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Gearing up for St. Patrick's Day

“’Irish” –is it just a word,
Something now and then that’s heard?
Is it what you’re proud to be-
Or just a nationality?
It’s warmth, kindness, helping hands,
A touch, a smile that understands,
A love enduring through the years,
In joy and laughter and in tears.
‘Irish’ is a mixture rare
Of trust and hope-faith and prayer;
An elfin’s wink, an angel’s nod
In short, a BLESSING straight from God”
By the late Neponset poet, Lucile Harty

One day last week, when the temp was in the 40s, Hubby was able to get outside and replace the red Valentine’s Day heart-shaped light with a green shamrock light. He fastened the shamrock light to the rose trellis. Then he took a string of bright green LED lights and strung them along the porch railing. I replaced the red foil Valentine heart on the front door with a green foil shamrock. One warmer day last week, I also ventured up into the attic. We keep our out-of-season clothes in clear plastic bags in the attic. I brought down three green blouses and two green sweaters for myself. Hubby already had his green sweater downstairs. His bright green shirt is freshly laundered and starched and ready for the grand and glorious day. Hubby even has a white sweater that says “Ireland” on it. He has already bought a loaf of Irish bread and has been enjoying it all week.

Last week, our friend from church, Joan Hill, called to tell us that there would be a lecture in the main Copley Square Library on tracing a person’s Irish roots. The lecture was in the evening so Hubby and I decided that we would not venture in town. Later that evening, Joan called to say that she was in Borders in Copley Square. It is one of the stores that Borders is closing in a cost-cutting move. She said there were two books that we might like to have; Dorchester in the Postcard History Series by Earl Taylor, the president of the Dorchester Historical Society, and Dorchester, in the Images of America Series, by Anthony Sammarco. Joan bought the books for us and gave them to us at Mass the following weekend. I loved looking through the photos in each of the books.

Thanks to an invitation from Mary Beth from the City’s Elderly Commission, Hubby and I were invited to Bunker Hill Community College on Feb. 22. We first drove, with our friend, Mary Bruynell, to the Keystone Apts., where we met Eileen Collins, Mary Scarborough, Peg Canty, and Dotty Coloumbre. Within a few minutes a van, with a terrific local bus driver named Steve, came and picked us up for the journey across town. It was school vacation week so traffic was very light. At the college, we finally found our way to a meeting area near the hall where we were to hear an author speak. Mary Beth told each of us to take one of the boxed lunches and a bottle of water that had been set out for us on a table in the middle of the room. Hubby took a chicken salad sandwich and I a tuna sandwich. Also in the box were two raisin cookies and a small bag of chips. There was also a red delicious apple, Hubby’s favorite. While were in the meeting area, Dot mentioned to me that her sister Eleanor (Collett) Cuddy had passed away in Santa Fe, NM, on Jan. 22.

About 12:30 p.m., we were ushered into the auditorium to hear author Gail Collins, a speaker in the “Compelling Conversations Speaker Series.” I had never heard of Gail, who is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist. (At one time, Hubby used to buy The New York Times but stopped because he didn’t have time to read it.) Thomas Saltonstall, Acting Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the college, first spoke to us. He then introduced Dr. Mary Fifield, who is the President of Bunker Hill Community College. Dr. Fifield mentioned that the college had lost two faculty members in the past week. Professor Nancy Meyers, who designed the college’s electronics classrooms, had passed away on Feb. 19. Then Professor Beth Deare was killed in a fire in her Newton home over the weekend.

Then Gail Collins came to the microphone. Her first remark was a question: ”What has happened to women in the last 50 years?” She mentioned that women had very few sports opportunities offered to them back in the ’60s. She spoke of airline stewardesses. In those years, stewardesses were not allowed to be married so the average stewardess lasted only 18 months in her job. Back in 1960, women were not allowed to serve on juries in many states. Women in Massachusetts got the right in 1950. One member of the audience mentioned to me that she and her friends had to have a man order drinks for her and her girl friends because an unescorted woman could not order a drink at a bar.

Guest speaker Collins told us that all these laws changed between 1964 and 1974. The main cause for the changes was the Civil Rights Act. The birth control pill also helped to change women’s role in society. Also, because of the economy, women had to go to work. We seniors remembered how we had to wear dresses or skirts. Slacks were not allowed. We seniors remembered a great deal of what was happening in the 1960s because we lived through it.

Following the talk, we were invited to a book-signing and reception. Ms. Collins has written two best sellers: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present; America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines and Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics. There was quite a crowd surrounding her as we left the college. Our van driver Steve was waiting for us right outside our building. He took us back to Keystone in a short time because traffic was still light. Gail Collins was an entertaining speaker. It was a lovely way to spend part of an afternoon.

Thanks to a kind invitation, Hubby and I were delighted to attend St. Brendan’s Voyager Club’s dinner and drawing at Florian Hall. As we walked in, we saw pals Loretta Philbrick and Mary Shea waiting for us in the lobby. Loretta had already checked us into the dinner. We found our table and sat down. We were delighted when Susan and Charlie Tevnan joined us. (Susan had gone to Mount St. Joseph Academy with our daughter Sue so we had lots to chat about during the evening.) I was delighted to see pals Sarah Ashe and Hannah Logue at the dinner. Jack Ryan, as in the past, was a wonderful master of ceremonies. He kept things moving along fairly quickly.

The dinner at Florian was wonderful, as usual. We had a choice of roast beef or stuffed chicken breast. We also had oven-roasted potatoes, with plenty of gravy. We had a dish of ice cream for dessert. All during the evening, they kept calling numbers for the drawing. Hubby and I were at the dinner and drawing, thanks to our friend Ginny Biagiotti, who was not able to use her tickets. (Ginny was still at home recovering from two broken wrists, caused by her slipping and falling on a small patch of ice outside her home.) Thank goodness Hubby and I were deleted early so we didn’t have to worry about being among the final 10 contestants. Our pal Mary Shea was, however, one of the finalists. We were hoping that she would be among the winners but she was deleted almost as soon as she was called up to the stage. We were delighted to see that St. Brendan’s Women’s Guild was one of the last four contestants who each shared $2,500.

I was sorry to read of the unexpected death of William Day on Feb. 11. Bill and his wife Mary Ellen were members of the Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association for many years before they moved to Milton. Bill was a retired engineer for Verizon. He was a Seebee and served in Vietnam. He was a late member of the McKeon Post and a member of the VFW. I send my sympathy to his wife Mary Ellen and to his brother John Day.

Thanks to the St. Ambrose Bulletin, I learned that pretzels are a Lenten food. Their name comes from bracellae, “little arms” for their shape of two arms crossed in prayer. The bulletin even gave a recipe so that you could make your own pretzels. Hubby likes pretzels but prefers hot cross buns during Lent. I think back to Lent when I was young. We had to fast between meals on weekdays. That would guarantee that we’d probably lose 10 pounds during the 40 days of Lent. We loved St. Patrick’s Day because the fasting rule would be lifted on that day. On Holy Saturday, we would cook up a pound of bacon. After the midnight Easter Mass, we would come home and have bacon and scrambled eggs.

With St. Patrick’s Day next Thursday, I thought this was an appropriate little poem, reminding us of our trip to Ireland back in 1994:
“How sweetly lies old Ireland,
Emerald green beyond the foam,
Awakening sweet memories
Calling the heart back home.”