Townie Tidbits

July 1, 2016

By Sal Giarratani


I did not move to Charlestown until I was 20 years old going to Boston State College. It took years but my mother finally got my dad to move here. I grew up in both the South End and lower Roxbury in St. Philip’s Parish which had a very large Italian American community.

However, my mother always took my brother and I over to Charlestown all the time to visit her old girlhood friends and relatives still there. We went to almost every Bunker Hill Day Parade going back to when James Michael Curley rode in his impressive Cadillac convertible throwing out silver dollars to the ladies. You should have seen those gals go for them. They could have played the offensive line for the Patriots.

My grandfather’s last apartment was in Charlestown above a barroom which apparently suited him just fine. I can remember once on parade day, my mother spotted Grandpa Harrington. He saw us first I guess and ran inside Donovan’s in City Square at Rogan’s Hall. The sign outside stated, “No women allowed.”

My mom ran inside oblivious to that restrictive sign. She pulled him out to see us. After a little chic-chat, my mom allowed him to go back inside for his “tea.”

Growing up as a young adult, I loved Charlestown even more. When I left the town for the South Shore, it wasn›t easy to do. I got married at St. Mary’s and it was off to Quincy for the next chapter in my life. However, when that chapter ended in Norfolk Probate Court, I returned to Boston and found housing prices too high in Charlestown and did the next best thing, I moved to Eastie.

  I still hope someday to return but until then I am going to make it hard for people to miss me because I just won’t go away.

 I still love potatoes by the way because that is a Charlestown staple on the kitchen table.  My Uncle Jim owned one of those Potato Sheds that went crispy back in May 1962. We never left Charlestown for Roxbury without at least carrying a free 10 pound bag of potatoes.

 Recently, I saw someone wearing a tee shirt which they thought must have been cool. It said “Welcome to Charlestown, Bank Robbing Capital of the World.” I found it offensive, not funny.

I like the New Charlestown too. New people bring in new ideas and bring new vision. We all grow and constantly change and so should our communities. I just remember that when my grandmother from Beare Island in West Cork came to Charlestown, she was a Toonie and not a Townie.

I always feel like Bunker Hill Day is Charlestown’s birthday because everyone gets to energize their Townie Pride for another year of the good life. In closing, have a great Fourth of July. Have a couple of burgers in my honor. Keep America in our prayers. It needs it right now with the election and all.

  • oldsalt54

    great article Sal…I too have fond memories of The Town…St. Mary’s, reciting history of bunker hill for change from out of towners …Snapper’s on the corner of Pleasant where you could get penny candy, slice meats, bulkie rolls and dozen donuts on Sunday. My Da worked at the paper sheds on Rutherford. But the church was the center of our lives. I too would love to have a place there but I’m way down south where it’s warm. My Ma had to clean floors at night when Da died at 52. Thanks to FDR signing Social Security into law we were able to stay in our apartment until I was the last to leave and Mom got a place in the projects on Bunker Hill St.