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.

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.