On March 19, 2015

Looking Back: simple Sundays

Back in the ’50s it was easy to tell when it was Sunday. I’m not sure it’s so simple any more! Shopping was not an option, as downtown stores were closed except for small food stores, pharmacies and places that sold newspapers and sundry items. There was no mall or shopping center. Life pretty much came to a standstill. It was a day for families to do things together.

Shopping was not an option, as downtown stores were closed except for small food stores, pharmacies and places that sold newspapers and sundry items. There was no mall or shopping center. Life pretty much came to a standstill. It was a day for families to do things together.

Just about all of my childhood friends went to church on Sunday morning. We were a unified group when it came to being neighborhood playmates, but a very diverse group when it came to religious denominations. Everyone seemed to attend a different church. My parents belonged to Christ the King and we always went to an early Sunday Mass. Afterward we headed down to Louras’ Store on West Street, across from the post office. My father got a Boston Globe and I would choose a comic book. It was a ritual I looked forward to. I always made sure to find out what comics my friends were reading, as we traded them among ourselves. They could count on me for a new “Archie,” “Betty and Veronica” or “Little Lulu.”

After leaving Louras’ Store my father would sometimes suggest going to the Kozy Diner in Clarendon for breakfast. That was a real treat! I was fascinated with the large glider-swing on the front lawn. I spent time on it before we went into the restaurant and, of course, I was back on it when we left.

My parents spent Sunday afternoon reading the paper while I read my newest comic. I also had plenty of library books to stick my nose into for additional reading. My mother loved the society section of the Boston Globe. It was always full of weddings and the latest fashions. My father usually headed to a shady spot outside to do his reading. He must have cherished his time outdoors because he often took a Sunday nap on a sloping hill between our house and the neighbor’s. Since I live in my family home I could try that some summer afternoon. But at my age, people going by would probably think I was dead! We have a lot of “foot traffic” on our street these days as people walk or run for fitness. That was not the case back in the 50s.

Sunday was also a visiting day. We often went to see my Aunt Nora Preseau on Pine Street. She loved company and, like all kids, I looked forward to being offered a treat. My favorites were “dusty millers” and soft sugar cookies that came from Bush’s Bakery on State Street. They were to die for! I remember the aroma of pot roast cooking on Aunt Nora’s stove. Sunday dinners were a ritual in just about every house. Everything was cooked from scratch . . . no microwave warm-ups in those days.

Occasionally my family could be found having Sunday dinner in Wallingford at the Tooheys’ house. The sisters were my mother’s cousins. Their Sunday dinners always seemed to include a combination of both relatives and friends. Because no other children were at dinner, it took some bribing to make me a willing participant. Like all kids, I would get restless and want to go outside. My father usually suggested a walk to the nearby creek.

It was déjà-vu for me when my husband and I took a bike ride to Wallingford several years ago. I showed him the area where my father used to take me on walks. I remembered that my father carved his initials and mine in a tree along with the year. I started looking for the tree, never expecting to find it over 50 years later. But there it was, with our initials still intact and the year–1952! I was only eight years old then. Why that memory stayed with me all that time I will never know. The fact that the tree hadn’t been cut down or taken down by Mother Nature was even more amazing.

Looking back on those days always puts me in a happy place. I didn’t realize back then how fortunate I was to have such wonderful parents and relatives. But I do now!

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