Category Archives: Current Events / News Commentary

Just one more precious life going up in smoke

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 8/2001

It was a hot July Sunday— a very hot day. I was at the gas station when a kid came in and asked for cigarettes. He didn’t have an ID, so the clerk refused him.

Such a good law.

A hot July Sunday. Just like the day Dad died. He died from smoking.

Even after all the warnings about cigarette smoking, he continued to smoke.

It’s hard, 17 years after his death, to not be mad at Dad because of how he died.

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The REAL storm wasn’t a blizzard: School Violence

Real_Storm_Is_Not_Snowby Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter March, 2001

Well, once again the story began with the hype: Astronomical tides. Snowfall that just might be bigger than the blizzard of 78. Two, three, maybe four feet of snow. Have a winter survival kit in your car. Stay tuned for continuous coverage.

Once again the supermarket shelves were laid waste as people stocked up on survival supplies and hunkered down for the big snowstorm. Schools closed.

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Thoughts on Election 2000

By Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter November 2000

What an exciting and fascinating time this is. No one alive has ever seen a United States presidential election like this one — a virtual dead heat, a call for recounts, a collective citizenry seemingly speaking about nothing else.

Last week, I went into the country store to buy my morning Coca-Cola, and witnessed two seniors debate the legality of a new election. At work, everyone had an opinion.

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Vote!

Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter September 2000

This morning’s mail brought a little red booklet, “The official Massachusetts information for voters.”

Now, quick show of hands. How many of you got the same book?

Right. Most of you. Well, the registered voters, anyway.

Now, how many of you are going to read it?

Uh-huh, that’s a lot less hands. Wait, how many of you plan to vote on November 7?

Right, that’s what I thought.

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Two styles of parenting

Castle Island - Playgroundby Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter February 1999 and The Boston City Paper 6/2007

So our washing machine is broken, and I’m lugging three baskets of assorted clothes, a family sized box of TIDE, and a jug of bleach to a Laundromat near where I work in Quincy. I’ve loaded the clothes into various triple capacity spin-o-matics, and inserted a large number of quarters into the machines when I hear the following:

“Shut up.

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Clothes To The Dark Side

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 2/1998

It’s been a while since I enjoyed an afternoon of Saturday malling, but last weekend presented no appointments or urgent things to do, so the day was spent browsing, returning a few Christmas items, buying new tapes, and sampling strawberry smoothies and Japanese cooking at the food court.

I happened upon one of the teen-ager clothing stores in the mall and the generation gap walloped me like the ocean surf pounding the shore.

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Zero Tolerance For Toy Guns in School

zero toleranceby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 5/1997

Meet [redacted], the [redacted] 5 year old who was recently suspended one day from kindergarten for bringing a gun to school and taking it out in the lunch room. While both the school superintendent and Governor Weld supported the school for its actions [redacted due to identifying remarks].

The child’s mother was outraged by the suspension, and while she reportedly said she has no intention of suing the school, she has already hired a lawyer to help her draw up what she called a more sensible program for young children.

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Reflections on the April Fool’s Blizzard of 1997

April Fools 1997 Blizzardby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 4/97

Some random thoughts and observations on the Great Blizzard of 1997:

Any snowstorm with even mild accumulation brings the inevitable comparison to the Great Blizzard of 1978, but this was one of the rare instances where the comparison was warranted. The April 1 blizzard was the third largest snowstorm in Boston history, and certainly had many of the same elements as the unforgettable ‘78 storm: Newscasters describing roads as “treacherous” and “impassable.” The National Guard called in.

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When Hell freezes over (or, how to endure three months of ice, snow and cold)

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro reporter January, 1997

The icy blast of the alarm clock jostled most of us out of our beds this morning. The browning Christmas tree that we worked so hard to make just right is (hopefully) at the Foxboro compost heap waiting to become so much chipper fodder. The holiday lights are put away. New Year’s hangovers have hopefully subsided.

Normal life has returned. For the past few weeks it’s been back to school, back to work, and for those of us who worked during holiday weeks, back to more formal attire.

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Gun Show! (The Gun Show Loophole)

10 Boston Other - Close the Gun Show Loopholeby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 11/1996 and the Boston City Paper in revised format 11/2006

“…A DANGEROUS “gun show loophole” continues to allow criminals and terrorists to legally buy and sell guns in the United States on a cash-and-carry, no-questions-asked basis.

At approximately 5,000 gun shows each year in 32 states, criminals and terrorists are allowed to purchase firearms from private gun dealers without an ID or background check. Although many gun dealers are federally licensed and therefore legally required to contact the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to ensure that a prospective purchaser is not prohibited from possessing firearms, private sellers have no such requirement.” — Boston Globe, August 16, 2008

In the same year that a very loved couple was brutally slain in their Foxboro Home, and in the same week that one Foxboro youth was killed at a party and another was left fighting for his life, and in the very same day that an eight year old boy accidentally shot his little brother with a gun he found in their home, and on the same day that the news reported more and more aggressive people are using knives and guns on highways, and on the same day that a man was convicted of beating his wife to death and cutting out her internal organs, and on the day a Stoughton man was charged with shooting a 19 year old Everett youth, this little gem ran in this very paper:

“Firearm and Custom Knife Show/Sale!” Against a silhouette of a gun were the words, “350 Tables!

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Informed voters

12 America - US Flag flying at Hull Yacht Clubby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 11/1996

One of the best movies in recent memory to depict our nation’s chief executive was, “The American President,” starring Michael Douglas. Andrew Shepherd, the widower president Douglas portrays, enjoys the highest popularity poll in decades; he is a wise, strong, compassionate, and fair. A great leader.

Shepherd’s only weakness (at least to his advisors) is his reluctance to attack Senator Bob Rumsford (Richard Dreyfuss), his opponent in the next election.

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Proud sponsors are nothing to be proud of


By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro reporter, 7/1996

Historians note: I include this here to be complete; this was one of my very first columns for the paper and this is REALLY not very good. Olympic sponsorship is very necessary to make the games possible. It does get annoying course, but it’s all part of the process. That said, all these years later, I just have to file this one away as, “Well, I guess it qualifies as an “op-ed!” This one really isn’t very good!

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It’s ‘service with a sneer’ — bad customer service

By Robert Gillis

One of my very first columns published in the Foxboro reporter, 6/1996

THIS WAS ONE OF MY VERY FIRST COLUMNS FOR THE FOXBORO REPORTER – WRITTEN IN 1996

There is a great scene in the movie “Back to the Future” where Marty McFly, a teenage time traveler from 1985, has just arrived in the year 1955. The first site he sees is a gas station where four uniformed attendants rushed over to the car that has just pulled into the station.

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