/4/98 Slow down in school zones - children's lives depend on it
10/13/98 A spooky, safe Halloween
10/7/98 Breaking bread at shops around Roslindale Village
9/22/98 Prepping for the parade
9/8/98 Keeping up with computer technology?
8/26/98 Catching a contagious bout of sports fever
8/12/98 Got a question - ask the Answer Channel
7/29/98 Creating a community where the artists can live
6/24/98 Bored no more - local programs keep kids busy

6/2/99 - 11,500 words later, a fond farewell

In June of 1998 I wrote my first opinion column for this newspaper. The title of that first column was "Bored no more - local programs keep kids busy". At that time I was riddled with anxiety about how my writing would be received. Would anyone read my column? Would I be asked to write more? Affirmation came when I was asked to write the column on a regular basis. Human nature being a creature of habit, anxiety returned as I wondered how I would come up with column ideas. Now one year, twenty-three columns and 11,500 words later I realize that for a writer with a good subject the ideas never stop, they only multiply.

From the beginning I decided that I would write about the people, places and events that surround me at my home in Roslindale. I wanted to share my experiences of day to day living in an active, charming and some times chaotic community. I wanted to find and reveal all that makes up the fabric of the community. I talked about people like Tom Donahue who year after year works to make the Roslindale Parade and other events a delight for all. I told the story about the Rossie Reps who give good vibes about teenagers and contribute generously to the community. I introduced Natasha who not only gives a mean manicure but also gives us a lesson in appreciation. From my passion for art, I talked about the opportunities we have in the community to see and share art. Our businesses support local artists with exhibit space. The Greater Roslindale Arts Association introduces us to the talent of Roslindale - visual artists, poets, musicians, performers. Museums surround us and entertain us. I talked about how lucky we are to have businesses and institutions like Fornax Bread, M.J.s Pizza, BNN-TV cable access, the Arnold Arboretum, the Boston Public Library and the Forest Hills Cemetery. And I revealed my initiation as a sports fan wallowing in the heady feeling of victory with the Sacred Heart girls softball team

Writing this column has been a wonderful time of discovery. A discovery of a vibrant community that not only gives substance to words but also makes my day to day living a pleasure and an adventure. Of course living is all about evolution and change. We constantly grow and move on to new experiences. I now embark on a new adventure. I have taken on the responsibility of executive director for Roslindale Village Main Street. I accept this new role with dedicated enthusiasm. For it is through this organization that I will be able to contribute to making my space and the space of my neighbors and friends the best it can be. I will be able to meet and interact with more people who make this community so viable. It is an exciting time as together we embrace and move forward towards a long awaited revitalization.

So with this column I bid farewell to my faithful readers. I will continue to be passionate about my subject but my communication will come forth in a different way. I thank you all for a wonderful and heartfelt experience.

5/19/99 - Explore Boston's Museums

As a young child I spent endless hours at the Children's Museum on the Jamaica Way. The museum was a wondrous place of discovery and entertainment. My favorite exhibit was the room of exquisite dollhouses, each one creating an exciting glimpse into other worlds. That museum has been closed for a long time but the experience gave me a life long respect for the museum experience. May is "Museum Goers Month" and the perfect time to either visit a museum for the first time or reacquaint your self with an old favorite.

The Boston area is a smorgasbord of museums. Here we have the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, the Children's Museum, the Aquarium, the Computer Museum, the Harvard Art and Natural History Museums and the Kennedy Library, to name a few of the major ones. My favorite museum and one that I visit quite often is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on the Fenway. Opened in 1901, the Gardner museum was created to showcase Ms. Gardner's extensive art collection. It is a frozen moment in time as upon the death of Ms. Gardner in 1924 her will stipulated that the general arrangement of the collection could not be changed with nothing being sold from the collection and nothing being added. Today 175,000 people visit the museum annually. The Gardner Museum is designed in the style of a fifteenth-century Venetian palace. Galleries on three floors open onto a central courtyard filled with flowering plants. Beginning May 21 the museum is showing an exhibit of John Singer Sargent's landscapes. If you have never visited this museum, make a point of going. You can get a discount ticket online at their web site at

With just a little extra travel time, you can also visit some other wonderful museums like the Decordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA, the Fuller Art Museum in Brockton, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA and the Stamford Museum & Nature Center in Stamford, CT. With so many museums, there is something for everyone, young and old.

So if you decide to finally visit that museum that you've been promising to go to keep these money-saving tips in mind. The Greater Boston Convention and Visitor's Bureau offers the City Pass. The City Pass gives you a 50% reduction from the regular admission price. Visit 6 of Boston's most visited attractions for ONE LOW Price. The City Pass is good for the John F. Kennedy Library & Museum; John Hancock Observatory; Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. City Pass is good for 9 days from the start of use. Call 1 888 SEE BOSTON or visit for information.

The Boston Public Library offers passes for some museums at the main library in Copley Square and all its branch offices. Call 617-536-5400 or visit for information. And on Monday, May 31 1999 from 10 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., the Museum of Fine Arts is having an open house. Free admission for everyone, all day. Enjoy gallery talks; musical performances; Family Place activities; and tours in English, Spanish, Russian, and American Sign Language.

All we need is time, which of course is never enough. If you cannot find the time to personally visit each and every one of these museums, you can get a taste of them via the Internet. Most if not all museums including ones from across the United States and around the world have web sites. You can link to these museums via

Museums are an important part of our culture and their existence give credibility to our energies. Visiting museums is a privilege. Finding the time to explore them is a necessity. Now with museums on the Internet, we can visit any time day or night from the comfort of home.

5/5/99 - Concession stand comes of age

Look around the Parkway and you can see evidence of ball game fever. In a flash, boys and girls by the hundreds appear instantly with gloves in hand, baseball caps and colored T-shirts. On Saturday, April 24, 800 players from 59 teams proudly lined up and marched in a parade from Fallon Field to the Guy Cammarata Complex in West Roxbury. The parade that opened the 1999 season was a sea of color and energy. So begins ball game fever in the Parkway.

In my own home I know the season is upon us when my husband and daughter disappear right before dinner. They can be found in the back yard throwing the ball back and forth endlessly. They never seem to tire of the activity. For me, the challenge is a whole new schedule and laundry dilemma. I must now keep track of practice and game times and constantly search for the colored T-shirt.

The Parkway Little League has been a part of our lives since our daughter joined T-ball. At that time we became part of the "Parkway Parent's League". Our sport is to drive our children to and from games and to be avid, vocal spectators. We take our sport very seriously. There is no greater pleasure than fighting for parking spaces, sitting on hard benches in the hot sun and drinking coffee made by well intentioned volunteers but which has taken on a life of its own. I had my own experience as a parent volunteer for a sport concession stand years ago. My son wrestled for North Quincy High and at each meet held at his school you could find me in the cafeteria dishing up such specialties as hot dogs, meatball subs and cheese nachos to throngs of people. It was one of the most grueling jobs I ever had. We love our children and we will do whatever it takes to make their experiences worthwhile.

The Parkway Little League though has come up with a great idea that will add a little spark and nourishment to our captive time at the field. This year Roslindale's own M.J.s Sub and Pizza will run the concession stand at the Guy Cammarata Complex. I for one applaud this flash of genius as good food can calm an aching butt in amazing ways. One could argue that any choice for a food vendor might be an improvement but the choice of M.J.s is a good one for many reasons. M.J.s has been a long-standing staple in Roslindale. I have them speed dialed on my telephone. They run an efficient, customer friendly shop that serves up a comprehensive menu as well as what some think is the best pizza in town.

During my last stop at M'J.s I talked to owner Steve O'Malley and came away with some wonderful information that prompted the subject for this column. Steve has been a resident in Roslindale for 22 years and has not only had his business here but has raised his family here. He says that Roslindale has been good to him and his family. That's why he regularly gives back to the community. I know Steve always donates generously to local events with gift certificates and platters of food. What really impressed me though was his sensitivity to the youth of the community. In his store on Belgrade Avenue he hires local youth. Their wonderful attitudes and customer service skills have always impressed me. The M.J.'s concession stand will be managed by three local college students. As though that wasn't enough, for the past year Steve has been donating to local sports programs by using $.50 of each pizza sold on Saturdays. He recently made a donation to the Roche Community Center. So the next time you are going to order pizza, do it on a Saturday and give M'J.s a call. You will get a great pizza and your money will go to a great cause.

