Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Rugged Cross


My Rugged Cross

So radiant and so true

Has peacefully passed

to fly away to you.


One now with the angels

Within your loving care

No longer suffering

in pain and in despair.


Though I selfishly wished

Mom was still here with me

She’s now flown to Heaven

To be where she should be.

Forever in my heart

Forever in my soul

Mom’s time came finally…

To go Home.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Regular Person...
You know you are a regular person when you have more withdrawal slips from the bank than deposit slips.
You know you are a regular person when you do a budget over and over more than once weekly.
You know you are a regular person when you can forgo those high-end stores and find a bargain.
You know you are a regular person when your car is worth less than the repair bills for it.
You know you are a regular person when you can make a fashion statement without paying for it.
You know you are a regular person when your cuisine is better than any famous chef just because it has to be; you can cook anything from anything.
And personally I myself enjoy being a regular person because that is who I am.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Carpe Diem

As usual it is early morning as I sit sipping my morning coffee and writing my newest Blog. Me as well as many others, sleep is not always either a luxury or an option. Solution - to nap whenever I may get the opportunity to do so. Somehow I have survived 40 plus years and as usual once the early news stations begin their broadcasts I click to my station of choice.

As Americans we are a nation of choices; choices so plentiful they not only shape who we are, but shape our lives: how we think, our ideals, our wants, our needs, and especially how our government whether local, state, or federal, dictates the majority of beliefs that we have. Yet, who dictates which candidate will win an election and which candidate will lose an election - any and all registered American citizens over the age of 18 who choose to have a voice. A voice that is certainly influenced by just some of the forms of media such as: mass mailings, social networking, political shows, the news, debates, and multitudes of television ads that can inundate your insomnia-driven mind while you are attempting to focus on your program of choice; a focus that even the ancients were subjected to as citizens in their own way.

Though the ancient Greeks may not have had the technology that we have today, they did believe in the meaning of the word democracy. Their citizens used broken pieces of pottery which was both plentiful and inexpensive in order to scratch their candidate's name in order to vote. This was to pave the way to what appears to be the first use of paper to cast a ballot in Rome 139 B.C. And in 1789, America's first election for president took place as George Washington was then sworn into office making history. It is a history that has been great and a history that has been tainted. However, voting is a history that through bloodshed, sacrifices, experimentation, and constitutional amendments as Americans we have earned the right; the right to exercise our freedom - freedom of voice and freedom of choice.

Before the American Revolution it use to be that the English King had much say in who was typically appointed for certain offices until in 1787 the passage of the U.S. Constitution gave white male property owners age 21 and over the right to vote. Acts were later conceived from 1807-1843 that changed requirements that all white men age 21 and over could vote regardless of property ownership. After the Civil War in 1870 the 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote to all men age 21 and older regardless of race, ethnicity, and economic background, except it was not until 1920 that women through the 19th Amendment age 21 and over won the right to vote as well. However, many states and their officials regularly prevented blacks and other minorities from either registering to vote or from being able to cast their ballots through the use of tests, clauses, and especially intimidation tactics. It was not until 1965 when the Voting Rights Act allowed the federal government to take over areas while enforcing provisions previously guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments that were conceived originally almost a century earlier. And since 1971 the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age across the nation to the age of 18 and over to include our youth of America. Lastly, another important year within our voting history is 1982 when the Voting Rights Act gave us further provisions for Americans not able to read, write, speak English, or with a disability. Laws enacted to extend to all of us to be able to have a say and laws that blood was shed for, sacrifices were made for, and through hundreds of years of experimentation has grown to give us as individuals, as a community, and as a nation choices that over the years have declined because of lower voter turnout, interest, or belief that their voice does not matter. Well, all voices do matter regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or even economic background. November 6th of 2012 is the Presidential election which will include ballots containing also other governmental candidates who will be making the decisions for us when they take office as well as important ballot questions. My advice whether you do not agree, agree, or whether you do not like, or like the choices that may shape our lives then Carpe Diem; get out and seize the day - seize that moment to make history by knowing that your voice does matter.


Monday, November 28, 2011

"Ring a Ling... Tis the Season for the Salvation Army Bell Ringers and Hope "

With rising unemployment, draining governmental assistance, depleting donations for non-profits, and the strain upon our society and individuals, the call of giving will be back again by the Salvation Army bell ringers. And though most people put $1 or loose change into the iconic kettle it is the smallest amount(s) that add up to bigger things for those in need. Bigger things that not only can make a family or an individual's holiday brighter, yet bigger things for so many that need it throughout the year.

According to a USA TODAY article written by Nanci Hellmich, nationwide approximately 25,000 bell ringers will be working either by volunteering or by getting paid throughout the holiday season ringing those bells. Many of those who do the kettles for the Salvation Army are the homeless, the once homeless, youths trying to make money for their families, or the unemployed hoping to enrich the season for their family. And the many of those that do volunteer to work as a bell ringer are giving back for previous assistance that they have received, they know someone who has received help, or just volunteer in the spirit of the holidays. The Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign contributes millions of dollars to help fund not only the holidays each year, but it funds programs for both families and individuals in need each day.

As a child I still recall a woman in a wheelchair ringing a bell in front of the former Zayre's store in Beverly, MA. My mother explained why money was being dropped into a red kettle by shoppers entering and leaving the store. Though my own family did not have much my mom promised me that I could take the loose change and when we left the store I would be able to place the change into the kettle. The importance and the joy I experienced and still remember to this day is something I recall whenever I hear the clink and the jingle of donations and the chiming of the bells. It is a ring that has helped my own family growing up and it is a ring that has helped me as a mother with my own children.

The ring of the bells do certainly attract the attention of passersby, yet when Captain Joseph McFee wanted attention to fund a Christmas dinner for the poor of San Francisco in 1891 he devised an idea. The kettle program was conceived and since it has expanded across the United States, but also around the world including donations made via mail and on-line at  http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/. Though the Salvation Army is a worldwide organization, each local community has their own independent branch of the Salvation Army that will distribute all monies collected within the communities that they are responsible for. The Salvation Army of the North Shore http://www.northshoresalvationarmy.com/
 not only reaches people in need, but most importantly it helps those within our local community in Salem, MA and the North Shore area.

The gift of hope provided in large part by local bell ringers is a year round gift. Accepting help is something many of us now endure today and receiving often times can lead to giving; giving of yourself if not through a dollar amount, but in other ways through volunteering, or simply by just a kind gesture or a kind word to someone else. Locally during the holidays a family makes a choice to receive a Thanksgiving meal, a Christmas dinner certificate to purchase food for the holiday or instead to receive gifts for their children from the Angel Tree or Adopt a Family programs. And the Red Kettle Campaign is a crucial link to keeping the Salvation Army operating in order to continue to assist so many; it is a crucial link to the Salvation Army's Community Lunch Program, the Community Food Pantry, youth programs, rental assistance, utility assistance, and prescription assistance to those in need. A crucial link that began by a thoughtful man and that has grown today, "from the heart of one, into the hearts of two, into the hearts of everyone - Happy holidays to all and God bless you!
Salem Location:
93 North Street
Salem, MA 01970-3963

Phone: (978) 744-5181
Fax: (978) 741-1159

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Singing for the Troops

In 1941 a nonprofit was created for morale and recreation for our soldiers. This private organization soon began a tradition of entertainment that attracted the iconic stars from back home that populated the big screen during this era. One of the most renowned icons to entertain the troops was Bob Hope and in 1996 the U.S. Congress considered this iconic legend as an honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces. Bob Hope was a legend that truly believed in supporting our troops especially during times of war. In 1990 Bob Hope gave the gift of himself to our American servicepeople with a final Christmas show during Operation Desert Shield. His support even extended to all royalties being signed over to the United Service Organizations  Inc. (USO)  from his book, The Last Christmas Show. Today the final curtain may have been drawn for Bob Hope, yet his memory and his influence is still alive today - especially in the heart of a once local girl from Salem, MA Darlene Louf.

As a little girl Darlene shared many things with her grandmother. Perhaps, the most influential time was when the two of them hunkered down to watch the Bob Hope specials on television. A small girl, who already had the voice of an angel often she sang with her grandmother. Darlene recalled one very specific memory from that time, "Oh I must have been about 8 years old and I remember saying to my grandma I'm going to sing for the troops someday just like Bob Hope!" When Darlene was asked why she wanted to entertain and support the troops she told her grandmother that it was the happiness that Bob Hope was giving through music and through himself - a piece of home that he always gave to our armed servicepeople; a true inspiration for a young child to witness.

It is a part of Darlene still today as she honors both her grandfather and her aunt that served as well as all the troops in anyway that she can. Believing that anyone that either has served or that still serves us and our country, Darlene advocates to let troops always know they are not forgotten nor are their families forgotten either. Working with an organization called Guard Support(http://www.guardsupport.org/) that is located in Beverly, MA as well as maintaining her own Facebook page called Voices for the Troops she is someone who sings locally for those who give so much for our freedom because through music it is a way of giving back and making others smile.

Making people smile and giving back is a gift that is within all of us. Though, it is your choice on whether you choose to keep this precious gift for yourself or to share this precious gift with others. Darlene Louf chooses to share like the USO still shares today providing a variety of programs and services to U.S. military personnel and their families. Bob Hope's legend still lives on as our nation's love and support will forever live on for our troops. Our prayers and our blessings always to those who have sacrificed and to those who do continue to sacrifice for us all.

Voices For our Troops on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.151985294837306.23277.151737034862132&type=1#!/pages/Voices-for-the-Troops/151737034862132

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Place where people do share a Part of Them (North Shore Career Center)

I for the first time had taken a chance and entered into the world of Starbucks this morning in Salem, MA. It was a world of so many different varieties of beverages that my mind was temporarily boggled until I saw under the word "peppermint" on the wall menu the word "hot chocolate." Thankfully, my oldest daughter had rehearsed with me how to precisely order at the counter so I did not sound flustered when I placed my order. I was there to meet a special woman, a woman that I have yet to meet in the physical sense; she is my Audrey Hepburn and our correspondence during many past months has shown to me a beauty that has not only been in her words, but also must be inside of her soul. Having no idea as to what she really looked like I sat and for the first time since I can recall in a long, long time I actually relaxed at a sunny table near the window – way in the back so the chaos of those entering and leaving would not hinder Tammy’s time; my time for me and me alone. Though I was not really alone because the other patrons were either engrossed in conversations with others at their respective tables or working diligently on their laptops. As I made my way to my spot in the back I did smile at one woman in particular and her reaction was as if I had said an expletive to her; however not everyone chooses to share a part of them with another human being with even something as simple as a smile. Yet, another customer was laughing along with her little girl as childhood creativity allowed her to pretend she was a dancer on a stage full of life and full of fun while mom enjoyed her Starbucks treat.

