Posted tagged ‘East Boston’

“Cities get built out of poet’s dreams.”

January 26, 2018

The day is again beautiful if you just look out the window, but if you go outside, dress warmly as it is only 29˚. I hurried when I got my paper and the mail from yesterday. I do need to go out later to get a few different cat food tastes to tempt Maddie. She’s hungry but not thrilled with the beef and liver. I can’t blame her. Liver would never thrill me either. She’s upstairs hiding again. I only got to give her one of her three meds this morning, the one slathered on her paw. As for the other two, she is getting wiser and checks my hands when I get near her.

My grandparents, my father’s parents, lived in the same town we did. They had a great old house on a street of old houses. I remember the smell of their house. It was the lingering aroma of my grandmother’s lilac perfume. Their kitchen had tall wooden cabinets, and I remember an ironing board hidden behind one long, skinny cabinet door. The closet in the kitchen always had bottles of root beer on the floor, but I don’t remember who drank it. The kitchen eating area was built in and so small we never ate there. We always ate in the dining room. I remember the furniture there was dark. A breakfront took up one wall. My grandmother stored her best dishes there. Another wall was all windows and right across from the neighbor’s back door. The chairs at the table were tall. For the longest time my feet didn’t touch the floor. The living room had a piano but no one knew how to play it. Their TV was a huge console in a light wooden cabinet. The mantle and fireplace were lovely but never saw a fire. The sun room was off the living room. It was a tiny room of all windows. A desk sat at one wall and two chairs with a table between were the rest of the furniture. My grandfather kept his pipe holder filled with pipes on that table. On the desk, there was a paperweight with an R embossed in gold. That was my favorite room.

My other grandparents also lived in an old house but in the city, in East Boston. We used to visit on Sundays. My father dropped us off at the house then he’d roam the streets looking for a parking space. The city was mesmerizing for me. All the houses were right beside each other, and every corner seemed to have a small store with an old lady behind the counter. We played in the street. I remember stick ball and using an old broom handle as a bat. The ball was half a pink rubber ball.

I loved visiting my city grandparents. We always felt welcomed. My father’s parents were aloof and lacked warmth. We visited them far less even though they were close at hand. They didn’t seem to know what to do with us or even what to say. When I was older, I never went with my dad to visit them. I doubt they even noticed.

“Well, mother, he is a very nice man. he gave me some candy.”

May 18, 2014

Today is cloudy and a bit chillier than yesterday. My bedroom window was open all night, and I was cold this morning, cold enough to grab my comforter. I burrowed down, got cozy and fell asleep for another hour. Gracie woke me up. She banged her paw on the bed right beside where I was sleeping. Even though I kept my eyes closed and my breathing even, she knew I was awake. I gave in and got up. Now she’s sleeping. Oh, the irony!

I loved visiting my grandparents because they lived in a city. The houses were close together separated only by walkways almost like alleys. Small bakeries sold square pieces of cold pizza and Italian ice from opened windows. We played stick ball in the street and baseball against the steps. It was a whole new world to me. I remember two streets up there was a park, and I remember there was a store on the corner of their street. It was tiny but every shelf and counter was filled with something to buy. We went there to spend the dime my grandfather used to give us.

Once my uncle took my brother and me to Logan Airport. We walked from my grandparents’ house in East Boston. My uncle is only two years older than I am so it was just three kids on an adventure. It was a long walk and seemingly longer going home. Logan in those days was a series of hanger type buildings, many made of wood. They were mostly one story. The roofs of some of them were for observation, for watching the planes. There were fences around the perimeters of those roofs, and I remember standing there a long time watching the planes taxi to the runways and fly off while others landed. There were still prop planes and no jetways. People walked from the plane to the terminal. We went through the interconnected terminals, and I took brochures as souvenirs. I remember that as a favorite day. My mother wasn’t so happy when she found out how far we had gone.

