Entering Foxboro SignBy Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 9/2016

This past March was the 20th anniversary of the date I started writing for this newspaper. Then, and now, I consider it a privilege and one I do not take for granted and something I hope I will be doing for a long time to come.

Sometimes, an idea for a column is so strong that I will literally race home to write it. Other times, a piece may take days or even weeks to organize and compose my thoughts in the way I want to present them.

This is neither of those cases. There’s a lot going on, as usual, I have been contemplating about what to write for a week or three; there was no topic I could come up with that seem to merit a full piece dedicated to one subject nor one that has not been well covered in these pages nor elsewhere. I’ve either spoken about them recently, or having nothing new to add. (For the moment!)

With all that in mind, I thought I would just let this one flow and see where it goes. Rather than one of my usual “slow news day, random thoughts” humor bits, these are more thoughtful observations, introspection, some nice wishes, and just some things that need to be said.

  • First up, and this is overdue, I want to send out a sincere thank you to Father Matthew Wescott, pastor of St. Mary’s Church. He was the perfect choice to shepherd the church and I am continually impressed with how well he can perfectly meld the two roles he lives – priest AND a military leader (Marines). He balances them so well and is still an approachable friend, confessor, teacher, and confidant. Father Matt, your literary and historical knowledge help us to see very familiar biblical events in new and current ways. Your homilies always make me think, and often give me the gentle slap in the head I need to get my act together. We are very grateful as a parish to have you! And also, thank you for your service to this country!
  • Also on a church note, St. Mary’s head usher – and friend to many of us – Dick Kelter. He’s a great guy and makes people feel so welcome at St. Mary’s, always greeting people by name as he opens the door. He evangelizes without being pushy, and I once asked him, “Why do you go to church almost every day?” His answer was the best I have ever heard to that question: “Because I can.”
  • As I head up the street toward the Common, things continue to change. The announcement about the sale of the Orpheum Theater makes me very sad. Bill Cunningham and everyone at Bay Colony productions should be applauded for the effort and actions they have made at that theater over the last decade and a half.   It cannot possibly be easy to run a place like the Orpheum. The Orpheum – should it actually close – would be a loss to the community unlike the closing of the small business, because to have a THEATER in the center of our town, right on the common is not only unique, it is a gift and resource.
  • … And many of us have never used it. As my good friend and colleague Bob Hickey said regarding the Aubuchan hardware store closing a few weeks back – we have no one but ourselves to blame for this one. If you have children, do they attend or did they attend any of the many classes and courses that the Orpheum offered? When the Orpheum showed plays, did you go? Production-wise, their live version of “It’s a wonderful life” and a Christmas Carol were magnificent. Their version of RENT blew me away a few years ago. I went back three days later for an encore presentation. Did you attend a comedy night or film festival?
  • Did you even support their more recent haunted houses? That last question was rhetorical because I was volunteering almost every night every year and the crowds were dwindling to only in the dozens. I honestly hope whatever changes happen, it will continue to be a theater where classes and shows are offered. When we lose a place like the Orpheum, it’s a loss not just of a small business, but a cultural loss as well. Not good.
  • Speaking of business, I was at Patriot Place again last week – I am continually impressed by how nice it is, the constant influx of new business, and the wealth of choices available for dining and shopping and entertainment. Yes, I would like to see more businesses around Foxboro Common – hopefully the sewer and other logistics can be worked out. I am sure they will be. Remember: The Boch building was an empty eyesore for over a decade and is now full again. I have high hopes that Foxboro Common will be alive with businesses again in the near future. Too many people want it – it WILL happen.
  • Speaking of the Common, please attend the McGinty fun day on Saturday September 10 to benefit the McGinty Scholarship fund (only $5 per person and awesome family activities all day), and the next night, please join the Jaycees from 7pm-8pm on Sunday September 11 on the common as we once again hold a candlelight memorial for those we lost on 9/11. FCA will cover the event and once again scroll the names of the nearly 3000 we lost that day. There is strength and comfort and community in togetherness. We need to stop and remember.
  • Changing the subject a little, subscribe to this newspaper. I pick it up at the store each week, but by the time you read this I will have called in my subscription. I have nothing to gain by asking you to subscribe to this newspaper. YOU however, have everything to lose. We NEED a newspaper in this town. We have a good newspaper full of topical local news coverage every week with talented writers. It bears repeating: You live here, you work here, your kids go to school here, what happens here matters. The Foxboro Reporter is the paper of record in this town. Many folks pay four dollars for coffee every day – you can’t spare one dollar to be better informed about WHAT IS GOING ON in your town?
  • Speaking of coffee, I am continually amazed at how complex coffee orders are at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. “Hi, I’ll have a venti mocha, half-whole milk, 1% foam, extra hot, vanilla beam caramel swirl 1/2 decaf, 1/2 regular with 1 Splenda, 2 sugars, non-fat whipped cream and a turbo shot of espresso with a hint of cinnamon.”
  • I swear, no jury would convict the barista.
  • You cannot imagine – I am not making this up – the smile I get when I order a low-fat muffin and an ice coffee with one sugar and milk.
  • Speaking of order and chaos — this presidential election has completely drained and depressed me. It’s no longer even that car wreck that you can’t help looking at – there is so much hatred, so much distraction, so many lies, so many agendas, and all I keep thinking is, how wonderful it would be if we were EXCITED about the election – any election – not just this one. Imagine having any presidential contest where the American people were so excited about BOTH candidates and the discussion was over which candidate would be BETTER. In other words, imagine saying, “They are BOTH such GOOD choices!” That would be nice in a presidential election.
  • The current presidential election, more than any in my memory, has shown how very divided this country is – and in our land of the free and home of the brave, it is overwhelmingly sad how many of our people are still racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, or just have so much anger and hate. Divided we fall. Disagree to your heart’s content on ANY subject but stop once you cross the line into hatred. We can blame outside forces all we want – and yes, enemies from other lands are inflicting terrorism and damage on us. But sometimes I think America’s needs to also look in the mirror a little more often.  We are all part of the problem.  And t makes me so very sad that it sometimes seems this country cannot agree on anything – and so many people are so very, very angry.
  • On a related note, I recently saw this on Facebook and want to share it: “Many people don’t know this, but you can read something you disagree with on the internet and just move on with your life.”
  • That’s good advice.


As I wrap up, I just want to say thank you again for the continued privilege of writing in this paper and hope I’ll be doing it for many more years to come. And someday, hopefully soon, I will once again find ONE subject and write a cohesive column on just that ONE topic! In the meantime, these thoughts are all sincere and from the heart, as always.

Talk again soon!

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