Sina-cism: A bevy of beach options for bibliophiles

It’s the height of summer, and before the long days, beach retreats and campground sojourns pass us completely by, I am — as I did last summer — offering nine suggestions for your vacation reading. The first eight are books I’ve read between June and September in years gone by.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

It takes optimism to push reading.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual Time Use Survey, Americans in 2016 spent an average of about 17 minutes per day reading. On the brighter side, at least we’re still buying books. Nielsen BookScan reported in January that sales of print books rose 3.3 percent in 2016 over the previous year.

Check out: Last year’s summer reading list

My purpose isn’t to induce you to read eight books. If you read just one of the following, or even enjoy and derive value from one chapter or even a single page of any of these, my goal will have been met.

Last year I avoided being too serious, but I think 2017 demands seriousness. If you’re looking for light beach reading, I cannot help. If you want books to engage your political sensibilities, improve your mental health and make you think, read on.

Paris Cinema

Editorial: Take us to the movies, developers

We’ll always have Paris? Not in Worcester, we won’t.

The old Paris Cinema saw the end credits roll 11 years ago, and now the building itself has bowed out of downtown. Demolition crews arrived on Franklin Street last week to make way for a beer garden on that spot.

One thing that hasn’t changed: There’s still no full-time movie theater downtown.

The Brew Garden will be a huge plus, bringing diners and other diversion-seekers to an airy, attractive space. But the Paris Cinema — and Showcase Cinemas (which closed 19 years ago), the Bijou Cinema (13 years gone), and predecessors — had the right idea in their heydays.

The daughter also rises: 50 years of family at Foley & Son Fish and Chips

Back in 1967, the original Foleys – Evelyn and Eugene – thought it was a pretty sure bet that one of their five sons would want to be part of their new business. So they hung a sign above their shop at the corner of Franklin and Plantation streets that read Foley & Son Fish and Chips.

Fifty years later the shop and the sign are still there, but it’s their youngest and their only daughter, Patti J. Foley, with assistance from a few others each week, who is running the show – balancing the books, cutting the fish and sweating by the fryolators.

“When my mom opened it in 1967, she also sold grinders and pizza in addition to fish and chips. But the combination never really took off. So she decided to do only fish and chips,” Foley said. “This was her part-time job when we were all growing up.”

Art Simas / For Worcester Sun

The original sign still hangs above 274 Plantation St.

Years ago, there were several fish-and-chip restaurants in Worcester, including Robert’s Fish and Chips, named after Robert J. Sutherland, who was also known as the King of Fish and Chips in Worcester.

More Worcester Sun:

Foley said, “My mother and he were best friends and he had about eight restaurants on one time, all named after members of his family. My mom ran his Belmont Street store for years before she landed at the Plantation Street location here. And the rest is history.”

Worcester Weekly: Canal District Wagon Tours, Bravehearts + more, July 9-15

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Sunday, July 9 — Meet the Authors: “Massachusetts Calling” anthology, 1-3 p.m., Annie’s Book Stop, 65 James St.  The Sutton Writing Group is no joke. Many of its members are published authors, including coordinator Lisa Shea, who has published more than 300 novels, novellas, short stories and other works. Shea was the editor of “Massachusetts Calling,” which brings together 15 local writers to share their unique and varied perspectives through poetry, essays, histories, even recipes.

At Annie’s, Shea is expected to be joined by S.M. Nevermore (author of “A Demon’s Game”), Kevin Saleeba (a former Milford Daily News reporter) and Christine Beauchaine (“Lost and Found at the Bowl-O-Drome”). Free and open to the public. All proceeds from sales of “Massachusetts Calling” benefit local shelters and food pantries.

Sina-cism: A Millbury soldier’s odyssey in the Great War

But did 19-year-old William Higginson really choose the Union Jack, or was he drawn to enlist by youthful ardor, visions of glory, and a simple desire to participate in a drama unlike any the world had ever known?
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

For families across our nation, the spring of 1919 was a time for homecomings. Imperial Germany had been defeated the previous November. With the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June, the “war to end all wars” would finally be over.

From the wastelands of a devastated France, millions who had served with the American Expeditionary Forces and survived washed away the mud and fatigue, bound up their wounds as best they could, and prepared to resume the interrupted lives of an interrupted generation.

On May 30, Millbury held the largest Memorial Day service the town had ever seen, honoring her returning soldiers and the six men then known to have perished — George Devoe, Edward N. Blanchard and Donald McCaskill, all of whom had been killed in action in France; and Warren T. Harris, Charles F. Minney and Charles H. Demers, who perished from disease.

A month after those observances, on the very day the Treaty of Versailles was signed, a seventh name was added to the list of the fallen when Charles Higginson of West Main Street received letters informing him of the details of his brother William’s death from cholera.

Last week’s Sina-cism: The right slant on the First Amendment

Worcester Weekly: Cars of Summer, WikiLeaks vigil + more, July 2-8

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too. 

Sunday, July 2 — Cars of Summer Car Show, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Green Hill Park, 50 Skyline Drive  Well, since it’s summer in New England and there’s road work in progress on every possible route GPS can imagine for you, might as well recalculate yourself to Green Hill Park for a chance to get bumper to bumper with scores of cars you actually want to look at. Last year’s Best in Show was a 1955 Nash Ambassador, but there will be dozens of roadsters, pickups, muscle cars, hot rods and specialty vehicles to suit any enthusiast’s taste.

Worcester Weekly: Fireworks at East Park, new WAM exhibit + more, June 25-July 1

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Ongoing — “Reusable Universes:” Shih Chieh Huang, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St.  While Stephen Hawking keeps telling everyone humans need to find an Earth 2.0 — and fast (well, relatively) — Shih Chieh Huang and WAM are content right where they are, exploring the possibilities of transforming modern technology into thought-provoking, awe-inspiring art.

“ ‘Reusable Universes’ resonates with the spirit of innovation and curiosity that continues to ground Worcester today. Huang’s art also will provoke the viewer to consider society’s rapidly changing relationship with technology.” The exhibit runs through Nov. 12. Admission is $14; $12 for college students with ID and seniors; $6 for kids (free for members and kids under 3).

Sina-cism: Freud, Worcester and ‘The White Hotel’

While there is much historical information about Freud’s visit, fiction has a role, as author Tim O’Brien puts it, “… for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.”
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

There’s nothing like encountering a reference to Worcester in a novel or film. There’s that flash of recognition of the places, people and events the author is describing. It can be a way of discovering something new about one’s native place through the eyes of an outsider.

The 2013 crime drama “American Hustle” offered that, with its scenes outside Union Station, inside the Worcester Art Museum and along Millbury Street.

Another work that references Worcester — less well known, perhaps, but of greater importance — is “The White Hotel,” a 1981 novel by D.M. Thomas. It begins with a series of fictitious letters, the first by Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi, who accompanied Sigmund Freud on his 1909 visit to the United States and attended his colleague’s lectures at Clark University.

The letter is headed “Standish Hotel, Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.A. 8 September 1909,” and is addressed to Ferenczi’s wife. He tells her how “Brill and Hall are excellent fellows, and everyone at Clark University has overwhelmed us with kindness and compliments. Freud astonished even me with his masterly skill, by delivering five lectures without any notes …”

For insight into Freud’s 1909 visit, this is a promising start.

Cosmopolitan Club endures ever-changing landscape

While not much has stayed the same on Grafton Hill over the last 80 years or so, there’s always been one surefire place you could go to meet a friend — maybe even your future spouse — have a beer and a laugh, and let all those changes wash away for an hour or two.