North End Memories is a series of articles collected by Sam Viscione from members of the neighborhood group Friends of the North End.
Memories from Anthony (Tony) Antidormi
I often think back to the days when I was growing up in the North End and the fun we had swimming at the North End beach before the pool was constructed and watching the older boys diving off the pier. This double deck pier is where we would spend hot summer nights to cool off. Not far away was the Coast Guard Base where they would show us kids free movies on the ship’s deck. I lived off Commercial Street. where the freight trains would travel through late at night disturbing many a good night’s sleep.
Our days would be consumed making scooters out of pear boxes, roller skates and 2×4’s. We would play games like ‘buck buck’, ‘relivio’, ‘stick ball’, ‘errors’ or making tents out of cardboard boxes that we picked up from the warehouses on Atlantic Ave. Sometimes at night, going for a Regina pizza and hearing Connie Grande, the waitress, cursing was a real treat.
Hygiene meant my mother would put clean underwear in a bag and send me off to the public bath house to shower. She would then go to buy fruits and vegetables at Johnnie D’s market. There, if she ran short on money, he would tell her to pay when she could. That’s the kind of trust people shared with one another.
Early in the mornings a common sight was seeing earnest people with their brown lunch bags going to work and hearing the rag man calling out for rags while others, weather permitting, would be hanging out their laundry on clotheslines that ran from building to building, roof top to roof top. Afternoon activities at the Shaw House in the Industrial School was always enjoyable as was watching Sunday morning gambling going on at the corner of Salem and Sheafe Streets, better known as the cozy corner.
Living in the North End meant our social centers were the streets. Although our entertainment was creative it was somewhat crude. Our motivations and inspirations came from our love of family, our heritage and devotion to God and our Country.
I shared this memory with one of my friends and he said to me after reading it, “Tony, life is a journey that passes on, but precious memories always linger and are forever nearby”. So true.