Saturday, August 02, 2008


When our family moved to Boston we left a two family house
with a big backyard to live in a triple decker apartment house
with a very small backyard. Cookouts weren't possible there
nor was cooking on a charcoal grille on the back porch of a
wooden building.(I still shake my head when I see news
reports about house fires started by a grille on the porch.)
So occasionally our folks would take us out somewhere
for a swim and a picnic. These excursions weren't as frequent
as visits to Aunt Peggy's cottage at Hough's Neck and took
place over 50 years ago now, so I've only a few memories of
those picnics. Some of them took place at a statepark at
Stoneham, I think, and one or two at Hougton's Pond in
Milton. And there was one very memorable picnic at a beach
in Plymouth with some of the relatives from Mom's side of
the family.

Besides my parents, my sister and myself, there were my
Uncle Ed and Aunt Emily and their kids, my mom's cousin
Anna Bruno, her husband Ralph and their daughters, and
my Granduncle Tommy McFarland and Grandaunt Frances,
Tommy's wife. We set up on a stretch of grass at the back
edge of the parking lot where there was shade and a picnic
table and a bandstand we could clamber around on. Somebody
brought along a charcoal grille and we had hot dogs and
hamburgers, and there was lemonade in a big jug for us kids.
Although I can't spot any beer bottles in these pictures I
wouldn't be surprised if the adults had kept them in the
cooler and poured them into paper cups to avoid detection.
The dog in the photo didn't belong to any of the families.
He just wandered in, mooched successfully and stuck around
for more.

The reason I'm not in any of thses pictures is that I took them!
Even at 7 or 8 I was finding ways to dodge a photo!

This picnic was where my Dad broke his ring finger while
playing baseball on the nearby ball field, trying to catch a line
drive barehanded. The finger swelled up and when he went to
have it checked out they had to cut his wedding ring off.

Once we moved out of Boston to Abington we had a small patio
and a picnic table, and then my folks had their trailer up in
New Hampshire to go to on weekends, so cookouts replaced
picnics. But while thinking about this post, I made a list of
people and dishes I'd like to have at a picnic: Grandaunt
Frances and her lemon meringue pie, Grandaunt Peggy and
her chicken salad, Aunt Emily and her lasagna, Mom and her
homemade coffee cake and of course Dad and the traditional
hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob and baked potatoes.
(By the way, baked potatoes are eaten by hollowing them out,
and after you eat the potatoes you put a piece of butter in the
skin part, fold it and then eat that as well!)

I'm getting older and eating all that stuff nowadays might not
set well afterwards but it would be well worth it!

1 comment:

Sheri said...

Hello Bill,

I hope that I am submitted this to you correctly. I have never submitted any thing for a carnival and I do not have a blog, but something came over me and I wrote a few paragraphs for your picnic. I hope you enjoy it.

Sheri Fenley
Stockton, California


I honestly can only remember one place where my brothers and I shared food willingly with each other al fresco. My maternal grandparents were living in San Jose, California so this was approximately the mid to late 1960’s. When we came to visit, my granddad would pile my brothers and I into the back of his car stop and pick up 3 of our cousins and take us to a park that was located in Los Gatos.

As a child, I was a very girlie girl and did not venture outside to play very often (my dress or hands might have gotten dirty). I have 5 younger brothers (no sisters) and the yard was their territory.

But I even put up with the 5 of them and being outdoors when I knew that Granddad was taking us to this park.

Smack dab in the middle of the park in a huge sand pit was a full size airplane. It had been completely gutted and all the rough edges sanded smooth but otherwise was a real airplane. I would play for hours in and on this plane. To get inside, you had to enter from the rear through a small opening. Then once you were inside you could crawl out the windows onto the wings. And slide down the nose into the cockpit.

It was the only time that I can ever recall playing with my brothers and enjoying myself. I think that they enjoyed it as much as I did so for that short amount of time they forgot all about torturing me.

The perfect end to the perfect afternoon would be the snow cones that were sold in the concession stand that Granddad bought for us every time he took us there.

This huge glob of shaved ice in a paper cone with every color of syrup imaginable drizzled on it. By the time we got back to my grandparent’s house our faces and tongues would be horribly stained with all of the colors.

The best part of all would be my mother’s outrage at her father for allowing this to happen. These outings were always on a Saturday, we would spend the night with my grandparents and get up early and go to Mass the next morning and I can’t ever remember going to Mass without my multicolor face and the look on Monsignor’s face when all 6 of us kids stuck out our multicolored tongues for communion!

Ah! Those were the days!