4-21-99 Spring-cleaning mother earth

The warming air of springtime renews our energy and fuels our desire to throw open the windows and cleanse ourselves of the winter grime. I can remember a time when spring-cleaning was a welcome event to me. As a child growing up in a household with six children, spring-cleaning was a yearly ritual. It was the time to wash the window curtains, clean out and organize the closets and to wash the sticky fingerprints off the woodwork. No child was exempted from the ritual. My particular expertise was polishing. I loved the smell of the furniture polish and I eagerly applied it to all the crevices on the chairs, tables and bureaus. It was a tedious job but one that I did well and with pride. Since then, my enthusiasm for spring-cleaning indoors has waned considerably.

It seems strange to have fond memories of spring-cleaning. One particular spring-cleaning memory involved a neighbor, Mrs. Mitchell. Each year Mrs. Mitchell who lived down the street would perform the ritual of washing the beautiful and elegant Irish lace curtains that adorned every window in her house. This ritual absolutely fascinated me. The curtains would be carefully hand-washed in the bathtub. The curtains then would be taken out into the back yard and painstakingly stretched and tacked across special wooden frames. It was a sight to behold, row after row of beautiful lace drying in the warm spring air. It was like being in an outdoor museum.

My own personal spring cleaning rituals began when I left home and got married. No surface was left untouched once spring rolled around. I can still remember that first attic apartment and the contortions I went through to clean the outside of the windows. I was young and I had lots of excess energy. Things are a lot different now. I have built up this amazing ability to gently overlook grime and disorder. So these days, dirt happens and cleaning happens when it can happen and most likely spring will find me outdoors taking a walk or getting the garden ready for planting. Life is definitely too short to spend too much of it indoors on housework.

Spring-cleaning mother earth - By Janice Williams Page 2

It is appropriate that we celebrate Earth Day (April 22) in spring and our attention is drawn to our outdoor surroundings. First recognized in 1970, Earth Day is the symbol of environmental responsibility and stewardship. We are responsible for maintaining the earth. The business of living leaves its mark on the city especially with trash and dirt. Environmental responsibility includes spring-cleaning of our outdoor environment.

The annual Broom to Bloom day here in Roslindale Village is a response to that need. Each year residents of all ages volunteer a few hours of their time to clean and beautify the village. Trash is picked up, flowers are planted and brooms sweep away the winter trash and grime from nooks and crannies that are missed by the ever-present city cleaners. This ritual orchestrated through Roslindale Village Main Street with help from the City of Boston not only helps to make our surroundings clean and neat but is way for residents to take part in environmental responsibility.

So wherever your spring-cleaning rituals take you, consider helping out at the Broom to Bloom day on Saturday, May 8. The event begins at the Taft Court parking lot in Roslindale Village at 10 a.m. All are welcome. For information call 617-327-4065 or visit

4/6/99 - Visions of food fame

In 1970 I was the lucky winner of a recipe contest in the Patriot Ledger newspaper. I remember how excited I was to have the Ledger photographer come to my house and take my picture. The following week, I opened the paper to see my photo and the winning recipe. The fact that I won $25 only helped to sweeten the pot! My recipe was called "Shrimp and Scallop Winner's Delight". My newfound fame brought visions of a life spent cooking and entering contests and becoming rich. Sidebar to the recipe name and creation was that I was only able to afford the shrimp and scallops because I had won some money in the lottery.

Over the years I continued to hone my cooking skills. I love to create recipes and found my cooking skills delightfully accepted by friends and family. I entered no more contests as time and responsibilities guided me along a different path. Cooking was relegated to the basic function of nourishment for family and myself. Then in 1996, I had the opportunity to enter another cooking contest. With such unbelievable optimism, I dragged out the yellowed and tattered newspaper clipping of my winning recipe. Once again visions of food fame began flitting through my brain. I eagerly sent off my latest creation, Raspberry Mouse Dessert for the first ever-Sacred Heart CookOff. I proudly placed my recipe along side the other 60 or so entries and smirked inside, believing once a winner, always a winner. I couldn't have been more wrong. That night, the auditorium of Sacred Heart School was turned into a smorgasbord of fabulous food delights.

My recipe didn’t win but it was okay. I left that evening with a greater appreciation of food and how integral and important it is to our culture and lives. More than a social event and fundraiser, the CookOff gives people an opportunity to share the basic ingredients of every day life. That first CookOff offered up winning recipes such as Monica Haldiman's "Hot Cha Cha Cha Dip", Matthew Baronas' "Sumi Salad", Denise Henry's "Orange Glazed Pork Roast" and Ann Marie Murad's "Brownies in a Cloud". With spirits high and stomachs filled to the brim, an annual "must do - must see" event was born.

Now in its fourth year, the CookOff has grown to include over 80 entries. This year the event will be emceed by Senator Marian Walsh and will offer up not only delicious food and entertainment but also exciting prizes donated by a dedicated and food loving business community. Local celebrities, chefs, restaurant owners and community leaders will take on the daunting task of selecting the winning recipes from the Appetizer, Bread, Soup/Salad, Entrée and Dessert categories. There will also be a Heart Healthy category judged by a team of dieticians. The 4th Annual Sacred Heart CookOff will take place on Saturday, April 24 from 6-10 p.m. at Sacred Heart School, 1035 Canterbury Street, Roslindale. For information call Marie at 327-5142 or visit

3/24/99 - Rewarding community service

As a family, we volunteer a great many hours to community service. We believe that these efforts come back to us twofold in the way of quality of life in our community for not only ourselves but for other residents young and old. We are not alone in these efforts. It has been a pleasure working with many other residents who embrace the same philosophy that we do.

The need for volunteering almost always seems to be in the area of fundraising. Most community programs are grass root and require financing that comes from the community itself. It seems like every time you turn around there is a candy bar to be sold or a raffle ticket to be purchased. Everyone would agree that the money spent on these fundraising events is worthwhile. Money raised is used to support education, social services, art programming, youth programs and sometimes just fun entertainment. We are lucky here in the Parkway area as not only do our residents give generously of their time and money but our businesses give generously too.

Most volunteers give of their time and do not expect to receive any reward other than to witness the good results of their work. Sometimes the efforts are recognized in small ways like a mention in the local newspaper or occasional awards given at the organization events. To recognize community service on a regular basis though, is to encourage more of the same and to show much deserved appreciation.

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to help select community activists who will be recognized for their efforts. I was in awe at the potential list of nominees and the community works that they have provided. The selection process was difficult. Eleven selected community activists will be recognized at a special event that will take place on April 17 at Our Lady's of Cedars Hall, 61 Rockwood Street in Jamaica Plain. This event, a fundraiser in itself (proceeds will go to the Jamaica Plain Family Reading Program), will not only recognize the wonderful work of these community activists but will give them a cash reward that they can donate to any community program of their choice. This to me is a win-win situation and well worth supporting.

Rewarding community activists is the brainchild of Avi Davis, owner of Innovative Moves, Inc. and his staff. They have put together a group called "The Movers and Shakers Coalition" whose purpose is to support and foster community activism by bringing various businesses, volunteers and non-profit groups together to not only meet each other but to share ideas and resources. The event that they have put together is called "Swing into Spring". There will be a dinner and presentation of the awards and then a delightful dance with swing band, Herb's Heard. Money for running the event is being donated by local businesses in Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and West Roxbury. Not only will your attendance at this event support a worthwhile cause but also will be fun and entertaining.

I had the pleasure of nominating two of Roslindale's outstanding community activists, Cathy Slade and Helen Hummel. Cathy will be recognized for her work with the Rossie Reps, a dynamic youth program that not only provides local teens with worthwhile activities but that has given back to the community too. Helen will be recognized for her long time devoted efforts in providing art programs and publications.

In today's hectic world where each day presents a challenge of fitting it all in, it is nice to know that we can still find the time to help each other out. I support the recognition of community service and urge you to give in any way that you can.

For information about the "Swing into Spring" event call 617-522-0020 or visit

3/10/99 - Art is in bloom

I recently received the following email from Rosalyn Sega of Ft Lauderdale, Fl. She wrote, "I grew up in Boston and remember going to the Art Shows at the Commons.... remember the beautiful beds of flowers in bloom in the spring.......gosh, this is making me homesick!!! Rosalyn was responding to my web site Artful Challenge. Each month I give away a set of hand made note cards to someone who has answered the trivia question correctly. I receive entries from all over the country. And although I co-mingle with the world at my web site, it is here in Boston that Art is in Bloom and I appreciate being so close.

