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Saluting our veterans

Definition of a Veteran
A veteran-whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve, is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America,’ for an amount of, up to and including my life.” That is Honor and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.”
Author unknown

When my brother and I were little kids during World War II, we lived in my grandmother and grandfather’s big apartment in Jamaica Plain. Because their son, my Uncle Tom, was in the Army, we proudly displayed a small flag with a blue star in our front window. I rarely see any of these flags today. We also were thrilled to receive his letters as V-Mail, microfilmed down to very small writing so that it would take much less room on the planes that were taking mail to and from service personnel. (Thirty-seven bags of mail became one bag of microfilmed mail.) I would probably need a magnifying glass to read those letters now. I remember that these letters were also censored.

At our Boston Teachers’ College reunion this past Sunday, six members of our class were talking about the things we remembered from World War II. We remember rationing stamps. We also spoke of ration points, the little ration tokens that were equal to less than a dollar. We even spoke of the bag of margarine that included the capsule with the coloring agent. (I don’t know why margarine had to be sold white.) We broke the color capsule and then kneaded the color throughout the bag of oleo. It is funny the crazy things a person remembers from early childhood.

Hubby and I were pleased to be invited to the Mayor’s Halloween Party, held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Charlestown on Fri., Oct. 29. We first met our friends Ken and Mary Bruynell. At the Keystone Apartments, Eileen Collins was waiting for us with Gwen Adams and Dale Nee. Marie Schallmo came outdoors looking so cute in her pumpkin costume, topped with a pumpkin hat. John and Caroline Innello and Marilyn Ferrara were also there. Also joining us on the bus to Charlestown were Norma Conley, Marie McDonough, Ruth Barboza, Dale Nee, and Della Melchionda. When we arrived at the K of C, the hall was packed with people, some in costume. It seemed as though those in costume were the ones who danced to the great music by a wonderful DJ, Alan Lavella from East Boston.

The costumes were terrific. One man looked like Zorro. A woman had made a cardboard toilet seat that she hung around her neck like a necklace. She had a plunger hanging from her arm. She even had a roll of bathroom tissue hanging from her belt. We all laughed at her. How original and how outrageous! The photographer for the seniors, Eileen O’Connor, was the first to greet us. I saw former neighbor Gerry Cummins with her pals from Southie at the next table. Eliza Greenberg, head of Boston’s Elderly Commission, came over to greet us. So did Mike McColgan, one of the Elderly Commission’s workers. By the way, the Elderly Commission’s workers did a wonderful job taking care of us seniors that day.

Alan, the DJ, kept the crowd dancing and even moving in their chairs. We were told that a spaghetti dinner would be served at noontime. We had a preview of the dinner because we were sitting near a room where the dinners were being prepared. We saw huge meatballs. We also were treated to ziti and a lovely salad, along with rolls and butter. For dessert, we had a cup of ice cream with chocolate syrup. Our bus that would take us back to Keystone was one of the first buses to arrive back to the K of C hall. We were home just about 2 p.m. It was a fun day.

Our Pope’s Hill meeting on Oct. 27 was filled with info. Treasurer Judy Burke gave her financial report. State Trooper Brian Dunn explained that crime was rampant in the district, especially at Castle Island and Carson Beach, from Memorial Day to the end of September. Two memorials at Castle Island were defaced with graffiti. He held up a can of Four Loko, a new malt beverage, which is 12 percent alcohol. He said that this is equivalent to six shots of hard liquor. The drink is so popular among kids that he had to go to four liquor stores to get just one can of the beverage so we could see what it looked like. He expected that Halloween weekend would be tough. He warned us of the slippery leaves on the roads while we are driving, especially in the evening.

Communty Service Officer Dennis Rorie, from District C-11, was the next to speak. He proudly announced that he had become a grandfather, thanks to his daughter Denise. His granddaughter was born on Oct. 21. “I am going to spoil her rotten,” said Dennis. He also announced that, because of the Veteran’s Day holiday, there would be no Police Meeting on Nov. 11. The next Police Meeting would be held on Thurs., Dec. 9, at the Auckland St. Apartments. Technicians from the Boston Police Dept. would have a CSI-type meeting. He urged members to put reflective tape on the costumes of little children on Halloween. The annual District C-11’s Christmas Party will be held at the Vietnamese Cultural Building on Charles St., in Fields Corner, on Thurs., Dec. 16, from 4 to 9 p.m.

Officer Rorie also told us about some of the incidents that had happened during the past month in our area. A Poor Box at a local church had been rifled. There was a drug arrest on Neponset Ave. A rear door on Ashmont St. was pushed in and a laptop taken. Dennis also warned of car breaks. A $500 pair of sunglasses had been taken from a car on Nahant Ave. Everyone at the meeting was trying to guess who could afford a $500 pair of glasses anywhere in the neighborhood. Dennis even offered to marry the person, especially since she could afford to pay that amount for a pair of sunglasses. He mentioned that two individuals were arrested in Clam Point.

The final portion of the Pope’s Hill meeting dealt with a discussion of the three statewide ballot questions on the 2010 Mass. Election Ballot. Garrett Quinn, a writer and editor with RedMassGroup, and Yawu Miller, a senior editor at the Boston Banner were the speakers. Each man gave his reasons for being for or against each of the three questions.

From our church bulletin, we learned that Catholic Radio went on the air in Boston on Nov. 1. Holy Family Communications announced that WQOM (Queen of Martyrs), 1060 AM, began with a Mass at 8 a.m. on that day from the Holy Cross Cathedral, celebrated by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, You should be able to hear the station just to the right of WBZ, 1030 AM, on the radio dial. Speaking of church, All Saints’ Day was not a holy day of obligation this year. Daughter Sue checked and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday, Dec. 8, will be a holy day of obligation.

I mentioned, in last week’s column, that the Edward Everett School is collecting coats and jackets for families in need. They are also collecting non-perishable food for the St. Ambrose Family Shelter. In this week’s St. Gregory’s and St. Ann’s Bulletins, I noticed that these parishes will have members of the K of C, Dorchester Council 107, on hand after each weekend Mass during November. People may bring non-perishable food to either church and place the food in plastic bins. They may also take a paper bag home and return it filled with food items. If there are any questions, call the K of C at 617-288-7663.
I was sorry to hear of the death of Arthur Roos. Pal Ann Connell told me that she saw, during the summer, that Artie had passed away in August (the 18th) at his home in Randolph at age 77. I send my sympathy to his wife Millie and to his children. The Roos Family lived on North Munroe Terrace for quite a few years.

If you turn on Channel 533 on Boston’s Comcast Cable System, you will be surprised to hear Christmas music. There will be Christmas songs played throughout November and December. As with the Halloween songs, there are seasonal trivia facts on the screen as the songs are played. Hubby and I watched the channel several times over the weekend and enjoyed the music.

A reminder: Sully’s, at Castle Island, is offering hot dogs at half price (80 cents) during the month of November until the Sunday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 28) when it closes for the season. Hubby, daughter Sue, and I went over to Castle Island after school the other day. Two wind surfers were taking advantage of the strong winds that day. They were a pleasure to watch while we were munching our hot dogs.
Here are a couple of kitchen hints that I just read. If you separate a hand of bananas, each separated banana will last longer than if it is kept as a bunch. Also, I read that an apple put in a bag of potatoes will slow down the potatoes’ budding. Hubby just put two apples in each five-pound bags of potatoes in the cellar.

Be sure that you fly your flag this Thursday. I always loved seeing this bumper sticker: “If you love your freedom, thank a veteran.”