... what is down the road?
In 1953 I got myself happily married to Catherine Harrington. I was intoxicated with
joyous feelings in my brand new marriage but knew I had to find a job. We were
living at 10 Warren St. in Everett on the first floor. Above us on the second floor
were Stella Comeau and her husband. I knew Stella from St. Joseph’s School where she
was a couple of years ahead of me. Paul Comeau, Stella’s younger brother, would
often visit her. I also knew Paul from St. Joseph’s. When Stella told Paul I
needed a job he said he could get me a job at McDonald’s Shell Gas Station in the
theatre district in Boston.
After I had started at BU, I would take the T to McDonald’s where Paul also worked.
We would work from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Paul would drive me home in his car. We
parked cars, pumped gas, checked the oil and washed cars. Bleary eyed, I crawled
into bed and was up early morning for BU. This did not leave too much time for
study. I did appreciate what Paul was doing for me, but I had a sense that he was
doing Stella’s biding. These were long hours that started wearing on me. I think it
was Jack Williamson who suggested another job where he was working.
State Street and Second Bank was what Jack suggested. He said it was working indoors
with fewer hours than the gas station job. The bank was in the banking district near
Faneuil Hall. It was easy to get to on the T and we worked only from 5 p.m. to 8
p.m. The job was a no-brainer. You just cut certificates on a machine and copied
numbers into ledgers. Joe Driscoll, my boyhood friend, got a job there, too. The
three of us would try to find something for supper.
We stumbled onto The Bell in Hand Tavern which was just behind the Globe
Newspaper back then. The Bell in Hand was a long saloon with long tables in front to
serve tidbits for customers. Crackers, sardines, boiled eggs, cheeses, all different
foods like that. The only problem was that a drink of beer cost ten cents and we
sometimes didn’t even have that. A couple of bartenders got to know us as students
without much money. These bartenders would look the other way as we stuffed
ourselves with crackers, cheeses, and eggs from these tables.
As I sit here now and write this, I can feel myself being transported back though a
difficult but happy time. Though we had no money, we did not feel that this trouble
was going to last. We saw ourselves as being on the brink of something important but
had no way of knowing what.
October 7, 2011