Back on Track

So it has been months since my last post.

The regular business of running the Milton Times has taken some time and I wish I could blame my distraction on the paper.

Truth is I have been spending more time with my three grandchildren who live in New Hampshire. If only it were as simple as a trip or two.

My youngest grandchild is a year and a half. He is amazing and filled with love. His energy is over the top. This week Finn and his parents are visiting his other grandparents in California.  Finn’s favorite word is Up. He uses it to explain who it is he wants to hold him.

My granddaughter Hayley is a senior in high school. She lives about three hours away from Finn. Like all young women in her age range, she wants to enjoy time with her friends.

My other grandson, whose name is Desmond, is just beginning high school. Like most young men in his age range, he keeps his thoughts to himself.

Being a grandmother is much more fun than being a mother. But just like parenting, the time is brief.



Winter Slides into Tomorrow

The snow continues to fall tonight.

Making travel unadvisable.

The branches outside are laden with white stuff, thick white particles.

The storm creates a space of peacefulness.

I am not sure that I am enjoying this cold, snowy winter. But I do appreciate a season where it is impossible to rush about.



Santa Came to Town

The weather was perfect for Lighting the Holiday Tree in East Milton Square.

All three of the town’s Selectmen were on hand.

Santa had spent two hours at Abby Park talking to the true believers before the simple ceremony.

This year the Milton Chamber of Commerce decided to push the event to the weekend before Thanksgiving to make room for all the other holiday parties that are in the planning stages. It was a fantastic event.

Vance Welch of Abby Park provided cookies and milk for all. But Santa brought the magic.

Tate Isgrieg and his wife brought their son dressed as an adorable elf to add to the party.

M. Joseph Manning was scheduled to flip the master switch on the holiday tree but unfortunately he fell during the past week and was hospitalized. Everyone on hand wished him well.

The number of little children who worried and teared up while facing the big guy made the afternoon all the more interesting. What is it about a man in a beard that worries very small children.

But the number of youngsters who offered Santa small tokens of their appreciation was at an all-time high. Bob Marotta, a freelance photographer, who helps keep the Milton Times graphically excellent, was on hand to snap one photo after another of youngsters telling Santa all their hopes.

Tom Pilla shot a bit of video.

Al Thomas sponsored the lights with the help of the town’s DPW. The Milton Art Center added a massive star to the top of the tree. Again that was done with the help of the DPW.

By the time the event was done, I had decided I need to lose weight. I was thin once, very long ago. I’m not expecting to revisit those years. But it is time that I don’t look like Santa when I walk down the street.


Myles Connor Tells a Few Stories

Myles Connor Jr. and Suzette Martinez Standring get ready to talk.
Myles Connor Jr. and Suzette Martinez Standring

He thought he was heading to a reunion of the Milton High Class of 1961, but Myles Connor, self proclaimed art thief, had a series of stories to tell the crowd at the Milton Art Center Sept. 26.
So, if Connor is to be believed, the art taken in the Gardner heist in 1990 now sits somewhere in Saudi Arabia.
He said he actually planned the Gardner theft but couldn’t participate in the robbery because he was in federal jail in California. His three friends, who carried out the plan, were ready to give back a Rembrandt in exchange for lessening Connor’s jail term.
All three died before that could happen and Connor went on to say it is unlikely the art will ever be returned.
Suzette Martinez Standring who was originally scheduled to headline the talk as part of Milton Reads invited Connor to present his views on the Gardner caper after finding that former Milton attorney Fred Barry represents the admitted thief.
Barry set up the appearance and Connor’s friend and manager, Al Dotoli, sat at his right side during the hour long discussion.
Connor, who now lives on a farm in Blackstone, smiled frequently as he told his stories of art thefts and other escapades.
He grew up in Milton, the son of a kindly and honest Milton police officer. He said his first art theft back in the 1960s at the Forbes Museum was carried out as “payback.” As he saw it, his father was being blamed by the Yankees connected to the local museum for the theft of some antique firearms. Connor said his father would never have done anything of the kind.
And so he planned his revenge. His entry into the Adams Street museum happened between 6 and 8 p.m. as he knew the schedule of the caretaker, who had a habit of visiting his girlfriend nightly at that time.
He smiled large as he said that was the only security.
One of his funny stories unrelated to robberies involved his breaking a friend out of Medfield State Hospital. His father had specifically ordered him not to visit the hospital. Of course he went there the next day and his friend told him how he was locked in the mental hospital because he was trying to impress a girl. His friend had faked a suicide attempt using a hose from the exhaust pipe of his car into the interior. The problem was a police officer came by instead of the young woman.
Connor stole a truck with a chain on the back and used it to pull down the bars at the mental hospital. He laughed as he explained that about 30 of the inmates climbed on the back of the truck with his friend.
He was vague as to how he chose a life of crime. His answer to the question from the audience relayed how he made friends with some hardcore criminals the first time he was in Walpole State Penitentiary. He was there on a shooting charge.
He said he has some regrets – small ones like letting a dog out – and larger ones involving the pain he caused his family.
He went into some detail denying any involvement with the murders that he has been charged with. He went into some depth about the various frames. One involved the FBI agent that was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice in connection with his work with James Whitey Bulger. In the other case involving the death of two young women, Connor said he was accused by the people who committed the crime.
Connor’s life hasn’t been just crime and punishment. His autobiography, written with the help of a crime novelist Jenny Siler, has been sold to a movie studio. Dotoli continues to handle the sale of his rock and roll, available at
But Connor suffered serious damage after a heart attack a few years ago and is no longer able to play or sing.
By the way, he said he is waiting to find a widow.
Milton Cable Access filmed the entire talk and will be running it in near future.

