Using my blog to try and make the world a better place. If I can help someone forget their troubles for a few minutes a day, it's all worth it.

1973 (btw, is it just me, or do I look like the first-season Bobby Brady in this pic?????):

1973 (btw, is it just me, or do I look like the first-season Bobby Brady in this pic?????):
I watch the ripples change their size, but never leave the stream of warm impermanent sand. So the days flow through my eyes but still the days seem the same. And these children that you spit on as they try to change their world are immune to your consultations. They're quite aware of what they're going through.

Monday, June 09, 2014

A little family history:

In 1939, my great grandparents, along with their 1 son and 2 daughters (one of which was my grandmother), immigrated from Poland just before the Nazis invaded. They bought the above house in Taunton Massachusetts. It's a 2-family on Meadow Street, just down the road from the Reed & Barton factory where my great grandfather got a job. He worked there 'til he died, and he died shortly before I was adopted into the family. My great grandparents lived in the second floor 3-bedroom apartment, and my grandparents lived in the first floor 2-bedroom apartment.

My grandmother hated living there. She and my grandfather had never intended to move into the house, instead they had planned on buying a house in Brockton, but my grandfather was an alcoholic and he had invested their entire life savings into a questionable-at-best business venture with a friend. The business flopped and they lost everything, so they ended up moving into the house, and my grandfather got a job as a milkman. I don't think my grandmother ever forgave him, nor did my great grandparents. Up until the day they died, both my great grandmother and my grandmother could speak fluent polish, and they used to argue in Polish so nobody could understand what they were saying. It used to drive me crazy...

The house used to be sided with green asphalt roofing tiles, and there were large rosebushes  along the side of the house. There was a small garage at the end of the driveway, and there were two porches on the front of the house (one for each apartment). There was also an old brick barbecue in the backyard. They never used it by the time I came around. It actually hadn't been used since the early '50s, when there was still some semblance of a functional family. But honestly the family had never really been functional: between my grandfather's alcoholism and individual conflicting personalities it never really was a normal family. They weren't the Waltons....

The attic was partitioned into 2 rooms and could have easily been incorporated into the 2nd floor apartment, making the 2nd floor apartment 2 stories. In the attic were the old chests that they had brought over from Poland with all their personal effects: books, family portraits, old photographs from the early part of the century, lace wedding dresses, old suits, etc. I used to love going through all the stuff.

The house is on a river, but nobody seemed to appreciate that it was waterfront, and they let the lawn get so overgrown leading to the water that you couldn't even see the water or get to it. I think it was the river that powered the factory. My great grandmother had a friend (also from Poland) who had a house up the street which was on the river, and her back yard had quite a few apple trees growing on it. We visited her once, and I can still remember sitting in the back yard and the smell of the apples that had fallen on the ground, combined with the smell of the river.

I practically grew up in that house and to this day I still miss it. It was like home. Apparently it's become a really rough neighborhood with drugs and other problems, but it used to be a somewhat attractive and respectable working-class neighborhood. Time certainly has not been kind to Meadow Street.

7 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Awesome little history lesson and glimpse into your past. I (and my whole extended family) used to spend a lot of time at my grandmother's house. My grandfather had built it and most of their seven kids grew up there, so for literally decades it was the focal point of our family. Once my grandmother was too old to live their alone, the house was eventually sold. The new owner razed it and now, with a completely new house and changed landscape, it is unrecognizable. Decided the last time I went by that I would not go back. Hurt too much to see it all so alien.

joe said...

I don't know what it is, but grandmothers' houses always bring back good memories for most of us.

For a long time I kept telling myself that I'd buy the house some day, but now that it's a crack neighborhood I've kind of changed my mind...

Diane said...

I wanted to buy my grandparents' house too, but typically it isn't the same now and the neighborhood stinks. My other grandparents' house was tiny, and they rented it. That neighborhood is not exactly a garden spot now either. Guess they're right: you can never go home again.

Retro Hound said...

Great story! It's important to keep these stories alive.

joe said...

Di: I liked my grandparents' homes better than the ones I owned.

RH: Thanks ;^) As soon as my great grandmother died, my grandmother and her sister sold the house. Neither of them cared for it.

Jack said...

This is the kind of story that will thrill your grandchildren. Similar story about the old neighborhood going to pot. Ours went while we were still raising our kids there. It got gradually worse, day by day, until one day we said "Why did we get a house in the ghetto again?" Great story, and the pic brings it to live.

joe said...

Come to think of it, most of the people who bought into the neighborhood at the time my great grandparents did were also polish. My great grandmother used to visit a neighbor every day, and they only conversed in Polish.

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