She Buried Him Under the Woodpile

  The call from the upper Midwest came in around 4:00 pm.  “Does anyone there know a gentleman named John?”  Oh, did we ever! “John” grew up in Charlestown.  I don’t have to add “Mass,” do I?  Charlestown doesn’t need a publicist, although Dennis Lehane has helped its notoriety with novels like Mystic River.  John […]

Crazy Depends on Who’s Lookin’ and for How Long

(The author wishes to note at the onset of this little piece that it may appear to some that I am making fun of people who are challenged by gender identity issues and society’s response to them.  Many of these same people clearly suffer with emotional pain and, in some cases, mental illness, frequently resulting […]

How Bad is it, Really?

The morning news was playing on the shelter’s Day Room television when I arrived at work at 7:45.  I got organized in my office and then went back into the bigger room to connect with overnight staff and observe the general scene.  I watched as “Eddy” took in the news and then grabbed his backpack […]

Zen and the Art of Homeless Shelter Maintenance

And so it happened that the 1974 classic by Robert Pirsig was sitting right there on the library shelf, the green and black binding catching my eye when I didn’t know I was looking for it.  But that’s how some of the most striking moments in life happen, isn’t it?  It took me three weeks’ […]

Throw the Bums Out!

It took me more than 65 years to bother to check out some reference to the phrase “red herring” (in other words, I just now looked).  One source cited the possible practice of using a kipper (smoked fish) to try to divert hounds from staying on the trail of a rabbit.  My own history with […]

Where Have You Gone?

Where Have You Gone, Joe Dimaggio? (Credit for and apologies to Simon and Garfunkel) Where have you gone, Devon Dominar?  We hope you’re safe, wherever you are. Imagine growing up having to come to terms with the facts that you have a major mental illness called schizophrenia and finding out that your parents adopted you.  […]

A Privilege of Class

I happened to read two different obituary notices recently that got me thinking about the Shelter and people experiencing homelessness. Richard Spinney (Dick, to us) spent some years with us on Main Street as a volunteer.  With a sense of humor drier than a martini, Dick came up with stuff that was distinct and all […]