My peppermint hot chocolate did taste heavenly and I savored the flavor as long as I was able. I did not meet with my Audrey Hepburn, but as I was leaving to continue my day I knew that eventually our paths will cross in the physical realm. The cold nip in the air nibbled at my nose and I automatically made my way to the North Shore Career Center in Salem where I often go to either try and find a job or to utilize the career center to help promote my writing which may eventually lead to a writing career that may pay me either as a staff writer or even as a freelance writer instead of just being a contributing columnist. Now, recently I had decided to stop writing if only temporarily as a contributor and truly that particular situation related to my exit had nothing at all with not getting paid; it was related to my principles - to what I consider loyalty that is shared by the editorial staff for their writers and always having a line of communication open between the staff and the writers no matter what. Though I truly believe things are not always done intentionally and yes even I can feel slighted for no particular reason except that is part of who I am.

I left a world at a coffee shop that was unfamiliar to me; however I instinctively ended up where I was comfortable at the North Shore Career Center in Salem, MA;comfort because of my long history with the center and its staff; comfort that stems from a time in my life when the center had a branch location on Congress Street. It was during this difficult time in the life of my family the job counselors, the receptionist, and even the director of the branch office made me know that they really did care - just like the staff does now at the Washington Street location. I recall when my job counselor at that time Rose knew I had no interview clothes to ensure that I had the edge needed to land a job. I felt so professional wearing the black dress pants she got for me and though I did not get that particular job, the kindness that was extended to me is now part of the kindness I try to extend to others. It is a kindness that is reflected when I go to the North Shore Career Center as I am always greeted with a helpful staff, as well as people who do choose to share a part of them with another human with even something as simple as a smile.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blessed Gifts

I drink my coffee waiting for the sun to rise. As I sit in the darkness my two small grandsons are mumbling their sleep stories as my thoughts begin to wander in the early dawn quietness. I remember my now grown children mumbling their sleep stories to me in the morning hours. Smiling as nostalgia envelops me, I am brought back even further to the time when as a little girl I too must have mumbled to my own parents my sleep stories; though my mother tells me to this day that my stories were not just in my dreams because as I grew up my stories were and are to this day a part of who I am.

Mom as usual was right, though as I grew older I wish I took her advice more seriously! Yet, as I reflect upon my life and my experiences in order for me to have become who I am today I had to make my own decisions. And it is because of past decisions, whether they were right or wrong, the events within my life have molded me into a sculpted piece of art that I consider each and every one of us to be - a unique person that gives to our world both good and bad. Not one of us is insignificant, nor obsolete in a place where all of our lives do intertwine. It does not matter what your background is, your financial status, your ethnicity, your sexual choice, or your gender. We are a diverse global world and each and everyone of us do matter.

Growing up one of my biggest dreams was to write to make a difference and to create awareness. Most importantly I write to let my readers know that no matter what their situation is they are not alone and where to get help - if help is what is needed. To this day as I am writing this column the most exciting thing is the phrase "my readers" and seeing my words in print. Print - oh I was an avid reader growing up and many a night I was lost in a book at times all night long stretched out on my parents couch, Print - oh the actual smell of print led me to the illustrated books I would read as a little girl and my own little girl like her mom loved to sniff at the newest books in the children's section of the library, Print - oh the feel and textures of books or newspapers in my hands was and still is a secure sensation; especially my sixth finger which is my pen writing these words first on paper before they are typed on a keyboard.

And it is with these words that I want to let people know that the past year of writing "From the Streets of Salem" or even updating my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/salempoetswritingpage has been a blessing given back to me; a blessing that the editorial staff at the Salem Gazette had given to me when they took a chance on a first-time columnist. I have met many people, people from my past, my present, and eventually my future, and as I have heard many stories from others the gift given back to me has been and is being able to do what I truly believe is my purpose in life - to write. And I would not be able to live my childhood dream if it were not for you - the people who share their stories with me and the people who read my columns.

I keep an ongoing list that contains my ideas for future columns. The "list" is valuable to me and gives me an outline of my own adult sleep stories - sleep stories that will eventually end up in print; stories written word by word, emotion by emotion, experience from experience, memory by memory, that I am truly blessed to write - stories that will lead me to meet more wonderful people, stories that evoke feelings within me that I may have forgotten about.

So, I am blessed as I sit in the darkness waiting for the sun to rise, drinking my coffee, listening to me grandsons mumbling their sleep stories to me. I am blessed with the gift of words, the gift of writing, and the gift of all of you my readres. Happy Holidays!!

P.S. The valuable "list" that I carry with my future column ideas will stay just that for now a list for things do happen for a reason. Most importantly, I want to thank everyone that has made my dream a reality by allowing me into your lives with either your own sleep stories or as a reader of my columns. Please enjoy my last two columns that will appear sometime in the Salem Gazette during the month of January - God Bless.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"The Stage Point Neighborhood; People who are a Somebody"

Our Lord at St. Joseph's Church building

A peninsula named by the local Native American Indians as "Long Point" is known today as the Point Neighborhood, yet the early European settlers to Salem, MA  that harvested fish from the harbor also called the land mass "Stage Point"

The salt air tickles at my nose as I hurry along the narrow land mass that extends into Salem Harbor. Stage Point, a thriving peninsula, is freckled with the wooden framed stages used by the locals as fish drying racks. On my way to meet my husband, as his long hard day of labor is almost done at the sperm oil and candle factory in the Point along the harbor, I am hungry yet the multitude of inhibitants of the sea that now dry in the hot simmering sun makes my stomach churn. The peninsula that I was familiar with was to eventually undergo many transformations due to the increased needs for the factories and for the need for more homes to accommodate its workers. During the 19th and early 20th century many of the peninsula's shallow places were to be filled in and streets were to be laid out. And the land south of the river that once was reserved for farm fields and summer homes would eventually give way to industrialism in 1840 when the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company(Shetland Park) opened its first mill and provided homes and work for Salem's new immigrants until 1953.

