Mary Holbrow

Cambridge MA
I'm a retired journalist, mother of 5, grandmother, birdwatcher, garden lover. I live in Cambridgeport, work as a free-lance editor.
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August 26, 2014 - 3:54pm Last week the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square presented the Greater Boston premiere of “Rich Hill,” a film about the lives of three boys living in poverty in Rich Hill, Missouri. The showing was sponsored by Full Frame Initiative, Inc. (FFI), a Greenfield-based non-profit that seeks ways to break cycles of poverty and violence through cooperative efforts that encourage systems change. FFI partners with a number of local and area organizations, several of which were introduced in a panel presentation after the screening. (Photo, above, l. to r.: FFI Board Chair Erin Miller, Ann Wilkinson, Yoyo Yau, Charyti Reiter, and FFI panel moderator Anna Melbin, who is holding up a white paper. Next to her on the right are Lorena Norwood, Carrie Coughlin, and Laura Van Zandt. Participants' organizations are listed below.) The movie was directed by a pair of cousins, Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, whose stark but affectionate view of the town of Rich Hill reflects their family ties there. "Rich Hill" won the Grand Jury Prize in the documentary category at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. "Rich Hill" focuses on three youths – Andrew, Appachey (right), and Harley – whose... read more
August 11, 2014 - 11:17pm “We lost a lot of Cambridge history August 4.” That note from community activist Heather Hoffman appeared last week in the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association newsletter. It signaled the deaths of two noted twentieth century local politicians, Cambridge Mayor Emeritus Walter J. Sullivan, born March 2, 1923, and former Massachusetts State Representative Peter A. Vellucci, born March 13, 1942. Both lived here and died on August 4. (Photo: long line waiting outside Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility, where Mayor Sullivan lay in state.) The news over the next few days was filled with tributes saying they were legendary figures but giving little history, perhaps assuming that readers already knew all about it. Both were dynastic figures as well as grand old men in their own right, so the obits come close to being lists of who’s who in area politics. Mayor Emeritus Walter J. Sullivan An interesting feature of Mayor Sullivan’s obituary was the announcement that the lying-in-state would take place at a municipal building named for him: the Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility at Fresh Pond. The splendid mosaic floor of the building, created by local artists,... read more
August 3, 2014 - 10:30pm What do the three people in olive green T-shirts see up there in the branches? They’re looking at the young tree intently and comparing it to a similar one on the other side of Allston Street. One of the two men holds a steel tape measure up against the trunk, while the other checks a notebook. The woman is taking down data on a clipboard. There’s one good way to find out what they’re doing: ask. “We’re from Earthwatch.org, and we’re collecting some data on the trees in Cambridge,” says Rob Elkind (at left in lead photo above), the man with the measuring tape. “According to the city map, this one is a ‘Bradford’ Callery pear,” says Kathie Kelly (center) as she jots down a note on her chart. “The city arborist will compare our measurements with the ones they’ve taken before,” explains Dustin Colson (right). He is carrying a loose-leaf notebook with photos and information about Cambridge’s trees. “It’s a way to tell how the trees are doing.” The Callery pear they are looking at has fruit at this time of year, but it’s up high. The tree across the street is the same variety, and the fruit is lower down where it can be inspected. The fruits of the two trees will stay small... read more
July 11, 2014 - 10:19am Marcos Colono “will never walk a step or take a breath in freedom again.” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley made that announcement yesterday following sentencing of Mr. Colono, who was tried June 27 in Suffolk County Superior Court on charges stemming from a 2008 break-in and assault of two women in Allston. Yesterday's procedure included testimony by victims on how the crime has affected them. The report comes via a release (below) from Suffolk County DA Press Secretary Jake Wark. Mr. Colono grew up in Cambridgeport and went to local public schools, reportedly dropping out of Cambridge Rindge and Latin before graduating. He was convicted last year in Middlesex County of a 2010 break-in and assault at 220 Pearl Street (left) in Cambridgeport. Sentences in that case amounted to 74-85 years. With yesterday’s addition, the sentences now add up to well over a lifetime, as noted by DA Conley. The arithmetic: ● Previous sentence in the Cambridgeport case: 74-85 years ● Yesterday’s additional sentences on the Allston charges:       • two consecutive terms of 25 - 30 years for the assaults on the two victims (only this one counts in the new total).       • a... read more
July 6, 2014 - 10:25am Our idea of crime has changed dramatically in the last few centuries. Recently I’ve reported on a gory case that took place across the street from me in Cambridge in 2010 – home invasion, sexual assault of a child, attempted murder. Crimes have changed. In the 17th century, just six years after Cambridge was founded, it was the scene of a sensational sex crime trial. This crime consisted of having men and women meet together – sometimes in the same room! – for religious discussions that allegedly contradicted beliefs sanctioned by the church. Even worse – or easier to prove, at any rate – was the fact that the leader of some of the discussions was a woman, Anne Hutchinson, who talked back when she was reproved by the men in authority. Those events are viewed from quite a different perspective today. Morally, of course, our ideas have changed. Practically speaking, the trial is seen as an important factor in the decision by the colonial government to make this the location for Harvard College. That decision created the first major local industry and put Cambridge on the path to becoming the center of higher education that it is today. Back story: Cambridge begins as... read more
