My Personal Invitation to You

 

kent county times pic of st mary'scolleen and john--may procession--croppedMy stories are ones that will echo your own memories—all the more if you were raised in a milltown in Rhode Island. If you weren’t one of those fortunate ones (I say with a wink), perhaps my stories will reflect your experiences of being raised in the 40’s through early 60’s.

This past Saturday, I began being featured in my hometown newspaper, the Kent County Daily Times. I’m happy to report (through others who have told me): It’s had blockbuster sales. Am I being arrogant? Not at all…I’m just thrilled that little ol’ West Warwick will be getting some long-overdue positive press.

I intend to provide that.

So, I start the journey through my childhood…the memories of many of us…and I invite you to join (sign up on this website in upper right hand corner.)

If you’re younger, you just might want to understand your roots…which are deep and impressive.

So, here are the articles appearing in Kent County Daily Times:

April 30, 2016—“Walking Back Into Childhood” series…first article:  “Memories come flooding back…” (already on stands but sales have been robust.)

May 8th. “Poles Were ‘Fancy People’ “

May 15th. “The Principal’s Daughter”

P.S.  At the same time, I will continue as monthly commentator in the Providence Journal Op-Ed pages and I will be appearing in many venues as guest-speaker (I’ll put that schedule out, too, as it firms up.)

Busy times ahead and I am loving it, for I have heard from many of you who appreciate my efforts.

Thank you so very much….

Colleen Kelly Mellor

ckmellor@cox.net

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Father Augustus Burns

st. mary with mary statueIn the 50‘s and 60’s, parish priests held powerful sway.

And none was more powerful than St. Mary’s Pastor—Father Augustus Burns.

Rotund and rubicund, with a bulbous nose, Father took to the pulpit, each Sunday, to pound the lectern, enjoining parishioners to ‘give more’ to the church, suggesting their souls might be at risk.

Unconcerned about my soul, I worried about his health, as I awaited the coronary I was sure would come.

Church-goers quipped others needn’t bother going  to church…

For our Pastor’s voice would go to them, as it thundered through the valley.

In a poor town, parish priests needed to fill the coffers any way they could.

PS…How many of you remember him? Care to share your story?(Some have already done so on the 3 West Warwick pages of Facebook, where I put this post, as well.)

From “In the Shadow of Princes

(a future book, about growing up in West Warwick, by author and Prov Journal commentator, Colleen Kelly Mellor)

P.P.S. Many comments are on the 3 FB pages “You’re probably from West Warwick if…” to which I added this post…Check them out and add your own. It’s been informative, indeed.

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The Sewers (Garment Makers)

Women at sewing machines “Ouch!” I’d hear as the needle hit their finger. It was the only human sound I heard from that section of the Oresman Bros. Christmas Factory, muffled as it was by the whirr of sewing machines.

The sewer stopped, bandaged up, and went on.

There was no more focused individuals in the mill than the sewers, women that worked at breakneck speed, sewing together the two halves of Christmas stockings, so they’d hold the goodies little ones had grown to expect.

Like Santa’s Elves, they worked all year for a one-day-celebration.

These women (for I’d never seen a man among them) sat in a big room, hunched over machines, with their zip—zip—zip—bursts of sewing, as they ran down one side of the cloth and up the other.  That’s when they occasionally ran over a finger, sewing skin to fabric.

They never took coffee…bathroom….or lunch breaks.

You see, they were on piece work.

Wedded to their instruments, they’d become “machines” in their own right.

P.S. What mill jobs fascinated you?

From “In the Shadow of Princes,” a book in production

By Colleen Kelly Mellor (colleenkellymellor.com and @ColleenMellor) #milltownrigirl

 

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West Warwick-ites—Please, Get Me Names….

Hello West Warwick-ites!              colleen stony knob cropped seriously

I am excited to take part in PBS’s “Our Town” segment, about our hometown—West Warwick. As a writer, I intend to shine a spotlight on exceptional people, sort of like CNN Heroes–those who have achieved in high profile careers, like judges?…movie stars?…entrepreneurs?..or people who’ve met incredible challenges in life. Or they’re just fantastic people who do our town proud. But I need your help.

Do you know of people from West Warwick who are exceptional? After all, little Rhody produced CNN Magic Map news commentator, John King and fellow foreign correspondent Christianne Amanpour, who both  graduated from URI but are nationally prominent. Are there any from our town who’ve gone on to significant fame?

Maybe, too, there’s a woman (or man) who raised 6 kids—alone—after a mate’s tragic  accident—6 kids who are now successful contributors to society. They’re heroes, too.

