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State of the City and other goings on in the neighborhood

“In spite of winter’s skies of gray,
There’s color round about today,
With lovely snowbirds winging by,
Mid bush and tree to catch the eye.”
“Snowbirds” by Mildred Jarrell

Hubby and I haven’t seen too many birds the past few days. We wish we could put out birdseed for them because the snow cover is so deep. Daughter Sue, however, warned us about attracting birds to our yard because we have too many cats in our area. We notice now that when we get out of church following the 4 p.m. Mass, the sky is just getting dark. We have gained 24 minutes of afternoon light since the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21.

I mentioned, in last week’s column, that Dorothy (McVeigh) Doyle had passed away on Jan. 7. Thank goodness, Hubby and I were able to make the Funeral Mass at St. Ann’s Church on Jan. 11. As we walked through the doors of the church, we heard the wonderful music of Timothy MacMaster, who was playing the bagpipes. The program for the Mass had the beautiful photo of Dot in her bridal gown on the front cover. The main celebrant of the Mass was Fr. John Schatzel, who had once served at St. Ann’s. Three of Dot’s grandsons, Evan O’Brien, Frank Doyle Jr., and Matt Doyle served as pall bearers, along with the several staff members from the O’Connor’s Funeral Home. The niece of Dot’s son Frank and his wife Maura Doyle, Carolyn Carideo, was the soloist for all the music at the Mass. (What a beautiful voice she has!)

At the Funeral Mass, daughter Dotte O’Brien and son Frank Sr. placed the Pall over the casket. They also presented the Gifts at the Mass. Frank Jr. did the first reading; grandson Matt did the second reading. The Prayers of the Faithful were led by granddaughter Lauren O’Brien. Maura’s niece Carolyn also sang Our Lady of Knock. (There wasn’t a dry eye in the church during that hymn.) Matt Doyle sang In the Garden, a favorite of his grandmother’s.

Son Frank then came to the microphone. He spoke about the wonderful courage of his mother, who became disabled at a young age. He mentioned how independent she was able to live, in spite of her handicap. He also praised the staff of the Bostonian Nursing Care and Rehab Center, where Dot spent her last three years. Hubby was pleased to see that Dr. Mark Ostrem, Hubby’s doctor, was praised in the Mass booklet for the wonderful care he had given Dot through the years. Near the end of the Mass, niece Carolyn sang The Irish Blessing, On Eagle’s Wings, and Till Death Do Us Part. Maura told me that at the cemetery, her niece Carolyn led the mourners in singing, which was a fitting song for this amazing woman, who was so proud of her Irish heritage.

On Tuesday evening, Jan. 11, Hubby and I were pleased to be invited to the annual State of the City Address by Mayor Thomas Menino in historic Faneuil Hall. We drove to Keystone Apartments, where a bus was waiting to ferry us in town. Among those who joined us were Eileen Collins, Mary Scarborough, Carol Murphy, Peg Canty, Gwen Adams, and Dotty Coloumbre. When the bus dropped us off right near Faneuil Hall, we tried to figure out how to get into the building. The police kindly let us in a little early, before the general public was allowed to enter. We were taken up to the main floor in an elevator in groups of three. We were then directed by Elderly Commission worker Mary Beth to seats set aside by the City for seniors, at the back of the hall.

When the program finally began, it went very quickly. Arnold Pesnell, from the Boston Arts Academy, sang The Pledge of Allegiance beautifully. Yanni Babrera and Karen Lubov, from the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, led the large assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance. Rev. David Convertino, the Executive Director of St. Anthony’s Shrine (Arch St.), gave the Invocation. Following that, the Boston City Singers gave their wonderful rendition of I Dream a World.

Finally it was time for the mayor to come to the microphone. As he came in on crutches, he was greeted with a round of thunderous applause. He spoke for less than one-half hour, being interrupted by much applause for his pleas to reduce spending. His wife Angela was also introduced, to a great deal of applause, and was thanked for filling in while the Mayor was recovering from knee surgery.

Some of our group knew some of the people attending. I was able to pick out School Superintendent Carol Johnson. I also saw Governor Deval Patrick. I understand that Sen. Scott Brown was there but I couldn’t pick him out of the crowd. Tom Lee, who had served as Captain at District C-11 for several years, was standing near where I was sitting. I went over to greet him and asked him what his present rank in the Police Dept. was since he had lots of braid on the visor of his cap. He told me that he is now a deputy superintendent. I congratulated him on his new status. Pal Eileen was delighted to see an old friend, Frank Kodzis, and chatted with him for a while. Frank is the current chief fire marshal. He and his wife Carol live down in the Port Norfolk area. Jim Hunt also came by to chat with us. He is the head of the City’s Environmental Dept. When the City Address ended, we found a side entrance and exited the building very quickly. Our bus driver was waiting for us. As we entered the bus, we discovered that our friend from the elderly commission, Mary Beth, had left some treats for us. Each of us was given a bagel, cream cheese, and a bottle of water. A couple of people had not eaten dinner so they ate the bagel on the bus. The rest of us took the bagels home and enjoyed them the following morning, while looking out our windows at a wild snowstorm.

These past few weeks, Hubby and I have been to Gerard’s several times. On New Year’s Day, our pal Eileen Burke joined us for dinner at Gerard’s. As we went to sit down, we saw our friends: “the wonderful Mary Cobb” and Corina Carleton in the next room. Corina introduced us to her brother from Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Liam Kane. (How I love the name Liam, which is the Gaelic equivalent for William.) Mary’s brother Joe Gaffney was at a nearby table with Rose MacDonald. Our friend Mary Reilly came in with one of her friends. Gerard was happy to see us all and even gave each of us a mug, noting that this is the 40th anniversary of his business. (I am pretty sure we have been there since the beginning.) What a lovely way to begin 2011, by having dinner at Gerard’s, surrounded by friends.

Last Saturday, we met our friend and former co-worker Sue Asci for breakfast at Gerard’s. Because walking was dangerous everywhere, Sue’s mom Doris begged off and promised to meet us for breakfast at Gerard’s when the weather improves. Sue and I were “forced” to help Hubby eat his scrumptious French toast. That was before we tackled our own breakfasts. Sue and I exchanged Christmas gifts but I didn’t get a chance to open my gifts until I arrived home. As I held the package in the heavier gift bag, I was sure it was a book. I almost died when I tore off the wrapping paper and discovered that it was William and Kate, A Royal Love Story, by Christopher Anderson. I didn’t get a chance to call Sue during the day but did call her in the evening. I thanked her so much for the book. I did get a chance to look at the photos in the book, which are positively marvelous.

To say that our family was deeply disappointed in the Patriots-Jets game on Sunday would be an understatement. I had gone into work on Sunday because of my staying home during the snowstorm last Wednesday. Hubby and I came in the house at 4:28 p.m. and immediately switched on the TV in the living room and the radio in the kitchen. (We really enjoy listening to the radio broadcasts of the Patriots’ games with Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti.) We were sad when the game ended. However, we heard, on WBZ this morning, that the Red Sox’ pitchers and catchers will report in four weeks for spring training.

Because Library Month is observed during February, I told Hubby that I would buy him this tee shirt from the Signals Catalog: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” (By Jorge Luis Borges.)