Springtime Events

“The sun is bright-the air is clear,
The darting swallows soar and sing,
And from the stately elms I hear
The bluebird prophesying spring.”
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A little more of our overnight trip to the Turning Stone Casino, in Verona, upstate New York: the next morning, we arose at 8 a.m., two or three hours later than we usually do. We found the breakfast buffet and used our breakfast food vouchers. If you didn’t eat well at the buffet, it was your own fault. I even had nice “dry” hash with my scrambled eggs. The waitress brought us decaf coffee and juice. I also had a couple of slices of tasty pineapple. We lingered over the breakfast. It was just so pleasant there.

We went back to our room so that we could have our luggage ready for the 11 a.m. deadline. We filled our carry-ons with items that we might need before our bus was scheduled to leave at 4 p.m. Back we went to the machines. I found the poker machines once again, behind the two waterfalls. I like the poker machines even though I do not win on them. It just takes me longer to lose my money.

We did go back to the food court to eat. The food at the casino was quite good and not very expensive, especially when we used our food coupons that were given to us when we arrived the previous day. Others went into the Bingo Parlor. The Bingo game was completed at 3:45 p.m., just in time for our players to board our bus, which left at 4 p.m. The ride home seemed to go quickly. We did stop at a McDonald’s on the way home. There was another restaurant and even an ice cream stand. It was quite cold and windy on the way home so I only saw one of our group buying ice cream. Thanks to pal Sarah’s cell phone, I called daughter Sue and told her when we should arrive home. When we pulled into the Florian Hall parking lot, Sue and members of other families were there to get us. (It was cold and drizzly.) Hubby drove pals Ken and Mary to their home. I must thank our friend and neighbor Ann Hayward for inviting Sue and me to sit in her car on that drizzly evening to await Hubby’s return from dropping off our friends. It was a very pleasant overnight trip to the Indian casino. The place is beautiful. I just wish it was a little closer to Boston. I thank Eileen Collins for coordinating the trip. Pals Ken and Mary had been to that casino about seven or eight years ago and said that it has expanded and improved greatly since their first visit.

Where would we spend part of St. Patrick’s Day but at Gerard’s. Hubby, daughter Sue, pal Eileen Burke, and I were sure to be there by 11 a.m. We had heard that WROL host Paul Sullivan was going to broadcast his program at Gerard’s from 11 a.m. to noon on that day. Because we were so early, it was still breakfast time. Three of us ordered breakfast while I ordered a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on dark bread, which the chef kindly made for me. Host Paul asked our young friend Kevin Doherty to play the fiddle for his listeners several times. While Paul was broadcasting his segment of the Irish Hit Parade on the air, Pat Ryan, also from WROL, came around to all the tables to greet us. While Paul was off the air, I went over to tell him that I worked for the Boston Irish Reporter. He asked that he be remembered to my boss Ed. I also told him that I Iove the version of the song “The Parting Glass” that he plays every Saturday when he ends his three-hour stint at the microphone. It is the version that is played at the end of one of my favorite movies, “Waking Ned Devine.” We were also delighted to see our fiddler Kevin’s grandparents Gregory and Sarah Ashe at Gerard’s, along with their pal Sarah Doherty.

One of the nicest events that Hubby and I attend each year is the Meatloaf Dinner at the First Parish Church, which is a fundraiser for the Dorchester Day events. Pal Barbra Trybe welcomed Hubby and me as we entered the church. In on our heels came pals Eileen Burke, Louise Hurley, and Lorraine Greer. Our friend Peter Woloschuk was early that evening. Pals Loretta Philbrick, Ginny Biagiotti, Mary Shea, and Pat O’Donnell joined us. Joe and Diane Zinck greeted us. City Councillor Frank Baker went around the hall to greet everyone. So did Rep. Marty Walsh. I went over to chat with my long-time friend, Barbara Green.

Gerard, whose meatloaf is one of the main reasons for the big crowd, was busily setting up the buffet table for the evening. Rev. Art Lavoie, pastor of the First Parish Church, said “Grace.” Within a few minutes, dinner was served. The meatloaf was wonderful, as always, along with the salad, the veggies, especially the mashed potatoes with gravy, and the rolls. We ended with the traditional – and delicious – vanilla ice cream, with strawberries. Everyone was well filled.

