By Sal Giarratani
REMEMBERING THE DAY THE POTATO SHEDS FRENCH FRIED ITSELF
One of my mother›s brothers worked down at the Potato Sheds for years for the F.J. Ward Produce Company. Eventually, he graduated from Bentley College and then bought the business when Mr. Ward retired. My Uncle Jim Callahan was smart. He kept the name Ward for the company because everyone knew the place.
Growing up it was a good business for him and his family. He eventually settled first in Somerville, then Medford on his way to Winchester which for many Townie’s was a dream destination.
On May 10, 1962 at age 56, he had no idea that everything would go up in smoke. At some point, a fire started down by City Square and those potato sheds that ran from there up to Prison Point Bridge and spread all the way down the long line of attached sheds, no firewalls. Helpless old wooden buildings. My uncle passed away at 65 years old.
Even though the Potato Sheds are a distant memory and probably no memory at all for younger folk, I still know exactly where his shed was today.
And whenever I have potatoes for dinner I think of him and Ward Potatoes
The fire stopped just before my uncle’s place but with over 90 percent of the sheds in ruins , the end for the business was in sight. He last a few more years there before retiring with my Aunt Alice to New Hampshire.
As I look back today, my last image of the sheds is from 14 year old eyes. A long time ago. I wonder though how long the sheds would have lasted. Trucks were already doing more and more of the business and those boxcars of potatoes on the rails outside his shed were destined for history soon enough.
It would have been nice that day if the fire never happened. The next day, my mother went over to see him and I was with her. It was a very said sight to view. My uncle hung in there a few more years before calling it quits.
Remember up in this piece I mentioned whenever I go out to dinner and eat potatoes, I think of my uncle›s place, whenever, I eat French fries, I sadly do too.
Fifty-four years have passed and for me it always seems like yesterday.
This is a few from the Prison Point bridge taken on May 10, 1962
THEY MAY MAKE YOU OR BREAK YOU BUT THEY’LL NEVER FORSAKE YOU
The above are some of the lyrics of “Southie is My Hometown” but it could also very easily be the motto for Charlestown too. This place isn’t just a piece of one-square mile real estate, it is a state of mind and spirit.
I saw the news story about the senseless death of a 45 year old Quincy guy who suffered a fatal head injury trying to break up a fight. Brian Hingston was a husband and dad to three kids.
The line up at Carr’s when up and around the block on Bunker Hill Street. His friends came to mourn his loss. He was remembered by many in his old neighborhood. His life came to an end in Adams Village Dorchester but his memory will live on in Charlestown.
His wife Tammy of 17 years and her three children will survive. They have many around them looking out for them. A fund has been established for his three children at gofundme.com/3gzz2j44.
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