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Malden today, tomorrow and yesterday – Edgeworth of yesterday

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  In my eyes the late great Bill Mini will always be the greatest authority, historically and contemporarily speaking, on the city of Malden. In my lifetime nobody has so lovingly documented the many diverse neighborhoods, the many historic events and the many colorful characters that the city has produced than Bill. William Joseph Mini passed away on September 11, 2009, at 86. His obituary made mention of graduating Malden High School in 1940, being a World War II veteran and attending Fitchburg State, where he received his teaching degree. It also told of his love for photography and painting. But in my opinion, his obit could have gone on for 10 pages and not told the complete story of this extraordinary man’s life. Bill is still alive for many of us who knew him in Malden, not only in spirit, but in the written word. God bless his pea pickin’ heart. Bill left a paper trail a mile long for those of us who, from time to time, like to take a walk back in Malden history. My Bill Mini paper trail is extensive. I clipped and saved many of his writings, thinking that one day a new generation of Maldonians might enjoy this trip down memory lane also. Thank you, Bill Mini! Malden is a lot less rich without you.

  You’re a (real) old-timer from Edgeworth if you remember…

  • Beer’s Drug Store was located on the corner of Whitman Street and Highland Avenue. William Beer owned it. My note: Mickey, Sheila and Dave O’Brien grew up next door to Beer’s on Whitman Street. Mickey’s house as well as Beer’s were torn down and are now part of the Big A. Jimmy Damiano and I would buy our Batman and Superman comic books at Beer’s.
  • The “Big Bad Bruins” of the late 60s and early 70s visited Beer’s for their “vitamins.”
  • On the opposite side of the street was the Sub Shop of Charlie Moreno, who introduced the submarine sandwich to Malden. In 1942 it was called “Moreno’s Sub Shop.” Charlie’s wife, Eva, did all the cooking.
  • According to Bill, Charlie Moreno sold his business to a man named Santoro who eventually opened a chain of sub shops, “Santoro’s.”
  • A short distance from Moreno’s (across the street from Boys’ Catholic) was “Sam’s Market.” Sam Rosenthal owned the market. He was known for his straw hat and the speed in which he would add up your purchase without an adding machine or calculator.
  • “Kelley’s Variety Store” was on the corner of Russell Court and Highland Avenue. Tom Kelley owned and ran it from the front part of his house. He sold milk, bread, newspapers, canned goods and penny candy. The penny candy included licorice sticks, coconut caramels, candy cigarettes, sugar daddies, root beer barrels and candy buttons. Cigarettes were sold by the carton, pack or individually. Students from Boys’ Catholic would come in and purchase them individually for one cent apiece.
  • Tom Kelley’s son Thomas, Jr. would later become Sgt. Thomas Kelley of the Malden Police Dept. Tom Kelley III would become a gym teacher at Malden High School, an MHS football coach, a charismatic bartender and my friend (once we got out of High School and he started to like me). Tommy Kelley the IV is my friend on Facebook.
  • Across the street from Kelley’s was a block of stores owned by Bill McCormack, a relative of Sylvestor McCormack, who owned a florist shop on the Fells.
  • Also on that same block was Elm Auto Glass owned by Bob Elmstrom and his brother-in-law, Howard King.
  • Doohan’s Market was owned by Earl Doohan. His son Mike and daughters Mary and Barbara worked for him. He delivered groceries all over the city, and Dick Mallon was one of his delivery boys.
  • In 1945, Dick Mallon was 13 years old and worked at Doohan’s Market on Highland Ave. Dick’s older brother Bob had recently arrived home after serving overseas in World War II. Bob brought home a German flag as a souvenir. One day Dick took the flag to work to show some his friends. He unfurled the flag and held it outstretched in plain view of (elderly) Sam Shapiro sitting in his tailor shop across the street. Sam left his shop with a pair of cutting shears determined to find out why there was a German flag in Edgeworth. He saw that it was just some youthful indiscretion and returned to his shop without hurting anybody or anything.
  • Next to Doohan’s was Quinn’s Drug Store. One of the “soda jerks” in those days was Freddy Downing, who later became an officer at the Pioneer Financial Bank.
  • Betty’s Bakery was a short distance away. The building later became the office of Richard Mallon, tax consultant. Mallon later built a new building on Centre Street next to the American Legion Hall.
  • Hall’s Laundry was located on the corner of Sterling and Pearl Street. Henry Hall and his son Maynard owned and operated the shop. Attached to the block building was a large wooden barn that housed the horse and carriages.
  • Near Hall’s on Pearl Street was the P.P.G.M. Plant. They made jams and marmalade. The initials stood for P(ure), O(range), G(rapefruit), M(armalade).
  • O.P. Doonan’s corner was a busy place, a gathering spot for locals to hang out and kill some time. Frankie Noonan hung out there; he later became police commissioner.
  • Billy Galvin also hung out there; he became the city controller.
  • Eddie Hiscock hung out there and was known to be the best dressed guy around.
  • When the old City Hall Annex was located on Ferry Street, Owen Rooney was the head of the welfare department. According to Bill his title in those days was “city almoner.” Evelyn Hiscock replaced him years later.
  • There was a baseball field on Highland Avenue where Town Line Plaza is laid out. There was no place to sit, but it was the place for ballgames and to gather on the night before the Fourth of July where a giant bonfire was lit. The ballfield was considered the “property of the people.” The neighborhood women would set up refreshment stands and served homemade sandwiches and root beer for a nominal fee.
  • Lillian Brandano, who owned Brandano’s Restaurant with her husband Anthony for more than 35 years, passed away at age 88 in 2009. Lillian worked at Converse Rubber (like most in Edgeworth) and was married to Anthony for 50 years.
  • Lucy Marinelli, who owned the Stadium Café along with husband Bill, passed away on Sept 19, 2008. Lucy was 94, a longtime parishioner at Saint Peter’s Church and the “devoted wife” of Bill.
  • Paul D. Saffier was 72 when he passed away (I believe in 2010) – he owned Mike’s Café.
  • Angelina D’Orsi passed on at age 83 in 2009; she and her husband Joe ran Harvard Pastries on Highland Avenue.
  • Edmund “Eddie” Gennetti passed away at age 87 in 2008. He was a supervisor at Converse Rubber for over 50 years. He is also brother to Butchie, Nancy Cagno, the late Henry and Anna Puleo.
  • Anna Puleo passed away at age 86 in 2010. Anna, along with her husband John, ran the Highland Café for more than 40 years. Anna, like many in her family, worked at Converse Rubber and met the “love of her life” (John) there. Her family has been part of the Edgeworth community for well over a hundred years.
  • Eva (Capone) Moreno – wife of Charlie – introduced the “spuckie” roll to the world and passed away at 94 in 2006.
  • Dommy Settemio, brother of “Tiger” – father to Billy and Dom Jr., son of Italian immigrants – devoted husband to the love of his life Beverly, passed away at age 75 in 2008.

