Remember February 1978? The Big Storm?

I don't remember dates, and numbers. Phone numbers? Impossible. Addresses? Have to look them up. Batting statistics? Never. Even birthdays elude me.

But, I remember the first week of February, 1978. And not because it was my twelfth anniversary. I remember it because I was a visitor in Westfield, on my second visit as I recall. And the snow was over the top of the street signs. It was the Blizzard of the Year. Maybe century. Certainly, the decade.

It was the week I met a lot of people. Father Bob Anthony, then of Church of the Atonement. John Palczynski, still of Palczynski Insurance. Jimmy Rogers, then President of Woronoco Savings. Mary Marth at Travel Bureau of Westfield.

And Merrill Block, still selling coats, and John Gallo, still selling cars. Joe Flahive, still selling paint. Rita Devine, still selling furniture. Bob Watson, because I had my first meal in Westfield at the Hillbrook House. I can even tell you the coat I was wearing that week. And I can still wear it.

I remember some other things from that year, as well. It was the first year a young attorney named Steve Pierce first ran for the Legislature and won the seat I now hold. His opponent? None other than Jim Boardman, now from our community development office.

That was the year that Curt and I brought our children to Westfield, bought a home on Mill Street, and watched Cathy go off to South Middle and Chris off to Abner Gibbs. It was the year someone stole Chris' bike out of his trusting hands, the year the mailman told me I had to trim the bushes or he wouldn't deliver my mail. The year Curt's brother trimmed the towering hedges, and the year the same brother died.

I remember 1978 because there was not a single vacancy that summer on Elm Street among the downtown Westfield storefronts. And I can still name many of the businesses now gone, from Newbury's to Security Shoe, and a lot in between.

It was the year of the first Pancake Breakfast, and half of Elm Street was closed for the morning.

It was the year the St. Bernard ran away for the first time, and the YMCA called us to come and retrieve her. It was the year I sold my bright red Pinto. The year the city sewer backed up into the basement. And the year I found a mushroom growing in the bathroom carpeting.

And, it was the year that we bought a small, daytime, suburban radio station. WDEW, later WLDM, and still later WNNZ, which Curt and I owned and operated until a little more than a year ago. Through some good years, and some very lean years.

It was the first time a businessman ever told me he would not do business with a woman. He would only deal with the man who owned the business. I asked him to leave and told him I was the owner and he'd better take my advice. He did.

I've never regretted moving to Westfield. Oh, sometimes I've been embarrassed about some political squabbles, or minor issues. But, on the whole, Westfield, Massachusetts, is a very good place to live and raise children.

Often, when I'm speaking to groups, I take the opportunity to share my pride in our city.

Stanley Park, the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club and Children's Museum. The Woman's Club, Rotary, Kiwanis, and numerous veterans posts and citizens groups like Elks and the Masonic Lodge and Eastern Star.

At last count, more than 20 churches were listed in the Westfield Evening News, which this community is lucky to have. Not a lot of cities this size have their own, daily newspaper.

Our school system has improved dramatically over the past two decades, with new elementary schools and middle school built, and others renovated. And, we still have strong, viable parochial schools. And a state college!

We have a Red Cross chapter house, an active Salvation Army. And our Habitat for Humanity is building a house today. Our support services, like Westfield Area Mental Health, are active and adequate. The Center for Hope provides services for those with cancer.

We have one of the most active communities when it comes to youth sports, playgrounds, and recreation areas, soon to include a skateboard park and hockey arena. And we're starting to acquire land for open space.

It has a strong economic base, with city fathers scrambling to keep it that way, and a diverse economy. It has our own, independent Chamber of Commerce.

Our riverfront--and river itself--are now useable, and a bike path will soon be built through the city.

Westfield has its own hospital, Noble Hospital, and the state's Western Mass Hospital. We have a state Youth Detention Center, at least three country clubs and golf courses, and a Council on Aging.

And, our own Airport, home to the 104th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard and world famous Gulfstream.

I want you to know that I am sincerely proud of Westfield, and that I will continue to do my best to represent you in the Great and General Court. I want you to be proud of me, as well. And, let me know if I let you down.

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