Weathering the storm on Pope's Hill

This past Sunday, when there was a lull in the storm, Hubby ran out to the garden, behind the grapevine, to make sure that his tomato plants had survived Hurricane Irene. He came back in the house with eight good-sized tomatoes and said, “These all ripened in the past day because I checked the plants on Saturday, before the storm.” Needless to say, we had wonderful tomato slices with our sandwiches at lunch and cut-up tomatoes with a little dressing at dinner. We are so fortunate that nothing else happened. Oh, we did lose one of Hubby’s sunflowers. The stem had broken and its flower was on the ground.

Son Paul and daughter-in-law Alex were not so fortunate. First, a big branch fell into their yard. Then, one hour later, two trees fell, crushing their fence and that of their neighbors. Thankfully, the way the trees fell, they did not cut off the electricity. The fire marshal came and warned them to stay away from the fallen lines. He said that they would lose their electricity when the electric company’s crew came to put the wires back on the houses. Paul kept us aware of what was going on at their home all day.

About a month ago, I received a call from Henry “Hank” Bradley, inviting us to a party that their family was having for his Mom Helen’s 95th birthday at St. Christopher’s Parish. The family had asked Fr. George Carrigg to celebrate a Mass in memory of their Dad George and in honor of their Mom’s 95th birthday on Aug. 21. Following the Mass, there would be a reception in the lower church. Hank wanted to be sure that Hubby, daughter Sue, and I would be able to attend.
At this special Mass, Sr. Elizabeth and Sue shared the lectoring honors. while I was the greeter at the Mass. Fr. George praised Helen for all the wonderful work that she and her late husband George had done for St. Christopher’s over the many years that they had been parishioners. Then it was time to go downstairs.

We were surprised at how the family had transformed the school area into a festive location for the party. They were busy bees during the Mass. Helen was already seated when we walked in the room. Helen’s daughters Joan and Mickey and son Hank and his wife Rosemarie had set up a lovely buffet. As soon as we were seated, they asked us to come to get food. We were amazed at the big selection of food that they had kept cold in coolers on that very warm afternoon. Most of the items were homemade: barbecued chicken wings, regular chicken wings, pasta salad, cole slaw, potato salad, fruit salad, chips, tortilla chips, chocolate chip cookies, soda, water, punch, and coffee. The main dessert was the most beautiful sheet cake. (I think it was from B.J’s.) Hubby took a couple of super photos: one of the cake and one of Helen herself. (She is so photogenic!)

In addition to Helen’s children, other members of her family attended the party: Maureen, Christine, Elizabeth, George, Robbie, Vicki, Reese, and twins Cole and Morgan. Fr. Carrigg, pastor of St. Christopher’s, led the celebration. Sr. Elizabeth and Louise Tardif, from the parish, were also there. Helen’s good friends Haven McGovern and her son Francis, along with pals Joan Hill and Dorothy Harris, were there. Celia, who usually attends Mass on Sunday, joined us on this special day. Murielle Rue was joined by her son Craig, who is the parish custodian. Our pal Sharon and her husband Chuck sat with our friend Theresa, who, by the way, will soon celebrate her birthday on the same day as Hubby’s. This was a wonderful 95th birthday party for a great lady, a good friend, and a terrific (former) neighbor, Helen Bradley.

Then it was time to give Helen her presents. Louise handed Fr. George a gift bag to give to the birthday girl. In it was a letter to Helen thanking her for her many years of service to the parish. For years, Helen, her husband George, her brother Jack, and his wife Ann cooked and served much of the food at the parish’s Thanksgiving Dinner each November. Helen and George must have been parishioners of St. Christopher’s for more than 37 or 38 years. Also in the gift bag was a gift certificate to Jimmy’s Broad St. Diner in Weymouth. Helen’s son Hank quickly said, “I am all set to go!” We all laughed. Sr. Elizabeth then gave Helen a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the children of the Montessori School. I saw some lovely sunflowers in the bouquet. We were so happy that we were able to attend this special birthday party for our longtime friend.

On Sat., Aug. 20, our daughter Sue called, telling Hubby and me that Bruins player Shaun Thornton was appearing at the City of Boston Credit Union on Morrissey Blvd. that morning. We didn’t hesitate. Down to the credit union we went and got in line inside the building, which was filled with people. We were hoping that Shaun had brought the Stanley Cup with him but, sorry to say, it was not his day to have it. There were lots of kids in line, dressed in their Bruins jerseys, waiting for autographs. Hubby brought his camera. When we got near enough to get a good photo of Shaun, Hubby began snapping away. We then got out of line. We didn’t wait to get an autographed photo because Hubby had taken some great ones of Shaun. (Shaun, by the way, was terrific with all the kids that were there.) Just as we were leaving, a man was giving out tee shirts from the credit union, which just happens to be our credit union. We were able to get two shirts for the World’s Greatest Grandchildren, Brendan and Erin. The printing on the back of the tee thanked “the boys” for bringing the cup back to Boston.

Hubby and I always love to receive the Castle Island Association’s bi-monthly newsletter in the mail. The August-September letter was filled with information. Most important of all: the Children’s Magical Halloween Castle will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22 and Sunday, Oct. 23, from noon to 4 p.m. each day, weather-permitting. Hundreds of children enjoy the free castle tour each year. This year there will be a special toddler entrance and non-scary, Disney-like rooms for the younger children. The newsletter also mentioned that there is going to be a trial run of a weekend van to shuttle people from Marine Park to Castle Island. The times of departure are still being formulated. The Castle Island Association and Sullivan’s are sponsoring the van, which, they hope, will continue into October. The finalized time schedule will be posted at Castle Island and in Southie newspapers.
The other afternoon, I called my friend Mary Wiegand at the Bethany Health Care Facility in Framingham. I always enjoy speaking with Mary, who knows so much about the news in Dorchester because she has subscribed to the Reporter for many years. Just before Mary hung up, she asked if I remembered Sr. Ursulina O’Rourke, who was principal of St. Ann’s School in Neponset for quite a few years, “Of course, I remember Sr. Ursulina. I loved her and so did our kids,” I responded. Mary told me that Sr. Ursulina was now a resident of Bethany. “I always give my copy of the Reporter to Sister after I have read it,” said Mary. I am sure that Sr. Ursulina would love to hear from her many friends and former students from Neponset. Sister Ursulina O’Rourke’s address is: c/o Bethany Health Care Facility, 97 Bethany Rd., Room 526, Framingham, MA 01702.

I liked this thought, attributed to Ethel Barrymore: “You grow up the first day you have your first real laugh—at yourself.”


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