My mother grew up in Southie. Her last house was on K street in South Boston, just down the street from the L street Brownie's Bathhouse. They take their annual dip in Boston Harbor (pronounced Ha-Bah if you are a native), to promote their club, which is the 2nd oldest swimming club in the country. That's one of the many draws to Boston for me, its rich and longstanding history. At that time the bathhouse was all male and swimming was clothing optional. They had a fence that wrapped around
the property and then went all the way to the ocean for privacy. One of
|L street bathhouse|
Every summer trip we took included a stop at Castle Island. For me it meant 3 things, plane watching, Fort Independence and great food at Sullivans. We would lay on the grass and the planes from Logan would pass over our heads, and they seemed close enough to touch. We'd spend hours touring Fort Independence and peering through the cannon mounts to aim our pretend cannons, and at some point we'd get hot dogs or fried foods from Sullivans. I never got hot dogs, we had those at home.
After word had spread that the Yargers were in town, our cousins would start popping by. Some were close to my age, but most of them were a few years older and they were a mixed bag of characters. One of the families was comprised of tough and street wise kids, and they and my older siblings would roam Boston and see what mischief they could get into. I think you had to be tough in Boston in those days just to survive. I'll paint the picture of Boston a little more clearly for you from that time. One of the years I recall they had just started mandatory busing of the kids between schools. Southie was primarily made up of white kids and some of them got bussed to Roxbury and some blacks got bussed into Southie. It was not a good plan, especially when decided upon quickly, and forced down the throats of the residents. Nobody seemed to like the plan except for the courts, and racism reared it's ugly head a time or two. I think a lot of people got cast as racists that year when in actuality they just didn't like the change and wanted their kids to go to school in the neighborhood like they used to. It was kind of the point of moving to a neighborhood to begin with, and historically the people in Boston don't like to be told what to do without having a voice. You remember the Tea Party right? I do remember seeing some racist graffiti including some that said "Bus them back to Africa" It was a tumultuous time.
|Boston's Combat Zone circa 1990|
Some lived in Quincy and I remember camping in that yard a time or two. Once we broke in because we got there early (Now, who are the hoodlum cousins?). It was quieter there and we could sit in an actual yard and drink our tonics. A playground was down the street and was easily walkable (even by my one sister's standards). We could spend a whole day just playing PIG and HORSE (although the spelling of HORSE was vastly different back in the Combat Zone). We stayed there a few times, which is probably why that Aunt got nicknamed my father's "girlfriend". The rest of my early memories of Boston I can't attribute to any certain relatives or places. I remember getting Chinese take out from an authentic Chinese restaurant, they hadn't come to Canandaigua yet. I remember picnics on lawns and tours of the city in cars. I remember a bunch of us swimming in a pool with dragonflies nearby. We called them "Darning Needles" back then, and the rumor was, if you swore they would sew your lips shut. I didn't fall for that because, well, I had met all my cousins and none of them had their mouths sewn shut. Not even "Roberta".
I think I'll end Part 1 here and let my family fill in the blanks with their comments. If you are not mentioned here chalk it up to my aging and not you not being memorable. The best parts of Boston are yet to come, and yes even some beer relates.