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My old home town news (08/31/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

I like to keep up with doings in my old home town, Framingham, Massachusetts. It is home to Cushing Hospital, a WWII military hospital that was where the Framingham Heart Study was begun in 1948. The study began with 5,209 adult subjects from Framingham, and is now on its third generation of participants. It is from this study that much has come of what the medical community knows about the risks leading to cardiovascular disease — smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.

It claims as natives or notable people Roger Clemens, Ginger Fish of the Marilyn Manson band, Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, African American medical pioneer and his wife, Meta Warwick Fuller, an artist, and Christa McAuliffe, who went to the same high school as my sister, plus country singer Jo Dee Messina. And me, of course.

But Framingham was, when I was growing up, just a place to put all the Baby Boomers because there wasn’t enough room in Boston. It also employed many people at Dennison Manufacturing, which made things like stickers, labels, and the ever-popular crepe paper (!), and the General Motors Assembly plant. It is home to the first normal school in the country, Framingham State University (Winona State is the first normal school — teachers preparatory college — west of the Mississippi). My father taught and was an administrator at FSU. It was also home to the first shopping mall, Shoppers World. My old stomping grounds there is now called Little Brazil, and unless you know Portuguese, you won’t get very far.

But the town is one of those places you just can’t keep down. Just in the past couple of days, Framingham is back in the news as President Barack Obama’s half uncle, Onyango, got his picture on the front page of my hometown newspaper. Seems he was picked up for suspected drunk driving after he cut off a patrol car and almost caused an accident. They took him in and his blood alcohol tested .14.

Mr. O. Obama had been working at the liquor store that is kitty-corner from the house I grew up in. According to his boss, he was a good employee and paid taxes, since he had a Social Security number. But Framingham Police discovered Obama had a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer warrant because he had been previously ordered deported, as he was here illegally.

Apparently when the police asked if he’d like to call anyone after they arrested him, he said, “I think I will call the White House.” Can you imagine Michelle answering the phone late at night, and handing the phone to the president, “It’s for you Barack. Your crazy uncle got in trouble again.” Just when he thought the only trouble in the Northeast was Hurricane Irene.

Speaking of Irene, I called my sisters in Massachusetts, and all they got were sticks blowing out of trees. My brother lives in the Northeast Kingdom (yes, they really call it that) in Vermont. His house, which he built himself on forty acres of meadow carved out of the woods, is on high ground. But at the bottom of Cold Hill Road (aptly named), in order for him to get to town or to work, he passes over a small river, along which are built old houses. The one right on the corner fell into the river, swollen from the hurricane rains, and floated away.

So that’s what’s happening in my old home town and thereabouts. Exciting, huh?

Closer to Winona, Happy Birthday, John! 


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