The needler in the haystack.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Remembering Priscilla Castles


Always with a ready smile and a hearty laugh...
 
I met Priscilla Castles when I first came to work for Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams, moving over to City Hall from the Plainfield Public Library where I had been tasked with community outreach.

Wary of me (and McWilliams) at first, we shortly became friends once Priscilla concluded that I meant no harm, nor did Mayor McWilliams. Visits to her office were always a treat, with her hearty laugh and her vast knowledge of the workings of City Hall.

Priscilla reminded me of my mother's girlfriend Ruth, who was 'the' operator for the Cassadaga and Lily Dale Telephone Company in the late 1940s. Ruthie had a huge oaken switchboard cabinet in her bedroom, from which she connected the two villages' residents to each other and the outside world manually (this was the days before direct dial).

The disadvantage was that she was constantly on call, the advantage was that she knew absolutely everything that was going on in this corner of the world.

The same could be said of Priscilla -- without leaving her desk (or her daily newspaper), she was in touch with everything going on not only in her bailiwick, but the rest of City Hall. Invaluable for me, the newbie!

As it turned out, we shared something else: Each of us had gotten our start in the adult world of work through the Model Cities Program, and we would reminisce about the sense of excitement and possibility of those early days.

Though Priscilla did not play much of an open role in Plainfield's political life, she was intensely interested in its goings on and was well aware how bruising it could be. Early on, she made clear to me that she wanted to be included on McWilliams' invitation list for fundraisers and events and so she was.

I was somewhat puzzled, though, that she never came out to these, even though invited. What I later learned was that many times, the organizers of an event would receive a contribution in the form of a postal money order from a 'Sid Anderson'. For some time, folks were puzzled about who the mysterious Mr. Anderson was, until someone figured out it was Priscilla, known as Syd to family and friends. So, Priscilla quietly showed her support for McWilliams and others in the New Dems camp.

Priscilla did a lot of good for the Plainfield community over the years, and I will certainly miss her.


Services For
PRISCILLA CASTLES

Saturday, April 6
Viewing: 10:00 AM - Noon
Service: Noon

Higgins Home for Funerals
West 8th Street at Arlington Avenue

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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1 comments:

Mari Estevez said...

She and my dad, Melanio Rosas, were dear friends and worked worked together at Model Cities on Park Ave in the 70's! Later on I worked under her supervision as a teenager, for MTFOY "Mayor's Task Force on Youth" on North Ave. She was always very nice and approachable. RIP Ms. Castles....