“Helped Jack get settled in his new apartment this weekend,” my son texted me recently.
Knowing how much his wife, my daughter-in-law, likes “feathering nests” for my grown grandchildren from the way she helped make their college dorm rooms livable, I wasn’t surprised that she would want a hand in making my grandson’s most recent Boston apartment comfortable.
And so they spent the weekend helping hang drapes from 11-foot ceilings and installing latches on doors and cupboards to keep their small grandson (my great-grandson) safe. To this typically curious little 17-month-old fellow, everything’s a puzzle or adventure and he has to be watched constantly to keep him safe from whatever piques his interest.
Back when my grandson finished college and started working in Boston, he shared an apartment with some college friends in Dorchester in South Boston. At that time, the area which had been an Irish stronghold in the early days, had been through some hard times before just starting to be gentrified.
An easy commute to his job, he again opted to return to the area with this new apartment a few blocks from Carney Hospital and St. Gregory’s Church. “It also isn’t far from the Baker’s chocolate factory which has been there for many years,” my son reminded me.
I say reminded because that whole area was very familiar to me as my late husband was born in Carney Hospital. Many of his relatives still live close by and went to St Gregory’s Church where we have attended several funerals in the past.
In my husband’s youth, and maybe even still, people identified what part of Boston they were from by the church they attended. For instance, my husband as a youngster watched St. Brendan’s Church being built and so he became part of St. Brendan’s Parish.
Kids ran pretty free in those early neighborhoods, and he remembers when a horse pulling a milk wagon ran off and was badly injured when the wagon overturned. “They had to shoot the horse,” he said sadly as he recalled watching the whole incident as a youngster.
His other strong memory from those days was the wonderful smell of chocolate emanating from that same Baker’s chocolate factory as he walked home from school. Funny how smells play such a large part in memories.
But alas, his youthful days in Dorchester came to an end when his family moved out toward the suburbs. Since his father was a detective with the Boston Police Force, he was required to live within the greater city limits. But his mother wanted to get as far out of the city as possible so they moved to West Roxbury which was “way out near Needham.” And there they became residents of St. Theresa’s Parish, living right around the corner from the church.
I’m certain that my late husband would have gotten a huge kick out of his grandson living close to where he grew up as a boy and would have had many conversations with him about that neighborhood. But I doubt if our grandson will be living too long in that apartment.
He, like his great-grandmother before him, will soon be looking for a place in the suburbs to bring up his family. But Dorchester, being a big part of his grandfather’s childhood, is an apt place for him to make a few memories of his own now. And there’s nothing wrong with that.