Memories of Roslindale in 1940s-’60s

May 10, 2013
By
(Courtesy Photo) Joe Moscaritolo and his sister, Peggy Marino, in a goat-drawn wagon outside the Henry Abrahams School on Mahler Road in 1948.

(Courtesy Photo) Joe Moscaritolo and his sister, Peggy Marino, in a goat-drawn wagon outside the Henry Abrahams School on Mahler Road in 1948.

By Joe Moscaritolo. Special to the Gazette

 Editor’s Note: Joe Moscaritolo grew up at 12 Aldwin Road. He is now a retired Boston Public Schools administrator and lives in Braintree. He recorded these historic memories of Roslindale in 2010 and updated them last year. Modern-day businesses in some of the places he recalls are named in parentheses.

I lived in Roslindale from the 1940s till the mid-’60s and own the two-family home on Aldwin Road my grandfather built in the1920s.

Roslindale was such a great community to live in. I enjoy going back, and even though all the people have changed, I always manage to talk with the new folks in the neighborhood and share my memories. They will never know the wonderful people who lived in their houses many years prior to them. Someday they will be the wonderful people who once lived in these houses. The music coming from the back porches on a Sunday when I was growing up was Italian, while now it is Latino and from the Islands. What type of music will the next group take to this neighborhood?

As I work around my yard on Aldwin Road, I daydream and can visualize the people who I knew and the way it was. I am so fortunate to have the magnificent memories of growing up in Roslindale and knowing so many wonderful people.

My grandparents had a large vegetable garden along with chickens and a grapevine. My elementary school teachers would walk our entire class from the Henry Abrahams School to my house to see the chickens. My Nonni would talk to the children in her limited-English way and always give them something to eat or drink. Everyone always enjoyed this field trip.

When I was old enough and able, my grandfather would have me go to Forest Hills Station to pick up his Italian newspaper, named “Oggi.” I would ride my bicycle through the tunnel and go under the elevated line past Hatoff’s Gasoline Station to get the newspaper. I would ride my bicycle right up to the newspaper counter in the station to buy the newspaper. Before the entrance to the tunnel was a diner. In that general location now is a Harvest Co-op supermarket.

Jeffrey’s Bar (Gourmet Caterers) was across the street from the Toll Gate Bridge. I would walk to Jeffrey’s some warm evenings during the summer and sit outside with my friends. Every time a pizza would burn, the cook would give it to us to eat. Going down Arboretum Road on our way to Muddy’s Pond at the Arboretum, we would stop at DeAngelis Blacksmith Shop to say hi and watch the men working.

We would walk over the now-demolished Toll Gate Bridge (next to the Toll Gate Cemetery, where my father buried his dog when he was a young boy) to go to St. Andrew’s Church for Mass on Sunday. Catechism Class was on Thursday afternoon, and Mr. and Mrs. Manning who lived on Archdale Road would walk us to class from the Henry Abrahams School on Mahler Road. On Sunday morning, my grandmother would wait for a chartered bus that would stop at bus stops within the parish along Washington Street and take people to the 7 o’clock Mass at St. Andrew’s. They did not have to walk over the bridge.

Near my house was McClay’s oil business and ice house (The Ice Box). Whenever there was a power outage, there would be lines of people waiting to buy ice. Across Washington Street was and still is the Puritan Ice Cream Company. My uncle worked at the Puritan. Near the Ice House was Abie’s Store. It was a very tiny store and Abie and his father were always there. The building is now gone and the tiny lot is empty.

I watched the Archdale housing projects being built and would sell soda to the laborers. Across from Aldwin Road, where I lived, was Larry’s Store (La Magia Barber Shop). Larry Luciano was a nice man and we would go in there each morning on the way to school to buy Hunt’s potato chips. Larry would take the potato chips out of a large bin and put them in a small brown bag and place them on a scale so that we would get 5 or 10 cents worth of chips. I remember a family story of when my grandparents didn’t have a telephone, emergency calls would go to Larry at his store and he would leave the store and go to the house and tell them that they had an important telephone call.