The point of my story? Our modest town produced greatness.

And I believe there’s a direct correlation between success and the way we were raised.

That serious work ethic taught us if we persevered, we would succeed.

I will interview the people you offer and write about them, but I need your help in identifying them. Please PM (private message) me with names, along with a way to contact them.

Our town deserves the recognition that PBS will give it, as we collectively work to show West Warwick’s uniqueness to a statewide and regional audience.

Thank you….

Colleen Kelly Mellor (West Warwick native, author, and monthly Prov Journal Op-Ed commentator whose article “Parent blames me for his failure” is in today’s–April 14– newspaper. It is available on-line, as well.) Below are my websites and my e-mail address.

ckmellor@cox.net

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Dance Night at West Warwick Jr. High

horgan elementary schoolWith Brylcream-slicked hair and Mom-pressed shirts, the boys stood against the auditorium wall, as if they were about to be shot by a firing squad.

In a metaphorical way, they were.

Soldiers each, they were about to embark on the most damnable mission of their young lives…crossing the wide oak floor, to ask one of us girls at the opposite wall to dance.

If a girl rejected some brave boy’s invitation (and many did,) the boy would have to slink back in retreat across that floor or risk a second “No,” from another.

No 12-14 year-old boy had that kind of intestinal fortitude.

Because of the format, Al Angelone‘s School of Dance Night at West Warwick Jr. High became a sort of Maginot Line for young men. It would ready them for life contests to come.

The year was 1956.

From “In the Shadow of Princes” (a book ‘in production’)

Subscribe above if you don’t want to miss release date….

@ColleenMellor #milltownrigirl

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“In Honor of Mill-Working Girls” by Colleen Kelly Mellor

I’m product of the mill                

As they are of me—Lowell_Mill_Worker

We’re interwoven,

Like cotton, wool, and lace

Spun by young women

Standing at looms

Long hours,                                                              

Regardless of their time of the month              Lowell girls

…migraines…

Or unrelenting pregnancies….

 

They’re ancestral sisters

Who believed themselves ‘ lucky’

To tend machines

That produced such fine material

For garments they could ne’er-afford

For people they’d never know.

 

Instead, they were grateful

For their almost-living wage.

 

If they wove fabric, I weave words…

 

From “In the Shadow of Princes” (in production)

****Please, sign on to follow me by subscribing above, on website, and by Twitter @ColleenMellor #milltownrigirl

 

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I Walked Back into My Childhood Today

I walked back in time, today, to confront my childhood. Specifically, I went to St Mary’s st. mary with mary statuechurch, on the hill, overlooking the valley (or at least parts of Crompton.) I was there at the invite of Fr. Doug (priests don’t use their last names anymore, in a presumed move to be more approachable.)

Or they’re in the Witness Protection Plan.

Anyway, I knocked on the door to the Rectory and it was then I realized: All through my youth, I’d never been inside this house.

The Rectory looks tired. Needs a paint job and it could use new carpeting since the current wall-to-wall has felt the footfall of parishioners for years…maybe decades.

It’s absorbed their sorrows… witnessed their pain.

I was there to find out what happened to THE MURAL that used to hang behind the altar….You know, the one I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, the painting many of us grew up with, as we sat in those church benches, responding to the cricket snappers of nuns who told us how to file in or out…when to sit…when to stand, before each of our major religious events from First Communion through Confirmation.

They’d snap the cricket sound (they held in their hands) and we obeyed.

And I thought about it:  There were no cricket sounds for Holy Matrimony (sacrament of “marriage.”)

Perhaps some of us should have had that.

From “In the Shadow of Princes” (a not-yet-released book, about Colleen Kelly Mellor’s childhood in that milltown.) @ColleenMellor #milltownrigirl https://www.facebook.com/ckmellor

***If you want to be notified when the book’s ready, add your email address in upper right hand of this website. I promise:  It won’t go anywhere else.

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Preface to “The Asheville Experiment”

Many of you will do what we did…search high and wide, for that retirement home. You’ll be driven by a concern your home state fails to deliver; taxes too high; results too low; weather’s tough; it’s better elsewhere.

This book is for all who consider a move (anywhere, actually–even in-state.) As a successful realtor, I share with you what you need be concerned about and will even tell you how to sell your property by yourself (thus saving thousands.) I will also tell you how to optimize purchase.

But it’s far more than a house buying/selling guide. I get into the unexpected medical crisis we faced and the steps I took as warrior/advocate. You may find yourself in similar situation at some point.