July 2, 2014 - 4:12pm A benefit party for the Magazine Beach State Park Sunday night, June 27, drew about 100 guests to the Riverside Boat Club on Memorial Drive. In addition to refreshments and socializing, the program included remarks by those who took part in efforts, led by the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association (CNA), to revitalize the 15-acre park and restore its central architectural feature, the historic powder magazine. The 1818 granite structure was originally built to store gunpowder. At the end of the 19th century the building was converted to a bathhouse, later becoming a utility garage for the parks department. In recent years it deteriorated and became a target for vandalism; restoration efforts are expected to begin soon. Anthony Petruccelli (lead photo, above right), Massachusetts state senator for the First Suffolk and Middlesex districts, and State Representative Jay Livingstone jointly sponsored Massachusetts Bill S.1966, permitting the publicly-owned structure to be leased. The measure makes it possible to proceed with stabilization, restoration, and longer-term commercial ventures to provide income and facilitate upkeep. CNA Board President Bill August (right)... read more
June 25, 2014 - 7:12pm Marcos Colono, 36, of Cambridge, was found guilty today in Suffolk County Superior Court on charges stemming from a 2008 Allston case of aggravated rape, assault with a dangerous weapon, home invasion, and armed burglary. DNA evidence from a 2010 break-in at a Pearl Street apartment here in Cambridgeport (photo, right) had linked him to the Allston case. Sentencing will be July 10, according to a press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney's office (see below). Mr. Colono is currently serving sentences totaling 74 to 85 years in the Cambridge case, tried in Middlesex County last year. Press Release from Suffolk County DA Press Secretary Jake Wark “Vicious” Serial Rapist Guilty on All Counts BOSTON, June 25, 2014—A Cambridge man has been found guilty on all charges following his trial for raping two women during a 2008 home invasion in Allston, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced. A Suffolk Superior Court jury deliberated for one day before finding MARCOS COLONO (D.O.B. 11/21/77) guilty of four counts of aggravated rape, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and single counts of home invasion and armed burglary. "This vicious attack... read more
June 20, 2014 - 5:23pm A Boston Herald article by columnist Jessica Heslam reports on yesterday's start-up of the trial of Marcos Colono in Suffolk County Superior Court. Mr. Colono was convicted last year in Middlesex County of a 2010 Cambridgeport break-in and assault; the current trial is on charges in connection with a break-in and rape of two women in Allston back in 2008. According to the Herald account, Mr. Colono is representing himself and cross-examining in detail the two women who were the victims in the Allston case. He continues to maintain that he is innocent of the charges. He also repeats his claim that he was wrongfully convicted of the Pearl Street charges and states that he was himself attacked on that occasion. (Photo, left: 220 Pearl Street, scene of the 2010 break-in.) The Suffolk County trial was originally set to begin Wednesday, but according to an account yesterday by Evan Allen of the Boston Globe, the procedure was delayed because Colono said he had not had time to prepare his case. Assistant District Attorney Holly Broadbent called his refusal to come to court as originally scheduled “an intentional delay,” and Judge Janet Sanders said the trial would continue whether he... read more
June 18, 2014 - 10:15am The trial of Marcos Colono on charges relating to a 2008 home invasion in Allston was scheduled to open at 10 a.m. today in Suffolk Superior Court, but it has been postponed until tomorrow morning, June 19, according to Jake Wark, Press Secretary to Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. Mr. Colono is charged with four counts of aggravated rape and other offenses for allegedly assaulting two women in their Allston apartment, according to the information from Mr. Wark. Cambridge readers will recall that Colono has been in custody since 2010, when he was arrested on charges of home invasion, assault and rape following a break-in at 220 Pearl Street (photo, right) in August of that year. The Pearl Street event was described by then-Middlesex DA Gerald Leone as a “random crime of extreme violence," and the neighborhood was under intense police and media surveillance. Last year Mr. Colono was found guilty of those charges in Middlesex County Superior Court, and has since been awaiting trial in Suffolk County on the 2008 charges. DNA evidence from the Pearl Street scene provided a key link to the Allston break-in – the subject of Mr. Colono's current Suffolk County... read more
June 10, 2014 - 10:11pm Peter Valentine’s painted wooden fence at the corner of Brookline and Franklin is titled “Cosmic Moose and Grizzly Bear’s Ville.” Walking past it is a new experience every time – it can be a meditation session or a call to political action, a martial arts exercise, maybe a fairy tale, an aesthetic hit, a word game, or something else altogether. It all depends on your point of view. (Lead photo, above, shows Valentine on his front porch. The slide show below has views of the fence.) The fence was a feature of Cambridge’s Central Square River Festival on Saturday, June 7, and visitors could discuss it in person with its creator. Valentine avoids interviews in general, but for this occasion he sat on his front steps and welcomed visitors. He was cheerful and communicative, and also deeply serious. “I have three words that are important:   ‘Information.’ ‘And.’ ‘Relentlessness.’” he said. “We must have accurate facts on which to base our ideas, and we must always – always, no exceptions – base our actions on that information.” The fence is his way of helping people to find out what he feels they need to know. He described it this way for the printed River Fest program: “… a... read more

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