Category Archives: From the Library – A Weekly Column

Magical Thinking: Food Fight! – by Charlotte Canelli

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte’s column in the June 30, 2016 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Fights within a family are nothing new. The world’s oldest literature records them (Cain and Abel), history chronicles them (Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth 1), and folklore embellishes them (the Hatfields and McCoys).

Massachusetts is not new to family troubles, either. In-laws in the Porter and Putnam families tussled in Salem during the 1600s and some of that acrimony fed the Witch Trials. The Friendly’s brothers fought over ice cream. Even the famous Koch brothers’ in-fighting has a tie to Massachusetts – three of the Koch brothers attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Demoulas’ of grocery fame began their epic family fight many years ago when one side of the family discovered that they seemed to have been cut out of some of the profits from the other. It’s a complicated story and one that really hasn’t yet ended.  Most of us, however, sighed a giant sign of relief in August 2014 when Artie T. was victorious over his cousin Artie S. (more…)

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Election Fever – by Norma Logan

Norma Logan is the Literacy Volunteer Coordinator at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Norma’s column in the June 24, 2016 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Since last June, for anyone paying attention to the political arena, it has been a whirlwind of emotions and news bites. More than twenty politicians have come and gone out of the presidential campaign, and we are now edging closer to seeing one non-politician and one career politician left standing. Emotions are running high, and we still have a long way to go.

As we enter the summer months, it looks like this ride will heat up even more as two final candidates go the final stretch into the November election. One thing is for sure; this presidential election is nothing like we have ever seen before. The earliest presidential election that I can remember was in 1956 when Eisenhower won a second time. The “I like Ike” slogan was catchy and memorable, even to a young child. (more…)

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In search of the perfect tomato

Allison Palmgren is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Alli’s column in the June 16th issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

For the first time in over two months, my husband and I are able to eat dinner at the kitchen table. Since March, nearly every flat surface in the house has been completely covered in seedlings. While I devoted a fair amount of counter space to peppers, strawberries, pumpkins, and the like, it is really the dozen varieties of tomatoes that have taken over our house and my life.

As an adult, I have always had a garden of some kind, but in the past few growing seasons, things have gotten a little out of hand. After having poor results in the little plot in the back of our yard, I moved my entire garden to containers on our patio. Twenty giant pots yielded enough beans, peppers, tomatoes, peas, strawberries, cucumbers, and herbs for us to eat like kings all summer, but I still wanted more. So last fall, my father-in-law and I installed two large raised beds and I started planning how to expand my edible hobby.

Unlike many gardeners, I don’t garden simply for the pleasure of making things grow, I garden because I think that most store bought tomatoes taste like sawdust- a fact that gets me unreasonably angry. Somehow humankind has perfected methods of farming that bring about incredible yields, disease resistant crops, and vegetables that are so beautiful that they are practically art, but somehow we forgot the most important thing about food: the taste. After a summer of eating garden fresh tomatoes, that first bland grocery store tomato of the winter makes me want to weep.

I have found utter disappointment with what is available in the produce section at a reasonable price is a wonderful motivator. After one too many mealy grocery store tomatoes, I vowed to give myself the flavor that commercial farmers were not able to provide. I went in search of the perfect tomato. As such, I spent hours researching seed varieties all winter with plans to enjoy an abundant harvest of flavorful fruits and veggies this summer. While the internet is a wealth of knowledge and the best place to find rare or unique seeds, there is really nothing like a good book for gardening tips and inspiration.


While I found several helpful titles, like “The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables” by Marie Iannotti and “Carrots Love Tomatoes” by Loise Riotte, the best book I came across is “Epic Tomatoes” by Craig LeHoullier. This book got me downright excited to get some dirt under my fingernails. “Epic Tomatoes” covers everything from the history of tomato varieties to how to deal with commons pests, not to mention the absolutely mouthwatering images.

After reading about Cherokee Purples, Mortgage Lifters, and Sun Golds, I ordered my seeds in late February and rushed into work to share my tomato hopes, dreams, and fears with my coworker and fellow overzealous gardener, Irene. She and I routinely encourage each other to take things to excess, so it wasn’t long before she also came in excitedly sharing news of the dozen varieties she selected for her garden this summer.

Over the next several weeks, Irene and I discussed starter soil, grow lamp height, and germination rates and my husband and I ate dinner with our plates in our laps sitting on the living room couch. By mid April, with our makeshift kitchen greenhouse taking up so much living space, I was getting antsy to move my growing brood outside.

Now that the weather has warmed and my little seedlings have graduated to outdoor living, I find myself missing the soft glow coming from the grow lamps in the kitchen and worry about all of the harm that could befall my cute little fruits and veggies in the wilds of my garden. I am officially a produce empty nester, and there is no book that covers how to cope with separation anxiety when it comes to plants, but with a little luck and a lot of sunny days, I’ll be checking out “Canning for a new generation” by Liana Krissoff and “Canning & preserving for beginners” in just a few short weeks.

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Trains and More Trains – by Margot Sullivan

Margot Sullivan is a part-time reader’s advisory and reference librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the June 9th issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

Many, many, many years ago at Boston University I took a course on Middle Eastern History with a young professor who is now Professor Emeritus – foreign policy in the Middle East.  I am not really sure why I took the course other than it was something totally new and different but I ended up writing the final paper on the construction of the Berlin to Baghdad Railway. I do remember enjoying the research.  From 1899 to 1914 and eventually 1940 this immense project was fraught with politics, finances, and confusion. The reasoning behind such an enormous and long linking between two geographical areas was that Germany would get oil and Turkey would trade for needed goods. Abdul Hamid ll was the last sultan to have absolute control over the Ottoman Empire from 1876 to 1909 when he was deposed. The alliance with Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm ll which included the Baghdad Railway construction was unsuccessful. There is still discussion today as to whether this undertaking helped bring about World War l. (more…)

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