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A magic lantern, and lack of luck transformed in tales; Author McManus brings his stories to Leominster.

Byline: Anna L. Griffin

LEOMINSTER - It was a story that was as true as it needed to be, seeing how it involved a magic lantern and an earnest young man a little down on his luck.

"Now what do you think that means?" Edward C. McManus asked of the kindergartners in Kathy Maruszewski and Carleen O'Neill kindergartners' class at St. Leo's School, after relating the tale.

Several answers were offered until the correct answer popped out of a young girl's mouth, "The lesson was more important than the story."

"That's right," Mr. McManus said.

Mr. McManus, a former Fitchburg resident who lives in Marlboro, is the author of "The Nana in the Chair, and the Tales She Told." The book, a compilation of stories his grandmother related to him, was published two years ago. He is also Mrs. Maruszewski's uncle. His presentation was part of Catholic Schools Week activities at the school.

The book is a collection of stories told by his grandmother, Mary Dunne Ware, who lived from 1860 to 1956.

She was born in Lixnaw, County Kerry, Ireland, in 1860, and immigrated to America in 1883 to live in Fitchburg, before moving to Boston.

In 1939, while approaching her 80th birthday, she moved in with the McManus family on Temple Street. She was blind, crippled with arthritis and confined to a chair.

"Her body was limited, but not her will or her spirit," Mr. McManus said. She became the babysitter, confidante and friend to the McManus children during the World War II years.

"She loved to listen to the radio," Mr. McManus said. "She knew when her favorite programs would be on, but before she would listen to the radio, we would have the chance to listen to all of her stories."

Mr. McManus said she would oftentimes be enjoying a cup of tea while telling the stories. "Tea and graham crackers; that was her afternoon snack."

The stories ranged from true life stories to fantasies involving leprechauns, magic lamps, mermaids and banshees.

He read two of the stories to the children, one of them about young girl and her encounter with a leprechaun and his bag of gold and another about a young boy who was desperately trying to help out his family and who came upon a magic lantern.

After reading the stories to the children, Mr. McManus took questions and comments from the children in the audience. He said he enjoyed spending some time with them.

"I hope you enjoy spending time with your grandparents, as I did with my grandmother," Mr. McManus said. "You should listen to them, they have interesting stories to tell."


CUTLINE: Edward C. McManus, author of "The Nana in the Chair and the Tales She Told," spoke to kindergarten students at St. Leo's Elementary School.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 11, 2007
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