Arts & Culture

“North End Childhood Memories” from My Corner of Boston [Video]

“Childhood Memories” is the fourth in a series of 1990 skits from “My Corner of Boston” performed at the North End Union, produced by resident Rosaria DiFinzio. See all the scenes here.

In this skit Rosaria reminisces about growing up and playing in the streets of the North End. It’s almost inconceivable to today’s parents but on non-school days we would leave our apartments early in the morning and not come back until late at night. Like the girls in the skit we would call up to our mammas or nonnas to throw down some money if we wanted to buy a sandwich at the Boston I or Sammy Scolas. In the summer time, we would get a lemon slush at one of the pastry shops or Polcari’s on Parmenter St. We were safe because we always traveled in a gang, never alone. Roger Mustone once told me that in his building on Sheafe Street there were over thirty children, that’s in one building with four families.

A typical Saturday for me would start with doing errands for my grandmother so she could start preparing for Sunday dinner. She would give me a long list and some money and I would go to the butcher shop for sausages and bracciola, Rosario’s on Parmenter for vegetables, maybe one of the grocery stores for cold cuts and cheese and the chicken house on Fulton Street for a freshly killed chicken. How creepy it was watching Sammy slit the chicken’s throat and hang it upside down until the poor bird bled to death with it’s wings flapping until the very end. Then he would dip the carcass into boiling water and use a rotating drum with rubber fingers to remove the feathers. Pretty gross, but those chickens tasted great. That building is now a fancy condominium but I can’t imagine how they ever got rid of that smell.

The two girls in this skit discuss the proper etiquette involved in sharing a bathroom with another family. Rule #1, bring your own toilet paper. Rule #2, never use the toilet on another floor unless absolutely necessary and you can’t hold it in for another second. Rule #3, don’t take too long, do your duty and get out.

One of my friends shared a bathroom with a family whose father liked to have a few glasses of wine with his supper. He would then use the common bathroom and often fall asleep on the hopper. No amount of banging on the door would get Pasquale moving.

I hope you enjoy “Childhood Memories”.

If you missed the previous skits from Rosaria’s My Corner of Bostonsee all the scenes here.

Nicholas Dello Russo is a lifelong North Ender and columnist. Often using vintage photographs, Nick tells the stories of growing up in the North End along with its culture and traditions. It was a time when the apartments were so small that residents were always on the streets enjoying “Life on the Corner.” Read more of Nick’s columns.