For me, the first signs of spring here in New England are the advertisements for the New England Flower Show. I love that burst of color that renews the landscape when the daffodils, hyacinths and tulips poke their way through the cold soil. The New England Flower show hurries up this anticipated process and shows all the beauty to come. This year the New England Flower Show's theme is "Artistry in the Garden". The Massachusetts Horticultural Society who sponsors the event has this to say about the show on their web site, "See familiar paintings come to life. Contemplate the artistry of landscape design. View sculpture in lush garden settings. Experience the performing arts amidst the blooms. Behold the ancient arts of Bonsai and topiary. View magnificent floral mosaics. And appreciate the artistic qualities of nature like never before"! The New England Flower Show takes place from March 13-21 at the Bayside Exposition Center in South Boston. You can get info and order tickets on line at

Spring is the perfect time to bring art to the forefront. And we are lucky to be here in the Parkway Area where we take our art very seriously. Art is in Bloom everywhere. Art lovers can get a good dose of local art showings this month and next. The Greater Roslindale Arts Association is having their member exhibit during the month of March at the West Roxbury Library. The Hyde Park Art Association will have their member exhibit during the month of April at Boston City Hall. GRAA members, Debra Fitzgerald and John Lobosco have an exhibit called "Local Landscapes" at the Citizens Bank in Roslindale.

We are also lucky here in the Parkway Area as we have our own Flower Show each year. The Arnold Aboretum, in our own backyard, offers up "Lilac Sunday" with 500 lilac plants. Like a painter's palette, these lilacs span a rainbow of colors, from rich reds, blues, and purples to romantic pinks, whites, and mauves. and the delicate, creamy yellow of "Primrose". And while at the Arboretum, take in the other flowers, trees and shrubs that encompass the 265 acres. Lilac Sunday takes place the Sunday following Mother's Day. This year it happens on May 16. For information call (617) 524-1718.

Spring is always welcome here in New England. We have The New England Flower Show, Lilac Sunday and the wonderful artistic talents of our residents to brighten our days. Be sure and take advantage of it because New England is all about change and before you know it will be summer.

Try the Artful Challenge at

2/23/99 - It's about discipline, dance and teamwork

Marie Marshal has always been an active parent at Sacred Heart Home and School Association in Roslindale. This past year though she volunteered for the biggest challenge yet. Marie is in charge of managing the Sacred Heart Color Guard. What's involved in running a Color Guard?

According to Marie, "Color Guard is something that gets into your soul. I have always loved the sport. Now my two daughters are involved and the group was in need of a leader so I decided to step in and take the job." The only Winter Guard International (WGI) Color Guard group in the local area, Sacred Heart attracts youth from Roslindale and surrounding areas. The current group consists of twenty-three girls from the ages of eight to fourteen.

Color Guard is about discipline, dance and teamwork. Under the direction of Gilles Oulette and other dedicated teachers and parents, the group performs in competition with other color guards from the around the U.S. and New England from January to April. Preparation for these competitions is grueling and long. Starting in September, the girls attend practice 2-3 times a week for up to five hours each session. They learn to work as a team, synchronizing their bodies and props (colorful flags, sabres and rifles) into a masterful and theatrical performance. The end result is a sense of accomplishment for the girls, friendship and great entertainment for the parents.

WGI was formed in 1978 in Illinois to foster positive life experiences for all that participate, by promoting education, creativity and freedom of expression through the unification of pageantry and the performing arts. WGI Winter Guard now exists in the United States, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Germany, England, Ireland, Korea, Japan, and Africa. Each year over 600 local competitions are performed and enjoyed by over 40,000 spectators. Winter Guard and Indoor Percussion are the fastest growing of the pageantry arts.

The challenges that Marie Marshall faces are many but as in most sports programs, funding always poses a problem. The cost of running a Color Guard is enormous. Parents pay the bulk of the costs through dues and fees. Money is needed to pay the teachers, for props, costumes, buses, etc. Marie is sensitive to the drain on parent's finances. Therefore along with their practices and performances, the girls work hard at fundraising. This year they performed a "spin-a-thon" and sold raffle tickets to raise additional money to help finance their recent trip to Tampa, FL to compete in the Suncoast Competition.

Each season individual Color Guards host one of the local competitions. This is a way to cover some of the costs by selling admission tickets, food and advertisements in the program book. The parents volunteer their time to run the event. This year Sacred Heart will host a competition on Saturday, March 6 at Waltham High School, starting at 5 p.m. This is an exciting event for the girls. They are the highlight for one evening and proudly perform for what they hope is the largest crowd of family and friends. I encourage you to set aside the date as a wonderful and entertaining evening out. Community support is essential for the continuation of this wonderful sport for our children.

As a parent, I have watched frustration, fatigue and tears magically turn into a positive and worthwhile experience for my child. I eagerly attend each competition and proudly watch my own child and the other girls perform not only a beautiful, disciplined routine but also a valuable life experience. Best of luck to Amanda Abate, Kaitlin Avery, Jessica Baez, Sarah Bernardi, Leona Bryson, Aprile Capostagno, Meaghan Clinton, Erin Cuddy, Christina Gomez, Ashley Gorsline, Brittany Hagen, Alice Jourdain, Kimmy Marshall, Meaghan McNamara, Lynda Niland, Colleen O'Brien, Jackie Ortiz, Myriame Petit-Friere, Shannon Rose, Danielle Twohig, Kelly Warren, Rebecca Williams, and Michelle Marshall.

Registration for the 1999-2000 year Sacred Heart Color Guard will take place in May 1999. For information about the Sacred Heart Color Guard, call Marie Marshall at 781-326-5225.

2/10/99 - A garden of childhood memories

As a child I participated in typical activities. I would climb trees, take long walks picking up pretty stones and other nature objects, coast down snow covered hills and watch frogs frolic on lily pads in a pond. What was not typical was that these activities took place in a cemetery. A recent family death brought me back to the place of my childhood memories. Standing at the graveside ceremony, my thoughts turned to my long personal history with the Forest Hills Cemetery.

To say that the cemetery was my playground is unsettling to most people. Yet my memories are positive. I grew up on Tower Street right next to the Forest Hills Cemetery. As a child, the cemetery was a virtual adventure into a complex and beautiful park. Where most would only see death and grave stones, I saw trees, hills, sculpture and flowers. Forest Hills was a peaceful haven and part life's classroom for me.

In her book, Garden of Memories, Susan Wilson introduces the Forest Hills Cemetery this way, "Forest Hills is a special place. It is a treasure trove and one of the best-kept secrets in Boston. If you like stories about famous people or interesting anecdotes about lesser known people; if you like art, sculpture and architecture; or if you are looking for a little peace and quiet in a beautiful setting, you'll love Forest Hills."

This recently published book and now a treasure in my personal library, delightfully brought me back to my childhood memories. It also entertained and educated me to the historical and cultural significance of this cemetery consecrated in 1848. As a child I could not appreciate the history, today this new found knowledge adds artistic dimension to my playful memories.

Although famous people like Eugene O'Neill, playwright, William O'Taylor, publisher Boston Globe, e.e. cummings, poet, Dr. Susan Dimock, surgeon and Lucy Stone, voice of women's suffrage are buried there, the cemetery is more than a burial ground. Forest Hills is an institution that reflects over 150 years of history through its landscape, architecture and works of art. Johnathan Fairbanks, Trustee of Forest Hills Cemetery and the Katharine Lane Weems Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has this to say, "Forest Hills is a work of art consisting of many works of art arranged on a canvas of nature, carved out of earth, integrated with its flora and fauna. Buildings, spaces, plantings and sculpture, paths, roadways, gates, bridges, fences and vistas collectively constitute a whole framed into a singular work of art."

Six original works of sculpture by Daniel Chester French including his masterpiece, The Milmore Memorial can be found at Forest Hills. The memorial celebrates the lives of Boston sculptor Martin Milmore and his brother Joseph. Martin Milmore created the famous Soldiers and Sailors Monument erected on Boston Common in 1877.

Today, I no longer partake of youthful activities at the cemetery. My visits there are to mourn lost relatives and friends. Yet I am grateful for the wonderful memories and the daily opportunity to have such an interesting and beautiful place to visit so close to home. I encourage you to plan a visit to Forest Hills Cemetery. For here you can experience the spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual facets of history past and history still in the making. And to really appreciate all that Forest Hills Cemetery has to offer, pick up a copy of Garden of Memories by Susan Wilson. The book is available at David's Books at 1876 Centre Street, West Roxbury.

1/26/99 - The public library, palace for the people

My first visit to the main branch of the Boston Public Library (BPL) in Copley Square didn't happen until I was an adult. As a student in St. Andrews Grammar School in Forest Hills and Cathedral High in the South End, I would frequent the Roslindale branch library. I loved to read and the Roslindale library provided me many years of academic and pleasure reading. Recent writing assignments for the Newbury Street and Back Bay Guide have re-introduced me to the BPL in Copley Square. And much to my delight I have found much more than books.

