A couple of months ago I ran into a couple outside my front door on Beech Glen St. Turns out that the woman in the couple had lived in Fort Hill back in the early 70s and this was her first trip back in 40 years. She’d been a hippie who at the young age of 18 or 19 had gone in on the purchase of a house together with her boyfriend and a couple of their friends (imagine a day when a group of 18 year olds could buy a house for cash?). She’d married young, had a child on the hill, divorced, and eventually moved back to the suburbs.
She was kind enough to email this scan of 3 pictures and the following description of what it was like to be here 40 years ago. I’ve redacted the names and a couple of other details but left pretty much everything else the same. If you lived here long ago and have stories to share, please send them my way!
I only have these three photos from 1970 on the Hill. You can only see a bit of the tower in one of them. The inside photos are from 51 Beech Glen St. The people in the photo are [author, her ex-husband, and their daughter]. Yes, we were hippies and named her after a flower.
I actually lived in 4 different locations during my time there. The first location was 51 Beech Glen, the second was 49 Fort Ave, the third was Thwing St (which was owned by my friends) and then the last place was another address on Beech Glen but don’t know the number. Who knows, it could have been yours. My then husband and I moved to Fort Ave after our relationship with our partners in number 51 fell apart. When my daughter turned one, my husband and I split up and I moved in with my friends on Thwing St and then got my own apartment back on Beech Glen.
I have recollections of walking down to the Dudley Station area with my daughter in a stroller where there was a Woolworths store. Went grocery shopping at a Stop & Shop in Jamaica Plain on a bus and took a cab home. I know what it feels like to be in the minority.
Even though I did experience a violent crime against myself on the ‘Hill’ (Highland St) those were some of the best and most memorable days of my life. I was young, brave, foolish and naive. My then,husband and I were of the ‘peace and love’ generation and practiced some of the principles we stood for back then. We and the other young suburban people who moved onto the Hill had many activites such as whiffle ball games weekly on the Hill before it was quite so grown up with shrubs and trees (42 years ago). We took turns buying food with the group from a cooperative and we took turns cooking dinners so that everyone didn’t have to cook everyday. And, yes, there was drugs as we partied together. We made lots of sangria and “brownies”. I remember the time when I ventured out onto the hill on a cold night as the ‘pink snow’ came down all around me.
[Author’s husband] and I took part in many anti-war demonstrations. One of those was in Cambridge. As the police came towards us in full riot gear, I heard someone say,”they’ve got tear gas”. I headed for the nearest subway to avoid the gas as I was pregnant with my daughter. It was rather ironic that even though I was a peace loving young person, I was the victim of a couple of more acts of violence that caused me to have to move back to my parents’ house in the burbs with my daughter! My ex husband continued on at Fort Ave for awhile then moved to Canada to get into the music business and he was a musician. Since his draft number could have come up at any time it may have been a two-fold reason to go there.
Well, if I have any more interesting memories, I will share them with you. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. I feel like I had many experiences during those four years in various parts of Boston (also lived in the North End) that most everyone I know out here in the burbs will never have.