The French-Canadians emigrated to Salem, MA in search of steady work and a steady income. Eventually, the people from Russia, Poland, and Greece found refuge in the point area too until by the mid 20th century an influx of newer immigrants became residents of the Point Neighborhood from Latin America countries. However, before our modern day point area was to become what is is today it was leveled in 1914 by the Great Salem Fire. As factories once outstripped the local homes; the rebuilding of a neighborhood was to see only two industrial facilities reborn - the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company and a small brick bakery building at Leavitt and Pingree Streets which now houses Harbor Sweets, a candy manufacturing company. Also, at one time there were two religious complexes in the neighborhood, a Methodist Episcopal church and the St. Joseph Roman Catholic parish - it was the latter that was to be revived by the residents of the Point for the residents and for the people. The Great Salem Fire not only reflected the resilience of a community it reflected the awareness for healthier and for safer homes that lined the narrow streets reconstructed with newer fire safety codes which minimized the older danger of the original inexpensive wood-framed dwellings that catered to the factory workers and their families; just as the House of the Lord catered to those same families who were seeking spiritual worship at St. Joseph's Church, yet now the edifice sits as an abandoned church that abandoned the souls of a community and is slated to be probably demolished not by nature like it once was because of a fire; demolished by man to make way for a new fate by our local politicians and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs that bought the site in 2005.

St. Joseph’s Church was a place of worship for over 100 years for the people in Salem, MA. The original edifice was lost during the “Great Salem Fire.”
This occurred on June 25th 1914 when over 20,000 people were left homeless and about 10,000 people unemployed. However, the building was to be rebuilt by the people who worshiped there in 1949. The building itself has a unique architecture and a unique history. However, its slated demolition will be a loss for our residents like so many other buildings within our city have been in the past. The demolition of the original Salem Depot, during the 1950’s, where Riley Plaza now sits, is still a great loss today to our city. Back in the 80s former mayor Tony Salvo stated, "Part of Salem died when they did that. It was a big mistake tearing that building down. The old train station was like a castle. It was a landmark." A landmark that will be remembered with regret and nostalgia.

I remember growing up and always loved the crucifix with our savior that overlooks the entrance to the church. It has been a comfort to me as well as others over the years. I remember my two nephews being christened as infants within the walls of the church and also when my brother renewed his vows with his bride there. Now, I enjoy the same comfort that I felt as a young girl when I look out my window and watch the sun rise and the sun set upon the structure. It is a building that should have the sun continue to shine upon it. Even the Committee on Divine Worship through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2000 agrees that church architecture does embody the Gospel and if razing an old church is to take place then special care is needed in the treatment of the building which is “dignified and beautiful.” My question is then if Catholic bishops believe a church building to house the embodiment of the Gospel then why would a church that has been on the same property for over a 100 years be destroyed? My perception which I am sure is shared by many others can be defined in one word - sacrilegious.

Renovation of churches into living spaces is something that would be a perfect solution. Retaining most of the original architecture while at the same time utilizing the abandoned building into a place where people can reside is the answer, yet it is an answer that needs to be viewed with respect to the building. Renovations happen globally of former churches and having the artistry to convert a church into a home takes someone who is creative. Perhaps the planning board, the architects, and the developers that are designing the renovations for lower Lafayette Street need some ingenuity added to the ingredients to improve an entrance to downtown which is considered a key entrance. And the key to handling St. Joseph’s Church is to have a new outlook on the building instead of just tearing it down - Yet the souls of the Point residents will not be torn or frayed since we are people with the resilience within us from past generations.

I experience that resilience as the crisp fall air rejuvenates me as I walk to the Deli House Restaurant to pick up lunch for my elderly mother and I. A cozy place owned by Scott for about three years I salivate breathing in the fresh, delicious smells of Scott's mouthwatering ingredients sauteing - strolling towards Pioneer Terrace with food in hand now I recall mom needed some milk so I take a detour up Palmer Street. Passing a small almost hidden store(Tropicana Market) the aroma of freshly fried pastelitos stop me in my tracks enveloping my total senses with temptation. It is within the walls of the store that a mother and a son work tirelessly as a duet always to greet each customer with a smile. It is people like them that I do encounter that make me know that though the Point may be infected by some lost souls, a few punks that think they are gangsta, absent landlords that own propert who only care for money and not their tenants or the property itself, some young people who think they have with nothing to do and are "bored," and even some people who have either spent or currently spend their lives on the "governmental payroll" not familiar with what working hard means or knowing how to give back to themselves and others; though at times it is through no fault of their own since they were not taught any different growing up-it is good people living in the Point area who are not a nobody and are a somebody that matters.

Now, my personal experiences and personal encounters as a lifetime Salem resident typically does show to me that most of the area locals within the Point are residents that are truly the "forgotten people" of today; forgotten at times by our local governmental officials and representatives, forgotten by the local landlords who are among the missing, and at times forgotten by our local law enforcement was well as labeled because of where we live or where we frequent - the people of the Point Neighborhood are people who are a somebody. A somebody who cares about the neighborhood, a somebody who cares about ourselves and our families, a somebody who may be living on the financial edge known today as the "working poor," most importantly we are a community of everybody made up of ethnic familes as diverse as America always was and America is - we are the potpourri of people of the Point Neighborhood resilient and full of strength.



