On International Women’s Day, nearly four hundred women, men and children gathered to “Embrace Equity and Celebrate 50 Years of the Local Women’s Movement.” 

The event was held at New Bedford’s First Unitarian Church on March 8, created and hosted by the Women’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts. It was a collaboration of thrilling proportions and brought together the diversity of people living in our area!

We heard the passionate and powerful voices of speakers, spoken words from young students and notable poets, as well as vocalists all relating to the issues facing women and families throughout history and what’s happening around us now.

What made this gathering an event to be covered by our local media was the importance of people celebrating the history of struggle and achievements over the past 50 years as well as the issues facing us now.

The polarization of political beliefs in our local communities have contributed to divisions and the inability to address the larger issues in an objective way. Attempts to remove books from local school libraries relating to racial minorities and LGBTQ+ residents are representative of the need for us to stop and remember lessons from our own histories and struggles. 

We have come to understand that the unity of people from different backgrounds have always helped to move issues forward. The strength of our unity has improved working conditions and neighborhoods throughout our city and region.

Surely, we all know that the only people who are not descendants of immigrants are the Wampanoag people. What will it take to stop the intentional demonization of certain groups of people, based on skin color, language, sexual orientation, religion or gender identity in order to advance the political agendas of some who do not value the contributions that our diversity has brought to our communities?

As one of the many organizers of International Women’s Day 2023, I implore all to stop and think about the impact the despicable memes, jokes and racist words have on the younger people growing up in our area. We have seen that hateful words lead to violence throughout our country. 

Embracing equity for all, no matter who we are, has advanced our communities in many ways. It’s time to stop the divisiveness and get back to dealing with the issues that we are all facing, for those who cannot learn from history are condemned to relive it. 

We need to move forward together to strengthen our communities for the future generations.

— Liz DiCarlo is a Mattapoisett resident.

Readers react to Chamber letter, issue of ballot questions

I disagree with Rick Kidder, chief operating officer for One SouthCoast Chamber. The term for mayor should be only two years, not four years. This mayor has been in office long enough. Because of him, city workers are leaving New Bedford going to other cities and towns (example: New Bedford police officers). Folks taking the entrance exams for police and who are residents of New Bedford are choosing other cities and towns should they pass the exam. Two-year term for mayor, not a four-year term! Seems like Rick Kidder should be replaced.

— Ronald Cabral

Hooray for Mr. Kidder and the Chamber of Commerce. Let their voices be heard, as what they are saying is very true. The City Council needs to realize what their job is and step back. 

— Melissa Medeiros

FYI, Jack Spillane and the rest of the progressives, aka, liberal socialists. The health insurance and pensions that city employees receive is part of their compensation package and can’t/won’t be swapped out … and their pensions can’t and shouldn’t be replaced either. They shouldn’t be the scapegoats for the underfunded pensions you mentioned, and they shouldn’t have to pay for rising healthcare costs by giving up a good plan that they pay more than fair premiums for.

— Jay Nichols

Memories of his youth: When cowboy Ken Maynard came to town

Growing up in New Bedford, I lived in a three-decker on Mitchell Street. It  had 10 houses, and ran between Coggeshall and Sawyer Streets. On the other side of Coggeshall Street was the Bristol Mill Lot, a very large field that stretched down to the river. There we played baseball. 

When I was about 14, an eight-foot fence went up enclosing a large part of that field. Then a sign went up: Cawley Memorial Stadium. I did not know who Cawley was but he now had a stadium to memorialize him. 

That stadium was simply a fenced-in field with bleachers at one end to hold the crowds. To the stadium came all sorts of excitement: baseball games with barnstorming major leaguers, wrestling and boxing matches and motorcycle races. But most wonderful of all to my friend George and me was the coming of a rodeo featuring Ken Maynard.

Putting things in perspective, Ken Maynard meant little to us. We were brought up in a later time when our heroes were the singing cowboys. Gene Autry was my favorite and there was also Roy Rogers. The kids in the neighborhood took sides and argued over the merits of their favorites. There were also heated discussions comparing the merits of Superman and Captain Marvel.

The activities in the stadium could be seen from the flat roof of our three-decker tenement house, but we were not allowed to go up there, so when the rodeo arrived, George and I took our autograph book (just in case) and walked over to the Cawley. 

We went by the entrance, and quietly kept going around the fence to a spot where we could turn on our backs and slide under the eight-foot fence (we did not have the $1 admission fee). 

And then, we saw the rodeo: it was spectacular. There were cowboys and cowgirls and bull and bronco busting. And there was, of course, the star of the show: Ken Maynard doing acrobatic riding and trick shooting.

At the end of the star’s act, we saw him riding off to the back of the lot. George and I grabbed our autograph books and took off after him. We caught up with him just outside his trailer and we asked him for his autograph! He looked a little surprised; he also looked pleased. He apologized for being in a hurry, but he was going back out for the grand finale. He took our books and signed them. We had his autograph!

Researching Ken Maynard later revealed some startling facts: he was really somebody important in the 1920s and the 1930s. An acrobatic rider who did his own stunts, he made close to 100 films. He was also known as the first singing cowboy. My hero, Gene Autry was the second. 

I am not sure what happened to that autograph book; there were no other names in it, but George and I never forgot the rodeo and our meeting with Ken Maynard, the star of the rodeo.

James “J.W.” Beaudry grew up in New Bedford in the late 1930s and ’40s, graduated from New Bedford High in 1954 and has many memories of the area. He currently lives in Burlington.

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