Two Moving Experiences
To all of my Friends in the Ward 8 community and beyond -
Today, I had two moving experiences this very morning which I thought I would share with you after thinking about it.
The First, I attended the Funeral service for a dear friend and community activist and supporter, Dolores “Dee De” Grace. Father John Kumse, Pastor of St Mary’s Church, gave a moving and inspiring eulogy to a great lady. He spoke about the fact that Dee De was involved in everything from the local churches, the Collinwood Homeowner’s & Tenants Association, the Ward Club, Collinwood Slovenian Home and virtually everywhere else in the community. We all know she loved to gamble as well. Fr Marty Polito, Pastor of Holy Redeemer, and another close friend of Dee De’s, who was one of the Celebrants, said to me that after Mass, “to lose someone like Dee De is a real blow to the community. Where are the others, especially the younger ones, to step up to the plate?” Dee De was 78 years young, lived on Holmes Avenue and would never leave the neighborhood; Collinwood was her home. She lived it everyday. Please keep her and her family in your prayers.
The second experience was even more moving. After Dee De’s service I went to inspect a property on East 185th Street and I drove down the street and there on the corner of Muskoka and East 185th Street, at the former Horseshoe Bar property , there was an elderly man with a broom, a shovel and a wheelbarrow. He was cleaning out the tree well and sweeping the sidewalk. I walked into Lucky’s Restaurant, across the street, and asked Barry, the owner, “who is that guy?” Barry said, “that is Stan and he’s been sweeping the street and picking up litter for a while now.” Barry invited him in to the Restaurant to get warm. I told Barry that I wanted to buy him lunch and then sat down with him when he finished his bowl of soup. Stan told me his story. He was born December 25, 1925 and will be 91 this Christmas. He lives on Muskoka and used to build homes in the neighborhood in the day. He doesn’t like litter and dirt on his street or in his neighborhood and that is why he started to clean up East 185th Street. Think about that my brothers and sisters for a moment; 91 and cleaning the street! Talk about dedication and public service to one’s neighborhood!
I sat there and asked myself - who is going to replace Dee De and who is going to pick up after Stan? His full name, by the way, is Stanley Ferkul. I hope as we approach the Holidays and the end of the year we think about our neighborhood – more than ever before – who helped to build it – and who maintains it. This last Presidential Election showed – more than ever before – the division we have in our country. Yet, the majority of people are good, and regardless of their race, nationality, religion or economic means, they work in their very own way everyday to make our neighborhood and our country a better place.
Let’s go into 2017 with a more inclusive approach of working together and making our community the best it can be. One thing is clear, Washington does not make the man or woman. It is up to each of us to stand up and make our community the best it can be. Thank you
Dee De, who I will miss greatly and Stan, for doing your part to make your piece of the world a better place.
I hope everyone had a Blessed Thanksgiving.
Michael D. Polensek
Resident of neighborhood since 1956. Worked on East 185th street since 1970.