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“April hath put a spirit of youth

“April hath put a spirit of youth
in everything.”
By William Shakespeare

Our yard is certainly youthful. All the young plants are emerging. Our rose bushes are leafing out. Ther forsythia bushes are flowering. The daffodils have opened, much to our delight. In among the bright yellow daffodils are two white ones with vivid orange centers. One rosebush sits in a bucket of water on the porch waiting to be planted when the ground gets a little softer.

Hubby and I were pleased to be invited to the recent “Diamonds of Dorchester,” a gala fundraiser to benefit St, Mary’s Women and Children’s Center, held at the Seaport Hotel. At the reception, held in the Plaza Ballroom Lobby, I had a chance to chat with Claudina Quinn, former Attorney General Bob Quinn’s “bride.” She came over to me and told me how much she enjoyed the Dorchester Reporter newspaper. “It’s the only paper I read cover to cover,” she told me. When I asked how she saw the paper, she told me that Bob brought it home from his office.

When we went inside to the Plaza Ballroom, we were happy to be seated with my co-workers: Ed, Maureen, Quyen, Jack, and Pete. We were welcomed by the Mistress of Ceremonies, Liz Walker. (Liz is just as dynamic a personality in person as she was for some many years on the Ch. 4 newscasts.) During this dinner, the John W. Corcoran Award for Excellence is given to a deserving person or persons who have helped those less fortunate. I knew one of the three recipients of this award, named for the late John Corcoran, who was a guiding force in St. Mary’s early years. Hubie Jones is dean emeritus of the B.U. School of Social Work. Among his other worthwhile accomplishments, Jones founded the Boston Children’s Chorus in 2002. He has also established the Hubie Fund to benefit ongoing social concerns in Boston as a testament to his dedication to advocacy and people in need.
In addition to Hubie Jones, John Keith and Arthur Winn were also recipients of the John M. Corcoran Award for Excellence. Both are leaders in real estate management. They provided affordable housing to those less fortunate. Mayor Tom Menino joined us for much of the evening because of the importance of this fundraiser. Before the dinner, I had a chance to say a few words to Bob Quinn. I told him how sorry I was that I wasn’t able to attend the UMass/Boston Community Breakfast the previous Thursday because of a doctor’s appointment.

The dinner at the Seaport Hotel was lovely: a lettuce salad with tomato, bacon and blue cheese and the entrée of grilled chicken breast, potato gnocchi, vegetable cannelloni, with chianti sauce. A dessert buffet (mini milk-chocolate cheesecake, tiramisu, and fruit tarts) and coffee were served in the Plaza Ballroom Lobby. During the dinner, I was delighted to meet Jim Carmody, vice president and general manager of the Seaport Hotel. Pal Ed introduced us and told me that Jim was OFD and was brought up on Narragansett St. His mother was from County Sligo; his father’s parents, from County Cork.

I also had a chance to speak with Peter Meade. (How I loved his Mom.) Peter, during the evening, had mentioned how he was born at the former St. Margaret’s Hospital, which is where St. Mary’s Women and Children’s Center is now located, having expanded into the hospital section when St. Margaret’s Hospital was closed. Peter told us that, because of a storm, his mother was not able to get up Jones Hill in a car to St. Margaret’s on the day that she was to deliver Peter. She had to walk up the hill. When Peter was delivered, he was a breach birth with the cord wrapped around his neck. Thank goodness, his mother was able to get to the hospital where an excellent maternity team was able to save Peter. (Our youngest child Jeanne was taken via Caesarean section two month early because of RH difficulties at St. Margaret’s. Dr. Bowers and his terrific neo-natal pediatric crew saved her life during multiple blood exchanges at the hospital.) I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the hospital and that building atop Jones Hill.