Girl with the Purple Hair

My granddaughter has the most amazing look for the fall.
She decided to become the girl with the purple hair. It’s a good look on her.
When I was 16 it didn’t occur to me that I could change the color of my hair. Of course I knew people did that. I just didn’t have the style or energy.
But Hayley has more than super style, she has imagination and dreams.
What does it say to have purple hair?
I think it says “the world is changing and I am part of the change.”
I hope so, anyway.
Hayley, her Aunt Annie, and cousin Finn

Summer Benefit

The Fr. Bill’s 19th annual Food Fest brought a crowd of happy donors to the Ocean Club at Marina Bay on July 30.
I didn’t win anything in the silent auction and I didn’t bid on anything in the live auction. But the food was spectacular and the company was fun.
Therese Desmond, my sister, came to the party with me. Therese as been a vegetarian since sometime in the 1970s. I became a near vegetarian little more than two years ago.
Our favorite food came from the Punjab Cafe. The Indian restaurant, located in Quincy, has long been one of my favorites. It’s vegetarian offerings can fill me.
Staff of the Fruit Center was on hand along with people from the Common Market and Phillips Candy House and many more.
The gentle winds and great views of the Boston skyline made the event extraordinary.
Jim Wells was event chair – he did fine work inching up interest in the live auction.
There was a time when the problem of homelessness seemed confined to the big cities. It appeared the people who slept on park benches were those with mental health issues like alcoholism or other drug additions.
Back 10 years ago we seldom saw a foreclosure notice make to third publication. It was a different economy.
Is there homelessness in the suburbs today?
Are there people who are hungry?
It’s the reality. Can we do something to change the problems?
Certainly. It takes caring and thought.

This Year: Great Fireworks Planned

This Year: Great Fireworks Planned

So this year on Friday, June 7, We Are Milton, a new nonprofit organization, will sponsor the first Milton Music Fest and Fireworks.

Fireworks will explode into the sky from a barge on the Neponset River at the foot of Hutchinson’s Field.

Adams Street on Milton Hill will be closed around 5:30 as the music begins at 6 p.m. A shuttle service will take people from Pierce Middle School and St. Agatha Church to the viewing area. The fireworks are expected to begin sometime after 9:30.

The event is sponsored by the Copeland Family Foundation.

It happens I missed the fireworks last year as my only daughter planned her wedding for the next day. I had worked on the 350th Celebration Committee to make the Big Weekend a fitting tribute for the town. I am thrilled to be able to watch the display this year. Atlas Pyrotechnics of New Hampshire, the company that ran the 2012 display, has been hired to blast light into the sky once again.

Life is very good.

(For updated information about the music and fireworks, see


Town Election Approaches

Milton, the community in Massachusetts where my newspaper lives, is getting ready for a town election.

The date, April 30, happens to coincide with the state primary in the special election for US Senate. So it is expected turnout will be high compared to a regular town election. But it will also be a confusing process for voters.

The electorate will be offered two out of three ballots available on that day. Yes, that’s the deal. There are three separate ballots. Each voter will get a chance at a town ballot. Then they will either be able to select a Republican or Democratic ballot, depending on their registration status. For unenrolled voters like me, the choice is open.

Will people understand the process?

I don’t know. But voters are a hardy bunch. When I was young, ballots were made of paper and we all made Xs to show our choices. In recent years there have been a series of mechanical devices involved in voting and people have learned the new techniques.

Will they understand why they need to wait in 2 lines to get 2 separate ballots and then check out twice?

We all expect some confusion will ensue.


Tiny Baby Desmond Emerges


So it happens I have taken some time away from the office lately.

My son became a father earlier today.

Such a miracle. Life is very good some days and this happens to be one of those very good days.

The baby, who has yet to be named, was born to Annie and Ambrose Desmond with lots of love and support from family and friends.

Ambrose, my son, is actually Timothy Ambrose Desmond. He was named for my two grandfathers. I never met my grandfather Timothy. He died when my own father was a child. My grandfather Ambrose was a special man in my life.  But truthfully I thought the name Ambrose sounded a bit stilted so I chose it for my son’s middle name.

He feels differently and uses Ambrose these days.

My point is he is holding his son, his first child, a small person who is yet to be named.

After 65 hours of labor and delivery Annie and Ambrose are tired tonight.

But Tiny Baby Desmond is healthy and sleeping with his parents in a hospital room in New Hampshire.


Postal Woes

I listened to Postmaster General Patrick Donohue talk about his plan for 5-day mail service while I was at the National Newspaper Association’s Leadership Summit  March 21 in Washinton, DC.

Even using his numbers, the cut in service is not the answer to the economic problems of the post office.

Donohoe showed us a slide show on first class mail volume. From 2007 to the present, that volume has been in steady decline. The difference is a loss of 37 percent.

Those of us who use first class mail to receive checks and send out invoices know that service has declined in that same five year period and the cost of mailing has increased. Remember the price of sending a first class envelope was 39 cents at the start of 2007.

So with a decline in service and increasing cost, would you stay with a vendor if there was a good alternative?

Donohoe asked the publishers in the room, how many pay their bills on line.

After he basically said he would not work with us on keeping 6-day service or allowing mailbox  use for other carriers if delivery service were discontinued on Saturday, more than one publisher in the room began talking about using an alternate to first class mail for invoices and checks.