Thursday, September 26, 2013
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Nina Brown-Lane

I lived on Warren Street between Holborn and Quincy Streets right across the street from what was then Roxbury Memorial High School and is now Latin Academy, I believe. The local firehouse was on the corner of Quincy.

I attended the William P. Boardman Elementary School on Munroe St. which was right next to what is now the Roxbury YMCA. My middle school was the Henry Lee Higginson WAY up on the hill above Walnut Avenue. I attended Girls' Latin School the year they allowed the Boston Public School children to get in on their grade average when the pre-requisite to get in was always some sort of  written "test". There were a few African-American girls in Latin that year, believe me!

After leaving Latin, I would walk to the Jeri (Jeremiah Edmund Burke High School for Girls) with a stop at the Grove Hall location of Spinelli's for a #3 sub with lots of oil! I attended ballet classes at Elma Lewis' Dance School which was right across the street from Spinelli's on Blue Hill Avenue in a 2nd floor cold water flat. I remember when Donna Gaines (now Summer) walked out of school, clearly announcing through the halls, that she was leaving to pursue her singing career. That was my junior year.

When I visit family and friends now, I miss following the "El" from Washington Street all the way up to Egleston Station. To this day, it still seems strange to see all that daylight!

Carol Hector-Harris (in response to her sister's memory below)

Reading what you wrote, I had a flashback of that day and couldn't help but laugh out loud.  I was sooooooo stunned when I saw the Panthers come walking into our house right behind Daddy that day.  As I stood in the reception hall watching them walk by, they looked back at me in shock too because they didn't know that I lived there and that Daddy was my father.  We were all in stunned silence but never said a word!!!!!  When they showed up to head down to Plymouth for gun practice, we were all in silence once again!!!  It was hysterical!!!  I was thinking that had Daddy ever paid attention to them when they did their practice drills on our street across the street from our house closer to the corner of Brunswick Street and Blue Hill Avenue, he would have recognized them.  But he never went to the window or the front porch to see them.  When they were out there, he just sat in his recliner, as he always did, and kept reading his book while some of us kids watched the Panthers do their thing out of the living room window. 

Beverly Hector-Smith

I was born and raised in Roxbury with four siblings living most of that time on Blue Hill Ave and Brunswick St from the 1930's to the 1960's.

According to my sister, the Black Panther Party had an office on Blue Hill Ave around the corner from us. She recalled the day our dad came through the front door followed by several Black Panthers. My sister knew who they were but our father did not.

For a long time he had been trying to recruit young men into the Boston Hunting and Fishing Club, an organization he founded in the 40s. So when these men approached him, he was overjoyed. He dutifully taught them to care for and shoot guns, even taken them target shooting in Plymouth.

Our father lived for another 30 years, but no one ever had the heart to tell him that he taught the use of guns to the Black Panthers.

Malcolm Alter

My father had his business at Dudley Station for many years...first at 2304 Washington Street, then he moved across the street to the Timothy Smith Block, which only recently burned down.  Now that location is the parking lot for the Walgreens Store.  I have many fond memories of that area having worked in his factory as well as commuted through Dudley every day on my way to and from English High School.  Through the years, I have witnessed many physical changes take place in the general area.  I still think of  Washington Street with the el. 

Michael Dana Kennedy

I had an enjoyable time yesterday touring some of the houses. We dropped in on one, Edward Everett Hale's, that was not on the tour but Shawn Paulling was gracious and allowed the group to deviate from the itinerary. The gentleman who now owns and is repairing it gave us a first-floor tour; a most gracious fellow.
This is a part of Roxbury I had never seen. Growing up in Orchard Park Housing Project was a bit constraining, not only, as you gathered from Bryant York's site, racially but "turf" as well. Kids, mostly boys, were not welcomed into another section of the project. The section that I lived in, corners of Hampden, Yeoman and Adams Sts., often had adolescent "hoobie" - rock - fights with opposing kids in the section that bordered Adams and Dubois - then Prescott. We never injured the opposing kids; mostly we aimed at legs, not head or torso. I recall going through a portion of the "white" section, on my way to the Boys Club on Dudley St, and having to engage in fist fights with kids my age. And there were race-based fights as well. For example, if I was on the "wrong" side of the Dearborn School, the side closest to the "black" section of the project I'd end up in a few fistfights. But those were adolescent and more based on "turf" rather than real race animosity. The older teenagers were engaged in the race fights.
I find myself often thinking about Roxbury; I have done so over the past few decades. When I was in medical school in 1970 I had a rotation at Boston City Hospital and I walked from there to the section of the project where I had lived, 119 Hampden St., near the corner of Yeoman & Hampden. I went into the "yard," a quadrangle bordered by clothes yards - for drying clothes - and met with two janitors. I had on my white coat - all medical students wore them. I noted that the apartments had been expanded, allowing for more rooms per each apartment. One of the janitors told me it was not safe for me to be there. When I asked why he replied "'Cause you're white and you got that doctor's jacket on. Someone is gonna think you got drugs. You better leave." I never forgot that moment; the man was not angry at me, he was just telling me the facts.
Yet there is so little of Roxbury that I know. The furthest I went on Dudley was the Boys Club. Off Yeoman St. was the Neighborhood House which I enjoyed. On Mt. Pleasant the furthest I went was at the convents. On Hampden, I went as far as Boston City Hospital and Mass. Ave. I lived there 18 years yet know so little. Perhaps I will learn more.

Elsie Underwood

Thank you so much for including Mrs. Cass as a person of interest and credability.  She was my mother's friend for many years.  Also, Malcolm X's aunt lived a few doors down and across the street, near Harold Street, from us and so, we saw Malcom X almost on a daily basis.  He may have been living there for a little while.  Gordon Parks also lived two doors down from us for a very short time.  And of course Bobby Brown, he lived two streets away.  and, I guess everybody knew the greatness of Elma Lewis.   Elijah Muhammad visited Roxbury once that I can remember and the streets were so flooded with people, I could only hear him from a loudspeaker set up outside.