Founded in 1848, the BPL was the first large, free municipal library in the United States. The present location in Copley Square was completed in 1895, designed by architect Charles Follen McKim and named "Palace for the People". In 1972 the library expanded and added an addition designed by Philip Johnson. The McKim building houses the BPL's vast research collection and the Johnson building holds the circulating collection of the general library. The BPL location also serves as headquarters for their 25 branch libraries throughout the city.

The BPL has over 6.1 millions books with 1.2 million of them rare books, manuscripts, maps, musical scores and prints. Included in this collection are first edition folios by William Shakespeare, original music scores from Mozart and the personal library of John Adams to name a few. Due to the extent of these collections, many items are displayed on a rotating basis. These unique "special exhibits" are shown in the Research Library and offer the public an opportunity to view books and documents, which are usually available only to research scholars.

As I stated though, the BPL is much more than books. The library supports and offers continual programs that entertain, teach and enlighten. These programs are all free and open to the public. Programs include lectures, conferences, film and video programs, prose & poetry, concerts, drama, forums, Internet workshops, adult book discussions, literacy programs, book sales, creative writing workshops, children's programs, senior's programs, art exhibits and photo exhibits.

Some upcoming activities that you may be interested in attending are - Feb. 7. Children are invited to an Origami workshop to create an array of hopping bunnies, shimmering stars and colorful gift boxes presented by the Chinese Culture Connection. The 1:30 p.m. workshop is for 6 to 8-year-olds and 2:30 p.m. workshop for 9 to 12-year-olds. Pre-registration is required. An illustrated lecture by Henry Augustine Tate, Professor of Art History, Berklee College of Music and art historian on "Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman" Thursday, Feb. 18. This lecture is being held in conjunction with the upcoming Mary Cassatt exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts from February 14-May 9.

My favorite reason to visit the BPL is for their wonderful exhibits. Upcoming exhibits include the Annual Boston African-American Artists Exhibit (month of February) and "A Photographic History of the Fort Point Channel" through March 31 - an exhibit of approximately 50 historic photographs that explores the history of the industrial area along the Fort Point Channel. The BPL offers "Art & Architecture" tours on Mondays at 2:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays at 11 a.m. Here you will see spectacular murals painted by John Singer Sargent, French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and American artist Edwin Austin Abbey.

Each year over 2.2 million people visit the BPL. I certainly hope that you are one of them. The BPL is located at 700 Boylston Street, Copley Square. For information about the BPL, current programs and exhibits call 617-536-5400 ext. 212 or visit their web site that has wealth of information at At the web site you can also get information about local branch activities.

1/12/99 - A manicure and a new outlook on life

My faith in humanity has been restored. I recently had the pleasure of meeting a truly delightful person. Generally my overall impression of people runs lukewarm. Each day I encounter many types of people. Sometimes it feels like people were put on this earth to annoy me. How many times have I growled (both quietly and out loud) at a rude or inept sales clerk? And who doesn't have a relative who constantly wrangles your heart and soul. The work place too is a breeding ground for sour attitudes and behavior.

So when that rare person enters your life and makes you feel good, you tend to stand up and take notice. My encounter with this person was somewhat unusual. I was doing some research for an article. The article was about pampering and I chose to have a pedicure and manicure at an exclusive salon. I went to the appointment expecting a nice treat for my much-abused hands and feet and that's all. What I got from the experience was an encounter that delightfully changed my outlook on life.

I met with Natasha at the end of a hectic day. I really wasn't feeling very enthused. It was another item on my long list of "to do's". The first thing that she did was to hand me a hot cup of raspberry tea. She then sat me in a comfortable chair and had me soak my feet for fifteen minutes. At this point I was not overly impressed but it sure felt good to just sit and relax. After the quiet soak, Natasha came and started doing magic to my feet. At first I was carefully analyzing her technique for my article but soon I found myself in a delightful conversation. The conversation was easy and we exchanged information about ourselves and the lives we live.

What I found out about Natasha made me appreciate a lot of things in my life that I take for granted. You see Natasha emigrated here from Russia over five years ago. She left her country and relatives to make a new life here in America with her husband and son. She had to learn English and find employment. This in itself is not earth shattering but nevertheless something that I would finding extremely difficult. What is more amazing is that she recently had to have a tumor removed from her brain The operation put her at risk of losing some of her short term memory such as the English she had worked so hard to learn. In spite of all these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, not once did I hear any regrets or whining from Natasha. All I heard was how grateful she was for her life here in America. She raved about the freedoms we enjoy. She praised our health system for its total care. She expressed gratitude for her wonderful customers and the business she has been able to build.

I left Natasha that day with a smile that radiated from inside of me. As I walked to my car with silken feet and exquisitely manicured nails, it seemed that the people around me were smiling too. No doubt the pampering did my body and soul a world of good but I will never forget how Natasha made me appreciate my life in a new way. I will return often to Natasha for a steady dose of her soothing skills but most of all for her outlook on life. And an unexpected but welcome finale to my encounter with Natasha was learning that upon coming to America she chose to settle in Roslindale.

Natasha has her business at Lady Jane Skin Care Salon at 123 Newbury Street, Boston. She can be reached at 617-247-0758.

12/3098 - A real sense of community

The holiday parties have come and gone. I've had my fill of small but calorie-laden hors d'oeuvre, creative wine selections and canned holiday music. I enjoyed "Tea at the Ritz" with the Jacaranda Publishing team. I co-mingled with the Newbury Street League members at Niketown. I ate and laughed heartily with the Gillette Security group and spent a few delightful hours in the Tropical Forest with the Zoo New England members. Yet, the most important party I attended was at the Melting Pot in Roslindale Square where I celebrated with the Roslindale Village Main Street board members and volunteers.

The celebration was two fold. We gathered to share the holiday spirit and to reflect on the enormous accomplishments of the group. In the past year this group achieved the following: helped bring ten new businesses to the area; purchased new holiday light decorations for Adams Park; assisted with storefront improvements at Tony's Market and Parkway Gardens; removed all significant graffiti from unpainted surfaces and helped six businesses permanently remove storefront grates. I can now do food shopping in my neighborhood at the Village Market, purchase delicious home made bread from Fornax and pick up some great gifts at new shops like Zia's. I eagerly wait the opening of planned eateries such as Karen's Gourmet Kitchen. As a Roslindale Village Main Street board member and resident of Roslindale I couldn't be more pleased.

These accomplishments done with the support of the city but with the hard work of dedicated area residents are critical to the health and future of our community. Roslindale Village Main Street along with other groups such as the Roslindale Board of Trade and Healthy Roslindale are made up of residents who understand that direct involvement makes for a better community. Taking the time to get involved is not always easy or convenient. All the people involved have full time jobs and families. Yet they bring their enthusiasm and much needed skills together to make our community a better place for us all.

More importantly the Roslindale Village Main Street helps to foster a real sense of community. Events created to raise funds for operation are first and foremost planned for the enjoyment of the residents. Such events as the Easter Egg Hunt, International Arts Festival and Xmas Tree Lighting include activities and entertainment for both young and old. The Farmer's Market brought to Roslindale by Roslindale Village Main Street and the City of Boston was a great success this year. And the Trick or Treat Trot road race held on Halloween was the biggest fundraiser yet and brought many people together for a day of exercise and fun.

Plans for 1999 are for more of the same and then some. More new businesses are in the planning or construction stage. There will be a much needed traffic study to handle the congestion, parking and vehicle volume that comes with growth. The design committee is working with a number of merchants to improve storefront appearance. And of course the events will be bigger and better. On February 26, Roslindale Village Main Street will have their Annual Auction at the Elks Hall in West Roxbury. As with all the events, the auction will not only raise money but will be very entertaining. We eagerly wait to find out what creative and whacky items will be donated by local merchants and residents.

Roslindale Village Main Street has had a positive impact on our community. Your support and involvement will foster continual improvement and secure Roslindale as a safe and inviting place to live, work and play in. To find out more about Roslindale Village Main Street, call Kate at 617-327-4065 or visit

12/15/98 - Teens meet our expectations, good or bad

My friend Nancy Levy says that teenagers are the victims of a self-fulfilling prophecy: "We view them negatively and then they meet our expectations". Having parented two children through the teen years and being on the verge of another, I found this statement to be very revealing about how we as parents and adults approach and influence the teen years of children whether they be our own, our neighbors' or friends' children.

This topic and its discussion came to mind after having recently worked with a great group of teenagers - the Rossie Reps. During the Sacred Heart Home and School Association Holiday Bazaar, the Rossie Reps volunteered their time during the entire event. They performed such tasks as face painting, raffle selling, slush selling, game management, clean up and were available to handle all the little tasks of running around. As one of the people managing the bazaar, I can truly say that their help was tantamount to the success of the bazaar. I agree with Nancy, I love teenagers.

