"OUR CORNER"





The happiest part of life was on "Our Corner". It was a place where you could be whatever you wanted without fear. It was a place where you were accepted and belonged. Our childhood years and teenage years were spent here. We would share our escapades with each other and would laugh way into the night. No names will be used to protect the innocent. One kid was a participant in stealing a canoe and hid it in the back of his house. One of the cops peered over this kid's fence, looks around, and writes everyone's name in his book. He gives everyone a lecture about staying off the corner. A year later this same cop comes back to the same kid's backyard and asks was he willing to sell the canoe. The kid said "Yes" and the cop takes it. Shortly afterwards the canoe is seen on the back of a truck traveling down a busy street. The canoe slips off and another truck ran over it. This kid was relieved because the evidence was now gone!!

Another kid took a parking meter which was loose. He brought it to his house and made keys for it. Some of us had one and in the middle of the night would gather nickles from the meters. (It only cost five cents to park back in those days!) The meter collectors became suspicious of all the empty parking meters and soon the cops became involved. We all soon ditched our keys.

Then there was the kid who got plastered drunk with his friend who passed out. He brings his friend back to his own neighborhood so when he wakes up he will know where he is. The next morning he goes back to where he had put his friend and is arrested for possible murder. The cops had driven his friend to City Hospital. The friend was eventually revived and the charges were dropped.

This was our time to be joyful because we were totally free. Many of us preferred and sought for life outside of our homes. We each had our own reasons for seeking "The Corner".



Many of us were what sociologists referred to as "Latch Key Kids". We got ourselves ready for school. After school we did whatever we wanted to do. One of these kids, who had to take care of himself, was written about in the Boston Traveler newspaper. Here is a short excerpt from a report about an unconscious woman that was found by the Charles River:
A policeman from the Back Bay Station brought a 14-year-old boy to Massachusetts General Hospital where he identified his mother.
Then the boy broke down and told police she was always taking "those green pills and going to sleep or always being helpless."
"I HAD TO GET OUT and get things myself," the boy said. "I was always hungry. When I saw something in a car I would just take it.
"I went and came as I wanted. Nobody told me anything or helped me any way."
The boy said he had been shifting for himself for "three or four years since my father died."











The police from Station 16 constantly told us to "MOVE ON". We would then go down to the corner of Exeter and Newbury Sts or Glouster and Newbury Sts. Eventually, we would have to "move on" again and so life went on from corner to corner.




When we expanded our horizons, some of us also hung out at Vic's Deli on the corner of Boyston and Dalton Sts. On this corner kids from different neighborhoods mingled. At one time or another most of us knew each other from Prince School.


Vic's Deli was an exciting place to hang around. Aside from us going there after school, it was also where the pro wrestlers (Killer Kilwalski, Farmer Pete, Georgious George, etc.) came when they were in town for wrestling matches at the Boston Gardens. The wrestlers would sometimes take a few of we younger ones bowling. "Duck Pin" bowling was popular in Boston and these wreslers were intrigued because all they knew was "Ten Pin" bowling which at the time, none of us knew even existed.


"HOME", however, was the corner of Newbury and Fairfield Streets.


Tommy K. claims he had "Our Corner" before I arrived there!! In the alley behind us, Tommy thought it was "great fun" to hit the garbage cans with a stick and watch the rats go running out.



Within these blocks, there lived a man called "DIAL FINGERS". He constantly called the police complaining about our existence. It mattered not what we were doing. If someone out there remembers "DIAL FINGERS" then you lived in my neighborhood.



"Grayzo", Jack, Nick and "Luke"



There was nothing more exciting than hanging around on a warm summer night and letting whatever happened to happen. Usually whatever happened was "trouble"! Our focus was on FUN. We gave no thought as to what was right or what was wrong. I don't think we even knew the difference except, for the extremes. We had our own value system. It was wrong to punch another kid in the face for no reason but it was not wrong to go to Filene's shoplifting.


"HEY? What are you kids doing?"




Throughout the night one would hear the words, "Whattah pennies made outtah?" The answer returned was "Dirty Coppah" and everyone would scatter because a policeman had been spotted.