My book, however, bears my stamp as humorist.  As such, it’s filled with comical anecdotes, some of which I’ll offer–as snippets–in future posts. 

The following is the Preface to the book.

__________________________________________

asheville experiment coverasheville skyline“The Asheville Experiment” documents the many-year search of a couple for our retirement home, how we made our choice, and our assimilation into that community. As such, it is this author’s take on Asheville and surrounding regions, from the perspective of one who lived there 9 years.

But it’s often howlingly-funny.

I see Asheville through my lens as (1.) half of an active, older couple (2.) professional realtor (3.) resident of a new townhome community (4.) woman seeking friends in her new land (5.) spiritualist (6.) patient advocate in a medical crisis (7.) general observer (8.) humorist.

I see all in a kaleidoscope of color (hence the microscope and its lens) and offer my observations to help others in their quest to find their own Shangri-La.

Ironically, they may find their search ends in a most unusual place.

To insure you get announcements of publication date and future posts, please sign on to “Subscribe” in upper right hand corner.

 

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6,000 FB Post Reach…with 10,000 in Our Sights

(Pic is of lovely Database Manager Colleen McGuinn whom I met at a Hawaiian luau….Random meeting in life? I never think these things are ‘random.’)

colleen mcguinnYep, we’re on a roll, which is pretty darned sweet, helping other achieve recognition for the good work they do.

This week, I went to Warwick Vets and Pilgrim where I met with high school students who will vie for cartoon/caricaturist position, to accompany my monthly Op-Ed’s in the Prov Journal.

That visit was productive and they’re emailing their work to me, as I write.

Hopefully, you of the public will soon see what this teacher has always known:  Schools are great compendiums of talent…Raw talent, for sure, but these kids are impressive. I just don’t think they should have to be age 21 (or a graduate of some higher-ed school) to have their work taken seriously. So I work to change that…

And, with our recent story on our Grandpa and the Truck site, we generated 6000 “Post Reach” connections and that’s thrilling.  I have every reason to believe we’ll go on to 10,000 but I have no real understanding of Google’s algorythmns (Did I spell this right?) I just know:  People hunger for wonderful, soul-enriching stories.

Finally, this AM, I was asked to speak at at Sacred Exchange Fellowship church, 75 Division St., Warwick, joining my former student who is now Pastor– Mike Caparrelli (this is his pic, with wife Christine.) caporrelli, mike and Cjristine

The topic?  Mourning and periods of bereavement (with losses of all kinds) and how those very low points in one’s life can become fertile grounds for serious growth. It’s a topic I believe in strongly….

Life continues to amaze.

Now, hit the following link for the story that’s creating quite a stir on the worldwide web. We’re at 6,000 “Post Reach” views and I don’t know where it’s going from here. It’s about how Grandpa and the Truck (creators)…a hospital data manager…and a trucker family all came together at a critical juncture on life’s journey.

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Best in America–Again!

Asheville Makes the Cut Again!country bear jamboree outside greenlife grocery

It’s not surprising, for Paul and I chose it over a host of others and we spent years in the process, searching…searching…searching.

In fact, we traveled the entire eastern seaboard, checking out communities, most of which were dedicated to boating or golfing. Since we do neither, we eliminated those.

Oh, they were beautiful and offered seemingly endless amenities and they all had the quintessential guard shack to keep others out (as in ‘gated community,’) but we also knew that that same community could become insulated and homogeneous–not always good.

We were so concerned about coastal hurricanes, high taxes, and escalating insurance rates that we opted to go inland.

That brought us to the community of Asheville, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

For 9 years we lived there, from early January to June of each year, making friends, doing volunteer work (I taught at the downtown women’s jail and he ferried the blood supply to Charlotte.)

In the end, we left.

Our reasons are some you may never have considered…..

But ‘consider’ you should, for moving one’s life to another entire region is no easy process.

In my book, “The Asheville Experiment” I show how we made the decision (apparently it was a good one since Forbes agrees with our pick), how we assimilated into that new land, and what ultimately drove us back.

What else will you or others get from my book? Useful information for anyone moving anywhere (even in-state.)

It’ll also be an interesting read for there’s lots of humor in it, as well.

Here’s the link of 2015’s “Best Retirement Towns in America.”

If you “subscribe” to my website (upper right hand corner of this page,) you’ll know when the book is ready.

(In the pic above, Asheville minstrels entertain customers outside Greenlife grocery store, ‘singing for their supper.’)

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