Deli House
48 Congress Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-5900

Tropicana Market
24 Palmer Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 594-8672
Before and After the Great Salem Fire

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fearless Fashion; In Memory of Sara Smith Co-Founder Breast Friends Foundation

Adam Smith, Ashley Herron Shultz,

Trish Grzela at Fearless Fashion 2010



Fearless is a state of mind, a state of the soul, a state of being that pertains to friends, family, and the "warriors" fighting breast cancer. It has been battled since the time of the ancient Egyptians and continues to be fought by thousands to this day. Per the National Breast Cancer Foundation each year approximately 200,000 women as well as some men are diagnosed with this cancer. It is a form of cancer which is second to lung cancer in deaths amongst women; though the number of deaths have been declining during the recent years due to education, support, and donationns to aid in the cause.

Campaigns for breast cancer awareness are not only effective in bringing attention to the disease, but they raise money that aids in advances within the medical field. It is these medical advances that give a longer life and at times a recovery with more than 2 million breast cancer survivors alive in America today - especially with an early diagnosis that raises the survival rate. Since the first campaign during the 1930's and 1940's by the American Society for the Control of Cancer(The American Cancer Society) a first of its kind campaign called the "Women's Field Army" prompted dectection and prompted medical intervention which paved the way for each generation to expect a better chance of surviving this once deadly disease.

My memories of my maternal grandmother do not exist. When I was a 3 year old my grandmother loved me to pieces, so my mom told me except, any pieces of a memory for my grandmother were lost in 1967 when she died of breast cancer. Now, as a grandmother myself I am confident I would be a survivor today because of the generosity of others who donate their time and their money for patient support programs and breast cancer research.

One non-profit that raises money is the Breast Friends Foundation founded in 2006 by two locals from Marblehead, MA. - Sara and Adam Smith. The foundation has since raised thousands of dollars for cancer research and cancer services. This non-profit not only makes a difference in their community it makes a difference in the lives of those living and those fighting breast cancer. And the Breast Friends Foundation joins forces with 3 local businesses in Salem, MA. - Radiance Avedas Lifestyle Salon & Spa, The Boutique at 318 Derby Street, and Glitterati; you too are needed to enlist to fight the fight against this devastating disease.

To join forces with others you can either donate on-line at http://www.breastfriendsfoundation.org/ or join us on October 11th from 6pm-9pm; Purchase tickets in advance or at the door with all proceeds to be donated to the Breast Friends Foundation. Enjoy the music of DJ Marc Saccoccio, indulge in the hor d'oeuvres, or as a VIP get primped by the stylists, receive merchandise discounts, and watch the models rock the runway with a visually pleasing fashion show. To help fight the fight against breast cancer please join us at Radiance Avedas in Salem, MA. as we all join in unity and we all remain fearless for all those battling this disease.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Salem's Hidden Gems

At one time Salem, MA was known as the crowned jewel of shopping on the North Shore until malls almost turned the city into a ghost town of empty edifices. Couples, families, and friends flocked to shop, eat, watch a movie, people watch, or even to experience the metaphysical. As Salemites we were gladly inundated with crowds back then and now we welcome the excitement when thousands visit for the Halloween season. The excitement and true community spirit is evident in the present with hidden gems throughout the city; hidden gems for not only the residents, but for our visitors to feel at home.

One such location is Ziggy's which for almost 50 years has been a long standing family owned and family run establishment which opened its doors in November 1964. It is a true tribute to the word "family" with their parent's philosophy being "a family that works together stays together." To this day every Akatyzewski-Terry-Rutkowski family member as well as intimate friends are still together not only supporting each other, but supporting the multiple generations of other families who have over the years dropped by for coffee, home-made donuts and pastries, or even to pick up a pie made with love for the holidays. Most customers stop by to visit, have discussions, renew old friendships, remember nostalgic memories, recall past friends who have since passed on, and to sit like they might in their own homes knowing that Ziggy's is their home away from home and always will be.

Another home away from home is Sidelines Sportsbar and Grill which opened their doors in February of 2002. Sidelines has not only great company, but great food with Tuesday night being their well known 35 cent wing night with special sauces and all you can eat. Currently owned by Vicki MacLean who spent many of her own years on the "sidelines" as a fanatic sports lover, watching her son Shawn play sports, and as a waitress for another business where she was the employee working long hours, Vicki loved her long standing regular customers and it was the patrons dedication that brought Vicki her immediate customers when she first opened her own business eventually to be followed by new customers, Salem residents, and tourists who are made to feel both individual, cared about, and special. It is that specialness which created the environment within Sidelines as a place where everyone does know your name giving to our city and its customers their own 'Cheers.'

Another longtime place that has called Salem, MA home is Witch Tee's for almost 20 years with a new extension store along the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall located in the old Lally's Shoe Store; a building built in 1858. Joan Brennan's goal was to find a location for her business that for her was reasonably priced so she could pass reasonably priced merchandise onto her customers. It is a goal that Joan has achieved by offering T-shirts, sweatshirts, accessories, and even custom made items to her patrons at fantastic prices. And Joan's creativity gives to anyone passing by the storefront visual eye candy with window displays that have already won for Witch Tee's the "Viewer Choice Award" from the Chamber of Commerce.