Nancy Levy further says, "The teen years are the most creative in an individual's life. Teens are capable of highly abstract reasoning processes. They are introspective. They are highly aware of hypocrisy in adults. They have an abundance of energy. And they need your parenting as much now as they did when they were eight years old." Knowing, understanding and capitalizing on these qualities in teenagers can help us as adults to not only guide teens but learn from them too. One of the greatest skills an adult can offer to a teenager is to listen. Teenagers tend to be passionate about trendy subjects. Adults generally view these trends negatively. Remember teens are creative. We need to listen and encourage while watching them like a hawk to keep them out of harm's way. Nancy says, "For behavior that is dangerous, inconsiderate, vindictive or intolerant, draw your battle lines and stand your ground." Our behavior and trends were viewed the same way by our parents. I remember the scene when my mom found out that I had pieced my ears without her consent. That rebellious act done many years ago seems mild yet the dynamics played out are the same today.

The Rossie Reps under the tutelage of Healthy Roslindale has put in place a great program for teenagers. The kids are given the freedom to plan and organize events that satisfy their needs while learning and maintaining civil and social behavior. In the past six months I have had the privilege of being on the receiving end of the Rossie Reps. They have allowed me to offer art programming to children in a capacity that I would not be able to do alone. They have consistently been there to support community endeavors. I commend them for their creativity and their energy.

Raising teenagers has always been a hair-raising event. The transition from child to adult is mystifying and confusing to adult and child alike. For some reason it seems even more difficult in today's hectic and fast moving world. Teens face a world of uncertainty with the same stresses and pressures that we as adults feel. The best thing we can do is to approach the teen years with a positive and patient attitude. I started this column off by quoting Nancy and her statement that teens act negatively because we approach them that way. As difficult as it may be during certain situations, I will try to put aside any negativity and listen. I hope you can too.

Again my thanks to all the Rossie Reps who have helped me with the community events. You are an important and valuable part of our community. I look forward to working with you at more events. I also commend the positive efforts of the adults who work with the Rossie Reps and I encourage more adults to get involved.

The Rossie Reps meet every Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Roslindale Library. To get involved (teens and adults) call Cathy Slade at 617-323-9022. Nancy Levy who gives seminars on "Parenting Teenagers" and other topics can be reached at 1-888-50-COACH or visit

12/2/98 - Art for more than art's sake

Arts & Crafts is big business and boasts collectable artists whose works fill museums, galleries, retail stores and the White House. Boston, always in the forefront of cultural activity is the place to see the contemporary work of craft artists. And, the holiday shopping season brings the work of these artists out of the studio into public access for a truly creative shopping experience. The items are unique and the workmanship exquisite. Useful, everyday objects like jewelry, furniture, ceramics, baskets and decorative fiber can be purchased at both local retail shops and craft shows.

This is the time of year for school bazaars, crafts shows and holiday festivals. In every town local artists come together to offer up artful wares for the holiday shopping crowd. I love this time of year as my life long love of arts and crafts gets its full measure of satisfaction. Whenever I want to relax from my hectic schedule I spend time making crafts. This activity which takes on a variety of forms enables me to be creative and have a sense of accomplishment much different from the other activities in my life. I also get great satisfaction from seeing the creative work of others.

This year I have been lucky to work very closely with a number of the country's top craft artisans. For the past six months I have worked with Family Service of Greater Boston as a volunteer for their annual fundraiser Crafts at the Castle. I developed a web site for them that promotes the event and showcases the artists' work. Through these efforts I was able to see the wonderful work of each artist and to personally meet some of them. One of the Crafts at the Castle artists is Chris Gryder of West Roxbury. In his studio Chris creates unusual and earthy ceramic containers made in the "negative". Working with silt (85% sand and 15% clay) Chris designs each individual piece using a simple but ingenious casting method that he invented. To visualize: picture building a sandcastle vertically downward rather than upward. I was thrilled to meet Chris and see his work firsthand.

Crafts at the Castle takes place this week from Thursday through Sunday at Park Square in Boston. There you will find over 100 craft artists from around the country offering work in jewelry, ceramics, glass, wood, paper, leather, metals, mixed-media, baskets and fiber. The event not only offers exclusive crafts but it benefits Family Service of Greater Boston that has been helping families in Boston for over 125 years. You can get further information about the event at or by calling 617-523-6400.

Other venues that showcase the work of craft artists are shops like Zia. Lesia Stanchak recently opened Zia on Birch Street in Roslindale Village and has a wonderful selection of handmade items including the work of local artists such as Jay Fisher - hand knitted infant hats, Kat Brennan - floor cloths and Sheryl White - oil paintings. Other local sources for crafts are Fire Opal in Jamaica Plain and the Brookline Crafts Cooperative on Monmouth Street which will be open each weekend in December selling unique hand made gifts. And last but not least, Sacred Heart Home and School Association will be having their annual bazaar from December 3-5 at its school on Canterbury Street with a special craft show on Saturday showcasing the work of 25 local artists.

It is refreshing to be able to buy the work of local craft artists. In today's culture, consumers are immersed in chain stores that offer up countless products that are mass-produced and are designed to be replaced almost from the minute we buy them. Handmade products are always more interesting and of better quality. So as you plan your shopping this year consider purchasing a gift with a purpose and support your local artist.

11/18/98 - Managing the hectic holidays

Last week I had a precious message on my answering machine. It was a tiny almost inaudible voice. I had to listen to the message a few times. I finally realized that the little voice was talking to Santa Claus - "I want toys, games and books". I don't know who the caller was or how she came to my answering machine but the message left me with very mixed feelings. I thought about the magic of Christmas that was so exciting in my own childhood - special dolls, holiday lights and midnight mass. I remembered the magical moments with my own children - running around to find that special request for an "Inch Worm" and the endless wrapping. I think about the impending holiday season. I feel tightness in my chest.

If you listen real carefully you can hear the sound of sleigh bells. The jingle sound they make is faint now but within a week or two the sound will begin to reverberate loudly and incessantly into every space that we encounter in our daily lives. Already the catalogs have started to arrive. Bad time to be a postal carrier - oh aching back. The stores quickly rid their shelves of Halloween merchandise and the smell, taste and look of Christmas takes over every available space. Every year we say the same thing, it's not even Thanksgiving and already they are putting out the holiday merchandise. I feel stressed.

I am the proverbial procrastinator when it comes to Christmas. I avoid buying that first gift because once I do that I have to face up to the task. I admire and try to emulate my sister-in-law Marilyn who seems to sail through the season effortlessly and joyfully. By this time of year she has almost all of her shopping done. All through the year she finds, buys and puts aside those perfect gifts for each and every family member. Soon she will be wrapping them and will have time left over to make her heavenly home made fudge that she generously gives and we so appreciate. I on the other hand approach the season totally in denial. As each day brings me closer to the event, I berate myself for not having planned better. I feel anxious.

It's not that I don't like the holidays. Each year in Martha Stewart fashion I conjure up the perfect holidays. I plan to bake cookies in seven different varieties. I plan to make my own creative cards and gift tags. I plan to decorate my home gloriously with brightly colored lights and hand made wreaths. I plan to donate generously of my time and money to those less fortunate. I plan to personally visit friends and bring them a loaf of homemade cranberry bread wrapped artistically. I plan to have all my gifts purchased and wrapped so I can have the time to go to holiday parties. Like the incessant jingle of the sleigh bells, these thoughts race through my mind while December 25 roars closer and closer. Just thinking about it makes me tired.

I always say that this year will be different but I now know otherwise. Too many holiday seasons have come and gone and I remain fixed in my procrastinator ways. The truth is that I may bake some cookies but at the last minute I will be running around buying, wrapping and apologizing. I will miss the holiday parties because I will be fighting the crowds at the mall. I will settle for store bought cards and hope that they actually get in the mail. I take solace in the fact that most everyone else is feeling the same way. Our lives are busy anyway and the holidays add a whole element of added, hectic activity. Christmas will inevitably come and in spite of my procrastination, my family and I will experience the magic of giving and receiving. There is always next year. I feel merry.

11/4/98 Slow down in school zones - children's lives depend on it

When I was six years of age I made a split decision that landed me in the hospital with a serious head injury. Dashing out between two parked cars on a rainy, school bound morning I was hit by a car. The memory of the impact and subsequent medical treatments remain vivid to this day 42 years later. Because of this incident I always cross the street with much trepidation. I am afraid of moving vehicles unless of course I am the driver.

