Upham's Corner Online

Letter to Paul Roiff January 28, 2011

Posted: January 28, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

I am so excited, and have been, since Joane introduced you to me on Tuesday.  I haven't been able to sleep.  I lie awake in bed trying to imagine what your life is like.  I can just see the people crowding around you, wanting to touch you, even the hem of your coat.  Truly, you are awesome and inspiring. 

I talk about you with anyone I can find who will listen.  Why, I was at the DSNI Open House just yesterday and listened with attentive ears to the stories people had to tell me about you.  Amazing!

The question is: "Why am I so interested in you?  There are only a million people in the world.  Why am I focused on you? 

The answer is easy.   I understad you own the 600 Columbia Rd building in Upham's Corner.  It's such a wonderful old apartment building and the only one left that hasn't yet been renovated in that group of buildings on Columbia Road.  It's one, I'm sure, that you've put high up on your "TO DO" list.  You've done so many far-reaching architectural developments in Boston, although not yet in Upham's Corner. We can't wait.

Paul, I am wondering when was the last time you had a chance to stop by here.  Do you even remember how your building looks?  I'm sending along some pictures just in case.  The front of the building is commercial space - a laundromat, a hair salon and a law office.  The front door leads to residential space on the second floor.

600 Columbia Rd Dorchester

Front of 600 Columbia Rd
600 Columbia Rd Dorchester

Back of 600 Columbia Rd
Our time (Upham's Corner), your building's time is coming, though we do hope you don't fall into the gentrification trap - renovating the building to such a grand state that only the wealthiest people can live there.  I guess the one exception would be you! 

Cool!  How about if you renovate this building and make it your personal penthouse, selling the one you have on Columbus Avenue? It would be such a pleasure to know that we, that all of Upham's Corner, could walk down the street, running in to you on a regular basis.  We'd be able to say "Hi, Paul.  How are you?  How are you doing today?"

Paul Roiff . . . The name "Paul Roiff"  . .  . what an incredible name.  My dictation software keeps spelling it "Paul Royce" as in Rolls-Royce. 

By the way, do you own one?  What kind of car do you have?  How many cars do you own?  I did see that you have a villa down in Florida.  Do you have a car down there, too?  Or maybe you just rent one whenever you're down there.  If you rent a car, what kind do you rent?  I'd like to know because you are my model.  When you want to get a head in life, you have to choose people to emulate.  You're my guy. 

If you made 600 Columbia Rd your personal penthouse, what would you do with your car?  There's no underground garage here, no private and guarded parking area.  Come to think of it, that must be true on Columbus Avenue as well.  I'm sure you'd be able to figure it out.

I know!  There's a beautiful public parking area at the back of your building.  It would be so easy for you to just park your car and walk a few steps into your back door.

Maybe if we did special favors for you, you could get us some discounts to the restaurants and bars you own.  Maybe, just maybe, we could stay at that really high-end hotel you developed, but never mind that for now.  We'll be heading over to all of those places to get a better idea of the immense contributions you've made to the city of Boston. 

We know that the Mayor of Boston, Mayor Thomas M Menino, couldn't do without you.  Our mayor's reputation rests on the fact that he can include under his far-reaching umbrella the many accomplishments carried out by wealthy people such as yourself - ones, we note, that have made you and them even wealthier.

So now let's go back, if you don't mind, to 600 Columbia Rd.  Paul, did you know that someone went to the bathroom on your front porch?  I could not believe it.  I was walking down Columbia Road with my dogs at the beginning of September 2010 when suddenly my eyes caught a darkish, multicolored, curvy and glistening object over towards the corner where that piece of plywood seems to be covering some kind of hole in the steps. 

I don't know why it caught my eyes.  To assuage my curiosity, I went over to look at it.  To my great shock, it was exactly what I thought and covered with flies.  There was even a piece of paper towel on top, almost like toilet paper.  How absolutely disgusting!  [I don't recommend you click here.  This is an enlargement of the picture.  You'll be able to count how many flies are on top.]

Joane tells me you are a very wealthy guy - penthouse and all - on Columbus Avenue. 

I hope you understand that's not why I like you.  It's because you and I have something in common.  Your spirit still resides in the building on Columbia Road. 

Now that I know your name, when I am walking by, I will make it a practice to look over and say: "God bless you, Paul."
Human feces at 600 Columbia Rd

Fresh human excrement
I did notice something that is a little troubling.  It would appear that your management company is ruining your reputation. 

Or maybe it's Verizon.  Did you see how many phone books are on the front steps?  Why?  It certainly doesn't look like anybody lives there.  Oh, I didn't mean to offend you.  I just never see anyone going in or out of the front doors, but today I did see a car stopped on Ramsay Street.  The driver had left his car and was shouting up at someone.  Yes!  The second floor window was open.  He was talking with a friend who lives in your building.

Seriously, Verizon delivered these phone books to us weeks ago.  They gave me two sets.  I keep telling them (20 years now) - "2nd floor left" does not exist. Looks the same for your building.  Nobody seems to want those books.  So they just sit there, looking rattier every day.  Why do we put up with this? 
600 Columbia Rd Dorchester

Front door with pile of phone books

600 Columbia Rd Dorchester

Huge pile of phone books that no one seems to want

The back of your building is on a public sidewalk.  The ONLY building where the sidewalk is not plowed is yours.  Now that is awful.  Who is your management company?  Paul, they are ruining your reputation.  Every time I talk with Code Enforcement, they tell me they are giving you more and more tickets.  Does that make sense?  Are they really doing that?

600 Columbia Rd Dorchester
Unshoveled sidewalk at the back of 600 Columbia Rd

Paul, wouldn't it be more reasonable to change management companies?  I, for example, would love to have a job.  I could make sure your sidewalk is shoveled and that the trash that Code Enforcment keeps citing you for is put out at the right time.  You'ld save money; I'd make money and we'd both be happy.  How about it?

I'm not at the stage yet where I can just call you up and say, "Hey, Paul, let's go to lunch."  Of course, someday we will be on very friendly talking terms.  But for right now, the contact between you and me, the link that binds us together, almost a spiritual one, is 600 Columbia Rd. 

You know what?  I think I'll pack my lunch, sit down on your front steps and have a picnic.  I think I'll pretend you're sitting next to me.  People will either think I'm nuts or maybe they'll assume I'm talking to my dogs.  Of course I'll bring enough food to feed myself, my dogs and you.  I wouldn't want to forget you. 

You know that old habit of setting a plate for Jesus at the dinner table, or for the hungry person who walks in who really is Jesus in disguise?  You always want to set a place for your spiritual ally.  So, Paul, I would never forget you.  There will always be an empty spot at my table waiting for you. 

Oh, oh. . . . I just thought of something. I'll first have to see if there's any remnants of the feces still on the front porch.  Even though it's really cold outside and bacteria are less active when the temperature is low, I still don't think it's a good idea to have lunch in the bathroom on the toilet.

That's it for now, Paul.  I've enjoyed sharing my spirit with you, my hopes and my dreams.  I wish you a wonderful day. Until next time, God bless you.

Your friend, Nancy

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