Author Shares Poem on Upbringing with the BPL in her Backyard

Ione Mallory

Ione Mallory — BPL Fund donor and author of Southie Won’t Go: A Teacher’s Diary of the Desegregation of South Boston High School — shares that her fondest childhood memories included the BPL and is Ione’s inspiration to give back to the Library today. She wrote a poem titled “A Boston Childhood” which reflects on Ione’s upbringing in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood with the BPL in her backyard. Read the entire poem below:

In the Great Depression my father founded a school-cum-home in a jewel of a Beaux-Arts building one Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay — at one end of the block, the Chilton Club, attended by a uniformed, white-gloved doorman; at the other, the First Baptist Church. This stately avenue, where General Patton rode victory in his tank after World War II and Queen Elizabeth asked to visit, became my childhood playground and where my youngest brother sold the litters of our cat, Mauer. Here Father struggled with his school — running out of gas once – I recall – in the Commonwealth Avenue underpass — while Mother schemed to make ends meet, teaching typing and hanging the “wet wash” to dry on the polished mahogany railings. In winter we pulled our sleds down the alleyway behind the house or walked three blocks to the Garden to skate on the frozen pond under the glistening weeping willows — before the time of Mrs. Mallard’s statue.

At the Prince, my school, just a block away the WPA orchestra came to play and sometimes an Italian organ-grinder outside, beneath the classroom windows. Summers meant sailing on the Charles or swimming at Carson Beach; or, if it rained, spreading our blanket on the great basement kitchen floor to picnic and read comics — Bugs Bunny and Merry Melodies and Loony Tunes; or listening to Fiedler on the Esplanade. Sundays we made cinnamon sticks and ate them at the Museum of Natural History. Always there was reading, reading after school in the children’s room of the Boston Public Library with its marble staircases and vaulted ceilings, under the kindly and pop-eyed gaze of Miss Toy. The success of the school ended this world, when the family moved out to leave more space. Not long after, a teacher found the path to my inner world, leaving footsteps on the clean white snow.

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