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Celebrating Independence

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” 
 — Erma Bombeck

God bless Erma Bombeck’s sense of humor. Her columns always made people chuckle. In the years since she wrote the tidbit to the right, however, our family’s kids no longer throw Frisbees. At our cookouts, they almost always have some type of electronic device in their hands. Our family is also very careful with potato salad. (It never gets “iffy,” as Erma wrote.) Any foods that had mayonnaise in them were the last items to go out on our picnic table and the first to be refrigerated after everyone has eaten.

On June 18, Hubby, daughter Sue, and I went to the Pope’s Hill Association’s Block Party on McKone St. As we walked in, we could see a huge climbing wall that the PHNA had hired for the children. We watched the kids as they enjoyed climbing the wall. There was also a woman who led exercises for the kids. The “Simon Says” man was also there and had lots of fun with the kids. There were even pony rides. PHNA Pres. Phil Carver welcomed us to the party. I saw Jim King manning the grill. Mike Juliano and John O’Toole filled in when Jim needed a break. Pres. Phil also thanked Mike and “the McKone St. Men” for setting up all the tables, chairs, and tents. Phil also thanked Alice and Susan Holloran for the supplies for the children.

Phil had so many others to thank for the great success of the Block Party: Neponset Child Care, Kokoras Insurance Co., Neponset Circle Car Wash, Eascare Ambulance Company, Councillor Maureen Feeney, the Boston Police Dept.’s Police Activities League, Tom Lynch and the Bostonian Nursing Care Facility, Riva Development, Carroll Advertising, Rep. Marty Walsh, Senator Jack Hart, Neponset Pet Center, Neponset Health Center, Morrissey Marketplace, and Stop & Shop and Manager Rick Ramos. Without their help, the Block Party could not be held.

Pres. Phil brought several people to the microphone for some special honors. Moira English and Helen Ryan, owners of the Mud House Coffee House, were asked to join Phil because the Mud House had been chosen as Pope’s Hill’s Business of the Year. I had a chance to chat with Moira’s husband, Jim English, and with Helen’s husband, Bill Ryan, for a few minutes. They were so pleased that their wives’ business was chosen for the award. City Councilor Maureen Feeney was chosen as the recipient of the Jack O’Connor Person of the Year Award for her many years of service to Dorchester and especially to the Pope’s Hill area. Carolyn O’Connor was invited to the microphone to help Pres. Phil present Maureen with this award, named in honor of her late husband Jack. The third award was presented to the Neighbor of the Year and our family couldn’t be happier with the choice. The award was given to our friend and neighbor, Jane (McKinnon) Cavaleri. Janie’s Mom Rita (McKinnon) Gillespie was also at the Block Party and was asked to join in the photo-taking sessions. Janie’s children from her school had made a big banner to congratulate her on receiving the award. This award was so deserved. At most fundraisers in our neighborhood, there is always a basket that Janie has filled for the event’s raffle. She is always there to help with these fundraisers. She is wonderful to us neighbors during snowy weather. We are so grateful to have her as a friend and neighbor. I have known Janie and her whole family ever since we moved to our little street 48 years ago. She is, indeed, most deserving of the award. What a happy Pope’s Hill Block Party! The awardees were so deserving. By the way, Pres. Phil noted that the only business to have received the Business of the Year Award twice was the Bostonian Nursing Care and Rehabilitation Center, with administrator Tom Lynch. Pres. Phil also wanted me to mention that he couldn’t thank anyone more than his terrific wife Pam, who helps so much with the Block Party.

On Wed., June 29, Hubby and I drove to Phillips/The Freeport Tavern on Morrissey Blvd because of a kind invitation from General Manager Andrew Wilbur, asking us to attend the grand opening celebration for the new Patio Fire Pits. The parking lot was filled with cars so we knew that the celebration was already successful. We first met our pals Joe Sammartino, Phil Strazzula, and Lou Pasquale, who all welcomed us to their new attractions. We commented on how perfect the evening was for their celebration; blue skies, a light wind, and perfect temps.
The patio was jammed with people. We went in to see the beautiful gas-fired pits. They certainly will come in handy when people want to sit outside the restaurant on a cool evening. Hubby and I decided that we should sit on the wall at the entrance to the patio area. Carol Delehanty, Gerry Cummins’ daughter, sat with us. Donna Finnegan, from the Fields Corner CDC, came over to speak with us. John and Janice Schneiderman, from the Pope’s Hill Association, also came over to chat. Phil Carver also joined us. Phil Strazzula came over and asked us what we would like to drink. Out came two Diet Cokes for us. (Thanks, Phil!) It was wonderful to sit, to watch all the people coming and going, and to enjoy the perfect weather conditions. We thank Andrew, Phil, Joe, and Lou for inviting us to such a terrific evening celebration. (Lou is celebrating a special birthday this week.) By the way, we must also thank our super waitress Ronnie for taking such good care of us during the evening. We tasted some wonderful hors d’oeuvres throughout the evening, thanks to her. She even brought us a couple of pieces of the scrumptious Phillips Candy House fudge.

Thanks to an email from Dianne McBride from the Mt. Washington Bank, I learned that a counterfeit $10 bill was passed at a local restaurant. The paper is thicker than a normal bill. The serial number was #IB41099151A, Series 2006. Businesses especially should be on the alert.

Because we have had so many family functions, we have not been able to attend Mass at St. Christopher’s. God bless St. Gregory’s for having a 7 a.m. Mass on Sundays. On one of the days we missed at St. Christopher’s (June 25th), Sister Elizabeth mentioned that the congregation sang Happy Birthday to a longtime parishioner, Harold Prout. They then sang Happy Birthday to our dear friend, the late George Bradley, who was a fixture at St. Christopher’s for many years. If we had been at that Mass, I would have also asked the people to sing Happy Birthday to daughter Sue, who celebrated her birthday on June 24.

The other day, Sue asked me when we will be going to see the Chihuly Glass Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Dale Chihuly is a magnificent glass blower, whose works will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts until Aug. 7. If you have ever been to the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, you have seen some of Dale Chihuly’s works either as part of the hotel’s décor or for sale in the hotel’s gift shop. There is one very nice thing about this exhibit. It is included in the price of general admission. We will have to get to the museum within the next month.

I, of course, was initially disappointed that Lionel Richie had to cancel plans to sing at the Fourth of July Boston Pops’ Concert on doctor’s orders. I especially wanted him to sing All Night Long, one of my favorite videos. Well, after I heard Martina McBride sing, I realized that she was a wonderful substitute for the ailing Lionel. I also enjoyed the U.S. Army Field Band and the wonderful Soldiers’ Chorus. Two of the women soldiers who soloed were positively terrific. To top the evening, I thought that the fireworks display after the concert was the best one I have seen in years. Bravo, Boston! No other city celebrates the Fourth of July like we Bostonians do!