East Boston

Most Sundays we visited relatives in East Boston. It was a little more than an hour drive from Avon, through Randolph, the Milton Blue Hills, past the Baker Chocolate Plant onto Dorchester Avenue, through the Sumner Tunnel and arrival at Saratoga and Putnam Streets. Today, one would travel the route on the expressway directly to the tunnel and it may take a few minutes less, depending on the traffic.

Relatives and friends occupied the three story tenements, one family to a floor .The bathrooms were in the hall and the flush had a chain that hung from a box near the ceiling. The outside of the building was not much to look at but the apartments and stairways were. They were decorated with religious pictures and various paintings. The "Front Room" or "Parlor", which was used for weddings or wakes, would be entered through glass French Doors .The kitchens were large and the place where the family spent most of it's time. Saturday was the day to clean and polish the stairs. A picnic in Wood Island Park or Orient Heights was always welcome.

Sunday dinners were the same everywhere .The odor of the gravy (sauce) simmering on the stoves, permeated the whole neighborhood. Kids would be lined up with a piece of crusty bread in their hands hoping to get some "stoia " (bread dipped in gravy). Braciolis, sausages, short ribs, meatballs and any other meat used for making the gravy was served after the macaroni. (For variety, the shape of the macaroni might change but not haphazardly. Every father had his favorite and that was the one that prevailed.) We would then wait a little while and out came the "Chicken In The Stove With Potatoes" and Insalata with oil and vinegar, plenty of crusty bread and home-made wine. We never had a dessert, but there was always coffee with anisette, which an occasional uncle might pass to a lucky kid.

After dinner, kids and older people, would sit on the piazza (front steps), and listen to the Red Sox on the radio, or play ball in the streets. Some opera enthusiasts had music blaring and anybody indoors occupied a window seat to see what was going on outside. When it came time to go home to Avon, we could have a treat at the corner store. An envelope of slush (Italian Ice) cost two cents. A spucky cost a dime. A spucky is a sort of sub sandwich. The bread came in two sections and each section was filled with salami, ham, provolone or whatever was available. The little kids would split a spucky.
When someone became sick, out would come the small saucer. About a half-inch of water was placed in the saucer and an aunt who had the "magic" would then place four or five drops of olive oil on the water. If the orientation of the drops was right the prognosis was good. A cross was especially good.

They didn't make wine at home in Avon because they had so many relatives who made it in East Boston. The barrels were stored in cellars and when the wine was" ready" the tasting competition took place. Even the kids had to give their opinions. This sometimes led to discord between the matriarchs, who thought they had just made something for the ages.
About once a year a few relatives visited us in Avon. They called it a trip to "the country." . The older women, dressed in black, spent most of the day in the kitchen where they could get there "country" experience by looking out the window at all the grass and trees.
The visit was usually timed to coincide wih the dandelion growth in early spring. The best time was before the flowers bloomed and the leaves were small.