“Meanderings” by Jim Peters

Frequent contributor Jim Peters shared some thoughts with us over the weekend:

I have been reading a bit of Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, and I really enjoy reading a poem he dedicated to a louse on a lady’s bonnet at church. He uses most of the poem to describe how awful it is to see a louse having the audacity to appear on a lady’s bonnet at church but he ends with:

“Oh, would the Lord the gift he give me,
to see ourselves as others see me.”

I do not want to spend too much time describing how I believe people see me, because I really have no idea, nor do I particularly care. I am a little too old, like that proverbial dog, to learn new tricks. So I blunder through my day, but sometimes, I must admit, I do think of how others see me. And I do not fare well. I would fare better if I recognized my failings and tried to correct them. Maybe I will try that for awhile.

I caught up with School Committeeman Dave Conway, one of my Floormasters when I was teaching, and I told him that I was hopeful that they would hire a local person as Superintendent. Now, that may seem strange since I am here in Lowell because the 1969 School Committee went to Harvey, Illinois and brought my father here to follow a local man who was Superintendent for thirty some years. I just reached the conclusion that we need someone with an extensive background in Lowell. Someone who already knows and loves the city. Preferably, someone who could jump into the job without a lot of background in city politics. I believe that we got that person in Dr. Franco. I am very pleased with the School Committee’s choice.

I find, and there may be those who disagree, that Patrick Murphy as well as Frankie Descotaux (I never know if I spell that name correctly), and Joe Mendonca, are real credits to the City Council. They are not afraid to sponsor motions that run against the grain on occasion. They make it in the paper because of their originality. They are people with real lives and real stresses, it seems, and they do a good job.

It is so gratifying to see Kendall Wallace write that 95% of the old mill buildings in Lowell will be used by various businesses and for various uses. A couple of years ago I asked former Governor Michael Dukakis to come here and speak on that exact issue. The idea was to hold the press conference on Central Street but it was raining torrents that day and we had a small crowd gathered at the Suffolk Mills instead. Believe me, it is tough trying to make any group using the Suffolk Mills fill the space. But Mr. Dukakis had a good turnout and he spoke very eloquently on the need to save those mill buildings from the wrecking ball.

I must admit that I stopped the Lowell “Sun” because they did not endorse my sister-in-law for Congress. I would still keep up on Lowell news, just not through the “Sun” for a couple of months. I restarted my subscription recently, and now I do not know how I did without it for such a long time. I do not usually agree with its editorial page but it certainly gives the city decent coverage for its many activities and accomplishments. I cannot wait for the coverage of the Folk Festival.

I found out, through perusing my book, written in the 1800’s, on the city, that in the 1800’s over 80% of the people who cared to identify their religion (it was kind of unusual to identify your religion then), were devout Methodists. If you get a chance to visit the resource book center at the Library, spend an enjoyable afternoon reading “History of Lowell.” It is a large book, but it has everything in it.

Well, my meanderings come back to earth. I have to determine the best way to pay college tuition costs, clean up the yard – which is an everlasting task, and pay the bills. I have no idea how people make it today, but we seem to be a nation of optimists.

I personally believe that unions have to become more involved in helping to keep health care costs down and I believe, that, had I been in the State Legislature for that vote, I would have voted with the majority. That would not make me very popular with the unions, but, then again, I probably never have been especially since I came out against a potential teacher’s strike on the basis of its legality many years ago. Life goes on.