My “Little Bit of Paradise”
In the 1920s, my grandparents and their three children lived in Dorchester, Massachusetts. As the owner of Yellin Dry Goods store in downtown Boston, my grandfather dreaded his daily commute by automobile to and from work. When he learned that a place called Hull, a lovely seaside town on Boston’s south shore, happened to host a daily commuter ferry to and from Boston, my grandfather instructed my grandmother, “buy a cottage, any cottage.”
Several summers later, his car keys languished on the living room desk at 6 Helen Street, located in a Hull neighborhood called Pemberton. From that summer on, my grandfather enjoyed sea breezes on his face during his daily ferry commute that launched at Pemberton Pier, just across the street. In those days the ferry was powered by steam, not gasoline; from Monday to Friday, neighborhood fathers and husbands boarded at 9:00am sharp and returned at 6:00 in the evening. To save time, they lathered their faces and shaved while on board. Some routinely played cards during the 30-minute commute. A bar with drinks and light snacks was opened for the commute home. Wives and children greeted their heads-of-household on the pier at the end of day, and most walked home in our six-street neighborhood.
In 1953, my parents bought a summer cottage on the next block; from then on, my family spent our summer vacations in Hull. In my teens, on weekdays I often resided at our winter home in the Boston suburbs since my summer jobs were located in the city. During my married years, my children and I usually visited Hull just a few days each summer. Since my husband couldn’t abide the jets to and from Logan Airport that flew overhead every few minutes in that era, he preferred to vacation on Cape Cod.
When my widowed mother, who had summered in Hull throughout her life, reached an advanced age, I determined that she should no longer live there alone. Fortunately, as an educator I had those months free from work. That’s how I renewed my Hull residence by her side and rediscovered my passion for this coastal hamlet.
The beach house at 1 Arthur Street represents my “little bit of paradise.” Together with my grandparents’ cottage nearby, it holds my family’s history. Whether lying on the pebbly beach at the top of Helen Street or at “the Gut” viewing a colorful sunset with Boston’s skyline in the foreground, I savor every summer spent on that spit of land called Pemberton.