Monthly Archives: June 2011

Night Road Diner Photos

There’s an exhibition currently at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington called Night Road: Photographs of Diners by John D. WoolfYou can see an online portfolio of the exhibit in case you can’t get out to Lexington.

There are plenty of Worcester-area diners in the photos, but it’s not just pictures of diners: there are photos of the Owl Shop, Coney Island, and the Rustic Drive-In on Route 146, along with many other roadside attractions.

via Retro Roadmap 

Spoken like a true Worcesterite

The most anticipated blog of

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the summer (by me, at least) is A Summer in Worcester, which is written by a law clerk who’s back home for the summer.

Here’s a taste:

If you’re from Worcester, you know that downtown has a virtual monopoly on skeezy people. There are crazies, crack heads, junkies, drunks, and criminals (I’ve SEEN three arrests so far) dotting the landscape of downtown. Sadly, the first floor retail of many beautiful historic buildings are full of places like check cashing, wig stores, and Cricket wireless. I bring my lunch every day, mostly due to the fact that there’s so few good places to go. But among this despair there is a beacon of hope: Dunkin Donuts.”

Keep him in your feed reader; if he keeps it up, he’ll get himself on the blogroll.

(Image: worcesterma worcester downtown, a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 image from Leonardo DaSilva’s photostream.)

This, That, and the Other Thing

…a summary of random links I’ve come across recently.

A Boston Globe article about how some non-profits compensate board members mentioned the Worcester-based Alden Trust, which supports education-related projects in Worcester and makes capital grants to institutions of higher ed in the Northeast.  According to the article, the trust pays each of its board members $130,000 a year.  Here’s a list of Alden Trust board members.

There was an Yvonne Abraham column about a WPI professor, Neil Heffernan, who created a tutoring program called ASSISTments that’s currently used in the Worcester Public Schools.

If you’ve wondered about South Station’s train capacity limit (and, really, who hasn’t?), this is a great post.

There was an article in Publisher’s Weekly about Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester.

There was a long discussion on the Sterling Times website about the Open Meeting Law info session in Worcester and especially how it affects three-person boards.

Jaime shared the jewelry work she and her classmates did at the Worcester Center for Crafts.

Worcester – 3rd Highest ‘Real’ Income in the Nation

A few days ago, I came across a report that said that the greater Worcester metropolitan area has the third highest highest adjusted median household income in the nation.  The way that number was arrived at was by comparing the median household income to the cost of living index.  Here’s basically how it works:

A city with a high COLI [cost of living index], then, has high prices for things like housing and food, and a low COLI likewise denotes a relatively inexpensive city. These disparate costs of living can mean that a salary in one city has a far different value than the same amount of money in another city. In other words, a worker making roughly $63,000 in expensive New York City has an adjusted income of around $35,000, whereas a worker earning $63,000 in the more affordable Worcester, Mass., has an adjusted income of nearly twice that–just over $61,000.

I tend to be sceptical of these kinds of reports for a few reasons:

  • The upshot of every single livability report seems to always be that it’s great to live in Des Moines (which was, of course, at the top of the list).
  • It’s never clear what the Worcester metro area comprises.  Westboro?  Shrewsbury?  Holden?
  • It also seems that the list was somewhat skewed.  The DC Metro area was #2 on this list, but it had a 2009 median income of $85,168 that (with the cost of living adjustments) became a ‘real’ income of $61,449.  But that means that you’re really making more than $20,000 less than your paycheck says.  It only looks like you’re making more when compared to other metro areas.

I was waiting for this report to get picked up in the Telegram, because these kinds of articles are really best read in the context of the comments.  To that end, Brian says:

Worcester, MA is all about mediocrety. It’s an industrial dump.

Because nothing says mediocrity like misspelling it!

Tomorrow night’s Council agenda…not just for Gonzo

There’s an exciting agenda up tomorrow night.  Let’s see how we can screw things up!