  “This is the end, beautiful friend, this is the end, my only friend, the end” – this article was a lot of fun and a real pleasure to write. The locations that Bill speaks of, for the most part, have disappeared, but their presence, for those of us who grew up in Edgeworth (and Malden), are still felt. A lot of names are familiar, their offspring settling in Ward 2 and making it their permanent home. I went to school with some of the grandchildren (and a couple of great-grandchildren) that Bill spoke of (hello Paul Mallon). I even frequented some of the places Bill mentioned that were still around (Beer’s Drug Store, Charlie Moreno’s, DiPietro’s Bakery). Some of the observations he made about how life once was and how they spent their time in Edgeworth didn’t really change much in the past 100 or so years: timeless sentiments, such as family, friendships, good times celebrated – how people weren’t afraid to walk the streets at night (for the most part they still aren’t). He mentions how in those days the “corner crowd” was made up of neighborhood guys, much as it was when I grew up on Charles Street in the 1960s and 70s hanging around the same corners. He mentions how the neighborhood beat cop would move the kids along if they loitered too long only to come back later to hang out some more (much like we did – hello Patrolman Kenny Coye, Charlie McKay and Dickie Philips – all great beat cops, by the way). It was about forging lifelong friendships; laughing, playing ball, singing, having fun, drinking an occasional beer and (of course) flirting with the pretty neighborhood girls. Bill’s last statement on Edgeworth was the following: “From what I remember and what I’ve been told, I can see that old Edgeworth was a nice place to live.” Thank you, Bill, it certainly was and still is.

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