123 Paul Revere Road

I know now, in many ways, I lucked out moving from a row house in Dorchester to a Boston suburb. I arrived in Needham on May 7, 1948, barely a month before my second birthday. I didn´t feel lucky. I am not sure I knew what I felt. If I were asked today to describe what I was feeling then (okay, I´m asking), I would say I was trying hard to feel an absence of feeling. I did, though, ask my parents frequently to tell me what happened, and their response (mostly from my mother) – patiently given – always followed the same script. It was a dance of mismatched partners- one seeking information, the other seeking to limit it.

123 Paul Revere Road (what a great address!) was in the Tower Hill section of Needham Heights, and we lived there until I was in the 4th grade at nearby Mitchell School. The neighborhood was capped by a steep hill at the top of Tower Hill Road, which made for great sledding in winter. The town used to close off the steet on school snow days, and all the neighborhood kids raced down the white hill on their Flexible Flyers (which,  it turns out, weren´t really that flexible).

My father did well, a hard worker. He had to leave Centre College in Danville, Kentucky after his first year, in the late 1920´s, because his father died. He came back to Needham to work in a gas station and support his mother (Grandma Humphrey lived with us from well before I joined the family until her death on Christmas Eve morning in 1959). After a while my father became a station manager. Later, he bought his own station in Needham- Humphrey´s Service, at Highland Corners- it was still known by that name well into the 1980´s, long after it was sold.

My father became a local real estate broker in the 1950´s, finally opening his own office- Humphrey Associates- which he ran successfully for years. As a company logo, he chose a kangaroo with a little baby in its pouch. Some times, to put a deal together, a client would say they liked the house we were living in, and the next thing we knew we were moving on down the road- though always in Needham. From the time he married my mother (they graduated from Needham High School together) until they retired in the 1970´s, my parents lived in 13 different homes, all in the same town. I was around for 6 of them. The Paul Revere house was a center hall colonial, yellow with black shutters and a large, round carved millstone step at the front entrance. It was not a big house, but it is the one I most remember, maybe because it was there that I made the transition from whatever life I had before in Boston.

We had a cleaning woman, Mabel, a big round Aunt Jemima who took the train out from Boston every Wednesday (Prince Spaghetti Day!) to clean the house. I loved her. I remember one day playing in the front yard, out where we burned Fall leaves by the curb, when Mabel came out. She was wearing a big white apron with  wide and deep pockets. With a big smile and a bigger voice she said: ¨You is so cute, one day I am gonna stuff you in my pocket and take you home.¨

I liked the idea. Boston was where I came from. That she wanted to take me home made me feel good, and it made me wonder- even though I guess I knew she wasn´t really going to do it. I wondered if her pocket was big enough. I thought about riding the train to Boston. Later I told my mother,  happy that Mabel liked me. I never saw Mabel again. A few weeks later, I asked my mother where she was. My mother leaned down (she wasn´t wearing an apron): ¨Donny, we had to let her go. We caught her sweeping dust under the carpet.¨


The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://margaritamagic.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/123-paul-revere-road/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: