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Thankful for all our dear ones

“For all Thy help along the way,
We’re thankful this Thanksgiving Day.
We’re thankful, too, for all our dear ones,
For all the far away and near ones.”
– A Thanksgiving Prayer

As my friend JoAnn just reminded me, Thanksgiving is all about tradition. Even though she is going to her daughter Lisa’s home on the holiday, Jo is bringing some of her mother Mary Parodi’s favorite foods. I think back to my childhood. My grandmother was a wonderful cook. In those years, cooks usually made pie crust with lard. Being the oldest of the grandchildren, I was chosen to mix the lard into the flour mixture. I remember that my hands were cold while cutting the lard into small pieces and kneading it into the flour. I also had to slice the apples for the pies. I am not speaking about a few apples or a pound of lard. My grandma made over 20 pies at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember that my hands also used to hurt from cutting so many apples. I also had to put the fork marks all around the edges of the pies. There were, however, many perks in helping Grandma. If there was any dough and some sliced apples left after making the family’s pies, I was allowed to make one or two tiny pies (probably four or five-inch ones) for my brother Jackie and my cousin Jimmie because we sat at our own kids’ table. (I could even make some raspberry jam turnovers.) We were thrilled to have our own little desserts. We felt so grown up. Once we had the pies done, we had to find places to store them until the day before the holiday. Most went into the sideboard in the dining room. On Wednesday afternoon, it was also my job to take an apple pie and a mince pie to the members of our family who lived fairly close by. Thank goodness, most of our family lived in the same house.

Also, when I was a little older and a student at Girls’ Latin School, I got up early on Thanksgiving and trekked out to Cambridge on the “Elevated” to watch the Latin-English game at Harvard Stadium with my girl friend Connie. It seemed that the Latin School side of the stadium was always in the shade during the game and we nearly froze to death. I didn’t unthaw until I was home for about an hour. (I was never a good cook so the women in the family didn’t mind my being gone.) If I was given any job, it was to mash the potatoes with an electric mixer. We were thrilled when another electric appliance helped us on Thanksgiving – the electric knife. By the way, Hubby’s brother John is an English High grad and so there is a bit of light-hearted rivalry between us at this time of year.

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I must mention two more of the wonderful musicians who played at the Mass of Remembrance at St. Brendan’s Church. The organist was Joel Davidson and the baritone was Taras Lesxhischin. They joined flautist Andrea Mori in making the music for the Mass so enjoyable.

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I was so proud of the number of organizations that co-hosted the Boston City Council Candidates’ Forum at the beginning of the Pope’s Hill meeting on Wed., Oct. 26, at the Leahy/Holloran Community Center. They included: Ashmont-Adams Neighborhood Association, Adams Village Business Association, Cedar Grove Civic Association, Clam Point Civic Association, Columbia-Saving Hill Civic Association, Dorchester Board of Trade, Freeport-Adams Civic Association, Jones Hill Civic Association, Lower Mills Civic Association, Lower Mills Merchants’ Association, Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association, Port Norfolk Civic Association, and St. Mark’s Civic Association. There was such a crowd at the Pope’s Hill meeting that the cafeteria of the Leahy/Holloran Center/Murphy School was filled with people. The forum went off beautifully. Gerard, once again, supplied the coffee and desserts for the meeting.

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Last weekend, after Mass was over, Virginia Leydon came up to me and proudly announced that she had recently become a great-grandmother. When I questioned her, she said that Jane Evelyn White had arrived on Oct. 6. The proud parents are Lauren and Erik; the proud grandmother is Virginia’s daughter, Valerie Curran. I send my best to them all.

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What a lovely time Hubby and I had at the 100th anniversary party of the Dorchester Board of Trade on Thurs. evening, Oct. 20. We had gone to the Venezia Restaurant early hoping that we could help at the registration desk but DBOT executive secretaries Lisa Courtney and Dianne McBride had the registration table all squared away. They told us to sit down and enjoy the evening.

We were delighted to see our friends Phil and Pam Carver and former DBOT President Donna Finnegan. Current DBOT President Charles Hollins welcomed us with a big hug. Our pal from UMass Boston, Gail Hobin, came over to chat. Mary Kelly, representing the Adams Village Business Association, joined us. I am always delighted to see Lou Pasquale from the Phillips Properties at any event. It was great to see Gerard enjoying the evening and not having to provide the food for it. The Boston City Singers, a good-sized group of children, sang along the stairways to the second floor in the lovely Venezia foyer. We were pleased to sit with Ginny Biagiotti at the dinner. Steve Jeffreys, from the Bostonian Nursing Care Center, came over to say hello and Jim Cawley, from WORK, Inc., chatted with us for a while.

I must mention that the Boston Chamber Ensemble played beautiful music from the second- floor balcony over the foyer at the celebration. I am so proud to know one of the group’s musicians, Elisa Birdseye. Many of you probably know Elisa because she is a librarian at the Adams Strete Library. She is such a proficient musician that she is the First Chair Violist, in addition to being personnel manager, with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra. Cellist Raphael Popper-Keiser and flautist Tim Macri completed the trio of wonderful musicians at Venzia that evening. They were terrific.

I was so surprised to see our former neighbors Betty and John Finnegan there. I had first seen Betty in the foyer and so we had a chance to catch up with the neighborhood news. When the celebration was completed, her husband John came over to tell me all about Florida where he and Betty now live. He told me that he still prefers New England. Betty and John were sitting with his brother Tom and Donna. Needless to say, the food at Venezia was just wonderful (the pasta and desserts are so good!).

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I was sorry to read of the death of Winifred Ellis on Nov. 7. I first met Winnie and her daughter Joyce at the Dorchester Historical Society where they were always very active. Sometimes I would even meet them shopping. I send my sympathy to Joyce on her mother’s passing.

I was also sorry to read of the death of Mary Reardon on Nov. 15, at age 80. I knew Mary through the Cedar Grove Civic Association where she was very active. She was a longtime employee at Carney Hospital. I would see her at various functions at St. Brendan’s Church where she was a dedicated parishioner. I send my sympathy to her children: Margaret Murphy Dias, Beth, Kathleen Gleason, Frankie, and Sheila.

This is certainly a sad time of year. I was also sorry to read of the death of Stephen Kelley Jr. on Nov. 19. Stephen was the husband of Mary (Quinn). I always think of how many years Mary participated in the Pope’s Hill Association’s High School Information Day that Nancy Harrington and I co-chaired for 25 years at BC High. I send my sympathy to my friend Mary and to their children, Anne Marie Hayes and Peter.

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Here is a slightly irreverent but cute little saying in honor of Thanksgiving that I saw on a plaque: “Let us pause to give God applause.” I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.