Monday, May 30, 2011


When I was five and a half,  I went to day camp through the Hecht House. They took us to a place south of Boston where there was a lake. I learned to swim there. That summer, Shirley got a job as I was going in to first grade at the Robert Treat Paine School on Blue Hill Avenue. I turned six in September. Shirley went to work for Moe Sathan in 1955. She worked part-time; she told me she insisted on only working until 2:00pm when I got out of school. She told me she thinks that's what mothers should do, "stay home until the child is old enough to go to school." (Gloria Steinem didn't mention that when I was in college !)

This photo of me sitting on Shirley's lap was taken on Passover in aunt Ruth's house by Roby I think. The apartment may have been on Greendale Road in Dorchester. I was about six or another beautiful dress she bought for me.

Moe Sathan had an oil company and he was also a Master Electrician.  She worked as an assistant bookkeeper.  She had to take two busses to get there. She took the first bus on the corner of Angel Street and Blue Hill Avenue in front of Harry's grocery store. The bus went up Talbot Avenue to Codman Square where she got off and then took another bus that dropped her off in front of Sathan Heat & Electric. He had two guys working for him, a driver and an assistant electrician. She was making $1.00/hour. After one year she asked for a raise so he paid her $1.25/hour.

I have now finally come to the end of Things My Mother Told Me on 5.28.11 except for one thing which she referred to as "Clarification." At the end of everything she told me she said, "......I have to clarify one thing regarding the Evangeline Booth hospital. One day I was sitting at the kitchen table next to Boby, reading the paper. There was an article on the Evangeline Booth Hospital for Unwed Mothers. So I asked your grandmother why I was born there."  She said "it wasn't like that when you were born." Shirley pursued it, and once asked a Salvation Army bellringer if the hospital was only for unwed mothers and that person said yes. I said what difference does it make, Boby and Zaidy were married when you were born..............and she said......"....maybe she wasn't my real mother......" !!! I was so flabbergasted I said, "Shirley, are you writing your own book ?"

And that folks, is the way it is.


My mother was always very interested in clothes and fashion for herself and for me. She told me when I was five or six years old she bought me a navy blue dress with a red, white and blue pleated bib front with three quarter length sleeves. (Bernice do you see a photo of me wearing that dress ?) She bought it for $2.25 at Braverman's Dry Goods store in Dorchester.

Here I am, five years old, wearing the dress on my fifth birthday. Shirley told me she made me a cake. This picture was taken in our one bedroom apartment at 92 American Legion Highway.

Then there was a 'kiddie shop', " those days they called them 'kiddie shops..." She bought me a navy blue coat and matching hat made out of a silky material for   $15.00 at Richard's Kiddie Shop on Blue Hill Avenue near the  G + G delicatessen. She also mentioned getting me a sleeveless dress with wide red and white stripes. She told me Loretta Leppo used to buy her daughter Jan's clothes there, at Richard's. I will never forget Loretta Leppo, married to a bookie (didn't know it at the time) and very glamorous. She had silver blonde hair that was in style due to Jean Harlow. I remember my mother dyed her hair platinum or silver reaction and everyone else's was we all liked her better with black hair......she was so disappointed......but all it did was make her look older, not prettier. She told me a woman at a bus stop on Morton Street said "....such a shame, a girl so young with gray hair..."

In January, 1953 we moved to 92 American Legion Highway, just down the street from the Hecht House. Shirley told me Boby would not offer her any furniture or household items for the new one bedroom apartment. I think she said her friends Marian and Mel Brenner helped her out with the twin beds, huge chest of drawers (that she painted grey - not good) and a table with an enamel top.

Here I am in my cropped jacket with matching bonnet in my pleated skirt at 18 months !

Kudos to my cousin ellen who scanned in + emailed pages of old family photos from Roby's photograph album that she borrowed from Bernice. Otherwise I would not have these photos that my mother
described to me a couple of days ago.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


We lived on 55 Gooddale Road, Stanley, Shirley and I for about a year and a half. I have a few photos from that time. I don't have any memories from that period. My aunt Ruth told me today she lived on Blue Hill Avenue facing Gooddale Road and she remembers seeing me in front of her house in the carriage.

After a year and a half, Shirley and I lived in a rented room in Brigham Circle, Boston where the Brigham and Women's Hospital is now. Exit Stanley Miller, stage left......I was not yet two years old. Shirley and Stanley divorced. At that point, in her own words "I became a single mother before it was popular to do so." Next we lived on 1222 Blue Hill Avenue in a room in a house rented by a Mrs. Wolpert. After that we lived in Mrs. Levine's rented house on Glenway Street. I have vague memories of living there. And after that in January 1953, we moved to the brand new housing project across the street from Franklin Park, 92 American Legion Highway, a couple of blocks away from the Hecht House, a  Jewish Community Center. First we lived in a one bedroom apartment. I remember one day Shirley and I were walking home and when we got there we saw fire trucks. When we got to our apartment we realized the fire was in our house ! I was sent to stay with my mother's friend Ruth Goldin. Everything we had was destroyed. I remember I got new dolls after that. A Ginny doll. The fire was caused by a guy who was smoking a cigarette when he delivered a new bed to us. Some time after that we moved to a two bedroom apartment, 104 American Legion Highway, third floor. From that apartment, we eventually moved to Malden after Shirley married Julius.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


We spoke on the phone between four and five today. I asked her a lot of questions starting with when she was born. This was what she told me.

Shirley was six years old when this picture was taken from Roby's Bar Mitzvah pictures.

She was born in 1931 at the Evangeline Booth Hospital in Boston.  I asked her why she was born there and she said she didn't know. Ruthie was born in the N. E. Hospital for Women and Roby was born at home. After that, through high school graduation at the Jeremiah E. Burke high school she lived with Boby and Zaidy at 48 Harlem St. in Dorchester. Her comment about that time was "nobody talked to me".

 After that for some reason, (eviction, rent increase ?) they moved to a room on Brunswick St., Boby, Zaidy and Shirley. Shortly after that they moved to the house next door to an attic apartment. She said it was a one bedroom with a small narrow living room. She was working as a clerk-typist at 1096 Boylston St. at a retail furniture store. Sometime in 1948-49. The best part of the job was the dress shop down the street where she bought some clothes, next door on Mass. Ave. Shirley had to sleep on the floor until Boby bought a sofa bed. There was an army cot but it was so uncomfortable she preferred the floor. She gave Boby $8.00/week "even though she didn't need the ****8 dollars but she took it anyway."

Moving along, Shirley became pregnant with me while living on Brunswick street, got married and moved in with my father Stanley Miller into his father's and step-mother's house. His step-mother was bed-ridden with Multiple Sclerosis. Shirley wanted her own apartment and they ended up living in a room in Mrs. Drutin's house, 55 Gooddale Road, Dorchester. They lived there for about a year and a
half. Enter Carol, stage right, September 17, 1950.  (I will post more about how I happened to have this picture of Stanley Miller)