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Leonids, Lights and Christmas Cheer

“For somehow, not only
at Christmas, but all
the long year through,
The joy that you give
To others is the joy
That comes back to you.”
By John Greenleaf Whittier

Here is something that I wrote back in 2000 that is just perfect for today: “Just before Thanksgiving, we all heard the TV weathermen mention that the Leonid Meteor Showers should be quite spectacular this year. Hubby and I often sit out in the summer during the time of the Perseid Meteor Showers in August. They are always delightful to watch. Sitting out in cold November to see the Leonids is a different story. On one of the nights of the Showers, I decided not to join Hubby outside in the cold. It was just about 11:30 p.m., our usual bedtime, when the showers were to begin. Intrepid Hubby, however, decided that he should venture out to see what he could see. He went out to the front gate and looked toward the east, down over the Murphy School. It was too bright because of the moon and the street lights. He decided to go down to the back yard. He would not have to contend with street lights there. As he rounded the corner of the house, he came face-to-face with a “teenage” skunk. The skunk wasn’t a baby but he wasn’t full grown, either. Each was shocked to see the other. Hubby beat a hasty retreat into the house. He thinks the skunk went into the next yard, (I must tell Paul Neimann to be careful.) Several times during the past week, Daughter Sue has seen a skunk in our yard, perhaps the same one. Beware when you go out at night. The skunks are prowling. Watch your dogs also.”

Hubby and I were so happy to see the red and green lights surrounding the Rainbow Gas Tank as we came home from UMass the other evening. Christmas is truly here. Lambert’s is filled with trees, garlands, and wreaths. Keystone has some lovely Kissing Balls outside its front door. My sister-in-law Peg gave us a Kissing Ball last year. It was beautiful. (We kept it up till February.) My neighbors Jim and Maureen have a festive Christmas scene, with inflatable balloons, in their front yard. The first Christmas card that we received this year was a lovely one from Paul and Caroline White. By the way, if you are interested in going to see the “Enchanted Village” at Jordan’s Furniture in Avon this year, it will run ‘til Sun., Jan. 5. Last year our family went on the day after Christmas and didn’t encounter any crowds.

If you would like to see a dazzling show of lights, drive to the La Salette Shrine at 947 Park St. in Attleboro. The lights are on from 5 to 9 p.m. each evening until Sun., Jan. 5. There are 800,000 lights on the property. Niece Terri lived near the shrine before she moved to Colorado. She and daughter Sue would visit it every year.

The snow and ice on Sunday caused all types of problems in our neighborhood. The temperature turned cold so quickly that the slush between the cars parked on the street turned to ice. Our friend and neighbor Janie Cavaleri did a great deal of shoveling our sidewalk. God bless her. Then everything turned into a sheet of ice. Hubby decided that he would walk over to Stop & Shop to get the Sunday newspapers. When he came near home, he stepped behind our car and fell onto the sidewalk. Thank goodness he didn’t break anything. He did, however, tear a hole in the knee of his lined pants, which he has been wearing because of the extreme cold. Now all we can see on the knee area of one pant leg is a hole with the flannel lining showing. I must get a navy blue iron-on patch. I did call the Mayor’s Hot Line to report that our street, which is used as a walkway for students and parents of the Murphy School, was a sheet of ice. The woman who answered the Hot Line said that she would e-mail the name of our street to those in charge of sanders.

On top of the rough weather, as we got ready for bed, Hubby and I discovered that our heating system wasn’t working. The furnace itself would ignite but the pump would not circulate the water in the system throughout the house. I slept for a few hours but Hubby stayed awake all night in case something else should happen. On Sunday evening, Hubby called the service company who said that they would come as soon as they could Monday morning.

The people at the Phonathon in City Hall asked if I would mention the companies that helped to pay for the food given to the seniors after they made their phone calls worldwide. We should thank AT&T, Phoenix Communication, Waveguide Construction, Murphy & Fahey Construction, Siena Engineering, and Giomarc for providing the food for all the senior callers. This phone-calling service has been given to the seniors for 20 years.

On Thurs., Dec. 5, Hubby and I drove to UMass Boston to attend the seventh annual Boston State College Celebration. We had been to some of the others, but this one was special. Our friend Carol DeSouza was to be the mistress of ceremonies. We hadn’t seen Carol since she retired from UMass a year-and-half ago. We also knew one of the four that were being honored that evening, Marie Fox, a member of the Class of 1952 of Boston Teachers’ College. We see Marie each November when we attend the annual Boston Teachers’ College Luncheon at the Charles River Country Club. 

When we arrived at UMass, we parked under the “new” Student Union Building and found our way to the festivities. Pal Carol and her friend Linda were in the middle of all the excitement. There were tasty hors d’oeuvres being served in the room with the lovely view of the city. We enjoyed some of food and then took seats in the next room where the ceremonies were to be held. Carol welcomed the crowd to the celebration. She introduced her former boss, Chancellor J. Keith Motley. We could see how much the chancellor enjoyed having Carol back at UMass. He told us that he was the eighth chancellor of the university. He introduced his wife Angela, who was sitting near the back of the room. He also mentioned the passing of Nelson Mandela.

The first person to be honored was our friend Marie Fox. Marie had taught in Boston, Dedham, and Newton. She received the Newton Schools’ Award for Exemplary Teaching twice. During the 1980s, she organized the alumni of Boston Teachers’ College. She has helped to raise $450,000, $5,000 of which is given yearly to each of two aspiring education students at the school. The second honoree was Ed Zaleskas, who was invited to join the Teachers’ College faculty by then President William Looney. He became the director of admissions. I knew the third honoree, Mike Taylor. Mike was in charge of evening classes at a Southie school where my aunt Ethel Horgan taught cake decorating many years ago. He is currently the president of the Urban College of Boston. Our mutual friend, Frank Doyle, attended the festivities that evening because he has been a friend of Mike’s since they both worked at night schools, Mike in Southie and Frank at the Murphy.

The final honoree at the celebrations was Robert Haynes. Robert not only received his bachelor’s degree from Boston State College in 1981, but he also went back to UMass/Boston and earned his masters in Business Administration in 1987. He was in charge of 400,000 union workers from 1987 to 2011. Before Hubby and I left UMass, our pal Carol told us that she is now a proud grandmother and soon will have a second grandchild.

I was sorry to hear, from my pal Eileen, that Agnes  “DoDo” (Beatty) Nash had passed away on Dec. 9. I saw the name Nash in the paper but did not know that her real name was Agnes. I had known her for years but did not speak with her at length until she and her husband Carl and Hubby and I went in the same van on the day that we were taken in town to the Mayor’s Anniversary Party for those married 50 years. I send my sympathy to her husband Carl and to their children: Maureen Reid, James, Carl, Paul, and Lisa King. “DoDo” was very well liked.

Here is a humorous bumper sticker, which is very appropriate now that the Christmas bills are coming in: “I don’t find it hard to meet expenses. They’re everywhere.”