Forest Hills Hotel, circa 1905
By Joe Moscaritolo
I lived in Roslindale from the 1940’s till the mid 60’s and still own the 2-family home that my grandfather built in the 1920’s. My grandparents had a large vegetable garden along with chickens and a grapevine. My elementary school teachers would walk our entire class from the Henry Abrams School to my house to see the chickens. Everyone always enjoyed this field trip.
Once I was old enough and able, my grandfather would have me go to Forest Hills Station to pick up his Italian newspaper named, “Oggi.” I would ride my bicycle through the tunnel and go under the elevated line past Hatoff’s Gasoline Station to get the newspaper. I would ride my bicycle right up to the newspaper counter in the station to buy the newspaper.
Jeffrey’s Bar (Gourmet Caterers) was across the street from the Toll Gate Bridge. I would walk to Jeffrey’s on warm evenings during the summer and sit outside with my friends. Every time they would burn a pizza, the cook would give it to us to eat. Going down Arboretum Road on our way to Muddy’s Pond at the Arboretum, we would stop at DeAngelis Blacksmith Shop (abandoned building) to say hi and watch the men working.
We would walk over the Toll Gate Bridge to go to St. Andrew’s Church for Mass on Sunday. Catechism Class was on Thursday afternoon and Mr. and Mrs. Manning who lived on Archdale Road would walk us to class at St. Andrew’s from the Henry Abrams School on Mahler Street. On Sunday morning my grandmother would wait for a chartered bus that would stop at bus stops within the parish along Washington Street and take people to the 7 o’clock Mass at St. Andrew’s. They did not have to walk over the bridge.
Near my house was McClay’s oil business and Ice House (The Ice Box). Whenever there was a power outage, there would be lines of people waiting to buy ice. Across Washington Street was the Puritan Ice Cream Company that is still there. My uncle worked at Puritan. Near the Ice House was Abie’s Store. It was a very tiny store and Abie and his father were always there. The building is now gone and the tiny lot is empty.
I watched the Archdale Housing Projects (Development) being built and would sell soda to the laborers. Across from Aldwin Rd., where I lived was Larry’s Store (La Maglia Barber Shop). Larry Luciano was a nice man and we would go in there each morning on the way to school to buy Hunt’s Potato Chips. Larry would take the potato chips out of a large and put them in a small brown bag and place them on a scale so that we would get 5 or 10 cents worth of chips. I remember a family story of when my grandparents didn’t have a telephone, emergency calls would go to Larry at his store and he would leave the store and go to the house and tell them that they had an important telephone call.
Sotir’s Store was at the corner of Claxton and Washington Street. The store was sold to Jack Darcey and it became Jack’s Store (Cibao Market). He was such a nice man. After I got married and moved away and while visiting my parents on Aldwin Road they would take my children to Jack’s to buy candy. On Lochdale Street near Larry’s was the button factory. This is where my mother and father met and later married. Later it became the Marine Optical Company. We would go there to get old eyeglass frames and try them on. This is now a storage facility.
On the next corner was Clapp’s Pharmacy, which was owned by Melvin Slater. I went to work there while in high school. Later Jack Miller bought the drugstore and renamed it Archdale Drug (Elite Body Works). I kept on working for Jack and Bertha Miller. Next to the drugstore was Rocky’s Diner (Elite Body Works). On Saturday, my friend and I would go in there and have a meatball sandwich and French fries. Angela and Frances Faletra would be helping their mother and father with the diner, and now Angela is married to Mayor Menino.
After Mass on Sunday, we would all gather on the drug store corner and everyone was expected to mix. Other than Sunday, it depended upon which age bracket you were as to which corner you would stand on. The older group always got the mailbox. There were always boys singing and keeping beat on the mailbox. I attended the Henry Abrams School and we always would play ball in the schoolyard. Some of the games were stickball, skunk, half ball and handball using the sidewalk lines as our court.
Next I attended the Francis Parkman School and one of my memories of the Parkman was when we all went out on the sidewalk to watch President Eisenhower ride by in an open convertible during one of his campaigns. After the Parkman, I attended the Washington Irving Junior High School.
Up a bit on Washington Street was Boschetto’s Bakery (Sugar Bakery), where my aunt worked for Andrew Boschetto. My aunt began working for Boschetto’s the day it opened. When walking by I would stop in to say hello and my aunt or any of the other women would give me and anyone I was with, a cookie. Then there was Pagliarullo’s Bakery and they had the greatest bread. Mrs. Pagliarullo would see us walking by and break off a chunk of Italian bread for us to eat. Up around the corner of the square was the Rialto Theatre (Rialto Building) where we would go practically every Saturday afternoon. In the square my mother would order the greatest apricot pies from Diane’s Bakery.
Each week I would go to Cummins Ladies Store (Travel Agency) and put a dollar or two on my mother’s account. I would walk in and say, “9580” and give the lady the money, she would write out a receipt for me to take home. I worked for Joe Rossi at Lodgen’s Market (Bank of America) in the square for a while delivering groceries. Joe Rossi had an old open Coca Cola truck and I would help load the truck. I would sit in the back with the groceries while he drove and then I would run to the houses with the bags.
Another aunt worked at Witherel’s Candy shop (Wallpaper City) in the square. This was another shop where my friend and I would get some candy. My friend Connie Sinopoli’s mother owned Venus Beauty Parlor (Jean’s Ultimate Performance Beauty Shop) so that was another stop for us. I worked at Joe Rubico’s bowling alley (below Vouros Greek Bakery) on the corner of Poplar and Washington Streets as a pin setter. We would also go into Joe’s Rubico’s pool hall and shoot pool on Friday nights. (Joe Rubico invented the automatic pin setting machine.)
I always bought Easter clothes in Surman’s (Sullivan’s Drug) and had my hair cut at Sparky’s (Nail Salon) next to the Spa. My favorite pizza place was John’s and always would have an ice cream Sunday at the “Spa” on the corner of Corinth and Washington. My uncle owned Al’s Esso gasoline station across from Allen Furniture (Greek Church). The location of his station is now a little park with a statue of Alexander the Great.
Roslindale was such a great community to live in. I enjoy going back and even though all the people have changed, I always manage to talk with the new folks in the neighborhood and share my memories. They will never know the wonderful people who lived in their houses many years prior to them. Some day they will be the wonderful people who once lived in these houses. The music coming from the back porches on a Sunday when I was younger was Italian, while now it is Latino and from the Islands. What type of music will the next group bring to this neighborhood?
As I work around my yard on Aldwin Road, I daydream and visualize the people who I knew and the way it was. I am so fortunate to have the magnificent memories of growing up in Roslindale and knowing so many wonderful people.