Both sides of my family lived in Cambridge, MA on the river side of Massachusetts Avenue from 1866 to 1958 - all of them from the British Isles. When I was born, my family had moved farther out to the suburbs of Boston, but still only a few blocks “off the Ave.” That street, which meanders from Central Mass through Cambridge and across the Charles River to Boston was a big part of my life.
When I was old enough, my mother let me walk the few blocks to Mass. Ave. by myself, and I haunted the local library, bought every issue of every comic that had Superman on the cover and spent most Saturdays at the movie theater with my little sister. I loved a good story.
Maybe, it was because being lucky enough to live in the same household as my Irish immigrant great grandmother, I heard a few.
Some scared me enough to pull the covers over my head and at the same time, thrill me with the delicious details of the Banshee, the Death Coach, the three knocks and the fairies of all shapes and sizes. She swore they were all true.
Years later, my mother Patricia, was diagnosed with cancer and I spent many a day driving her to Boston for treatments. She had the gift of gab, and at my prompting, she regaled me with hours of stories about our family. I had recently become interested in genealogy and was trying to fill in the family history.
One of the stories was about the day her great grandmother died. Sadly, it was on the birthday that she finally received a long wanted pair of new roller skates. She was ten years old.
A few years after my mother’s death, I thought I’d pay tribute to her and our Great Grandmothers’ stories, tying the historical in with the fantastical in, “Miracle on Massachusetts Avenue”.