Another choice that Salem offers to its residents and its visitors is a taste of the metaphysical. Wiccans have always been a strong part of our community and Wiccans have always been important members of our city whose contributions extend far beyond the the historical witchcraft hysteria. Like many religions there are a few who dwell on their own personal gains instead of the majority who dwell on the spiritual growth of themselves, their clientele, and our city. Rick Watson is in the majority who as a 5th generation Salemite experienced as a young boy the pull towards the Wiccan religion enjoyed by our pagan ancestors and he also experienced the influence of his own ancestors who gave to their children and their children's children the gifts of visions, tea leaf reading, metaphysical phenomena, and always to listen and to hear your inner intuition. Rick's mother reads tea leafs taught by her great grandmother which has been a part of their family heritage. Rick, as a Reverend in the Strega Tradition with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
has performed marriages and gives to several charities to retain the positive within our community and within each other. Kindness and caring do guide Rick in both the physical realm and the spiritual realm; not only transcending what a true Wiccan is, but what we all should be.

Kindness is reflected within Ziggy's, Sidelines, Witch Tee's, and Rick Watson. A reflection of what Salem always was and what Salem is. A reflection that is evident in the sponsorship by all these people for local organizations through donations, fundraisers, or any endeavor that may benefit not only their clients, but the community as a whole; a community that says welcome to Salem - a place where everyone knows your name - a place where you can call home both as a resident and as a visitor - a place where hidden gems adorn our city.

Ziggy's and Sons Donuts 2 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 744-9605

Sidelines Sportsbar and Grill 105 Canal Street
Salem, MA 01970-4649
(978) 745-5870

Witch Tee's Museum Place Mall Suite 127 Salem, Mass. and 173 Essex Street.
Salem, MA 01970-3700(978) 740-0900

Rick Watson Spiritual Guidance/Physic Readings
Located at Bewitched
180 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970-3736
(978) 744-9904

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

GoodFright; Salem's Eve of Saints

  • Walking Through Salem, MA on All Hallows Eve
    I stumble upon a celebration; what can it be?
    Costumed revelers dance through the town
    as unsettled spirits are no longer bound.

  • Halloween has unleashed ghosts that taunt
    as visitors gather to enter old haunts.
    The Common is ablaze with sights and sounds
    while Wiccas worship - magic is around.

  •  Children laugh and squeal with delighted fear,
    Attend a seance if you dare.
    Visit the graveyard where Judge Hathorne now lives
    Pray for the souls condemned by ignorance.

  • The men and women hung and tortured at Gallows Hill
    are forever remembered in our hearts still.
    Continuing my walk towards Derby's Wharf.
    I smell the salt and imagine the old port.

  • One time alive and bustling with cargo and seamen
    along with the tales of pirate adventures out in the ocean.
    I stroll to the House of Seven Gables and stare
    intently I listen for any remaining souls there.

  •  Hearing nothing but the wind whispering I turn and see
    Nathaniel Hawthorne's ghost floating in front of me!
    My heart pounds loudly I barely can hear
    the sound of footsteps coming near

  •  A hand grasps my arm as I shriek
    It's only my friend asking what kept me
    shaking my head trying to clear the haze of a dream
    I realize things are not always what they seem.

  • So I continue my journey through a city that is alive
    with history, heritage and any type of being you may spy.

    To all have a Happy Halloween and GoodFright!!!!
    Tammy Anne Callahan-Callanan

Friday, July 8, 2011

Agora; Salems Farmers' Market

A place of assembly existed during ancient Greek times where merchants and craftsmen sold their wares. The 'Agora' was the definition an open-air tented marketplace. In Salem our own Agora during the 1930's had collapsible stalls made out of wood that held the treasures of the tradesman and treasure for the buyers. Before the innovation of malls, Salem, MA was the place to be especially on Saturdays. Throngs of crowds frequented the Paramount Theatre, shopped at the multiple stores that once lined the streets, while thousands of patrons visited the marketplace near Old Town Hall until sometime in the 1970's when malls opened Salem's heyday became just a nostalgic memory. However, that memory was to be renewed when in 2009 Jennifer Bell, dedicated volunteers, and the City of Salem reinstated the market area in downtown. Spurred by the advent of farmer markets in California the movement of marketplaces spread throughout the United States in the 80's and the 90's to eventually be the conceived as Salems Farmers' Market. A reinstatement that is a popular place now for not only our residents, but for those visiting our city. A popularity that has grown and will continue to grow like an 'Agora' alive with the smells and the colors that once thrived in ancient Greece. 

The market is not the tradition type of market just sponsoring local farmers. Salem has a market that features not only locally grown produce, but featured each Thursday is also speciality products as well as entertainment. Hosted by Salem Main Streets the market grows each year with an estimated 5,000 in attendance this year on opening day. The market not only meets the needs of the typical buyer, but with the financial stress on today's families the market also accomodates the needs of low-income buyers through the acceptance of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Most importantly this meets the need of families to eat healthier by having the ability to purchase fresh vegetables, fruits, and other items. A table is available at the market where SNAP participants can purchase tokens by swiping their cards and if they happen to have any unused tokens they can be returned in exchange for the dollar amount to be reinstated onto their EBT cards. And with the farmer selling directly to the consumer without a middleman the prices are reasonable and the benefits of nutrition as well as the fresh taste are well worth the visit. I personally enjoy not only buying the products that are offered, my biggest enjoyment is the visual colors and smells that stimulate my senses. It is as though, while resting on the stairs of Old Town Hall, I have a kaleidoscope viewing bits and pieces in endless varities of patterns; with multiple colors and shapes geometrically arranged; the shapes of Salem's people, events, and places - our own Salem Agora.


Mission Statement:
Our Mission
Enhance the quality of life in the Salem downtown area by providing a community activity that fosters social gathering and interaction.
Provide a convenient and congenial means of purchasing locally grown or prepared food products.
Support local agriculture and producers by providing a direct market or their produce and goods.
Salem Farmers’ Market Committee
Jennifer Bell (Salem Main Streets)
Pam Lombardini (Market Manager)
Gus Sousa
Marlene Faust
Kristin Rogers
Aaron Martin
Jim Vaughey
Gary Gill




Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Big Brother" Watching You; safety factor that can save a life

In 1907 a 25 acre parcel of land was sold to the city by Major John Spencer; the land once encompassed part of the Hemenway Estate on the north side of Forest River in Salem, MA. During the next ten years the Salem Park Department worked to install a football field, a baseball field, and also a salt water swimming pool which opened in 1919 to be used for the public and by the public; eventually to become a fresh water pool in 1999. So many summers for not only some children of Salem, but some adults as well, have enjoyed a refreshing dip in the pool. I used to ride my bike with my brothers from the Common area no matter how hot is was and meet our friends for a day of fun and a day of swimming. When my own children were young I spent wonderful times with them and other families at Forest River pool. Now, as a grandmother I look forward to many more summers with my grandsons cooling off as we share quality time together. Here in Salem we are blessed to have access to a community pool and also the community grounds housed near Forest River.
We are certainly, to my knowledge as a life-long resident, blessed to have averted the horrendous tragedy that just recently occurred at a community pool in Fall River, MA. A loss that is indescribable not only to the community, but to the victim's friends and family. A loss that may have been prevented because of many factors, yet a loss that may also not have occurred if there was underwater viewing aids installed in the pool. An underwater viewing aid allow lifeguards to see underwater and this type of equipment can be used for all types of swimming pools. Another prevention which is underwater remote monitoring that will document any type of event that may occur including anything questionable. Lastly, there is computer-aided drowning detection systems that monitor with computer software activities of swimmers and alerts staff if swimmers exhibit any behavior associated with drowning.

 Growing up in a city with tremendous maritime history and living along the water is a treasure especially on those humid summer days when the sea breeze keeps us cool. However, having a community pool to swim in especially if you are not lucky enough to have a pool of your own is a treasure too. Life is a treasure as well and though there are cities that struggle with budget cuts due to the economy, but equipment that can aid the lifeguards that patrol the pool area and the pool is a necessity. I think the days of just calling the multiple swimmers out of the water in order to do a safety check is no longer good enough. With surveillance and monitoring everywhere in today's modern world like in the novel 1984; an important factor that just may save a future life are underwater aids. An investment of this type of equipment is just as priceless as the people it will protect. Enjoy the summer, enjoy your family and friends, and definitely jump in and enjoy that cool, refreshing summertime dip. 

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Predatory Landlords and Their Victims

By now most of us have heard about predatory mortgage lenders, however are you familiar with the term predatory landlords? Well, as of recent I was on a payment plan with my landlord; a verbal agreement between both parties. Yes, my current rent was up-to-date and I had made substantial payments on my arrears while making substantial concessions so my landlord was getting paid and my family retained our apartment; concessions that included no car, no telephone at all, no cable, no Internet, and I had even sacrificed my beloved laptop to a local pawn shop. My routine of food shopping had also been dramatically altered by my frequent visits to local food pantries instead of local grocery stores. I believed my family's sacrifices were beneficial instead of in vain as long as my landlord was receiving his due money that was agreed upon. However, one day I received an unexpected 48 Hour Notice that had been slipped under my door; my shock was compounded by the fact that I not only had just recently chit chatted with the owner of the building, but there was no legal forethought such as an Execution, any other type of Notice to Quit, or even the courtesy from my landlord in anyway of being made aware that my family was on the road to homelessness.

Predatory landlords do exist and some of their main targets are:
  • Low-income 
  • Uneducated 
  • Previous or Current criminal/civil issues
  • New immigrants
  • Students and Young Adults
  • Unsophisticated renters
  • Homeless
  • Previous housing issues
  • Disabled physically/mentally
Playing unfair is the game that the landlord will evoke upon vulnerable tenants. And this situation does not just happen to renters in apartments it also occurs within the rooming houses where the person is not aware that they too have rights, rights that are more concrete especially if they had rented a room at the same location for longer than 3 consecutive months. In Massachusetts you then become a "Tenant at Will" and the eviction process must be followed by the owner of the rooming house. I personally had been in a local rooming house and was illegally locked out since I was awaiting a retro-active unemployment check and at the time I was only 1 week behind. I proceeded to file a police report for my protection, went to the Housing Court and received permission to re-enter the premises and I was able to retain my room until I moved out. And what certainly helped me the most is that not only was the owner known to the community as being "shady," I had nothing "shady" to prevent me from keeping my rights as a tenant either personally or financially.

Most landlords do run a legitimate and fair business through their rental units or are home-owners that need that extra income. I definitely know too that some tenants do exist that take advantage and not only do not care about their neighbors, the property, the rent, or even themselves; certain renters do give others a bad name. Yet, too many potential renters and current renters are being preyed upon as not only the economy gets worse, but as the desperation for housing continues to rise. It is this desperation that almost made me homeless not believing the 48 Hour Notice to be forcibly moved was an effective and legal order. I am thankful to the mediators at the NorthEast Housing Court and especially to the lawyer I originally only called with one quick question that came immediately to my defense handling my day in court Pro Bono. 

I can still recall being a very little girl growing up by the Collins Cove in Salem, MA. My mother was raising 6 children in a small 2 bedroom apartment working hard and doing it all basically on her own. Our landlord cared about us as a family since he knew my mother as a long-time tenant and knowing she tried was of upmost importance to him. He allowed my mom to make payments and appreciated her honesty as well as her perserverance. It is this same landlord that also would occasionally give my father odd jobs to assist with the rent costs since my dad was usually unemployed. I can even picture my father as a younger man on the scaffolding of a home near Derby's Wharf painting alongside with the landlord and his crew on a hot summer day. I, as a child, believed back then that those that did everything right and those that did the best they could would always have security; security not only for themselves, but for their families. Well, not only have times changed from long ago, unfortunately so haven't people changed from long ago. My advice, never believe things are stagnant because in this world you never know what each day may bring. 

Monday, June 27, 2011


Firework Debris

  • Emily Dickinson wrote:
    I'm nobody! Who are you?
    Are you nobody, too?
    Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
    They'd banish us, you know.
    How dreary to be somebody!
    How public, like a frog
    To tell your name the livelong day
    To an admiring bog!

    Well, I sincerely believe we are ALL somebody no matter what and hopefully my columns depict that.

Trash  and firework debris is strewn about as people who reside in the Point neighborhood deal with the ignorance of others which includes those that patrol the area. I have been a Salem resident my entire life and I have lived just about everywhere within a city that I love and a city that is diverse. As a grandmother I generally do get along with others and I do consider myself knowing many people as well as many types of people. However, I know that when I cross Lafayette Street to visit with my elderly mom or to spend time with my grandsons I generally find my patience being tested.

Now, I am aware that many of my readers will say , "Well you live in the Point so deal with it." Deal with it I will not since this city is my city and I also consider Salem my home. A home that lacks as of late courtesy with not only some of the residents, but those that travel through Salem onto Lafayette and Washington Streets. The other morning for example I pressed the lights at Dow and Washington to bring my grandchildren home after a wonderful sleepover at my house and as the light was red a driver in a pick-up truck laughed and he hit his gas pedal speeding right by my grandchildren and me who just missed being struck; meanwhile a patrol car was facing in my direction and whether the officer saw what had just occurred I am honestly not sure - one thing I  am sure of is that when I walk to my mom's or my daughter's at times I am followed as the patrol car probably is wondering what I am doing in the "neighborhood." Another thing I am sure of is that though there are young children with parents on the streets at 11:00 at night crying because fireworks are being set off, even though it is not yet July 4th, that the patrol cars will just drive by as if they are taking a country ride. Now, most of the people on the street of course do not have to work or even get up in the morning so they do not even comprehend that others that live among them do have obligations.

Initially the Point was settled in the 1850's and does to this day encompass architectural and historical significance. A significance that is reflected amongst most of the area residents with just the few "bad apples" that give the neighborhood its bad name. And it is the few "bad apples" that need to know that we as long-time residents do not want to tolerate the nonsense of not caring for your neighbors and not caring for yourselves. And it is those in authority and others not living in the area that also need to stop labeling those that live here due usually to economic reasons. Especially when there are those who live in the area that own businesses and take pride in their homes. And I will be the first to attest that problems can be found everywhere within Salem and that issues certainly do not just happen in the Point.

As I mentioned to a local landlord that I was going to write this on my blog I was confronted with the fact that I should be more compliant and to give in. Giving in is not in my nature and honestly I do not care what others do provided whatever is going on does not "bleed" into the lives of myself or my family. So as July 4th is right around the corner have all the fun you want on July 4th and God Bless America. Also, to those police officers that do their job, especially under rough circumstances...Thank you from all of us "Nobodies."

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

From the Streets of Salem; Reuniting the Arbellas of Salem, MA

Salem, MA. - The searing heat of the sun, the beat of the drummers, the voices of the horns, the magic of the color guard, the stomping of the feet all marching together in unison is a sound that is lost to our city.
This sound has a rich history stemming from the military era after WWI, through sponsorship of the VFW and the American Legion during the 1960s to become what was once known finally as the Arbellas. Named after the famous vessel that sailed as the flagship of Gov. John Winthrop’s Arbella fleet in 1630, the Arbella Drum and Bugle Corp was derived from the consolidation of Salem’s IC Rockettes and Comets due to financial purposes around 1976.

The decline leaves an empty space in the local communities that once heralded their drum and bugle corps such as the fans and supporters of the once existing Arbellas from Salem. That space is not void, however, in the hearts, souls and memories of the grown men and women who were once members of the Arbellas.
I can recall many wonderful, yet very rigorous tryouts, practices, parades and competitions with a militaristic theme to them, a theme that taught us at a young age discipline and most importantly to be the best that you can be. Yes, there were tears of sorrow and tears of joy, but the tears just made us all that much stronger. It is a strength that that I know is still within me today.
It was teamwork and dedication that made us as the Arbellas what we were to become as a unit and also as individuals. And help in keeping everything together was our parents who carpooled us back and forth to practices, parents that cheered for us, and parents that were our shoulders to not only lean upon, but to cry on whenever it was needed.
We were a community that grew together and a community that is still together, a youth activity that is missing within our city that included support as well as entertainment for people of all ages. When the Arbellas marched locally the crowd loved us and as young adults the pride we felt when people clapped is indescribable.