For most children there is no fear of cars. Parents have a monumental task in teaching children traffic safety in an urban environment. Vehicle traffic is everywhere, non-stop and in a hurry. Consider these statistics taken from web site: Washington Street brings 20,000 cars into Roslindale Village every day. Belgrade and Corinth Streets bring 15,000 cars into Roslindale Village every day, with 1,000 cars per hour between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. We have traffic rules that mandate drivers to stop at red lights, stop when school buses have red flashing lights and drive at reduced speeds around school districts. The police department does a good job of putting crossing guards at strategic intersections in the area. All these rules are necessary and heavily enforced. But somehow our children are still in danger.

The danger I see comes from us as parents and drivers. My daughter goes to Sacred Heart School on Canterbury Street in Roslindale. Over the past six years I have watched more violations of traffic safety happen on that street than anywhere else. I am appalled and my life long fear is revisited each and every time I pick her up at school. Here are some of the dangers I see. Parents sitting in their cars - sometimes double parked across the street and motioning for their children to cross the street. Other parents perform the drive by routine where they keep circling until the child appears and then just stop in the middle of the road until the child enters the car. This leads to frustrated drivers behind them who try to get around them and have no visibility of other children crossing the street. Another violation that leads to chaos is the parents who make a U-turn on the street. The street is narrow, lined on both sides with parked cars and has to accommodate school buses. And the worst violations of all are those parents who park at the front door in the space allocated for the school buses.

Each year Sister Gail the principal of Sacred Heart school talks to the parents about vehicle safety. Information is sent home with the children. The children are advised on how and where to cross the street. Teachers walk the children to the crossing guards or physically walk them across the street as a group. Yet I have watched the safety rules ignored by the parents time and again. Sacred Heart is only one of nine schools in Roslindale alone. I am sure that the same scene is being played out at each and every school. Our children are in danger.

Traffic safety around our schools needs to be taken very seriously. Parents need to be more considerate and be good examples for our children. I admit to being the typical urban driver. I am impatient and aggressive. We are all in a hurry but this is the time to slow down and think about our actions as drivers. We must pay particular attention to traffic safety at schools. One way that I assure that my child will get across the street safely is to physically meet her at the front door and walk with her across the street. This means most times that I have to park a distance from the school. It is an inconvenience but the memory of what it feels like to be hit by a car always takes center stage.

10/13/98 - A spooky, safe Halloween

Halloween is an adventure in the macabre and make-believe. At this time we conjure up images of witches, goblins, and graveyards. Scary movies, costumes, make-up and masks are the order of the day. We love to scare and be sacred. A visit to "The Big Party" in Dedham or "Jack's Joke Shop" in downtown Boston might have you think that Bostonians are heavy into the holiday. Here you can find a wide variety of costumes and masks as well as the perfect accessories for Halloween: fake blood, skeletons, fake body parts, gravestones, etc. But to really appreciate the celebration of Halloween you have to travel across the country.

A few years back I spent Halloween at a customer' business in a Chicago, IL suburb. On October 31st I arrived at the company and was greeted by a gorilla. I looked down at my "blue power" suit and thought, "This is going be an interesting day." I spent the entire visit in the company of clowns and witches. By the end of the day I was not at all surprised to arrive at the airport for my trip to back to Boston and to hand my ticket over to Dracula. It was quite the experience. In West Virginia the residents compete to decorate their houses in full Halloween regalia like we do at Christmas time. Only there, the strung lights are orange and ghosts hanging from trees flutter in the dark sending chills up your spine. And let's not forget New Orleans, LA where Halloween is celebrated 365 days of the year.

Chances are you won't be travelling this Halloween so how can you get a good, safe scare here in the Parkway for you and your children? The biggest scare for parents on Halloween is protecting our children from the real monsters who hide behind the realm of make-believe. We must be extra cautious at Halloween. The best way to make Halloween safe for children is to lead them to supervised events. The Parkway area has quite a few interesting and safe things planned for this Halloween.

On October 31, Roslindale Village Main Street is hosting a fundraiser, the 1st Annual Roslindale Trick or Treat Trot. It is a 5K race that starts at the corner of Birch Street and Belgrade Avenue at 10 a.m. Runners and walkers of all ages and skill levels are welcome and encouraged to wear costumes. Even if you are not interested in participating in the event come along for the show and listen to music by Open Hand. Pre-registration fee for the race is $12. For an application call RVMS at 617-327-4065. The Roslindale Community Center (corner of Washington Street and Cummins Highway) is planning a Halloween Party and Scare Room on Friday, October 30 from 3:30 - 6 p.m. Cost is $3 per child. An adult should accompany young children. For information call 617-635-5185. The Roche Family Community Center (Centre Street, West Roxbury) is having a Halloween Party and Parade on Friday, October 30 from 4-6 p.m. Event is free and again, an adult should accompany young children. For information call 617-635-5066. And last but not least, the Franklin Park Zoo is hosting a day long Zoo Howl on October 31. Activities include costume contest, trick or treat trail, spooky storytelling, creepy crafts, goblin games and a howling contest sponsored by Walt Disney's Lion King II: Simba's Pride. For information call 617-989-2000.

Enjoy Halloween but be extra careful and help to make it safe for our children. For a comprehensive list of safety tips go to this web site at

10/7/98 Breaking bread at shops around Roslindale Village

I have built up a quirky tradition of bringing bread as a hostess gift. I never go empty handed when invited to someone's home. I remember bringing bread from John's Bakery in Roslindale the first time (1984) I met my husband Glenn's family. The normally skeptical Nana Donlon welcomed the bread and I with adoring affection. One might think that bread is ordinary. After all it is a good guess that bread exists in some form or another in every household in the world. It is a staple. It has been around for a long time. About 6,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians developed the kind of bread that we know today. They discovered leavening although the scientific process of yeast wasn't discovered until the 17th century. But the bread I bring is no ordinary bread. I always purchase freshly baked bread. In my younger days I would even bake the bread myself. Those carefree days are gone. So where does one find local freshly baked bread of the quality to bring as a hostess gift? Why didn't you know, right here in Roslindale - a food lover's paradise.

This column was born out of a recent lunch at a client's home. As is my tradition I brought a loaf of bread with me. My client had prepared a delightful lunch using fresh ingredients from her garden - gazpacho soup and tomato & basil salad. It was delicious and served in a surreal setting. The topic of conversation though was the olive bread that I had just purchased at Fornax Bread on Corinth Street, Roslindale. Upon being handed the large round loaf of bread, my client exclaimed, "Where did you get such great bread? I have searched high and low here in my area for a decent loaf of bread and cannot buy anything that compares." She then commented that her husband would really enjoy a slice with his dinner that night. Once again, my gut instinct to use bread as a gift was confirmed.

Good food is what puts Roslindale on the map. This small but lively village has always offered up delicious ethnic foodstuffs. I remember purchasing creamy butter at Kennedy's and scrumptious fish cakes and German potato salad at Claus' delicatessen and I always made a stop at Tony's Market for the best veal cutlets and Italian ingredients. I can't count for you how many trips I made to Santoros Bakery for hot freshly baked Italian bread and square pizza (first time I ever saw pizza that wasn't circular). I would always buy two loaves of bread - one to eat on the way home, the other to have at dinner with my creamy butter. These establishments are sadly gone with the exception of Tony's Market now in its twenty-ninth year in Roslindale. But I have found several other spots that rival their predecessors.

The garlic bread at Fornax is to die for. The Village Market offers natural bulk grains, pasta and beans and a nice selection of gourmet cheeses. I now shop at Droubi Brothers on South Street for a great selection of olives, feta cheese, the freshest Syrian bread and those hard to find ethnic fruits and vegetables. And who can dispute that Roslindale is the pastry capital of the world. Every corner offers up the fragrant aroma of baked goods from Carrot Cake to Baklava brought to you by Diane's, Boschetto's, John's, Vourous, and Droubi Brothers. And last but not least Alex's liquor store on Corinth Street has some excellent, good priced wines to compliment your meal. Roslindale has been accused of lacking in many things but don't ever say that great ethnic food selections were one of them.

My client lives in a lovely historic colonial home in Sherborn, MA. I live in working class Roslindale. We may seem to be from very different socio-economic neighborhoods but she longs for freshly baked bread while I revel in it. Shop Roslindale!

9/22/98 - Prepping for the parade

Gather together over 100 marching bands, cultural agencies, youth groups, political candidates, elected officials, clowns and government agencies consisting of over 3,000 people, and plunk down $16,000. What do you get? The answer is the Roslindale Day Parade. Sounds easy doesn't it? It must be easy as every year for the past twenty-two years the residents of Roslindale have been entertained by a fabulous community parade that winds its way from Adams Park in the center of Roslindale up Belgrade Avenue and around to Fallon Field. I wish to clear up any misconception here. Any parade, even the Roslindale Day Parade is a great deal of behind the scenes work.