On "Our Corner" there was one rule: We were not to hurt a defenseless animal. Once a boy, named Jimmy, shot and hurt a squirrel with a sling-shot. As a result, a group of older boys carried him down Fairfield St. to the Esplanade where he was thrown into the Charles River. It was mid-December and his clothes seemed to freeze as we followed him back to his building.













When we reach the age of contemplating the meaning of life we wonder, "Whatever happened to those kids I used to know"? We have not stood on the corner together since we were all about seventeen or eighteen years old. Many joined the navy; one or two joined the army. We each had different doors opened or closed that changed our lives for better or worse. Here is what happened to some of us:



GEOFFREY stated he became a US Marshall and Special Agent with the DEA. He also has his own jazz band and teaches music.




BOBBY H. continued to have trouble with the police.


TOMMY O., it is rumored, became a lieutenant in the Police Department.


FRANCIS' father was shot in the head. The last time Francis was seen was near a homeless shelter.


DONALD became a bartender.


JIMMY was in the CIA in Washington, DC.


PAUL is a talented artist. His works have been shown at various art galleries.


HAROLD became a well known published poet and a teacher of poetry. Harold got polio in high school. He died in 2000.

IRVING became a paraplegic due to a car accident. He died in 1985.


DUNCAN resides in an art colony where he does oil paintings.


AL committed suicide by hanging himself.


(In one of the class photos at Prince School, there is a boy who died in a shoot out with the police.)



TERRI became a teaching nun, Sister Bridgit.





As I walked from one block to another, in my head drifted the words from an old hymn..........

"Often I wonder why I must journey

Over a road so rugged and steep;

While there are others living in comfort;

While with the lost I labor and weep."



I became a social worker.



Terri and I were often given "rides" in the back of squad cars. One time we each had sling shots hanging out of the back pockets of our dungarees. "IMAGE" was everything. So the cops took away our sling shots and drove us around while telling us that having a sling shot was illegal. We were told that we were going to be sent to Lancaster reformatory. Eventually we were let out of the squad car and then Terri and I resumed our "normal" behavior!






A special THANKS has to be given to the Boston Police Department especially the cops at Station 16.









"Our Corner" has become a lonely place. There are no longer any voices of children and teenagers gathering together on Newbury and Fairfield Sts..... The neighborhood has changed. The rich took over and the poor moved out. There is no more laughter telling each other about our "pranks" which the police never appreciated! Little did any one know that many of us were intelligent, imaginative and innovative to come up with "pranks" for which most of us were never caught. We went from childhood through our teen years and then our youth was gone and we disappeared.






"Our Corner" needs kids again playing games such as: Hide-and-seek, tag, roller skating, hopscotch, and "freeze". My favorite game was to throw a "Hi-bouncer" ball against the steps. That person was the pitcher, hitter and catcher. First base was the red car, second was the lamp post, third was the black car and home plate was the steps. A homerun was getting the ball to fly across the street clearing all the cars or making it around all the bases. If the ball went under a car, you could still keep running.

How much fun it was to hosey teams for stick ball, kick ball, and snow ball fights. Brick walls were the back-drops for many games such as: Pitching pennies or flipping baseball cards where there were "leaners", "kisses" and "toppers". Whoever got the closest to the wall won everyone else's cards or pennies. A brick wall was also perfect for playing "Donkey", hand ball, or "May I".

Who can forget the large, raised letters that said, "APOTHECARY", above the drug store on Newbury and Fairfield? We all tried our best to destroy that sign but we also used it to throw a rubber ball or a snow ball through the "O" to see who could do it the most times. So we did have a few years of playing childhood games but by the time 5th grade came, most of us had already had trouble with the cops. I guess it is important to have parents who know what you are doing!!!!




I wonder why some habits NEVER leave us despite the fact the need is long gone. In my youth, I would never know if I would have a place to sleep that night so I would scope out the area looking for a place that would keep me hidden from anyone walking down the alley or the street. Fifty years later, as I am driving around the city, I realize I am saying to myself, "Oh that would be a good place to stay tonight because no one could see me".










(I always wanted my very own puppy......)