Paris beckons the Shaw ladies on grand Tour  
Thursday, November 6, 2008

Florence Morse-Shaw was raised in a French Canadian family. She graduated from the French school in Webster, as St. Anne’s Elementary School was generally known by the 1930s. The other town parochial schools, St. Joseph’s and St. Louis, were identified as the Polish school and the Irish school in those same years.

Florence Morse was one of French teacher Florence V. Callahan’s top students in the class of 1946 at Bartlett High School. She could stand with the best of Miss Callahan’s French class all-stars.

Love, as we know, doesn’t come with a nationality base of choice. Miss Florence met and married a great guy, John Shaw, called home to God a couple of years ago. They were an ideal couple. Florence tested her French from time to time through the years, but English was her way of life.

For this reason, perhaps, a visit to Paris was her long-held objective. Her dreams came true just recently after a year of planning. Florence and her daughters, Susan Ostrowski of Belchertown and Nancy Chateauneuf of Dudley, spent 10 wonderful days in Paris.

“The weather was ideal,” says Florence. “It was overcast one day, but we didn’t have any rain at all.” The mother-daughters sightseers enjoyed accommodations at the Hotel Regina, including quarters with a grand view. “Everything in our suite was bigger and better than what I have at home,” she said, and chuckled. The hotel is not far from Musée du Louvre, she said.

“We visited all the tourist sites, and we walked a lot,” says Florence. The experience gave her 10 solid days of mostly French, and she recalled a great conversation with a taxi driver, mostly about economics. “He said he doesn’t get many American fares these days and I told him it was probably a matter of costs.” Dialog was about the exchange rate for currency, the dollar against the euro.

“We were treated very well during the trip,” Florence says. “Everything was absolutely flawless.” The three women flew business class and enjoyed a great flight, she said. “I had never flown business before.” There were great meals and champagne. “Let me tell you, this is the way to travel.”

Ms. Shaw might be remembered by many as the one-time school librarian at Sutton High School and then at Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley. She volunteered as the librarian at St. Louis Elementary School after retiring. Service as a school librarian took most of the years to Ms. Shaw’s career, but there’s another entry of note.

Florence managed the camera department at a music and photo store as a young person. The late Leo Dumouchel ran the business. She became an exceptional photographer (my opinion) through that time and never got too far from a camera, turning her early career into a lifelong avocation.

Ms. Shaw has an array of cameras and lenses, and things many career photographers do without. Her equipment bags now have French travel stickers over them.

Ms. Shaw’s photo bent wasn’t lost on daughters Susan and Nancy. They’re pretty good photographers in their own right. “I bought them both new cameras as early (Christmas) gifts before we left,” says their mother. “I was pleasantly surprised with their work,” adding a tinge of motherly pride. There was Paris time for top-rated restaurants, entertainment, and shopping, according to Florence. Her daughters beat her at the shopping game, she admits. They had lots of fun and shot rolls and rolls of film. “The three of us took more than 1,000 pictures,” Florence revealed.

Now, the process is going through them. They include just about every location of note within Paris, with many multiple shots. “We took photos of Notre Dame Cathedral from every conceivable angle, and at different times of the day and night,” she said with an air of excitement in her voice.

Ms. Shaw, Ms. Ostrowski and Ms. Chateneuf have the combined resources for a great photo travelogue. I don’t know about the younger women, but it’ll take a bit of persuasion to convince Ms. Florence of the true value of her camera art. She’s just too tough a self-critic, but there’s hope. How’s this for an intro: “The Shaw Ladies in Paris,” maybe with French subtitles.

A 4-year-old mystery, or the case of the reappearing keys, continues to perplex Paul J. Patrowicz of Webster. “I still can’t understand it,” he said on a recent evening. He had a group of keys on a belt buckle, and they disappeared. Mr. Patrowicz took every logical step to find them.

He turned to St. Anthony of Padua, the Catholic patron saint of lost things, silently saying, “Please help me.” He didn’t expect an immediate return. He had a set of duplicates at the ready, and buckled them to the same belt loop the others had been on. It wasn’t right away, but the new keys were joined by the old ones, says Paul, and he was carrying two sets of keys.

“I think about it every once in a while,” says Mr. Patrowicz, figuring St. Anthony works in mysterious ways. “If there’s an answer, I surely don’t know what it is.”

Webster’s Clemence A. “Clem” Starosta, the retired meat cutter, generally had a sideline through most of his adult years. He once hosted a cooking show for a town radio station and has long been a caterer for small parties.

He’s still catering luncheons, including some for executive groups, I discovered recently when Mr. Starosta popped up in a Webster Price Chopper supermarket aisle with a New England Patriots football logo in hand. It was actually a combination of the current insignia and the one used some years ago.

“It’s going on the cake,” he said, explaining he was about to cater a “little reception” in honor of retired New England Patriots guard John Hannah. Clem alluded to the sponsor: “They have a wall ad at Fenway,” but skipped the when and where. Even small party caterers keep dealings pretty close to their vests.
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Telegram & Gazette

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