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The Mayor of North Chandler Street...

Pearl Ginsburg, Mayor of North Chandler St.

August 28, 2018, 7:30pm:

Walking Pearl on this beautifully hot and humid late summer evening, neither of us in any hurry, just enjoying the laid-back August swelter while we can. We’re walking home after strolling through the manicured campus of Worcester State, a smattering of students relaxing in Adirondack chairs along with small groups of elderly people scattered about, laughing and talking in their native languages. Worcester is a city of immigrants after all, and the neighborhood is infused with folks from Eastern and Central Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Up ahead is a multi-generational family, Mom & Dad, grandparents, a little boy about 5 years old and an infant in a stroller pushed by Mom. The boy is playing tag with his father, all smiles and happy giggles. We soon catch up with them, the little boy pointing at Pearl excitedly, telling his father to “look at the doggie!” The father smiles as I ask the little boy if he’d like to pet her. The father says, in an accent I guess to be Albanian, that the boy is afraid of dogs, and begins petting her himself. Pearl immediately lays on the sidewalk, her go-to gesture whenever she’s getting attention outdoors in the heat. The boy, tentative yet summoning all of his five-year-old bravery, grabs the cuff of my shorts with his left and leans down, ever so gingerly, to run his finger along Pearl’s back. Pearl, hoping for a belly rub, starts to stretch out fully. The boy pets her softly one more time and then runs up ahead to the rest of the family. Dad says “thank you,” and catches up with them.

A minute later, the boy turns around, holding his mom’s hand, and tells her “the doggie’s name is Pearl and she’s very nice!” We catch up to them again. Pearl stops as the whole family, grandparents included, take turns stroking her head and scratching behind her ears. The grandfather doesn’t seem to speak any English, yet his broad smile and kind demeanor are enough to communicate his happiness. Mom says “he’s so afraid of dogs! This first one he touched in two years!” Not missing a beat, the kid says “but I’m not afraid of this one!”

It was one of those small, sweet moments that make the day better. We’re so bombarded with ugliness from the media, from social media, from one another. Yet there is still so much we share, so much we as individuals have in common, even so briefly as this.

I hope that little boy gets a dog of his own soon.

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