Adios, Big Woo

Written in


So I’m back in my hometown for the week, helping my mom move. Of course she waits until her grandkids are grown and (almost) moved out of our house before she decides to come out to Colorado. Oh well. I had a chance to do a little walkabout, see a few of the old sites, and say goodbye.

Let’s see what I came up with, shall we?

Let’s start with the homestead itself. If you’re not from the Northeast, this is what’s called a “three decker“. Three levels, three separate apartments.

We’re not sure of the exact pedigree of this one, but most of them were built between 1870 and 1930. When you’re a mill town having a pre-war boom, you need housing for all of the incoming European immigrants.

Quick to build, and ready to help aspiring families become part of the landlord class. Also, don’t forget the cloth-covered house-fire-waiting-to-happen copper wiring, the sieve-like home heating characteristics, and the probable lead paint hiding under the 40 layers of wallpaper in every room. This was my home from birth through college, and for my mom, from her wedding day until this fall… 58 years.

Yeah, the paint job is a little lacking. And now there’s a fair amount of trash blowing around in the street, including the occasional used hypodermic. But it really wasn’t that bad a neighborhood to grow up in. We played outside until sundown, rode our bikes up and down the street, and went sledding down the hill at the other end of the block. Everything you’d want in a childhood.

View from the back porch. We lived on the 2nd floor.

Long after I’d moved out, the neighbors on this side paved their whole back yard for parking.

So from there, I headed a couple blocks away to where my grandparent’s lived when I was little. Didn’t grab a pic, but it’s a similar house. At some point, way after my grandparents had moved out, it was condemned. But they pulled off the front porches and renovated it. Right down the hill from that is the park and pool where Grampy would go shower after work every day, since Grammy wouldn’t let him shower in their bathroom. That was because it’d mess up her clean bathroom tile. True story, the man could take a bath, but wasn’t allowed to shower in his own house. Yeah. No.

Here’s random scenery from a loop through downtown:

From there, I headed back around to my neighborhood.

My grade school, Granite St. Elementary. Every Memorial Day, our principal Dr. Wolosz would have us do an assembly around this flagpole. Each class would either recite a poem or sing a patriotic song.

The back of the school, where we spent every recess playing 3 outs against that wall.

I was disappointed they replaced the floors. They used to be actual stone, as were the stairs.

The corner store we’d stop in every day walking home from school. Snuck a peek at my first Playboy behind that there counter while my buddy Bobby distracted the owner.

This is the orphanage right across the street from my elementary school. My friend Ray lived there. I still remember one Christmas, my mom and dad made strongly encouraged me to pick out a present that we could bring him. I remember it being super-awkward, but I think it was the only present he got that year not from the facility.

My old high school. Formerly Holy Name CCHS, now St. Paul’s

The former Providence St. Jr. High

The scene of many a forced 8am-icy-water-why-did-you-sign-me-up-for-this-torture-session. Err, I mean swimming lesson.

My old paper route. Kicking through unshovelled walkways in the winter, stopping to drink out of every side yard hose in the middle of the 95% humidity Massachusetts summer.

The hill across the street from my paper route, where that kid Darrin rode down on the back of his buddy’s bike, knocked me off of mine, and stole it. Honestly, at first I typed “that asshole Darrin”. But for the heck of it, I just googled him, and he’s dead. Died on Christmas Eve some years back. So I guess I’ll abstain from speaking ill of the dead. But that was a major formative negative event of my young life. So yeah, fuck him.

The field where I still regret not playing little league. But none of my friends played, and I didn’t want to go do it alone.

Tour’s over, back to the start.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: