Friday, June 19, 2015

Thinking of LeBron

 I watched replays of the scene of LeBron James expressing his confidence in the eventual  victory of his team the Cleveland Cavaliers after they lost game 5 and needed to win games 6 and 7  to clinch  a national championship, their first since 1964. Hailed as the greatest player on the planet, he  repeated that phrase of self-empowerment and proclaimed his confidence in the outcome of the next game. He threw that  confidence in the teeth of defeat  and that refusal of the label "underdog" that the media and the Vegas odds makers  gave him. I must admit that I was moved  and I immediately felt a quickening of my own confidence.  If you are confident, LeBron, then I  too will keep confident as I approach  surgery in the next weeks. Now the dream of a national  championship in his first year back in Cleveland with a team  missing two All Star players is over.
 BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CONFIDENCE--MY OWN ESPECIALLY. LeBron's confidence had given me  confidence and calm as I went to meet my surgeon. An athlete whom I had never met had so impressed me  that I  followed his example  in my own little way.  His dedication to his sport, his devotion to his community  and his determination to win as a team not as an MVP--all are rare  wonderful traits.
I noticed  a certain regal demeanor about the  man they call KING JAMES most evident in the courtly  form of respect he paid to James Brown who was  watching the game. How often have we seen a player in his prime pay such homage  to an older retired  star of another sport.  That was a moment of GRACE.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Join the evolution is the new slogan for Pawtucket and I like it. I like the way it expects change and  for the better even if it comes slowly. And I like the  invitation that  seems so inclusive and so in the spirit of  --Pawtucket  JOIN-- as an imperative.  Don't be alone or isolated be part of a community that is changing maybe  slowly and is  expecting the changes to be improvements.

Those of us born and raised in Pawtucket know that all the  changes have not been for the better but they were meant well. When I drive downtown I can't help but long for what is no longer there--Shartenbergs, The Peerless, Grants and Woolworths and  the Fanny Farmer candy store and the wonderful Bridge Bakery.  But then I  try to correct my mood and say --they meant well --they were part of urban development.
I recall going downtown decades ago  to see the unveiling of the   pedestrian mall that was downtown Main Street. Now I cannot believe when I drive  down Broad Street in Central Falls that there is more life, more energy, more shops, more diners, two Dunkins and more foot traffic than Pawtucket. I am glad  that Central Falls   has some  life and Pawtucket can learn from that as we  "evolve."


Born and raised  just a few blocks from McCoy Stadium, I walked by that  baseball mecca  daily on my way to St Joseph's School--now part of Saint Raphael Academy. So I am saddened but not surprised by the  announcement that new owners would be taking the PawSox to Providence. It seems that the working class and the  lower middle-class will not be allowed to retain any of the simple pleasures that filled our hearts with delight and hope  and made dreary hours of mill work less oppressive.  How did we  enjoy our days--let me  count the ways--ways that are mostly gone and possibly largely forgotten. In my childhood in the late 40s and 50s we had Dunnell's Pond  behind Prospect Heights---for free swimming on the hottest days. We had the Blue Pond behind Mc Coy for ice  skating on the  coldest nights. We had Narragansett Park and we had Slater Park with its Zoo and winter skating to  music on the pond. We had the Back lots open green space  that ran behind Rhode Island Avenue from Dunnell's Lane to Columbus Avenue.  And the jewel in our crown--we had Mc Coy Stadium.  I went to games there  whenever  they were playing; climbing  over fences and  making my way up the long winding ramps.
If the McCoy gatekeeper was busy elsewhere, I  sneaked into the infield when teams were practicing and discovered the delights of the  dugout. I learned how to chew sunflower seeds and spit out the hulls.    On Thanksgiving morning dressed in  purple and gold and with  a cow bell  around  my neck, I would walk to the stadium to see the traditional rivalry played out between Pawtucket East ( now Tolman) and Saint Ray's.

Most of those delights have passed, but the jewel remained-- shined and brightened by the glamour of the Red Sox name and the  lustre of the players who were being developed  or recovering there. Now that is to be taken from us too.  And will Providence gain anything?  Not bloody likely!!  Possibly just more debt and  humiliation; the citizens of that city, Providence, and this state will be on the hook for building a new  staduim and giving away for an empty promise and a song to the moguls of the mound the reclaimed 195  ground on which to build. The spirit of Schilling is prowling  again, we can be suckered in again,  and we can't blame it on Fox this time. Gina will have to step up to give away the land earmarked for  job development and in that single  blow remove from Pawtucket  the little that we still take pride in 
Enough moaning from me.  I am sure Mayor Grebien is devastated.   Do we have no recourse?  The pride of the poor is a precious thing. My mother used to say --you're never too poor  and it's never too late to lose what little you have left  She was Irish and spoke in what I sometimes  thought were riddles---but I get this one now-- the poor are vulnerable and sometimes all we have left is our pride.  Mc Coy and the Pawtucket Red Sox are our pride and joy.  Can't we salvage them and lay that soothing unction to our hearts? 

 Sorry to say. the machinations of the rich getting richer are beyond my ken and I have nothing practical to suggest.  Why not seize the day  and join me:  go to as many games as possible this summer;  it will be a long Irish wake--so BATTERS UP!