I Am Not My Brother's Keeper
just misappropriated it. We had great clothes, took many nice trips and had all the toys
imaginable, but the tenement houses and the schools were hardly fun! Other children
around us thought we were rich – if only they knew!
I liked having three sisters and a young brother around. We had a lot of fun playing
together even though we moved around a lot and lived in houses we never owned. We
grew up in the crummy areas of South Boston and Dorchester. I think we may have lived
in as many as nine houses, or I should say apartments. When I was 25 I got out of there
and followed an ex-boyfriend to San Francisco.
I don't mean to imply that Dorchester was a bad place to grow up. There were a lot of fun
things to do, especially in the summer with the beaches of Dorchester Bay. Many a night
we would go to Carson Beach or Savin Hill Beach to dig for clams and then take them
home to feast. Only a New Englander would eat slimy black clams out of Dorchester
Bay, but they tasted great.
I think I was 13 when I had my first kiss on the beach. His name was Ron, and I
remember he was older than me, about 15 I think. He had jet black hair and bright blue
eyes. I thought he was extremely handsome. I was with two of my girlfriends standing on
the water's edge, all of us in our bathing suits trying to look good for a couple of boys
from our school who were hanging out and trying to look cool. They eventually came
over. Ron was just staring at me with, and I can still see them now, with those beautiful
blue eyes and long, dark eyelashes. My heart was beating so fast. I don't remember what
he said, but later that afternoon we separated from the others. He kissed me lightly on the
lips, and I think I thought I had gone to heaven. The experience still brings a warm glow
to my heart. He was a kind person, actually.
South Boston is known for being an Irish Catholic district, some might say enclave, and it
has many churches, some of them extraordinary structures built in the 1800s, and church
schools. We were Catholics and poor. Amazing how the church could collect money
from the poor parishioners and build such huge buildings. I loved going into them. We
would go up Dorchester Street to Broadway, which ran all the way to the end of the
peninsula to Boston Harbor, and turn down E Street to the magnificent Gate of Heaven
Catholic church. Gate of Heaven was my favorite church. The inside was so big and the
roof so high, I would feel tiny, tiny. I would save pennies to buy a small candle just so I
could light it and place in the votive. Then I would kneel down to pray to the saints and
watch the flame flickering along with all the others. It was quite surreal being in such a
beautiful place, while close by were the decaying and bug ridden apartments we lived in.
I remember telling Margaret, ―No way! No way am I going to live this way for the rest of
my life. Crummy houses, crummy schools; I'm going live in my own home, a nice home
in a great neighborhood and send my children to private schools, or I'll home school
Margaret was sitting on the edge of her bed tying her shoe laces didn't even look up.
―You are always going on about what you are going to do. How do you think you can
afford to live like the rich? You could find a rich guy and marry him, I suppose.‖