Friday, August 2, 2013

Landmark Housing A Personal Tale Alberetti Family South Boston

Story by Lauraine Alberetti Lombara submitted on August 2, 2013
Lauraine lives on the North Shore and enjoys reading, writing, and time with her family and friends. She is a member of a writers' group that meets at the Beverly Public Library. Her previous publications include an article about travel in National Geographic Travel Magazine.

My father and mother emigrated from Parma, Italy in 1923 and 1929. Their first home was a third-floor, cold-water flat with a shared bathroom in a cold hallway on Stillman Street in the North End. Looking at photos taken on the roof, I see a lovely al fresco dining and socializing spot with a great view, despite the hanging laundry, of Boston and the surrounding rooftops. Clearly, the market value of a rehabbed penthouse condo in the North End is sky-high and the cost, exorbitant!

The Alberetti Family with baby Joseph
Due to my older brothers' continuing respiratory and ear infections, the family doctor advised my parents to move. In 1938, they left friends who were like family -- many from the same province in Italy -- and moved to the newly built Old Harbor Village project in South Boston. My parents were doubly fortunate: first, to be accepted into this landmark housing development, and second, to score a single-family row house, complete with three floors, four rooms, a bathroom, a basement, a small garden in front with many trees, a quick walk to Columbia Park and -- joy of joys-- Carson Beach.

As I was the youngest child, this was my first home. We children grew up surrounded by good neighbors of all nationalities, sharing old-world cultures and values, and forming new, lifelong friendships.

Summers meant days at the Carson and L Street Beaches. My mother trekked across Columbia Park to bring us lunch in her wooden picnic basket, filled with freshly steamed hot dogs in warm rolls, ice-cold drinks and yummy treats baked that morning. Papa ate only day-old, crusty Italian bread with coppa or salami -- no "uncooked white bread" or frankfurters for him.

Winter brought ice skating on the frozen, flooded park, sledding on any available hill -- too often a street -- and listening to records on the Victrola in our toasty basement. Spring and fall were outdoor play times: we dabbled in hopscotch, tag, double-dutch jump rope, releevio, hide and seek, especially at the statues in Sterling Square, and all types of ball games.

The Old Harbor Village Project Middle Row (Lauraine) Back Row L-R Joseph Albertti, Robert Albertti - accomplished artist and Art Professor in W Conn. 

Living in South Boston made it possible for my father to walk to Andrew Square and travel by the Massachusetts Transit Authority to work. Papa was a salad chef at Warmuth's Restaurant, known for its Boston scrod, B-Deck salad bowl, and scrumptious prune muffins. My parents never owned nor learned to drive a car. This necessitated living close to public transportation, so when we moved next, it was to another South Boston location close to St. Augustine Church. My parents purchased the former home of family friends who had "moved up" -- and out -- to Arlington, Massachusetts. Now my parents became homeowners of a rambling, old, three-decker row house, larger by far than our previous home, and with a bigger back yard that we shared with close family friends to whom our house and lives were attached.

Boston Latin Academy-Girls

Our lives were changing: my older brothers finished high school and went on to apprenticeships and college. I continued to commute to Girls' Latin School in the Fenway, then to Codman Square in Dorchester for seventh through twelfth grade, and then to Boston College School of Nursing at Newbury Street and in Chestnut Hill.

Surely, this last home commands another sky-high price in today's gentrified South Boston. However, by young adulthood, we had moved on, leaving behind three family dwellings, all with unique histories, and bringing with us many sweet and priceless memories.


  1. So neat! Love reading about our family history, and learning things I didn't know before. What a great article, with sweet pictures too.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your family history Lauraine! I bet those steamed hot dogs were yummy! Will be researching Robert now! Love your pics!

  3. Lauraine Alberetti Lombara creates well-crafted stories with a foundation of excellent writing--she quietly offers a combination of vivid imagery and straight-on reporting. The result? Deep meaning and understanding that stay with her reader. Here, some examples are: the happy attachment of homes and lives; the importance of shared, good food; the particulars of individuals' and their families' lives that, also, apply universally to a larger community -- and it doesn't get better than that!

    By the way, would someone please pass Mamma's hot dogs and Papa's fresh salad my way?

    Brava, bella!

  4. Great article Lauraine, I can picture the beach and taste the hot dogs! Love the pictures of the Albretti clan.

  5. Lauraine, your memoir paints a rich picture of your young life in Boston. Those childhood games, played on city streets, brought back memories. Thank you.

  6. Lauraine, your rich and detailed account of our family's early life in Boston is charming. More, I found myself remembering my own childhood and games played on city streets. Well done.