  • Now that we’ve freed the city from the scourge of pit bulls, it should be safe enough for … chickens!  [11f]
  • My favorite topic (street signs) gets a mention.  [11b]
  • We might permanently exclude Meadow Lane from the snow removal ordinances.  [11k]
  • There are stray balls, thankfully not related to members of the US House of Representatives.  [11l]
  • Hope for a bookmobile springs eternal.  [10b]
  • Tree nurseries in vacant lots: an idea whose time has come again. [11a]

(Image: Hiding in Plain Sight, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic image from nigeldogg’s photostream)

Best Post about Life in the City (this year)

The AAS’s Past is Present blog had an excellent post about city living, circa 1849.

In the post, Elizabeth Watts Pope quotes extensively from a tract written around that time about the hazards of city life, which included (but were not limited to) “[h]undreds of abodes of infamy”, “porticoes of perdition”, and “low porter-houses.”

As Pope notes, only in the mind of the tract-writer would this sound unappealing.  If you’re an 18-year-old male, mention of “the dark mazes and perilous labyrinths of a modern Sodom” might very well be enough to induce you to move to the city.

The post is also a meditation on the paradox of city living: city residents often have many neighbors at quite close quarters, and are able to move around their environs in a comparatively anonymous way:

The question of whether the cultural attractions and convenience of living in a crowded city outweighed its dangers and hassles appears to be a perennial one, although the changing cultural perceptions of what those crowds mean is historically interesting.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my husband’s main complaint about the city today is that you’re so close to your neighbors that people will be looking in on you.  Ironically, when “The Temptations of City Life” was written in 1849, the population density of the city was seen as a problem for the exact opposite reason: the anonymity of the crowded streets and the separation from your family of birth was understood to mean that people would not be “looking in on you” to keep you honest and virtuous.

Worcester Tornado

Today is, of course, the anniversary of the 1953 Worcester Tornado. MassMoments has a good summary, and you can always peruse the Worcester Public Library’s extensive collection of materials about the tornado (list; some of the resources are available online).

Some of our neighbors have been through a tornado of their own recently, and they need our help. The Worcester Tornadoes will be having a benefit game on Saturday, June 18, with proceeds to benefit the American Red Cross. There are a lot of other ways you can help (with monetary donations or donations of goods); those are listed on the Telegram website and on the Chamber of

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Central Mass South website.

If you want something delivered to one of these agencies but can’t get to Southbridge, you can either deliver goods to Catholic Charities on Hammond Street in Worcester, or let me know, because we’re frequently in that town.

Memorial Artwork in Worcester Parks

Cathy pointed me to a City of Worcester brochure on every piece of major memorial artwork in the city.  It’s a touch out-of-date (nearly 30 years old), but extremely well worth reading.  The last pages are specifically about veterans memorials, including memorial squares in Worcester.

(If someone knows a history or urban studies student in need of a project, this would be a great document to update with more current conditions for the monuments, with more detailed information about some of the monuments, and to include monuments — like the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial — that have been erected in the interim.)

(Image: Turtle Boy Weeding Party – June 2010, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic image from Claudia Snell’s photostream)

Worcester’s 6th murder of 2011

Worcester Police Department:

On June 8, 2011 at approximately 9:00 AM a male walked into the lobby of the Worcester Police Department and informed police officers that he had just murdered his wife and that he wanted to turn himself in.


The victim has been identified as Janice Santos,

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Greater Worcester Opera Double-Header This Weekend

Greater Worcester Opera (formerly known as Worcester Opera Works) will be presenting their annual opera(s) this weekend.

This time, it’s a double-bill of Gianni Schicchi and Trial by Jury.

The performances will be on Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, June 12 at 2:00 p.m., at the beautiful Warner Theatre, Worcester Academy.

In case you can’t make it this weekend, there will be a performance on Thursday, June 23 at 7:30 PM at Eagle Hill Cultural Center, 242 Old Petersham Road, Hardwick.

Mike and I both attended performances of last year’s opera, and it was really great.  I’m really looking forward to the two operas this weekend!

(Images: A Puccini Double Bill: Gianni Schicchi, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic image from Justin Gaurav Murgai’s photostream; Trial by Jury-14, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic image from Scott Beckner’s photostream.)