Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Boston’ Category

A holiday surprise for those who might still be subscribed to get Hope Street via email.

New Year’s Day in a new kitchen, and two people are doing what people do in kitchens on New Year’s Day.

ME, reaching up to the wall: “We have any need to keep this?”

MY WIFE, cradling her coffee: “Nah.”

I take the 2019 calendar — a lovely job, with artsy food illustrations — down off the wall and step toward the tall kitchen trash bin.

But as I do, I think about my family and calendars, and realize this might be a suitable moment for an update.

Since I last posted here two years ago, I have achieved my dream of returning to New England. I live and work in the Boston area, where I long wanted to be.

It was unsettled at first. My wife and younger son stayed in Pennsylvania for the first nine months while I lived in a small apartment near Boston that served mostly as a storage area for our boxes. Every few weeks I would make the five-plus-hour highway trip back to the Lehigh Valley to pack, clean, and try to be some sort of presence in the life of my family.

Once school ended in June 2019, they set sail and joined me; we managed to get our house in Pennsylvania sold; and now we are all in one place again.

My job takes me to Connecticut a few times a year. I don’t usually go any farther than Hartford, so I haven’t gotten to Stamford yet. But I suspect I will at some point, for pleasure if not for work.

Two weeks ago, while burning a week of vacation, I visited my grandmother’s birthplace of Keene, N.H. (as featured on Hope Street in June 2016). It’s got a cute little downtown; I wouldn’t mind going back sometime.

49255498188_d28bdf6f3e_k

Keene.

Just yesterday, I brought a special parcel with me on the train to work. It is a painting of my grandfather’s. I don’t have room to display it at home, so I figure it can enliven my cubicle.

IMG_8312

I haven’t quite nailed down the best way to display it.

IMG_8314.JPG

Accept no substitute.

So, the places and people of Hope Street are still with me.

But back to my kitchen in the suburbs of Boston, and back to the 2019 calendar. It’s in the trash now. There really isn’t a reason to keep it: My family does not put the calendar to the same vigorous use my grandfather did. We’re also generally less inclined to hold on to stuff, following a move to a much smaller home-space.

Still, I took a couple pictures as a farewell to a long and eventful year, and as a final recognition of the calendar’s good and faithful service. A good wall calendar is a very useful thing.

Though if you’re reading this, you already know that…

IMG_8324.JPG

IMG_8327

IMG_8328

Best wishes to one and all for a happy and healthy new year (and new decade), until we cross paths again.

Read Full Post »

It looks like we may be getting a couple more visitors to Hope Street.

The blog has been listed, for some indeterminate amount of time, on the Alumni Voices section of Bostonia, the alumni magazine of Boston University. You can also see it on the Bostonia home page if you scroll down to the very bottom.

(Hey, I got as good play on the page as John Silber did. Never would have imagined that when I was 20 years old.)

Greetings to any fellow BU alumni who might stop by. Check out the About page for some background; leave a comment if you want; and make yourselves at home.

It’s sort of a family-history-slash-American-history trip we do here. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s different, anyway, I think.

Be forewarned, though. I think a lot of my best stuff got written in the first year of this blog. A few hits from the archive you might enjoy checking out:

– School’s out.

– A pair of posts in which things get hot.

– Too much Robert Lowell and too much Old Overholt led to this one. I wash my hands of its parentage, me.

– Ladies and gentlemen … the Beatles.

– Progress marches forward, Sixties-style.

– Census working overtime.

Cheers. Hope to see you on Monday(s).

A little cross-promotion, too: If you like my writing (someone does, every so often), I write about the usual blogger’s ragbag of pop ephemera at another blog, Neck Pickup. Feel free to check that out too.

Read Full Post »

Last year around this time, I wrote about my dad’s trips back to college, and some of my own as well.

My Aunt Elaine had a more interesting and eventful college experience than either one of us, I think.

So as college kids nationwide head back for another year on campus, we’ll focus this week on her days in one of America’s great college towns.

Sept. 4-5, 1969. “Registration B.U.”

This calendar entry captures the beginning of my aunt’s two years of graduate school at Boston University. She chose the school for various reasons:

“I chose BU School of Social Work because I wanted to do social work in an urban area. BU had a good reputation in social work and certainly was urban. Your mother, upon learning that I wanted to work with people with all kinds of challenges,  said I would probably like Boston because it had a lot of nuts! (She was right.)

“Also, Martin Luther King graduated from their graduate school (the one for ministers) and I had actually seen him in Stamford around 1963 and was impressed.”

(Hold on. My aunt saw Martin Luther King Jr. in person? That’s awesome. I had no idea. Another blog post for another time, perhaps.)

There’s an entry for the end of her days at BU, too:

May 14 and 15, 1971. Good thing my grandpa got that last tuition check in the mail before the postage went up to eight cents.

