Hands on care

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A pack of poodles at the ready in Central Park. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018. Grey and rainy with temps in the high 40s and some actual snow predicted all around us for Thursday. Gee, snow in November, just like the old days.

Elections. Reading about the increase in women running for office and winning, it occurred to me that when I was a kid growing up in a small New England community, we had a woman mayor. This was mid-20th century when all elected offices were almost exclusively held by men. I was pre-adolescent then so the memory is not detailed about politics, but I do remember our Mayor was always called “Ma” Burke, even in the newspaper.

“Ma” Burke (her birth name was Alice) was, from this memory’s eye, probably in her mid-to-late 50s – back when 50s was considered, and even looked, old – male or female. She was not a pretty woman, more aged to the boy’s eye where the measure for “pretty” was my favorite aunt – who was then in her 30s. Ma Burke was very plain-faced and stern looking, with grey hair loosely gathered in a bun. She looked like someone’s elderly grandmother.


Alice D. (“Ma”) Burke became the first woman Mayor in New England when she took the helm of Westfield, MA in 1939.

There was nothing fashionable about our lady mayor, like today’s public figures. I recall a heavyset figure, probably a little more than five feet tall and always dressed in a black coat that hung low and black lace-up mid-heel shoes that a lot of older women (teachers, for example) wore in those days. One of the labels for that kind of shoe was “Enna Jetticks” (I might have the spelling wrong).

I don’t know how Ma Burke came to run for the office, or how effective she was — I never heard a complaint about her in our house. It was just her name that got to this kid – calling someone “Ma” who was the “head” of the town. I always called my mother “Mother” for reasons I cannot recall except it sounded respectful to me. Thinking back about Ma Burke, I’ve concluded that she was the reason that to this day I never thought it unusual for a woman to hold any office, but just a natural state of affairs in life.



Dog and Cat and Other Animals Story. Last Friday, November 9th, The Humane Society of the United Steates held its 9th annual To the Rescue! New York Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street. They honored Gucci with the Corporate Consciousness Award, accepted by Susan Chokachi, North America CEO; Kate Sturino, Influencer with the Innovator Award; and Ricky Gervais with the Cecil Award.

Among the attendees were Kitty Block, Acting President & CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Georgina Bloomberg, Ricky Gervais, Sutton Foster, Moby, Rob and Marisol Thomas, Loretta Swit, Katie Sturino, Jean Shafiroff, Erich Bergen, and Carole Radziwill.


L to R.: Georgina Bloomberg and Susan Chokachi; Laura Brown and Susan Chokachi
L to R.: Sutton Foster; Carole Radziwill

To the Rescue! New York is the signature annual benefit of The Humane Society of the United States, supporting the rescue, care, placement and potential rehoming of thousands of animals every year.

Through advocacy campaigns and hands on care, the Humane Society of the United States, and its global affiliate Humane Society International protect, rehabilitate and care for tens of thousands of animals each year. They achieve this by deploying responders across the country and the world to help animals in need, including animals suffering in puppy mills, dogfighting rings, large scale-neglect cases and natural disasters.

The jerks and the bullies always begin with the animals who are completely dependent and defenseless. The organizations’ advocacy programs work to prevent cruelty from occurring in the first place.


Hamilton the Pug
Carl walks the red carpet


The 9th annual gala, chaired by Georgina Bloomberg and hosted by Broadway performer Sutton Foster, began with cocktails, followed by a plant-based dinner created by Chef Chloe Coscarelli. Dinner was followed by a live auction, and performances by Sutton Foster and Erich Bergen, along with a special appearance by the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team.

I have two housemates from Humane here in New York, both of whom I’ve written about before, Rosemary and Willy. They’ve been in residence for more than three years and are five and four and a half respectively.


L to R.: Loretta Swit; Ricky Gervais and Jane Fallon
Katie Sturino and Kittie Block
Marisol and Rob Thomas

The Humane Society of the United States is one of the most effective animal protection organizations in the world. For more than sixty years, they have celebrated the protection of all animals and confronted all forms of cruelty by the aforementioned jerks and bullies. They and their affiliates are the nation’s largest provider of hands-on services for animals each year, and they prevent cruelty to millions more through their advocacy campaigns.


Erich Bergen
Laura Brown
Laura Brown

You’re invited this Thursday, November 15th to visit the Peruvian Connection store at Columbus Avenue at 76th Street to shop their new collection in support of American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

For One Day Only, 20% of ALL SALES in-store will be donated to the Society’s mission to lead the fight for a world without cancer.

Join them from 5 – 7 p.m. for a special reception for friends Making Strides in New York. NO RSVP necessary!

Peruvian Connection is holding this special evening to benefit the American Cancer Society’s work here in New York as well as at their stores in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Santa Fe, Boston, and their new store in Aspen.



Photographs by Amy Sussman/For The HSUS

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