Monday, February 07, 2011


As I wrote earlier, my parents had originally planned to move someplace
where we'd be living on the ground floor so that my grandmother wouldn’t
have to climb stairs. Her death changed that and when we moved to 101
Capen Street in the Dorchester section of Boston it was into the third
floor apartment. Our landlords the Wittlesteins lived on the second floor and
their daughter Molly lived on the first floor with her husband Barney Blonder
and their three children.

Back at the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th century immigrants
who came to American cities lived in polyglot communities where people
from many countries lived side by side. But gradually they separated into
neighborhoods. East Boston and Somerville had heavy Italian populations,.
South Boston, Irish, and Dorchester had Irish and Jewish sections. When
we first moved to Capen St we were one of the few Catholic families in
that end of the street. It was interesting living there, where the Blonder kids
would come upstairs to help decorate our Christmas tree and we’d go
downstairs at Hanukah. To this day my vocabulary includes some of the
Yiddish phrases and words I heard in that neighborhood.  

Of course it wasn’t an easy process, moving into a new place and making
new friends and learning the rules of the neighborhood. This was where I
got into my first fistfights. I don’t remember what my very first fight was
about but I do know it was during the day while Dad was at work because
it was Mom who showed me how to make a fist while we were waiting for
Dad to come home and teach me more.

I do remember the next one. It was over the famous Blackfeet Indian story.
My Dad had told me we had Indian blood, and when I asked what tribe we
were, he told me we were Blackfeet. When I told one of the other kids this,
they called me a liar, and it ended with me getting a bloody nose. When
Dad came home I told him what had happened and asked if we were
really Blackfeet.  He said of course we were,.

My Mom made him tell me the truth. It was a joke. “We’re Bllackfeet
because we never wash our feet.”

It was my first encounter with a genealogical myth.

((395 words))

Written for the Family History Writing Challenge

1 comment:

Kristin said...

awww, and after you got into a fight about it too. well, at least you learned early that it wasn't true. I lived in a multicultural for a short while when I was elementary school age. I'm sure it gives one a different frame of reference for the rest of life.