During that period, the college on Commonwealth Avenue — like many other colleges and universities — was rocked by tremendous internal and external upheaval.

Massive student protests following the Kent State killings led BU to cancel its spring 1970 commencement ceremony and end the school year early. The Class of ’70 would not get its formal commencement until 2010.

Two months after the riots, BU President Arland Christ-Janer resigned, having apparently had his fill of campus social unrest. Christ-Janer’s two immediate predecessors as BU president had lasted 25 and 16 years. He lasted three.

His interim replacement, Calvin B.T. Lee, spent six months in charge before the school chose its next full-time president — a brusque, highly motivated former dean at the University of Texas. John Silber remained in charge for an eventful quarter-century, guiding the college toward educational and financial improvement while regularly clashing with critics.

******

My Aunt Elaine didn’t take much notice, as far as I know, of the turnover in BU’s ivory tower. But she certainly saw what was going on down on the streets:

“It was quite the tumultuous time in Boston and much of the country, as well as BU. There were racial tensions and anti-war protests  which spilled over into a general distrust of anything establishment.

“My roommate and I would joke about how we would walk down Commonwealth Avenue and come home to our apt with stacks of literature about all types of issues that were being protested. Also, we learned to dodge panhandlers and hari-krishna people who positioned themselves on Commonwealth Ave.

“I had a blind date with a guy who was in Officer’s Training School who wore his uniform, and he was hissed at when we went to dinner in  Cambridge.  A tad awkward.”
My aunt found her way to some of the anti-war rallies:

“The first one I attended seemed weird because it took on the atmosphere of a football rally. We did have a professor at BU who had been in  the POW camps in Germany , and he helped expand my mind to become part of the anti-war sentiment. 

“I didn’t pay the tax on my phone bill as a protest to their supporting the Viet Nam War.  The phone company called your Grandma and Grandpa, who didn’t understand the antiwar thing, and they paid the tax part of the bill to them.

“Unfortunately, the anti-war rallies became more radical. I attended a huge one on Boston Common (or some major place)  with Abbie Hoffman speaking and he literally told the crowd to go out and burn the streets. There were fires in Boston that night and people were arrested for inciting violence (I think Abbie Hoffman was one of them.) This was in 1970 or 1971.”

My aunt at Hope Street, 1971.

And, she came into contact with one of the legendary street organizations of the 1960s and ’70s as it tried to improve its violent public image:

“While at BU,  I and my project partner actually had contact with the Black Panthers and got to observe a school they were starting for black kids only.  The Black Panthers weren’t too thrilled to hear from us, but when we said we were in Social Work, they allowed me to come observe at their school.

At that time, the Black Panthers were a big deal!  They were trying to do some positive things for their community and I think they wanted people to know they did things besides shoot police officers.”

******

While Abbie Hoffman, the Black Panthers and anti-war protests were obvious icons of their time, other developments of that period at BU would not emerge as noteworthy until years later.

In December 1969, the first gay student organization in Boston, the Boston University Homophile Club, announced its presence with a typewritten flyer. While the club itself is lost to history, it laid a foundation for the LGBT organizations now publicly entrenched on college campuses, like BU’s current Spectrum group.

The protests of May 1970 inspired the birth of a new, independent student newspaper at BU called the Daily Free Press.

The Freep is still around today, having evolved from a ragtag enterprise fired by pot smoke and passion to an effective pre-professional training ground. It was there, between 1993 and ’95, that I learned the basics of the journalist’s trade. (And danced on desks.)

Also, in the spring of 1971, an upstart five-piece rock band heavily influenced by the Stones and Yardbirds began playing impromptu gigs at BU’s George Sherman Union and cadging rehearsal space in BU dorms.

I used to have — and may still have somewhere — a copy of a picture of the band that appeared in a spring 1971 issue of the Daily Free Press.

Its matter-of-fact caption: “Aerosmith, a rock band, played the George Sherman Union.

******

My aunt got a social work job in New Haven after graduation and, as far as I know, has not lived in Boston since.

I arrived at BU 20 years after my aunt’s graduation and found it much quieter. There were no protests to speak of during my four years on Comm. Ave.

I’ll give my aunt the last word, again:

“It was a fascinating time, though sometimes disconcerting and mind-boggling. I have been amazed to see how Boston has returned to a rather quiescent state. When I was there, it seemed like this was where the whole country was going and would remain!”

******

Bonus multimedia content: For anyone feeling nostalgic, Flickr user AntyDiluvian has been kind enough to post an excellent set of photos of Boston in the 1970s.

The excellent Nick DeWolf Photo Archives on Flickr also has photos of a post-Kent State protest in Boston in May 1970 and an anti-war protest in Boston from October 1970, as well as sundry other shots from the city around that time.

Read Full Post »