I have another memory of when my uncle took my brother and me to the MDC pool. To get to the pool, we had to take a bus and then the subway from my grandparent’s house. I remember standing on the subway platform by myself. I don’t remember exactly where my brother and uncle were standing. A man came up to me. I remember he wore a straw hat, had bad teeth and his coat was striped. He had a cane but it was on hooked on his arm. He spoke to me, and I said hello. He offered me gum and said if I followed him behind the stairs he’d give it to me. Never take candy from a stranger jumped into my head so I ran to find my uncle and brother who were together further down the platform. They wanted to know why I was running. I didn’t tell them what had happened. I broke the rule by saying hello so I kept the whole incident secret. I never told. This isn’t a favorite memory.

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, My Friends

No white Christmas here: it’s raining. I don’t mind though. It’s the day we celebrate, not the weather. My Christmas trees are lit and are bright with color. It took no time for the bubble lights to perk. I watched and waited. My friend and I met for Christmas breakfast, a tradition only three years old. It was at our usual Sunday spot, and this morning every booth was taken. The coffee was free, a Christmas gift from Tom and Nancy who own the diner. I bought bacon for Gracie.

Our gifts were always in the same place by the tree every Christmas. They were artfully displayed with a doll in the high chair, books front and center and games leaning so we could see them right away. We always got new games. The year of my brother’s bike had a different spin. The bike was in the kitchen, hidden so he’d be surprised. My father sent my brother for matches in he kitchen, and he got them without even seeing his bike. Finally my parents brought him to the kitchen and turned on the lights. I remember his bike had blinkers so he could signal his turns. My parents always acted surprised at what Santa had left.

In the afternoon, after Christmas dinner, we’d go to my grandparents’ house. My mother was one of eight children and all of them, but the two who still lived at home, brought their families there. Those two, an aunt and an uncle, were around my age, the aunt even younger than I. We hated leaving our presents at home, but we knew they’d be more when we got to East Boston to my grandparents’ house. Their tree was in the small room, and the room was filled with presents for all of us, for the grandchildren. My grandmother also had chocolates to hand out, Santas or reindeer. Spaghetti was always hot on the stove. It was one meal she could make enough of for all of us, the aunt, uncles and cousins.

We’d stay until early evening when my father would have us gather everything up, say goodbye and thank you to my grandparents then we’d grab our coats and head to the car. We always fell asleep on the way home from East Boston. Christmas was the most wonderful day.

“May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten”

March 18, 2012

Today is a lovely day, but I think I have a cold coming on so I’m lying low. My throat is scratchy and my body aches, but I really don’t feel all that bad yet so I figure I’m nipping it in the bud as Barney Fife used to say.

I am late today as I slept late and my usual Sunday call to my sister was for two hours. We talked about my grandparents and where they used to live and what we remembered. My mother’s parents lived for a long while in an apartment in East Boston. My sister remembers that on each side of the front steps was a decorative granite piece which was a perfect slide though it was a really short ride. I remember far more. The hallway went from one end of the apartment to the other. It always seemed dark to me as the bedroom doors off the hall were often closed. Stephen King could have used that hallway as a setting for one of his scarier novels. At one of  that hall was the kitchen. The living room and a small TV room were at the other end. I remember the kitchen was bright with windows, and the deep, white porcelain sink stood on pipes which were hidden by a skirt my grandmother had made. The table was near the windows.

At the other end of the hall was the living room which had a giant heater near the back wall. I remember it always made a hissing sound. That was where my great-grandfather’s rocking chair was and where he always sat. He was big and scary to me. He never talked to any of us grandchildren, but he always yelled at us to get out of his house. I think he was senile and had no idea how scary he was. We used to stand in the doorway for a minute to get up our courage then we’d run by him for all we were worth to get to the TV room. He’d yell but we knew he’d never leave his chair so we were safe.

It’s funny what we remember. The day-to-day things fade, but the extraordinary, the strange and the wonderful pieces stay longer. I think we’re lucky that way.