Tom Kelley: Faithful "domestic" to Miss Emily, and her lead pallbearer
Growing up on Crow Hill in Amherst in a single parent Irish Catholic household a couple generations ago, St Patrick's Day was more than a spring milestone--and much more than simply a day to wear green, or an excuse to consume beer for breakfast.
It was the only time I ever remember my mother hosting a formal party for friends, family and neighbors, and one of the few times the Kelley household looked more than presentable for an entire day and night.
My mother always accented the positive traits of being Irish: loyalty, gifted storytelling, determination, hard working, although stubborn was a trait that could go either way. One of my favorite sayings I heard often enough was "get their Irish up," meaning to anger.
So I've always tried to use St Patrick's Day positively. In 1991, over a ten consecutive year date with Mt Washington for the grueling bike race in late August, St Patty's Day commenced the first formal day of road training. Over the following five months, and thousands of miles logged, I could count on one hand the days missed being in the saddle.
Five years ago today (2007) I started this blog to reestablish my voice. I had lost a bet with an online Anon commenter on Masslive Amherst Forums (2004) about whether Amherst Regional High School, after the monumental national pounding they were taking for scheduling a performance of "The Vagina Monologues," would actually happen (it did).
I also resigned my monthly column after 14 years with the Amherst Bulletin because Editor in Chief Jim Foudy censored me from writing a follow up column (the first had sparked an international debate) on that same shameful incident.
Since founding, I have shed light on the truth--especially in places where powerful forces wished it stay hidden, given voice to the voiceless--when they spoke the truth, broken countless stories, and led the charge on a dozen important crusades.
A 19th century journalist using 21st century technology.
You may have noticed the sudden appearance of advertising last week. Although my traffic reached a point of commercial viability years ago, I held off selling ads because I did not want to deal with the natural conflict of interest that oftentimes hamstrings newspapers--especially now with print ads down dramatically.
Do you hold back investigating/reporting a story because it shines negative light on one of your few remaining advertisers?
For instance, I'm tempted now to make a snide remark about Gazette reporter Scott Merzbach grilling Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tony Maroulis to elicit negative feedback about McMurphy's and Stacker's embarrassing "Blarney Blowout" bar promotion last Saturday. But, Tony's an advertiser (who, hopefully, has a sense of humor).
Last year, this special holiday marked my most important milestone of all: giving up alcohol.
The painfully slow demise of my health fitness business combined with painful arthritic degeneration of my joints combined to overwhelm my fine tuned sense of control.
I thought I could not live without my business or being able to kick people in the head on an almost daily basis. Soon enough, I thought I could not live without consuming 10 beers a day. Now I live without both.
Because I came to realize the ultimate truth: I can't live without my family.