Sunday was totally fabulous: Sunny, around 60.
So I knew I had to take a stroll. But where?
When my friend Bob told me to stop by, I had my answer:
It’s only seven miles. But that small distance packs a lot of history.
And combines the two things that this blog is all about:
The story of Boston.
And the story of my family.
I started my walk from the Back Bay, down to the Museum of Science. Which is where you cross the Charles River.
From there it’s pretty much due north.
After an hour or so, you cross the Mystic.
A crucial boundary in our story.
For the people of the fledgling Massachusetts Bay Colony, it was the route to expansion.
In 1633 the city of Charlestown was granted a huge tract of land north of the Mystic River. This land would eventually produce the cities of Malden and Melrose.
For my Italian immigrant family, it was the path to a better life.
Here are my mother and father, Angela and Jim.
In their first home.
28 Sheafe Street, Malden, Massachusetts.
After I crossed the bridge over the Mystic and got to Malden, I walked by another very important address.
310 Pearl Street: Home of the Pisaturo family for generations.
Here are sister and brother: Angela and my uncle Tony.
We used to go over to 310 Pearl every Sunday after church for dinner.
Here is my sister Linda on the left and my pesky cousin Yvonne posing on the steps with me.
Here’s yours truly doing a Vito Corleone impression.
It was obviously Easter.
After walking through Malden you get to Melrose.
When my grandfathers came to the Boston area from Italy, they could only dream of living in a place like Melrose.
It was founded by men named Sprague and Dix and Lynde.
Not Pisaturo or Falzarano.
My mother, who grew up in Malden, thought of Melrose as a kind of demi-paradise.
The white discoverers of the area were far less optimistic.
The land was considered “too rocky for settlement”.
They had a point.
These are the cliffs just west of my boyhood home.
Located at 33 Converse Lane.
And here’s my favorite photo of the house (you can see the canopy over the back porch).
Taken from the rocks far above.
When I was a boy, I used to climb those rocks.
And look over at the big city.
Melrose is consistently one of the most desirable Boston suburbs.
But the early settlers had to cope with wolves, bears, foxes, rattlesnakes and wildcats.
They lived in constant fear of attack, either on themselves or their livestock.
They obviously never had to deal with this animal.
The advent of the B&M (Boston and Maine) Railroad in 1845 made a huge difference to the city’s growth.
In 1850, the population of Melrose was a paltry 1,260.
By 1899 it had grown to 12,635 (it’s now around 27,000).
From Boston to Melrose:
It’s a walk of just seven miles.
Only two and a half hours.
But it covers many generations of struggle and success.
It’s always educational to take a walk through history.
You can see the past (here’s my grandfather Giuseppe Pisaturo in Pompeii).
And also glimpse the future.
I can see it now.