Hubby, daughter Sue, and I were delighted that we were able to see photos of the retirement party for our friend Henry “Hank” Bradley, held recently in the community room of the Quincy Parks and Recreation Department’s building. Hank served for 19 years as the Director of Veterans’ Services for the city. Previously to that post, he was a Quincy Police officer for 21 years. Senator Michael Morrissey presented Hank with a Senate Citation. Quincy Mayor Tom Koch designated March 19 as Henry Bradley Day in Quincy. Maybe now Hank will be able to spend more time at his favorite pastime, being “Spike, the Clown.” (Hank chose “Spike” as his performing name because that was his late father George’s nickname.) I am sure that Hank will also spend more time visiting his mother Helen, who still lives on Neponset Ave. I am also sure that Hank’s wife Rosemary will keep him busy doing chores around the house. Congratulations on your retirement, Hank. You did a great job while serving the City of Quincy for 40 years. We hope to see you soon at church with your Mom.

I must mention that when Hubby and I were at the 2009 Scholarship Reception at UMass/Boston on Mar. 31, we heard three excellent speakers. The first was Bob Gallery, Massachusetts President, Bank of America. The second speaker was Philip Quaglieri, dean of the College of Management at the university. The final speaker was Dino Dzino, ’10, a student in the College of Liberal Arts at the university. Dino expressed gratitude for his scholarship. He explained that he has now been able to quit his part-time job and can concentrate fully on his studies, thanks to his scholarship.

I love receiving Larry DiCara’s yearly newsletter. I was amazed at how big his triplet daughters are. (Thanks for including two photos of your wife Teresa and your girls in your letter, Larry.). The gals seem to have Larry’s enthusiasm for sports. They are active in softball, baseball, tennis, and squash. (I was tired just reading about their athletic skills.) Larry mentioned that he was chosen “Father of the Year” by the Father’s Day Council of the American Diabetes Association. (He shared the honor with Ron Perry and Bill Connolly, “two good citizens of Boston.”)

Larry’s wife Teresa is very busy juggling Harvard Medical School, Isis Maternity, along with her patients. I did not know that Larry was the chairman of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. He also works with a group of young men called Boys State Colleagues, teaching them about government. Some of these men have even approached Larry asking if they could honor him on the occasion of his 60th birthday (April 30).

Near the end of his letter Larry mentioned his beloved Red Sox. He was there on Opening Day, 2008, “for the redemption of Bill Buckner, and for the elevation of Johnny Pesky’s number, as well as Jon Lester’s no hitter.” According to Larry, the great highlight of the postseason was the selection of Dustin Pedroia as the winner of the MVP Award. The moral of the story, according to Larry, is: “never underestimate a short, balding man with an ‘A’ at the end of his name.” The final photo in the newsletter shows Larry with both Red Sox World Series’ trophies.

Hubby and I always love reading the Castle Island Association’s bimonthly newsletter. Accompanying the most recent newsletter was the 2009 Cruiseport Boston Schedule. There is a new ship, the Norwegian Spirit that will be used for the weekly trips to Bermuda. The Grandeur of the Seas, a Royal Carribean ship, will be in Boston on June 25; the Queen Mary 2, on July 4. Free guided tours of Fort Independence will begin on Memorial Day weekend, from noon to 3:30 p.m. After that, each Sat. and Sun., tours will be given from noon to 3:30 p.m., plus each Thursday evening, from 7 p.m. to dusk. Hubby has taken the tour several times. He loves the view from atop the Fort, looking out into the harbor and toward the airport.

I was shocked and saddened to read of the unexpected death of Fr. James Fratus, pastor of St. Brendan Parish, on Apr. 8, the Wednesday of Holy Week. I have met Fr. Fratus at quite a few functions at St. Brendan’s over the years. He always seemed like a fine, decent, kind person. He worked tirelessly for the wellbeing of the parish and the parish school. I had heard how devoted he was to his parents and spent as much time as he could with them. At one Christmas party of St. Brendan’s Seniors, he hurried to Somerville to make sure his parents had enough supplies because a good-sized blizzard had been forecast. He was late coming back to the party but everyone understood that his parents were his first concern. I will never forget last year’s $10,000 Drawing at Anthony’s Pier Four Restaurant. Fr. Fratus began to speak to the audience. He whipped off his priestly attire and stood before us, looking wonderful in a beautiful tuxedo. We all roared. I join St. Brendan’s parishioners in sending sympathy to his mother and father, James and Alice, and to his sisters, Ellen, Carol, and Pamela.

Here is a great quote by Dominick Dunne: “Failure, if you get through it, is a great experience.”