2008-05-08 / The Walrus Says

The Walrus Says

By Jim Munro

We were looking for a Mother's Day item for the column, so we asked Cathryn Jamieson if she had any ideas. After all, at her salon she comes in contact with a lot of island mothers. Without hesitation she replied, "Karen Rafanelli. She is one of the best mothers I know," she said.

Karen is no stranger to us. It seems as though she is always taking our grandson Tom somewhere

along with her 16-year-old son, John, a close friend of Tom. On more than one occasion, reaching Tom on his cell phone to inquire about his location he replied he was having dinner with the Rafanellis. And, when he moved briefly to Connecticut it was Karen who gave his going away party.

That is just some of one family's experiences with Karen. When we asked Cathryn if she could be more explicit about why she thinks Karen is one of the best mothers she knows, she replied that Karen is "fair, honest, reality-based, intuitive, compassionate, an understanding, disciplinarian, forgiving, giving of time to all who need her, funny, revealing, faithful, devoted, and spiritual. She fills all the shoes and deserves a vacation." Now, that's pretty explicit.

Outside her family there is probably no one who knows Karen better than co-worker Isabel Jepson. "Karen Rafanelli is the mom everyone would love to have. I know because I see her interactions with her family every week. On Saturday mornings, Karen and I share 'salon time' having nails and hair done but mostly we just love to catch up on our week and share family stories. Karen's are always about her children. Even as she sits talking to me the cell phone rests at her elbow and she cheerfully takes calls directing her sons' events throughout the weekend, including driving one to a sporting event, the other to a friend's house.

"This is the all-American family as we would all like to have it, with the heart being Karen, who never stops giving. She goes through all the drama that families do and never stops smiling. If someone needs to get to a sporting event, she is there, a school social or dance she's there. If there is an event at school and they need a parent to be involved you can believe that not only is she involved, but she will probably run it. She is passionate about her children's education and makes sure they get the very best there is and that they do the very best they can do.

"Karen opens her heart and home to the community wherever she sees a need. She makes that gathering even more special by including the sale of jewelry for poverty stricken women. Graduations, birthdays, showers, it is all at Karen's house and you can be sure there is always a crowd of kids.

"Karen is family to all of us and we know if we need to we can call on her in a minute for help. I feel blessed to have her in my life."

Karen moved to the island 18 years ago when she and her husband, Tony, were married. He is a whole separate story when it comes to community involvement. She met him at Raytheon where they both worked, she as a corporate travel agent. When John arrived, she stayed home and four years later their second son, Matt, now 12, showed up. She remained home with him until he went to kindergarten. Both boys are adopted.

She has been employed at the Jamestown School for the past six years and is currently working with kindergarteners. "They are keeping me young," she said.

Along the way, Karen has been a member of the PTO board for "it seems like forever." Next year will be her last as Matt will be moving on to high school. "I will not have any kids in the Jamestown school. That is very sad." She is also on the School Improvement and Health and Wellness Committees.

After a close friend died at 38 years old of breast cancer, Karen was active in Relay for Life. She also adopted, as a member of Children Friends and Service, a couple in their 80s who lived in the Pemberton Apartments. The couple had no family here, so she would take them shopping when she went shopping. "There we were, two kids under 6 and two people over 80. It was an all day adventure." They were also invited to the Rafanellis for Christmas. They have since passed away.

Actually, there are two mothers in the Raffanelli home. Three years ago she teamed up with her mother, Juliette Moura, and bought a house together. "My mother has always been very active, so I guess that is where I get it from. She is an avid concertgoer and took us to see the Rolling Stones two years ago. She has seen Rod Stewart and Michel Buble a few times."

So how are the two mothers going to spend Sunday? "On the basketball court, John's playing in a tournament," Karen said. When we expressed surprise that the tournament was being played on Mother's Day, she quipped, "Fathers run it."

Maybe they'll at least play some rock 'n roll music for your mom.


BankNewport, at the suggestion of David Pritchard, took on a Hawaiian accent Friday when the staff, including VP Mike Devito, showed up for work with colorful island shirts, from the other island.

The bank was handing out free popcorn, but no coconuts.


And, there's a new look in Jamestown Wine & Spirits. Owner Ilesh Patel has opened up the wall connecting to Video Showcase, combining the two businesses. There is even a new line of attractive Jamestown sweatshirts. Check it out.


Jim West is back in town from his Florida digs and is looking great. The 93-year-old World War II vet said he's looking forward to the Memorial Day parade.


Kurt Nelson is looking for photographs of the Edsel that in the 60s was used as a taxi on the island. About a year and a half ago he purchased the 1959 vehicle and was told at that time by several people of the history of the Edsel.

"I'm in the process of refurbishing the car. I wouldn't call it a restoration as I'm not completely disassembling it and such, but it will be in running condition hopefully this summer. I am going to have the body repaired and painted so it will look nice too. Perhaps at a later date I will do a complete restoration but, for now I just want to get it on the road."

So, if you have a photo in your attic archives you can reach him at 423-1161.

*** Our thanks to Dr. Joshua Hatch of the Jamestown Animal Clinic, who for the past three years plus has contributed to this column the weekly Pet Tip of the Week and never missed a deadline.

He is no longer weekly, but will return from time to time with his words of wisdom about the animal world.



Kudos to Sarah and Craig Richardson of Beavertail Road and Fran and George Boyer from Whale Rock Road for their donations to the Rocket 'Hogs. Times awasting folks, The 4th is coming up quickly; get those checks in to the Fireworks Fund, Box 1776, Jamestown 02835.



The Shadow knows, says Gloria Conley of Elizabeth City, NC, Chris Smyth of Louisville, KY, and Larry Lewis to our question last week, Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Gloria added, "Just saw the movie on TCM a couple of weeks ago. The Shadow was a crime fighter early super hero, who seemed to turn up everywhere there were shenanigans going on."

Great job, guys, now tell us the name of the actor who did the radio show and the Shadow's name when he wasn't being the Shadow.


We must confess we could not remember the name of the song, only the line "Get out of here with that boom, boom, boom before I call a cop" that kept running through my head. We don't think that Gloria Conley knows it either, but she knows that Phil Harris sang it and some of its story.

Larry Lewis bailed us out. "These lyrics are part of a tune called 'The Thing' about a man who discovers a mysterious box floating near a beach. He tries to show various people its contents but they all tell him to get out and, to this day, this poor sap's stuck with the box, even upon reaching the Pearly Gates, where even Saint Peter tells him to go to, um, that other place. We never do learn exactly what 'the thing' inside was. It was recorded by Phil Harris in 1950 and became a #1 hit. Go figure.

"Why, did something wash up at Mackerel Cove?"


Children's Librarian Rowena Burke reports that she has a new, excellent book written by a dog. "First Dog: Unleashed in the Montana Capital" is supposedly written by Jessica Solberg, but it was actually written by Jag, the border collie, the runt of an eightpuppy litter born in Whitefish, Montana, who goes on to become First Dog to Governor Brian Schweitzer. Written for children ages 6 to 9, Jag has quite a tale to tell and there is also plenty of information on state government presented in a very understandable format. See Jag's picture at http://governor.mt.gov/



A Snapple cap moment: If you put all the streets in New York City in a straight line, they would stretch to Japan.


Happy Mother's Day to all who qualify!

*** Be true!


Call in your stuff for this column to 423-0383 or 829-2760. You can e-mail us at jtnwalrus@ hotmail.com or drop your items off at the Jamestown Press office.

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