Then Marty Hogan came to the microphone and introduced the Chief Marshal of this year’s parade, Ralph Browne. He also introduced John Scannell, who led us in “The Pledge of Allegiance.” Marty told us that Katie Hurley, this year’s candidate for Mayor of Dorchester, was ill and unable to attend the dinner. He raved about the Chili Cook-Off, held the preceding weekend. He told us that Ed Geary, who is in charge of the essay contest, was in Florida with his bride Gretchen on their honeymoon. Marty also said that there were 40 contestants for this year’s contest. Each of the two winners receive a $200 savings bond. Joe Chaisson and his wife Carol went around to all the seniors at the dinner, giving out the applications for this year’s Senior Salute, which will be held at Florian Hall on May 17. (That is always a great time.)

Our most entertaining time came near the end of the evening. Michael Pratt took the stage to entertain us while accompanying himself on the keyboard. His first song, “Twistin’ the Night Away,” had people up and dancing. (Charlie Tevnan and his girls Kathleen and Caroline were terrific.) “Crocodile Rock” did, also. Then he sang “Heat Wave” and ended up with “Last Dance,“ one of my favorites songs by Boston’s own Donna Summer. Michael was wonderful, as usual. The dancers got a great workout with his choice of songs. It was a terrific end to a wonderful evening.

I was so sorry to read of the sudden death of Dario Fancelli on March 26. Dario was the husband of my long-time friend, Anne (Madden). He was originally from Nocera Umbra, Italy, and was the father of Dario and his fiancée Colleen Murphy. In addition to wife Anne and son Dario, Dario leaves a sister, Annamaria Fancelli. He was also the brother-in-law of Mary Madden, Virginia “Ginny” Mullen, Bob Madden, Dottie Dunford, and the late Eddie and John Madden. I send my sympathy to Anne, Dario, Annamaria, and to all the Maddens.

I was also sorry to read of the unexpected death of Martin “Marty” Ridge, of Milton, on April 12. Marty was the son of Barbara (Lydon) and the late Martin. Barbara often sits with us at the monthly Irish Pastoral Centre’s luncheon at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton. Marty, who was a wonderful son, visited Barbara every day after his Dad passed away. He was president of his senior class of South Boston High School, Class of 1971. He worked in the Roxbury Court House for 20 years before moving to the Quincy District Court in 1994 (to the present). He received the Good Citizen Award in Quincy. He also ran for Boston City Council when he lived in South Boston. In addition to his Mom, he leaves his children, Denise, Michelle, and Martin, and his sisters, Barbara Hawko, Catherine Joyce, and Susan Stille. My sympathy is sent to the family.

I hope that you have already seen the Pepsi Next commercial. The commercial begins with Mom playing with her baby on a rug on the floor. In comes Daddy with a case of the new Pepsi Next soda. While Daddy and Mom were ooh-ing and aah-ing over the soda, the baby stands up, does strenuous exercises behind them on the rug, and even ends up playing an air guitar. All the while he is doing these athletic tricks, Mom and Dad continue to praise Pepsi Next and ignore the baby. It is hilarious. I hope you have already seen it.

I erred last week in thinking that the Welch’s Grape Juice Cocktail Toast was going to be given out on Red Sox Opening Day. The cocktail will be given to all those attending the 100th anniversary game, which will be played against the Yankees tomorrow, April 20. It will enter the record books as the World’s Largest Toast, by 37,000 Fenway fans. On Opening Day, Apr. 20, 1912, the Sox beat the New York Highlanders (the future Yankees), 7-6. in 11 innings. I didn’t realize that Fenway, in addition to being the home of the Red Sox, also served as home field for the NFL’s Boston Redskins from 1933 to 1936 and the AFL’s Boston Patriots from 1963 to 1968. I hope that the Sox continue their winning ways.

This statement was made by Woodrow Wilson: “Friendship is the only cement that will hold the world together.”