A Townie on the Old Town
Take a walk back in time to what Charlestown used to look like, and sound like, and feel like.
Parade Day gave me an opportunity to travel back into my memories of growing up in Charlestown and past Bunker Hill Days. I walked along Main Street before the parade, from Eden Street to the Training Field, and along the way I was surprised to meet so many old friends that I hadn’t seen in years. It was like mini reunions, one right after the other.
I met grammar school classmates, fellow “entertainers" who performed in one of my mother’s numerous minstrel shows dating back to the 50s, a few high school pals and those I’ve met along the way into adulthood.
I was imagining the houses along the route were as they were in my past. There stood the old 5 & 10 cent store, the old shoe store where they would X-ray your feet to see if there was room in there for your feet to grow, the fruit market and Kennedy’s butter and eggs. Bunker Hill Furniture was across the way next to the Alibi, barber shop and beauty parlor.
Ahh, there it was, the old “Hippy” where we spent so many happy Saturday afternoons watching the cartoons and full feature family rated films. Remember, we’d get a large bag of popcorn for 10 cents at the 5 & 10 and paid 25 cents to get into the show?
The First National store was across from Eddie Henry’s, where you could get the best penny candy in the world -- how small was our world in those days!
I cut down onto Warren and went past my old street where I would play all day with my friends, all summer long. We loved to jump rope, play marbles, toss the penny, hop scotch and dodge ball or just chatting away the carefree hours. Con
tinuing on my walk there was the Chinese laundry on the corner of Pleasant Street with Snappers a few steps away. Boy, they had the best bologna and dill and sour pickles for a nickel. I remembered that you would put your hand into this larger-than-life jar to pick a pickle and realize that the juice was up to your elbow before you got the most perfect, juiciest one in there, and as a result, you smelled like pickle juice for the rest of the day.
On the right was the McDonough’s Funeral Home and then Tom Brazil’s flower shop. And there it was, the most magnificent church created to praise God: St. Mary’s. The old grammar school still stood, as did the annex. How we enjoyed our days in those rooms with the good nuns and fellow learners.
Almost at my destination, I saw the firehouse where we knew all the firefighters because they were someone’s dad or uncle. They would put out a hose in the Training Field each summer so that we could cool down under its gentle mist.
Well, there I was reporting to duty at the TV table on Adams Street last Sunday, ready to take on my task at co-host of this year’s parade. The sky was filled with clouds with a fear of rain. Funny, all my Bunker Hill Days of my youth were sunny and warm as my memory recollects.
Back then we had parades that lasted for hours and friends and family who would come from near and far to enjoy the day. Every house had an open door and the neighbors were disappointed if you didn’t stop by to chat. That morning we were in the Doll Carriage Parade or watching the men in uniform at the Monument making speeches about the battle that took place there long, long before I was born.
This was Charlestown. This was family. This was our life and it was a good one.
Great neighbors who looked after each other. Dear friends who would be with you in good times and bad. Time may have changed our surroundings, and seen many move away, but we always come “home” for Bunker Hill Day, whether in person or only in our heart.
Happy Bunker Hill Day Charlestown!