"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

January 15, 2008

Oral History With Williams St. Resident Lola Reid

Williams St. resident Lola Reid was a subject in the Oral History Project for Public Anthropology Class at the University of Massachusetts, where Julie Hemment is the professor. From the transcription,

We, Ashton Harding and Chris Andrade, interviewed Lola Reid on May 10, 2007 for our University of Massachusetts Public Anthropology Oral History Project. For our project we worked with Montview Neighborhood Farm in Northampton, Massachusetts. Lola Reid was introduced to us through two of the volunteers that work on the farm. Lola lives in the neighborhood that Montview is located in, and is an active member of the farm.
I believe that a number of interviews were conducted with different residents, and that all of them will be given to Forbes Library and/or the Northampton Historical Society. With Lola's permission, I have included a selection of that transcribed interview, as well as a link to the full interview.
Ashton: Could you just tell us a little about the neighborhood? It’s beautiful, we were walking around. How long have you lived here?

Lola: ...I don’t know a whole lot, but one of the things I do know and that really interests me is the difference between Pomeroy Terrace and Williams Street – the Pomeroy Terrace neighborhood and those several streets there between Pomeroy Terrace and Hawley Street. This neighborhood...

...When you come to the jog in the road, that’s when things start changing... I do know that there was a silk mill on Holly Street near the corner of Holyoke Street, which is actually right behind the houses that are right behind me. There are a lot of multi-family homes in this immediate neighborhood. There are row houses right here on Isabella and row houses on Eastern Avenue – the next street over – and on Hawley Avenue itself there are a lot of multi-family houses. And the houses are just not nearly as grand in this neighborhood as they are in the Pomeroy Terrace neighborhood. My understanding is that the people who worked in the silk mill lived here and the people who owned and managed the silk mill lived on Pomeroy Terrace and in that neighborhood there are very nice houses on the side streets off of Pomeroy as well.

And just by chance, I met a woman who is probably in her eighties now, whose father grew up in this house, whose grandfather built this house. She told me that he, her grandfather, was the manager of the orchards that were in this neighborhood. This whole neighborhood, she said, was orchards...

...Her nickname is Teppy and she’s known in the family as Teppy. The man that she married was the son of Lucy, who lived on the corner and I actually knew Lucy who lived here until she was 101. She had two sons and they bought that house for the sons in the 1930s. The house was built in the early 1900s by an immigrant Italian family. The family built that structure when they built the house, you can barely see it over my trees, but do you see that there’s a smallish structure next to their house? It looks like a garage, but it’s not. It was built as a store...

....The store over at Teppy’s, she said they called it 'The Italian Cooperative.' I don't know what she meant by 'cooperative' but she said, "There aren’t cooperatives any more". They imported food from Italy for the Italian people in the neighborhood, and they did this until sometime in the 1920s...

I just learned a couple of days ago when I talked to Teppy that Hugo’s Bar was a "beautiful" meat store. She said, “I still long for those cuts of meat that were so wonderful." It was Polish and the owner also took a truck around the city a couple of times a week and sold meat from it. She said that her grandmother would put on a clean, white apron and take her out to the truck. She was sat down in the truck and the Polish driver, or owner maybe, would ask her to speak Polish with him. While she was speaking Polish with him he would give her slices of lunchmeat. Lunchmeat, that was her reward for speaking Polish with him. She also said that there was a nice poultry man who would come around in his truck and toot his horn for the housewives to come out and buy fresh chicken and eggs.
You can and should read the transcript of the whole interview here.

LABELS: northampton history, williams st. neighborhood,
hawley st. neighborhood,