As a resident of Roslindale I enjoy the parade. It passes right by my front door. I sit in my lawn chair along with invited friends and relatives and watch it go by. We marvel at the festivity, shake hands with the political hopefuls, laugh at the clowns and wait for the candy to be thrown our way. I never once stopped to think about the parade in terms of putting it together. It just happened.

Far from just happening, the work behind the scenes is massive and done entirely by volunteers. The parade is sponsored by the Roslindale Historical Society in conjunction with the Roslindale Civic Association and the City of Boston. A parade committee consisting of Chair Tom Donahue, Marna Persechini, May Pieroway, Frazer McKinnon, Cathy Slade, Nina Schaefer, Jim Kennedy and Alex Guerntas begin the planning in January. They meet regularly to decide on a theme, select a Grand Marshall and process the paper work required to hold a parade on city streets. They also notify and process all entries. They line up vendors and make sure that all officials are notified and in place. And as though this wasn't enough work for any group of volunteers, the real work is raising money for the parade. Some of the money is acquired through sponsorships by local businesses but the bulk of the money is raised through a number of fundraisers like the Annual Awards Dinner and the Flea Market. On the day of the parade the committee along with as many volunteers as can be mustered are up in the wee hours of the morning to make sure that all is in place. They then perform the miracle of lining up all the people, floats, trucks and cars. And when the wondrous parade is over, they plan the awards - like Best Performing Entry, Best Float and Best New Entry. They then order the plaques that will be presented to the winners at the Annual Awards Dinner.

Why do these Roslindale residents tirelessly volunteer their time, year after year? I asked Tom Donahue who has been doing this for twelve years. He said, "We do the work for the community. It is a great way to bring together the various groups of Roslindale. That's what it's all about community." Roslindale is lucky to have someone like Tom who believes in the community and shares his time so others can believe too.

This year's parade theme is Salute to Neighborhood Policing. The Grand Marshall will be Captain William Parlon from Area E5. All this fits very nicely with community unity and spirit. Captain Parlon and the police officers of Area E5 have worked closely with many community groups, especially Healthy Roslindale to improve the quality of life here in

Roslindale. So enjoy the 23rd Annual Roslindale Day Parade on Sunday October 4 at 1 p.m. but also consider giving a few hours to help. Call Tom at 327-4886 if you have some time to spare. Remember too, that the Roslindale International Arts Festival is happening that same weekend. Saturday and Sunday you can come to Roslindale Square and be entertained by performances and live music, see an art exhibit, enjoy a craft show, shop at a sidewalk sale, play miniature golf and partake in kids art activities. The festival is brought to you by another community group that works tirelessly behind the scenes - Roslindale Village Main Street. For information call 327-4065. Kudos to the parade committee for making it happen year after year- Roslindale thanks you.

9/8/98 - Keeping up with computer technology?

Recently my eleven-year-old daughter asked me if there was going to be any technology left to create when she grew up. At first the question seemed typical of a youthful mind yearning for the future. The more I thought about it, the more profound the question became to me. Technology has certainly changed my life and will profoundly effect hers. I thought back sixteen years ago when my boss asked me to go out and buy one of those newfangled personal computers. He said to learn how to use it and report back to him how it could help our business. Since the purchase of that IBM PC Jr., computers have become a daily part of my life.

I use my computer (now an IBM Aptiva) for my business. I use it for word processing, graphic design, web site development and research. I use it for learning and networking. I interact with a variety of on-line groups strictly via email -a women's business group, fellow writers and quilters. I also use the computer to keep track of household expenses, mailing lists, phone numbers and I even shop from my computer. Am I computer savvy or computer crazy? I guess a whole lot of both. Sixteen years ago I was a pioneer. Today I join approximately 43 million PC users in the US, 24 million of them on-line (according to eMarketer).

But back to my eleven-year-old's dilemma. My answer to her was yes, technology will continue to evolve and change the way we live. And no doubt she will play an integral part in the evolution of newer and better technology. Young people today take to these newfangled personal computers like ducks to water. For the first time in history, schools are integrating computers into the curriculum. And schools are moving the technology evolution by creating innovative and interactive ways to use technology for teaching. My daughter's generation is riding a tidal wave of technology and hanging on for their lives.

In the meantime for those who have the need for computer training, there are resources in the community to help you ride the wave. Our local libraries are equipped with computers that can give you access to the Internet. You need to have a valid library card and usage is limited to one half hour per session on a first come, first served basis. Children's access is limited to a  program  that does not allow them to visit adult entertainment sites. For basic computer training, the Roslindale Community Center offers a variety of computer classes for adults and children. The classes held afternoons and evenings run for ten-week sessions. These classes teach the basics of operating a computer, working with word processing programs, how to use a web browser, etc. For information about these computer programs call 617-325-6700.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines technology as "the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area." Computers and the technology they have spawned are here to stay and our use of them while not only practical has become a necessity.

8/26/98 - Catching a contagious bout of sports fever

Unlike my Aunt Kathy whose life becomes transformed during football season, I never understood sports fever. At times this lack of interest worried me. It seemed that I was the only person on the planet not prone to yelling at the TV from August to January. I must be an alien. Recently I was introduced to this popular sport philosophy. I was at the playoff games for the Sacred Heart Roslindale Girls Midget Division Softball Team. I was there to cheer on my daughter. My expectation was to spend a couple of hours sitting in my beach chair, chatting with the other parents along with the recommended gaze over to home plate when said daughter is up at bat. Instead my eyes were riveted, my throat sore from yelling and I couldn’t possibly fit another butterfly in my stomach. The team won the championship in an exciting four game sweep. I have been transformed. I am no longer an alien.

The winning game played out like a dramatic overture. The score was eleven to ten (our team was winning) while St. Theresa's of West Roxbury was at bat for the bottom of the last inning. The bases were loaded and there were no outs. I was on my feet and at attention. I could feel the fever taking over my body and soul. And then to the utter delight and entertainment of the Sacred Heart contingency Elaine Matthews, the Sacred Heart pitcher struck out the next three batters at the plate. Be still my heart! It doesn't get any better than this even at Red Sox Games.

I had a great time and the team reveled in their newfound status. Kudos to Beth Connearney, coach extrodinaire. Beth along with her dad, Dave Fraine worked tirelessly all spring and summer to mold a team of 9-12 year-old girls to championship status. Beth coaches like the wonderful teacher she is - with true personal interest, compassion and education. And just to make this event even more special, this was the first championship for Beth after fifteen years of volunteering her time and energy to coaching Sacred Heart softball. I've seen other kids' coaches in the past with my two older children and most of them were coaching to relive their misguided childhood. They were more interested in themselves then the kids. Kudos also to Darlene Webb the "Team Mother" who was there to do whatever needed to be done - keep score, cool kids down or give a pep talk.

As happy as I was to see the team win the championship, I was disappointed to have the season end. I finally had caught the fever and it was exhilarating. Excuse me but I must hurry to the store and buy some throat lozenges - football season has started. I know it has started because I can hear the yelling coming from my living room.

Congratulations to Beth and team members Kim Bacevicius, Jessica Connearney, Jacqueline Conneely, Ashley Donaldson, Meaghan Donnelly, Patricia Foley, Rebecca Harrington, Deidre Howell, Erica Mahoney, Kara Malone, Elaine Matthews, Jessica McClure, Theresa O'Connell, Frances Ramirez, Danielle Twohig, Kaitlyn VanVoorhis, Jessica Walsh, Jessica Webb, Rebecca Williams and Sheila Zozula. You are the best!

8/12/98 - Got a Question - Ask the Answer Channel

Every Monday afternoon my family performs a hurried ritual. At 4:30 p.m. my husband changes into a dress shirt and throws a tie around his neck. My daughter and I gather up the papers and graphics, wash our faces and we rush out the door. We pile into the faithful Geo Tracker and drive through the nightmarish Boston traffic to Park Square. We enter the parking garage at the Transportation Bldg. At 5:30 p.m. We have arrived at the Answer Channel studio where at 6 p.m. we will produce our live cable show called Roslindale Village Looks at Boston Art.

