Townie Tidbits


This year would have been my mother’s 105th birthday and it brings back those great old memories growing up when my family celebrated with lots of cake and ice cream. The good thing for all of us was the fact that each of us had a birthday in each of the four seasons so life passed by birthday party to birthday party.

In my household, my brother and I always called our mom “Ma.” Later in life I found out that’s what folks always called her mother when she was a girl too. She was Ma Harrington to family, friends and neighbors. She passed away back in 1992 living much longer than her Ma who died suddenly from a heart attack after going shopping with my mother in 1945 when Ma Harrington was only 65 years old.

My mother grew up in Charlestown, to be exact in St. Mary’s Parish where she was born and raised. In 1992 she went home to God from St. Mary’s too. She was always proud of her Townie status and never ever forgot where she came from.

I spent much of my life outside of Charlestown but between ages 20 and 36 I was a part of Charlestown. I enjoyed those years and fully understood why my mother loved Charlestown so much. Back when my mother and her family were growing up in Charlestown before moving to the country in Maplewood Square in Malden, they like most Townies struggled through life but never felt like victims of anything.

Growing up I was always close to my Irish uncles who were very Irish Catholic and Democrats. My Uncle George Harrington was a liberal Democrat during the Vietnam War and would have kitchen debates a lot with my more conservative father. My Uncle Nearly stayed out of politics for the most part and was into Irish music and plenty of dancing. My Uncle Jim Callahan was a longtime owner of one of those Charlestown Potato Sheds which meant our family was never short of potatoes, baked, mashed or French fried.

Charlestown is changing today as old Charlestown changes into new Charlestown. Actually, it is not a bad thing because just like us, if we stop growing we die and Charlestown is still very much alive and growing.

If my mother were alive today, she would appreciate the Charlestown of 2014 My mother always was proud of her working class upbringing and the struggle she survived well growing up poor and working class.

Happy Birthday, Ma!

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