Having spent about a good dozen years calling Charlestown my home, I have good memories around Easter in Charlestown when I was still living at home with my parents on Winthrop Street. I wasn’t as lucky as a Townie to having been born and raised here but after arriving I immediately became a part of this community and though it has been many years since I lived in the town, I have carried the town with me no matter where I go or what I have done.
My mother was a Harrington from St. Mary’s parish around the corner from old Station 15. I grew up in the South End and lower Roxbury but my mother always took my brother and I back to Charlestown all the time to visit relatives or old childhood friends of hers. Charlestown was always a second home to me but I didn’t land here until my mother finally convinced my dad to move to Charlestown where it all began for her.
Ma was a character and everyone who knew her became quickly aware of that if they didn’t always know. As a child in my own neighborhood growing up most folks felt powerless when it came to neighborhood concerns. Most people just depended on our elected officials to do right by us. Usually they always did but my mother being a Townie would usually hand out her input to them just in case to educate them on what needed to be done. I guess that was the Townie in her acting and speaking her mind.
When I arrived in Charlestown it felt like a new beginning, a real neighborhood with a defined spirit. It didn›t take me long to get active. I quickly found Townies more than willing to help me because they just liked me and others because they knew my mother.
My new parish, St. Mary’s was part of my family’s roots and I took to the place well. My mother was born in the parish and it was a vital part of the faith experience of my mother’s Irish immigrant family that was carried here over the Atlantic from Bere Island in west Cork where most folks are either Harringtons, Sullivans or Callahans.
St. Mary’s is one of the most beautiful churches in Boston and can be spiritually overwhelming. Sitting in a pew I could recognize the struggle of Irish immigrants to build it as their spiritual home as they struggled through life. For immigrants every day could be like hell or it could be like Easter. The saying, only the strong survive had to be about the Irish in America.
I am proud of the small role I played in Charlestown’s long history. During the ’70s, I was involved in the anti-busing movement with Powderkeg and in the ‘80s, I was one of those rebels who took over Engine 50 down at the Winthrop St. firehouse to save it from becoming just another expensive condo.
Even after all the years I have been out of Charlestown, I seem, to be always in Charlestown. I have made some of my best lifelong friends in this great one square mile patch of real estate. This past Sunday at Easter Mass I remembered all my Townie friends, living and deceased for being and having been such a good influence on my life.
Who knows I am hoping that someday, I will call Charlestown home again as my mother was lucky to have done.
VETERANS MEMORIAL DAY
Later this month over at the clock tower at Marina Bay in Quincy, I will be attending the annual observation of Vietnam Veteran›s Day as I do every April. The other day, I passed by the Vietnam Memorial right here in Charlestown on Green Street, a worthy gift to Charlestown from the Abraham Lincoln Post 11, GAR and thought about the six heroes inscribed on that monument. We call them heroes and for a good reason. They sacrificed their lives and future for all of us.
The Vietnam War ended horribly 40 years ago this month but the sacrifices made by our heroes should never be forgotten. They were American heroes. These six were also Townies.
Remember all of them this month ands every month of the year. The last sentence for this commentary is: Remember them always. They died for us.