Home / View from Pope's Hill /

December’s smile

“Yet my heart loves December’s smile
As much as July’s golden beam;
Then let us sit and watch the while
The blue ice curdling on the stream.”
“How Still, How Happy”
by Emily Bronte

Most of the standing water outside our home is covered with a skimcoat of ice after the frosty weekend. With the promise of warmer weather later this week, the ice will disappear. We still have our roses and geraniums. I also saw roses blooming on Houghton St.

On Wednesday evening, Hubby and I attended the Mass at St. Brendan Church for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception holy day. Our friend, Fr. John McCarthy, celebrated the Mass. As we left the church, we told him that we would see him at the next Irish Pastoral Centre’s luncheon at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton. It was also great chatting with our friend Jean Hunt after Mass. We drove through the Cedar Grove neighborhood both coming to and going from church and loved seeing so many homes decorated beautifully.


Hubby just read, in The Old Farmer’s Almanac, that the earliest sunset of the year occurred last Friday, Dec. 12. The next day, the sunset was two seconds later. Yesterday, sunset was one whole minute later. The sun will begin rising earlier on Jan. 9.

Back to our trip to see the Rockettes at the Wang Center: as I mentioned last week, Hubby and pals Eileen, Ken, Mary, Peggy, and I were into City Hall on Fri., Dec. 2. Because we had been invited to the Rockettes’ show, we decided that we would stay in town, rather than hurry home for an hour or two. We had been in town for most of the day and had a great time at the Senior Health Fair on the 9th floor. (I was delighted to see pal Thelma Burns in City Hall.) We also went through a huge craft fair on several floors in City Hall. Some of the items for sale were so tempting. We sat for several minutes on the second floor of City Hall where we found an unoccupied bench.

Then we walked over to McDonald’s, just across the street from City Hall. We finally found six seats together on the first floor of the busy restaurant. When we finished eating our sandwiches, several of our group bought ice cream. (We had lots of time to kill before we had to go to the theater.) Hubby then bought some decaf coffee and shared it with me.

Just as we were finishing up and getting ready to leave, we saw “Ben Franklin” in the restaurant. As he started to walk toward the “out” door to return to Faneuil Hall, the six of us greeted him. Over he came to chat with us. His real name is Dick Elliott and he has played Ben for 24 years in 34 states. He proudly noted that he, a graduate of Wakefield High School in 1944, was inducted into the Wakefield Hall of Fame in 2009. He has been in 87 major films. He was in the “Miami Vice” Series. He also played a role in 25 episodes of the “Spenser For Hire” series, which was taped in Boston from 1985-1988. He particularly mentioned working with Robert Urich and Avery “Hawk” Brooks. He told us that his wife, Muriel F. Elliott, has played Franklin’s wife Deborah Read. We kidded him about his bifocal glasses, which Ben Franklin actually invented. He said he had to request that the company from which he purchased his own glasses leave in the bifocal line. That is how Ben Franklin made his glasses. Dick was so interesting that we were sorry to have him leave us.

Then we went outside McDonald’s and hailed two cabs to take us to the Wang Center. We were very early for the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes.” Last week I mentioned how we saw the Marines, who are currently stationed at Fort Devens, accompany the Rockettes into the theater. We could see, through the glass doors, that there was a wonderful photo opportunity as the Rockettes and the Marines lined up on the magnificent staircase. When we finally made it inside the theater, we were in awe of the beautiful surroundings. I remember the old Metropolitan Theatre and how grand the main lobby was when I was a teenager. Now it seems to be even more beautiful after extensive renovations. Inside the theater area, the ceiling and walls were gorgeous. We were like country bumpkins as we gazed, in awe, of the ornate décor.

Then it was 8 p.m. and time for the show to start. The Rockettes appeared for the first time to thunderous applause in the sleigh ride scene with the gals dressed as reindeer. While the scenery was being changed, the Radio City Singers wished us a “Merry Christmas!” The “Twelve Days of Christmas” showed us the tap-dancing prowess of the Rockettes. The next scene was a mini look at the Nutcracker. The young ballerina, who played Clara, was a joy to watch in the role. The dancers inside the big bear costumes made the cute bears come to life. The next scene was almost my favorite. It was the Rockettes dancing to the music of “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.” There was not one misstep during the entire routine, which was just amazing.

The next scene, “New York at Christmas” was definitely my favorite. As the big red curtain opened, we saw a full-sized, double-decker bus, with the wheels turning as if it were moving. The Rockettes boarded the bus and began dancing one of their wonderful routines while other dancers and singers performed in front of the bus. Behind the bus was a huge screen on which were displayed scenes of New York. (I loved seeing St. Patrick’s Cathedral.)

What amazed me the most in this scene was the impression that the bus was actually driving in front of all these New York landmarks. I couldn’t imagine how this whole scene worked. Hubby explained that the bus was just turning as the screen changed. The new electronic capabilities were just amazing. We then had a 15-minute break between acts.

Scene 7 showed the Rockettes with several additional dancers, all in Santa outfits. Then, on the huge back screen, we could see the dancing Santas repeated probably tenfold. It made me dizzy seeing hundreds of Santas, all in perfect step. Another electronic miracle! The following scene showed a beautiful Santa, in a magnificent suit, speaking with two brothers. The older one does not believe in Santa; the younger one does. In this scene, not only does Santa fly but the boys do also, with snow falling behind them. Just before the evening ended, we were treated to the traditional Nativity scene, almost in silhouette form, while an older child was reading the appropriate passage in the Bible to younger children. There were several live animals: a camel, donkey, and sheep. We ended this spectacular evening by singing “Joy to the World” with the singers and dancers. What a wonderful evening!


I was sorry to read of the death of Theresa Bombardieri on Dec. 5, at age 93. Theresa and her husband Rocco were well known because they were the owners of Bombardieri’s Store, with a great deli and a wonderful bakery on Dorchester Ave. in Fields Corner. (Daughter Sue reminded me how much she, son Paul, and younger daughter Jeanne loved the half-moon cookies from Bombadieri’s when they were kids.) I send my sympathy to her children: Marietta, Rosemarie Dykeman, Rocco, Theresa Murphy, Louise, and Gina.

Thanks to a phone call from our friend Elaine, Hubby and I learned that one of our classmates from State Teachers College at Boston had passed away on Thanksgiving. Dr. Wanda Yelmokas, the daughter of the late Joseph and Agnes Yelmokas, was 76 years old. Brought up in Dorchester, she was a graduate of South Boston High School, STCB, Boston College, and the University of Illinois. She was waked at O’Connor’s Funeral Home, with a funeral Mass at St. Ann’s Church in Neponset. We send our sympathy to her cousins, the Jakowicz, Gavello, and Sinkevicius Families.

I would like to thank Peggy McDonough for sending me the obituary of one of my elementary school classmates. Joe Devlin died unexpectedly on Nov. 28. He was a well-known local boxer and also owned the Triple D’s Bar in Jamaica Plain for years. He was a retired corrections officer. I send my sympathy to his wife Helen, to their children Peg Haskell, Diane, Paul, Kevin, Kathy, James, and to his sister, and my classmate, Anna Devlin Tagliaferro. I went to school with Joe and his sister Anna at the Lowell School in Jamaica Plain.


The confirmation class at St. Mark’s Church is in need of Bibles. If you have an extra one, please bring it to St. Mark’s where a box will be available.


As I look through the catalogs that have come to our home, trying to find the correct gifts for our family members, I came across a tee shirt that made me laugh: “The older I get, the better I WAS!”