'It's Better Now'
William V. Shannon, 48, a member of The New York Times editorial board, still has strong ties his Worcester birthplace. He's a trustee of Clark University, from which he graduated. His brother John J. Shannon is a teacher at North High School. Shannon remembers living in Ripley Street during the 1930s. His house was a wooden three-decker.
'Worcester isn't a beautiful city,' Shannon noted recently, reached at his New York office. 'The downtown of Worcester is not very attractive. But it's getting better now.'
Worcester's lack of beauty wasn't mattered, however. The city's rich cultural resources made it a special place, Shannon recounted, and he remains 'indebted' to the Worcester Public Library, a frequent haven when he was growing up. 'That's what I liked best about [Worcester] -- the wonderful cultural opportunities. It wasn't like growing up in a desert.'
Otherwise, he argued, Worcester would hardly be any different from, say, Woonsocket, Rhode Island. That was the analogy a fellow Clark trustee made recently. Shannon could only agree.
Change has been slow to come to Worcester, he added. Even when he was a kid, he observed, city fathers were arguing over 'what do do with Lincoln Square.'
'It is a city with low horizons. One got the sense that you got ahead in life by leaving Worcester.'
Another comparison? 'Worcester is remarkably ethnically diverse. It's a regular United Nations. It was almost like growing up in New York -- a smaller version of New York.'
(This snapshot of William V. Shannon was written in 1978. This is its first publication).