In 1982, the City of Boston granted a 15-year cable television franchise to Cablevision Systems of Woodbury, New York. That franchise created the Boston Community Access and Programming Foundation to foster public access and community programming. Cablevision was required by that franchise to sign a separate contract providing the Foundation with various forms of support. A new ten-year contract was recently negotiated with the City of Boston and Cablevision. The city is now responsible for funding the Foundation. Community access for TV programming was something I had not thought about until last October when my husband asked me to help him produce a show on the arts. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that an ordinary citizen like myself could produce a TV show. The Answer Channel is an interactive (call-in show) video channel designed for human service and health providers, educational and cultural organizations to expand public awareness of programs and services. Eligibility for The Answer Channel is open to any non-profit organization or public agency which serves Boston. Participation involves one six-hour training session that costs $100 (annual institutional member fee) and you need two people to produce the show (host and telephone operator). The cost for each show is $30 and shows can be renewed every thirteen weeks. Roslindale Village Looks at Boston Art is a program of Roslindale Village Main Street and is sponsored by local businesses. Past sponsors include Trewewey Brothers, Krupa Insurance, Gate Corporation and Innovative Moves Realty.

These cable programs are a valuable assets in our community. The people and programs address and inform us about day to day events that help us understand our environment, let us know about important issues and can direct us to critical services. Each week The Answer Channel offers over 32 different programs. Topics include health, art, education, elderly affairs, neighborhood reports and policing. Some programs that I enjoy are District 5 Community Policing with Officer Richard Laham (Mondays at 5:30 p.m.), Everybody's Internet with Coralee Whitcomb (Thursdays at 8 p.m.), YouthBuild Boston with Greg Mumford (Wednesdays at 6 p.m.) and The Greek Program with Alex Geourntas (Mondays at 8:30 p.m.). Additionally there is BNN-TV channels 3 and 23 for taped cable programs. Over 140,000 households subscribe to cable in Boston, which represents 420,000 people who potentially can be reached, by cable.

Our experience with The Answer Channel 24 has been very positive. We have had wonderful, informative guests who have broadened our understanding of what is available in arts in Boston and in the process we have educated the general public. We have learned about TV production from Rob McCausland, Studio Manager and the helpful staff at the studio. And last but not least, we have established a family event that allows us to work together and have fun.

To find out more about the Answer Channel 24 call Mary Clayton Crozier, the BNN-TV Public Information Officer at 617-720-2113 ext. 26 or visit their web site at For an upcoming schedule of guests for Roslindale Village Looks at Boston Art visit

7/29/98 -Creating a community where the artists can live

My friend Tim Casey wrote a great song titled, "I want to be where the artists live." Surrounding oneself in art is a worthy venture. Art is the essence of individuality and its expression. Each art venue we see and do enriches and supports the world around us. Creativity has always been a part of my life. My husband Glenn is a musician and I am a fabric artist and writer. When we moved back to live in Glenn’s family home here in Roslindale, art became even more important in our daily lives. We immediately got involved in the newly formed Greater Roslindale Arts Association (GRAA). It was the perfect opportunity to explore art in Roslindale and to meet local people. We were both pleasantly surprised at the number of Roslindale residents with an interest in art. Roslindale is home to many talented visual artists, writers, musicians and puppeteers. Our senses have been delighted with Lydia Fondacaro’s cat paintings, Jane Southwick’s students’ quilts, the GRAA’s, "A Day in the Life of Roslindale" exhibit at Citizens Bank and the Open Poetry Mic nights at Guilty Pleasures Coffeehouse, to mention just a few.

We eagerly participate in the planning and promoting of art events in Roslindale. Our endeavors created many programs and exhibit opportunities that bring art into public spaces throughout Roslindale. Such happenings include local coffeehouses held at The School of Modern Languages, exhibits at Citizens Bank, a float in the Roslindale Parade, art classes and events for kids and adults and a weekly art cable show on Boston Neighborhood Network TV. These accomplishments made possible through our efforts and the efforts of Roslindale residents; Mary McCusker, Helen Hummel, Oscar Lazo and Tim and Tara Casey and with the support of Roslindale businesses and organizations such as Roslindale Village Main Street, Roslindale House and Citizens Bank are worthy of gratitude. Yet, the need for art programming in the Roslindale community is lacking and we wonder where will all the artists live?

The two challenges facing art programming are space and money. We are grateful for the local businesses that create space for art hanging. These businesses include Guilty Pleasures Coffeehouse, Roslindale Library, Citizens Bank, The Melting Pot, Fornax Bread and Innovative Moves Realty. Yet efforts by local talent to provide programming at the Roslindale Community Center has been met with resistance. A community center seems the ideal space for such programming. Roslindale may not have the money and space to be a Newbury Street art haven but we have the talent and through community efforts we can pool our resources to showcase and share that talent.

There are some hopeful solutions on the horizon. Richard Maloney, Principal at the Washington Irving School has invited Healthy Roslindale to plan programming in the fall at the school facilities. We hope that this will include some art programming for children and realize that such endeavors are dependent on funding. Roslindale Village Main Street is planning on showcasing Roslindale’s art community during its annual Festival held in October (the same weekend as the Roslindale Parade). Events will include an exhibit of local artists’ work, entertainment by dancers, poets and musicians, live art demonstrations and art & crafts for kids.

This is great news but more needs to be done. Art is the perfect community venue. Art is a positive influence in our lives and the support of it is a worthy undertaking for all citizens, businesses and organizations. If you are interested in getting involved in the planning of the RVMS festival, give me a call at 617-323-1227. For involvement in the Greater Roslindale Arts Association, please call Mary McCusker at 617-327-0960. If you are interested in providing some art programming through Healthy Roslindale, call Cathy Slade at 617-323-9022.

6/24/98 - Bored no more - local programs keep kids busy 

Parents have a special task in the summer. The kids are out of school and prone to boredom and sometimes mischief. I am a working mom and my special task is to keep my eleven-year old daughter Becky busy. In years past, due to corporate demands, Becky spent most of her summer at camp each day from 8-6. This year is different. I am still a working mom but now I work for myself. My time and budget are flexible so Becky won’t be off to camp each day. Nevertheless, I need to plan some activities for Becky for those times when my computer demands my attention.

I found some activities here in Roslindale, at little or no cost. A program that looks promising is the new Roslindale youth council. The Rossie Reps are organized by Roslindale youth and funded and supported through the Healthy Roslindale Coalition with assistance from Captain Parlon and Area E5 police. I spoke to some of the kids in the group and here is what they had to say. Cristina Petrillo, age 13 said, "I am really excited about the activities we have planned." Meghan Doherty, age 12 says, "I like planning activities with my friends and being able to make new friends." Michael Lozanne, age 13 and James Pierre, age 12, both told me that they wanted the community to know that kids in Roslindale want to be active in keeping kids busy and out of trouble. The Rossie Reps are planning a variety of activities such as a car wash on July 10, dances and trips. Trips are already planned to Canobie Lake on June 24 and to Whalom Park on July 20. All youth between the ages of 11 and 15 are welcome to join. Kerry Slade, age 11, summed up the youth council experience by saying, "I like being able to plan events that benefit all the youth of Roslindale."

I believe that putting kids in charge of their own destiny with the assistance of caring, responsible adults is a good way to go. Roslindale needs more programs like this for our kids. The Roslindale Reps now meet at the Roslindale Library for lack of an adequate space in the Village. They hope to find a space where they can meet and hold activities like arts & crafts, sports, etc. To sign up for a trip or for further information, call Cathy Slade at 617-323-9022.

For parents with younger children who need activities, the Roslindale Library at 4238 Washington Street offers a couple of free programs. For Grades 2-5 there will be a summer reading club called "Unlock the Mystery" offered every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. to noon beginning July 1. Call librarian Paula Wiktorowicz at 617-323-2343 to register. For preschool children there are films every Monday morning at 10:30 a.m. And don’t forget that passes for free admission or reduced rates to local museums can be reserved at the library. Please call ahead to reserve the passes.

Also, the Roslindale Community Center located at 6 Cummins Highway offers a day camp for ages 6-12 at a cost of $70 per week. The staff told me that other events are being planned but unfortunately the schedule for these events was not available for inclusion in this column. Call (617) 635-5185 for information. For summer programs at the Archdale Community Center, call Cynthia Johnson at 617-635-5257.

And for kids of all ages (including adults), the summer heat can be adequately quenched at the Flaherty Pool located behind Healy Field at 160 Florence Street. The pool offers open swims, lifeguard courses and swimming lessons. For a schedule, stop by the Community Center or call 617-635-5181.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Roslindale has some programs for their youth. I am disappointed though that it is no where near the level of activities that other communities offer. Our Community Center needs to listen to a growing, multi-faceted community and plan more timely, adequate activities. It is a start and I can only hope that more caring and responsible adults choose to get involved. Have a safe, happy and fun summer.