Guest Op-Ed: Memories of the Old Bunker Hill Development in the 1950’s

The first in an occasional installment of the writer’s memories of growing up in the Bunker Hill Development in the 1950s.

It was a cold Tuesday morning, on Feb. 1, 1951, when we moved into the Charlestown Housing Project. My mother, my sister Jean and myself, had lived in what was called a “cold-water flat,” a small apartment with a stove, located in the kitchen. Many nights it was extremely cold throughout the apartment, when we woke in the morning and came into the kitchen, my mother would yell: “Shut the door quick, keep the heat in!” However, in the project, it was always warm and comfortable, even in the winter months, we had no control over making any adjustments to the heat, and none of us ever complained.

Our address was 18 Carney Court, on the second floor, of a three-story building, we shared the building with 11 other families, Jack Dempsey, Jim Sadler, Leo McNiff, Henry Ciambelli, quickly became my friends. The Dempseys lived on our floor, Jack Dempsey, was about my age, and became a lifelong friend. I am still in contact with him after 68 years, and he and his wife Linda, are godparents to my youngest daughter, Erin.

Everyone that lived in the project was in the same boat, few residents owned cars. We did have the T close at hand and we often walked from City and Sullivan Square, or Thompson Square to our homes. Despite the lack of money, those were fun years. On many Friday nights, our group of teen-age friends would walk over the bridge, to the North End, for pizza at Pizzeria Regina, and of course we would walk back home. In the early 1950s, a whole pizza was 35 cents, we would split a large bottle of soda, which cost 20 cents. (To be continued…)

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