Sotir’s Store was at the corner of Claxton and Washington Street. The store was sold to Jack Darcey and it became Jack’s Store (Cibao Market). He was such a nice man. After I got married and moved away, while visiting my parents on Aldwin Road, they would take my children to Jack’s to buy candy.

On Lochdale Street near Larry’s was the button factory. That is where my mother and father met each other. Later it became the Marine Optical Company. We would go there to get old eyeglass frames and try them on. That is now a storage facility.

On the next corner was Clapp’s Pharmacy (Elite Bodyworks). That was owned by Melvin Slater. I went to work there while in high school. Later Jack Miller bought the drugstore and renamed it Archdale Drug. I kept on working for Jack and Bertha Miller. Next to the drugstore was Rocky’s Diner (also now Elite Bodyworks). On Saturday my friends and I would go in there and have a meatball sandwich and French fries. Angela and Francis Faletra would be helping their mother Julia and father Rocco. Now Angela is married to Mayor Menino.

After Mass on Sunday, we would all gather on the drug store corner and everyone was accepted to mix. Other than Sunday, it depended upon which age bracket you were as to which corner you would stand on. The older group always got the mailbox. There were always boys singing and keeping beat on the mailbox. I attended the Henry Abrahams School and we always would play ball in the school yard. Some of the games were stick ball, skunk, half ball and handball, using the sidewalk lines as our court. Next I attended the Francis Parkman School. One of my memories of the Parkman, was when we all went out on the sidewalk to watch President Eisenhower ride by in an open convertible during one of his campaigns. After the Parkman it was the Washington Irving Junior High School.

Along Washington Street were Lesher Variety, Aldo’s Barber Shop (La Union Grocery), Jimmy’s Shirt Laundry and Ralph Pace Barber Shop (Luis Hair Style and Arboretum Grill). Rex Cleaners (BBQ Town) was diagonally across from these businesses. Next along the way was the 4040 Lounge, which is now a multi-family dwelling. That is where my bachelor party was held before my wedding in 1963.

On the other corner was Barletta’s construction compound lot (Giura & Tambora Restaurant). Across from Healy Field was the 4 P’s (Marino Building) and A&W Root Beer (ALFA gas station) drive-in fast food restaurant. People would go in there for hamburgers and root beer while being served in their automobiles.

Up a bit was Boschetto’s Bakery (Sugar Baking Co.), where my aunt worked for Andrew Boschetto starting the day it opened. When walking by, I would stop in to say hello and my aunt or any of the other women would give me and anyone I was with a cookie. Then there was Pagliarullo’s Bakery and they had the greatest bread. Mrs. Pagliarullo would see us walking by and break off a chunk of Italian bread for us to eat.

Around the corner in the square was the Rialto Theater (Greater Roslindale Medical and Dental Center), where we would go practically every Saturday afternoon. In the square, my mother would order the greatest apricot pies from Diane’s Bakery. Each week I would go to Cummins Ladies Store and put a dollar or two on my mother’s account. I would walk in and say, “9580” and give the lady the money, and she would write out a receipt for me to take home.

I worked for Angelo Rossi at Lodgen’s Market (Bank of America) in the square delivering groceries. Angelo Rossi had an old open Coca-Cola truck and I would help load the truck. I would sit in the back with the groceries while he drove and then I would run to the houses with the bags.

Another aunt worked at Witherel’s candy shop (Wallpaper City) in the square, so that was another stop for me and my friends. My friend Connie Sinopoli’s mother owned Venus Beauty Parlor (Jean’s Ultimate Performance) so that was another stop for us. I worked at Joe Rubico’s bowling alley (below Vouros Pastry Shop) on the corner of Poplar and Washington streets as a pin-setter.  We would also go into Rubico’s pool hall and shoot pool on Friday nights.

I always bought my Easter clothes in Surman’s (Sullivan’s Pharmacy) and had my hair cut at Sparky’s next to the Parkway Spa on the corner of Corinth and Washington. There was a juke box at each table in the spa.

My uncle owned Al’s Esso gasoline station across from Allen Furniture. The location of his station is now a little park with a statue of Alexander the Great.